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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Martin confident in O-Line progression

Junior+offensive+tackle+Koda+Martin+addresses+the+media+at+SEC+Media+Days+Wednesday+afternoon.
Photo by By Alex Miller

Junior offensive tackle Koda Martin addresses the media at SEC Media Days Wednesday afternoon.

HOOVER, Ala. – When a team loses a pair of offensive tackles to the NFL Draft, experience and depth are common questions for the next season.

Despite the departures of tackles Jermaine Eluemunor and Avery Gennesy, Texas A&M returns more experience up front on the offensive line.

“We’ve got more starts coming back in our offensive line than we had last year even though we lost two tackles. Those guys have played a lot of football,” A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said at SEC Media Days Wednesday afternoon. “Jim Turner’s doing a great job with them and now they’re beginning to become confident as well as strong.”

Leading the way is junior Koda Martin who is expected to start at left tackle. With four former A&M tackles being taken in the first round of the NFL Draft in the past five years, Martin knows the high standard his position holds.

“I know that I come from a place that puts out a lot of good tackles,” Martin said. “I have a platform to use that and get after it and I’m excited to be able to have that role on my team… I’m long, athletic, I used to play tight end in high school, little bit of defensive end, so I know the other side of it.”

Two returning starters, Erik McCoy and Colton Prater, are expected to flip positions on the line with Prater moving to center and McCoy sliding over to guard.

“McCoy’s a bigger kid,” Martin said. “Prater’s extremely intelligent, started last year as a freshman. He knows what he’s doing, his dad played O-Line at Louisiana Tech in college, so he comes from a line of offensive linemen.”

McCoy was regarded as one of the highest-rated blockers in the nation in 2016 and Martin noted that his size added with agility is critical in his consistent protection.

“He’s got these big ol’ meat hooks he’ll put on you. He just latches on,” Martin said. “He’s big, he’s heavy, he’s strong, but he’s also athletic and quick and that makes it tough to play against a guy like that.”

The third returning starter up front for the Aggies is guard Connor Lanfear, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Mississippi State last season.

Martin said not having Lanfear down the stretch was tough, but added that his return will be beneficial up front this year.

“He’s a hard-working guy, country kid, looks like he just got done chunking bales of hay for his uncle,” Martin said with a smile. “We’re excited he’s healthy and getting after it this summer. Our unit is good with him in it, so it’ll be good to have him going forward.”

A&M’s deepest unit on offense is arguably its backfield, meaning the run game will be a key component to the Aggies’ offensive game plan this year.

Martin noted that the gratitude the offensive line gets from its running backs makes doing the dirty work for them better.

“[Trayveon Williams] loves on the O-Line, appreciates us and lets us know that he enjoys running behind us. To be able to block for a guy like that is awesome,” Martin said. “Keith Ford’s got a neck that looks like a tree trunk. He’ll run you over… It’s great to block for guys like that.”

Along with the addition of new strength coach Mark Hocke, Martin mentioned that bringing in position-specific strength coaches has only enhanced their training.

Leading the O-Line weight room drills is Brian Johnson, who played at LSU from 2003-2006 and then spent three years in the NFL.

“He’s top of the line. He understands offensive line and gives us some good work,” Martin said of Johnson. “The guys Coach Hocke brought in and the energy they bring are constant reminders of physicality and violence.”

Martin’s teammates have noticed their progress too and are intrigued to see how they perform this fall.

“With our new strength staff, they’ve been able to work a lot on technique-specific stuff,” wide receiver Christian Kirk said. “I’m really confident with the guys we have up there. There’s a lot of experience. They’re young, but they’ve played in a lot of games and I’m excited to see where they go.”

Martin is also preparing for a major life event — his wedding. He is slated to marry former A&M volleyball player Jazzmin Babers on July 28 in Bryan.

Sumlin asked his big lineman if he was anxious about his SEC Media Days appearance on the flight over this morning, but Martin’s mind was elsewhere.

“I asked him was he nervous on the plane today,” Sumlin said. “He said, ‘No, I’m not nervous about this deal.’  I said, What about marriage?  He said, ‘Ah, just a little bit.’”

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