Taylor Martinez continues to work on his quarterback skills. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald reports that Taylor Martinez spent three more weeks with quarterback guru Steve Calhoun after the spring semester ended. Calhoun consulted with Tim Beck twice a week to determine what Martinez will be asked to do in this offense, and then worked through drills to refine his technique.
First, Martinez went through each type of drop - including bootlegs - and focused completely on his footwork. No throws, no receivers. Just building muscle memory as to what he should be doing. Then the next day, Calhoun brought in receivers for Martinez to throw to. So after three weeks, what's Calhoun's opinion?
"People are going to be quite surprised in how far he's come in such a short time."
Calhoun also got Martinez an invitation to the Manning Passing Academy, a four-day event that focuses on mechanics, tactics, and leadership. That's somewhat curious since the Academy is for junior high and high school players, and "high school graduates are prohibited from attending due to NCAA regulations." (Likely due to the fact that the staff is comprised of college coaches.) Maybe Martinez is attending as a coach, or maybe since he's already a college player, he's eligible. According to Calhoun, Washington quarterback Keith Price and Florida State's E.J. Manuel will be at the camp as well. In 2010, Florida State's Christian Ponder participated along with Ryan Mallett, Kellen Moore, Andrew Luck, and Greg McElroy. So maybe the exception is for newly graduated high school players preparing to enroll in college.
Irregardless of whether Martinez is actually able to go to the Manning Academy, all this is extremely positive news. I always return back to the fact that Martinez didn't move to quarterback until his junior season in high school. Most kids who play quarterback probably have played it their entire life. So while he's not young in terms of physical age, he is young in his development. He's gotten where he is because of pure physical talent...now he's finally learning the mental aspects of the game. And it's also good to see that he's taking the initiative to go out and find outside help to rectify his shortcomings. That's taking ownership of it...that's leadership.
It's impossible to know if we're being sold a bill of goods here. We don't know if people are just saying this just to make Martinez sound good. We didn't get a chance to judge Martinez in the spring game. So it's all talk at this point. But I also refuse to believe that a player can't improve. That his mistakes in 2010 are irreversible. Look at Brett Favre; he evolved over the years from being a gunslinger that threw picks at the most inopportune times to become a quarterback who'll be in the Hall of Fame as soon as he's eligible.
Not saying that Martinez is Brett Favre...I'm only saying that players can grow and become better. We haven't seen it, so I can see people being skeptical if they prefer. And we shouldn't go overboard with optimism either, like the people who tried to promote Martinez for the Heisman Trophy after just a few games in his freshman season.
We'll get a decent chance to observe this in September. Then, and only then, will we know whether Martinez has hit a ceiling, or if Martinez can lift Nebraska back into the national spotlight.