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Martin has chance to shine with West Virginia State U.

Mar. 10, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Jarod Martin is heading to the next level in his football career with a chance to make a program better.

It's something of a theme for the Huntington High senior, who signed last month with West Virginia State University, an NCAA Division II member of the new Mountain East Conference. The Yellow Jackets recently hired head coach Jon Anderson, who spent the past 11 years as the defensive coordinator for the University of Sioux Falls.

Martin is part of Anderson's first recruiting class, which is already turning heads.

He thinks a lot of Highlander football players are getting looks from college programs because of the turnaround at the school in recent years.

"I think coaches like that we started as freshmen at 0-10 and finished 9-3 as seniors," Martin said. "We wanted to turn a program around, and it's the same thing at West Virginia State. I want to be part of changing a program and I want to be a leader."

Martin, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs about 225 pounds, started at tight end and defensive end for the Huntington Highlanders for three years.

He's going into the WVSU program with a chance to start at tight end.

"It's me and another freshman, so I'm going to see the field early," Martin said. "Offense is my preference, so I'm glad I'll be getting to play there."

Highlanders head coach Billy Seals said he thinks Martin will be effective at the next level.

"You know, he was a mainstay for us on offense and defense for three years, and he's going to go there and put some weight on and he'll have the chance to be very successful under coach Anderson," Seals said. "Jarod is one of those guys who bought into the program, he bought into the idea of hitting the weight room and just sold out for this program and did a great job for us over the last four years."

Martin will pursue a major in criminal justice at WVSU, a program he said he's very excited about.

WVSU signed four other local players last month, including guard Kurt Jones from Cabell Midland, linebacker Dwight Jones from AA back-to-back state champions Wayne, offensive tackle Garrett Grafton and safety T.C. Kester, both from Winfield.