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LOGAN -- Xavier Martin, a senior from Baltimore, started playing football his freshman year of high school. In the first play of the first game of his sophomore year, he broke his wrist and elbow.
“And that’s when my mother found out I was playing football,” Martin said.
His older sister had been in on the secret and took care of all the permission slips and things parents usually do. As far as his mom knew, he was just participating in after-school programs.
“When she found out, she was kind of upset. But at the end of the day, I’m her baby, so she was okay,” Martin said.
When he got back to the game his junior year, his parents were always there to support him, and that support hasn’t stopped. Martin’s parents have been at games on every end of the country.
After high school, he went to the University of Maine for one year. From there he went to Grossmont Junior College in San Diego. After two years there, he made his way to Utah State.
“I have a really great supporting cast,” Martin said, “and that is what drives me to stay sane.”
Along with his parents, Martin is quick to give credit to Jesus Christ.
“First and foremost it’s my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am a true believer and follower,” he said.
His football gloves are covered in words and phrases that keep him going and motivate him to do better. The most prominent one is a New Testament reference, Philippians 4:13, that reads, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Surrounded by Psalm 71, words like “win,” “fight” and “I am God’s son,” these gloves are what keep Martin going.
“I am a really spiritual man,” Martin said. “I mold my life after Christ and try to be like him all day, every day whenever I can, to try and represent him to the fullest.”
After bouncing around from “the top of the states to the bottom of the states,” it was finally time for Martin to decide where to play Division I football.
“I had four or five Division I offers, some with bowl-contending teams,” Martin said. “But I decided to come here because of Coach (Gary) Andersen. He’s a really good, upstanding man.”
Since that first recruiting call, his feelings about Andersen haven’t changed.
“On my recruiting trip, I learned that he’s a man who is going to look you in the eyes and say, ‘Hey, this is what’s going to get done, this is when we’re doing it, and how are you going to do it?’ That hasn’t changed with Coach Andersen since I got here,” Martin added.
Andersen set the bar high for this season’s team, with the goal of being Western Athletic Conference champions as well as going to and winning a bowl game. This season has been full of last-minute, heartbreaking losses so far, but the team still feels like it is growing and getting better.
“Last year was a work in progress, finally this year we’re putting everything together,” Martin said. “It may not show in the win-loss column like we wanted it to be, but in everything else, we’re up to par.”
The team is working to get some wins, but Andersen reminds them over and over that it is in their hands.
“We control our destiny at this point, and only we can get us where we want to go. The coaches are always telling us people don’t beat us, we beat ourselves,” Martin said. “Our stats are great. We have all sorts of national rankings; we just have to do the little things.”
There are still enough games in the season for the team to become bowl-eligible, and a WAC championship is not completely out of reach. Some Aggie fans think there needs to be a turning point in the mentality of the team, but Martin thinks that happened when this team came together as one.
“The turning point was Jan. 10 when everyone came in for that winter workout,” Martin said. “That’s when Coach Andersen set the precedent. There’s no maybe; we have to get it done.”
On a personal level, Martin just wants to have a successful season and give everything his all.
“I want to continue to show up when that number one is called,” Martin said. “Your film is your resume. I feel like I need some more catches and big plays to take it to the next level.”
That next level is the dream of a career in the National Football League. Ideally, he’d love to play for his hometown Baltimore Ravens.
“All my family’s there; they’re my favorite team. If not there though, somewhere warm,” Martin said. “If I can get a good agent and God’s blessing, I can go anywhere I want.”
He has been all over the country for the love of football already, and he’s ready to continue that adventure.
Football is an excellent teacher of life-lessons. The things the game and the experience teach are things that stick with those who experience it.
“Outside of the obvious lessons of teamwork, accountability and time management, one of the biggest lessons is to not take things for granted,” Martin said. “Football teaches you how to grow up, from a boy to a young man, to a man.”
One of the things Martin will never take for granted is his opportunity to study and learn at Utah State. Martin is on pace to graduate by this summer with a degree in business.
“This is an education that I’ve been blessed to get and I want to use that to take care of a family and be the best father and husband I can be,” Martin said. “I was blessed with a scholarship and a chance. That degree is going to mean so much, I’ll make copy after copy and hang them everywhere.”
With a promising season ahead, looking to a promising future, Martin plans to work hard and give everything his best shot. As an individual and as a team, he recognizes the potential and wants to do everything he can to tap into that.
“We do what we do,” Martin said. “We’re good coaches and good players, we just need to show that.”
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University.