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Cameron Martinez to get practice reps on both sides of the ball

Ryan Day open to moving the highly-touted athlete around

Ohio State v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Cameron Martinez was the last piece of the puzzle for Ohio State’s 2020 recruiting class, and after reaffirming his commitment to the program last week, the four-star athlete signed on the dotted line on Wednesday to officially become a Buckeye. While Martinez isn’t one of the most highly ranked recruits in the country, Ryan Day and his staff obviously see something in the Michigan native that has made him worth the extra work put in to secure his commitment.

Day has spoken highly of Martinez throughout his recruitment, continuing that trend in his National Signing Day press conference when he called him, “one of the most under-recruited kids in the entire country.” The biggest draw when it comes to Martinez seems to be his versatility. Recruited as an athlete, the 5-foot-11, 185-pounder has played almost exclusively quarterback in high school, but his skillset makes him comfortable enough to line up nearly anywhere on the field.

Martinez was named Michigan High School Football Player of the Year two years in a row — the first ever two-time winner in the award’s seven-year history. As a senior, he rushed for just over 2,000 yards for a second-straight season, and scored a whopping 35 touchdowns on the ground. Through the air, Martinez completed 64 of 104 pass attempts for another 1,200-plus yards with 11 TDs and four picks. While Ohio State obviously does not need his quarterbacking abilities with the incumbent Justin Fields in town, there are certainly other spots where his athleticism can come in handy.

The Buckeyes have numerous openings to sort out this offseason, with the biggest positions of need being at slot receiver and cornerback. In speaking to the media on Wednesday, Day said Martinez will likely get reps at both spots. It is easy to see the speedster lining up at the H-back spot reminiscent of a Curtis Samuel-type player, while a full offseason of work under Kerry Coombs could also make him a dynamic nickel corner. It would also make sense to test him out as a return man, as his raw speed and athleticism could make him a weapon on special teams.

Wednesday’s presser also gave us a glimpse into how the defensive coaching strategy will work between Kerry Coombs and Greg Mattison. Officially, Coombs is listed by Ohio State as the defensive coordinator, while Mattison is listed as the co-defensive coordinator. When asked about their roles calling the defense, Day explained that while it will be a collaborative effort between the two guys overall, it will be Coombs that ultimately has the final say. The Buckeye head coach called it a similar scenario to the offense, where both Day and Kevin Wilson have a hand in play-calling, but Day ultimately gets final say.

Coombs himself had a lot to say in regards to both his return and how things will look on defense next season. He said it was very hard for him to leave Tennessee, expressing a tremendous amount of love and respect for Titans head coach Mike Vrabel. Coombs said he has always been an Ohio kid at heart, and the amount of Ohio State fans he see all around the country makes him feel at home. He missed being a member of the Buckeyes, and says that he is “infinitely better” than he was two years ago, now with NFL experience under his belt.

In terms of what Ohio State’s defense will actually look like on the field, don't expect a lot of changes from the system that worked incredibly well a year ago. Coombs said the base defense will remain a single high safety like it was in 2019. In his last stint at OSU, Coombs was famous for his commitment to playing press man coverage. While the Buckeye assistant reiterated his love for press man, and how they are going to play it and play it well, there will also be some Cover 3 thrown in the mix much like last season. Coombs also anticipates rotating cornerbacks to keep guys fresh and get younger players who earn playing time more experience.

There was a shifting of former Buckeyes in the NBA late last night, as a blockbuster four-team trade took place in advance of the league’s trade deadline this Thursday. The massive deal — which included Atlanta, Denver, Houston and Minnesota and totaled 12 players — was the biggest NBA trade since the Knicks traded Patrick Ewing to Seattle in 2000.

Among the 12 players in the deal, two of them played their collegiate ball at Ohio State. Keita Bates-Diop, taken in the 2018 NBA Draft by Minnesota, was traded from the Timberwolves to the Denver Nuggets. Evan Turner, taken in the 2010 NBA Draft and now playing for his sixth different NBA franchise, was moved from Atlanta to Minnesota.

Some of the other big names involved in the blockbuster were Minnesota’s Robert Covington and Jordan Bell being moved to Houston, Clint Capela going from the Rockets to the Atlanta Hawks, and Shabazz Napier moving from the Timberwolves to the Nuggets.

Outside of Bates-Diop and Turner, there are only two other former Buckeyes currently playing in the NBA. One of which is Mike Conley, who just this past summer was traded from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Utah Jazz and will likely not be on the move anytime soon. The other, however, is D’Angelo Russell, who has heard his name come up in numerous different trade rumors this week, most notably involving the Timberwolves and the New York Knicks.

The clock is ticking on any remaining NBA trades. The deadline to make a deal is this Thursday, Feb. 6 at 3 p.m. EST.

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