Tate Martell was excused early from class at Desert Pines on Wednesday so he could rush home for a surprise.
When he arrived, Martell was greeted by former Ohio State and NFL running back Eddie George.
“I was in shock,” Martell said.
George wasn’t in the Martell family’s kitchen just to bake peanut butter-and-chocolate Buckeye candy for the Ohio State commit. Instead, he presented the senior quarterback with the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award.
“Everybody I know knew about it except for me,” Martell said. “It was a goal that I had, but it wasn’t something that I focused on during the year. The big thing that I focused on was my team this year and getting it done.
“I learned that from Trent Dilfer this year, putting your team before anything else and the awards will come along with it. I definitely think that was the reason I won this award, focusing on my team and just going out there and playing for them.”
Martell led …
((Sound of needle scratching across a record))
Wait, Desert Pines?
What’s going on here?
Martell led Bishop Gorman to its eighth consecutive Class 4A state title on Dec. 3, but the school does not permit early graduates. As a result, Martell, who carries a 3.32 GPA, transferred to Desert Pines last week and will complete his academic career Friday.
He is scheduled to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Game/events from Jan. 1-7 and then begins classes at Ohio State on Jan. 9.
“Why would I want to leave the school when I’ve done everything here?” Martell asked rhetorically. “Everything I’ve done is (at Gorman), obviously. Nobody’s upset with me.
“You can’t graduate early at Gorman, and that’s part of my goals and everything. I’ve done everything I could, and it’s time for me to move on. It’s sad I can’t graduate from here, but I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”
Martell, who was named the Gatorate state player of the year Monday for the second time in his prep career, guided Gorman to a 15-0 record as a senior. The Gaels next week are expected to be named mythical national champions for the third consecutive season.
The 5-foot-11-inch Martell completed 136 of 215 passes for 2,362 yards and 41 touchdowns, and he added 1,253 yards and 21 TDs rushing this season. For his three-year career at Gorman, Martell went 43-0 as a starter and finished second in state history 7,510 yards and 113 touchdowns passing.
“This isn’t just me or just the guys you see playing,” Martell said. “It’s literally everybody involved the process. I definitely wouldn’t be in this position without all my teammates and coaches.”
Martell, who volunteered as a local youth football coach and mentored elementary school students, also is a finalist for several other national awards. He is the first football player from Gorman to win the Gatorade national award.
“I knew there was a chance I could win it, and I had no idea and it kind of came out of nowhere, so that was cool,” Martell said. “I guess it’s a good way to definitely leave my stamp and my legacy on this school, of what I wanted to accomplish sophomore year, and it actually happened.”
Contact reporter David Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.