West Virginia sophomore safety K.J. Martin announced via Twitter on Wednesday that he was going to opt out of the 2020 football season.
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Martin’s tweet read:
“Dear Mountaineer Nation,
“My family and myself have had many conversations about playing this upcoming fall 2020 season. With that being said, we feel as if it’s best to opt out and sit this season out due to my family and my own personal health issues (sickle cell, asthma). I signed my NLI to this university to become a great football player and leave as a better man as well as having a better understanding about life, and pursue my professional dream, but not to play during a worldwide pandemic. I don’t feel that it is safe to play while there’s a virus that we have no forms of a cure or know the long term affects of the virus as many athletes are currently having heart and other respiratory problems. I am also deciding to sit out because we don’t feel my body matches my mental state to play the game and I don’t think I could withstand the role I could be playing this upcoming season due to my current condition as a football player. I don’t want to get into this season and not perform better than my last season and not be able to give my 100% all. I want to thank all the fans for the love and support you give us; it is much appreciated! I will comeback for my RS-Sophomore year a much more dynamic player. I appreciate the athletic department and the staff for this opportunity. Go Mountaineers!
“#15 Kerry KJ Martin Jr.”
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Martin is the first WVU football player to make public his decision to opt out of the 2020 season. There have been a number of players at other Power 5 school, though, who have stated they will not be playing this coming year, including Penn State All-American linebacker Micah Parsons, Virginia Tech All-American cornerback Caleb Farley, Minnesota all-Big 12 receiver Rashod Bateman, Michigan State defensive end Jacub Panasiuk and Illinois running back Ra’Von Bonner. There are also over 50 NFL players who have decided to opt out of the 2020 season.
Martin played in all 12 games for WVU as a true freshman in 2019, starting four of those. He finished sixth on the team in tackles with 50 to go along with five pass deflections.
The Charleston, West Virginia, native was in contention to be the Mountaineers’ starting free safety this coming year as well. His decision to sit out this season will leave WVU looking for another free safety to start alongside returning cat safety Sean Mahone and spear safety Tykee Smith. Senior Jake Long and junior Noah Guzman are two veteran safeties who will be among those who will battle for the playing time left available in Martin’s absence.
Scottie Young, a transfer from the University of Arizona, is another option for WVU at free safety. The 5-foot-11, 201-pound native of San Diego, California, was a three-year starter for the Wildcats, accumulating 157 tackles and five interceptions in that time, but decided to leave Arizona after his junior season in 2019. He announced his transfer to WVU this past May.
Now a fourth-year senior, Young has only one season of eligibility remaining, but he has two years in which to use it. As a non-graduate transfer, he will need a waiver from the NCAA to become immediately eligible to play for West Virginia in the 2020 season, but those waivers have become common in recent years. According to a CollegeFootballTalk.com article, the NCAA granted waivers to 51 of the 64 FBS non-graduate football transfers who appealed for immediate eligibility last year.
Mountaineer forever 💙 pic.twitter.com/bTVNy6b3lz
— Kerry “KJ” Martin Jr.🌹 (@KMartinJr11) August 5, 2020
As for Martin, because he has not used a redshirt yet, the Capital High grad can sit out the 2020 season and return with three years of eligibility remaining in 2021.
Martin drew considerable attention earlier this summer when he accused then WVU defensive coordinator Vic Koenning of making insensitive comments, particularly in areas of religion and politics. After an outside investigation, eventually WVU and Koenning “mutually agreed to separate.”