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UK couldn't afford to lose Martin

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Thumbnail image for Martin_Tee FB 10_11.jpgTee Martin used an interesting phrase when talking about the loyalty he had to head coach Joker Phillips and the Kentucky football program.

"I will fall on a sword for that guy," Martin said.

It was up to Kentucky to show that same type of commitment or risk losing Martin to another school.

The program did Saturday, inking Martin to a contract extension and promoting one of the up-and-coming coaches in the nation to passing game coordinator.

"This is probably one of the biggest recruits to land before (signing day) is Tee Martin," Phillips said.

Simply put, UK could ill afford to lose Martin. Questioned a year ago for his role as a wide receivers coach (Martin was a championship-winning quarterback at Tennessee in the late 1990s), Martin is now a must-have coach at Kentucky.

A rising star, Martin has gained a reputation for his knowledge for the game, his relationship with the players and his ability to recruit. A "couple" of schools, according to Martin, beckoned for his services, and one of those schools was reportedly Alabama.

"It's a commitment thing," Martin said.

And Kentucky and Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart showed, commendably, they were willing to make a long-term pledge. To lose a guy like Martin right before National Signing Day would have been a devastating blow at a critical recruiting time.

"We want to get this program to a championship level, and to do that we have to keep guys like Tee Martin in this program," Phillips said. "He understands this league, he has great communication skills and he has passion for this game. He is a relentless recruiter, but I don't want him labeled as a recruiter. He is also a great scheme guy who understands protections from playing quarterback and route combinations. Tee Martin can coach any position on our team."

And now Martin is committed to helping UK get to the next level.

"People can say what they want to about Kentucky football," Martin said. "Kentucky football is headed in the right direction. We're headed up and this is just one piece of the puzzle. We have to have great players, we have to coach them up and all that stuff, but it shows the commitment we have in taking this program to where we want it to be and that is to the championship level."

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