When the spring evaluation period winded down and all the coaches that stopped through Greenville, S.C. had long been gone, Pat Martin sat and narrowed his list of 13 scholarship offers down to four top teams: LSU, Tennessee, UCLA and South Carolina.
After his visit to Knoxville on Saturday, a leader – for the first time - emerged from the group.
“Tennessee definitely blew me away,” said Martin, back home in South Carolina after a one-day stay on the UT campus. “It was definitely better than I expected heading into the trip. From the coaching staff to the set up of the campus, I liked it all. And it wasn’t too far away, just about three hours or so. It all fit well for me.”
While Martin credited the work from head coach Derek Dooley with Tennessee’s big impression, the Tigers are hoping that the consistent effort put forth over the past couple of months by defensive coordinator John Chavis will match the mark set by his former team.
With where things stand now, the nation’s No. 35 ranked safety prospect said that the most important step for LSU – like Tennessee – becomes the campus visit.
“I have to get that face-to-face contact with everyone on the staff,” Martin said. “That happened for the first time with Tennessee, and it helped them out in a big way.
“I just need to get down to LSU and have that same experience with their coaches. Right now coach Chavis and I have a good bond, but that’s all been over the phone. Earning enough trust to commit to a school will take a meeting in person.”
With the summer nearing the midway point, what does the J.L. Mann High standout’s remaining schedule look like?
“I’ve been to South Carolina, Georgia, Duke and now Tennessee, and I planned that UCLA trip, and then I still want to camp at Georgia, Florida and LSU,” he said. “We’ll see if I can fit it all in. If I can’t, I might have to push the LSU trip back.”
The 6-foot, 198-pounder had made plans to attend LSU’s second summer camp on July 17, where he would take in Baton Rouge for the first time. Now, it appears the trip could come later than originally scheduled.
“If it comes down to it and I can’t make it because of all the scheduling I have been doing, then I will push it back and take an official visit during the football season,” Martin said. “I’ll get with the coaches soon and figure it out.”
As for a decision date, Martin said that there remains the possibility that he could commit to a school before summer’s end, though he would continue to still take visits in the fall.
“If I do decide before my senior season starts, I’m still taking all five officials,” he said. “Even if I’m committed, I think I’d still feel the need to see other campuses and be sure. Those five visits could open my eyes to something I would never of expected.”