Tee Martin rejects Tennessee Vols to stay with Lane Kiffin

photo Staff Photo by Robin Rudd 1999 UT quarterback Tee Martin is tackled near the endzone by Florida State defenders during Tennessee national title win.

KNOXVILLE -- The University of Tennessee football program received another no for an answer.

Though the position might not have been as significant as it was when two coaches turned down offers to be the Volunteers' head coaching position, this denial might be harder for Tennessee fans to take.

This time it was one of their own, as Tee Martin declined an offer to complete new coach Butch Jones' first staff in favor of remaining Southern California's receivers coach under former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin.

Tennessee's 1998 national-title quarterback flew Monday to Knoxville with his wife and two children to meet with Jones and returned to Los Angeles on Tuesday.

"I was very honored to be offered a position on Coach Jones' Tennessee staff," Martin said in a statement from USC released Tuesday night. "I truly believe he will do an outstanding job with the Vols program. My decision to remain at USC was the toughest I have ever had to make because Tennessee is such a special place to me.

"At the end of the day, I am a man of my word. I promised Coach Kiffin when I was hired at USC that I had goals I wanted to accomplish here. We still have work to do here to reach those goals. I see a great future at USC with the players on our roster and the recruits we have coming in."

Martin joined the USC staff after two seasons in the same position at Kentucky and one season as the quarterbacks coach at New Mexico. He'll have one more year with All-America receiver Marqise Lee, who caught 112 passes for 1,680 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. Junior Robert Woods had his second consecutive 1,000-yard season this year as well, though the Trojans went from a preseason No. 1 ranking to a 7-5 finish.

Martin is the Trojans' primary recruiter for Brentwood Academy cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the top-ranked player in Tennessee according to 247Sports, and Louisville Trinity defensive end Jason Hatcher, two players Tennessee targeted before they committed to the Trojans.

"I have so much love and respect for Tennessee," Martin said, "but at this time the right decision was to continue at USC, and I am looking forward to doing that."

His decision to stay leaves running backs coach Jay Graham as the lone former Vol on Tennessee's staff. Jones has one more position to fill on his first Tennessee staff, and it's unclear what direction he'll go. Tennessee's new coach has been busy with recruiting visits this week, and his travels have taken him to Middle Tennessee, Kansas and Florida the past two days.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com or 901-581-7288. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/patrickbrowntfp.