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File / The Herald JD Martin (18) will not start his college football career at Florida Atlantic as he originally planned.

Going into the summer prior to his senior football season, Wetumpka graduate JD Martin was one of the highest-touted recruits in the state of Alabama. He was seemingly set to make an SEC roster but the challenges started coming on strong before Martin could even get started.

Martin tore his ACL during a summer camp forcing him to miss all but one play of his senior season. Many of his offers were pulled but he still had several Division I offers on the table by the time signing day arrived.

However, the hurdles did not end there as Martin’s future at Florida Atlantic was cut short and he took his talents to East Central Community College in Mississippi. After one season at junior college, Martin saw the offers start rolling back in but when the coronavirus pandemic hit, he had yet another bump in the road.

“I was just thinking about that the other day,” Martin said. “I keep getting pushed back and pushed back. I get that close again and something keeps pushing back. I have a strong mindset though. Nothing will hold me back.”

Despite another setback, Martin is staying positive and it’s easy to see why after his strong showing in his first NJCAA season. Martin finished 10th in the country in total rushing yards and eighth in rushing yards per game.

“It feels like I’m back to the same,” Martin said. “This is college level football and I feel like I did really good. I know I have potential to go big D-1.”

Martin is back home in Wetumpka now but he is still getting work in to prepare for his second season with East Central. His coaches are still sending out workouts for him and his teammates to do and while it’s nothing he has not done before, Martin said that doesn’t make it any easier.

“Right now, I’m just staying active,” Martin said. “I keep working out. You have to have the mindset that we’re going to have the season. It’s a lot of simple stuff but it’s hard at the same time.”

Martin said there is plenty that can be done from home but the key is to just keep the body active so he doesn’t get behind on anything.

“This may deter some of his recruiting right now but if his JUCO film gets out or if colleges go back and look at his film from high school, it’s not going to take a coach very long to realize what a special young man he is,” Wetumpka coach Tim Perry said. “I don’t think it will hurt him too bad. He’s just an incredibly focused young man. He doesn’t let things distract him or deter him. He is that determined and that willing to work.”

Meanwhile, the NCAA has adjusted its recruiting bylaws during the shutdown but coaches can still stay in touch with players through social media and by phone. Martin said his recruiting process has certainly been affected but it has not stopped completely as he is up to 17 Division I offers.

During the extra time at home, Martin is working on more than just the physical part of football. He said he continues to study playbooks and schemes but he is also using the extra time to evaluate all of his offers.

“I’m taking everything one by one,” Martin said. “We need to use this time to evaluate everything. Right now, I’m keeping everything at the same level so this extra time is working out really good for me.”

Martin also wants to make sure he doesn’t run into any more issues with the NCAA as he is focused on his schoolwork especially now with more time away from the weight room and the football field.

“It helps me stay focused on school,” Martin said. “It gives me more time for everything. You’re still a student-athlete but right now it’s mostly just being a student.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.