Taylor Martinez | 6-foot-1 | 210 pounds | Sr. | Quarterback
No surprise here. The Corona, Calif., rocket shook off inconsistent performances in 2010 and 2011 to become a more complete quarterback in 2012. He was as dangerous as he’s ever been as a runner — 1,019 yards and 10 touchdowns — and more efficient and prolific as a passer, completing 62 percent of his throws for 2,871 yards and 23 touchdowns.
His big plays left tread marks on some of the Big Ten’s best defenses, including Michigan State. Spartans defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi was so impressed by Martinez’s fourth-quarter comeback and 205 running yards that he said Martinez “basically beat us single-handedly.”
Martinez has broken most significant Nebraska quarterback records during his tenure. He holds the record for total career starts (39), career passing yards (6,591), career total offense (9,449 yards) and career completions (506). He also has the single-season record for total offense (3,890 yards). Presuming he stays healthy, he’ll put a bunch of records out of reach for all but another four-year starter like himself.
And yet there are milestones still to reach and aspects of his game to improve. Martinez is 0-5 in conference title games and bowl games. He still tried too hard to make plays last year, resulting in costly turnovers. Martinez is like any quarterback in that he’s never met a sack he liked, but sometimes he has to take them and not risk something worse.
Overall, it’s been quite a journey for Martinez. He’s had his critics, and few thought he’d make it this far in his career. Some were certain that, at some point, he’d be benched. It’s never happened. On the contrary — Martinez rescued the Huskers repeatedly last year in the second halves of games, making a series of memorable runs and passes in the process. He’s now the straw that stirs the Huskers’ drink — and the most important, just-can’t-lose-him player on the roster.
Previous entries (and honorable mentions):