Five years ago Jacob Martin
couldn't envision where he would be today.
On July 20, 2012, Martin and four of his friends went to their local movie theater in Aurora, Colorado to see the midnight premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises." When the five high school seniors walked up to the ticket window, they were disappointed to hear that there were only four tickets left to the showing. Little did they know, this was a life changing moment of disappointment.
During the showing, an active shooter appeared in the theater, killing 12 people and injuring another 70. For Martin, this event shaped the man that he is today.
"I think it's a true blessing I am where I am today," said the six foot two, 250 pound defensive end. "God has a plan for everyone and his plan was for me not to be there that night. I am truly thankful, and also sorry for those who lost their lives in that movie theater."
Prior to the night of the shooting, Martin was under-recruited out of high school. His brother Josh, who went to Columbia University and played linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs at the time of Jacob's recruitment, told his coaches Britt Reid and Mark DeLeone, both former Temple graduates, about his brother. Reid and DeLeone took a look at the defensive end from Cherokee Trail High School and quickly informed Temple head coach Matt Rhule
Martin has been a member of the team since 2014 and during his freshman season, didn't see a lot of playing time.
"I missed some opportunities my freshman year in some games," Martin said. "I could get there, I'd win the one-on-ones or the pass rush, but I just couldn't finish with the sack. It was frustrating as a young player to be playing as a true freshman and not see the success you were looking to see on the field. That could alter your mindset a little bit, you begin to doubt yourself and doubt your abilities."
Luckily Martin battled through this tough time and polished his moves with help from his brother Josh.
Working with his brother showed during his sophomore season, where Martin started to see more playing time for the Owls and his success was clear in the team's season opener against in-state rival, Penn State.
It was second and six from the Penn State 24 yard line. Martin lined up at defensive end. Christian Hackenberg snapped the ball and dropped back to pass. Martin made his way through the offensive line and finished, registering his first career sack.
"You can't explain that feeling," Martin said. "You play against people all the time but with a packed stadium and getting a stop that's big time."
Martin would finish his sophomore year with 13 tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery.
After the team finished 10-4 in 2015, Martin emerged as a leader for the Owls in the 2016 offseason and was awarded one of the prestigious single digit numbers – the number nine. This is even more special for Martin because he was elected to earn this number by his teammates.
From a young age, Martin took pride in being a leader – so much that it landed him the nickname 'Mr. President' when he was in high school.
"I was always good at leading people," Martin said. "I was never a follower. Knowing how to be a good leader, you have to learn from great leaders. I have learned a lot from the guys before me whether it was Kenneth Harper, Tyler Matakevich, Matt Ioannidis, Haason Reddick
, Avery Williams
, Praise Martin-Oguike
or Phillip Walker
. Guys like that have taught me a lot over the years. Learning how they lead and what worked and didn't work, made me the leader I am now."
Not only has Martin been a leader on the field, but off the field as well. Over the past two seasons, he has represented the football team on the Temple Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). He and other representatives from the other Temple teams work together to improve the student-athlete experience at Temple.
"You want to be involved," Martin said. "You love seeing the athletic community, and being a part of a group that goes through the same things. They all go through training and have long days. It's a place where we all can reflect, congregate and create a better athletic community. That was a goal for the SAAC over the last couple of years; to build the athletic community into one core group instead of just the 19 individual sports teams. I think we have done a good job of creating that environment"