Tate martell
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

FSM Exclusive: Tate Martell’s Decision

Franhise Sports Media


Arguably, Tate Martell could be the most famous and infamous high school football player ever. Since high school and early in his college career, Martell has been known as a polarizing figure. His confidence and bravado in between the lines matches his bold and outspoken manner on social media, but there is no denying that this young man is the ultimate winner on the field.


Tate Martell
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Most people who follow college football know the name Tate Martell and parts of his story. Some watched the NetFlix documentary “QB-1: Beyond The Lights,” while others follow him on his social media platforms. For those that don’t know his story, here is an introduction

Martell finished his high school career undefeated and led Bishop Gorman to three straight High School National Championships. He was nationally known and had 24 scholarship offers, including schools such as Texas A&M, Michigan, Alabama, USC, Oklahoma St., Cal, UCLA, LSU, Florida St., and Miami. Martell decided to commit to Ohio State and play for Urban Meyer.

After redshirting his freshman year in Columbus, Martell had to deal with a coaching change at Ohio State after Meyer retired. He then got minimal playing time as the back-up to Dwayne Haskins for the Buckeyes. Tate decided to transfer to Miami, where he was expected to be the starting quarterback, but things didn’t quite play out like that. Martell didn’t win the starting quarterback job for the Hurricanes after spring ball, and the uber-athletic Vegas native moved between quarterback and wide receiver all season just to get on the field and compete.

It seemed that the former Prep All-American wouldn’t live up to the expectations that many had for him, including himself.


Martell realized that a change was needed, not just on the field, but within himself.


Tate Martell
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Enter COVID-19. The NCAA allowed players to sit out a season without losing eligibility, and for Martell, it was his saving grace — the game-changer he needed. He moved back to Las Vegas in late 2020 while finishing classes online at Miami, where he graduated this past June with a degree in Sociology.

Tate also reconnected with Sean Manuel, a mentor and former coach at Bishop Gorman and the former strength and conditioning coach at UNLV. “Manny” is now at The Institute, a sports performance facility in southwest Las Vegas, where he is the Director of Human Performance. Manuel helped Martell rediscover what mattered most to him, or as Tate put it, “Get me right.”

Martell would go to The Institute 4 times a week, but not always to work out. He would talk with Manuel and have honest and raw conversations that gave him a new perspective on life and football. He was reshaping himself into a better version of Tate Martell off the field, as well as on it. Throughout his time at OSU and Miami, Tate would often go back and watch old games and practice film of himself while at Bishop Gorman and in college. He would see flaws that he needed to correct, so he reached out to a “quarterback whisperer” for help.


Tate Martell
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Martell started working with quarterback guru and Elite 11 quarterback coach Drew Aumavae, who has worked with some of the best high school, college, and NFL quarterbacks in the nation. Aumavae, known as one of the best quarterback coaches in the country, has reshaped Martell’s throwing motion, mechanics, and mental approach. Martell looks like a new quarterback, and thanks to Manny and the trainers at The Insitute, he is in the best shape of his life, both physically and mentally.

Tate is the definition of a ‘Grinder,’Aumavae told me last week. “He is a tireless worker who is obsessed with the details of playing Quarterback. His development from day one has been incredible. He has been open to several new things introduced to him, and he took it and ran with it. He is a guy that takes pride in working on his craft.”

In our exclusive 1-on-1 interview with him in June, Martell detailed some of the things he changed in his life and how he got himself in the right state of mind after going through trials and tribulations at Ohio State and Miami. He also described some of the things he was looking for in a new school, but he wanted to make sure that this decision was the right decision on and off the field and for him as a person.

Now the time has come. Tate Martell has made his decision. On the morning of July 20th, Tate called and asked to help him make his decision public at the right time and the right way. He didn’t want a public spectacle with all the pomp and circumstance that normally comes with a commitment ceremony. There would be no video interview with highlights or a hype video announcing where he will play next season. Martell didn’t want his decision to be all about him or for it to be a distraction before even stepping foot on his new campus. Rather, he wanted to do a simple interview where he makes his announcement and turns his focus to school, football, and being the best teammate he can be.


It’s time for Tate Martell, in his own words, to announce where he will be attending college next season.


Joe Arrigo: How have things been since we did the last interview?

Tate Martell: Things have been good, really good, actually. I’ve been just rehabbing my thumb from a surgery I had four and a half weeks ago. It’s almost ready to go and getting stronger by the day. I’m chomping at the bit to get back on the field with teammates and compete at 100%. Physically, I’m solid. I’m working out 2 or 3 times a day, and I run at night, so I’m great. Mentally, it’s the best I’ve ever been. Now that this is out of the way–all the work I’ve put in– it’s time to make it happen, and I am relieved and ready to go. Where I am mentally is going to put me in a place to have success, and success to me is winning games and being the best teammate I can be, not what I am doing personally. But the most important thing is to win games. It always has been and always will be.  


JA: What were you looking for when deciding which schools you were considering?

TM: I was looking to build a relationship with the coaches and teammates. I want to compete in an offense that fits me so I can contribute to the team’s success on the field in any way when that time comes. I won’t rush it, but I will be ready whenever my number is called. If I can help be a part of changing a culture and be an extension of the coaching staff to help put pieces together for a program, that would be ideal. Finding the right fit and being comfortable was honestly one of the most important things to me, as well as being able to trust the head coach and have him trust me as well. 


JA: Did you use your experience in recruiting to help make your choice?

TM: Yeah, I had to. The last time I made a decision was in 3 days, and that was to go to Miami. The time before that, I made a decision based on being a fan of Ohio State. The difference this time is I’ve grown up, I’ve changed, I’ve matured. I was able to decipher things and make a logical adult decision. It wasn’t easy. It isn’t easy going to work out 3 or 4 times a day, not knowing what would come of it. I really focused on taking my time and developing relationships because I didn’t want to make a bad decision. I know this is it for me, so I took in as much information as I could and thought about every possible scenario. To be honest, the unknown was hard, but I needed that because where I chose to go is exactly where I want to be from the beginning, and I feel extremely comfortable. I am so pumped to be a part of something special with a great group of guys and a coach that I trust and respect.  


JA: When considering your next school, how much thought did you put into your support system and the people who have helped you over the course of the last 6-8 months?

TM: My support family, Manny, Drew, Jesse Halberstadt, and the others who I won’t name because I don’t want to forget someone and upset them, they played a huge role in my decision. They gave me a lot to consider and supported whatever decision I came to. I am a better person because of the people I have around me. I want to be the best version of myself I can be, and that’s all they want for me. I’ve been able to rebuild and improve relationships that mean the world to me and be a better man, son, brother, friend, and teammate. So unlike the other times when I committed to play a school, this was done with a clear head, and it’s truly where I want to be. 


JA: Ok, so let’s get to it then. It’s time to make it official and let everyone know where you’ll be attending school for the next season or two!


TM: I’m staying home and going to UNLV! I have 2 years to go to make an impact and don’t want to do it anywhere else. I’m grateful for Coach Arroyo and the opportunity to come and compete at UNLV in front of my family, friends, and the city I love. 


JA: What made you choose UNLV?

TM: That’s simple. It was Coach Arroyo. Getting to know him, how he does things and treats his players, it’s first-class. While at Ohio State, I saw how a winning culture impacts a team. How when the team buys into it, they become more than a team–they are a family–and Coach Arroyo is building that here and building it the right way. Once we step on the field, our opponents know that the Rebels are going to give them one hell of a fight, that we won’t back down or be an easy win, and that all starts with what Coach Arroyo is building, and I want to be a part of that. 

I had a few opportunities to go play at other places on scholarship, but I want to do it for the city, my home. I am walking on as an athlete because I want to contribute to the team in any way to help win games. Honestly, this is where I want to be and who I want to play for. UNLV checked off all the boxes for me on and off of the field. But I just want to come in, grind and compete. Just put my head down and work and be a leader and a person Coach Arroyo, the coaching staff, and my teammates can trust and count on.  


JA: Talk about your conversations with Coach Arroyo. I know they’re private and don’t want to know what they were about, but what about Coach Arroyo excited you and made you want to play for him?

TM: Talking to Coach Arroyo–and we met twice in person–we didn’t talk much ball. We talked about me, what I’ve been through and how I’ve grown as a man. He was more interested in me as a person than me as a player and wanting to get to know the real me. He genuinely listened to me and gave me some good advice that I appreciate. But at the end of the day, when I walked out of his office or got off the phone with him, I knew that he cared. It made the decision really easy for me. I think Coach Arroyo realized how much I wanted to be here and how much I wanted to play for him, so he extended an opportunity to do so. I’m very thankful for Coach Arroyo and UNLV for this opportunity. 


JA: Have you got a chance to talk to some of your new teammates yet? What was their reaction?

TM: Yes, I have. I actually have gotten to know Chuck Williams really well. That’s my guy, and I can’t wait to get to work with him! But I have met and hung out with Vic Viramontes, Gio Fauolo, Aaron Lewis, Davone Walden, Stevie Jenkins, and Jordan Jakes since I’ve been back. They are all great guys, and I can’t wait to go to work with them and the rest of my teammates! Obviously, I know Chato (Julio Garcia) and Farrell Hester II since we played at Gorman together, and I have spoken with Anthony Rosas a few times over the past few months as well. But no, I didn’t tell anyone on the team about my decision, other than Coach Arroyo. Again, I didn’t want to be a distraction or cause any unnecessary disruption to the team. I just want to come in and do my part in helping the team get better and win games.    


JA: You didn’t want to approach this announcement the same way you have in the past. You wanted to take a low-key approach. Why is that?

TM: Because it’s not about me, honestly. What I am going to UNLV to do is not about me; it’s bigger than me. It’s about the program and our city. What Coach Arroyo is building is a “No one is bigger than the program itself” mentality. There have been players before you, and there will be after you, but no one is bigger than the team. So if I did make some over-the-top announcement, to me, it would be me trying to make it more about me, which possibly could divide the team, and I don’t want that. I hope I can come in and be a small piece of the puzzle in uniting this team and be a person my teammates and coaches can come to and help them in any way. My teammate’s and coach’s trust is the most important thing to me. They can count on me to be there for them in any way on or off the field. The relationships between teammates and coaches are also an important thing to me. We have to be able to count on each other, especially when we need a big first down, a big play, or off the field in any way.   


JA: What are you most excited about now that you are a Rebel?

TM: Just being a part of it all! Being with my teammates and being a part of something special that Coach Arroyo is building right here at home in Vegas, it’s an indescribable feeling. What Coach is building here is something I’ve been in (at Ohio State) and seen winning programs already have in place, and to be a part of it at an early stage is special. To go through the peaks and valleys with him and this team, that’s what it is about. It’s going to be special, and I’m glad to be part of it.     


JA: My next question is more of you telling a story. Can you let everybody know what your original plan was coming out of high school and how this could’ve potentially happened then?

TM: Ok, so I had a game plan in High School. I love Vegas, and I wanted to be at UNLV, and none of us knew why none of the UNLV coaches were recruiting us hard when we were at Bishop Gorman. I had most of my teammates at Gorman and about 15 other top high school football players in Vegas in a text chain. We were talking about doing it (committing to UNLV). My plan was for all of us to flip on National TV on National Signing Day, and all of us pull out Rebels gear. But as you know, it didn’t come together. I wasn’t aware that Coach Sanchez couldn’t recruit us due to the NCAA rule that he had to wait 4 years (or get NCAA permission) to recruit us since he was our High School coach, which explains a lot of why things didn’t come together. But it is funny how things worked out in the end, but man, would that have been wild!


JA: Lastly, what’s next for you?

TM: It’s time to block out all the noise. I’m not talking to any other reporters, websites, or newspapers. I’m not doing any other interviews on T.V. Like I keep saying, it’s not about me. It’s about turning UNLV into a winning program. That should be everyone’s mindset. Our mindset should be UNLV becoming a winning program, building that tradition, and making Las Vegas proud of what we are building. But we have to do our part, and right now we have to grind. It’s all work, and we need to go take care of our business in the weight room, in the classroom, and on the field. I haven’t been doing interviews this entire offseason, and I’m not changing that after this announcement. When it’s required of me to talk, I’ll do it, but right now, it’s about going to work with my new teammates and being a part of the change that is happening in the Fertitta Football Complex. 


With the history of UNLV football being as it is, it will take a person with the type of swagger, bravado, leadership, and self-belief that Tate Martell has to help turn the Rebels program around.


Tate Martell
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

How can you not root for a hometown hero who is betting on himself to contribute in any way to the school and coach he truly wants to play for in the city that he loves? Martell has 2 more seasons of eligibility left, and nothing was promised except an opportunity to compete. That is all Tate wants–a chance to compete as a great teammate and leader.

All I want is to have a shot. I promise everyone who is a part of the UNLV football team, the Rebel family, and fans that I’m going to work my ass off for my teammates, coaches, the fans, and especially for Coach Arroyo.” Martell said, “I appreciate the opportunity and the trust he (Coach Arroyo) is showing me, and I want to repay him, the team, the city of Las Vegas, my home. I want to win ball games in scarlet and gray and help make UNLV a winning program going forward. Las Vegas deserves it.

Coach Sean Manuel and I spoke last week about Martell’s commitment to UNLV.

I have worked with Tate since he was a sophomore in high school,” Manuel said. “Tate has always been an incredible competitor, but over the last 8 months, I have seen him grow in qualities of character that will truly allow him to maximize his giftsHe has grown from the inside out in humility and resilience. I have watched him become a much more grateful young man and a more community-conscious young man in whatever role he is given.”

I never speculated publicly or privately, in any published article, or on any show when it came to Martell. I had no clue if Tate would end up coming to UNLV.  He was the only person talking to the schools and making the biggest decision of his life to date. When I did ask UNLV about Martell possibly coming, even as a walk-on, no one told me ever that it was a definitive “no” or that the door was ever closed.

UNLV is exactly where he needs to be. Not only is he the hometown kid, but his circle and support system are here. He understands that this is it for him and that there is some urgency to help elevate the program,” Coach Drew Aumavae told me. “His leadership and experiences from his previous stops will be very beneficial for the entire roomTate is a winner and will be the hardest worker on and off the field. UNLV will be surprised by his football intelligence. He knows football and can get on the board. Once he gets the playbook down, they won’t be able to keep him off the field in whatever role they have him in. I am so excited for him. Tate’s worked so hard to get to this point not only on the field but in his life as well.”


Tate Martell
Photo Credit: John Locher/AP

So give credit to UNLV head football coach Marcus Arroyo and his staff for doing their due diligence on Martell. They could have very easily said no to him and moved on and no one would have said anything about it, but they didn’t. They waited and thought it through thoroughly. Coach Arroyo met with him and got to know him as a person, then decided that Tate was indeed a good fit for his team. Also, give credit to Martell, who, by walking on as an athlete, not as a quarterback, is taking an approach that not many would assume he’d do. He is betting on himself.

Very few people know that Martell was so pumped up about possibly coming to play for UNLV that he went to the Marcus Arroyo Football Camp on June 27th. He threw in front of the coaches, current players there as instructors, and the other colleges in attendance. He wanted to go out and compete with the other quarterbacks there and show the UNLV football staff this is where he wants to be, in the city he loves and is so passionate about. That shows the type of competitive nature and fire that Martell will be bringing to UNLV. Now all he has to do is go out there and earn it.


Las Vegas is a city that is built on dreams, chances, and entertainment. UNLV and Coach Arroyo have taken a chance on Martell, and it’s refreshing. Much like iconic Runnin’ Rebels head basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, who often took chances on players and had it pay off, Coach Arroyo is doing that now. UNLV fans and faithful can only hope that the same type of success happens inside of Allegiant Stadium as they saw on the hardwood under Tark.


Tate Martell             Tate Martell         Tate Martell         Tate Martell         Tate Martell         Tate Martell         Tate Martell         Tate Martell             Tate Martell         Tate Martell         Tate Martell             Tate Martell         Tate Martell         Tate Martell         Tate Martell         Tate Martell         Tate Martell         Tate Martell             Tate Martell         Tate Martell         Tate Martell             Tate Martell         Tate Martell         Tate Martell         Tate Martell         Tate Martell         Tate Martell         Tate Martell             Tate Martell         Tate Martell         Tate Martell           Tate Martell       Tate Martell       Tate Martell       Tate Martell       Tate Martell                      

– Joe Arrigo

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