He began as a freshman under former coach Bob Kramer and started some on the O-line as a sophomore under Taylor and played a bit on the defensive line toward the end of the season. Last year, he was a fulltime starter on offense and a part-time starter on defense.
"He's gotten so much better, even on the defensive side,'' Taylor said. "He finally understands that defensive tackle and understands pressure and how to fight pressure and react to that pressure and what teams are trying to do. He's demanding a double team every team we play pretty much every game now.''
Martin's success leads to the natural question of how he came to play football in the first place. Not too many 300-pound athletes in high school wander to the basketball court. So how did a 7-footer gravitate to the gridiron?
"To be honest, I don't really know,'' Martin said. "I've always been bigger, and I like football because I like to cause pain. I like to hit people. I get too aggressive in basketball and I foul out all the time.''
Taylor said the word is getting out about Martin, who has received his share of publicity.
MaxPreps, a national high school sports website, recently came to a Madonna game and shot several pictures of Martin. Bleacher Report.com and Yahoo Sports did stories. College coaches are also starting to take notice.
"He's definitely received a lot of hype,'' Taylor said, "but he's very deserving of it. He's a good young man and a good football player who's getting better every practice.''
Martin said Mid-American Conference schools Ohio, Kent State and Bowling Green have contacted him, as well as Marshall, Shepherd and Alderson-Broaddus from inside the state. His dream school, he said, would be getting a feeler from Wisconsin.
"They do a good job with their tackles on offense,'' he said. "It would be an honor to play over there.''
Taylor said he and his coaching staff have been putting together some game clips of Martin to show his ability to use his large frame to his advantage.
"There are plays that happen downfield,'' Taylor said, "like when we run an edge screen, and you don't see this often, but we'll run a play 35, 40 yards downfield and at the end of the play, here's this big giant trying to run downfield and get in the play. His stride is so long he makes up ground in a short amount of time. He takes two steps [off the line of scrimmage] and he's at linebacker depth already.
"We'll get some plays and we'll say, 'Colleges have got to see this.' He's such a good teammate. You take a play that happens 25, 30 yards downfield and the next thing you know, [Martin's] helping the player up. He's run a long way down there to make a play. It speaks highly of him and his motivation. He wants to stay involved.''
About the only mystery left with Martin is his true height. Madonna's roster lists him at 7-2, but both coach and player say that's not correct.
"That came when his doctor measured him for his physical,'' Taylor said. "I'm not sure he did it right. Maybe he couldn't reach that high. We've got him at a little over 7-foot, close to 7-1.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.