Nov. 16, 2000
By Mike Kreiger
Senior cornerback Chris Martin has been around the block a time or two.
Not only is he one of only a handful of seniors starting on the Washington State football team, but he has lived in numerous parts the country as well.
"I spent about six years in Florida," Martin said. "I went back and fourth from Florida to New York. At age 16, I moved back to New York and went to high school there (Lincoln High). After high school I went to San Francisco Junior College."
Martin enjoyed growing up in New York, and he was always busy in "the Big Apple."
"There was always something to do," Martin said with a smile. "It's the city that never sleeps. We've got the Yankees, the Jets and the Knicks. I went to Knicks games all the time, and Madison Square Garden is amazing. In fact, we played our high school basketball championship there and won it my senior year."
Martin, whose favorite all-time athlete is Bo Jackson, earned some impressive credentials along the way to Pullman. While playing both running back and free safety in high school, Martin was named the MVP of the city of Brooklyn, as well as the MVP of the Brooklyn All-Star Game. As a member of the top junior college team in the nation (San Francisco Community College), Martin earned All-American honors. Now that he is a senior for the Cougars, Martin is a leader of the secondary unit.
"We tell the younger guys not to get down on themselves," the 24-year old Martin said. "With the position we play, we are showcased and everybody sees what we do. When we make mistakes, it's a big mistake. When the defensive line makes a mistake, the linebackers will pick it up for them. If the linebackers make a mistake, we pick up for them. Whatever we do is magnified ten times. We just have to go out there and play with confidence each play."
Martin, who played high school basketball with NBA star Stephon Marbury of the New Jersey Nets, also played varsity volleyball in high school.
"My football coach was the volleyball coach," Martin said with a smile. "He put me in to block a few balls and taught me how to spike. It was fun. Once I got the timing down, I was killing the ball."
Martin's biggest play this season took place in Tucson against the Arizona Wildcats. Martin intercepted Ortege Jenkins' pass and returned it 31-yards for the touchdown. It was his fifth interception and first touchdown as a Cougar.
"I haven't been in the end zone since junior college," Martin said. "It felt good."
The senior, who is pursuing a degree in social sciences with an emphasis in sociology and human development, wants to work with children when he graduates from Washington State. He would like to go back to West Palm Beach, where he spent most of his time in Florida.
"I want to get involved with kids," Martin said. "I probably want to be an elementary school counselor. I would like very much to go back to Florida."
The Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week for his 11-tackle, two-interception performance at Boise State in 1998, Martin is also an avid fisherman. His favorite professional cornerback is former Pittsburgh Steeler Pro-Bowler Rod Woodson.
"I like Woodson because he's a safety and a corner," Martin said. "He's so versatile. He can cover and he can lay the wood (make the big hit)."
Martin has his future goals in sight, but before he gets there, he has some unfinished business he wants to take care of here in the Palouse.
"I want to go out there each week and get better, personally as well as the team," Martin said. "I know I can be an asset to the team, and they can always count on me."
With Martin, the young members on this Cougar squad have a counselor to turn to, both on and off the field. When his football days are over in Pullman, some lucky elementary school in Florida will also have Martin as a counselor. Just don't expect him to be cheering for the Miami Dolphins when his beloved Jets come to town.