Uncertainty over the future of Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez is causing a commitment to waver.
Nickell Robey, a cornerback from Frostpoof, Fla., who committed to the Bulldogs in August, has reopened his recruitment because of the uncertainty of Martinez’s future. The four-star athlete, who also stars as a kick returner and wingback, has decided to accept invitations to take official visits to Tennessee and South Florida.
“He’s still with Georgia,” Frostproof coach Brad Metheny said. “He just has these two visits he’s going to go ahead take. But he hasn’t changed a whole lot. He just wants to make sure he has options if there needs to be any changes.”
Metheny confirmed that the possibility that Martinez could get fired is the main reason Robey is wavering.
“You know, he’s got legitimate concerns,” Metheny said. “Coach Martinez is the coach that recruited him and that would be coaching him and so forth. So if he’s not there, who’s the next guy coming and what’s his philopshy on shorter corners? So he just wants, if anything would happen to happen, to have some options out there.”
Metheny said Robey got a visit from Tennessee defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin last week. That’s the only opposing coach so far to have come in to see him.
“He still likes Georgia,” Metheny said. “I mean, he sat right in front of Monte Kiffin last week and said, ‘No, I’m going to Georgia.’ So I think the bottom like is he just wants to take a trip or two and enjoy that and see what’s out there.”
Metheny said Robey decided to reoopen his recruitment Monday. He said Martinez, head coach Mark Richt and assistant coach Bryan McClendon are coming to Frostproof on Friday.
I asked Metheny directly: If Georgia fires Martinez, will it lose Robey?
“I don’t think that’s safe to say,” he said. “I just think it would depend on who was hired to coach defensive backs and if he had a problem with 5-8 cover corners. Nickell’s skill sets and ball skills sort of speak for themselves. But I know and he knows the stereotype in the business that some people just don’t like to play small corners. That’s just the bottom line.”
Martinez has drawn the ire of Georgia fans over the team’s defensive struggles the past two seasons. But he’s also one of the Bulldogs’ best recruiters, especially in his home state of Florida. Georgia currently has commitments from seven players from the Sunshine State. Martinez has been involved in the recruitment of all of them.
“Nickell really has a good connection with Coach Martinez and Coach Richt and Coach McClendon, the three coaches that have dealt with him at Georgia,” Metheny said. “But fair is fair. If things don’t go well and the situation is not the same at the end of the year, he has to at least be able to look at it and decide if that’s still where he wants to go. If not, he needs to be able to have an option or two as well.
“Nickell said he definitely still likes Georgia. He definitely still feels good and he hopes things work out where he still gets to go to Georgia.”
Robey was in class Tuesday and could not be reached for comment. The 5-8, 165-pounder has been timed at 4.34 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He is the cousin of Georgia redshirt freshman tailback Carlton Thomas. Robey is having a huge season for Frostproof and leads the county in touchdowns scored.