Oliver Martin receives immediate eligibility from NCAA

After a long wait, Iowa wide receiver Oliver Martin has been granted eligibility from the NCAA.


David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan

Iowa football helmets line the sidelines during a game against Purdue University on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. The Boilermakers defeated the Hawkeyes 24 to 15. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

The Oliver Martin saga is officially over after the Michigan transfer received eligibility from the NCAA. The Des Moines Register‘s Chad Leistikow first reported the news.

“I am ecstatic that the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference have approved our waiver request,” Martin said in a release. “I want to thank my coaches and my teammates for their help as I work to get ready. I have been dreaming of running out of the tunnel wearing the black and gold ever since I decided to join the program. I can’t wait to contribute to this team on the field.”

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday his plan was to play Martin if his waiver got approved. Now, it’s official.

“He’s definitely in our plans to play him, and he’d be on the travel team if we were traveling,” Ferentz said Tuesday. “If we get the green light, we’ll play him at some point.”

Ferentz noted the Martin family hired an attorney when he spoke at Big Ten Media Days on July 19. No timetable was set, and the decision comes just days before Iowa opens its season against Miami (Ohio) on Saturday.

“We are pleased that the NCAA and Big Ten Conference have approved Oliver’s waiver to play this season,” Ferentz said in a release. “Oliver is a tremendous young man who has been working hard since the day he set foot on our campus this summer. His teammates are excited to have him on the practice field and in the weight room, and we look forward to Oliver being able to contribute to our team.”

Martin’s ability to play brings more stability to an Iowa offense that lost its top three receiving threats to the NFL in T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant, and Nick Easley.

Not listed on Iowa’s Week 1 depth chart with his status up in the air, Martin — who has been practicing with the team since the middle of June — will receive playing time next to Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Brandon Smith, as Nico Ragaini and Tyrone Tracy round out the receiving corps.

“I think me being a part of the receiving room helps the standard in the room raise,” Martin said at Iowa’s media day. “I think it’ll help push each other. They’re talented, and I feel like I have good ability, so I think that helps raise the standard in practice.”

Rated a four-star recruit by 247Sports during his days at Iowa City West, Martin was also listed as the best prospect in the state of Iowa out of high school as well as the seventh-best wide receiver in the nation.

Martin redshirted in his first year with the Wolverines before hauling in 11 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown in 13 games last season.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said at Big Ten Media Days that Martin was at the top of the Wolverines’ depth chart before his decision to leave the program.

“Yeah, I was surprised that Oliver transferred,” Harbaugh said. “He really had a heck of a spring and was at the top of our depth chart coming out of spring ball and was doing very well in school — on his way to the Ross Business School. So, that was a surprise.”

Quarterback Nate Stanley said in June that Martin reminded him of Easley, who starred as Stanley’s security blanket by catching 52 passes in 2018.

“[He’s] fast, has great hands,” Stanley said. “He reminds me a lot of Nick. Kind of same body type. Obviously, Nick had great production here, so maybe he can do something like that.”