Former Tennessee Vols quarterback Tee Martin, who led UT to a national championship during a magical 1998 season, will forever be a legend in Knoxville.
There are a plethora of great Martin stories that have circulated for years, but I came across a new one this week while reading a column from The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman.
The column actually had nothing to do with Martin or the Vols. It centered on former football coach John Thompson — a former Ed Orgeron assistant who is the only coach that’s beat Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence in recent years (Thompson was a coach at Blessed Trinity High School when they beat Cartersville High School and Lawrence in 2017).
While discussing how impressed he was by Lawrence, Thompson recalled a story where he was so intimidated by Tee Martin in Knoxville that he turned around went back into the locker room before the game.
Here’s the story, via The Athletic:
“You watch him (Lawrence) on tape and he’s such an imposing figure. He’s 6-6, but then I went out there in the pre-game and he’s throwing missiles,” Thompson said. “Man, you don’t see that in high school. I turned around and went back in. The only other time I remember doing that was when we were playing Tennessee and Tee Martin was a senior and that was their championship year. He comes out with no shirt on and a spiked dog collar. That was intimidating too. I think those are the only two times I ever walked back inside during a pre-game.”
I think Thompson has his years mixed up. He was at Southern Mississippi in 1998 and they didn’t play Tennessee that season. But he was at Memphis in 1999 when Martin was a senior. The Vols narrowly beat the Tigers 17-16.
After coaching for so many years, I’m sure the years start to run together.
Either way it’s a great story and it tells you just how dynamic Martin was in the late 90’s.
Featured image via 247Sports