As soon as Saturday’s game against TCU ended in a heartbreaking 24-23 loss, Kansas running back Taylor Martin walked across to the other sideline with a brief message.
He found Horned Frogs freshman receiver Dylan Thomas, his cousin who played at Fort Worth Paschal, and said, “You got me on this one, but I’m going to get you next time.”
Martin, who was a standout at Fort Worth Dunbar, has worked hard to earn the starting job for the Jayhawks. Last weekend, five games into his sophomore season, Martin got that opportunity. He responded with 66 yards on 18 carries, including a touchdown to cap the Jayhawks’ third possession and give them an early 7-0 lead against the Horned Frogs.
“It was a great experience,” Martin said. “I got mentally prepared for the game, and I had a mindset to just come out and do my job to help the team. It’s always good for motivation to play your home team.”
Martin also had a 40-yard receiving touchdown called back because of a controversial holding call. Martin was disappointed that his team couldn’t finish off what would have been its first Big 12 win since 2014.
“We watched the TCU film to find the things we did wrong,” Martin said. “We just have to correct those things and get better for the next time. It’s about the next game, next week.”
Still, Martin is excited to get more and more carries each week.
“I’ve been trusting my team, trusting my coaches, and trying to work hard every day,” said Martin. “I’ve been working to get better in pass blocking and reading the defense. I have to stay explosive, finishing my runs.”
While Martin received interest from Texas schools, he wanted to discover something new. He’s found that in Lawrence, Kan., his new home.
“It’s been great,” Martin said. “The people here have been really welcoming and happy for me to be here.”
A week after hosting TCU, his hometown team, Martin will suit up this weekend to take on Baylor back in his home state, a game he has been looking forward to.
“I’ll have to play that much harder,” said Martin, who will have several family members in Waco, including his grandmother, mother, and sister. “I want to show them that Texas produced a kid who’s helping Kansas do well.”