Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Martinez Grateful For Manning Academy Opportunity

By Brian Rosenthal

When Adrian Martinez received an invitation to serve as a counselor for the 2019 Manning Passing Academy, the Nebraska sophomore quarterback needn’t think twice.

“It’s definitely something I wanted to do right off the bat,” Martinez said in a phone interview. “It’s hard to say no to someone like Archie Manning, and then just being around some great people with some really good knowledge about the game.”

Martinez, a freshman All-American coming off a record-setting Nebraska freshman season, joins Taylor Martinez and Tanner Lee in recent years to participate in the MPA.

The event, held last weekend at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, provided Martinez an opportunity to interact and learn from Archie Manning and his sons, Peyton and Eli – all famous quarterbacks, of course, with extensive collegiate and NFL backgrounds.

“It went great. I learned a lot,” Martinez said. “It was just really cool being around the Mannings and then other top college quarterbacks, and just going out there competing and having fun.”

Among the 40-some collegiate quarterbacks at the camp were Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Missouri’s Kelly Bryant, Oregon’s Justin Herbert, LSU’s Joe Burrow, Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Northwestern’s Hunter Johnson, Iowa’s Nate Stanley, Colorado’s Steven Montez and Florida State’s Alex Hornibrook, the Wisconsin transfer.

“Some of them I knew, but I actually met a lot of new people,” Martinez said. “I talked to a lot of the guys, and we didn’t think there was one bad guy in the group. We really got along great, got close, shared some great experiences, good laughs.

“I’m really thankful. More than anything, was just being around those guys and sharing life-long memories with them.”

Among the collegiate players in attendance was Laviska Shenault, a Colorado … receiver.

“He was, for whatever reason,” Martinez said, laughing. “No, they try to invite one or two receivers each year, and then there are a ton of other local receivers there that come in and help catch routes.”

He said Shenault and Montez are “both good guys, really cool dudes,” but didn’t talk extensively about last year’s game, or the one upcoming in September in Boulder, Colorado.

“I joked with their receiver a little bit because we were coaching at the same station one of the days, and I walked up to him, and he was like, ‘Like, uh, so how’s your defense looking? Wanna give me any tips?’ Just messing.”

Martinez said he was grateful for the opportunity to work with the Mannings. He appreciated seeing extensive quarterback work under center, something he doesn’t see much in Nebraska’s shotgun offense.

“But also, I learned a lot about preparation, and just the whole process that Peyton and Eli put themselves through and what they do to get prepared going into each game,” Martinez said. “I think that is a huge advantage for me, just having that knowledge now and maybe adding to my preparation skills.”

Of course, the primary reason Martinez attended the MPA was to help and teach younger quarterbacks.

“I love being around kids and coaching kids. It’s always fun,” Martinez said. “Me and JT Daniels, the USC quarterback, we got some of the middle school kids, and there were times they could be a pain in the neck but other times it was just a ton of fun to be around them and just joke with them, and obviously try to get them better at the game, too.”

Martinez, a native of Fresno, California, rewrote Nebraska’s freshman record book in 2018 and left his mark on the Huskers’ overall season charts, including averaging a school-record 295.1 yards of total offense per game.

Martinez ranked 12th nationally in total offense per game and was first among all freshmen. In fact, Martinez's average of 295.1 yards of total offense per game was the ninth-highest mark by a freshman in NCAA history and the third-best mark by a true freshman.

Martinez completed 64.6 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,617 yards, ranking second in school history in completion percentage, sixth in completions (224), eighth in passing yards and 10th in passing touchdowns (17). Martinez also rushed for 629 yards, the fourth-highest rushing total of any true freshman in school history. 

Some NFL media members also attend the MPA, keeping track of players that one day may play in the pros, and Martinez made a positive impression on one such person.

Reach Brian at brosenthal@huskers.com or follow him on Twitter @GBRosenthal.

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