By LARRY VAUGHT
Do you remember Tee Martin?
He was the starting quarterback at Tennessee when the Vols won the national championship after failing to do so with Peyton Manning as the quarterback. Bet you don’t remember, though, that he was actually one of six quarterbacks picked in the 2000 NFL draft before Tom Brady — and Martin was a fifth-round pick by the PIttsburgh Steelers.
Martin also worked two years on Joker Phillips coaching staff at Kentucky before leaving for USC where he coached until deciding to return to his alma mater this year to join coach Jeremy Pruitt’s staff as assistant head coach and receivers coach.
Martin was a big hit with Kentucky players and fans because of his outgoing personality that translates well to recruiting — an area where Tennessee needs help if it wants to climb back into the SEC power category.
“Here’s a guy that was the offensive coordinator at USC,” Pruitt said about Martin during the SEC Media Days Tuesday in Hoover, Ala. “You can look at his track record as a wide receiver coach, had tremendous offenses at USC.
“He came back to the University of Tennessee to be our wide receiver coach, assistant head coach, and passing game coordinator. So, nobody can really visualize and sell Tennessee like Tee Martin can.
“He’s lived it. He’s seen it. He dreamed it. He’s been there, he’s done it. So excited he’s there.”
Tennessee fans are, too, because they don’t want Georgia dominating the SEC East with no real threat from the Vols.
“When I was growing up, Tennessee was one of the premier programs in the country, and that’s still the expectations of the fans, the — everybody associated with the athletic department, our coaching staff and our players,” Pruitt said Tuesday.
“But what comes with that, a lot of it has to do with who you play. And this league is very competitive. We have very good coaches in this league. Probably, it’s more competitive now than it’s ever been. There’s good players.
“So we got to do our part. And we have a plan as a staff. You know, we’ve got to execute the plan. Our players, they believe in our vision and the kids that we’re recruiting. And it takes a lot that goes into it, and we’re continuing to work our plan.”