STILLWATER — Markelle Martin jumped in his car alone on May 9 and began the journey toward his NFL future.
The road trip started in his hometown of Wichita Falls, Texas. Little Rock was the first stop. Then Memphis. He didn't really do much besides grab a quick bite to eat and a couple hours of sleep. He spent more than 12 hours on the road.
But since Martin was alone, he made sure to take in the scenery around him while he was driving through the South. Trees. Mountains. Terrain not exactly common in Texas and Oklahoma.
Then, suddenly, he was greeted by traffic and skyscrapers. He felt the big-city vibe.
He had made it to Nashville, his new home.
“It was an overwhelming experience,” Martin said. “Just to get a sense of the next step of your life.”
Martin officially joined the Tennessee Titans last weekend for rookie minicamp, essentially completing what has been an interesting and emotional ride to the pros for the former Oklahoma State safety. After being projected to go in the middle rounds of last month's NFL Draft, a knee injury during the pre-draft process caused him to slip to the sixth round.
“All you need is an opportunity to get the foot in the door,” Martin said by phone from Nashville. “You have to make the most of it. I'm just thankful God and the Titans gave me the opportunity … just to be a part of a nice franchise where the team is just phenomenal. It's exciting to be here.”
Still, Martin admits the last few months, when he could not work out for scouts and other NFL personnel at the combine or at OSU's Pro Day because of the injury while he watched his draft stock fall, were not easy.
Martin waited for more than four hours on the final day of the draft before the Titans took him with the No. 190 overall pick. He expressed his frustration and sadness on Twitter as the rounds went by. Even deeper in his mind, he was replaying his entire OSU career. Had the injury happened because he trained too hard after the season? Did that one missed tackle hurt him? Or that dropped interception?
“You start looking at things that maybe you should have done better or a particular reason why you're not getting drafted,” Martin said. “Ultimately, once you get your name called, you just take a deep breath and you understand it's a blessing and it's a business at the same time.”
The Titans were always a team interested in Martin, however, as new secondary coach Brett Maxie attended Martin's personal Pro Day just before the draft. Now, Martin will be one of Maxie's first pupils in Tennessee.