RECRUITING: Martin can see himself fit in

Ben Martin stands 6-5 and weighs in at 230 pounds. His specialty is decapitating opposing quarterbacks and making weary offensive linemen look silly. The Cincinnati (OH) superstar made his presence known in Gainesville at Friday Night Lights. Even though he didn’t participate, everyone knew Mr. Martin was in attendance. He came away impressed with the University of Florida.

As a junior Martin had 28 solo tackles, 42 assists, 10 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, three batted down passes, and four caused fumbles in 2005. Last weekend he took it easy in Gainesville.

“It was a nice visit and more than I expected,” Ben Martin said. “The people down there were great. I didn’t know Coach Mattison was that great of a guy. That was the first time I ever met him.”

The Gators hosted the second annual Friday Night Lights. It is a camp where they have managed to get a great number of the elite players in America to show up and take part. Some like Martin don’t participate, but he almost couldn’t resist.

“Friday Night Lights was tight,” he said. “I almost wanted to get out there. I had camp this week and coaches didn’t want me to get hurt. I saw a lot of talent out there. That quarterback from Georgia (Cameron Newton) was real good.

As many recruits do, Martin made a new good friend at the camp. Defensive end Duke Lemmens is looking hard at Florida and told us last week he would love for him and Martin to end up at the same school.

“I met up with Duke Lemmens, he is a real cool guy,” Martin said. “I was talking with him earlier today as a matter of fact. He wants to know how Cincinnati is and I want to see how Cali is. We are trying to set up our visits together to each.”

He also met up with two very popular prospects in the 2007 recruiting class.

“I met the Pouncey twins at Friday Night Lights,” he said. “They are funny guys and pretty cool.”

Unknown to most it seems that Martin has been quite busy talking to the coaches at Florida. He was here for four days and almost knew the campus well enough from all of his conversations with Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer.

“I stayed around for Junior Day but didn’t really learn a whole lot,” he said. “I talk to Coach Urban Meyer a lot and he tells me everything about it. I left Monday morning, Sunday I didn’t really do much but meet the coaches and talk to them. I saw some of the defense. I like their style of defense a lot.”

What are his thoughts on Florida after visiting for four days?

“I can really see myself fitting in down there,” he said.

Florida joins Ohio State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, and Cincinnati at the top of his current list, but He is insistent on not cutting it off at that point. He had a few things to say about the four other schools he named.

OSU: “It’s about ninety minutes away from where I live with my brother. They have great people there and a great coaching staff. They have nice setup there too. I can also see myself playing there. I can get a chance to play there and have been there about five times.”

Notre Dame: “I am from Gary, Indiana and that’s about 60 miles away from Notre Dame. My mom lives there now. I have been to Notre Dame twice as a prospect.”

Tennessee: “They wanted me to come check them out, so before I went to Florida I was at Tennessee. It is a nice place and they have very nice people there too.”

Cincinnati: “Its home. It is a little close and I probably want to get away from here.”

Martin also knows a few things that will propel him towards the school he finally decides on. One common theme is the character of the people at the institution.

“Distance is not an issue at all and going away is something I have highly considered,” he said. “It’s all going to come down to the people. Right now playing time, the people, and the class I am coming in with are very important about the school I choose. I also want to make sure they have my major which is Criminal Justice.”

Already larger as a high schooler than one former Gator he is drawing comparisons to. Martin says he patterns his game after one football player that is absolutely relentless on the field.

“People tell me I play like Jevon Kearse, but I try to emulate Dwight Freeney,” he said.

B- Mart, as his teammates call him, remembers one evening that would make Kearse or Freeney proud. It seems that one particular player from a local nationally ranked team decided he was going to run his mouth at the wrong time to Mr. Martin.

“It was two back-to-back plays,” he started. “In my sophomore year we were playing St. X at home. Right before halftime one of the offensive linemen was talking trash to me. I asked him if he was ready and he said he was. I ended up getting two sacks in row right after that and the crowd went nuts.”

Ben Martin is attacking the recruiting process like he does opposing quarterbacks. He knows what he is doing and relentless in the pursuit of what he wants. Schools have lined up to lure the young talent in. Knowing Martin he will come out on top in the end and make the right move.