MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU defensive lineman Sean Martin had a 2021 season that many young players in his position group would happily accept.
Playing in his second year as a Mountaineer, he saw action on 275 plays, recording 16 tackles and scooping up a fumble as a dependable backup on the West Virginia defensive front. That followed a 2020 year in which he worked his way into five games of action late in the season, but as that didn’t count against his eligibility due to NCAA rules in response to the Covid pandemic, he is, in effect, coming off a true freshman season.
His performance last year has set him up for an even bigger role this year, and he believes he knows the keys to becoming another stalwart on the line.
“Throughout the spring I just wanted to stay consistent,” the Bluefield, West Virginia, native explained. “I feel like I reached my goals, but I want to continue to get better, and stay consistent throughout the season. (I don’t want to) have ups and downs like I did last year.”
Martin also lists gaining strength as important in that pursuit. With a long, lean build and good quickness, speed has always been a part of his resume, but if he can add more strength and explosiveness to his toolkit, he could be poised to move into one of the stalwart roles currently held by players like Dante Stills and Taijh Alston. Still, he doesn’t share the same physical makeup as many of his teammates, which leads him to look at some professional players when comparing and matching skills.
“I look at NFL players like Calais Campbell and J.J. Watt, people that have my ability. I look at people that are the same size as me, because in college football there aren’t a lot of people built the same as me, so I have to look as some guys in the NFL,” he said, noting that they tend to employ techniques and play the game in a similar manner. “I’m working on getting stronger, doing the things I need to do to better myself.”
With spring practice in the books, summer workouts have focused on more individual improvement, both in the strength and technique areas. Very quickly, though, that will transition to full-on preparation for the 2022 season.
“At this stage we can’t have any contact with each other, so it’s mostly position drills,” Martin said of the current development schedule. “(From the middle of June) we have about three weeks of those workouts left, then we have a little break and then we get back here to start getting ready for the season.”
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Martin was one of a number of WVU players participating in a Country Roads Trust football camp at Mylan Park earlier this month, and he appreciated the chance it gave young players to meet and work with some of those they watch on the field.
“Growing up I didn’t have this as I child, so I feel like it was great for them to meet and see college players. Bluefield was a small town, so there weren’t a lot of players,” he noted.
Martin did note, though, that the number of in-state players – including a fair percentage of whom are being counted on to make big contributions this year – is growing.
“I played against Dante (Stills) and Zach (Frazier) my whole career, and I’ve known Wyatt (Milum), Nick Malone, Doug Nester and Zeiqui (Lawton). Hopefully we can build and build and have more West Virginia athletes.”
There are already 18 Mountain Staters on the 2022 roster, with Graeson Malashevich, Preston Fox, Casey Legg and Corbin Page joining those listed by Martin as scholarship players.