Insider Report: Justin Martin maturing; Shoop on 10th coach

Tennessee has a number of holes on its defense it must fill if that side of the football is going to improve in 2017. Learn about a cornerback that's built momentum to taking one of those spots.

Justin Martin arrived on Tennessee's campus with plenty of fanfare but now it's time to turn the hype into production.

The defensive back has started to open up some eyes this spring.

"Basically I've just been focusing on my role, trying to get better every day with the new coaching staff, just making sure that I'm accountable to my teammates and staying on the right path," Martin said.

The Antioch native ranked by Scout as the No. 1 JUCO cornerback in the nation after showing explosive ability combined with the physique that many coaches covet out of cornerbacks.

"Honestly, the guy who's had the most consistent spring is Justin; Justin Martin has really stepped up his game and done everything he's been asked to do in the meeting room, as a teammate and on the practice field," Tennessee defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said Thursday. "He's really, really competed and done well."

The 6-foot-1, 183-pounder actually played and started more as a Tennessee sophomore (13 games, 6 starts) than as a junior (10 games, 2 starts) — and that was with starting corners Malik Foreman and Cameron Sutton battling injuries much of 2016.

In 2015, Martin totaled 23 tackles (20 solo) with six pass breakups. However, last fall he was down to 19 stops and just one PBU. In his 24 games in orange, he is yet to intercept a pass.

The former Scout four-star prospect has roughly a dozen college football games left to prove his worth — and Tennessee needs him to do exactly that.

"This is my last year," Martin said. "I've got a lot to prove to my teammates. I've got a lot to prove to myself, really. That's really it — just to my teammates and myself. I just feel like I could have played way better than I did last year.

"Last year I listened to a lot of outside noise, really didn't focus on the game in particular, and I lost sight of that. Now I'm getting back to it."

Charlton Warren is Tennessee's new defensive backs coach, and he made it known shortly after he was hired that he planned to give every member of the secondary a clean slate.

"I like coach Warren a lot," Martin said. "Coach Warren...yeah I like coach Warren. He relates to us — not saying that coach (Willie) Martinez didn't relate to us — but I'm saying coach Warren, we're from the same area. He's from Atlanta. I'm from Atlanta. He just came in and gave everybody a clean slate."

Warren: "A lot of it is (Martin) having a renewed focus, a want to help this team, and a want to be great.”

Learn about how the spring has gone for Martin by watching the Insider Report above and the interviews with Shoop and Warren below.

Shoop provides Tennessee spring assessment

Charlton Warren talks leadership, maturation among DBs


Martin getting the chance to start over


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