Skip to main content

Five schools that should target Oregon State RB Damien Martinez when he enters the portal

On3 imageby:Jesse Simonton04/11/24


The spring portal opens on April 15, and college football is about to see a flurry of player movement unlike the sport has ever seen. On Tuesday, Oregon State star tailback Damien Martinez became the first major name to reportedly plan on entering the portal next week

The First-Team All-Pac 12 standout will have no shortage of suitors, as Martinez finished second in the conference with 1,185 rushing yards and nine touchdowns last season. The 6-foot, 230-pound battering ram averaged 6.1 yards per carry and had six games with at least 100 yards in 2023. According to ESPN’s Pete Thamel, the sophomore was set to make more than $400,000 in NIL deals had he stayed with the Beavers. 

Oregon State’s roster has been hemorrhaged by key departures ever since head coach Jonathan Smith left to take over at Michigan State. Martinez is set to become the fourth Beavers’ all-conference player to transfer. 

So where could Damien Martinez end up? He’s a plug-and-play starter with two years of eligibility. Smith could certainly use him in East Lancing, while several SEC schools should be interested as well. The Miami Hurricanes, who have been very aggressive in the portal this year, have a major need at tailback. 

Here are five teams that should target Damien Martinez when the tailback officially enters the transfer portal:

Oct 28, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Hurricanes head coach Mario Cristobal takes on the field prior to the game against the Virginia Cavaliers at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports


The ‘Canes are eying a breakthrough Year 3 under Mario Cristobal, beating out Florida State for the services of another Pac-12 standout: Washington State quarterback Cam Ward. Miami has a nice set of playmakers at receiver and a solid offensive line, but there’s a gaping need at tailback

Mark Fletcher was the best freshman tailback in the ACC last season, but the former American Heritage star remains sidelined with a foot injury he suffered early in the Pinstripe Bowl. Henry Parrish, who led Miami with 625 yards last season, recently left the program and plans to transfer when the portal opens, too. Martinez would provide an instant upgrade on the rest of Miami’s options — and would be the ‘Canes first 1,000-yard tailback since Mark Walton in 2016.


While Josh Heupel’s offense is known for producing explosive passing plays, the Vols actually led the SEC in rushing last season. Jaylen Wright was awesome (1,013 yards, 7.4 yards per carry), and Jabari Small was solid in a reserve role (475 yards) but both are off to the NFL Draft. 

Tennessee is very high on Dylan Sampson (604 yards, seven touchdowns in 2023), but the Vols could use another bell-cow back to pair with the rising junior. The in-between-the-tackles running game is what fuels Tennessee’s go-go offense, and Martinez is excellent at producing yards after contact (3.8 in 2023, per PFF). He would provide Heupel with another valuable weapon to support quarterback Nico Iamaleava.

Michigan State

Several former Beavers followed Smith to East Lancing, including promising sophomore quarterback Aidan Chiles and All-Pac-12 honorees Jack Velling at tight end and offensive lineman Tanner Miller. So naturally, Martinez donning Green & White would make some sense. 

The Spartans desperately need playmakers — especially at running back where they finished last in the Big Ten in rushing in 2023. They averaged just 2.9 yards per carry — 126th nationally. Martinez single-handily out-rushed the entire Michigan State team, and scored more touchdowns. While there would be comfort and continuity playing in the same offense, Martinez may not want to run behind a makeshift offensive line entering a pivotal junior season. 


That last sentence I wrote? Copy and paste it here with the Sooners. 

Although Oklahoma stands to be a much better team than Michigan State in 2024, the Sooners have similar concerns at offensive line — needing to replace all five starters up front. Still, OU could be an option for Martinez because they could use another experienced tailback as they transition to the SEC with first-year starting quarterback Jackson Arnold.

The Sooners did already add FSC transfer Samuel Franklin to a room with Gavin Sawchuk and Jovantae Barnes, but while the group has promise, there’s a noted lack of consistency that Martinez would provide. 

Ole Miss

The Rebels are already going all-in on 2024, so why not up the ante with one more marquee portal addition? While Ole Miss likes former SMU transfer Ulysses Bentley IV, Martinez would be quite the replacement for Quinshon Judkins, who is now at Ohio State. 

Lane Kiffin nabbed LSU transfer tailback Logan Diggs from the portal during the initial window, but Diggs is battling a knee injury and might not be available to play until late in the season (if at all). Martinez would fill a need, and alleviate some unnecessary carries by quarterback Jaxson Dart. He could be the final piece for Ole Miss’ playoff run in 2024.