By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. – Kam Martin said his teammates told him to be patient, and when the opportunity presented itself, make something happen.
The Auburn freshman running back certainly made something happen Saturday night.
Martin rushed for 176 yards and two touchdowns to help Auburn tune up for the Iron Bowl with a 55-0 win over Alabama A&M. He did all that in the second half, and brought tangible depth to a position slowed by injuries.
Martin had just 144 yards rushing before Saturday night. Now, he's has 320.
"You just can't rush the process. The thing I always tell myself is you just have to trust the process, and that's what I've been doing," Martin said.
Martin brought a breath of fresh air to the position. The Tigers played without SEC leading rusher Kamryn Pettway for the second straight game, and were without Stanton Truitt and Chandler Cox as well. All are hurt. Kerryon Johnson, also slowed by injuries in the second half of the season, rushed for 108 yards in the first half Saturday before giving way to Martin.
It was then Martin's turn to score a touchdown, and he knew just what to do.
"I just wanted to hurry up and give the ball to the referee so I could get to sidelines and celebrate."
Martin figured he might receive more carries against Alabama A&M. Was he ready?
"Heck yeah. I'm always ready. Whenever they put me in, I'm always willing to make something happen," he said.
Coach Gus Malzahn said Martin impressed.
"I think you can see he's got some talent. It is good for him to get out there and show what he can do," Malzahn said. "He is really quick. He has got good vision. He really protected the football."
Martin originally signed with Baylor, but the school said players could sign elsewhere during a scandal in the athletic department. Martin turned to Auburn.
"Coach Malzahn wanted me since I was in the 10th grade," Martin said.
So, his plans changed. But there wasn't instant playing time.
"It was kind of up and down, but I got through it. It's just blessing to be here at Auburn," he said.
"I feel like I made the best decision ever, just playing around these running backs like Kamryn Pettway, Kerryon Johnson, Stanton Truitt. We have a great group of running backs here at Auburn.
"We all support each other. One night it might be Kamryn. One night it might be Kerryon. One night it might be Stanton. We all have to step up when our number is called."
And now, Kam Martin has yards and touchdowns.
"It's just the beginning," he said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine