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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

2022 CB Nikai Martinez High On Notre Dame's Freeman & Mickens

January 27, 2021

2022 Apopka (Fla.) cornerback Nikai Martinez‍ is coming off a big weekend as his 7-on-7 team finished fourth at the Battle 7-on-7 in Miami. 

The four-star prospect usually plays cornerback for Certified Dawgs, but he made a move to nickel for the weekend and a position he could play at the next level. 

"Clemson and Notre Dame are the only schools that have really brought it up," Martinez said of the nickel spot. 

The Florida native also jumped on a call with new Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman before the tournament.

Freeman's message resonated well with Martinez, who took a visit to South Bend in 2019. 

"He mentioned to be different and to think about life after football," stated Martinez. "He talked about how important Notre Dame is when it comes to education because everyone knows how they are when it comes to football. 

"He told me to keep doing what I'm doing and they'll be recruiting me hard. I'm looking forward to building a great relationship with him moving forward." 

The conversation impressed Martinez and that's a good thing for the Irish as cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens has already made a good impression. 

"It made me feel good knowing I'm one of those dudes that can help change Notre Dame," explained Martinez. "It was good knowing he and Coach (Mike) Mickens played together in high school, so they already have a connection. 

"I have a very good relationship with Coach Mickens and we talk every week."

Martinez also felt Freeman and Mickens being younger coaches was a position.  

"It helps actually because for football, it's a new way of learning every year," Martinez said. "For them being young, it helps for learning new techniques and stuff like that."

Both coaches went through the recruiting process and played in college, which Martinez believes is another positive related to Notre Dame and other coaches who have played in at the next level. 

"It matters because they can give me feedback," Martinez explained. "They've been in the position I'm in now and experienced it. The knowledge they give me definitely helps me pick the school I need to be at." 

Martinez isn't in a rush when it comes to his recruitment and is more focused on building relationships outside of the Notre Dame staff. 

"Clemson is coming at me pretty hard," Martinez stated. "Florida, Florida State and some new schools are starting to talk to me like Miami and Texas A&M." 

The COVID pandemic has put Martinez behind the 8-ball as he can't get a feel for programs on visits, but he does know what he's looking for from his future program. 

"I'm looking for a brotherhood, coaches who actually care about their players and getting them ready for life after football as much as they are preparing them for the league," stated Martinez. 

"I just want a family base where I can come to the coaches and talk about life instead of football all the time." 

Look for Martinez to narrow his recruitment down in the coming months as he hopes to get on the road for visits before his commitment. 

"I think I'm going to make a top five in probably March," Martinez said. "I'm planning on committing probably in July, so to narrow it down to those schools will help."

Martinez is also prepared to move forward with his process if visits don't happen as he was able to visit schools before the pandemic and those programs might hold a small edge if push comes to shove. 

"It goes both ways," said Martinez. "If it's between a school that I have been to and a school I haven't been to and I'm getting the same feeling for both, it'd be the school I've been to just because I haven't been to the other school. 

"Even with virtual visits, you have to get that feeling of this is where I belong." 

Junior Highlights

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