DECATUR, AL — The Florida Gators recruiting class of 2018 has picked up steam over the last few weeks and they did that by getting a lot of prospects on campus this spring.
On Tuesday, GatorCountry visited with one of those prospects that visited Florida this spring in running back Asa Martin (5-11, 195, Decatur, Al. Austin) who recapped his trip to Gainesville.
“The visit, it was pretty amazing. I loved everything about it,” Martin said of his visit to Florida last month. “The campus, the facilities, all that, the coaches, the players, I got to hang out with them a little bit, and so, yeah it was a real good visit.”
The visit was a two-day trip to Gainesville where Martin was joined by his family and he says the highlight of the trip was the feel he got from everyone.
“Probably getting to hang out with the players,” he said on the highlight of the trip. “You would’ve thought that I was on the team with the way, you know, how cool they are. I hung out with Lamical Perine as well. He’s from Alabama, so.”
Perine has been a big recruiter since he committed to Florida, but during Martin’s visit to Gainesville, the running back was giving advice to the Austin High prospect.
“There was a connection,” Martin said of him and Perine. “It’s kinda like I was trying to put myself in his shoes with him being from Alabama, and he just gave me some tips and stuff like that and just telling me stuff, like keeping it real.”
Since Jim McElwain arrived at Florida, he has signed four prospects from the state of Alabama and that helps things with Martin says the running back.
“I say yeah, it would be a lot easier,” he said on if having Alabama boys at Florida helps make the move easier. “That’s not like the main factor, but it’d be a lot easier.”
Perine and the Alabama boys are one thing but the big draw to Florida for Martin at first was Gators running backs coach JaJuan Seider.
Seider was the one who reached to Martin when he arrived in Gainesville but their relationship goes back further than that.
“The production that he’s doing with the running backs,” Martin said on why he likes JaJuan Seider so much. “He’s putting running backs in the league, and I had a relationship with him for a long time, so him coming to Florida, I wasn’t going to go to West Virginia, but when he came to Florida I was like, ‘This is a school I can potentially go to.”
Before Seider arrived at Florida, the Gators hadn’t really talked to Martin much but the running backs coach has helped get the Gators in the picture.
“He did. He made me look at Florida a lot harder than I was,” he said.
Seider has impressed Martin a lot, but it was Gators head coach Jim McElwain that caught the running back by surprise.
Martin admits that he didn’t know much about McElwain prior to his visit to Florida, but he impressed the running back and his family.
“I didn’t really know what to say to Coach Mac,” Martin said of his first time meeting Coach Jim McElwain. “He’s a real cool guy. I like him, and he and my mom had a real good conversation. We always talk about just joining the Gator family and that’s what they preach like all day long, so I mean we’ll see what happens.”
A lot of prospects leave Florida saying that McElwain is one of the best coaches to talk with parents and Martin believes that statement is accurate.
“Yeah, I think that’s true,” he said on McElwain relating to parents better than most coaches. “He’s a real big down to earth guy. You can talk to him about anything. We had a lot of conversations about more than football.”
Overall, Martin says the visit to Gainesville exceed expectations and he pointed to one thing in particular that made the visit go so well.
“Yeah, the family feel,” Martin said on anything that caught his eye that he wasn’t expecting. “ I don’t want to tell you I wasn’t expecting it, but it caught me off guard how family oriented they are.”
After taking that visit to Florida last month, Martin followed that up by going to Auburn’s spring game this past weekend.
Following that visit, Martin admits that Auburn helped itself and he says that he’s focusing on two schools right now.
“Florida and Auburn are the two schools,” Martin said. “Auburn is one of those schools that I’ve been really interested in for a long time. It’s a home state, Alabama, right in my backyard, so that’s the thing with them. Florida, you know, is just; when I went up there it really amazed me, everything about it. That was one of the schools I really liked.”
Florida has Seider and the rest of the staff working hard to get Martin out of state but the Tigers are pushing a different message.
“It’s basically the same message,” he said on what Auburn tells him. “ But Auburn’s been telling me to stay in the state and make it easier on my family and everything like that.”
Despite living closer to Auburn, the running back isn’t basing his decision on distance from home because his family is ready to support him either way.
“Not really,” Martin said on if staying in state matters to him. “I mean, my mom, she’s the type that’s gonna get up and go wherever I wanna go, so it doesn’t really matter about that.”
Unlike most prospects, Martin has already experienced going a long way from home as last year the running back played for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Martin transferred back home this season because he says he wanted to win a state championship but he admits that time away from home will make moving to college easier.
“Yeah, that makes it a lot easier,” he said on if going to IMG makes moving out of state easier. “I left home when I was 15 to go to IMG, so that wouldn’t be a problem going anywhere.”
Despite having visited both teams recently, Martin says that he doesn’t have a decision made yet but knows what he’s going to do next.
“I really don’t know right now,” Martin said on what’s going to help him decide between the two. “I’m gonna sit down with my parents and talk to them again, weigh my options and I’ll come out with a decision after that.”
Martin has plenty of time before he early enrolls in college in January but he doesn’t want to take all of that time.
“Yeah. I wanna get it out of the way before my senior season so I can focus on my team winning a state championship,” he said on when a decision will come. “So I’m almost positive it’s going to be before the season or the summer.”
Before a summer decision is made, Martin and his family would like to make a few more visits to check out a couple more things.
“I’m trying to. I and my mom are probably going to go back to both Auburn and Florida before I make the decision.”
INSIDERS TAKE: Martin speaks very highly of JaJuan Seider and the relationship they have that dates back a few years now. McElwain and the rest of the Gators staff also really impressed Martin and his mom but Auburn has also done a good job working Martin as well. These last visits will be key.