Nov. 1, 2009
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State sophomore Keshawn Martin, who accounted for a career-best 284 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns in the Spartans' 42-34 loss at Minnesota, has been selected Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week. This week's award winners were announced live Sunday on the Big Ten Network's Big Ten Tonight.
Martin's 284 all-purpose yards rank as the sixth-best single-game total in Spartan history. In addition, his 284 all-purpose yards are the highest single-game figure in the Big Ten and the 11th-best single-game total in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision this season.
He returned four kickoffs for 176 yards (44.0 avg.) against the Golden Gophers, scoring on a 93-yard runback to open the second half. His 176 kickoff return yards are the third-highest single-game total in school history. It also marked MSU's first kickoff return for a TD since Demond Williams took the opening kickoff 98 yards against Indiana in 2005.
Later in the third quarter, Martin scored on an 84-yard reverse as the Spartans cut their deficit to 28-24. He also had two catches for 22 yards and returned one punt for 2 yards against Minnesota.
"Since he arrived on campus, Keshawn Martin has consistently shown big-play ability," Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. "Last year as a true freshman, he displayed flashes of that big-play ability. This year, he has done an outstanding job as a punt returner, and it's just a matter of time before he breaks one of those for a touchdown as well.
"Saturday night, Keshawn got thrown back there as the kick returner, and he responded with a huge touchdown return. Last week, he provided a 31-yard kickoff return near the end of the Iowa game. So he has that big-play ability both as a returner as well as a receiver.
"Keshawn came out of high school as a quarterback, so he's really only been a receiver for about a year-and-a-half," Dantonio continued. "You see him growing daily as a wide receiver, especially as he begins to understand the system more fully. On offense, Keshawn has displayed his talents on some trick plays, but there's no question that he'll be a great contributor for the next several years to come."
"Keshawn Martin has done a great job as a punt returner all year long," MSU special teams coach Mike Tressel said. "So now with a couple of guys banged up at kick returner, he was the obvious guy to go back there because he has the ability to make things happen. Returning kickoffs is a little different than returning punts, but we felt comfortable asking him to assume that role.
"Keshawn delivered a huge play to start the second half with his 93-yard runback. We were down 21-10 at the half, and he single-handedly got the momentum back for us. Later in the third quarter, Keshawn took an 84-yard reverse to the house too. He's such an explosive player that you like to see the ball in his hands."
In addition to his selection as Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week, Martin has been named Kickoff Returner of the Week (shares honor with six other players) by the College Football Performance Awards.
In league games, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Martin ranks among the Big Ten leaders in kickoff returns (first with 38.7-yard avg.), punt returns (third with 6.9-yard avg.) and all-purpose yards (eighth at 101.5 yards per game).