The Slippery Rock university football team has added two more players to represent them in the National Football League (NFL). Seniors Marcus Martin and Ian Park both signed free agent contracts this week with the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively.
Martin leaves SRU as one of the most established players in Division II football history. He currently holds the NCAA record for career sacks with 56, according to Rock Athletics. He also holds school and PSAC records for sacks in a single season with 16. Park was a transfer to SRU prior to start of the 2017 season. He graduated from Northwestern University in 2017 with a degree in communications.
Rock head coach Shawn Lutz said that he knew, at different points, that both of these men were NFL caliber football players.
“After Marcus’ breakout season, that strong sophomore season, I realized that Marcus is where he is at in large part because of his work ethic,” Lutz said. “He is relentless in wanting to achieve his goals.”
Lutz continued and said that since Park’s clock ran out at Northwestern, the coaching staff knew he had to play for a Division II school. Park is from Western Pennsylvania and attended Upper St. Clair high school, so he had always been on SRU’s radar, Lutz explained. Lutz said on the first day of practice last season, seeing how “big and powerful” Park was, that he knew was going to make an impact on the team.
“I knew right then and there he was something special and had the opportunity to further his career,” Lutz said.
Lutz said he is confident in both Martin and Park to have a successful career in the NFL. The duo is just happy to have been given the opportunity to further their career, he said. Lutz said it would not surprise him one bit to see the two make a significant impact in the league someday.
Lutz said that if Martin and Park were on the team a number of years ago, they would have been able to declare for the NFL draft. It is hard, he said, since the NFL is different than every other sport in the sense that there are no guaranteed contracts. He continued and said that a lot of players like Martin and Park sometimes prefer to sign free agent contracts because they can get multiple offers, like in the case of Martin.
Martin had multiple offers from a variety of teams, but ultimately decided on Seattle. As a member of the Seahawks, Martin will be listed as a fullback, which is a change from his college position of defensive end. Park will begin his career with the reigning Super Bowl Champions as a member of the offensive line.
In addition to Martin and Parks signing NFL contracts, former Rock wide receiver Marcus Johnson was invited to tryout at the Buffalo Bills’ mini-camp from May 11-14.
Lutz said he had a feeling Johnson could possibly be invited to a mini camp and that he is so happy his former player had been given this opportunity.
“I really did not think Johnson could make it to the NFL until this year, to be honest with you,” Lutz said. “His ball-catching skills improved dramatically this year and he was one of our most dynamic players.”
Lutz said he is extremely proud of all three of his players who were given such a “gifted” opportunity.
“My hope is some day in the near future I will turn on Sunday Night Football on ESPN and see all three of them fulfilling their dreams,” said Lutz, enthusiastically.