The Carolina Panthers made their first original pick in this draft at number 59. This is the guy they were going to take first today before they made that deal to get San Francisco’s second-rounder (43rd overall). with that pick they selected…
Sherrod Martin, Safety, Troy
After two injury-plagued seasons, Martin was fully healthy in 2008, going on to establish himself as one of the premier pass defenders in the South. He tied the school single-game record and set an NCAA record for most interceptions in a quarter, picking off three passes in the second quarter in the 2008 Alcorn State game.
Those were Martin’s first interceptions since Oct. 20, 2005 vs. Florida International. Since then he has undergone three major operations and missed one entire season. “I’m speechless,” Martin said after that game. “The team did a lot of good things tonight. The defensive line and linebackers hustled and executed. I had the easy job, all I had to do was catch the football.”
One of the hardest hitting safeties in college football, Martin was known for initiating contact. He ranks 14th in the school’s storied history with 292 tackles, which are the second most by a Trojans defensive back. His 191 solo stops rank 10th overall and set the school all-time record for secondary performers.
Martin lettered three times as a free safety and wide receiver at Griffin High School. The team captain earned first-team All-Area honors and received the All-Purpose Player of the Year Award from the Griffin Daily News in 2002. He was also named to the All-Area team by Kudzu Magazine as a senior.
In his final season, Martin recorded three interceptions, returning two for touchdowns as a senior, finishing with 70 tackles and five stops for loss. He gained more than 700 yards rushing on 80 carries, as well as scoring seven touchdowns. He caught seven passes for 177 yards and led the team and region in punt returns. He also lettered in basketball four times and participated in track & field for two seasons.
Martin originally signed with Troy in 2003, but deferred enrollment until January 2004. He opened the 2004 season as a reserve, taking over strong safety duties for the final seven games. He finished fourth on the team with 68 tackles (41 solos), including 4.5 stops for loss. He caused two fumbles, deflected five passes, intercepted three others and also blocked one kick.
Despite playing with damage in both shoulders, Martin finished second on the team with 78 tackles (54 solos) in 2005. He switched from jersey No. 13 to No. 6, as he added a sack to go with five stops behind the line of scrimmage. He also broke up 11 passes and intercepted two others. After the season, he underwent surgery on both shoulders and was slow to recover, sitting out the 2006 campaign.
Martin returned to action in 2007 and was brought along slowly the first two games, but he suffered bone fractures in his hand vs. Florida that required surgery, keeping him on the sidelines for the next two games. When he returned, he went on to start six contests as the team’s nickel back. He posted 52 tackles (35 solos), sixth on the team, as he tallied three sacks and nine stops for loss. He also caused a school single-season record six fumbles.
Martin returned to his familiar position at free safety for the 2008 season, starting all 13 games. The All-Sun Belt Conference choice ranked third on the squad with a career-high 94 tackles (61 solos). He broke up seven passes and intercepted four others, including three in the second quarter vs. Alcorn State.