South grad returns to London for Stangs

AMANDA ROBINSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

Coming to Western feels like coming home to Vaughn Martin.

The newly recruited defensive lineman, 21, has known football coaches Greg Marshall and Chris Marcus since he was a 15-year-old South secondary school student.

"I never looked at Western as an option," said Martin, who was being wooed by American colleges. "At the Wall of Champions awards dinner, it felt like home."

Martin, a Toronto native who moved to London as a teenager, made the change to Western after a brief stint in the United States.

He received a full scholarship to Michigan State University last year, but academic difficulties forced him to attend Milford Academy, a prep school in New York.

The awards dinner sealed the deal because the familiar faces made the team feel more like family. And he says that will make it easier for him to be "successful on the field and in the classroom."

There's a lot of expectations on the six-foot-four, 300-pound recruit.

His maturity and size and the fact that three graduating defensive players left a hole in the roster means his athleticism is needed immediately.

"His size brings a lot," said defensive co-ordinator Paul Gleason, who is recruiting the players.

Gleason also said Martin can run the field well. "He's more physically mature, which should give him a chance to play right away."

Teammate John Surla also speaks highly of Martin. They've been friends for two years, playing together on the 2006 Canada under-20 global championship squad.

Their friendship is one of the reasons Surla came to Western.

"It was good working with Vaughn. . . . It helped with the decision to come here because he's a really great guy," Surla said.

Surla, from Niagara Falls, often chats with his friend.

Martin hopes to earn a spot on the starting defence, do well in school as a management and organizational studies student and adjust quickly to Canadian football.

In mentality, strategy and rules, "it's different football," he said.

"Here, it's a bigger field, less downs, more passing."

His biggest challenge?

"Playing one yard away from the player as a defensive lineman." In the U.S., Martin said he could get right in an opposing player's face.

Once he adjusts, he confidently says, it'll be just "like riding a bicycle."


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