Martez Carter, also known as “Mr. Excitement”, seems to be flipping his way into our hearts as we tune into what is looking like a phenomenal first season of the 2020 XFL. The XFL Las Angeles Wildcats running back has been making subtle waves during the XFL off season, showing off some great tumbling skills. One social media highlight even shows this man performing a standing backflip, and in the process, catches a pass to complete the backflip. While, Martez is an exciting player to watch, I know most of us still want to know where Martez Carter came from? How did he get to the XFL? ……Who is Martez “Mr. Excitement” Carter?
“I have a 27-year old brother who is incarcerated,” Carter Said. “My mother dropped out of school in the 10th grade, my father dropped out in the 10th grade, and I have older brothers who dropped out in the 10th grade. I didn’t want to be a bad product of my environment. I didn’t want to be a statistic, so I just really put in my mind that if I had gotten a chance to go to college, I was going to make the best of it.”
This quote was given by Martez Carter during an interview with Maya A. Jones of The Undefeated. Seeing this quote makes me think a lot about the bad hands we’re sometimes dealt in life, and what you choose to do with your negative circumstances, to pivot them into something positive. Martez could have easily followed the same path as his parents or siblings. Incarceration or dropping out of school would have been an easy excuse to write off for failing. Instead, like many other great stories we read about in the athletic space, people like Martez take their adversities and “flip” them into opportunity. (There will be a going theme with flipping). Martez would not only face adversity within his environment, he would face it in his athletic career as well and make one of the most significant changes in his athletic future.
Martez grew up in Monroe, Louisiana, about 300 miles north of New Orleans. He attended Richwood High School, where he played…..basketball. Yes, Martez was a basketball player at heart, and wasn’t really giving football a serious look. Now, one thing you should know is that Martez is 5 foot 9 inches. Which means he was definitely playing point guard and was probably breaking ankles with how shifty he is. Apparently, Martez Carter didn’t start playing football seriously until he got to college, and even then, Martez started his college career playing basketball on scholarship at Wiley College, a historically black college in Marshall, Texas. After a year of attending Wiley College, Martez’s scholarship would be voided, after his head coach transferred schools.
This is where Martez’s story takes an awesome turn. With the only option left but to return to his hometown of Monroe, Louisiana, Martez would be given an opportunity of life changing circumstances. Grambling State University, a highly regarded historically black college about 35 minutes from Martez’s hometown would be his next destination, but not to play basketball. Head coach, Broderick Fobbs spotted Martez playing basketball, and would offer Martez an opportunity to walk on to the Grambling football team. Martez would start off playing defensive back, but truly exceled at special teams. During his first season in 2014, Martez would have 32 kick returns for 770 yards and 1 touchdown. His 2015 season would allow him to continue his dominance at special teams and become a featured running back in the Grambling offense. Martez would have 24 kick returns for 616 yards, but shined in his running back role, quickly making a name for himself as he had 111 rushing attempts for 876 yards and 9 touchdowns. He would go on to have 2 additional great years as a running back / returner, ending his collegiate career with 396 career rushing attempts for 2628 yards and 29 rushing TDs. He also showed off his receiving talent with a career 74 receptions for 961 yards and 9 receiving touchdowns. The man was truly a star within the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), and throughout his collegiate career, he was dubbed the nickname, “Mr. Excitement”.
Martez would go on to participate in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl after his senior year, which gave Martez one more shot to show what he could offer an NFL backfield. He didn’t disappoint. He ended the day with 53 yards rushing, 24 yards receiving, and 69 total yards on kick return. Not a bad showing for collegiate bowl where everybody is trying to eat. He caught the eye of one specific organization. We’ll get to that later.
Wrapping up Martez’s senior year, it was seen that he was looked at as an underrated prospect. Coming from a smaller NCAA Division I program, it was going to be tough to “wow” NFL scouts. Some of the intangibles that stood out for most scouts would be his stout frame and great vision. He was a patient back who was versatile and explosive enough to score on any and every attempt he had in touching the ball. The only downside was that he was significantly under sized. In a NFL league where they were going away from the bowling ball, quick, and “scatty” backs, there didn’t seem to be a market for Martez.
Martez did not receive an invite to the NFL Combine, but he did have a pretty stellar Pro Day. Enough to garner the attention of some NFL pro scouts. They continued to compare him to Chicago Bears running back, Tarik Cohen. At this point, Martez had done all that he could to attempt to earn a spot on an NFL roster. The weekend of April 26, 2018 rolls around and marks the start of the 2018 NFL Draft. Where Martez is hoping to get a call. The 1st round comes and goes, no call. 2nd and 3rd round pass, no call. 4th, 5th, and 6th round, no call. Surely Martez will get a call in the 7th round? None, no calls. 30 minutes after the last and final pick, Martez’s phone rings. Who is on the other end of this phone call but former Superbowl 22 MVP Redskins quarterback and Grambling Alumni, Doug Williams. (FUN FACT: Doug Williams coached football at Richwood High School while Martez played for the Richwood basketball team.) Doug Williams was serving as the Redskins’ VP of Play Personnel at the time and offered Martez undrafted free-agent deal. Talk about an amazing opportunity. Martez would later tell ESPN’s Undefeated, “My motto is I just need a shot.” (Insert basketball reference) Well this shot must be Steph Curry step back 3 from half court, because this is a once in lifetime chance. (Insert corny joke “boos”)
Unfortunately, Martez wouldn’t get any opportunities to smell the field with the Redskins. During that 2018 season, Martez would be acquired by the New Orleans Saints from the Washington Redskins halfway through the season. He would serve as a practice squad player with New Orleans until the 2018-2019 season concluded.
Like most players that got pigeon holed into NFL practice squads, the XFL looked really appealing. It struck the interest of Martez, as he threw his hat in the ring and gave it …. “a shot”. Never gets old. Martez was drafted by the Los Angeles Wildcats as the eighth pick in the seventh round. The No. 56 overall pick has been making waves as a player to watch out for. Week 3 of the XFL season would be his first outing, putting up some solid numbers and flipping all over the place. Martez would end his Week 3 performance with 34 yards rushing with 2 touchdowns, and 41 yards receiving with 1 touchdown reception. He is proving to still have that same versatility he showed in college, and now has a phenomenal chance to either make this XFL career a permanent home, or potentially be called up once again to the next level. Only time will tell, but I think I speak for all of us when I say, I don’t mind tuning in every weekend to see what Mr. Excitement will do next.
Thanks for reading.
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