East County Sports

Martinez, McComb: Minnesota mission


By Nick Pellegrino

EL CAJON – Two of East County’s top football players this season will be starting their college football careers together in Marshall, Minn., of all places, come next fall.

Helix High senior SHAWN MARTINEZ, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound guard, and Granite Hills High senior JUSTUS MCCOMB, a school record-setting quarterback, will hopefully be teaming up on the field together in the near future at Southwest Minnesota State University.

Martinez was a first-team all-San Diego Section CIF first-team honoree last year with the Highlanders, while McComb was considered to be one of the top returning quarterback prospects in the county this season.

Now, Martinez could be blocking for McComb as members of the Mustangs. The Mustangs are an NCAA Division II program that plays in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

“(Martinez) is the best returning lineman in the county,” noted McComb.

Martinez announced his intentions of heading to NMSU earlier this month.

A senior this school year, McComb seeks to pile on his numerous school records for passing and total offense, perhaps even breaking into the Grossmont Conference career Top 10 QB listings with another strong season.

On Wednesday, McComb announced he was accepting a scholarship from Southwest Minnesota State University.

SMSU football plays its home games from Mattke Field at The Schwan Regional Event Center in Marshall, Minn. (pop: 13,680). The nearest town of size is Sioux Falls, S.D.

McComb explained his choice of a school located in a dominantly rural and agricultural area. He was offered after NMSU watched him throw via FaceTime, of all things.

“Because of everything going on with COVID and the NCAA saying this season won’t count against anyone’s eligibility and they all get an extra year, not many people were leaving school,” said McComb on the East County Sports Report. “So I was really excited when coach Cory (Sauter) still offered me a scholarship.”

LINK:  Cory Sauter – Football Coach – SMSU Athletics

In his 12th season, Sauter’s victory total ranks second in school history. The head coach/quarterback coach hopes the pandemic won’t slow down McComb.

“Coach fell in love with me — you don’t want to commit just for the sake of committing,” McComb noted. “Be somewhere that you really want to be.”


All players are behind in training, so those who work the hardest will emerge as future standouts, according to the QB.

No matter how hard you work, there’s nothing that actually prepares you for a game,” added McComb. “It’s one thing to work out with the guys or doing walk-through drills, it’s never the same – it’s so much different to get prepared after not playing an actual football game for over a year.

“When it comes to instincts, it’s always there for me, like in reading the defense and making reads.”

The multi-sport athlete admits basketball may not be in the offering if athletics return to local high schools in 2021.

“I’d love to play basketball, but the seasons might overlap by two months,” he added. “And I’ll need recovery time after football season is over.”

McComb passed for 2,691 yards in 2019, completing 60.3 percent (195-for-323) of his pass attempts. He also rushed for 494 yards. giving him 3,185 yards in total offense.

Southwest Minnesota State is developing a pipeline from San Diego County.  The new group heading north hopes to help NMSU replace Mankato State – annually a D-2 Top 10 team – as the top program in the Northern Sun.

Others from San Diego County that were on the NMSU roster for the 2020 season, which was eventually canceled, included former Helix High and Grossmont College offensive lineman MATTHEW AVI’I, former Kearny Komet flash DUCE REYNOLDS, former Mira Mesa stars FAAVAE LEOMITI and ALBERT LEMON, and former Scripps Ranch defensive back Rashad Griffin, Jr.

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