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Pitt lands in the top seven of running back Sam Martin Jr.

The Staten Island native racked up 2,203 yards from scrimmage and 35 touchdowns as an underclassman

Pittsburgh v Virginia Tech Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

Sam Martin Jr., a running back out of Paramus Catholic High School in Paramus, New Jersey, revealed his top seven on Monday night, and Pitt made the cut along with California, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse, UMass and West Virginia.

Martin’s list of finalists was derived from an offer sheet with 14 programs, and the cuts included Boston College, Temple, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest as well as FCS programs Howard and William and Mary.

The 5’11”, 185-pound running back currently holds three-star ratings from Rivals and 247Sports. Rivals ranks Martin as the No. 9 all-purpose back in the 2022 class, while 247Sports ranks him as the No. 80 running back. However, he was considered a four-star recruit by Rivals in 2020 and narrowly missed out on a top-250 ranking from the website.

“All-purpose back Sam Martin is the only four-star at his position that didn’t make the Rivals 250 this time around, but he could easily make it next time,” Adam Friedman of Rivals said of the recruit back in August 2020. “He is a mismatch against linebackers, slot cornerbacks, and safeties, and he has shown a knack for making touch catches toward the sideline and over the middle. With the ball in his hands, Martin doesn’t have any trouble making defenders miss in space on his way to picking up big chunks of yards.”

The step down in status was likely a result of a down year at Paramus Catholic for Martin. That down year came in 2020, the first season Martin played in Paramus. Prior to his arrival in the Garden State, Martin played at Curtis High School in the Staten Island borough of New York City and had two outstanding seasons.

As a freshman in 2018, Martin had a breakout year, as he ran for 1,204 yards and 13 touchdowns on 189 carries. He added 38 additional yards and another score on four catches. Then, in 2019, Martin took on a dual role as a wide receiver and running back at Curtis and amassed 961 yards from scrimmage and 21 total touchdowns. Those totals included 630 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground and 331 receiving yards and four touchdowns through the air.

However, 2020 saw Martin’s production drop, as his first season at Paramus did not go according to plan. In a six-game season in which the Paladins went 0-6, Martin ran for 176 yards and one score on 44 attempts. He also added 232 yards through the air on 19 catches but fell far short of replicating the success he attained on the other side of the Kill Van Kull.

Still, there has been no shortage of interest in the prospect, and given his playmaking ability, versatility and vision on the field, he could make an impact at any of the seven programs in the running to land him. But at Pitt, he would have an opportunity to step into a starring role, provided he could rediscover the level of play he left behind in Staten Island, as the team has lacked a consistent rushing attack since the days of Darrin Hall and Qadree Ollison in 2018.

At this point, no front-runner has emerged in Martin’s recruitment, but Syracuse was the first program to offer him a scholarship and Rutgers is the closest to home. With that said, Pitt has also recruited the New York City vicinity extensively and currently boasts 15 players from the area on its roster. So the staff has had its share of success in the Big Apple, and another win would come as no surprise.

But with that said, it is currently unclear when a commitment from Martin might come, as the recruit has yet to set a decision date. So any such victory could be a ways down the road.