Football

Prospect Nick Martin making his own way as NFL combine approaches

North squad offensive linemen Joe Dahl, left, of Washington State and Nick Martin of Notre Dame block South squad defensive end Jarran Reed during the first half of the the Senior Bowl.
North squad offensive linemen Joe Dahl, left, of Washington State and Nick Martin of Notre Dame block South squad defensive end Jarran Reed during the first half of the the Senior Bowl. AP

It’s easy to see why people confuse Nick Martin for his brother Zack, the Dallas Cowboys’ All-Pro right guard. Nick has a similar build and similar mannerisms to his older brother.

So Nick just chuckled when reminded Jason Garrett had to begin referring to him as “Notre Dame” during the Senior Bowl last month.

As Nick said, “That’s nothing new. My parents still do it. We have three brothers — Josh, Zack, Nick — and I’m like, ‘It’s Nick, mom.’ So [Garrett] started calling me ‘Notre Dame,’ but that’s nothing new.”

Now, though, Nick hopes to follow Zack’s path to the NFL. Nick is rated as the second-best center in this year’s draft class, according to CBS Sports, and is projected as a second-round pick.

That could improve with a strong showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, something that Nick is focused on as one of 21 NFL hopefuls training at the Michael Johnson Performance, an athletic center in McKinney.

The NFL Scouting Combine is Feb. 23-29 at the Lucus Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The Star-Telegram caught up with Nick at the MJP athletic center:

What advice has Zack given you about the combine? Very similar to the Senior Bowl, it’s a mental thing. It’s a mental game, that’s what football is. One thing my coach always said is, ‘You’ve got to be your best on command.’ He instilled that in me and that’s how we define mental toughness. That’s what it comes down to. You’re going to be staying up late, waking up early, doing a lot of things, but when it comes down to it, you’ve got to perform.

Is it difficult preparing for drills that are more specialized than football-based? That’s what we talked about first coming in. I’d never gotten up in a 40-yard-dash start before. Obviously, I’m used to being in a three-point stance with the ball in my hand and snapping it. But it’s fun. Obviously, we have great coaches and we’ve been working on it for two months, which is why you come down here.

Zack has worked out with you here. How has that been? It is cool and we’re real close. We’re best friends and that’s who I learn from. He was a two-time captain [at Notre Dame], and that’s how I learned. You’ve got to learn from great players, especially going to school with him and a guy like Chris Watt, you’d be dumb not to. I was able to watch them. When they left, I was able to come in and be a two-time captain, too. So working out with him is fun and it’s just an awesome experience. Competitive, too.

Are you surprised by Zack’s success? Honestly, growing up around him, it’s not a surprise. Sometimes you do sit back and say, ‘Wow.’ It is impressive. But the way he works, he’s a pro. He handles his business, and he’s a guy who does the extra, and that’s something instilled in us from our dad from an early age and now it just continues.

Are you eager to knock out the combine experience? Yes. The Senior Bowl was kind of like a little tease. But this is a great experience. It’s cool meeting new people who you played against, or people you’ve heard about, to get to know them is really cool.

Drew Davison: 817-390-7760, @drewdavison

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