Adrian Martinez and his family didn’t venture from California to Tennessee simply to see the Smoky Mountains in the spring from an airplane window.
The Scout No. 21-ranked quarterback in the nation has been listening to Butch Jones, quarterbacks coach Mike Canales and Vols staffers for some time, receiving a Tennessee scholarship offer back on Feb. 28. The forging of that relationship and its development played into Martinez & Co. flying out to Rocky Top for a two-day visit over the weekend, including watching the DISH Orange & White game in Neyland Stadium on Saturday.
“It was great,” Martinez told InsideTennessee. “I would say it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I came here (to Knoxville) for a reason, and I wanted to see and check it out in person and it was everything I was expecting and more. So, I’m very happy with it.
“Obviously it’s very impressive but one of the things that’s really attractive about it is just the support, the fan support here, kind of the true college town that’s really very cool and unique, especially me being from the west coast. There really isn’t something like that. I would say it’s different out here, a good type of different, and I really connect with the coaches. They really kind of showed me that I was the guy that they really wanted. They proved it through their actions really, and they’ve been nothing but good to me throughout this whole process. I really have a good connection with them.”
Tennessee’s roster contains players like quarterback Sheriron Jones and Kahlil McKenzie that played their prep football in California. Also, several coaches and wide receiver Marquez Callaway (Georgia native) spent time with Martinez during the visit.
“I was in a quarterbacks meeting,” Martinez said. “I got to kind of meet those guys and talk to those guys on a personal level. I met some other guys around campus and kind of in the locker room and got to talk with them and how they like coaches in an honest way and then also some guys from California and how they made the transition because obviously the distance is something that is a factor as well.”
The Clovis West (Calif.) High School junior verbally committed to the California Bears on Nov. 20, 2016, however, Martinez clearly has not yet shut the door on his recruitment.
“I came here (to Tennessee) for a reason because I feel like it’s a legit option for me,” the Scout four-star prospect said. “I needed this trip kind of to get something to compare (California) to in a way — and this is kind of a drastic difference between Cal and Tennessee. Ultimately it’s going to come down to what I want, which there’s pros and cons to every situation, and I feel like I really love this place.”
The Bears are a key attraction for the Fresno, California, native because of the “academic side of it and the area. There’s a very high rate of success; you make a lot of good connections out there. It’s kind of close to home. The downside is football isn’t valued the same way it is here. There’s such a good following, and you get the true college experience at a place like Tennessee as opposed to Cal. There’s just not that same attraction I guess you could say.”
In spite of the attraction to programs like Arizona State, North Carolina, Oregon and Tennessee, the Scout No. 5-ranked quarterback in the Golden State’s 2018 class maintains he’s committed to Cal.
“I am at this time,” Martinez said. “I’m still committed but it’s something under evaluation. Let’s just put it this way: I wouldn’t be taking this trip for nothing I guess you could say. If I was completely shut down, I wouldn’t be here (in Knoxville). I think with the staff change I needed to do some self-evaluation and what I really valued in a school and somewhere I want to go. We’ll just have to see how things play out really.”
Deciding on a collegiate home for the next 3-5 years is no simple task, especially when it weighs on the mind of a teenager.
“Right now I need to digest because I saw a lot (in two days in Knoxville),” Martinez said. “It was amazing. My dad and I had a blast. My cousins and my uncle are here, they’re from Alpharetta (Georgia).
“I just need to kind of let the dust settle down a little bit and think things through I think. I’m really not sure what the next step is for me if I’m being honest. I visited Arizona State this last week, obviously I’ve been up to Cal, I might take the trip up to Oregon or something like that, maybe North Carolina. Right now, the plan is this was one of my last trips most likely, and we’ll see from here where I go.
“I wouldn’t say I have a firm top group. It’s more up in the air I would say but those are probably the schools I’m extensively looking at.”
The prospective businessman plans to enroll in college in January.