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Q&A with Arizona cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin

Hear what the new assistant had to say

Arizona Wildcats new cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin spoke with the media for the first time after practice Thursday.

Here is what he said.

Arizona CB coach Demetrice Martin talks about the new Kevin Sumlin era, getting settled in and recruiting.

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Thursday, March 29, 2018

You’ve earned a pretty strong reputation for your recruiting process, what do you think are the keys to successful recruiting?

Just being able to build successful relationships. That’s the main thing, just being able to relate to the kids nowadays and be able to lock in to their parents and be able to show them that you can help build their brand at the university that you represent.

How do you specifically go about doing that?

Well different ways. It changes with the recruit. In many ways it kinda takes a life of its own, the recruiting process, cause you know it is a process that is a marathon run at a scrimmage pace.

Do you come here with many of those relationships already established since you’ve been in the Pac-12 for a long time?

Well a lot of them, yeah. A lot of them are relationships with guys and people that you know that have good eyes and ears and stuff like that out there to see guys and let you know and give you leads. And obviously just doing your own homework. You know, lots of film, lots of hours of film and just kinda finding what you need to fit in your own program and your scheme and your style of defense.

You were in LA. It’s pretty easy to sort of sell LA and everything around that campus, what about Tucson or UofA specifically made it attractive for you and how to sell it to recruits?

It’s the new era. It’s a new era and a lot of kids want to be part of that. If you want to be a leader in that part of building something brand new then you gotta go find them certain kids that that’s that. Those other schools and stuff like that might have a little something that’s built already and you get the type of kids that wanna just kinda be apart of that. Well I’m looking for the guys that want to build something.

Is that kind of your main sales pitch?

Well kinda, kinda. Like I said it just depends on the family and that kind of good stuff.

Is there something you are looking for most, whether its a DB or any recruit that you are recruiting that you know you wanna see right away?

Just mainly the typical stuff, as far as height, weight, size, agility, toughness on and off the field, competitiveness. Competing in the academic arena and competing on the football field, all those things like that make a good team.

Seven on seven has become a pretty big thing these days, with the way AAU grew in basketball. How important is it to have relationships with those coaches and those players?

It still boils down to your own eye. We always called it pajama ball with seven on seven, you could have a Tarzan in pajama ball but when you put on those pads he might play a bit closer to Jane than looking like Tarzan. You gotta do your homework and you gotta watch film and you gotta dig deep underneath the crevices and find out what it is.

What’s it like gelling with the new staff and some of the new pieces?

Oh great. This is one of the easiest staff that I have ever worked for I mean there’s no ego. There’s no ego, everybody is kinda like the head coach of their position, and its kinda like get things fixed, and the way coach Sumlin runs it is stress free and there’s no ego. We have a way of going about thing and he wants to get things done and he’ll pull your coattail if its not getting done and you’ll get it done. As a professional you can’t ask for more.

How did this opportunity come about for you?

What do you mean?

Coming to Arizona. Did you know coach Sumlin before? Did he call you, did you call him?

Oh yeah, I knew coach Sumlin before. I met coach Sumlin way back when I was working at the University of Washington. He came up and visited Steve Sarkisian and I got to meet him there and obviously we played them when I was at UCLA a couple years and he’s got a chance to watch me recruit, when we recruited against him with a ton of guys and get to play against him so he’s got to actually see my guys out there and how they do.

Obviously I’ve worked with Noel Mazzone who was with him over at Texas A&M so there’s a lot of connection, a lot of crossover there.

Speaking of Coach Mazzone, you coached on his staff in UCLA and coached against him the last couple years, what’s he going to bring to the table for the Arizona offense?

Oh he’s going to bring some excitement, he’s going to bring some things that you are not expecting. It’s wild looking at him in the early stages of install, and it’s taking me back, like ‘oh I remember all this stuff like back with Brett Hundley and all that kinda good stuff. You can see the early stages and once he finds out what his weapons are and where they are and how he can use them, then that’s when the real stuff begins.

Is he like a mad scientist right now?

Yeah, oh yeah he’s a little kooky. He’s a little kooky when it comes to that stuff, no telling what you are going to get.

So you also worked with Iona Uiagalelei way back in the day at Mt. SAC?

Yea, I think that was 03-05 in San Antonio Junior College.

Have you stayed in touch with him?

Oh yeah definitely, it was a little harder recruiting JUCO guys at the past school I was at, but I always stayed in touch with him and he had an ear to the street for me like, ‘hey man you gotta check out this kid and that kid’ and those types of things, so those relationships never went away.

When out found out that you guys were going to be on the same staff here what was it like?

Oh it was big time. It was kinda like a Mt. SAC reunion as we call it, it was a big thing to be able to work together. He kinda ran the front end of the defense as the coordinator and I kinda ran the back end as the pass coordinator at Mt. SAC, so now it’s like he’s back on the D-line and I’ve got the corner, so it’s a pretty cool deal.

What players have you seen stand out to you in practice?

Well really just the guys that are returning, No. 2 Burns and No. 17 Whittaker and you know those guys are really showing in practice. Its kinda surprising me that I like Tony, No. 8 Tony Wallace, he’s kinda balling out there right now. So those three are really kinda leading the pack right or what have you, and you know those guys that are behind them, Sammy Morrison and all those guys, they are coming up.

Does it help you that you have starters coming back or is it kinda a completely new page and you are just gonna see who battles it out?

Well, we are approaching it as it is a new page, but definitely it helps having those guys coming back with experience, especially on the corner, having those guys out there who have played and been beaten before and had success before and especially with coach Yates our defensive coordinator and the defense being in place and those guys knowing the terminology and the defensive scheme. It makes it really easy for me when all I gotta do is just change my terminology up because football is football and all it is, is we call it apples and they call it oranges.

How do you feel about the depth at that position?

It’s never enough for me in the Pac-12. I could take a whole team full of corners and move those guys around playing safety and the slots and stuff. There’s never enough corners, you can never have enough because of the way we play special teams and because of the pounding and stuff like that that we put on our legs.

Do you have a ideal number of scholarship guys that you would like to have at a given time?

I’m selfish. I want them all, so they are going to have to limit me.

What about Malik Hausman is he out there?

Yeah he’s out there. he’s in class and things like that, so we are trying to get our classroom situation worked out, because a lot of guys practiced in the morning with the previous staff and now we are practicing in the evenings so some guys have class and stuff like that where they miss certain days.

What are the main points of emphasis that you try to get across to your corners?

Technique for the corners and then it’s a mentality. We want guys that are able to bounce back from the next play, whether it be a positive play or a negative play. Next play mentality. Just trying to build that mentality just trying to build that toughness. I like the guys that tackle a lot. They are like ‘dang coach you like the guys that tackle a lot’ I’m like ‘well yeah, cause we’re going to have to tackle, cause they are going to catch the ball.’

How much familiarity did you have with the guys on this roster? Because I know you knew some of them.

Well yeah all of them I have seen recruiting and they've been on my list. I’ve had contact with a few of them in the recruiting process, but being able to see them play and going against them a lil bit and seeing how they did against our receivers and things like that. It was encouraging, when I was getting here I was like ‘ok I know I’ve got some pieces.’

What are your favorite recruiting areas?

Right now I’m recruiting southern California and parts of Los Angeles county, and I have Texas and Dallas. Yea Dallas area and then national as far as corners are concerned.

Had you recruited Texas before?

Yea.

Obviously that seems to be a big emphasis under coach Sumlin with all the connections he and his coaches have there.

Yeah, well like I said it all goes back to relationships. You have those relationships that are already built and you have those relationships with those high school coaches and parents and things like that where you build those relationships where its like ‘Hey we can let our kid go there and play for you, we know you will take care of him.’

So the class ranking for Arizona have been maybe nationally in the 40s and 50s, is that going to be good enough for you and the staff?

As long as we get good player who want to win, ranking doesn't matter to me. Obviously I’d like to be No. 1 every year because of the competitor in me, but as long as we get guys that fit our scheme and help us win games, I’ll be fine with that.

Is there a past player that you point to when you are talking to your guys out here who you use as your mantle, saying this is what I want you to be or this is what I think you could be?

I’ve coached a few guys that are playing at the highest level now. I’m always them showing film, you know, Desmond Trufant, Marcus Peters, Tyrell Thomas, Taylor Mays, things and such like that, you know, that I constantly go back to and am like ‘this is the work ethic, this is the technic, this is the type of things that we want.’ To get to that level, that's what you striving for.

I don’t know how much time you spent in Tucson, outside football stuff. Have you experienced the city?

Not at all. I’ve just been able to turn off my gps and get back and forth to home, you know to my apartment. I’m pretty proud of that.

So the way they have recruiting set up now, spring is a big time. Do you go on the road a lot in May is there a lot of evaluation that goes on?

Well yeah there is tons of evaluation that goes on and here after spring ball we have an assessment that we compile here at spring practice where we see what our needs are and then we get on the road and address those needs. And then we hit the ground running from there.

Are you going to go to Inland Empire from here or are you going to go to Dallas?

I haven't made my schedule yet. But I’m going to go see those guys that we have offered obviously, then how that schedule rings out depends on their practice times and things like that. In Dallas and Texas it’s a little different because their spring ball and high school there they got full pads on and they’re tackling and they're hitting. So it depends on their schedule, as opposed to getting California where they got pajamas on.

We’ve heard that coach Sumlin is intimately involved in recruiting. Has that been your experience as well so far?

Yes, yes he is getting his elbows dirty and he’s constantly talking to recruits and their parents and things like that, so it’s pretty good when you got the head man helping you like that. That’s always a trump card.

What's the most encouraging thing about your guys out here?

Their effort. You know these guys are attentive to detail, they are film junkies and they stick on to every word. They are easy to be coached, they are a very comfortable group, so I’m excited about that.

The guys you have coming in, McKenzie Barnes and Jhevon Hill, did you recruit them? Are you familiar with them?

Yes very much so, very much so with both of those guys.

I know it’s kind of weird when the new coaching staff is coming in and the recruits are already in place, but in this particular case it’s a different dynamic.

It is a different dynamic, but both of those guys were kinda out in my area and especially with McKenzie being a DB, you know he wasn't my immediate area in Fresno, but he was a guy I watched because I recruited his teammate as a safety.

Who’s that?

He went to Oregon, Steve Stevens I think it is. Yeah, he went to Oregon. We beat him up later.


Follow Nate Airulla on Twitter @nateairulla.