Saturday, July 14, 2012

Counting down the top Pitt football players of the last 40 years- No.42 Curtis Martin

I will be counting down my own list of the top 50 Pitt football players since 1972.  I have spent time doing a lot of research and talking to a lot of people when formulating this list, but ultimately it is MY opinion.  The great thing about lists like this is that people will disagree, and feel free to, but just remember that there is no right answer so there's no need to go crazy if you do disagree.  I will post this same intro with all 50 bios because I know the one time I don't, people will complain about not knowing what criteria I used.  I will add at least one a day, maybe two.  

My criteria for selecting the order is as follows:

1.  Productivity.
2.  Talent.
3.  Place in program history.
4.  Only the player's careers while at Pitt are considered, not their NFL careers. 
5.  No current players.

42.  Curtis Martin (1991-94)-  Many may be surprised to see a guy who is about to go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame be this far down the list, but like a few other players on the list, he was actually better in the NFL than in college.  Most of that had to do with injuries and the fact that he left a season early.

But I'm not suggesting that Martin wasn't a good college player because he definitely was.  As a freshman, the City League star played in 8 games and ran for 556 yards and a 4.9 avg.  As a sophomore, he was the second leading rusher, behind Tim Colicchio, and Alex Van Pelt threw for over 3,000 yards, but Martin still managed to run for 730 yards, 5 touchdowns, and a 4.6 avg., along with 33 catches.

As a junior, Martin had his best year with 1,075 yards, 7 touchdowns, and a 5.1 avg., along with another 33 receptions.  It looked like Martin was about to finally arrive in his senior season, and go down as one of the true legends of Pitt football.  That feeling was even stronger when in the first game he ran for 251 yards against Texas.  The next week Martin got hurt again, this time a sprained ankle that somehow cost Martin the rest of the season.  It may be the only time in history that a player missed 10 weeks with a sprained ankle.

Martin could have been redshirted and return to have that long awaited huge season, but instead he decided to go to the NFL.  Proving he made the right call, the No. 2 pick of the New England Patriots ran for 1,487 yards as a rookie.

Martin never looked back, running for over 1,000 yards an incredible ten times.  But the most interesting part of Martin's NFL career is that he missed 8 games, less than he missed in one season with Pitt.   


  1. Martins performance against Texas was to this day one of the truly great performances Ive ever witnessed on a football field. He was the entire offense. Everyone on the field along with everyone watching knew Curtis was going to get the rock and yet he kept grinding out yards. It was an awesome display. Its really a shame Martin didnt have a better supporting cast around him and stayed healthy and for four years. Games like that would have been pretty common imho. He was a beast.

  2. The Patriots drafted Martin in the 3rd round...
    and he did end his nfl career due to injury... couldn't come back.

  3. At a time when few Pitt players were starring in the NFL, we could always point to Martin. And before that Ironhead. And I always think of Curvin Richards.

    I'll never forget how he was on the 1992 Cowboys team as a backup to Emmet Smith. In the last game, with the 'Boys locked up as the second seed in the NFC, Jimmy Johnson rested Smith and put in Curvin. Richards scored a touchdown, but he fumbled at least twice. The last fumble (I believe) was picked up by the Bears and returned for a touchdown. Regardless, because of the fumbles, Johnson cut Richards the very next day. The Cowboys went on to win the Super Bowl ... without Curvin Richards on the roster.

    I wonder if he got his Super Bowl ring? Either way, his career might have lasted a bit longer if he only didn't play in that game. If the Cowboys didn't have the 2-seed locked up. If the game was close and they couldn't just put in the scrubs. What a shame.

  4. Martin should get bonus points on this list for dating Toni Braxton.

  5. The reason Curt did not play again as a Sr was John Majors, he refused to play him hoping he would take a redshirt and return for a fifth season. Can't blame him for electing to go in the draft, had nothing to prove at Pitt and the team was terrible. Hurt the ankle while engaged on a block when both the receiver and tackler rolled over his legs from behind. The kid gave it his best every time, still one of my favorites of all time. Never saw Dorsett play at Pitt but in my opinion on top three rb's since.