MORGANTOWN — Many looked at the 2022 season as go-time for WVU defensive lineman Sean Martin.
Once heralded as one of the top prospects in West Virginia out of Bluefield, Martin switched his commitment from North Carolina to the Mountaineers during his senior year due to a full-court press by head coach Neal Brown and staff.
As good as he was in high school, though, there was a major adjustment to Power Five football.
“High school football in West Virginia, it wasn’t really hard (to adjust),” Martin said. “Getting adept to college football was way harder. It took two years. Like coach Brown always told me, I’m a two-year develop player.”
Those two years are over, and one of the few bright spots defensively in last week’s 55-42 loss to Kansas was Martin’s play up front.
He had four tackles, including two for a loss, earning praise from Brown and defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley that Martin needs more playing time.
“If there was a guy that played well up front, it was Sean,” Lesley said. “His role will increase and it needs to. He’s ready for that. He understands what he can be now. There are positions we can get him in up front that’ll really help us, particularly against a team like that the next we cross a path with that style of offense.”
Brown went as far as saying Martin could start for the Mountaineers (0-2, 0-1 Big 12) in the near future, possibly beginning with Saturday’s home game against Towson.
During his two-year development period, Martin’s gained about 40 pounds, going from 250 to about 290. His versatility and willingness to play all three positions on the defensive line has also helped him get this chance to play and perhaps start.
“My mom always tells me to take advantage of my opportunities,” Martin said. “The coaches always speak on it. I just got to do the right things, and do the little things, and get better each and every day.”
Two weeks before the Pitt game, Martin broke his pinky fingers and was forced to play with a club against the Panthers.
Last week against Kansas, he was able to take it off.
“I really didn’t perform the last two weeks of camp, because I was too worried about my hand,” Martin said. “Being able to take the club off, I feel normal now.”