Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two years or perhaps cohabitating on another planet, the name Martez Carter should be one that you’ve heard before.
On the gridiron he’s known as “Mr. Excitement”, and his reputation precedes him. Carter was recently named NCAA’s FCS STATS Special Teams Player of the Week, and if you have to wonder why, one would have to assume you have been receiving mail under that rock you’ve been living under.
Just last week the Monroe native ran two kickoff returns, one for 88 yards and the other for 100 against Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical University at the 90th Annual Southwest Airlines State Fair Classic. Carter also scored touchdowns on a run and a reception, finishing with 285 all-purpose yards, including 200 on three kickoff returns and 37 on one punt return.
But it hasn’t always been jovial times for the Richwood product- many would be surprised to know of the life the young athlete has endured. “When I was growing up, I only had three pairs of pants and four T-shirts. Girls used to tease me and ask ‘what are you wearing tomorrow? That same shirt?’ It’s funny now because now I find those same females trying to have a conversation with me, in my direct messages on Instagram.”
Born in 1995, Carter began playing football his freshman year. Receiving an athletic scholarship to Wiley College, he then migrated to the state of Texas and played for a year but wasn’t exactly satisfied. “Around Christmas time of 2013 I returned to my high school and I saw head coach Broderick Fobbs who talked to me about coming to Grambling but before I made a decision he told me ‘if transferring is going to hurt you financially then you stay where you’re at.’”
After making the decision to play at Grambling, he began playing as a defensive back, but still wasn’t where he wanted to be. “Last year I begged Coach Fobbs, the entire season to be exact, to let me play on the offensive side. He used to let me Riverside (play both offense and defense) during practice. At our game against Jackson State University last year I had a few snaps. Coach then allowed me to play on the offensive side.”
If you look at Carter, standing 5’8” weighing 175 pounds you might wonder where exactly does all of the stamina to move so quickly come from? “Growing up small, I always wanted to compete and as a child I had to withstand a few blows every now and then, but I remember a time when I didn’t think any of this would have been possible.”
When he was only eight years old, Carter had been involved in a car accident. “The driver had not been paying attention and not only hit me but dragged my body under her car 8-10 feet before realizing I was under there. In a frantic mode, my mother and other family members lifted the car and removed me from it.” This horrific accident left a young Martez unable to walk for three months and in a body cast. “Physical therapy? (Laughs) We were poor. My family members used to pull me around in a red wagon. They were the ones who helped me learn how to walk again.”
While the average young child enjoys pastimes such as family outings and other occasions, things were different in the Carter household. “My mother and I haven’t always had the best relationship, and my father has been in and out of jail. At my high school graduation, only my uncle showed up. It hurts me that my family isn’t as close.”
After having a disagreement with his mother, Carter moved out of the house he lived in and was taken in by his god-brother, while he was only in the eighth grade. “I live at my grandfather’s house, and that is the place I return to when I go home to visit.”
Instead of allowing adversity and hard times bring him down, Carter uses it to motivate him in a way that would make an Angry Bird smile. “I play for my family. It brings them together, to be able to see me out on the field.”
Like many athletes desire to have certain pre-game rituals they partake in before a game, Carter keeps his near and dear. “I have to talk to my mom. She hasn’t been able to be at all of my games because she doesn’t have a driver’s license or transportation and it means everything to me to see her there. I also have to talk to my god-mother and longtime friend. My mother is my heart and my god-mother is my life support, but without my heart, I don’t need life support.”
Although he’s unable to visit his hometown regularly due to football season, if ever Carter gets too homesick, he doesn’t have to look too far, just down the football field to be exact. Offensive lineman of the G-Men and close friend, Martez has always considered Trey Goins a big brother. “I look up to Trey a lot. As kids, Trey would never let me get in trouble. He used to always say ‘I did it’.”
While Carter dominates on the turf and could probably keep up with Flash Gordon, he jokingly reflected on his performances at practice. “At practice, I’m a horrible player. I mess up plays… but at game time, it’s on”, and he proved himself on his second kickoff return at last week’s game. “The ball came straight to me. I saw the left side was wide open. The kicker tried to stop me. (Laughs). I skated home for my team.”
Only in his second year as an athlete at Grambling, it goes without saying that one can look forward to witnessing performances from Carter that will be talked about even after the game has ended.
While football is something Martez enjoys playing, the sophomore has goals that lie outside of the football field. Living vicariously by the bible scripture Philippians 4:13, Carter aspires to one day be able to give back to his community.