Cornerback Ronnie Martin is ready to be a Gamecock, and ready to make a contribution.
The Spartanburg High senior and South Carolina signee was a firm commitment to the Gamecocks since making his pledge in August.
He proved himself as a shutdown corner and dangerous special teams ace as a junior. As a senior, he made 44 tackles, but had just one interception and did not return a kick for a touchdown as quarterbacks and specialists didn’t challenge him.
Martin, also a standout in track, will be used as a corner and may appear on all of the special teams for South Carolina.
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He chose the Gamecocks over LSU and Nebraska.
It's a great school. Once you get there, everybody loves you. Once you're a Gamecock, you can never go wrong.
Did you ever seriously consider Nebraska?
It was my first offer. I looked into it. I was very happy. But I knew I couldn't be all up on it because it was first offer. I knew more were coming. But I didn't really want to go that far anyways. After Nebraska, I narrowed it to LSU and South Carolina.
I actually got to visit LSU. I went up there, I loved everything. I fell in love with the coaches and some of the players already up there.
Then I finally got a call from coach [Shawn] Elliott from South Carolina. He just thought I didn't have any interest in South Carolina. I told him would make a visit. Once I got there, before I even got to talk to the coaches, I saw the campus by just driving to the stadium. I just fell in love. I felt like home.
So I got in there and talked with coach Elliott. He asked me where I wanted to play football. I told him I wanted to play here at South Carolina. I just felt at home, like I didn't need to be anywhere else.
Is it unusual that the offensive line coach would recruit a DB?
Yeah it's unusual. It's crazy, I actually thought he was my coach. But he told me he was the offensive line coach. We have a good connection. Coach Elliott is a great person.
How much have you talked with your actual future position coach, Lorenzo Ward?
I text Coach Ward, I call and talk to him. He's a great person. He acts like one of my uncles. I can live with that for four years. He lets me know what I need to get better at. He always motivates me. He's funny. That's what like about him. But he's also serious at his work. He wants me to get better at a player.
The USC secondary faces criticism this past season for under-performing at times. When you see that unit struggling, do you think, "I can help make things better"?
Every time I see something bad happen, it makes my confidence high because I know that I'm a great player. I know they're great players, too, but everybody has mistakes. As I'm coming in as a freshman, I think I can help fix that.
Does every freshman come in planning to play?I don't think most freshmen will come in and play. But I know I'm going to play as a freshman. I'm ready to get more prepared. Most freshman don't want to, but I'm ready to play.
Are you that sure you're going to play?
Yeah, coach Spurrier was telling me that they needed me in the special teams and in the secondary. I'm ready to help.
Do you anticipate you'll return kicks or compete for that role?
I will probably compete for it. I don't really know yet. I know I'm going to work hard at whatever I do.
What makes you a good player?
I want to get better as a player in everything I do. I compete for everything. You can tell me just about anything and I'll do it. I'm a coachable player.
Any time you've considered running track more than football?
No, I've been playing football before I ever ran track. Football has always been my one love.
Your head coach Freddie Brown said, "I don’t know what keeps him from being a five-star recruit," saying you didn't attend many of the camps, combines, etc. Do you feel like you're underrated?
Yeah, I'm better than what I was rated. I never got to put myself out there like that. I just wanted to wait til I get to college and actually show what I can do.
You come across as confident yet humble. Is that an accurate assessment?
I tell people don't just look at the things I do on the field. Look at me as a person. Know how I am as a person.
You committed in the summer and got to watch your future team go through a historically great season. What was that like?
It was great watching the team going hard and winning all those games. A lot of people didn't expect South Carolina do that. In my heart somewhere, I always felt that we were going to win. And I think a BCS bowl is coming.
Before I committed there was always something in my head telling me South Carolina was a good place for me to go. I think it was God talking to me. I decided to go to most of the games. The atmosphere, the fans ... you don't have a choice but to love the fans. Coach Elliott is a great person, and I noticed how he motivates all the players.
How was the recruiting process?
It hasn't been boring. I love talking to people in South Carolina because that's the school I committed to. Once I commit to anything, that's what I'm staying with.
I was getting calls from Alabama, LSU, Nebraska, Illinois, Wake Forest, Duke, Virginia Tech, a lot of schools. Once I felt where my heart needed to be, I went to it.
You committed in August and then took your official visit at the end of January. A lot of players take officials and make the decisions late in the year or after the season. Are you happy you decided early?
I'm glad I did it the way I did it. I didn't have to have all that stress in school. I could focus on my grades more. I wouldn't have any problems when signing day got here. ... I wouldn't have it any other way. Once I'm committed to something, I'm staying for it.
What are your goals for the rest of your senior year?
I want to go to the prom this year. And I want to finish out my track season strong. I want to win the state in the 100, 200 and 400 meters. I was pretty close last year. I want to get a state ring this year.
What's something your proud of from your time at Spartanburg?
I got an award for being one of the best returners at Spartanburg High School. I never thought I was going to run that many returns back. I think I did good by coming through here. I influenced a lot of people to do better things. The kids that watch me play, they make work hard because I can't let them down because they look up to me.
Do you have NFL aspirations at this stage in your career?
Yeah that's my dream to go play in the NFL. I think I've got the talent to do that. I know it's going to take a lot of work.
What are you expecting once you get to USC?
I know it's going to be hard and crazy. But I'm willing to do all the work because I want to get better. I'm just ready for the next level.