Michael Martinovich: Looks Forward to His New Role as a Jayhawk Senior

Sept. 9, 2011

Michael Martinovich is certainly not ready for his KU career to be over.

Not only does the Kansas senior have many things he will miss about KU, but Martinovich is also “thrilled” for his new opportunity to play defense this year. The switch to defense is what has Martinovich most excited about his senior campaign.

“This is my last semester of college,” said Martinovich, who will graduate in December with a degree in political science.

“Either way, it was going to be a great year, but this just added to it. I’ve always had a passion for being the hitter and not the hittee. I’m happy with everything that has happened on offense, but I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to play on defense.”

Martinovich, who began his collegiate career as a tight end at Air Force before transferring to KU, has played in 19 games the past two years on both the offensive line and special teams. He remembers quite well the moment he was presented the opportunity to switch sides of the ball.

“We had five days off right after summer school,” said Martinovich, who practiced the entire spring season on the offensive line.

“I was in California visiting my girlfriend and we were on the beach. Coach Gill asked me to call him, so I did. He just said ‘We are thinking about moving you to defense.’ And I said, ‘I’m all for it.’ It was pretty fun getting that call in California.”

The transition to the defensive side of the ball is not an easy one to make. But according to Kansas defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt, his pupil has been a willing student.

“I think people underestimate how difficult of a switch it is,” said Wyatt.

“Even just the terminology that you have to learn is different. You have to be mentally tough enough to get hit every play, and then you have to be athletic enough to rush the quarterback.”

Martinovich, who played both offense and defense in high school, officially made the switch prior to the start of preseason practice. He has worked hard to re-learn the position after four full years away from it.

“He’s coming along pretty well,” Wyatt said. “He has a great work ethic; you can’t ask for anything better. He’s gotten a lot of reps in because of our injury situation, and he’s been excited to be able to get that many reps.”

“I ask him all the time, ‘Marty, are you doing okay with the switch?’ and he says, ‘Coach, I’m happy. I’m glad that I may have an opportunity to help the team.’ That’s his biggest goal – to help the football team in some aspect. He is a wonderful young man to coach.”

When Martinovich’s career concludes, he will remember much more than what side of the ball he was on. It will be the time during the week with teammates that Martinovich will recollect first.

“The best memories are in the weight room. Everybody shows up with their eyes barely open, but as soon as we start working out, people are laughing, having fun and getting the work done. It’s the team that I’ll miss the most – just being around them all the time.”

It’s easy to see why Martinovich never thought this day would come with everything he’s experienced in his collegiate career, but now that it has he will always relish his time as a Jayhawk.

“When I chose to come to Kansas, I just felt more at home here than I did at Air Force because I’m from Tulsa,” said Martinovich.

“KU has exceeded my expectations.They gave me a chance. I played tight end, pretty much every position on the offensive line, and now I’ve got the green light for defense. A lot has happened. It went by fast. I wish it went by a little slower, but there have been a lot of great memories. I’m so happy I was a part of this.”

Before the curtain falls on his college career, Martinovich hopes to be a part of some more great memories as a Jayhawk.

Kyle West is a senior from Ellsworth, Kan. He is earning a degree in business.