By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
When it came to his pro day, the number that turned heads was the one that had Wes Martin shaking his.
Now he’s just waiting to see if he turned the correct heads.
Martin, a 2014 Milton-Union High School graduate and four-year starter as an offensive lineman at Indiana University, turned in a stellar performance during the Hoosiers’ pro day earlier this month in preparation for this weekend’s NFL draft. Now he is left to watch the proceedings — taking place Thursday through Saturday in Nashville, Tenn. — to find out what fate has in store for him.
“I’m getting pretty excited,” Martin said on Wednesday. “Honestly, I’m trying to go into it not holding any expectations. The whole process is just so uncertain. You can hear lots of things going into it, but you really don’t know anything until it actually happens.”
Martin, listed at 6-foot-3, 316 lbs. on Indiana University’s website, played 50 career games for the Hoosiers, starting 43 total games and the final 37 of his career at left guard. During his senior season, he started all 12 games and only allowed two sacks all season, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten for the second straight season.
At the team’s pro day, though, Martin shined, putting up an impressive 38 reps at 225 on the bench press. To put that in perspective, at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, only Weber State’s Iosua Opeta had more with 39.
And yet …
“It’s funny. The number everyone seems to be talking about is the one i was displeased with the most,” Martin said with a laugh. “Several weeks before that in training, I did 42 reps. At the pro day, I was expecting at least 40. My rhythm was just off a little, and I wasn’t pleased with it.”
Martin also turned in a broad jump of 9-foot-5, which would have tied him for seventh among offensive lineman at this year’s NFL Combine.
“Yeah, I had a pretty good day,” Martin said of his pro day. “I think I opened some eyes there.”
He also used that pro day performance to do good in a different way, raising $1,386 for his nonprofit, Brave Breed Rescue.
“Brave Breed Rescue is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit that I started last summer,” Martin said. “We ran a campaign through PledgeIt where, for every rep I did on the bench press, people could donate money to help rescue dogs find homes.”
Martin got the idea for Brave Breed Rescue while interning at another nonprofit, DistinXion, which was founded by former Notre Dame University basketball player Luke Zeller.
“Growing up, my mom (Rhonda Martin) was always rescuing and re-homing dogs,” Martin said. “It got to the point where, in college last spring I was doing an internship with DistinXion, and working with them I got some knowledge about how nonprofits work.
“Fast forward to last summer, and I spent practically all of my free time starting Brave Breed Rescue. I had help from a few people, but I did a lot of solo work, too, and put a lot of hours into it. And the goal, basically, was helping to give my mom a bigger platform to for what she’s always done. And it’s been amazing so far.”
Once the company was up and running, though, Martin’s focus went back to football for his senior season. But since football season ended, he’s been back on board.
“I wasn’t able to do much for it in the fall, with football,” Martin said. “Since then, I’ve been more hands on. Getting it up and running was the hardest part. But in January, we pulled a mom and her seven puppies from a shelter, and that kicked us into gear.
“We’ve been able to adopt out probably a dozen dogs now. It really started to click, and it’s been amazing to see. My fiancee and I have been fostering several dogs ourselves, and it’s been awesome. When you see a dog find its forever home and see how excited they are, it just brings so much joy.”
And this weekend, Martin is hoping to find a home for himself on an NFL team somewhere.
“I’ve been on seven top-30 visits and had several workouts,” Martin said. “A good handful of teams have shown direct interest in me, plus there’s also those teams that you expect to be interested but they don’t want to show their hands yet.
“Staying in the midwest would be nice,” Martin said when asked if he had any dream teams that may pick him. “It’d give my family a chance to make it to my games and see me play. Obviously, though, I will play for whoever takes me and give them everything I’ve got.”
One other former Miami County player — Ohio University’s A.J. Ouellette, a Covington High School graduate — is eligible for the NFL draft this year. Miami County has seen 12 players chosen in its history, but none since the Indianapolis Colts took Piqua’s Quinn Pitcock in 2007. The 11-year drought ties the longest stretch the county has gone without a draftee since it saw its first player chosen, Troy’s Bob Ferguson in 1962.
Even if Martin goes undrafted, though, he still could find a home in the NFL. Most recently, Troy graduate Kris Dielman — who also played his college football at Indiana University — was not chosen in the 2003 draft, but he signed a rookie free agent contract with the San Diego Chargers and went on to have a stellar NFL career, being chosen for the Pro Bowl four times and earning All-Pro honors two times.
“His path, if I could follow that and have a similar career, that would be awesome,” Martin said. “He was an unbelievable player and someone I grew up watching.”
For now, though, all he can do is wait and watch — which he plans to do this weekend at home with his family. The NFL draft will take place over the course of three days, with the first round at 8 p.m. Thursday, the second and third rounds at 7 p.m. Friday and the fourth through seventh rounds beginning at noon Saturday.
“Like I said, I’m going into it completely open-minded and just seeing where it takes me,” Martin said.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter. ©2019 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.