In December, Cole Martin told 247 Sports that he was choosing between USC, UCLA, Arizona State and Colorado.
But another program soon entered the picture: the University of Oregon.
Martin was impressed by new Ducks head coach Dan Lanning and his coaching staff, which soon included Martin’s father Demetrice — the former cornerbacks coach at Colorado — as cornerbacks coach and defensive passing game coordinator.
“It’s just an amazing combination and something I couldn’t just pass up and ignore,” Martin said. “The opportunity to be able to play with them was something special to me.”
On New Year’s Day at Basha High School, the four-star recruit made his college destination official by announcing his commitment to the Ducks in front of teammates, coaches and his family. He becomes the latest top-flight recruit to leave the East Valley for Eugene after Mesquite quarterback Ty Thompson and Saguaro offensive tackle Bram Walden joined the Ducks in 2021.
“I came to the decision after coach Lanning got hired,” Martin said. “I started thinking I want to add them to my top four, I want to add them into the decision of where I wanted to go. After a whole lot of thinking, my dad gets hired a couple of days after, so it made it perfect and made it a whole lot better.”
Ranked as Arizona’s second-best recruit in the class of 2023, the five-foot-10, 175 pound cornerback racked up 67 tackles, two-and-a-half tackles-for-loss and two passes defended during the Bears’ run to the Open Division playoffs. He also showcased his versatility by recording two kickoff return touchdowns, including a 91-yarder, and two rushing touchdowns.
He previously started at cornerback for Hamilton High School during his freshman and sophomore seasons, but transferred to Basha last summer. With the Huskies, Martin recorded 77 tackles and three interceptions across two seasons, as well as 733 return yards.
Martin’s playmaking and mentality has made an impression on his coaches and teammates. Basha head coach Chris McDonald said Martin has become a voice on the field and in the locker room and is well-respected by his teammates, while Basha defensive backs coach Kenneth Harper calls Martin “the thermostat” because “he sets the tone for the entire program.”
Basha running back and defensive back Deshaun Buchanan, who transferred to the Bears from Hamilton with Martin, added that he studies his teammate’s game while lined up with him in the secondary.
“He’ll always be able to hold his own no matter who he’s going up against,” Buchanan said. “He can play with the best of the best.”
After receiving offers from Alabama, Notre Dame, USC and 30 other programs, Martin — the 87th overall recruit in the 2023 recruiting class — is set to join one of the Pacific 12’s best defensive squads. Oregon intercepted 17 passes last season, the most in the Pac-12.
Yet Martin still has one more year of high school football before heading to the next level. Now that his college decision is made, he is prepared for the opportunities that lie ahead.
“I’m ready to ball out, ready to go recruit, ready to help out,” Martin said. “Finish this last year of high school off and then go into Oregon extremely excited and ready to go ball out.”