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Rochester's Martin working to get NFL opportunity

John Marshall grad Cazz Martin had two standout football seasons at the University of Minnesota Duluth and last week he attended the three-day College Gridiron Showcase in Fort Worth, Texas.

Cazz Martin action.jpg
After two stellar seasons as a running back for the University of Minnesota Duluth, Rochester's Cazz Martin (28) is hoping to get a shot at playing in the NFL. Martin attended a three-day college showcase event in Texas last week.
Contributed / University of Minnesota Duluth athletic department
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Cazz Martin would love nothing more than to take his game to the next level.

After wrapping up a distinguished college football career, the John Marshall grad is hoping to get a shot at playing in the NFL. Martin played two years at Rochester Community and Technical College and two years at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

He rushed for 1,077 yards as a senior at UMD in 2021 and despite playing at the Division II level, Martin was invited to last week's College Gridiron Showcase in Fort Worth, Texas. The three-day showcase was for college seniors and Martin was one of about 150 players at the “big school” portion of the event.

“It was more to showcase your talents than having an actual game,” Martin said. “It was definitely exciting to see those kids from … LSU and Texas.”

NFL talent scouts were all over at the event, which featured one day of cognitive tests and interviews, one day of practice, and one day of scrimmages. Martin was thrilled with the experience and now he is putting in work with several upcoming events in mind, his pro day and the NFL draft in April.

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Cazz Martin Mug.jpg
Cazz Martin

“I’m trying to get drafted or either sign as a free agent,” Martin said. “It would be a blessing if I get drafted or I get invited to a mini-camp or rookie camp.”

Martin’s quest to reach the NFL might have to come as an undrafted free agent. As daunting as that may seem, there were nearly 500 undrafted free agents in the NFL during the 2021 season. Another John Marshall graduate — Marcus Sherels — took that path to the NFL and he had a solid career as a punt returner for the Minnesota Vikings.

“I’m just ready to work my butt off, give it my all and see where everything lands,” Martin said.

Martin will likely have to wow scouts with his speed and quickness, which are a major part of his game, as he stands just 5-foot-6 and weighs about 185 pounds. He hasn’t been officially timed in the 40-yard dash since 2018, but he has been clocked at 10.8 seconds in the 100-meter dash.

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Martin says his main assets as a runner are “my one-cut explosion and burst. Also I’m aggressive running the ball for my size.”

He will not be invited to the official NFL Combine, but Martin plans to have a pro day for NFL scouts some time in March. He is currently finishing his degree at Minnesota Duluth, doing some student teaching and training with other high-level athletes in Minneapolis.

“It’s definitely exciting,” he said. “I’m busy.”

To prepare for his pro day, Martin is working on his speed, agility, bench press and vertical jump.

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“Just trying to work on everything in my game and make sure it’s real crisp,” he said.

The 24-year-old is confident he will have a strong pro day and get the attention of NFL scouts. That’s all he wants, a chance to show what he can do on the football field. He put up stellar numbers in two seasons at UMD. He rushed for 1,739 yards and 15 touchdowns in 23 games while averaging a lusty 7.1 yards a carry. He also averaged 12.3 yards on 16 receptions.

While he is primarily a running back, Martin has kick return skills which could also be utilized at the pro level.

“Once they see my numbers — I’ll put up good numbers on my pro day — then they’ll look at my film and see what I can do,” Martin said.

Guy N. Limbeck is a Rochester native who has been working at a daily newspaper since 1981. He has worked at the Post Bulletin since 1999. Readers can reach Guy at 507-285-7724 or glimbeck@postbulletin.com.
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