By Brian Murphy
Fruitland High two-sport standout Joey Martarano knows he might face a difficult, potentially life-changing, decision in the summer of 2013 — pursue a professional baseball career or play football at Boise State.
He just prefers not to think about it right now.
“It’s definitely easy to look forward, but I want to enjoy these years,” said Martarano, a junior at Fruitland where he plays football, baseball and basketball.
The 6-foot-3, 233-pounder played quarterback and linebacker for the Grizzlies, which lost in the 3A state title game in 2011. He has committed to Boise State for the Class of 2013. He’s also a slugging third baseman on the baseball team, batting .475 with 16 home runs for the Grizzlies, who captured the state title in 2011.
Martarano turned down an invitation to the Area Code Baseball Games, a showcase event where the players are picked by scouts, last summer to concentrate on football. But his dad, Victor, said his son would play in the all-star event this year in early August, owing it to himself to pursue the baseball option.
That doesn’t mean Martarano is leaning toward baseball. Victor said it would be difficult to send an 18-year-old to the pros. Baseball’s new labor agreement will make it harder for teams to give draftees the kind of signing bonuses that have lured them away from football in the past. Joey said that he is committed to football.
“I love them both, but right now I’m committed to football. I’ll make that decision when the time comes,” Martarano said. “I just love the hitting, everything (in football). It’s the most fun game you can play, I think.”
Martarano sees himself as a middle linebacker, but he said Boise State coaches have talked to him about being an outside linebacker/defensive end, like the role Shea McClellin played for the Broncos in 2011. He said he is working on his speed in preparation for college football. He said the staff changes at Boise State have not changed his mind.
"I'm sure they'll get great coaches coming in. It's a great program," he said.
Martarano is also playing basketball for the Grizzlies, which won the state title in 2011 as well. Though it’s clearly his third-best sport, Martarano is a starter and key contributor for Fruitland.
“He’s probably going to go in the first round of the baseball draft. He’s already (committed to) Boise State. So we are a hobby,” Fruitland basketball coach Mike Fitch said. “Joey plays as hard or harder than anybody. He makes it to stuff in the summer. He is committed to us. He is completely committed to us.
“It just so happens that baseball and football are up here,” Fitch said, raising his hand above his head. “And basketball is a step below. Joey’s favorite sport is whatever season it is. He’s a Fruitland guy. It could be cricket out here and he would be a starter and go as hard as he can.”
• "He’s a big kid. You run into him, it’s like hitting a brick wall," said Melba High basketball star Joey Nebeker, who has signed with Boise State.
• ESPN.com also chronicled Martarano’s tough decision.
• Area Code Games (this is from the Web site): "The process begins with an invitation to a MLB-run regional tryout and invitations are sent based upon recommendations made to those MLB scouts in charge of one of the eight teams. The process to make it on an Area Code Baseball roster is difficult, but it is a rewarding experience. There are approximately 3,000 invitations mailed out each year to attend a tryout, and a total of approximately 200 players are selected to play in the Games in August."
Colorado State QB to transfer
• Colorado State quarterback Pete Thomas, a two-year starter, will transfer after coach Steve Fairchild was fired.
• The Mountain West and Conference USA continue to work on a potential merger.
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