Temple’s Jacob Martin giving voice to those who need help

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Nobody needs to tell Jacob Martin how to budget his time and get the most out of the collegiate experience. He is a young man who is setting many fine examples whether it is enhancing the student-athlete experience or being an uplifting presence throughout the Temple University community.

While this time of year football occupies a good portion of his calendar, the junior defensive lineman makes the most of every day and every week through his diligence in the classroom as a broadcast journalism major, listening to fellow student-athletes as a member of Temple’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and sharing ideas as coordinator of alumni relations on the executive board the American Athletic Conference’s SAAC.

There are also many other causes to which Martin is giving of his time, ranging from Special Olympics, breast cancer awareness, reading to youngsters at elementary schools and mentoring youths at a YMCA.

“I am fortunate to have had a lot of great opportunities here at Temple University,” he said while crediting, among others, coach Matt Rhule and Justin Miller, senior director for academic support. “I am really thankful for the people that are in my life right now and thankful for the opportunities that I have been blessed with.”

No opportunities mean more to Martin than those that involve networking. Life might as well be standing still if he were not meeting new people and shaking hands while attempting to have an impact on others.

Driven by such principles he sought to contribute ideas to SAAC at both the university and conference levels. The committees serve as a voice of the student-athlete while seeking to improve communication among all student-athletes and enhance their well-being while also serving as a platform to provide feedback to the NCAA on legislative and other issues.

“I thought it would be an awesome way for me to help out student-athletes,” said Martin. “I know a lot of people. I like talking to people. I like hearing other people’s stories and learning about them. I thought it was a great opportunity to build a network for the conference and at Temple University.”

At the North Philadelphia-based school Martin endeavors to help build a network that brings athletes together as opposed to being separated by sport. It would be a way of bonding athletes and teams so that each can have a voice that is heard and valued.

“We wanted to do this so that we are not seen as a football player or a soccer player, but we are seen as Temple athletes throughout this institution,” explained Martin, whose Owls (7-3; 5-1 AAC) will attempt to get one step closer to a second straight conference championship appearance when they travel to Tulane (3-7; 0-6) for a game Saturday on ASN.

Martin, who has contributed 2.5 sacks to a defense that is the nation’s seventh stingiest, encourages all student-athletes to get involved with student groups that have nothing to do with athletics. He understands what “University” in the school name stands for. As a football player he has full respect for time management demands that go with being an athlete, but he also gets it when it comes to the need to explore the many opportunities that surround him.

“It’s an awesome experience to be a part of something and I encourage every athlete that has an opportunity to join a student organization, to be part of a group,” he said. “I think it is huge for the college experience. Networking is a huge thing that college students have at their disposal and you never know who you are going to meet, who you are going to get in contact with and who you may see again down the road. I try to meet as many people as possible and all students, not just athletes, should strive to do that.”

To that extent Martin suggests attending networking events that would allow a student to get his or her name out there. But do it with a purpose and not just to show up.

“I am a firm believer it is not the people that you know, but it is the people that know you,” he said.

His teammates have gotten to know him real well in his three seasons with the Owls. In fact, late in preseason camp the Colorado native was awarded a single-digit uniform number. That is no small detail at Temple as such numbers are awarded to players judged to be the team’s toughest. So Martin took off No. 91 and put on No. 9.

“It was a great to honor to be voted in as a single digit this year,” said Martin, who is one of six siblings including older brother Josh, who is a linebacker with the New York Jets. “It just shows that my teammates think highly of me. It is not necessarily about the most popular guy on the team or the coolest guy on the team, but guys that do the right things day in and day out.”

Martin has been doing the right things at Temple. Whether it is partaking of an annual Special Olympics event, something that is dear to his heart, or simply engaging in conversation on campus, he takes a little time to help brighten somebody’s day.

“You never know when you are going to change somebody’s life,” he said. “A smile can change somebody’s outlook on the day, on life. You never know that by simply saying ‘hello’ or ‘have a good day’ or by shaking somebody’s hand how that might impact them. It is about treating everybody with respect and being a good person.”


Photo courtesy Joseph V. Labolito/Temple

 

Tom Layberger

Tom Layberger

Tom Layberger is a freelance writer based in Glen Mills, Pa. Follow him on Twitter at @FallFootball