At just 14 years old and having not started his freshman year of high school yet, Chris Martin has certainly gathered a lot of attention.
How could you miss him? As an eighth-grade quarterback, he’s already at roughly 6 feet tall, or 5-foot-11 as he says humbly. But being tall isn’t all Martin has going for him. He was already starting for the Fitzgerald High School junior varsity football team this past year.
He’s no common eighth-grader, as he was recognized as ITG Next’s Youth Male Athlete of the Year. The whole country has taken notice, as he’s already appeared on national boards for the class of 2024.
“I work hard to get better every day,” Martin said. “I’ve been working hard all offseason to improve my game and learning from my teammates to get better for this next season.”
Martin moved to the South Georgia community from New York, and when his family was looking for a place to live and a school to attend, he immediately liked the idea of working with Fitzgerald head coach Tucker Pruitt.
“He’s a really great coach and knows what he’s talking about,” Martin said. “When I first met him, I told my dad I wanted to play here because I felt like he was going to help me develop into the kind of player and kind of quarterback I want to be.”
Tucker Pruitt has long been considered one of the brightest offensive minds in South Georgia football. His father, Robby Pruitt, was his head coach at Fitzgerald back when Tucker was the quarterback himself. After that, he was a successful offensive coordinator under his father at Coffee High School and a state champion offensive coordinator at Valdosta High School when his offense averaged over 30 points per game.
Pruitt has been around the high school football circuit, and he quickly recognized the talent that Martin had. He believes it goes beyond the young signal caller’s undeniable skills.
“The first thing that stands out about him is him,” Pruitt said. “He’s growing so quickly. Every time I see him he’s growing, and he’s continuing to get bigger, faster, and stronger. Not many athletes grow and accelerate quite like he has.”
Martin can already throw over 50 yards as he enters the ninth grade. But his most impressive attribute is how much he studies the game. He mentioned breaking down film and learning from greats like Dan Marino and Florida State’s Charlie Ward. That’s not your typical film session for a teenager.
“He is extremely mature for his age,” Pruitt said. “He’s learned our playbook really well. He watches film and asks good, engaging questions. It’s very impressive the poise he shows for his age. He’s kind of a perfectionist and has the arm to play like that.”
The world is beginning to take notice of Martin as well. During this offseason, he’s caught the attention of high profile athletes and even been able to work out with players like Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver and Super Bowl champion Tyreek Hill.
“That was a great experience, and I am grateful to Tyreek for allowing me to work out with him,” Martin said. “He’s as fast as they say, and it was a lot of fun.”
When asked about starting his freshman year, Martin said that his first goal was to work hard and focus on the team first.
“I’ll contribute however they need me to,” Martin said. “I’m not too worried about what role I’m going to play. I’m just thankful for the opportunity. I’m just working on getting better, talking with my receivers on where they like the ball, and then going out to play some football.”
Not a lot of freshmen get the opportunity to start on the varsity team, particularly at the quarterback position, where it takes years of work to master the craft. But it’s clear that Chris Martin is no ordinary freshman.
“We’re excited about his future and happy we get to have him in a Fitzgerald uniform for four years,” Pruitt said. “He’s competing for the job. We’ve got our returning quarterback in Rashad Davis, one of our top athletes in Chance Gamble will get to play more quarterback, and then you have Chris. At the very least we feel very confident all three guys will be able to go in and do a great job.”
Written by: Kyle Grondin