Amid a roller coaster of a college football career, University of Miami redshirt junior quarterback Tate Martell is opting out of the 2020 football season, the Miami Herald has learned.
UM coach Manny Diaz announced after the Hurricanes’ opener last week against Alabama-Birmingham that Martell was suspended for that game. Diaz indicated it was a one-game suspension and Martell would be back.
If this marks the end of Martell’s career with the Hurricanes, which is still unclear, the wildly popular former Ohio State quarterback will have attempted and completed one pass for 7 yards since he arrived at UM in January 2019. He rushed once for 3 yards in the 2019 home opener against Bethune-Cookman.
Martell, listed as 5-11 and 205-pounds, threw the pass in the final UM game of 2019 — against Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl, a 14-0 loss for Miami. He was sacked twice.
As of earlier this week, Martell wasn’t even on the depth chart, which lists starter D’Eriq King, backup N’Kosi Perry and freshman Tyler Van Dyke as the top three quarterbacks in that order.
Martell joins UM offensive linemen Kai-Leon Herbert and Zalon’tae Hillery, who also opted out for the season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as permitted by the NCAA. Former Canes defensive end Greg Rousseau opted out as well, then announced he was training for the 2021 NFL Draft and has ended his UM career.
Martell, the 2016 Gatorade Player of the Year when he starred for Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas, was one of the most highly touted quarterbacks in the recruiting class of 2017. At Bishop Gorman, where he played with current Hurricanes tight end Brevin Jordan and safety Bubba Bolden, Martell threw for 2,362 yards and 41 touchdowns and ran for another 1,257 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior.
How popular was Martell? He was featured on “60 Minutes” when he was 14. Then, when he played for Bishop Gorman, he was the subject of “QB1: Beyond the Lights,’’ a Netflix documentary series.
He also has 145,000 followers on Twitter. He told Cleveland.com in 2018 that when he was 16, he “was like, ‘Let’s go buy some followers’ and bought some fake accounts for an old account. “I think I got like 2000 followers from them.’’
Rated the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the 247Sports composite rankings for that 2017 recruiting class, Martell threw for 7,507 yards and 113 touchdowns, with nine interceptions, leading Bishop Gorman to three state championships in his three seasons. He added 2,294 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns for an average of 7.2 yards per carry.
But Martell never proved himself on the field at Miami, and was beaten out by last year’s starter Jarren Williams and this year’s backup Perry. Per Martell’s request, according to coach Manny Diaz, he was converted to a receiver. But that never worked out either.
Martell also had struggles off the field, and missed three games during separate leaves of absences last season. He missed the Pittsburgh game, briefly returned, and left the team again to work out personal issues ahead of the FIU and Duke losses in late November.
“For those asking: I’m not transferring from the University of Miami,’’ Martell wrote to fans in a late-night Instagram story he posted on the eve of the 2019 Duke game. “My leave of absence is due [to] person[al] reasons. At this time, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to discuss these reasons.
“There might be a time, down the road, when I believe it is appropriate to talk about this publicly. For the time being, I need some time to focus on these issues.’’
At Ohio State, Martell sat on the bench in 2017 behind OSU starting quarterback J.T. Barrett, who was a first-team all-conference selection. In 2018, Martell sat behind former quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist. He was the favorite to take over at quarterback in 2019 until star quarterback Justin Fields decided to transfer to Ohio State from Georgia.
Martell went 23 of 28 for 269 yards and one touchdown and ran 22 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns as Haskins’ backup in 2018.
At least one Miami Hurricanes rotation player did not travel to Louisville because of an issue involving COVID-19, according to a source. And at least two players were exposed to the virus in recent days.
But UM athletic director Blake James said Saturday’s UM-Louisville game (7:30 p.m., ABC) will be played and there was no serious consideration given to postponing it.
The Miami Herald is not identifying the player who was confirmed to have been left home due to a COVID issue because he has not authorized the release of his name in association with the virus.
UM declined to say whether any player was left home and never acknowledges how many, if any, players test positive for COVID-19. UM announces players who aren’t playing an hour before kickoff but does not give a reason.