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Should Michigan State football make a run at Damien Martinez?

The backfield would be terrifying.



Michigan State football
© Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon State running back Damien Martinez hit the transfer portal on Tuesday. Should Michigan State football make a run at him?

When Jonathan Smith left Oregon State to be the next Michigan State football coach, there were a few Beaver players who stood strong and said that they wouldn’t leave the program no matter what. Star running back Damien Martinez was one of them. He seemed to be upset with the way Smith left and he was dedicated to seeing it through with Oregon State.

Until Tuesday.

According to reports, Oregon State’s star running back is entering the transfer portal and he’ll have no shortage of suitors after a huge season in Corvallis. He finished 2023 with 1,185 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 6.1 yards per carry for the second year in a row. Martinez also had 11 catches for 126 yards. For obvious reasons, he’ll be one of the most sought-after players in the portal this spring.

Usually you see players enter the portal after spring ball has concluded, but he just couldn’t wait. And it’s even more surprising given the fact that he was set to make $400,000 playing for Oregon State this season.

Not even almost a half-million dollars could keep Martinez in Corvallis.

It makes sense, though. Oregon State doesn’t have a conference and the roster heading into his junior season isn’t exactly that of a contender. Maybe he’ll decide to head across the country to play for his former coach in East Lansing?

Would the fit even make sense?

Obviously Martinez would thrive under Smith and with Aidan Chiles at quarterback, but the Spartans have Nate Carter, Jalen Berger, Jaren Mangham, and Davion Primm. One or two of those guys would need to transfer out in order for this to make sense. But imagine a one-two punch of Carter and Martinez. That would undoubtedly be a top-three backfield in the Big Ten.

Should Michigan State football make a run at him? Absolutely. But that would obviously force 1-2 guys out. And you never know, it might force Carter out which probably isn’t what the staff wants.

Martinez is a game-changing running back and if the Spartans could retain Carter and/or Berger and bring in Martinez, I say go for it.

I wouldn’t hold my breath here, though.

Writer, co-owner of Spartan Shadows. Michigan State and college football expert at FanSided and formerly of The Detroit News. Expert on all things Michigan State. Connor Muldowney has written about Michigan State since graduating from the university with a degree in journalism back in 2013. Ten years of experience as a Michigan State writer/reporter.


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