Daniel Martin: Elite 2022 defensive athlete describes his “family” feeling at UGA
Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry will serve as the first DawgNation profile for highly-regarded 2022 defensive athlete Daniel Martin. There is a lot of material to share here.
There are already a few links between impressive 2022 defensive athlete Daniel Martin and the University of Georgia.
His mother, Denise Livingston, is a UGA grad. That Martin family tree will also list former Georgia Bulldog star Mecole Hardman Jr. as a cousin. The roots of Martin’s family will trace back to Hartwell near Elbert County.
“I’ve been up to Georgia plenty of times and it is just like the feeling of even if you are not playing there and even if you are not committed there you are still family,” Daniel Martin said. “I love the vibes there. Everybody is nice. Everybody is cool. I haven’t visited a lot of places as many times as I have visited Georgia.”
Martin just committed to play in the 2022 All-American Bowl out in Texas, too. That elite invitation and early pledge to that prestigious game will say something about his skill set. That early career goal takes him back to his FBU (Football University) days with other top 2022 prospects like Rabun County’s Gunner Stockton and Grayson’s Marquis Groves-Killebrew.
Martin and Groves-Killebrew aspire to play together in college. That topic among close friends will come up a lot on the recruiting trail, but those two make a more convincing argument than most of their peers do.
“That’s my brother right there,” Martin said. “We’ve got a great relationship. There’s a high chance we will be playing together. Every time that we are together everything goes well. We are always communicating. We have got very good vibes with each other.”
Those two would hang together for weeks in the summer. That was even prior to their rise as elite 2022 football prospects. They now train with the highly-successful Hustle Inc. 7-on-7 football program.
Martin articulates why he wants to excel at football with great passion.
“Football is in my blood and it is what my family does,” Martin said. “It is like everybody in my family plays football so it is like an I-have-to-do-it-situation and I’ve got to be there for my Mom and my parents. If I get where I want to be in football, it will make a difference for us.”
The Marietta High playmaker is the youngest of three brothers. The oldest played college football as well but gave it up to pursue a career as a special education teacher. His middle brother is currently playing at the junior college level. It sounds like all the boys in his family play football.
When he picked up his recent UGA offer, it was met with great joy in his family.
Blessed and honored to receive an offer to play 🏈 at The University of Georgia‼️#UGA #GODAWGS @DellMcGee @KirbySmartUGA @CoachDanLanning @Coach_N_Bryant @CoachSchuUGA @CoachCwarren @TravionScott @3DMocha @MHSFBFAMILY @tballardqbcoach @TWithJay pic.twitter.com/vUYSWEJVlK
— Daniel Martin (@Mr_DanielMartin) May 6, 2020
“My mom graduated from Georgia so she was really excited and my auntie graduated from Georgia,” he said.
Mom will play it cool, though.
“She’s always wanted me to go to Georgia but if that is not the best choice for me then she will understand,” Martin said.
Hardman has also not applied press coverage about being a ‘Dawg.
“He just said that for him it was the best choice and he would love for me to go there,” Martin said. “But if it is not the best choice for me at that time then he will understand.”
Martin said he been to Georgia at least five times. He counted up trips to four games. How does he feel about those trips?
“Every time I go up there it is the same thing,” Martin said. “Everybody is saying ‘Hi’ and asking how your day was. It is just always a great feeling up there.”
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Martin has been that tall since he enrolled at Marietta. He picked up the nickname of “six-three” awhile back. The tall jokes have been constant, but that is a very good thing.
The surface level scouting for Daniel Martin
Dell McGee is the primary recruiter for the Bulldogs with Martin. He extended that offer to become a Bulldog. He was offered to play OLB for Georgia, but that might not be his best position.
“When I got the offer I was so surprised,” Martin said. “I was thinking I would need more film to get a Georgia offer. But once he did, it was just a great feeling to know that I got an offer from my home team and the team I grew up watching and watching my cousin play there and see what that did for him. It was just a great feeling.”
Georgia and Oregon were his dream schools coming up. He has basically only visited Auburn and Georgia with any frequency up to this point.
“Georgia is definitely a top school that I always looked up to,” Martin said.
McGee was able to track Martin on his other trips to check out Marietta High over the years. That program has been a hotbed over the last 2-3 years and Martin is an athlete who will stand out on any field.
He was even skilled enough to be an injury stopgap quarterback for the Blue Devil freshman team in 2018.
Martin was also a freshman varsity starter at Marietta High and handled himself quite well. There was that memorable varsity Pick-6 he had against McEachern in his breakout game.
He further distinguished himself between the lines as a terrific plug-and-play defender for the GHSA Class 7A state champions along the 2019 season.
He started most of the season at what would be seen as the “Star” position in Georgia’s defense. That spot is known as the “Stud” in the Marietta High defensive look.
When playoff time came around, it meant he needed to get a good look from the first-team Marietta offense.
We’ve heard of the term “iron sharpens iron” ad naseum these days. Well, this became a case of “Arik” sharpens iron. Martin was the iron that was sharpened by the “Arik” in that little nugget. That would be 2020 5-star tight end Arik Gilbert.
“Not every kid is going to be 6 feet, 5 inches and 250 pounds and run routes like Arik can,” Martin said.
He’s not kidding. No recent prospect has been able to put all of those elements together the way Gilbert has.
When those two went at it, it was a battle. Gilbert didn’t win all of those. That is a highly-impressive statement given that Gilbert is one of the finest hybrid receivers to come out of the state of Georgia in years.
“When I competed against him, it just made me better,” Martin said. “It taught me that I couldn’t be as physical as I wanted to with everybody. People can be the same size as me and I will have to rely on my feet more rather than my strength and my hands. I would have to play off more and wait for his reactions in the game.”
Gilbert was the senior prospect in his varsity prime. Martin was the up-and-coming sophomore. There’s a range of opinion that conveys that Martin was able to shut down Gilbert anywhere from 25 to maybe 40 percent of the time.
“When he and Arik would go at in on one-on-ones, it was always competitive,” Marietta head coach Richard Morgan said. “Daniel won his share of battles whether it was in coverage or maybe it was getting off a block. He did his part. I don’t know what the exact statistics are, but either way he performed very well. … Especially just to be a high school sophomore going against a guy like Arik.”
That little scouting detail there plus big-boy offers from Auburn, Georgia and Oregon over the last two months validate his future is very bright.
Check the sophomore tape below to remove all doubt.
“I love contact,” Martin said.
The back-and-forth debate about Daniel Martin right now
He does not yet have a 247Sports composite rating. The pure 247Sports ranking will list him as the nation’s No. 5 OLB and the No. 48 overall prospect.
That’s a top 50 player nationally. But there’s this thing.
Check him in person to the side. Those shoulders don’t really scream “SEC outside linebacker” and that’s not necessarily a bad thing here.
Is he a future linebacker? Is he a safety? Is he a future “Star” or a nickel corner in the right matchups?
That is an interesting debate. It seems likely his frame and shoulders will not project to 245 pounds in the SEC or another big-boy conference.
It is already cliche in the recruiting world to label versatile secondary prospects as the “Isaiah Simmons” type of defensive athlete. That phrasing has certainly gone viral over the last eight months, but Martin can be used with the same creativity Clemson had for Simmons.
What position does Martin think he will play on Saturdays?
“I feel like I can be anything they wanted me to be just to be honest,” Martin said. “I can go down the line and be aggressive and beat offenses with the speed. I can stay in the box and use my strength and move the linemen out of the way to get to the running back. I can cover real well. Just where ever they would need me.”
“I can play strong safety. I can come down in the middle. I can play man coverage. I feel like I can play anything.”
He has the most fun lined up at strong safety.
“That’s where I have the most freedom while moving around,” he said. “I can visualize everything and look down and break on the ball coming downhill and all of that. I can also go get the balls the quarterbacks throw, too.”
The head coach of the defending Class 7A state champions share his view on that intriguing topic.
“In our defense he is the ‘Star’ or the ‘Stud’ for us, and in my opinion that is his natural position,” Marietta High school Richard Morgan said. “You don’t have to substitute for him on third-and-long with a fifth defensive back when you go nickel or dime because he can still do that. He plays man coverage against slot receivers.”
“He can stay on the field the entire game. He’s just got a great skill set. He’s so long and rangy he can cover the curl and the flat. He can blitz the quarterback. You’re not going to run to the width of the field against him because he is just going to outflank you and make the play. It is difficult to just get around him.”
Martin initially wanted to play safety but he was already so aggressive and physical that the OLB spot just fit him better.
“He does have the skill set to play that boundary safety,” Morgan said. “A lot of it is going to depend on how much bigger he gets.”
The rising junior has a safety’s skill set in a frame that will project to a different sort of OLB.
“To me, that’s what he is,” Morgan said. “He’s a safety, but he’s such a great tackler and a great guy when he’s close to the line of scrimmage that you can bring him on blitzes and things like that. He’s got a safety skill set, but he’s got that linebacker build and that linebacker mentality. He’s just the combination. I know the coaches that I have talked to about him compare him to Isiah Simmons.”
“To me, that is a great comparison because of what he can do on the football field. But he still has to grow and develop and take his game to the next level. But I think where he is at now as a sophomore, I do think that skill set is very similar.”
His Marietta film doesn’t show off his ability to play man coverage, but he is skilled at that, too. His work with Hustle, Inc. and Justin Miller have sharpened those tools, too. Miller shined brightly at Clemson and spent seven years in the NFL. The former Pro Bowler is now a well-known and highly-sought DB trainer in the Atlanta area.
Martin was always too big to cover guys coming up. He was always asked to play defensive end or linebacker or wide receiver. But he can certainly open up his hips and walk backwards in coverage.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound rising junior can shut down elite wide receivers at his size.
“I’ve had to prove to everybody that it doesn’t matter about your size,” he said. “You can play where ever you want. You just have to put your mind to it.”
Whenever he is asked what position he plays, he starts off with the same answer.
“I start off with athlete and then if they ask me to be specific I will say outside linebacker-slash-nickel,” Martin said.
The Daniel Martin stories that we won’t soon forget
The narrative scope so far has just been about a football player and his recruiting interest. If you’ve read this blog for anytime now, we don’t just leave it at that around here.
What is Martin like as a person? That sounds like the stuff that locker rooms can build a program around.
“I’d love to commit on my uncle’s birthday because my uncle passed a couple of years back,” Martin said. “That was a person who always pushed me and I always looked up to and he was always helping me. Hopefully, I can commit on that day to honor him.”
That is always an admirable gesture. Patrick Gibbs was born on September 19. That was his mother’s brother. The Martin family lost Gibbs two years ago due to a heart attack. Martin said Gibbs was 38.
“He played football but he didn’t make it that far,” Martin said. “But he would always come to my games and support me and call me after my games to see how I did. He was pretty much just a great uncle. When my Dad wasn’t around, he stepped in and helped me.”
Morgan proved to be very insightful in adding to the character sketch here. He had a story beyond his ability to blow up a bubble screen.
The Blue Devils always dress up on Fridays. It is part of the character education in Morgan’s program. Marietta will dress for work on game days.
Martin began to notice the same shoes and styles and clothing attire on one of his teammates. His concern was met by a few other Blue Devils, too.
“So the next Saturday he got the boy on our team and a couple of teammates and they took him to the mall,” Morgan said. “They bought him clothes and shopped for him.”
Everyone needs help sometimes. They simply wanted their teammate to fit in with the team and not have to worry about sticking out.
“He didn’t publicize it at all,” Morgan said. “It was not a big deal to him. Just being a good teammate. I only know about it because his mom sent me a picture of the boys at the mall. That’s how I found out about it.”
The rising sophomore is also on a mentorship program at Marietta High School. It afforded him the opportunity to take a special needs student to the prom at an tailor-made event for those individuals.
“He was a young lady’s date and took her there,” Morgan said. “That’s just the thing with Daniel. He does a lot of things already for other people that doesn’t get noticed. But college coaches need to be aware of that, too.”
“They need to know about the quality and character of this young man, too. Not just how well he plays football. You want to invest in kids with great character also as well as great athletic ability. It is very reassuring for them to know they are getting that full package there with him.”
Look for Martin to be featured more at receiver this fall. He’s capable of 30-to-40 catches for the defending Class 7A champions, too.
His educational aspiration is also something serious, too.
“I haven’t really looked that deep into it but I love animals so if football doesn’t work out I want to be a veterenarian or something in that nature,” Martin said.
Martin is a fan of a certain specific species.
“I’ve always had dogs,” Martin said. “I just love dogs.”
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