When Carlos Martin, a lifelong resident of southern California, first visited Portland State, he fell in love with the city and the school.
So much so that when the Vikings offered the star running back a football scholarship, he leaped at the opportunity to spend his next four years in the Pacific Northwest.
“It’s different up there, the whole atmosphere is far better than California,” Martin told Viking Tales. “I love the weather, everything about Portland feels great to me. It’s not so compact and there is a lot of stuff going on. Down here, it’s the same stuff.
“I’m just trying to get away and experience something new. I thought Portland would be the best place for me. I wanted to see what else is out there. I have been in the same area of California for my whole life. So, I wanted to see something different.”
How much does Martin like Portland? He even prefers the weather in January over the daily (monotonous?) sunshine in southern California.
“I love that kind of weather,” Martin said. “I love the rain and the cold. It’s something I can get used to real quick.”
Martin, who committed to the Vikings on his official visit to PSU in January, was an under-the-radar running back from northwest Orange County, Calif. that rushed for almost 1,500 yards as a senior.
He credited interim head coach Bruce Barnum and PSU running backs coach John Ely for convincing him to bring his talents to the Vikings.
“I was impressed with how Coach Barnum is changing the program and his plan,” Martin said. “Coach Ely was a big part of that too. I love what they are doing in Portland. Coach Ely came to one of my games and he came for a home visit. I got really close to him.”
Former PSU head coach Nigel Burton extended Martin the offer, so when he was dismissed as head coach in late November, Martin was unsure if the Vikings would still take him.
He soon got his answer.
“After (Burton was fired), they were still on my list and I still wanted to take an official visit,” Martin said. “I didn’t give up on Portland State. I was concerned if they were going to pull the offer, though. So, after I heard (Burton had been fired), I contacted one of the coaches and they said they were still there. So, I was happy.”
Previous to being honored as the Freeway League Offensive Player of the Year in 2014, Martin rushed for 1,156 yards as a La Habra junior in 2013. He also lettered twice in track, participating in the 100-meters and 4×100 relay.
Martin runs the 40 in the 4.5 range, he said. His best time in the 100 meters is the “low 11 seconds.”
“I had a good season (in 2014),” Martin said. “We had a young line, but it was a fun season. I wish we would have gone farther (in the playoffs), but I did put up good numbers. I wouldn’t say I was satisfied with my performance, though. I consider myself a balanced running back with power and speed.”
Martin adds to the Vikings’ stockpile of running backs for the 2015 season, as Steven Long (605 yards), Nate Tago (354) and Rey Vega (49) all return to Portland State in 2015.
“When we went through our entire recruiting board last spring, we had Carlos among the top three of the over 100 high school running backs we watched last year on film,” Bruce Barnum said. “We stayed on him. Based on what we have here in our running game, it’s very important to have as many running backs as we can. They all play. We feel great about adding Carlos to this football team.”
Martin acknowledged how much playing time he gets in 2015 remains to be seen since PSU does enjoy significant depth and experience at the running back position.
“We’ll have to see how that turns out,” Martin said. “It depends on how I go in there and adjust to the new system. We ran a similar offense at our high school. So, I’m hoping to get some reps.”
Before signing with Portland State, Martin was also offered by Big Sky Conference rivals Sacramento State and Northern Arizona, and attracted interest from California, Montana, San Jose State, Cal Poly and UC Davis.
“When they first contacted me, I already had an offer from Northern Arizona,” Martin said. “I did some research before (Portland State) offered me and I really liked everything about the school. When they offered, they were probably No. 2 behind NAU because they offered first.”
Martin took an unofficial visit to Sacramento State, but his visit to Portland confirmed his preference for the Rose City.
“My parents wanted me to get out of California,” Martin said.
Martin has an interest in forensic science – he was a member of the forensics club at La Habra High School – and plans to pursue a degree in criminal justice.
His desired career if the NFL doesn’t work out when his Portland State days are complete? Law enforcement.
“I watch TV shows like ‘Criminal Minds’ and some stuff on National Geographic channel,” Martin said.
Until he departs for Portland State this summer, Martin will continue to mentor his two younger brothers, Justin and Matthew.
“They look up to me, so I have to be the best example for them,” Martin said. “They are following in my footsteps. They are going to be good athletes.”