Martin Comes Home to Cal

The 2010 California Golden Bears recruiting class received a huge boost this weekend. Bay Area native Chris Martin, one of the top five prospects in the country, is returning home to play his college ball after spending his senior year at Aurora (Colo.) Grandview...

"It's going to be nice," said Chris Martin. "I'm happy to be done with it all. I've got a lot of friends back home that will get to come and watch me play, and my family."

His mother, Cheryl, was even more thrilled.

"I cried," said Cheryl Martin. "It's probably the best Christmas gift that a son could give his mom, to attend the college that is close to home. I took him on a tour there when he was six years old and his sister was 15. I took them to Cal and to Stanford, and walked them around the campus and said "this is the school one of you will be going to." Its a dream come true."

Martin had committed to Notre Dame and Charlie Weis back in February, but with Weis' job status in limbo all season, and then his ultimate release, Martin started looking at other options. He visited Florida and Oklahoma officially but this weekend, took an official visit to Cal.

That sealed the deal.

"When he committed to Notre Dame, I got on board with him going to South Bend but I said if you don't stay there, and decide to change your mind, I want you to come home to Cal or Stanford," said Cheryl. "And here we are today. I stepped back when Florida and Oklahoma were considerations but he's tired, he's worn down. Cal is it. We thought there was no interest from Cal when he committed early to Notre Dame, and we couldn't understand it because we were right in their backyard. But we asked him if he wanted to take an official and he said that would be great. We took an unofficial a few weeks ago and Chris was impressed with the school and the staff and the coaches. So we went back for an official and it was the place."

Cheryl Martin said the comfort level she felt with head coach Jeff Tedford and his assistants was the difference.

"The trust level of handing off my son to them, not only on the field, but off the field, was something they built, so that to me was the most winning statement. The only other ones who've done that were Charlie Weis and Randy Hart. Everyone told me how he fits in the scheme but no one ever said ‘we would take care of him' off the field. What makes Chris happy and what was really important for him was that I was comfortable. Again, the one thing that I noticed that sold this to me, it was really the one thing, Coach Tedford, when we were at his home, we watched him interact, not just with the recruits, but with his sophomores and juniors, and I saw a genuine concern and care for the players that were already established on his team. The guy truly cares about his players. He is such a stickler of their academics and that to me showed that this was the place he should go to. And Chris has friends there and people who have talked to us about how great a school Cal is. Two people that we know, one is a former NFL player and one is a current NFL player, told him he can't go wrong with Cal."

Long wanting to have interest in Cal, the interest picked up in recent weeks.

"He always wanted Cal to reach out," said Cheryl Martin. "When he opened it up, it gave Cal a reason to extend their arm again and they did a wonderful job of doing that. They did a full court press and showed him what he was actually going to be missing."

Martin was recruited to play defensive end at Notre Dame, but Cal will put him at his first love: linebacker.

"Chris doesn't want to be a defensive end, he wants to be an outside linebacker, and hybrid down to defensive end. He's not a defensive end, he's an outside linebacker and that's where he's most comfortable."

When she first started watching her son play as a child, like most mom's, she was concerned about his health. It took one year to change that.

"I was afraid that he would get hurt, but after a year, I was more worried about the other parents and players. He truly amazes me at his ability and his drive to want to get it done. He wants to go and make an impact and do it early. He's not a redshirt kind of a guy. And even with that passion on the field, he's like that with his academics- he's always going to see how he can change that C to a B or a B to an A. Chris has a great standards and a good sense of what he needs to do academically- that's why Cal, Notre Dame or Stanford were all schools we wanted for Chris."

More importantly, to his mother, is the humility that he's graced with, in a sport where ego often reigns supreme.

"He's amazing," said Cheryl. "The thing about Chris is he sits with me, and we talk. Chris is so much fun to be around, he's got the best dry sense of humor. He amazes me at how well he speaks. And all those people who say he wants attention, no he doesn't- mom. One of the reasons he wanted to play in Colorado was because he said "no one will know who I am, I just want to go somewhere and just play. He's absolutely a great player, but he's also humble."

Martin was hosted on his visit by longtime friend Dasarte Yarnway, and two of his close childhood friends also will be heading to Cal.

"We've known Josh Harper's family for years, we're members of his father's church and Dave Wilkerson is another player that Chris has been friends with for a long time, so that is kind of cool too," said Cheryl Martin.

With the holiday's approaching, the Martin's are happy to have the process over with, ready to enjoy some down time the next few weeks before he heads to San Antonio to play in the U.S. Army Game.

"Like I said before, it's rock solid that this is it, we want to be done," said Cheryl Martin. "Go spend that visit on someone else, the Martin's are done. We're born and raised here, my family is here, Chris' family is here, he's going to get a great education, at a college I have a really good feeling about. We're done."

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