Zeke Martin of Medina will enter his senior season of high school with one year of varsity football experience and a commitment to the University of Illinois in hand.

Martin, 17, pledged to the Illini as an offensive lineman recruit for the class of 2015.

This is one of the greatest opportunities in my life, Martin said. This has been a big blessing. A year ago I never would have thought I would be playing in the Big Ten. This is just awesome.

Martin played on Medinas freshman football team and competed in every game after having mono, which forced him to miss most of that summers two-a-day practices. He did not play football as a sophomore, but did compete on the junior varsity baseball team.

Following a year away from football, which he first started playing at age 7, Martin returned to the Bees football team as a junior and impressed his coach, Dan Sutherland.

From Day One of his junior year, it was like wow,? Sutherland said. You could tell he could hit. He is strong, fast and lean. He is not fat. He is athletic. He has the frame to put on more weight and still be agile.

His ceiling is so high. Zeke has no bad habits. He has gained 40 pounds of muscle since the beginning of his junior year and his hip and arm flexibility are very good.

Martin, who is 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds, has a 3.4 grade-point average. He played offensive tackle and defensive tackle last year and will play the same this year. Illinois recruited him to play guard and center. He plans to major in kinesiology, and is looking to seek a career as a chiropractor or in physical therapy.

Zeke works so hard on the field and in the weight room, Sutherland said. We are so proud of him to get to this point. He is a really good kid. He is a nice kid off the field and when he is on the field he wants to rip your head off. When the lights go on, he plays nasty.

He is yes sir, no sir off the field and then aggressive on the field. He wants to plant you into the ground.

Martin also held scholarship offers from Akron, Ball State, Buffalo, Ohio, Toledo and Western Michigan. He was also being heavily recruited by Michigan State, Purdue, West Virginia, Syracuse, Rutgers and Northwestern.

Mr. Sutherland did a great job of getting my HUDL video out to college coaches, Martin said. ScoutingOhio.com also got my video out, so I would like to thank them as well.

Other commitments

Sutherland said four 2014 graduates have finalized their plans to play college football: wide receiver-defensive back A.J. Hoptry (Heidelberg), safety-outside linebacker Kenny Wilder (Mount Union), nose tackle Greg Phillips (Ohio Northern) and safety-outside linebacker Jerry Klue (preferred walk-on at Akron).

OHSAA scholarships

The Ohio High School Athletic Association handed out a total of $55,000 in college scholarships to 49 student-athletes who graduated from high school in 2014.

The students were selected recently by each of the OHSAAs six District Athletic Boards. The OHSAAs annual college scholarship program is now in its 22nd year.

Of the 49 honorees, 43 received $1,000 awards, including six (one from each district) who will receive an OHSAA Minority Scholarship presented by Farmers Insurance.

One student from each district will receive the $2,000 OHSAA Spirit of Sport scholarship, which goes to the highest ranking scholarship recipient in that district based on a point system that rewards students for grade-point averages; class rank; ACT or SAT scores; varsity letters earned; and individual and team athletic honors.

Nike and Molten have also contributed to the OHSAA scholarship program.

In addition to being excellent students, these 49 young people are leaders in their schools and in their communities, OHSAA Commissioner Dan Ross said.

They truly represent what it means to be a student-athlete. Their families and schools are to be commended for helping them achieve so much already, but their futures are even brighter as they now move on to college. We are very proud of them.

The recipients were selected by special committees within each of the OHSAAs six athletic districts. Individuals who receive athletic scholarships from NCAA Division I or II institutions or appointees to military academies are not eligible for an award.

Three of the 12 recipients from the Northeast District are from local high schools. Nolan Dyko of Revere, Joel Zook of Orrville and Nicole Rozsa of Cuyahoga Falls are joined by Brooke Barreca, Newton Falls; Hallie Bechtel, Bay Village Bay; Nathan Christian, Cleveland St. Ignatius; Jaime Eiben, Mentor; Geena Gabriel, Andover Pymatuning Valley; Lauren Hurst, Westlake; Jennilyn Krumpe, Kinsman Badger; Jenna Parry, Warren Champion and Henry Senkfor, Gates Mills Hawken.

Additionally, the OHSAA also awarded $500 scholarships to between 40 and 50 student-athletes from each of the six districts.

Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or mbeaven@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the high school blog at www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.