ROANOKE RAPIDS — During his high school career, Roanoke Rapids defensive end Kareem Martin used a vast array of moves to free himself from opposing offensive linemen. Martin may have saved his best juke move for Monday.
In front of a packed house in the school's media center, Martin briefly reached for the blue Duke hat on the table, then drew back and grabbed the North Carolina hat, declaring his intentions of signing a national letter of intent with the Tar Heels on Feb. 3.
The defensive lineman picked the Tar Heels over Duke and Virginia Tech, ending speculation on one of the biggest recruits to come out of the Roanoke Valley.
"I'm glad to have it over with," Martin said with a huge grin on his face. "I'm glad to be settled with one school."
Martin was a two-time Northern Carolina Conference defensive player of the year.
During his senior season, Martin racked up 163 tackles, 10 forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, four sacks and one interception.
Martin had a great showing in the 2009 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas and played in the Offense/Defense All-Star Game in Myrtle Beach, S.C., the following week.
He also is an excellent student.
"He is an outstanding young man, an outstanding player and an outstanding student," Roanoke Rapids coach Russell Weinstein said.
"I've been doing this a long time, and it doesn't get any better than Kareem Martin. He has been a good leader on and off the field, a good student in the classroom and a good citizen in the community. He is the total package, and UNC is going to be very happy they got Kareem."
Martin thanked his teammates, coaches and parents for all the support he received during the recruiting process.
Martin said that each school had what he was looking for, but one school stood out from the rest.
With three hats sitting in front of Martin on the table, the 6-foot-6 senior picked the Carolina blue hat and simply said, "I'm a Tar Heel," setting off a wave of cheers from those in attendance.
"I really liked the coaching staff at UNC," Martin said. "They really do an outstanding job of recruiting and have their team on the rise. They will be contending for ACC and even national championships in the future."
Martin said he was set on the Tar Heels after his official visit a few weeks ago.
He got a chance to meet some of the current North Carolina defensive linemen and said he is looking forward to learning from that group next season.
"It's going to be great," he said. "Most of those guys are probably going to the NFL. It's great to be able to learn from guys who are going to be playing on the next level."
Being able to be around those guys during his visit gave Martin a glimpse of his future teammates, and he said he wanted to be a part of that unit.
"The defensive line guys are really close. They stick together," Martin said. "They were always around each other and real comfortable around each other, and I liked that. It was a real family atmosphere. They were just like brothers."
Martin continues the UNC pipeline through the Roanoke Valley, following in the footsteps of former Tar Heel and current member of the San Francisco 49ers Kentwan Balmer of Weldon; former Roanoke Rapids standout Darrius Massenburg; and current UNC player Trase Jones, who was a senior at Roanoke Rapids during Martin's freshman year.
Martin is ranked the No. 5 prospect in the state of North Carolina by The Charlotte Observer and the No. 28 weakside defensive end in the country.