A Perfect Fit: An Interview with Keshawn Martin
“I was surprised when the Texans called on draft day but I couldn’t be happier.”
- Keshawn Martin, Houston Texans, Wide Receiver, Michigan State University
With an army of coaches singing his praises, Keshawn Martin becomes a Houston Texan after an improbable road to the NFL. Martin wasn’t a typical college recruit. He was unable to afford to attend college camps which increase exposure and wasn’t recruited at all out of high school. He did not have by any means a privileged childhood. That is until Westland John Glenn High School’s Athletic Director Brian Swinehart saw a major flaw in this. After all, he felt so strongly about Martin’s range of abilities and deservingness of a shot that he said, “I would do anything when it comes to Keshawn just because of who he is.”
Who is Keshawn Martin? A young man coaches, scouts and fans couldn’t seem to get enough of once they found out about him. His unlikely journey begins in Inkster, MI, the second of two sons of very proud parents Charles and Tracy. During his formative years, Tracy suffered from chronic illness, Charles worked as a baggage handler and times were tough. As Swinehart says: “His parents have done a phenomenal job of raising him, he’s never been in any kind of trouble. He comes from a great family with not a lot of money but a lot of character.” Finding the glamour of the recruitment process astonishing, Martin commented he felt weird at being treated like a celebrity. Imagine how far he has come in the four-and-a-half years since college recruitment to being drafted by the Houston Texans.
Swinehart played the role of agent, creating a tape of Martin’s high school senior year highlights and submitted it to every college in the state of Michigan and the Mid-American Conference. The consequence: Keshawn Martin went from a guy contemplating JuCo to a coveted collegiate prospect. Within a week, Swinehart was fielding calls from Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State. They first asked if the tape was doctored and when assured it was not, they all wanted this guy. Within days, Martin had found his fit and committed to Michigan State, where he would further charm his coaches and become a star on the field.
Highly successful Michigan State Head Coach Mark Dantonio said Keshawn Martin could have gone anywhere in America had his film gotten out. Martin, a 5’11″, rangy 189 lb. open field burner has been compared closely to Derrick Mason by Coach Dantonio, who was working with defensive backs at Michigan State during the time Mason was playing for the Spartans. Dantonio says that he had to go against Mason everyday for two years during practice and Keyshawn Martin has that same ability.
What exactly did Martin accomplish under Dantonio at Michigan State? In 2008-2011, Martin led the Spartans with 59 plays of 20+ yards and 17 plays of 40+ yards, with 445 yards after catch, leading the team. Examples of FIVE different ways in which Martin scored at Michigan State, you ask?
a) Martin had a 34-yard rushing TD over Michigan in 2011,
b) a 74-yard punt return for a TD against #11 Wisconsin in 2009,
c) a 47-yard TD catch versus Indiana this year
d) a 93-yard kickoff return vs. Minnesota in 2008, and finally
e) Keshawn Martin passed for a TD in the 2010 Alamo Bowl against Texas Tech, during a game in which he compiled 238 all-purpose yards, the third-highest single-game total in Spartan bowl history.
“Not everyone can run a route,” Martin has said during his freshman year at MSU, where he was transitioning from QB/DB to WR and all-around TD scorer. Yet Houston Texans’ WR Coach Larry Kirksey says “He (Martin) has route-running skills that allude defenders.” Martin is modest when describing his own abilities, but has shown that with the ball in his hands he is explosive, multi-dimensional and has tremendous promise in even the NFL. With his humble attitude and huge playmaking skills, Keshawn Martin, who compares himself to Percy Harvin, has the potential to be a special addition to a passing offense and special teams in huge need of revitalization. Plus, he’s a slot guy. Who’s not curious to see when and how Kubiak will use Martin’s skills, if not only on the special teams?
According to Swinehart who maintains close contact with Martin, “Keshawn is fired up to play for Houston. It could not have been a better fit for him. He could not stop smiling on draft day.” One can read that from his answers, that Keshawn Martin is a shy, non-boastful guy, not resting on his college accolades. Keshawn Martin looks to be a quiet man, as evidenced by his Twitter account and responses below, but don’t hesitate to let him know if you too are excited to have him as part of the Houston Texans.
“What does it mean to you to be a part of the Houston Texans?
I am very excited about joining the Texans organization. We have a very talented team and I am excited to come to a team that is going to be competing for a Super Bowl championship every year.
Did you have any idea that the Texans were looking at you pre draft?
I had a lot of teams show interest in me during the draft process but the Texans were not one of them. I was surprised when the Texans called on draft day but couldn’t be happier.
What does Michigan State mean to you as a player and person?
Michigan State is a special place. It will always hold place in my heart as I matured and grew as a football player and a person in East Lansing. The coaching staff, my teammates, the fans and student body every aspect of Michigan State is unique. One of the best decisions in my life was to be a Spartan.
What are your expectations for yourself coming into camp?
I expect to come in ready to compete for a starting job on special teams and in the offense. At the end of the day I am going to do everything I can to help our team win games, whatever the coaching staff asks of me I can promise that I will give it 100%.
What can Texans fans expect from you when you strap on that Texans helmet?
I hope to bring excitement to the Texans fans with my playmaking ability. Outside of that the fans can expect to get 100% out of me on every play in games and in practice.
Please follow Keshawn Martin on Twitter and welcome him to the Texans family.
You can follow The Claire Bear on Twitter and please do – it’s encouraged.