The Adrian Martinez era at Nebraska is over.
The four-year starting quarterback and only three-time captain in school history entered his name into the NCAA's transfer portal on Thursday, a source confirmed to the Journal Star, bringing finality to an uncertain future at the school.
Martinez confirmed the news via social media and said his goodbye to Nebraska in a tweet.
"The University of Nebraska will always be a place I can call home," he wrote. "It has been an honor and a privilege to represent the 'N' for (four) years. I want to thank Coach Frost, (former quarterbacks coach Mario) Verduzco, and the rest of the staff for giving me an opportunity to play for such a great University. Thank you to my teammates and lifelong friends for making my time here special. Thank you to the people of Nebraska for your continued support throughout my journey. …
"I will always be a Nebraska Cornhusker at heart and a proud Alum."
Martinez has one season of eligibility left to play at the college level and also has a redshirt at his disposal as he sets out to find another school where he can finish his career.
He is also in the early stages of rehabilitating from a Nov. 24 operation on his right shoulder. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound signal-caller suffered the shoulder injury on Nov. 20 at Wisconsin and missed Nebraska’s season finale against Iowa last Friday.
In his final start at Nebraska, Martinez broke the school’s all-time offensive yardage record against Wisconsin, moving past former quarterback Tommy Armstrong and finishing with 10,792.
However, he played the second half of that game with a shoulder injury suffered in the first half. Coach Scott Frost said NU wasn’t able to determine the extent of the injury at halftime in Madison and Martinez played the second half through what Frost described as “clicking” in his shoulder.
He decided to take part in Nebraska’s Senior Day festivities before the game against Iowa, just in case it was his last chance.
“Certainly hope it’s not his last (senior day), but if it is, he needs to be honored,” Frost said in the days before the game.
“My heart breaks for the kid,” senior defensive lineman Ben Stille said after the Iowa game. “He put his entire life, his entire body, everything he had into this program. Him not being able to finish this season really hurts. He’s obviously our leader. I’m older than him significantly, I’m two or three years older than him, but I look up to him leadershipwise no matter what and the way he carries himself. He’s a great human being.”
Martinez first won Nebraska’s starting quarterback job in August 2018, when he beat out Tristan Gebbia ahead of Frost’s first season as the coach. From there, he started 38 of the 44 games of Frost’s tenure over the past four seasons. He missed one start due to a knee injury in 2018, two due to a left shoulder injury in 2019, two last year when he was benched in favor of Luke McCaffrey and NU’s season finale this year against Iowa.
He holds numerous school records, including career records for 400-yard offensive outings (five), 300-yard outings (19) and career completions (670).
In 2021, he set the NU season record for total offensive yards per game (308), a number that checked in No. 2 in the Big Ten (behind only Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud) and No. 15 nationally.
Martinez in many ways had his best statistical season this fall, averaging 9.4 yards per attempt and accounting for 27 touchdowns (14 passing, 13 rushing) against 13 turnovers.
Had he returned to Nebraska for the 2022 season, he would have done so with a familiar coach in Frost but a new offensive coordinator and new quarterbacks coach plus, more than likely, more competition in the quarterback room than he had this past year.
The Huskers now are essentially guaranteed to be looking for a transfer quarterback, which they may well have done even had Martinez stayed, especially given the unknowns about when he will be back to full health.
“That’s my brother,” sophomore running back/receiver Brody Belt said last week. “Whatever he decides, I’m with him.”
Now he’s decided to move on, and the next phase of Husker football is simultaneously one step clearer and one step less certain.
The Huskers have second-year freshman Logan Smothers and freshman Heinrich Haarberg currently on the roster and 2022 quarterback verbal commit Richard Torres as scholarship options going forward, plus veteran walk-on Matt Masker.
Smothers, a Muscle Shoals, Alabama, native, appeared in six games total for Nebraska this fall and made his first career start on Black Friday against Iowa.
Nebraska, though, will almost certainly be recruiting the transfer portal for a quarterback. Who that might be may not come into focus until Frost has finalized the hire of an offensive coordinator and a quarterbacks coach.
What people are saying about Adrian Martinez entering the transfer portal
Words can’t express how thankful we are for you Adrian! You’re a true role model to our younger generation, and a blueprint for what every young man should strive to be. I hope wherever you end up that they understand you’re far more than just a QB. You’re a leader. Thank you🌽☠️ https://t.co/cSCAd39b2B— 🌽Fully Husk’d🌽 (@Fishy_Fischer) December 2, 2021
The fact that he had to shut off the comments for this post says it all. This dude gave his body up for the Husker faithful often to be ridiculed in return. Always a class act and I can’t thank Adrian enough for his contributions to the program. Best of luck going forward. https://t.co/Tb6HK6f1bR— Ryan Dettman (@RyanDettman) December 2, 2021
We don't really get to know players on a personal level, but from the first time I talked to Adrian Martinez in Dec. 2017, he's done nothing but impress with how he handles the spotlight, the pressure, etc. All the time.— Parker Gabriel (@HuskerExtraPG) December 2, 2021
Wherever he goes next will be better for having him.
Contact the writer at email@example.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.