Oliver Martin’s eligibility still remains in question

AP PHOTO - Iowa wide receiver Oliver Martin poses for a photo during the team’s college football media day Friday in Iowa City.

IOWA CITY — With the 2019 season weeks away, Iowa sophomore wide receiver Oliver Martin still awaits the verdict from the NCAA of whether or not he will play after transferring from Michigan. 

The Coralville native and former Iowa City West star entered the transfer portal this past June after spending two years in Ann Arbor.

“I didn’t really go into the portal hoping to see other options,” Martin said. “I kind of just wanted to come home. I was hoping for the opportunity to come so as soon as I got it I made that choice.”

Head coach Kirk Ferentz revealed that the appeal was submitted within the last couple weeks. 

“I really haven’t had much involvement in it,” Ferentz said. “That’s handled by the compliance folks so they’re the ones that are on the ground floor there. As I understand it, it’s been forwarded to the NCAA, and what happens thereafter, probably no way to predict, like most things that go that direction. We’ll just kind of wait patiently and see where it goes.”

Although Martin declined to say why he left Michigan, he did offer that deciding to leave was difficult, but that the Wolverine coaching staff was receptive to his choice.

“I knew Michigan was a good opportunity so initially when I made that decision it was kind of natural to have those thoughts [of guilt], but as soon as the opportunity to come to Iowa presented itself I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” Martin said. “I just kind of had a forward-looking mentality and tried to focus on coming here. It was a great opportunity and I was excited about that.”

Being able to add Martin to the Iowa receiving corps this season would prove valuable for the Hawkeyes, who have dealt with a transition between pass catchers. After taking a redshirt in 2017, Martin appeared in all 13 games of the Wolverines’ 2018 season and had 125 yards and a touchdown on 11 receptions.

“I think he can [help us right away],” offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz said. “We wouldn’t have brought him into the program if he couldn’t help us. He could have helped us two years ago. But now he is here and he could certainly help us this year.”

 In his time at Iowa City West, Martin accumulated 239 catches, 3,449 receiving yards and 35 touchdowns, which set the Iowa high school state record in all three of those categories for Class 4A. 

“We knew Oliver pretty well coming out of high school so I think we knew what we’re getting there,” Brian said. “There is certainly no trepidation about bringing a guy of that caliber and a player of that caliber in our program. He’s been exactly what we expected in all positives ways.

“The only issue with Oliver is we don’t know what our situation is going to be. We’re very optimistic about him as a player. We’re very excited for him as a player and what he is doing for us right now but we won’t know anything until we know something.” 

With no timetable set, Martin feels confident that he and the rest of the program will know the verdict by the first game of the season, but no matter the outcome is confident in his decision to return to Iowa.

“This is my home,” Martin said. “This is where a great deal of my support network is. This is a great program with a lot of great people and a lot of good guys on the team so I feel very comfortable in terms of being able to grow and develop here.”

Martin and the Hawkeyes will travel to Michigan later in the season on Oct. 5.