The comparison was inevitable.
Once Taylor Martinez was finished trampling the Western Kentucky Hilltopppers, the Internet was already ablaze. The legend of “T-Magic” continued to grow in routs over Idaho and on the road versus Washington. Even the most skeptical of Cornhusker fan gave it a thought.
Could Martinez be Eric Crouch II: Electric Boogaloo?
Similarity in players often breeds far too much expectation and can ultimately lead to unattainable measure. Let’s review former Nebraska running back Marlon Lucky's Cornhusker career. Lucky was dubbed a star amongst five star rated athletes.
He was viewed as one of the finest prospects in the country. Nebraska fans jumped for joy when he committed and eventually signed to play for the Cornhuskers.
Lucky is long gone and many of those same fans view him as a bust. Lucky is currently fourth on Nebraska’s career all-purpose yardage list.
He also set a record for most receptions in a season with 75. Despite his feats, Lucky put even more weight on his shoulders. Surprisingly, it only weighed as much as a jersey.
The problem was that the jersey was stitched with “20”, the same number that Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers wore for Nebraska.
He eventually changed to No. 5, but the bar had already been set. Short of winning the Heisman Trophy himself or carrying Nebraska to a national championship, if not both, Lucky couldn’t shake the mythical jersey’s burden.
Crouch’s NFL career may not have been stellar, but in his college days, he was kind of a big deal.
The 2001 Heisman Trophy winner is one of three quarterbacks in FBS history to rush for 3,000 and pass for 4,000 yards in a career.
He tops the Nebraska yardage list with 7,915. During his stint as a Cornhusker, he ran for 3,434 yards (5.3 YPC), scored 88 TDs, tied the NCAA record by scoring a TD via run, pass, and reception in the same game and broke a 95-yard run versus Missouri. That’s also a Nebraska record.
If you’re looking for the bar set for Martinez to match Crouch, the sky has to be free of clouds.
Martinez isn’t going to be the next Eric Crouch. He’s going to be the first Taylor Martinez.
Barring injury, Martinez is poised to command an incredibly potent offensive assault. Current running backs Roy Helu, Jr. and Rex Burkhead give him dangerous counterparts in zone read situations.
Nebraska’s wide receiver talent is somewhat inexperienced, but top athletes are starting to take notice and tune in to see what’s happening in Memorial Stadium.
Martinez himself is the X-factor. Much like Crouch, he can drive the offense nearly by himself. The difference between the two is huge. Crouch did it out of necessity. He didn’t earn all of those records by handing off the ball.
Then-Nebraska head coach Frank Solich may as well have had one sheet of paper for a playbook. Solich didn’t need much else before ironically running into current Cornhusker offensive coordinator Shawn Watson’s Colorado Buffaloes and eventual national champion Miami.
Martinez, on the other hand, not only gets to choose what type of offensive firepower defenses will face.
He also finds himself in the slot as a receiver in the Wildcat formation. Should Nebraska’s offense continue to gel and add depth, the 62-36 drubbing that Watson's Buffaloes handed Crouch in 2001 may be a sign of things to come versus future Big 10 opposition.
Still, fans will likely expect Crouch-level results. No pressure, T-Magic, but look on the bright side. At least he doesn’t wear “7” on his uniform.
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