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ISU football: Joe Martin staying positive during recovery from season-ending knee injury

July 15, 2018

POCATELLO — Joe Martin had an altered perspective this spring.

While his teammates got their first reps with new coaches and coordinators preparing for the 2018 season, Martin watched from the sidelines. His surgically repaired knee kept Martin out of spring drills, but the Idaho State redshirt senior linebacker said his alternative outlook was valuable. He stayed close to first-year defensive coordinator Roger Cooper and listened to his in-play critiques like he couldn’t when he was on the field.

“It was great getting that different vantage point and just getting all the different coaching perspectives,” Martin said at an ISU football media event June 18 at the Orthopedic Center next to Holt Arena.

Martin suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Bengals’ 2017 game at Sacramento State. He was in the midst of a career year before that. At the time of his injury, he ranked in the top 20 in the FCS with 9.9 tackles per game and piled up a career-high 20 tackles against Utah State — one of the FCS’ top single-game performances in 2017.

Martin’s injury was synonymous with the end of ISU’s season as the Bengals lost that game and three of the next four to end the year.

But Martin, who always stands out with his sheer energy and vocal leadership, has maintained a presence around the program this summer. One of about 70 football players who stayed in Pocatello to train this offseason, Martin has been progressing through his physical therapy, and said he expects to be cleared to fully resume football activities by the start of fall camp Aug. 1.

“I feel great exercising every day,” Martin said. “I’m getting into the flow of football stuff. I’m doing football drills somewhat now, and it’s just feeling great.”

Martin looks to lead a strong linebacker corps with fellow seniors Paea Moala and Christian Holland, as well as a host of experienced players who figure to see action in Cooper’s 3-4 base defense.

As he approaches his final collegiate season, Martin sees football in a new light thanks to his multi-month absence from the game.

“I was already one of those guys that would play hard, like if it was my last play,” Martin said. “That injury brings that next level of drive and I can’t even explain it.”

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