Top Clemson target goes in-depth on his recruitment
When Clemson sent out its first wave of scholarship offers to rising junior prospects last summer, one of the first cornerbacks to receive an offer from the program was Apopka (Fla.) four-star Nikai Martinez.
Knowing how selective and stingy the Tigers are with the offers they give out, Martinez doesn’t take for granted the fact he was among the first recruits in the class of 2022 to earn one.
“You get a Clemson offer, that’s special because they don’t offer too many people,” Martinez said in a Zoom interview with The Clemson Insider. “And to be one of the first ones in my class to get an offer was very special.”
Martinez, who holds around 20 total offers, feels Clemson is one of the schools recruiting him most heavily right now along with others such as Notre Dame, Florida, Florida State, South Carolina and Mississippi State.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound junior from Apopka High School has been staying in touch with Clemson cornerbacks coach Mike Reed, as well as defensive coordinator Brent Venables, and is building an especially strong bond with Reed – Martinez’s primary recruiter.
Martinez’s conversations with the coaches consist more of talk about life in general than about football.
“I’ve been communicating with Coach Reed, and I talk to Coach V through text sometimes,” Martinez said. “But Coach Reed’s the main person I talk to.
“I think my relationship with those coaches is pretty good. Coach Reed, that’s my dog. We’re close. We just talk about everything. … We just laugh and just talk about stuff other than football, and he’s a great football coach. I’ve seen their spring practice that they had and just how he was coaching out there. I love the environment, the energy he brings.”
The coaches are fond of Martinez, too, and value the versatility he brings to the table as a defensive back that can line up all over the secondary.
“They like how I’m versatile,” he said. “I can play corner, nickel. If I have to play safety, I can play that. [They like] how I’m aggressive in man-to-man, how I can go get the ball at the highest point.”
When Martinez considers Clemson as one of his college choices, the coaching staff continuity and togetherness of the program are two things that stand out to him.
“Brotherhood. Coaches that have been on staff for a long time,” Martinez said of what he likes most about the Tigers. “They’ve all been there for a while, they’re all family. Big family, on and off the field.”
Martinez would ideally like to narrow down his recruitment in the not-too-distant future but is waiting to see what happens with the recruiting dead period and when the NCAA allows prospects to start making college visits again.
“I want to come up with a top five soon, but I don’t know when,” he said. “It’s kind of based off this dead period, how it’s looking. But I’ll probably have a final (commitment) decision by late July, early August.”
All in-person recruiting has been suspended since last March due to COVID-19 concerns, but whenever on-campus recruiting opens back up, Martinez is looking to visit Clemson along with schools such as Notre Dame, Florida and South Carolina.
Asked where the Tigers stand at this stage of his recruitment, Martinez said they have a spot at the top of his list.
“Right now, Clemson’s for sure top three,” he said.
Martinez is ranked as the No. 180 overall prospect in the 2022 class by Rivals, which considers him the No. 18 cornerback nationally. As a junior last season, he recorded four interceptions, 16 solo tackles, eight pass breakups, two forced fumbles and four blocked field goals.
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