SRU’s Martin named National Player of the Year; Rock lands two on All-America team


Marcus Martin Banner

Dec. 13, 2017

WICHITA FALLS, Texas - Slippery Rock University senior defensive end Marcus Martin has been named the 2017 NCAA Division II Ron Lenz National Defensive Player of the Year and a first team All-American by the Division II Conference Commissioner's Association. Rock wide receiver Marcus Johnson was also named to the D2CCA All-America team.

Martin is the only player in the nation to be named to the D2CCA All-America team four times in his career and caps his final season by being named the National Player of the Year. He shares the Ron Lenz Player of the Year honors with the offensive winner, quarterback Luiz Perez of Texas A&M Commerce.

The Ron Lenz Player of the Year is named in honor of long time South Dakota State sports information director Ron Lenz, who was instrumental in starting the All-America program in 1993. The D2CCA All-America team is nominated for and voted on by the nation's sports information directors.

The first team All-America and Player of the Year recognitions for Martin are the latest in a long and growling list of postseason honors. The senior standout has already been named the Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year and the PSAC West and Super Region One Defensive Player of the Year for the third straight year. He was the national runner-up for the Ted Hendricks Award as the best defensive end in the country at all levels of college football, an honor no other Division II player has ever been a finalist for. Martin is one of the 10 national finalists and the only defensive player on the list of finalists for the Harlon Hill Trophy, presented to the top overall player in Division II each year. He is the first defensive player since 2007 and just the 10th ever to be a finalist for the Harlon Hill.

Martin was also named a first team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association and has earned the most prestigious academic award a football player can earn as a member of the National Football Foundation's National Scholar-Athlete Class, which included an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. He is the only Division II player in the nation in the 13-member class of 2017. Yesterday, Martin added a third consecutive Academic All-America recognition from the College Sports Information Directors of America.

On the field this fall, Martin led the nation in sacks (15.5) and tackles for loss (26.5), despite being the only returning starter on a defense that featured 16 players that made their first career starts during the year. He broke the NCAA all-division record for career sacks, finishing with 56.0 sacks over his 48 consecutive games played. Martin also shattered the Division II career record for tackles for loss, finishing with 92.5 to top the former record by more than 15 (77.0).

Johnson was named to second team honors at wide receiver and is one of only four receivers in the nation to land a spot on the All-America team. He becomes the first offensive player at SRU to be named to the D2CCA All-America team since Cory Tucker earned the honor as an offensive lineman in 2015.

It marks the first career All-America recognition for Johnson and comes after a breakout senior season in which he broke the SRU single-season record for all-purpose yardage, finishing with 1,993 yards to go along with 17 total touchdowns. He was named to first team All-PSAC honors as both a receiver and a return specialist and was named to All-Region honors at both positions as well.

Johnson caught 72 passes for 1,214 yards with a PSAC-high 14 touchdowns. He also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and one punt for a touchdown to finish the year with 17 touchdowns in 11 games. His receiving effort this year ranked among the greatest in program history, placing him fourth in yardage, second in touchdowns and fifth in receptions for a single-season at SRU. Johnson increased his career totals to an SRU record 28 TD catches to go along with 2,238 receiving yards (fifth all-time) and 133 catches (sixth all-time), despite only playing three seasons at The Rock and only two as a primary target.

SRU finished the 2017 season with an 8-3 record, giving the four-year members of the senior class a career record of 36-12 overall and 21-2 at home to go along with two PSAC championships and two trips to the NCAA playoffs.

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