The 90 Illini #23: Jartavius Martin
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I'm in Florida a few weeks ago (Fort Meyers area) and I'm driving to pick up a friend at the airport and I drive past an exit that says "Lehigh Acres" and I'm all "Quan Martin!". I don't think I ever knew where Lehigh Acres was in Florida, but I knew that Quan Martin was from Lehigh Acres.
That's the end of my story.
23. Jartavius Martin
Uniform number: 21
Year in school: Junior (without the Covid waiver, 2 years to play 1; with the Covid waiver, technically 3 years to play 2)
Height: 6'-0" -- Weight: 195 lbs.
Hometown: Lehigh Acres, Florida
High School: Lehigh Acres HS
Five best offers: Iowa State, Air Force, Southern Miss, Tulane, FIU
Tom Cruise rating:
2020 statistics: Played in all 8 games, starting two. 38 tackles, 2 PBU, 1 forced fumble.
Here's the evolution of Quan's background (name: Jartavius. nickname: Quan). Was ranked fairly low as a recruit, but that just gave him the opportunity to win my Asamoah Award for the recruit who was way better than his ranking. He then started eight games at cornerback as a true freshman in 2018. In 2019, help was needed at safety, so Quan switched mid-season. He started five games at corner and then switched to safety in October. In 2020, still at safety where he started two games.
His best game is a game that no one remembers because everyone turned it off: Northwestern last season. He started at safety and played fairly well (in a game where the rest of the defense, uh, didn't). No one was really watching Illinois football by December (basketball team beat Duke in early December and the entire fanbase turned off their football TV's and only watched their basketball TV's), so this is me informing you that Quan played pretty well in December. That's why I have him as a starter in the depth chart I just put together.
I keep saying this over and over, but I think safety is wide open. Not only were there big questions at safety last season, leading to "no idea who starts there next season" discussions, but then Lovie was fired and now there's a brand new defense being installed. It would have been a "who knows?" if Lovie was still the coach, and with a brand new scheme, now it's a massive "we have absolutely no idea".
I've already covered Derrick Smith and Kerby Joseph on this list. And I've talked about Georgia transfer Prather Hudson and Alabama transfer Eddie Smith as well. So I guess that means I have Quan Martin and Sydney Brown starting.
I'd really love to see Quan be the surprise player on defense this season. Here's hoping his solid December when no one was watching means the light bulb is on permanently.