Martin Leaves SEC for USC

Tee Martin

USC went in to SEC country to find their new wide receivers coach landing former Kentucky assistant coach Tee Martin. Martin spent the last two seasons as the Wildcats receivers coach and might be best known for winning a national title at Tennessee in 1998 as the team's starting quarterback.

"This was a real tough decision for me, I loved it at Kentucky," Martin said Wednesday night. "I interviewed with Lane [Kiffin] on Monday and spent the whole day on campus. I took a red eye flight home that night and then turned my phone off all day Tuesday.

"Late Tuesday, I had decided I would stay at Kentucky. I was really torn, but we have so much family in the area, my wife loves it here and I loved coaching these kids and working under coach [Joker] Phillips. I called up Lane to talk to him some more and now I understand why he's regarded as the best recruiter in the country. He made me feel like I was a five-star recruit and was relentless. He really made me feel comfortable with the situation and I decided I had to make the move."

Martin said it wasn't just coach Kiffin but the whole staff working on him as well as his desire to be a part of what he feels will be a very special season next year.

"USC is a top five program nationally, Lane is one of the top offensive minds in the game, the school has a great academic reputation in a great city and I'm already familiar with a lot of the players," Martin said. "I worked with Matt Barkley at the NIKE Camp four years ago and I know a lot of the guys from seeing them on the camp circuit as well.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to work with those young receivers. I mean, I literally can't stop smiling at the thought of working with Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and the incoming freshman. Not only are those guys talented, but they're young and they want to learn and get better. What Woody has done in two years and what Marqise did as a true freshman last year is incredible and I feel lucky and blessed to work with them and work with the rest of the staff as well."

Martin added that he sees a lot of similarities between the current Trojans team and the national title team he played on at Tennessee.

"Our Tennessee team wasn't just made up of great players, but we had great character guys," Martin said. "I truly believe that's how you win in this game. I see that at USC. They have talent everywhere but these guys are hungry and want to be great. They're talented but also great, hard-working kids and I can't wait to work with them and do whatever Lane wants me to do.

"I told coach (Kiffin) I'm going to work like I'm a GA, I'll do whatever he wants. My focus will obviously be the receivers but I'm open to doing anything he wants from me. I want to be a difference maker in this program and like I said, I just feel so blessed at the opportunity. I had some other opportunities but the timing was perfect for this move and I'm fired up and ready to go. I'll be back in Los Angeles on Friday and I'm ready to get to work."

Martin said it was tough telling coach Phillips of his decision but said the Wildcats head coach handled it great the whole way through. "He was incredible, he's a great person and a great coach," Martin said. "I kept him in the loop from the start. I told him last week they wanted to interview me and he was very encouraging and said it was a great opportunity and I owed it to myself to listen. When I came home, I called him and said they offered me the job.

"He talked to our AD and was doing everything he could to keep me but I couldn't say no to USC. I was torn but when I took the emotion out of it, I knew USC was the best place for me. I told coach Phillips earlier today (Wednesday) and he just told me he was proud of me and also excited for me as well. Like I said, I really love this place but USC was too good to pass up."

Martin said he still needs to talk more with Kiffin about his recruiting responsibilities, but will likely recruit receivers from the Southeast as well as all over the nation.

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