Ben Martins coaches saw it before he did.
The coaches at LaSalle High School in Cincinnati told the defensive end he could be a special football player early in his high school career.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Martin signed a letter of intent on Feb. 7 to play football for Tennessee. He said he didnt know he would be a Division I prospect until after his sophomore season.
Martin talked about his coaches influence on his career and being a high school All-American in this Q&A.
Q: What is your most memorable moment from an official visit?
A: Probably my visit to Florida when Jarvis Moss blocked that kick to win the game (17-16 against South Carolina on Nov. 11). That was crazy being there for that. Usually a field goal is money. It didnt happen in that game. You could just feel the excitement in the stadium when it happened. It was crazy.
Q: What was your least favorite part of recruiting?
A: Probably random people coming up to me trying to give me advice on recruiting and where I should go and what I should do.
Q: How many times did strangers approach you about recruiting?
A: At least three times a day. Id be at school. It could be after practice, at the mall, at a friends house, just everywhere.
Q: Who has made the most influential impact on your football career?
A: I would have to say it was all my football coaches because they all put a lot of time in with me. They just kept pushing me. They wouldnt let me back off or let me be satisfied with what I did.
Q: When did you know you would have a future in football?
A: After my sophomore season. I had a really good season that year. Things started picking up for me. My coaches, they were telling me I was going to be good. Thats when I kind of realized I was pretty good. It didnt really change my approach. I still get ready for every game the same way.
Q: What are your goals at UT?
A: I just want to work hard and hopefully work my way into the rotation my freshman year. I want to help us eventually win the national championship and be All-American and go to the (NFL).
Q: How big of an impact do you want to make as a freshman?
A: I would like to make a big impact as a freshman like anybody would, but Im just going to be there to work hard and show them Im for real.
Q: You played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio in January. What was that experience like?
A: Our week was pretty rough. It was a lot of hitting, but it was good for me. I did what I came there to do. I stayed away from the (offensive) tackles and just made plays.
Q: You had two-a-day practices in San Antonio. How tough was that?
A: It was tough for a lot of us because we were just getting off other sports. A lot of us were playing basketball or doing other things. Jumping back to full contact is something new. I didnt really know what to expect from it. I thought it was going to be more laid back than what it was, but take it for what its worth.
Q: What is your favorite part about playing football?
A: Hitting people. Its just an outlet for me when things are going bad. Instead of bottling things up and taking them out on other people as far as yelling at them, I can just take it to the field.
Q: Who is your favorite athlete?
A: Kevin Garnett. On the basketball court, he does everything. He plays defense. He can post up, face up. He can pass. He can do everything. Hes versatile.
Q: What athletic moment are you most proud of?
A: I guess probably when I got nominated to the Army All-American Bowl. That was a real big deal to everybody at my school.
Q: When did you know you were going to play in the game?
A: I knew kind of in the summer I was nominated. I knew two months before they came to my school that I made the team, but I had to keep it a secret, which was the hardest thing in the world. I kept it a secret from pretty much all of my friends. I couldnt keep it a secret from my brother or my mom, though.
Q: Who was more excited about you making the team, your mom and brother or you?
A: I think I was more excited because I dont think they really knew what it meant. I was excited. I knew about it my junior year because I didnt start playing until my freshman year.
Q: How far has your game developed since you started playing as a freshman?
A: I think Ive made a big jump since my freshman year because I understand things a lot better, but I need to learn so much more. Theres so much room to develop that its ridiculous.