Cal lost a top running back commit last week and now we know four-star quarterback Justyn Martin is at least listening to other schools eight months after saying he intended to play for the Bears.
The Inglewood High senior spent the weekend at Oxford, Miss., where he watched Ole Miss take a part Tulane 61-21 in front of more than 54,000 fans. The Rebels improved to 3-0 and climbed to No. 13 in the latest AP Top-25.
Martin told SI All-American’s John Garcia that he spent time with coach Lane Kiffin, offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and quarterback Matt Corral, an early Heisman Trophy frontrunner, who threw three touchdowns and ran for four more scores.
On Thursday, four-star running back Jaydn Ott de-committed from Cal.
Martin, the highest-rated of Cal’s 2022 recruits, said he’s still committed to Cal. But he also quite clearly had a successful trip, and confirmed he plans to take an official visit to UCLA on the weekend of Oct. 23, when No. 3 Oregon visits the Bruins at the Rose Bowl.
"Talking to Coach Kiffin and Coach Lebby most of the trip, it really was high level..." Martin told SI All-American Sunday. "The entire facility, the entire town really, was about elite football.
"The people there were very welcoming, and they love football. That's the culture of the town -- football. If you're interested in playing high level football, that's pretty much the spot to be."
Like a lot of elite high school prospects, Martin feels comfortable committing to one school and still keeping his eyes open.
"Right now, I'm still committed to Cal," he said. "I plan on going to a game very soon. It fits me, I feel like I can compete early in the QB room with the OC (Bill Musgrave). Really what I want to see, when I go up there, is execution and a high-level football culture.
"I've experienced Ole Miss and one of the most explosive offenses in the country, so I want to see how things compare and what the competition level is. I want to go somewhere where they're trying to win something, that's the biggest thing for me.”
Ole Miss is averaging just under 53 points per game. Corral is expected to enter the NFL draft next spring, and Cal also will be looking for a new starting quarterback after Chase Garbers completes his final season.
Martin, who has led Inglewood to a 3-0 start, seemed impressed by the southern California connection at Ole Miss. Corral played at Long Beach Poly High and Kiffin has SoCal roots, as well.
"It was a great experience talking to Matt, especially with his background coming from California," Martin said. "He had to adapt to it, but he is happy with his decision, and thinks that Ole Miss is a great place for quarterbacks. I love it.
"He came from Poly, that's like a 30 minute drive from where I'm from. Just seeing how he adapted to playing in the South, living there, playing in the SEC, it makes me feel better about the whole decision. Coach Kiffi — with his California background, too — it’s showing that California players, and people, can really thrive in that environment.”
Martin said he’s also heard from Michigan and USC and plans be thorough in his process.
"I'm taking in all this recruiting experience to get to understand these programs," he said. "Due to COVID, that was kind of erased. This is my recruiting experience, these last couple of months, and I'm thankful for the schools showing interest in me playing for them. I'm just taking everything in right now…
Cover photo courtesy of Justyn Martin
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo