Pat Martin couldn’t keep his commitment to Tennessee a secret any longer.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound safety from JL Mann High School in Greenville, S.C., announced his commitment to UT on Sunday.
Martin said it’s a commitment he gave to the Vols’ coaching staff on June 26.
“ Football season is about to start,” Martin said. “I knew where I was going so I figured I’d stop leading schools on and go ahead and announce it.”
Martin, who chose UT over South Carolina, LSU and Oklahoma, said the Vols’ coaches were the difference in his recruitment.
UT’s recruitment of Martin began in the spring with defensive backs coach Terry Joseph.
Martin took several unofficial visits to Knoxville and developed a strong relationship with the entire staff, led by head coach Derek Dooley.
“I felt like I was at home at Tennessee,” Martin said. “Every time I visited I got the feeling it was the place for me.”
Martin plans to help UT become the home for several of the nation’s top-rated players.
He said he’s already made recruiting pitches for the Vols to prospects such as offensive lineman Antonio Richardson from Nashville, defensive tackle Gabe Wright from Columbus, Ga., and wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett from Saginaw, Mich.
“I’m going to talk (UT) up,” Martin said. “It should be a good influence.”
Just like the influence Dooley made on Martin’s decision.
Martin said he has confidence that Dooley has UT’s program going in the right direction.
“He knows what he’s doing,” Martin said of Dooley. “It’s a matter of time until Tennessee is up there with Alabama and Florida. We’ve just got to get the right kind of players.”
Martin’s decision probably isn’t a popular one in his hometown.
He told the News Sentinel on Saturday he often hears pressure from South Carolina fans wanting him to choose the Gamecocks.
Martin said that never factored into his decision.
“There are always going to be people who are going to hate and not accept your decision,” he said. “I can’t focus on them.
“I’m not worried about them. I’m worried about me. I really don’t care what people think. It’s my decision.”
Martin is UT’s 14th commitment for the 2011 class.
He’s the second commitment for the Vols in the last week, joining Catholic offensive lineman Kyler Kerbyson.
Josh Ward is a freelance contributor.