North Surry defensive back Michael Martin signed his National Letter of Intent on Friday and will continue his football career with Emory & Henry College in the fall.
“My sister went to Emory & Henry, and I’ve been watching games since I was 13,” Martin said. “I always knew that was where I wanted to go.”
Martin averaged 6.4 tackles per game, good enough for third on the team. Of Martin’s 70 total tackles this season, the senior recorded 42 solo tackles and eight tackles for a loss.
In addition to being an outstanding in-game player, coach Danny Lyons said Martin set the tone for the rest of the team during practice.
“I’ve never had a better practice player than Michael Martin,” Lyons said. “How hard he practiced, the intensity that he practiced with, and then where he brought the rest of our team this season as far as our practice habits had a lot to do with our success.”
The Greyhounds’ defense was a big reason for the team’s historic season in 2017. North Surry finished atop the conference for the first time in 17 years and had the team’s first 10-win season in 20 years.
The 2017 Hounds were just the second team in school history to finish conference play undefeated.
“It was a really good way to go out,” Martin said. “I spent a lot of time with my brothers that I will never forget.”
Martin and the North Surry defense held opponents to an average of 13.0 points. Seven of the Hounds’ 12 opponents were held to seven or fewer points.
“Our defense’s attitude was just like Michael’s attitude,” Lyons said. “It was all-out, all the time.”
When Martin became a Greyhound four years ago, his place on the field wasn’t concrete, according to Lyons.
“When Michael came in as a freshman, we really didn’t know where he was going to play. We just knew he worked hard,” Lyons said.
Lyons said Martin continued to improve every year and that it was his work ethic and preparation that set him apart.
“Whatever he’s doing, he’s going to do it 100 percent,” Lyons said. “Slack is not in his vocabulary.”
A broken arm ended Martin’s season prematurely. The injury occurred on the first play of the Hounds’ first-round playoff game against Patton.
As for his future, Martin wants to continue working for his position on the field at the next level.
“My expectations are to continue to work as hard as I have for the past four years, if not harder,” Martin said. “[I want] to earn a spot on the team and be part of a family just like I was here.”
Lyons said if he spoke with Martin’s college coaches in a year’s time, he had a pretty good idea about what they would say.
“I think they’ll talk about how hard he worked and the dedication he put forth to earn a spot,” Lyons said. “Everything he has, he has earned.“
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith