F.A. Martin was a standout athlete in three sports for North Surry in the 1970s who went on to have a great career at Duke University.
“F.A. Martin played three years of varsity football as a starter … as a fullback and linebacker,” said Bill Hall in nominating the player. “His career rushing totals exceeded over 2,500 yards with over 1,600 yards his senior year.”
He won several honors in football as a junior and senior, but he was more than just a gridiron star.
Hall called F.A. “a gifted high school athlete.”
“F.A. was a four-year basketball player and was selected by opposing coaches as all-conference his senior year,” noted the former coach. “He also excelled in track where he was an all-conference shot putter for two seasons. His longest throw of the shot was 51 feet, 4 inches.”
By comparison, North Surry’s Marc McKeithen had the best throw at this spring’s Northwest Conference meet at 48 feet, 1 inch.
“He threw the shot like a baseball,” admired Hall.
“F.A. was probably one of the best big athletes I’ve ever seen,” said Hall, retired coach and educator. Hall spent five years assisting with the football team and 14 years as freshman or JV basketball coach with Head Coach Ron King.
“I’ve never seen anyone as big and strong as him that ran as well as him,” said Hall. No one could believe how fast he could move, whether on the gridiron or hardcourt.
The fullback tallied a career-high 254 yards rushing in one game against Elkin his senior year in 1977.
Then on defense, his intensity and tenacity made F.A. the leading tackler on the team as a junior and senior.
“He was a two-time all-conference player on both offense and defense,” noted Hall. “F.A. was named an All-Northwest performer his senior year by the Winston-Salem Journal and was selected to the North Carolina All-State team.”
F.A. played in both the N.C. East-West All-Star Game and the North Carolina/South Carolina Shrine Bowl as a starter.
His outstanding performance over his last two years at North Surry earned F.A. plenty of attention from college scouts. He chose to accept a full athletic scholarship from Duke.
“He became a starter at fullback midway of his freshman year and started all the remaining games,” said Hall.
“He was moved from offense to defense at the beginning of his sophomore season and started at defensive tackle for the remaining three years,” said Hall.
A two-way player in high school, F.A. was familiar with defense and quickly made an impact for the team.
“F.A. led all defensive linemen in tackles his junior and senior years,” Hall pointed out.
The young man was not only a tremendous athlete, but a good student, the former principal said.
F.A. graduated from Duke in 1982 and now lives in Jefferson.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. in the SCC gymnasium.
Eight people will be inducted into the Hall, while four persons or groups will be added to the Ring of Honor.
John Anderson, Ed Callaway, Bud Grissom and Ben Norman were four of the best football players to play in Surry County, and F.A. is right there with them, said Hall, so it’s great to see these five players inducted in the same class.