PULLMAN – Together, Tavares Martin Jr. and Isaiah Johnson-Mack caught 19 passes, accumulated 273 receiving yards and scored five touchdowns on Saturday night, giving life to Washington State’s vertical passing game in a 52-23 win over Oregon State.
It’s been years since the Cougars’ starting outside receivers were that productive in the same football game. And they weren’t wearing crimson and gray when it happened.
Martin Jr. and Johnson-Mack both came to Pullman from Belle Glade, Florida, a rural suburb of Miami that seemingly churns out more college and pro wide receivers per capita than any other city in the U.S.
Kelvin Benjamin, Travis Benjamin and Santonio Holmes of the NFL all call Belle Glade home and former All-Pro wideout Anquan Boldin learned the trade of catching passes while growing up in nearby Pahokee.
It’s not a bad place to visit if your program needs a guy – or in WSU’s case, a few of them – with velcro hands and a quick 40-yard dash.
Johnson-Mack and Martin Jr. were separated by one year in school, but any of the coaches still left at Olympic Heights in Boca Raton might remember a specific game where each of the Dwyer receivers hauled in multiple touchdown passes.
“We both had like two touchdowns,” Johnson-Mack recalled.
Martin Jr. shared the memory while he shared the podium with his former prep teammate Saturday night in Pullman.
“That was the fun part about it,” Martin Jr. said. “He gets his share of the wealth, I get my share of the wealth.”
Both of the Floridians broke personal records in the Pac-12 opener against the Beavers. Martin Jr. caught 10 passes for a career-high 194 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson-Mack was good for nine catches, 79 yards and two touchdowns. All three were personal bests for the sophomore.
Johnson-Mack had only caught one touchdown in his career before Saturday and Martin Jr. hadn’t been the threat many expected him to be through two games, catching 12 passes for just 82 yards against Montana State and Boise State.
It’s hard to imagine both won’t be taken seriously as WSU’s opponent, Nevada, begins watching film for a Week 4 game at Martin Stadium.
“I think they do a really good job of playing their strengths,” WSU quarterback Luke Falk said.