Markelle Martin sat by the phone waiting and waiting.
A third-round projection, the former Oklahoma State safety saw the fourth and fifth round pass without a word from any of the 32 NFL teams.
Then the long-awaited call came with a 615 area code. It was the Tennessee Titans.
Martin was selected by the Tennessee Titans with the 20th pick of the sixth round —190th overall — of the 2012 NFL Draft, joining teammates Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden as Cowboys selected in this year’s NFL draft.
A first-team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association and SI.com and a first-team all-Big 12 selection by the conference's coaches as a senior in 2011, Martin was the ringleader of a Cowboy defense that led the nation in turnovers forced and was second nationally in interceptions.
“There are so many people to thank,” Martin said. “I thank the Oklahoma State alumni and community. I especially want to thank Shaun Lewis, Brodrick Brown, Daytawion Lowe and the rest of the OSU defense for trusting in me and I also want to thank Terry Henley and Amy Randolph in academics, Coach Mike Gundy, Coach Joe DeForest, Coach Jason Jones and Coach Glenn Spencer for helping me develop into the man that I am and giving me an opportunity to succeed not just in football but also in life.”
Martin logged 74 tackles — five for a loss — and had 11 pass breakups, two fumbles forced and one fumble recovered as a senior in 2011, helping lead Oklahoma State to its first-ever Big 12 championship and BCS bowl game appearance and victory.
Martin is the 15th Oklahoma State player to be chosen in the NFL Draft since Gundy took over as head coach in 2005.
“Markelle is going to be a really good NFL player,” Gundy said. “He’s very intelligent and has been a good hitter for us. He can play two positions in the NFL because he’s smart. He was a really good leader for us and you never have to worry about him getting into anything off the field. He should be a real good safety in the NFL.”
For his career, Martin registered 178 tackles and eight tackles for loss. He picked off three passes, broke up 36 passes, forced two fumbles and recovered one.
It’s still unclear whether or not Martin will see immediate playing time. The Titans needed a safety after choosing not to sign veteran Chris Hope. They have tagged free safety Michael Griffin as their franchise player and signed strong safety Jordan Babineaux at the start of free agency.
It was a long and stressful road, but now Martin can focus on the future. The waiting process may be over, but Martin hopes this is just the beginning of his NFL career.
Among the Cowboys that weren’t drafted but signed as undrafted free agents, Jamie Blatnick signed with the Denver Broncos. Grant Garner will have the duty of protecting Heisman winnner Robert Griffin III for the Washington Redskins, while Josh Cooper joins Brandon Weeden as a memeber of the Cleveland Browns.
As of 8 p.m. Saturday, offensive linemen Levy Adcock and Nick Martinez hadn’t signed with a team yet. Defensive end Richetti Jones and safety Johnny Thomas were also hoping to get into training camp with a team.