Chris Martin explains decision to leave Georgia Tech team

Georgia Tech defensive tackle Chris Martin speaks with media following practice August 26, 2019. Martin normally wears No. 96, but was chosen to wear No. 90, the number of the late Brandon Adams, for Tech's season opener against Clemson. (AJC photo by Ken Sugiura)

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Georgia Tech defensive tackle Chris Martin speaks with media following practice August 26, 2019. Martin normally wears No. 96, but was chosen to wear No. 90, the number of the late Brandon Adams, for Tech's season opener against Clemson. (AJC photo by Ken Sugiura)

Weighing his health and his futures in football and in the working world, Chris Martin made what he called a “really heavy grown-man decision” in deciding to leave the Georgia Tech football team just before the start of his senior season.

“Walking this path that God laid out for me isn’t for everybody to agree with, but it’s what I want to do,” Martin told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday.

Martin, a Grayson High grad who played 18 games in three seasons at defensive tackle for the Yellow Jackets, said he informed coach Geoff Collins and defensive line coach Larry Knight near the end of the preseason as the team was beginning preparations to play Florida State in the Sept. 12 season opener.

“When I told coach Collins and coach Knight, they were completely understanding and 100% supportive,” Martin said. “And I thought that was really unique and really dope that they supported me and just cared about me as a person regardless.”

There were multiple factors that weighed in the decision. In the midst of a tough job market and recognizing that an NFL career was unlikely, Martin wanted to devote as much time as he could to finding a job. (Martin graduated in the summer with a business degree and is working on earning an IT certification this semester.)

Second, he had concerns about getting a COVID-19 infection through football, particularly as his parents have weak immune systems. Last, he had surgery for his toe in December and, because he wasn’t able to go through the standard rehabilitation process in the offseason due to quarantining measures, he hadn’t regained full range of motion in his toe as the team began preseason training.

“That kind of put my mind to a place where football, for the first time, didn’t feel like a game anymore,” he said.

With his extra time, Martin has already taken part in a two-week work program with a home-buying company and has had multiple interviews with companies. He is interested in a job in the field of operations and supply chain management. He has had internships with the Atlanta Airlines Terminal Company (which operates the terminal and concourses at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport), an executive search firm and a marketing company.

“I almost feel like I’m getting recruited again from all the people I’ve been talking to,” he said.

His favorite memories from playing for the Jackets include the team’s trip to Ireland to play Boston College in 2016, beating Georgia in 2016 and his first career start (in the 2019 season opener against Clemson) while wearing No. 90, the jersey number of the late Brandon Adams, his close friend.

Martin likely would have had a chance at starting and certainly being in the defensive tackle rotation. He called it strange to be apart from football.

“I still love football, of course,” he said. “Everybody does, and I miss playing in the games, but football isn’t just playing on Saturday.”

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