Friday, July 8, 2011
Coaching 'em up: Kentucky
By ESPN.com staff
We turn our attention today to Kentucky.
Coach: Tee Martin
Position: Passing game coordinator and receivers
Experience: He's entering his second season on the Kentucky staff. Martin, 32, was in charge of the Wildcats' receivers last season, but was promoted to passing game coordinator in January and signed a contract extension. Martin came to Kentucky from New Mexico, where he was the Lobos' quarterbacks coach in 2009. He coached high school football in 2007 and 2008, serving stints as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at two different Atlanta-area high schools. Martin got his start in coaching in 2006 as the passing game coordinator at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
Of note: In Martin's first season as Kentucky's receivers coach, Randall Cobb and Chris Matthews combined for 16 touchdown catches. Cobb earned first-team All-America honors, and Matthews tied for the SEC lead with nine touchdown catches. ... Martin was one of the coaches Alabama's Nick Saban considered for the Crimson Tide's receivers job this offseason, which led to Kentucky sweetening Martin's deal to $205,000 by the end of this year and promoting him to passing game coordinator. ... Martin worked as an analyst for a college football television show in Atlanta while coaching high school ball in 2007 and 2008, and he also did some radio work. ... Martin was the starting quarterback on Tennessee's 1998 national championship team. He's still tied for the NCAA record for consecutive completions in one game with 23 in a row against South Carolina on Oct. 31, 1998. ... Martin and Kentucky offensive coordinator Randy Sanders go back to Martin's freshman season at Tennessee in 1996 when Sanders was the Vols' receivers coach. Sanders was promoted to Tennessee's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach and was Martin's position coach during his senior season in 1999.
His challenge: Losing a talent like Cobb was one thing, but the Wildcats also lost Matthews. On top of it all, Kentucky will turn to junior Morgan Newton at quarterback, and this will be the first time he's gone into the season as the full-time starter. It wasn't a great spring for the Kentucky receivers, either. They dropped at least eight passes in the spring game, according to various reports. Junior La'Rod King will be counted on to step his game up, and Martin has made it clear to King that he needs him to be a leader this coming season. Sophomore Brian Adams, who doubled as a baseball player, was Kentucky's most consistent receiver this spring, but Martin and Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips want to see more consistency across the board in the way the Wildcats' receivers catch the ball. Martin will work hard to get some of the younger receivers ready, and the Wildcats are also keeping their fingers crossed that junior Gene McCaskill can come back and be a big factor in the passing game after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. The passing game as a whole was a priority this spring. Phillips was pleased with Newton's progress. Now it's on the receivers to make that same kind of progress come fall.