Martin football career will march forward with Army

Published 2:26 pm Friday, February 3, 2023

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ senior defensive back C.J. Martin signed a letter-of-intent with the Army Black Knights of West Point Academy. Attending the signing ceremony were: seated left to right, mother Kristen, C.J. and father Chianti; standing left to right, grandmother Sheila Roach, grandfather Henry Roach, and sisters Kiandra and Khamil. (Photo by Tim Gearhart)

By Jim Walker

There are only two words C.J. Martin needed to describe his signing with West Point and the opportunity to play for Army.

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Beat Navy.

Martin finished his interview and punctuated it with those two words referring to one of the greatest rivalries in college football.

C.J. Martin

The Ironton Fighting Tigers’ senior defensive back will now be part of that rivalry after signing with West Point to play for Army.

Martin said he watched the game on TV but he won’t have to worry about seeing the game in the future.

“Now I’m living it for four years, so hopefully I’ll be able to play in it,” he said.

Martin was caught by surprise much like an enemy attack except this one had a victory ending.

“I went home, I woke up and my DB coach called me and he explained to me I got an offer from Long Island. I was excited,” said Martin.

“Then another coach called me and said that I got a full ride to Army which was crazy. I didn’t believe it. I told my dad and my sister and they also couldn’t believe it. And soo after that is when the process started.”

Ironton head coach Trevon Pendleton said he kept talking to Martin to have patience and that something would come along to enhance his future and Martin remained confident an offer would come.

“It’s kind of a testament to just sticking to the plan and trusting the process,” said Pendleton. “If people saw the growth of C.J. from his freshman year to now not just physically but mentally and the maturity level of him they wouldn’t believe it.

“Just a phenomenal kid. He comes from a great family. He’s everything you could want in ta kid. He just continued to work and put himself in position to be successful and trusted everything we told him to do in the offseason.”

Attending West Point will not be a typical college experience. Martin knows there are several sides to his appointment.

“With going to Army/West Point you have the military side and you have football and maybe the most prestigious college in the country, so it’s a lot of hard work and a lot of effort but I’m from Ironton so I’m built for it.,” Martin said.

“Honestly, what kind of pulled me was the full ride. Everybody wants a full ride. And a free education with zero debt, so I definitely like that.”

An All-Southeast District special mention selection, Martin is expected to play cornerback. He knows that playing against Division I wide receivers and running backs will be a big step up from high school.

“It’ll be something, but I’m ready for it,” Martin said of the challenge ahead him.

With a 6-foot-2, 175-pound frame, Martin said “they’ll definitely bump me up a little bit more. It doesn’t hurt to gain a little bit more (bulk) weight.”

Pendleton said hard work is not a problem for Martin.

“He worked and got himself physically to a point where he could play the game and be very successful at it. Even throughout the season we just told him to keep trusting the process as far as far as recruitment goes and it all worked out for him.,” said Pendleton.

“He’s a young man of principle, a hard worker, He’s disciplined. He’s going to have a great career at West Point.”

Martin plans to major in chemical engineering.

“I’ve always messed with science. I love to blow things up, make new things,” said Martin. “Right now, I’m excited and my parents are excited.”