Countdown to kickoff: A coach’s suggestion made No. 41 Eric Martin one of LSU’s best WRs

Countdown to kickoff: A coach's suggestion made No. 41 Eric Martin one of LSU's best WRs
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Editor’s note: We’re counting down to LSU’s Sept. 3 season opener against Florida State with a look back at the greatest Tiger players at each number from The Advocate book “LSU By The Numbers.” Monday marks 41 days until kickoff, so we remember No. 41, All-American wide receiver Eric Martin:

41 Eric Martin

WR, 1981-84

All-American 1983

All-SEC 1983-84

A lot of the records Eric Martin set over the course of his brilliant career with LSU and the New Orleans Saints have since been broken as the pass has become the dominant way for offenses to travel.

But it would be entirely appropriate to call the former LSU All-American and Saints Hall of Famer the trailblazer who paved the way for receivers like Josh Reed and Ja’Marr Chase, Marques Colston and Michael Thomas to follow.

Born in 1961, Martin came to LSU from Van Vleck, Texas, a small town a little over an hour southwest of Houston, as a running back. He picked LSU over nearby Texas A&M and nearly 40 other scholarship offers.

Martin quickly showed promise, rushing for 290 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman in 1981 and returning a kickoff 100 yards for touchdown against Kentucky in Tiger Stadium.

“I turned out the lights for ‘em,” Martin said.

The Tigers beat the Wildcats 24-10 but struggled that season to a 3-7-1 record that prompted coach Jerry Stovall to change over much of his coaching staff. He brought in a 31-year old assistant named Mack Brown as his quarterbacks coach. Brown, seeing LSU was short-handed in the receiver corps after losing top pass-catcher Orlando McDaniel from the year before, suggested Martin switch positions.

“I’ve got pretty good hands,” Martin said before the 1982 season. “No, I think I’ve got great hands. The only problem is when I get lazy and don’t concentrate.”

Martin made opposing defenses concentrate on him the next three seasons. As the 1982 Tigers rebounded with huge wins over Florida, Alabama and Florida State to go 8-3-1 and play in the Orange Bowl, Martin caught 45 passes for 817 yards and seven touchdowns, just missing the top two receiving seasons in LSU history set by Andy Hamilton in 1970 and 1971 (870 and 854).

The following season, the record belonged to Martin. LSU’s fortunes trended downward again as the Tigers went 4-7 (0-6 in SEC play), resulting in Stovall’s termination, and the Tigers had to pass a lot trying to play catch up. But Martin was up to the task with 52 catches for 1,064 yards (both school records) and five touchdowns to earn All-American honors. LSU was 8-3-1 again in 1984 with a trip to the Sugar Bowl under Bill Arnsparger. Martin wasn’t quite as prolific with Dalton Hilliard and Garry James combining to rush for more than 1,700 yards, but his 47 catches for 668 yards and two touchdowns made him an All-SEC selection again.

Martin left LSU with 2,625 career yards receiving and briefly held the SEC record until it was surpassed three years later by another Tiger All-American, Wendell Davis (2,708). Somehow, however, Martin lasted until the seventh round of the 1985 NFL Draft before being snapped up by the Saints.

He led the Saints in receiving seven straight years from 1987-93, including a then-club record 1,090 yards in 1989. When Martin left New Orleans for one last pro season with the Chiefs, he was the Saints’ career receiving leader with 7,854 yards and 48 touchdowns, numbers that would help Martin land in the Saints Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

CAREER STATS

Year Catches Yards YPC TDs

1981 8 76 9.5 0

1982 45 817 18.2 7

1983 52 1,064 20.5 5

1984 47 668 14.2 2

TOTALS 152 2,625 17.3 14

This LSU great also wore No. 41 …

Mike Vincent, LB, 1963-65

An All-SEC pick in 1964, he helped the Tigers to a 1965 Sugar Bowl win over Syracuse. Vincent went out with a 14-7 upset of Arkansas in the 1966 Cotton Bowl, snapping the Razorbacks’ 22-game winning streak.

Purchase your own copy of “LSU By The Numbers” and get a get a 20% discount! Visit lsu.pictorialbook.com and enter the code LSU20.

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About Mary Weyand 11096 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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