In 2010, Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Taylor Martinez burst onto the scene with five 100-yard rushing games in his first seven games, including a 241-yard, four-touchdown performance against Kansas State.
He also showed promise of being an accurate passer, completing 59.2 percent of his passes and throwing for 1,631 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
A rolled ankle against Missouri derailed his season statistically and his chances for a Heisman Trophy. The last five games he played—including the game he injured his ankle in—he rushed for a paltry 95 yards and finished the season with 935 yards.
His passing improved to 2,089 yards with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2011, but he only had one 100-yard rushing game against a Big Ten opponent (Ohio State).
Nebraska is ranked No. 16 in the USA Today poll, and optimism for a strong year for Martinez is high.
With a year under his belt as a Big Ten quarterback, will this be the year Martinez becomes a top-tier duel-threat quarterback?
If Martinez can put together a 2,000-yard passing, 1,000-yard rushing season, the Cornhuskers will be one of the top Big Ten teams on the ground—thanks to running back Rex Burkhead.
Martinez likely won't make it as a quarterback at the next level—thanks to his awkward throwing motion and mechanics—but he can excel as a spread-option college quarterback.
This season will be his third year in Nebraska’s spread-option offense. The Big Ten is usually a tough conference in terms of run defense, but his experience should enable him to thrive.
Denard Robinson-type numbers in rushing may not be realistic, but he is fully acclimated to the system and he is in a perfection position to succeed.