EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – It was a dream LJ Martin and his family have had for years and the three-star running back from Canutillo is making it happen.
Martin, a senior-to-be who has run all over the competition in three years on varsity in El Paso, flipped his collegiate commitment from Texas Tech to Stanford on Tuesday morning. Martin has long-wanted to attend Stanford and play football for the Cardinal in the Pac-12.
He made the announcement on his social media pages.
“It’s a life-time decision, not just football but what that degree can do for you,” Martin told KTSM on Tuesday. “We put a lot of thought into it, my mom has always been a big fan of Stanford. When we went out there for the visit, there’s guys with internships at Tesla and places like that. You don’t see that just anywhere.”
Martin had initially committed to Texas Tech back in April, but kept his recruitment open as he awaited a potential offer from the Cardinal. Multiple Stanford coaches came to El Paso to see him during the spring and finally offered him a scholarship in May.
He took an official visit to Stanford a couple weekends ago, which helped him solidify his choice. Not only does Martin have the on-field abilities to play in the Pac-12; he has the grades to manage the rigorous course-load he’ll have in Palo Alto and has already been told that he’ll be accepted into the university.
“From the academic standpoint, Stanford is one of the most prestigious universities in the world,” Martin said. “You just really think about what it could do for you as a place, outside of football. I felt like it was the best place I could make a name for myself after football, doing anything I want.”
Martin is a do-everything player, rated by Rivals as the 14th-best all-purpose running back in the entire nation. He not only excels as a runner; he can also catch passes and run routes extremely well and has played defense for the Eagles as well. A dynamic, speedy back with a lot of size (6’2, 205 pounds), Martin has run over, through and around teams throughout his high school career.
As a junior in 2021, Martin put up video game numbers while leading Canutillo to the Class 5A Division II Regional Semifinals for the first time since 2014.
In 13 games, he rushed for 2,737 yards and 29 touchdowns; caught 15 passes for 376 yards and six touchdowns; completed two passes for 31 yards and a touchdown; returned kickoffs and punts, including one kickoff for a touchdown; made five tackles and one interception on defense; and on top of all that, Martin served as the Eagles’ punter.
Stanford head coach David Shaw has long-favored all-purpose running backs; names like NFL star Christian McCaffery, as well as Bryce Love come to mind. While he’s also been recruited as a linebacker and wouldn’t mind playing it in college, Martin would prefer to play running back and would love to follow in the footsteps of greats like McCaffery.
“I would love to be the next great Stanford running back. It’s been my life-long dream to play in college at the Power-5 level and maybe even win the Heisman Trophy, but I have to get there first,” Martin said. “I look forward to being out there and being able to display my talents at the next level. I think my running style will translate nicely.”
With his reversal from the Red Raiders to the Cardinal, it appears very likely that Martin’s recruitment is officially done. He is one of four El Paso high school football players in the Class of 2023 currently committed to Division I FBS programs and one of three headed to a Power-5 school.
Andress RB/WR Malcolm Anderson (Army) and the Parkland duo of wide receiver DJ Crest (Texas Tech) and offensive lineman Tyrone McDuffie III (Colorado) are the other three currently committed to D-I programs. On top of that, five other active El Paso high school football players currently harbor Division I offers.
Martin is proud to be one of those players and is excited to carry the legacy of those that came before him and help those that come after him to continue to rise up.
“A lot of guys set the path for this to happen, of course Aaron Jones, but also Jeremiah Cooper (Iowa State) and Tavorus Jones (Missouri),” Martin said. “I hope those guys do well because it’ll be a stepping stone for El Paso to get more guys to the next level.”