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Former Ute football player helps college athletes look at career options beyond pro athletics

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Posted at 10:23 PM, Jul 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-15 00:24:34-04

SALT LAKE CITY — For many college athletes the ultimate dream is reaching the professional level, but for the vast majority that dream never comes true.

That was the case for former Utah Utes Football player Matt Martinez. Once the NFL was out of the equation he said he had no idea what to do next.

“I was so tunnel focused on what was in front of me, the lifting, the practice, the football games, that I blocked it all out,” Martinez said. “I think that the biggest issue is the identity crisis, you know yourself as an athlete. Thinking about it after the fact it’s like, ‘wow what could I have done differently.'”

Martinez didn’t want other U of U athletes to fall into the same uncertainty, so with the support of his alma mater, he developed the Ute Athlete Connect program, where he sits down with former and current U of U athletes and helps them transition into the next phase of life.

“Hey let’s find you a few different careers, let’s get you some interviews, let’s practice some interview skills, let’s see what you like, if you don’t like this job that’s fine but obviously let’s put you there, see if you like it and see where that career goes,” Martinez said.

One of the dozens of past and former players Martinez has worked with is Utah Utes quarterback Travis Wilson.

Wilson is currently shadowing the Real Salt Lake director of media services, learning all the aspects of the job.

“It’s always about keeping your options open and making sure you don’t just put all your eggs in one basket and always make sure you have a backup plan,” Wilson said.

Wilson will be a senior this year, and has aspirations of going pro, but he understands it’s no guarantee.

“I’m definitely working hard toward a career in the NFL and really want to push my talents to the next level but obviously for all people that’s not going to happen,” Wilson said.