Martin finds success in first game at Kinnick

After receiving eligibility on Wednesday, Oliver Martin scored his first touchdown on his first reception as a Hawkeye Saturday.

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Martin finds success in first game at Kinnick

 Iowa wide receiver Oliver Martin catches a touchdown pass during the football game against Miami (Ohio) at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, August 31, 2019.

Iowa wide receiver Oliver Martin catches a touchdown pass during the football game against Miami (Ohio) at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, August 31, 2019.

Katina Zentz

Iowa wide receiver Oliver Martin catches a touchdown pass during the football game against Miami (Ohio) at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, August 31, 2019.

Katina Zentz

Katina Zentz

Iowa wide receiver Oliver Martin catches a touchdown pass during the football game against Miami (Ohio) at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, August 31, 2019.

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

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Oliver Martin received immediate eligibility from the NCAA on Wednesday. Just three days later, he scored his first touchdown for the Hawkeyes in a 38-14 season-opening win over Miami (Ohio).

After being held out of action and kept on the sidelines for the first half, Martin received his chance in the third quarter.

With 10:06 remaining in the quarter and the ball on Miami’s 9-yard line, Martin stuttered out of his stance, released outside, and created enough separation for quarterback Nate Stanley to easily lob it to his new weapon.

His first reception and first touchdown, all at the same time.

“It is [a dream scenario],” Martin said. “I didn’t really envision that coming in. Then, the opportunity just came. I went into the game, and they called that particular play in the red zone. It was like, ‘I could score on this play.’”

The touchdown has been a long time coming for Martin, who starred at Iowa City West as a prep player, catching 158 passes for 2,459 yards, and 28 scores in his final two seasons.

The former four-star prospect then decided to take his talents to Ann Arbor and join the Jim Harbaugh-led Michigan Wolverines before transferring back to his hometown.

On Saturday, it was as if he never left, catching touchdowns in the city he grew up in in front of fans who know him.

“It felt amazing,” Martin said. “That’s something that kids growing up in Iowa City dream about doing, something I dreamt about doing. So, to finally do it was surreal, and it was a lot of fun.”

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday that Martin would play if he were to receive eligibility. When Martin got the green light from the NCAA, then, it wasn’t a surprise to see him on the field.

Martin finished with 2 catches for 14 yards and the score, and he had another play that almost went for a loss but turned into a five-yard gain after he made defenders miss.

Despite the limited number of snaps, Martin ended the game with success, and that’s a positive for Iowa.

“It’s his first time playing in Kinnick; He’s seen it a bunch, I’m sure, but first time he’s had a chance to play in here,” Ferentz said. “For him to have some success, I think that’s really a positive, not only for Oliver, but for our whole football team.”

Martin’s quarterback has enjoyed having him around, as well.

“[He adds] the playmaking ability,” signal-caller Nate Stanley said. “He comes in, and makes a big impact right away. He’s a very consistent player, a very cerebral player, especially to come in this summer and have our offense down.”

Martin wasn’t the only Hawkeye to get in on the fun. Instead, Stanley distributed the ball around the field, as 10 different receivers recorded a reception.

Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette hauled in touchdowns as well, and running back Mekhi Sargent caught four passes for a game-high 65 receiving yards.

When a player contributed, his teammates were happy, and it showed on the field.

“We’re all pretty good players, but we all get along in such a great way, which I think you could tell; when Oliver scored, we all were excited for him, when [Brandon] Smith scored, we all were excited for him,” wide receiver Nico Ragaini said. “I feel like we truly care about each other, and none of us are selfish.”

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