Ratliff didn't know what it would take to convince Holliday he wouldn't be bringing a thug or a gang member or just a generally bad kid into his program if Martinez were to get an invite to come to Huntington, W.Va.
Smith and Newsome said Martinez would be an asset to Marshall (1-2). Ratliff believed them. Now, he just had to get Holliday to think the same. No small task considering Holliday had just been hired in December 2009 at Marshall, and likely wouldn't be too keen on bringing in a kid that could jeopardize his first-ever head coaching gig.
"I'd never really had a situation like this as a coach where I went to the head coach and pleaded for a kid without having much of a case," said Ratliff, who is Marshall's tight ends coach.
"It was just something about the kid and hearing about him from (Smith and Newsome). I really had no problem doing it because I really believed in (Martinez)."
The faith in Martinez has been justified thus far.
Martinez, a 5-foot-9, 202-pound sophomore running back, came to Huntington as a walk-on in August 2010. After running 78 times for 262 yards last season, he earned a scholarship this past January.
This season, he's averaging six yards per carry as Marshall's starting running back — carrying the ball 36 times for 217 yards. On Saturday, he'll lead Marshall against No. 13 Tech (3-0) in Huntington.
"He reminds me of a lot of guys we play from Miami to N.C. State or anybody in the ACC," said Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster.
"(Martinez) plays that way. I think he's a dynamic back. I think he's very explosive. He's got great feet. He's a guy that's a home-run hitter potentially when he's got the ball in his hands."
It's a long way from where Martinez was in '09, when he sat in jail for 75 days and endured eight months of home arrest after being arrested in April '09 and charged with 11 felonies and two misdemeanors in connection with a February '09 fight outside a McDonald's.
Some of the charges included maiming by mob, malicious wounding and gang participation. He ultimately had all 11 felony charges and one misdemeanor dropped. He pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor — simple assault and battery — and was sentenced to 100 hours of community service.
"It was overblown, totally overblown," said Martinez, who ran for 3,865 yards and 59 touchdowns in three seasons at Hampton, and was named the Peninsula District's offensive player of the year in '08. "It made me angry for a certain amount of time to think I was connected to it, but after a while, you've just got to let it go. I'm in a good place right now."
He paid dearly for the allegations. He lost a football scholarship to Old Dominion. During his time under house arrest while he awaited trial, he wasn't permitted to go more than two miles away from his home near Todd Stadium in Newport News.
He passed the time by working out, going to high school games at Todd Stadium and getting a job making pizzas at Brickhouse Tavern in Newport News.
"All I could do was think about if I would ever play again," said Martinez, who was adopted in his ninth grade year. "I made it through with my family, man. We just made the best of it. I just had a real positive attitude about everything, and a blessing came out of it with Marshall."
When he was finally clear of the legal issues, Martinez's college opportunities had vanished. He'd gone from getting visits at Hampton from guys like then-North Carolina coach Butch Davis, Tech coach Frank Beamer, then-Virginia defensive coordinator Mike London (now U.Va.'s coach) and then-Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, to having one scholarship offer from Division II Chowan in Murfreesboro, N.C.
Newsome tried to get Martinez in as a walk-on at Tech, but Martinez's standardized test scores weren't good enough. That's when Newsome talked with Smith about Martinez's future, and the coaches got in touch with Ratliff.