Tate Martell, a 14-year-old middle schooler from San Diego, made national news Wednesday when the soon-to-be eighth grader gave an oral commitment to University of Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian to play football for the Huskies. Washington cannot present Martell with a written scholarship offer until Sept. 1 of his senior year in high school, and Martell will not be eligible to sign a letter of intent until Feb. 1, 2017.
Martell’s early commit, easily the earliest in UW history, is non-binding, as is Sarkisian’s verbal offer of a scholarship.
Washington officials are not allowed to comment on Martell’s commitment, but Martell, who attended Academy Charter School in San Diego, told The Associated Press, “Coach Sarkisian has such a good record with quarterbacks that it felt like it was a good spot. Finally meeting with coach Sarkisian, it was really cool. He’s a player’s coach. He’s a guy that, if you really needed to go talk to him about something, you can talk to him.”
Martell, who became a fan of Washington after meeting former quarterback Jake Locker at an off-season football camp in 2010, is listed at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds.
His father, Al Martell, told AP that he told Sarkisian that his son is a “clone” of Fran Tarkenton and Bret Favre.
Martell made his commitment two days after Louisiana State offered a non-binding scholarship to 14-year-old Dylan Moses, who will also enter the eighth grade this fall. Ironically, Washington plays at Louisiana State Set. 8.
Neither Martell nor Moses are the youngest to make an oral commitment. David Sills, a quarterback from Delaware, was only 13 when he announced in 2010 that he would play for the USC Trojans. Washington State University received a verbal commitment from 14-year-old basketball player Patrick Simon of Ephrata in 2007.
The NCAA has zillions of rules, but none governing the age at which a player can be verbally offered and accept a scholarship (we expect the NCAA to make up a rule shortly to cover this oversight).
Obviously a lot can happen in five years — Martell could change his mind and Sarkisian might not be coaching the Huskies — but Martell told AP he has no plans to change plans.
“I’m really cool with it and looking forward to it,” he said. “it’s a great opportunity.”