Markelle Martin never viewed himself as an NFL prospect.
Not after he backed up Jacob Lacey and Perrish Cox as a freshman cornerback. Not after he successfully transitioned to the starting strong safety as a sophomore. Not even after he burst onto the scene as a junior, punishing roaming receivers and earning the label of a hard hitter.
“I'm a realistic person,” Martin said. “I was just living in the day and enjoying college football.”
So imagine Martin's surprise when a teammate came up to him during last season's summer workouts and told him that he wasn't just appearing on recent mock drafts. Martin was rated as the top safety in his class.
“I thought he was playing around,” Martin said. “A couple days later, I saw it on the TV and was like, ‘Wow, that's me.' ”
Fast-forward 10 months and Martin has come to grips with his new reality.
Six NFL scouts were in Stillwater on Tuesday, representing the Titans, Colts, Jaguars, Patriots, Buccaneers and Falcons. All came to see Martin's individual pro day.
And he performed relatively well, running a respectable 4.60-second 40-yard dash, jumping 34 inches in the vertical leap and looking smooth in position drills.
All of this came six weeks after he had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.
“This is the most I've done since the surgery, so whatever I did, I'm pretty much happy with that,” Martin said. “Not a lot of people can say six weeks after that surgery they ran a 40, so it's pretty much a blessing.”
The injury occurred one day after Martin returned from the Senior Bowl. He was doing routine drills at the stadium when he hyperextended his knee and felt a twinge.
“It made me uncomfortable during drills, and we didn't think it was as serious as it was,” Martin said. “But we went to the combine and found out it was torn.”
From there it was a frustrating rehab.
He couldn't compete at the combine and, besides the bench press, was just a spectator at OSU's Pro Day.
As others jockeyed for crucial pre-draft position, Martin patiently stalled, hoping for a healthy tryout before it was too late.
“It was about 3-4 weeks on crutches and then as much as you could take,” Martin said. “It was really self-progressing. One day you may think you are back and feel good and the next day it might swell up.”
Finally feeling what he called “80 percent,” Martin decided to hold his Pro Day on Tuesday, nine days before the NFL Draft.
With fellow prospects Jamie Blatnick and Richetti Jones looking on and close friend Johnny Thomas working with him in position drills, Martin looked fluid, performing his last meaningful act on the field that had delivered him so many memories.
“I just kind of wanted to do it here for one last time,” Martin said. “Come out here and compete on the field with Johnny Thomas. We came in together and it was a chance to do it one last time.”
Expected to go in the middle rounds, Martin will watch the draft at his home in Wichita Falls, Texas.