They had to make the most of those 10 or so games a year.
Nowadays, the summer combine scene has become just as important as on-the-field play, and one Spanish Springs Cougar has been making the most of those opportunities as well.
Jake Martensen, a 6-foot-1, 280-pound defensive lineman, is in his third year of competing at combines, and he’s receiving national recognition for his efforts.
After earning the D-Line MVP and the Strongman Award at the NUC Sacramento combine, Martensen attended the NUC U100 combine in Los Angeles, an invite only camp, and impressed there as well.
Those two performances led to his invitation to the NUC Elite Top Prospect Camp at the University of Oklahoma this coming weekend. The combine only invites the top 15 athletes in each grade and at each position.
“It’s a pretty big deal because it’s Oklahoma and I want to go to a bigger D-I school,” Martensen said. “It’s a really good chance to get looked at by other colleges.”
Martensen started playing football for the Sierra Youth Football League when he was 7. Ironically, he played for the Reed Raiders squad all the way through and played alongside many of Reed’s current standouts.
Still, Martensen never expected to be looking at big schools in order to play college football. He just thought he was an ordinary football player until he got to high school and started preparing for the next level.
Martensen’s dream school is Oregon State because the linemen there are Martensen’s size and he wants to play for a big program while still staying close to home.
Martensen is not a multi-sport athlete. He’s completely dedicated to football. That’s why he takes these combines seriously.
“It’s pretty fun. There’s a lot of competition,” he said. “It’s pretty strict because you know you have a lot of scouts watching you.”
His father, John Martensen, said Jake is willing to sacrifice trophies and accolades at these combines if what the coaches want deviates greatly from what he has learned from the Spanish Springs coaching and what he knows to be the way college and pro coaches want things done.
“He’s very dedicated and totally bought into the system at Spanish Springs,” John Martensen said. “As a father it’s just been a blast because he is dedicated because he does spend a lot of time working out and running. He asks me if we can go run a 40 or go run the stairs. When you have an adolescent who could be out at Pyramid Lake or doing whatever and instead he is asking me to take him to the field and go run. I’ve had him push my truck across the parking lot in order to get better. You can’t beat it as a parent. There’s no parent out there who wouldn’t say otherwise.”
Jake‘s sister, Jenn, earned a scholarship to Idaho State for softball. However, it was a completely different recruiting experience. Sports like baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball and basketball have traveling and club teams that help showcase players’ skills on a national or regional spectrum.
But football is different and Jake Martensen is all too aware after missing the final four games of last season due to a back injury.
“In football, they don’t have that. It’s almost entirely predicated on how you perform during high school and/or at these camps,” John Martensen said. “There’s a smaller window and far less opportunity for exposure than the club sports.”