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Martin waits, works for his Hawkeye opportunity
IOWA FOOTBALL

Martin waits, works for his Hawkeye opportunity

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Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz talks to the media earlier this month in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes start the season ranked 20th in the Associated Press poll.

IOWA CITY — Oliver Martin doesn’t know when he will be able to help the Iowa receiving corps.

But, the transfer from Michigan knows he will do everything he can to be ready when that day comes.

"That is the only I can control right now, putting myself in a position where I know the playbook inside and out and continuing to work on my technique," Martin said Friday at the Hawkeyes’ media day. "That’s where I’m choosing to put my energies."

Martin continues to wait for the NCAA to reach a decision on whether it will approve a waiver request that would make him eligible to compete for Iowa this season.

If the request is turned down, Martin would be required to redshirt this season and would lose a year of eligibility, leaving him with two seasons left at the collegiate level.

"It’s out of my hands. I want to play. I want to be out there, but I’m not the one who ultimately will make that decision," Martin said in making his first comments since leaving the Wolverines program for the chance to return to his hometown and compete for Iowa.

A record-setting prep receiver at Iowa City West, Martin left Michigan at the top of the depth chart at one of its receiver positions after starting one game and recording 11 receptions for 125 yards one touchdown last season as a redshirt freshman.

He said he began thinking about the possibility of leaving the Wolverines program "about a month" before he chose to enter his name into the NCAA transfer portal.

"I talked it over with my family and people close to me, and I’m comfortable with my decision," Martin said.

He declined Friday to discuss exactly why he opted to leave Michigan or get into details about what his waiver request is based on, saying he preferred to "keep that private."

One thing Martin was willing to discuss was his comfort level at Iowa.

"I feel like this is where I belong. I feel good about the way things are going and the way things are headed," Martin said. "It’s the right place and the right time for me."

Iowa’s compliance office is handling Martin’s waiver request to the NCAA, and his family has hired an attorney to assist in the process.

Martin said the paperwork was filed with the NCAA "two or three weeks ago," but he has no idea when he may learn if he will be able to take the field for the Hawkeyes this season and play three years at Iowa or if his role will be centered on preparing for next season.

Coach Kirk Ferentz dealt with Martin’s status at his 21st media day as Iowa’s head coach, saying he is taking a "wait and see" approach to it all.

"I’d like to be optimistic but I don’t have any grounds for that, nor do I have grounds to be pessimistic," Ferentz said.

One thing Ferentz is optimistic about is the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Martin’s ability to help an Iowa receiving corps that will build around returning juniors Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette.

Redshirt freshmen Nico Ragaini and Tyrone Tracy Jr. are also expected to make significant contributions to an offense orchestrated by senior quarterback Nate Stanley.

Ferentz said Martin has looked good on the field since arriving at Iowa, which was among the programs which attempted to recruit him out of high school.

"We’ve known about Oliver for quite some time. He’s a tremendous person and has been really warmly received by his teammates," Ferentz said. "He’s earned their respect, is doing a good job, and if he can get eligibility, I certainly think he will help our football team this year."

And if he has to wait until 2020?

"Then, we’ll bank this year, use it as a learning year and look forward to having him with us next season," Ferentz said.

Iowa wide receivers coach Kelton Copeland said coaches are getting Martin ready to compete this season, understanding that the NCAA decision will ultimately determine whether that happens.

Martin will continue to work as well.

He said his time has been consumed with learning the nuances of the Iowa playbook and figuring out just where he might fit in.

Martin has practiced at all three receiver positions and believes he can help anywhere he is needed.

"Wherever they want me, I feel like I have the ability to contribute," Martin said. "I’m concentrating on learning as much as I can in as quick of a time frame as I can. I fully believe I can contribute right away."

And mostly, it feels good to be home.

"It has been an easy move for me. This is where I grew up, and it feels right," Martin said.

"It’s a comfortable situation. I’m just hoping for an opportunity to help the team. When I might find that out, I don’t know, but I’m working hard to be ready whenever that opportunity is out there for me."

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