Prior to the 2007 season, Roanoke Rapids (N.C.) head coach Russell Weinstein envisioned Kareem Martin as a wide receiver. It didn’t take long for Martin to impress on the defensive side of the ball, though, and now the 6-6, 220-pound junior has become one of the top defensive prospects in the state of North Carolina’s 2010 class.
“Kareem is a testament to what hard work will do for you,” Weinstein said. “Obviously, he has God-given talents such as being 6-5, almost 6-6. When I first met the young man, he was a 6-4 rising sophomore, but he didn’t weigh 180 pounds. I watched him play basketball and had intentions of throwing the ball to him as a wide receiver. When I got to doing live work with him, we put him on the defensive side of the ball on the scout team. He started making plays. I noticed his ability to get off blocks and pursue and get to the ball. He ended up playing every game at defensive end as a sophomore. He just battled. He played hard all the time.
“Once we were able to get him in a weightlifting class, he went to work. At first, he could only bench press 125 pounds. He can bench 255, 260 pounds now. He has put on weight and muscle with a lot of hard work. He is an athletic young man.”
To say that Martin is an excellent athlete for his size may be an understatement. He almost averaged a triple-double in basketball this past season, scoring 16 points, pulling down 11 boards and swatting eight blocks per game. He is now participating in track, including running hurdles and performing in the high jump. Last season as a sophomore, he was conference champion in the high jump and ended up finishing third in the state.
Martin of course had a standout junior season on the gridiron, totaling 121 tackles with five sacks and forcing two fumbles. He also had two blocked kicks.
“What started happening last year was teams would run away from him,” Weinstein said. “We played one conference opponent and the first 13 times they ran they ran away from him. He was defensive player of the year in our conference this past season. We didn’t have a very good record, but he was a standout player for us.”
Duke was the first program to extend an official offer to Martin, who has since added offers from East Carolina, Stanford, Virginia and Virginia...
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