November 4, 2009

4-star Martin schedules official; Bennett may travel too

Madison (Miss.) Central's anticipated bid for a 6A state championship will begin with the first round of the playoff Nov. 13, and at least one - and possibly another - Jaguar will take his first official visit that weekend as well.

Four-star defensive tackle Carlton Martin plans to officially visit Baylor Nov. 14, when the Bears host No. 2 Texas. Martin's three-star teammate, Bryon Bennett, is entertaining the notion of joining him on the trip. Baylor has formally offered both players.

"I'm planning to go to Baylor when they play Texas next weekend and check it out," Martin said. "It'll be my first visit, and I'm interested in seeing the game, check out campus on a game day."

"I might see if I can make that happen," Bennett said about traveling with Martin. "They are a team I'd use a visit on. I'd like to see Texas play, so this is a good opportunity to do that and see what Baylor is all about."

Martin and Bennett are rated by Rivals.com as the nation's No. 24 and No. 29 defensive tackles respectively and feature many of the same offers. The pair shares offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Baylor, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Michigan State, Syracuse and Texas Tech. Bennett also has offers from Kentucky and Oklahoma.

Many sources around Martin believe Ole Miss is his likely destination, and the 6-foot-2, 268-pounder will finish his official visits after the high school season. However, Martin hasn't been quoted saying the Rebels are his clear-cut favorite.

"I'm just watching to see how the defenses are playing, and what the rotation is like everywhere," Martin said. "Playing time and style of play are very important."

Bennett's road to a decision is more complicated. The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder has named a top list of Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Syracuse. Bennett said last week that the Rebels are "where (he'll) end up" if he stays in state. But a Magnolia State school snagging him isn't a certainty. Oklahoma is almost a certainty to get a visit, and Texas Tech has gained momentum of late.

Bennett has also contacted North Carolina and Ohio State this past week to see if the two schools have any interest.

"I know a lot about those schools," Bennett said. "Ohio State is a national program, and I'm just seeing what their interest is. And I called one of North Carolina's coaches a couple days ago, you know, wanting to congratulate them on the win Saturday."

The Tar Heels defeated then-No. 14 Virginia Tech, 20-17.

Bennett's programs of interest occupy all levels of success this season, but the defensive tackle isn't terribly concerned with wins and losses.

"How teams lose is just as important as losing," Bennett said. "You know two plays could be the difference between 9-3 and 7-5. I watch everything really closely, but it's about who is coming back next year, and how they play. How they play is bigger than winning really."

Martin echoed those thoughts: "I want to be comfortable and see the whole picture. What is going on right now isn't guaranteed to happen when I get there."

PLAYOFFS ON DECK: Madison Central closes the regular season with a contest against Greenville and - barring a monumental upset - will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 team in Mississippi. After losing to South Panola in the semifinals last season, the Jaguars are hoping for a rematch.

"Our goal is to win a state championship period, don't get me wrong," Martin said, "but in a way it would be less special if we did it without playing Panola. That's just one we really want."

"We're playing well and going in with a lot of momentum," Bennett said. "There's a lot of confidence on both sides of the ball. It's just excitement right now."

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