Safety Martin leads way for No. 3 Cowboys

Want to catch up on Oklahoma State? Look no farther than
Markelle Martin’s wrists.

The senior safety from Wichita Falls, Texas, wears so many
wristbands – 15 as of Monday – that it has become a bit of a joke
among his teammates.

”There really is a story behind each of them,” said Martin, a
second-team All-Big 12 Conference pick for No. 3 Oklahoma State
(11-1), which will play No. 4 Stanford (11-1) in the Fiesta Bowl on
Jan. 2.

Want to know what’s been going on at Oklahoma State recently?
Just take a look.

A couple of the wristbands serve as reminders of themes
involving the football team. One reading ”One Heart, One Team, One
Family” was made after the death in September of Angela Spencer,
the wife of one of the Cowboys’ assistant coaches, Glenn Spencer.
One that reads ”I Am Second” was given to Martin by former
teammate Andrew McGee as a reminder of the importance of team.

Another says ”No Regrets,” because ”after last year, we
didn’t want to feel like we have any regrets this year. We want to
leave it all out there on the field.”

A couple of other wristbands serve as memorials, including one
Martin started wearing after women’s basketball coaches Kurt Budke
and Miranda Serna and two others died in a plane crash in Arkansas
last month. Still others are lighthearted – a Disney wristband
given to Martin by a girl at a grocery store.

One also shows his support of another successful Oklahoma State
program, commemorating the trip to the Women’s College World Series
this year by the Cowgirls’ softball team.

All the wristbands, Martin said, tell the story of his time at
Oklahoma State.

”I don’t take them off during the game, either,” Martin said.
”I just keep them off. I don’t think it’s selling anything. I have
sleeves on sometimes or they end up under my gloves, so it’s hard
to see.”

Martin usually is easy to spot on the field – he’s the one
delivering some of the hardest hits. Defensive coordinator Bill
Young said the 6-foot-1, 198-pound Martin has been a frequent
winner of the team’s ”Big Stick Award,” given to the defender who
has the biggest hit each week.

The Cowboys’ two-time Biletnikoff Award winner Justin Blackmon
said that when he goes up against Martin in practice, he makes sure
he knows where Martin is at on the field.

”He’s just someone you’ve got to keep your eye on,” Blackmon
said. ”He’s always back there, he’s a headhunter and he’s always
ready to hit you.”

Martin is fourth on the team in tackles with 65. He has broken
up 11 passes – second on the team – and has forced two fumbles. The
latter number is his contribution to what has been a ball-hawking
defense for the Cowboys. Oklahoma State has forced 42 turnovers –
tops in the Football Bowl Subdivision – and the Cowboys’ turnover
margin of 1.67 per game is second nationally, behind only No. 1 LSU
(1.69).

Critics can point to Oklahoma State’s average of 445.7 yards
allowed per game, but Martin believes all those turnovers more than
offset that number.

”We would like to get off the field faster, but even when we
do, our offense scores in two plays, so we’re back out there,”
Martin said. ”You’re going to give up yards, because we rotate a
lot of guys. We do a lot of different things. People want to be
patient and try to just work their way down the field and take the
time off. For us, we just try to get turnovers to keep them from
scoring.”