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Orlando native Kenny Martin, UCF’s defensive tackle coach, figured prominently in the Knights’ defensive turnaround over the 2022 and 2021 campaigns.
Martin’s charges played noteworthy roles in 2022 with veteran Anthony Montalvo (43 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 6 QB hurries) adding experience with his 35 career starts in a Knight uniform and Ricky Barber (49 tackles, 9 TFL, 3 sacks, team-high 12 QB hurries) claiming honorable mention All-America honors from Pro Football Network. Barber was a first-team All-American Athletic Conference pick by both the league’s coaches and PFN.
The Knights’ defensive tackles assisted the UCF defense in leading the country in red-zone defense much of the year, ultimately finishing fifth. Meanwhile Martin’s charges helped UCF reach the nine-victory mark for a second consecutive year as the Knights advanced to the AAC Championship Game for the first time in four years and qualified for a bowl game for the seventh straight season.
As UCF won six of its final seven games to close the 2021 season (capped by a Gasparilla Bowl win over Florida), the Knight defense permitted only 11.8 points per game in those six combined victories. UCF averaged 8.1 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks in those six games—and finished the regular season ranked seventh nationally in pass efficiency defense (110.73) and 26th in tackles for loss (6.8 per game).
Among Martin’s charges at tackle in 2021 were Western Kentucky transfer Barber (29 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss), Montalvo (34 tackles) and sophomore Keenan Hester (24 tackles). That group helped the UCF defense improve 70 spots in NCAA total defense rankings—averaging 122.5 fewer total yards per game allowed in 2021 compared to the previous season.
Martin previously was defensive tackle coach from 2018-20 for Western Kentucky defenses that ranked among the most productive in the country. He joined Gus Malzahn’s UCF football staff on Feb. 23, 2021, and is in his third year with the Knights in 2023.
A former defensive lineman for the Hilltoppers, Martin first returned to his alma mater in 2016 and worked with the defensive tackle position group for five seasons, the first two as a graduate assistant coach.
In 2020 Martin helped the Western Kentucky defense rank eighth in the nation in passing yards allowed (177.3), 28th in total yards allowed (348.7) and 41st in points allowed (25.3) per game. Among the defensive tackle group, redshirt freshman Barber was named a Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-American. His 58 total tackles tied for fifth among all Football Bowl Subdivision defensive linemen regardless of class. Phil Steele tabbed Barber as an All-Conference USA second-teamer and Jeremy Darvin, the other starting tackle, as a third-teamer.
In 2019 Martin helped mentor his group into one of the most solid positions on the field. Darvin and Jaylon George earned All-Conference USA honorable mention recognition, while Barber was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team. Western Kentucky allowed only 20.1 total points per game, the lowest mark for the program since 2004, to rank 22nd nationally. The Hilltoppers held opponents to a 29.7% rate (51 of 172) on third down (sixth in the FBS) and ranked third in the FBS with only 82 missed tackles. Western Kentucky was 24th in total defense at 335.5 yards allowed per game.
In 2018 Martin's work developed George into one of the top defensive tackles in Conference USA as an all-league selection by Pro Football Focus. In 2017, senior Chris Johnson earned All-Conference USA honorable mention accolades after leading all defenders in quarterback hurries from his tackle position.
In 2016, Martin helped senior Keith Brown set a single-season record for total tackles with 131 en route to earning All-Conference USA first-team honors along with PFF second-team All-America recognition. The Hilltoppers finished the campaign with the second-ranked rushing defense, surrendering just 97.2 yards per game. Western Kentucky also led the conference in scoring defense as it won a second consecutive league championship (under head coach Jeff Brohm, now at Purdue) and third consecutive bowl game.
A four-year letterman for Western Kentucky (the last three under current Florida Atlantic coach Willie Taggart), Martin started 42 games from 2009-12 (74 career tackles) and was a member of the Hilltoppers' first FBS bowl team in the 2012 Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl.
As a coach, Martin helped Western Kentucky participate in the 2016 Boca Raton Bowl (won 51-31 over Memphis), 2017 Cure Bowl, 2019 First Responder Bowl (won 23-20 over Western Michigan) and 2020 LendingTree Bowl—as well as the 2021 Gasparilla Bowl (a 29-17 triumph over Florida) once he came to UCF.
Prior to returning to Western Kentucky, Martin was the defensive line coach at the University of Virginia-Wise in 2015. Martin also served as the defensive coordinator at Warren Central High School in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in 2014. He got his start in coaching as the co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at his former high school, Ocoee High School, in Orlando in 2013.
Martin is a 2012 Western Kentucky graduate with a degree in sociology.
He and his wife, the former Tasha Babb, have a daughter Khloe and son Tre.
|2013||Ocoee (Florida) High School||Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line|
|2014||Warren Central (Kentucky) High School||Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line|
|2016-17||Western Kentucky||Defensive Graduate Assistant|
|2018-20||Western Kentucky||Defensive Tackles|