Quarterback Adrian Martinez makes the most of his first pro football experience

Adrian Martinez #9 of the Birmingham Stallions passes the ball against the Memphis Showboats during the second quarter at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium on May 04, 2024 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Wes Hale/UFL/Getty Images)
Adrian Martinez #9 of the Birmingham Stallions passes the ball against the Memphis Showboats during the second quarter at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium on May 04, 2024 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Wes Hale/UFL/Getty Images)

Going into week 7 of the 10-week 2024 United Football League season, Adrian Martinez has shown the world how capable he is as a pro football quarterback.

In a game where Martinez and the Birmingham Stallions defeated the Memphis Showboats 39-21, Martinez completed 23 passes on 36 attempts (63.9%) for 369 passing yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions, and 25 rushing yards on five carries. To his credit, the Stallions have averaged 35.5 points over their last two games due to Martinez’s prodigious production.

Martinez became the first player in the UFL to pass for 300-plus yards (334 in the Stallions’ Week 3 victory), and in Week 6, he became the first player to pass for 300 or more yards in multiple games (368) and more than 350 yards this season with four passing touchdowns. If that isn’t enough, Martinez ranks second in the UFL in rushing with 327 yards on just 31 rushes.

It’s hard to tell that this is the first pro football season for the rookie Martinez.

Martinez grew up in Fresno, California, attending Clovis West High School, where he played both football and basketball. In his junior year, he passed for 2,562 yards with 25 touchdowns and rushed for 1,462 yards and 14 touchdowns. He sat out his senior season due to a torn labrum.

Martinez was highly rated and originally committed to playing college football at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Tennessee before ultimately deciding on the University of Nebraska. Martinez was named the starting quarterback heading into the 2018 season opener, making him the first true freshman to ever begin a season as the starting quarterback at Nebraska. He finished the season with 2,617 passing yards, 17 passing touchdowns, and eight interceptions, adding 629 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns.

After struggling through his sophomore season, Martinez had more success in a COVID-limited 2020 season. In seven games, Martinez finished with 1,055 passing yards, 4 passing touchdowns, and three interceptions. He ran for 521 yards (5.7 AVG) and seven rushing touchdowns. In 2021, Martinez played in 11 games for the Huskers, completing 189 of 306 passes for 2,867 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.

On December 16, 2021, Martinez announced he would be transferring to Kansas State for his final year. Overall, Martinez had 1,261 passing yards, six passing touchdowns, and one interception in the 2022 season, as well as 111 carries for 627 rushing yards and ten rushing touchdowns.

After such an impressive college career, Martinez drew the interest of the Detroit Lions when he was signed as an undrafted free agent on May 12, 2023. Unfortunately, the Lions waived him on August 29, 2023, meaning he would have to look for a playing opportunity elsewhere.

The Birmingham Stallions signed Martinez on December 24, 2023. As the 2024 UFL training camp got under way, he found himself in a quarterback room with Matt Corral and J’Mar Smith, a pair of pivots with multitudes of experience. Martinez credits the Stallions trio of quarterbacks with their game-day success.

“Between me, Matt, and J’Mar, we’re together all the time,” Martinez explained. “We have positional meetings. We’re constantly communicating on what looks best, how our guys are running routes, and what we prefer. I think that’s the nature of the relationship. It’s a collaborative world and we really just want to see each other succeed.”

“In game or in practice, that’s the goal,” Martinez said. “Obviously, we’re competitive so we try to push each other to be better.”

As for which quarterback will start the next game, Martinez usually finds out if he will start when everyone else finds out.

“When you guys see that depth chart, it’s around the time we find out,” Martinez said. “We’ll compete each week, and continue to get better, and push each other to be better.”

Martinez went on to point out that when head coach Skip Holtz makes the decision on who will start, they all have to be ready and stay “light on their feet.”

Adrian Martinez and the Birmingham Stallions’ next game is Saturday, May 11, at 3:00 PM CT at home in Protective Stadium against the visiting St. Louis Battlehawks. The game will be broadcast on FOX (Streaming). Tickets are available at Ticketmaster and Stubhub.

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