Tay Martin plays like he needs football, because he does. Football kept him going during the hardest year of his life, when his father was sent to prison and he lost his mother unexpectedly.
At 6-foot-3, 182 pounds, with mad leaping ability, burner speed, and innate ball skills honed from years on the hardwood, Washington State wide receiver Tay Martin, looks and plays like a basketball player on the football field.
Before Martin found his way to Martin Stadium, those moves ignited crowds at basketball arenas throughout the small Cajun town of Houma, La., and Martin finished his basketball career as the Class 4A Louisiana State High School Player of the Year.
He has good genes to thank for some of that natural ability, says his father, Brian Ross.
Ross and Tay’s mother, April Martin, were high school sweethearts and basketball stars at South Terrebonne High School in the late 90s.
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“Tay had no choice but to be blessed,” Ross says. “She could get down with the best of them, and I could get down with the best of them.”
Ross’ budding basketball career was derailed by poor grades that kept him from getting into college. April Martin turned down a basketball scholarship offer to stay home and raise Tay, who was born during her sophomore year.
Their eldest child has proved to be quite the baller himself in his first year at WSU.
Tay’s breakout game came against Colorado, when he led the team with four receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown. Martin’s role has increased since, and he’s scored three touchdowns in the last three games for the 19th-ranked Cougars, who play at Utah Saturday.
Tay practices and plays with a glowering intensity that comes from deep within. He’s overcome a lot to get to WSU, and even Cougars’ coach Mike Leach is impressed by the poise and maturity Tay has displayed in his first season.
“He never goes half speed,” Leach…