TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban announced Friday that he has hired Willie Carl Martin as Director of Player Development (Academics/Strength & Conditioning). Martin joins the Crimson Tide football staff after serving as head football coach at Benjamin Russell High School in Alexander City since 2001.
Martin will assist assistant athletic director for student services John Dever and the staff of UA's Center for Athletic Student Services in enhancing each football student-athlete's ability to reach his full potential academically and will assist players in every area of their personal development so they may be successful people. Martin also will enhance each football student-athlete's development in strength and conditioning.
"Coach Martin has been a successful high school coach in Alabama for well over 20 years, has a tremendous depth of knowledge and experience to relate to our student-athletes, and will help our program continue to develop relationships in the state of Alabama," Saban said.
"It's an honor and a privilege to be able to join the staff at the University of Alabama," Martin said. "I wish to thank God, my family and all the people over the years who have helped me to this point. I join the program with a heavy heart, a feeling of sadness at leaving the kids at Benjamin Russell, but also a joyful heart as I am excited about the opportunity to continue helping young people."
Martin leaves Benjamin Russell after compiling a 52-24 record in six seasons as head coach. Previously an assistant coach for the school, where he coached Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens, Martin served 24 years in the Alexander City School System as a coach, teacher and administrator. A native of Alexander City, Martin joined the school system there in 1983 as a teacher and coach for Alexander Middle School. In 1985, he moved on to Benjamin Russell High School in a similar capacity and was elevated to head football coach in 2001. He led the Wildcats to the state championship in 2001 and was an assistant during the 1997 and 2000 seasons when they finished as runners-up. For the last four years, Martin has served on the Central Board of Control for the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA).
A 1975 graduate of Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., Martin was inducted into the NSU Athletic Hall of Fame in February as a member of the 2007 induction class. He was a four-year letterman (1969-72) in football for NSU as an offensive lineman and earned All-America and All-Oklahoma Collegiate Conference First Team honors as a senior in 1972.
After graduation, the Houston Oilers of the National Football League (NFL) drafted Martin. However, he chose to compete in the Canadian Football League (CFL) where his 10-year career featured stops in Edmonton and Winnipeg. Martin was named All-Pro in eight of his 10 seasons in the CFL, participated in six Grey Cup games and won two championships.
Martin and his wife Leslie Ruth have two daughters, Carla and Kizzy, and one grandson, Malik.