Man of Steel: Troy LB Martial is Absolutely Super

Matt Lowe

June 08, 2021 at 4:06 pm.

He’s not faster than a speeding bullet. Nor can he leap tall buildings with a single bound. And he doesn’t swap his suit for a vest and cape in a phone booth in order to confront evil when the time arrives.

But when it comes to football, Troy linebacker Carlton Martial could be likened to Superman playing the “Mike” position in the heart of Troy’s always-morphing 4-2-5 defense.

Not only does he fly to the football when tracking a ball carrier, but he can also make plays for defensive coordinator Brandon Hall as a blitzer or in pass coverage. And his productivity, along with his leadership qualities and infectious personality, are reasons why he’s the Lindy’s preseason Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year for a second consecutive season.

“He’s our MVP on defense,” head coach Chip Lindsey said. “He’s a heck of a player. He comes to work every day with a smile on his face and sets an example for the other players with his work ethic. He’s also a great person on and off the field and we’re blessed to have him.”

Despite being a defensive standout on a McGill-Toolen High School squad that played for two state championships, Martial drew very little interest from D-I colleges when he was a prep player due to his lack of size (5-foot-9, 210 pounds). In fact, only a hand-full of FCS schools were interested in Martial before he walked on at Troy.

But the lack of scholarship offers didn’t deter Martial from playing the game he loved. In fact, it’s only fueled the fire for one of the most prolific tackling machines in college football.

“I couldn’t give you a (scholarship) number off the top of my head, but it was more SWAC schools like Alabama A&M, West Florida and, of course, North Alabama because that’s where my brother played,” said Marshall, who first started playing football at 3-years-old.

“I’ve always had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder playing in high school. I always knew when recruiting time came up, I really tried not to get down,” Marshall added. “Coach (Caleb) Ross really helped me with that. But I always played with that chip on my shoulder and it ended up working out for the best.”

Two years ago as a sophomore, Martial had 126 tackles — the most by a Trojan since 2000. He also added 18.5 tackles for loss (the fifth-most in Troy history), four sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He was the only player in the Football Bowl Subdivision to finish in in the top 10 in tackles and tackles for loss.

Last year, despite the trials and tribulations of COVID-19, Martial tied Auburn linebacker Zakoby McClain for the most tackles in the country (113). He also had a team-high 10 tackles for loss, a sack and an interception and averaged 10.3 tackles per game.

He ended another ridiculously productive campaign with a career-high 21 tackles, including 2.5 for loss, a sack and an interception in a heartbreaking 42-38 loss to Sun Belt champ Coastal Carolina. It was the fifth double-digit tackle game of the season for Martial, who wears No. 2 in honor of a bother he’s always looked up to.

“Back when I was in middle school, my brother, Philbert, when he was in high school, wore No. 2. He played at McGill before me and I just wanted to be like him — or be better than he was. He was my competition.”

Martial is set to graduate from Troy in July with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. He currently holds a 3.0 GPA average and has a wide variety of music he enjoys listening to before games or in his spare time.

“I like all types of music,” Martial said cheerfully. “Rap. Pop. I can actually sing some pop songs. Maybe a little bit of rock. It can be any rap … Lil’ Wayne, Lil Baby, people like that, or I could even go to pop, even like Lady Gaga.”

Martial is also pumped about playing in front of the home fans again. And he hopes those fans can help the Trojans get back to the top of the Sun Belt standings.

“The possibility to do that is amazing to think about,” he said. “We don’t just do this for ourselves, but we also do this for our fans as well. We know it’s going to be a wild time when we get all the fans back. And I’m looking forward to it.”

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