Safety Martin leads way for No. 3 Cowboys

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 23, 2011
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.''
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