Four-star Dale Martin down to three finalists

With a name like Dale Martin he might have been a star on the NASCAR circuit instead of a four-star NCAA tailback prospect, but speed is still the name of Martin's game and it's the reason so many schools are in hot pursuit.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Martin runs a 4.45 time in the 40 and averaged 8 yards per carry as a senior at Bolingbrook High School in Illinois, while compiling over 1600 yards and lighting up the scoreboard for 21 TDs in 12 games.

"We made it to the state quarterfinals, twos games from the title game," he said of the Raiders 9-3 campaign. "I finished with over 1,600 yards and 21 touchdowns."

He also finished with a lot of offers including scholarships extended by Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa, Louisville, Nebraska, North Carolina State and Tennessee. He has made official visits to Iowa and Louisville and plans a visit for Knoxville next month.

"Louisville was nice visit," he said of his Dec. 15 trip. "I was supposed to be visiting Florida but with a couple of the guys they've committed I'm not going to go there. Most likely I will visit Tennessee. Right now I've got it set up for Jan. 19."

That schedule would have Tennessee getting Dale Martin's last official visit. He made an unofficial visit to Knoxville last summer.

"It's a three team race right now between Iowa, Tennessee and Louisville," he said. "My last visit will be to Tennessee. I think that could be a good thing because I will be able to compare them to my other two visits. If I like it a lot they are going to be the last one to leave their mark in my mind. Most likely I will visit Tennessee and then be able to sit down and figure out where I want to go."

The Vols have recruited several running back prospects this year but none any harder than they have recruited Martin.

"Coach (Greg) Adkins is recruiting me for Tennessee," he said. "We definitely have a good relationship. He text messages me a lot, wanting me to call him and get me down there. It's kind of hard with me being so far but I'm definitely looking that way. It's not even just Coach Adkins. Coach (Kurt) Roper and a lot of the other coaches they text me to see how everything is going. They've done a good job of making me feel wanted."

And why wouldn't UT want the young man who is known as The Matrix for his body control? According to analyst Chris Pool, Martin more than earns his No. 25 ranking in a talented national crop of running backs. Here's Pool's scouting report:

"One of the top running back prospects in the Midwest and the nation. Martin will be a three-year starter in 2006. Eight schools offered Martin a scholarship before he played a down of football his junior year. Simply carried Bolingbrook on his shoulders the past two seasons. Super quick running back that runs with tremendous pad level. Has the extra gear to take it the distance from anywhere on the field. Gets to the corner and accelerates as well as any running back I've seen in 10 years."

A three-year starter, Martin has impressive leg strength as his 535-pound squat suggests. He needs to improve his upper body strength, but lifts a respectable 250 pounds on the bench. However his speed and cat-quick feet are what sets him apart from many of the best runners in a deep Class of 2007. It's the type of talent that is easily appreciated because it can't be taught.

"I've got good vision along with speed and acceleration," he said when asked to describe himself as a runner. "I can see what is going to happen before it does and know what to do. I'm more of a finesse back and that's something I want to work on. I want to get stronger and be a more powerful runner. I didn't play basketball this season because I hit the weight room to bulk up. I think getting stronger and bigger will help me run through people better and I'll be able to take more hits."

Martin, who is qualified, acknowledged Tennessee hadn't committed any true tailbacks in this class and opportunity could be good.

"I've been able to see a lot of Tennessee's games," he added. "The ones they had televised on ESPN at night I was able to see. I like the offensive system they use."

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