A Five-Star Catch

It's become a trend, that most of the nation's top recruiting prospects that don't play quarterback , like to wait until January, and even around National Signing Day in February, to announce their college intentions. For Chris Martin, a five-star defensive end/outside linebacker in the class-of-2010, a decision will come much sooner than that.

Chris Martin could decide as soon as this coming February.

"Just get it out the way really," the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland, Calif.) standout said. "I feel like I'm comfortable enough with a few schools that are recruiting me, and I feel comfortable enough, that once I decide, I can really focus and have a solid senior season, and prove to everyone why I want to go to school there. It's just a focus thing because I know I have to lead my team next year, and with academics, just being able to focus on that, and not having a bunch of schools calling you out of class when they visit, or call you while you're studying.

"It will just be nice to get it out of the way.

"Somewhere probably around February I'd like to say. I'd like to make a decision somewhere definitely by the spring, but right now I'm planning on somewhere in February."

Two lucky schools have emerged as the leaders for Martin's eventual signature.

"It's been narrowed down to SC and Notre Dame, basically from the start, those are the two that have really locked themselves in. North Carolina and Georgia, and I really want to get to know Nebraska, they've sent me a lot of handwritten letters, and UCLA, Stanford, those are about it right now."

Plenty of other programs have also offered Martin, who was recently named one of just 10 prospects in the junior class as a five-star player by Scout.com.

In helping lead his team to a 10-2 record, Martin had roughly 110 tackles, with 20 of those coming for loss including four sacks. As a sophomore, Martin racked up 108 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles, and two interceptions in being named a first-team sophomore all-state selection.

"It's kind of a pride thing to carry around," Martin said of his recent five-star ranking. "It's also motivation that you earned it this year, and now you have to prove yourself again and again every time you step on the field for a camp from here on out, or for my senior year. Some people drop off, and you just have to keep working hard at it, so you don't fall off."

Martin has family that lives in Bedford, Ind., and he vacations to the Midwest every year. Notre Dame is one of the teams Martin has followed since he was a kid, and this past summer, he visited the campus for the first time.

"I took a visit out there," Martin said. "You just walk around the campus, it's friendly. You can just tell it's a place you can say this is my home, this is where I'm going to be at. Just the support system they have for athletes, it's just amazing how well they treat their athletes.

"Some people out here don't really know about their tradition, so when you talk about Notre Dame and them being involved with the recruiting process, they wonder what I'm doing. Recently, they've had their struggles, and that's what you see on the surface, but I think there is a lot beneath the surface. They're still going to a bowl game, so they're not that bad, and I trust the staff at Notre Dame is going to get the program back to where it used to be."

Martin talks with Notre Dame defensive line coach Jappy Oliver at least twice a month. Oliver also sends a lot of mail including plenty of hand-written letters. Martin was hoping to see Oliver at his school on Tuesday, but he had to cancel with the Irish preparing for their bowl game. USC was at Bishop O'Dowd on Monday.

"He said he is going to try and visit soon," Martin said.

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