Martels Carter has proven to be a dominant high school football player in three different states. After an impressive junior season at Paducah (Ky.) Tilghman, the four-star safety is ready for a second and final season in the Bluegrass.
He’s also getting closer to making a decision on where he wants to play football at the next level. The No. 1 prospect in Kentucky has garnered around 50 offers in total, but there are a few at the top of the pile. In an appearance on The Five Star Flex with On3’s Phillip Dukes, Carter, alongside his father, noted that Clemson, Kentucky and Oregon are his top three schools, as of Feb. 12.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder is trending to the in-state Wildcats, according to the On3 Recruiting Prediction Machine (RPM) and was recently in Lexington for a Junior Day visit. The Ducks are carrying that ‘wow’ factor for Carter in his recruitment, while a family feel in South Carolina has Clemson firmly in the mix.
Carter is the No. 173 overall prospect and No. 15 safety in the 2025 cycle, according to the On3 Industry Ranking, a weighted average that utilizes all four major recruiting media companies. He’s also currently one of just two four-star recruits in Kentucky.
Carter discusses top contenders
Carter broke down the trio of programs, while also detailing interest from Auburn and Tennessee:
Oregon: “Coach (Chris) Hampton just texted me today, got off the phone with him, just saying that he can’t wait until I’m up there, so I can’t wait to look at the environment and look at what Oregon is. Growing up, you always see Oregon, it’s beautiful, but it’s just an honor to me, that’s been one of the schools that i’ve looked up as a kid.”
Clemson: “Coach (Mickey) Conn, man, Clemson’s atmosphere is just amazing, just the aura you get when you’re there, especially me. It’s family-oriented and they make me feel like family. When I first went, it was so smooth, it was like I knew everybody.”
Tennessee: “I got some boys there. Talking to them and how they like the process and how they’re treating the players. I just talked to Coach (Josh) Heupel yesterday.”
Kentucky: “Another family-oriented feel. Like, the connection is strong. Me and all of the coaches are strong there. Just talked to Coach (Vince) Marrow, (Mark) Stoops…family-oriented.”
Auburn: “Auburn, man, Coach (Hugh) Freeze, he’s been hitting me up, we’re having good talks. I sent him my 7-on-7 thing at Miami, he was like ‘too cold.'”
Family connections are big for the Carters
Carter’s father, Martels Sr., also jumped in on what he likes about Oregon and Kentucky — programs he labeled “polar opposites” of one-another:
Oregon: “I like what Dan (Lanning) and the boys are doing up there. I know the recruiting game is a new game now. It’s a business. To me, you gotta be intentional when you come to Paducah, Kentucky. It ain’t like you’re in Georgia, you fly into Georgia and you can recruit who you want to recruit and then drive up and hit the Chattanooga area. It ain’t D-I athletes like that around here in Paducah. You gotta really plot and plan on getting here.”
Kentucky: “When you investigate Kentucky, we’re a family-oriented thing, just like if you call me right now, I’m on the road to get to you because we’re family and we value that high. A lot of people don’t understand that the Kentucky coaching staff, three of the coaches played high school ball together. We’re talking about a family connection and being around, that’s a different kind of aura and mood.”