Mark Stoops' Kentucky gets new weapon in four-star safety Martels Carter ahead of 2024 season

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan State
Martels Carter ahead of 2024 season

Kentucky football has secured a significant commitment from Martels Carter, the top-ranked prospect in Kentucky. The four-star safety from Paducah Tilghman High School chose the Wildcats over Auburn, Colorado and Louisville, becoming the sixth addition to the UK's 2025 class.

Carter, who moved to Kentucky from Tennessee last summer, quickly caught the attention of Kentucky’s coaching staff. Head coach Mark Stoops, associate head coach Vince Marrow and safeties coach Frank Buffano led the recruitment efforts for the defensive back.

Their persistent pursuit paid off, as Carter announced his decision to join the Wildcats over Colorado, Oregon and Tennessee.

“I feel like I can make a big impact at UK,” Carter told On3.

He highlighted the alignment between his skills and Kentucky’s system:

“I like how they see me, how the system fits me and how the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach see me running their scheme. And I already know some of the players, so it’s going to be a smooth transition.”

Carter is the No. 1 player in Kentucky, the nation’s No. 193 overall prospect and the No. 17 safety in the 2025 On3 Industry Ranking. On3 individually ranks Carter as No. 25 safety and the second-best player in Kentucky.

While an official visit to Kentucky is yet to be scheduled, Carter has visited the campus multiple times.

“I get a family vibe there,” Carter shared. “I feel good over there. The feeling is like I can wake up at any point in time, do what I need to do, and go back to the dorms. I trust the coaches and the players. There is a real brotherhood and a family-oriented group over there.”

Kentucky lands top prospect Martels Carter as Mark Stoops stays committed

Martels Carter is rated a .9264 on the 247Sports Composite scale and is the nation's No. 16 safety and No. 196 prospect overall. He becomes the first defensive commitment in Kentucky’s 2025 class.

Carter has shown impressive versatility throughout high school. As a freshman at Rome High School in Georgia, he played in the secondary and earned second-team all-region honors.

He transferred to Brainerd High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he amassed 47 tackles, seven pass breakups, three interceptions and four forced fumbles as a sophomore. Additionally, he excelled on offense, totaling 1,806 yards and 21 touchdowns while playing quarterback.

Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops played a crucial role in Carter’s recruitment. Despite nearly being lured away by Texas A&M this offseason, Stoops chose to remain in Lexington.

“He actually does what he says. If you look at the background of college football coaches, not all coaches stay in the same place for a long time. He hasn’t left Kentucky yet. Some coaches move if they see a better opportunity, but he stayed. He tells you that he’s bought in,” Carter said.

Last season, Stoops led Kentucky to a notable upset over then-No. 10 Louisville. The Wildcats now have six commitments for 2025, with Carter as the first from Kentucky. The class ranks No. 37 nationally, and Carter looks forward to contributing to the program's success.

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