The 6-foot-6, 335-pound Martin was the type of dominating force in the trenches who could anchor a front five for four seasons, if he didn't turn professional early. Naturally, he was a high priority target for a Tennessee team looking to revive its once vaunted running game. At one point the Vols were the unofficial leaders for Martin who eventually decided to stay closer to home and sign with Michigan State after also visiting Illinois, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
Tennessee won't have to go out of state to pursue the 2005 version of Roland Martin. In a rare alliance of cosmic bodies the Vols can obtain the centerpiece of its future O-line by convincing Michael Oher of Memphis Briarcrest Christian to stay home.
Checking in at a colossal 6-foot-6, 340 pounds, Oher runs a surprisingly swift 5.2 time in the 40. The imposing gridiron giant dominates at the line and has the ability to get out on linebackers. He also pulls some defensive duty where he's been known to run down quarterbacks half his size.
Considered by some to be the nation's top offensive line prospect, Oher has been offered by Tennessee as well as Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame, LSU, Mississippi, North Carolina State, USC, Michigan and a host of other college gridiron heavyweights. He made an unofficial visit to Oklahoma State last November and he visited N.C. State on junior day in February with teammate Justin Sparks, a place kicker who is attracting his share of interest.
"Things have been crazy around here because of Michael," Briarcrest Head Coach Hugh Freeze told The Insiders James Henderson last month. "Trust me, he's the real deal. Mike's 6-foot-5, 340 pounds and can really move for a man that big. He's a lot like Shawn Andrews kid from Arkansas. He's big, very mobile, and will likely be a dominant left tackle on the next level."
Oher played exclusively on defense until he transferred to Briarcrest two years ago and was given a look on the offensive line. He initially resisted the move but has since come to embrace it in a giant bear hug.
"Well in my ninth grade year I played defensive tackle and thought that's where I would always play my football at," he said. "Then I transferred to Briarcrest and started playing offensive line. I like it a lot now because it's just easy. All I have to do is put the guy on his back and my job's done."
Oher recently listed his top five schools of interest as Tennessee, LSU, Ole Miss, Florida State and Oklahoma. The competition will be intense but the Vols won't have to overcome a home-state advantage to sign this Memphis monster.
Oher is among the in-state prospects featured in the upcoming Rocky Top News football issue. Look for further updates on Inside Tennessee.
The big one that got away from the Vols in the Class of 2004 was Roland Martin, of Chicago, Ill., who was rated the nation's No. 5 offensive line prospect by The Insiders.