By CASEY MUSE JR
Pima Community College quarterback Justin Martin is enjoying an amazing freshman season, but the kid had no idea any of it would happen the way that it has.
Martin grew up a big fan of the game.
“I’ve been playing football since like sixth grade,” Martin said. “I played for the Tucson Redskins on the west side of town.”
Martin has always been an all-around athlete and never had a designated position until college.
“I started out at running back but I practically played every position on the field back then,” he said. “I realized that I just loved touching the football.”
Before long, Martin was playing his own games on Saturday mornings and studying his idols on Sunday.
“I used to love Cadillac Williams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” he said. “When I started watching them on TV, I started to think. ‘I can do that.’”
Martin took his talents to Cholla High School for freshman year and was soon called up to varsity.
“It was a rough year on the field,” he said. “I didn’t get too many reps starting out but the experience was important.”
By sophomore year, Martin was starting at quarterback and safety but it was another rough year for his team.
Things changed dramatically for Martin at this point in his life and career. “My step-dad took an assistant coaching position at Pueblo High School, so I transferred,” he said.
Playing for his step-dad was a dream come true for Martin.
“He plays a big part in my life, a really big part,” he said. “I appreciate him and love him as if he were my father.”
Martin brought a certain “it” factor to Pueblo, which did not necessarily have a winning culture.
“I hated losing with a passion,” he said. “We had to start changing things around. We also got a new head coach that year.”
Martin led Pueblo to the playoffs for the first time in 25 years, an accomplishment that is still held in high regard.
“We lost first round but the experience was still amazing,” he said. “It took until my senior year for me to make the playoffs. I enjoyed the moment.”
As high school was winding down, Martin began to contemplate college. After weighing his options, he committed to PCC for the 2016-17 season.
“I was actually brought into training camp as a receiver, believe it or not,” Martin said.
“We had some quarterback issues all throughout camp,” he added. “I remember one day just tossing the ball around and next thing I know the coaches are asking me to throw in drills, and I was moved to quarterback.”
At that moment, Martin said, he realized he was meant to play quarterback. He has no intention of switching positions again.
Martin has built strong relationships with his teammates, including sophomore running back Sirgeo Hoffman and freshman receiver Jalen Edwards.
He has also developed an important relationship with head coach Jim Monaco.
“Monaco is a great guy,” Martin said. “He really just wants the best for us and he is always going to fight for us. I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to play for him.”
After Pima’s 21-9 loss against Arizona Western College, Monaco had encouraging words for Martin.
“You’ve got all the talent in the world,” he said during a post-game huddle. “You’ve got to keep your head up and lead this team.”
Martin’s 1,147 passing yards and 11 touchdowns are some of the highest marks in the conference.
He hopes to continue playing football throughout college and wants to play Division 1 someday.
For now, he’s thankful for the opportunity to do what he loves and extremely proud to be a Pima Aztec.
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