Top defensive recruit signs with football program

Ethan Martin to switch from quarterback to defensive end

Newly-signed Head Coach Steve Snyder called Ethan Martin 'a winner.'
Newly-signed Head Coach Steve Snyder called Ethan Martin 'a winner.'

Steve Snyder’s had his eye on Ethan Martin since 1999. 

Hailing from London, Ont., Martin—a highly coveted football recruit—officially committed to Queen’s for the coming 

2019-20 season on Tuesday. His signing marks Snyder’s fifth since being hired as the football team’s head coach in December. 

A London native himself, Snyder has deep ties with the Martin family. In ninth grade, Martin’s father, Dave, was Snyder’s coach as a member of H.B. Beale Secondary School’s basketball team. 

At a press conference unveiling Martin’s commitment earlier this week, Snyder reminisced seeing his newest recruit develop into one of the province’s top high school football players—and right in his hometown, no less.

“I’ve watched Ethan come up since he was just a young kid,” Snyder said of Martin’s journey to committing to Queen’s. 

Spending his high school career playing quarterback at London South Collegiate Institute, Martin’s been  a member of Team Canada’s junior national team and the Team Ontario Canada Cup team, along with being dubbed a top-100 recruit by CanadaFootballChat. Last February, he was a SPECTRA award winner, given to two London-based high school graduates for their exceptional records as student athletes. 

He’s also a three-time Bob Gooder Player of the Year, awarded to London’s most valuable high school football player—the only player to have ever won the award so many times.

For Snyder, looking for talent in his hometown was a no-brainer. He said the city produces high quality athletes, many of whom ultimately have successful U Sports careers.

“Ethan’s a winner,” Snyder said. “He’s won a number of championships, all the way down from being a young kid, right up through his high school program.”

“We’re excited to have him. He brings an incredible work ethic, a high football IQ, and a great leadership quality to our program.”

Martin, who will be entering the general science program at Queen’s, has his sights set on a pro football career. Although he has historically played quarterback, he’ll play free safety for the Gaels next season.  

“Ethan’s got a really unique skill set—he has the ability to play a number of positions,” Snyder said. “But you’ve got to look at his true potential, and where he might be able to pursue pro football and have the most immediate impact on our program.”

 “As you start to get to [the U Sports level], the coverage starts to get a little more complex and the speed of the game [will be] an adjustment, but you’re talking about a really fast athlete that plays really fast and is truly smart.”

American and Canadian universities have pursued Martin, including Harvard and Yale, for upwards of two years. And while he’s always been interested in Queen’s, Snyder’s move to the school is what finalized his decision.

“We’ve always kind of joked around about this, and I never wanted to pressure Ethan in the recruiting process because of how much respect I have for his family,” Snyder said.

Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Ryan Bechmanis said Martin will add a great deal of athleticism to the Gaels’ defense—which “was a focus” in this year’s recruiting class.

“Another young guy to come in and compete with the young guys that we have already [will] hopefully make us a better defensive unit sooner rather than later,” Bechmanis said. 

As the Gaels’ roster begins to take shape this off-season, Snyder and his coaching staff still have their eyes on a number of recruits who could fill potential holes on their team—one of which being the quarterback position with the recent departure of fifth-year starter Nate Hobbs. 

When Martin was asked about switching from quarterback to the defensive side of the ball, he said he initially thought being quarterback was his passion. But if pro football is the path he wants to pursue, he understands playing defense will grant him a better shot. 

Regarding Queen’s, Martin said he’s excited to be part of the greater tradition the school offers its athletes and students. 

“Growing up, it was always Queen’s and Western in the Yates cup. [I’d go] to those games and watch,” he said. “Now, to be a part of it, it’s going to be special.”

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