West Virginia will be down a safety for the 2020 season after Kerry Martin Jr. announced his decision to opt out, citing concerns over COVID-19.
In a tweet, Martin indicated that the decision was made in conjunction with his family and was not taken lightly.
“I don’t feel that it is safe to play while there’s a virus that we have no forms of a cure or know the long term affects [sic] of the virus as many athletes are currently having heart and other respiratory problems,” Martin wrote.
Martin further explained that he battles sickle-cell anemia and asthma, both of which can put individuals at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
“I am also deciding to sit out because we don’t feel that my body matches my mental state to play the game and I don’t think I could withstand the role I would be playing this upcoming season due to my current condition as a football player,” he added.
The sophomore safety from was slated to have a bigger role after having a breakout freshman season, landing him on Pro Football Focus’s All-Freshman Third Team.
Martin’s offseason may have also contributed to his mental state. In June, the Charleston native took to Twitter to allege former WVU defensive coordinator Vic Koenning made repeated insensitive comments regarding race and religion towards Martin and other players. Koenning ultimately left the program in July.
Martin is one of many football players to opt out of the 2020 season, both in college and the NFL. He is the first to do it from WVU.
In opting out, Martin intends to take a redshirt in 2020 and return for 2021.
“I will [come back] for my RS-Sophomore year a much more dynamic player,” Martin concluded. “I appreciate the athletic department and the staff for this opportunity. Go mountaineers!”