“I am proud of the kids,” Martin said. ”We have a lot kids out here; we have 78. It is just a great thing to see kids involved in the program and just having kids that want to be apart of something. Everybody has worked hard; we are replacing 17 of the 22 positions offensively and defensively. We have some young kids that have ability and talent, but they are not proven on the field. As far as their work ethic they have been unbelievable. They have done a great job in the weight room; we have had a good spring practice we just have to learn a lot. It has been a lot of learning and teaching going on.”
This spring the Golden Bears have been working on replacing the 21 seniors they lost from last year’s team. Martin feels like his team has the opportunity to be pretty good as soon as they get experience.
“Last year we had 21 seniors and anytime you have that big of group graduating it’s a lot to fill,” Martin said. “From this point on I see us having 18 to 24 kids graduating, it is just that transition in losing that many. That’s what we tried to work on with these young guys in. We replace our entire offensive line, we have two would-be seniors this year on the offensive line, we have two juniors and the other 20 of them will be ninth and 10th graders next year. We have a chance to be really good, we are going to have to work through the kinks early on to get these guys some game experience.”
Depth is something the Golden Bears are hoping to find during spring practice. Lincoln’s most experienced group is in the backfield where they are returning four guys that played significant minutes last season.
“Skill wise we have a couple of guys returning,” Martin said. “We lost five of our skill guys. We graduated every receiver we had. We graduated three tailbacks. Our quarterback comes back and that’s good. Sharrod is doing a good job. Ra’Keem (Truss) in the backfield, Desmond (Willis) and Rod Green, but those guys weren’t every down backs. It is going to be an interesting spring game to see what we do. All four of our defensive backs graduated. All four of our defensive front guys graduated, we have two linebackers coming back. We have some positions that we are trying to find guys and that is what we are trying to use the spring game for. We are trying to find our guys that can play on one or two teams and get them prepared for the fall season coming up. Spring is a time to get you ready for what’s coming up in the fall. That is what we have told our kids during spring training. We are trying to find people, we are trying to find 30 guys that we can count on in the fall to go out and play.”
For Martin, this is his first spring as the head coach of the Golden Bears. One of the things that Martin has stressed to his guys this spring is discipline.
“It has been great,” Martin said. “We have changed a few things, but we are still doing some of the things that we have done in the past. We have tweaked some things like how we set up our practices; it is a little bit faster pace. Making sure the kids know where they are and what they are doing. We are trying to make sure that we are disciplined. Ball games are won on the discipline that your kids have and that is what we have been working on this spring. I think that we have some ability, but we are trying to make sure we are doing the small things right to give us a chance to be successful.”
The day-to-day improvement that Martin has seen over the spring has really impressed him.
“Patrick Weeds was one of our third string guys to come on and have two positions on the line this spring,” Martin said. “He has done a great job with it. You have him and Dave Trust they have done a tremendous job out there. Sharrod Cochran he is coming back for us on offense, but we had to experiment at safety defense. He has really picked it up and done a good job with it. Our kids are getting better every day and it is great to see it. When you see a kid a year or two ago who was one of those guys that you weren’t sure about and to see them come full circle into ball players and become great young men. Every kid that we had has shown tremendous improvement.”