Gophers senior linebacker Kamal Martin warming up to play Penn State on Saturday morning but was held out of the biggest game of the season, and it was a tough one to miss. After Minnesota’s 31-26 victory over Penn State, they’re 9-0 and in the hunt for a Big Ten championship.
Martin started the day tied for the team lead with 46 tackles in only five games but wasn’t ready to return from an apparent knee injury, coach P.J. Fleck said.
Kamal was ready to go, but he got ready to go today and there’s no way … our trainer and me can look him in the eye and say you have not practiced the majority of the week, and you’d be ready to play right now,” Fleck said. “Too much football down the road, not only for his college career but his NFL career, I’ll never put a kid in jeopardy like that.”
Linebacker Carter Coughlin, who shares an apartment with Martin, a teammates Antoine Winfield Jr. and Thomas Barber, found Martin after the game after the sellout crowd had rushed the field.
“I turned to Kamal and said, ‘This is exactly how TCF should be,” he said. “Now that standard is set. It was really tough to see him out, but I told him he needs to put that aside because we really needed him being a coach on the sideline. I think he took that to heart.”
Martin was injured in the third quarter of the 42-7 win over Rutgers on Oct. 19. He was carted off the field but has been a game-time decision the past two games.