STILLWATER — A former Oklahoma State football player, who says he has a strong relationship with former coach Joe DeForest, feels some of the Sports Illustrated allegations are not true.
Markelle Martin was a safety at OSU from 2008 to early 2012. Throughout his time at OSU, Martin recorded 104 total tackles, three interceptions and was part of the 2012 Fiesta Bowl championship team, according to okstate.com.
During Martin’s four years as a Cowboy, Joe DeForest was Martin’s position coach from start to finish. Not only was DeForest a great coach, but he also was a person who cared deeply about Martin as a player, he said.
“I have a great relationship with coach DeForest,” Martin said. “He was someone I could talk to about stuff that happened on the field and off the field. He was like my second father.”
Even though Martin said he can only account for the years between 2008 and early 2012, he said he never knew of coach DeForest compensating players for big plays and performance on the field.
He said without his position coach, he wouldn’t be where he is today with his career.
“He gave me a lot of hope and he had hope in me,” Martin said. “He was my position coach and he was the one who kept me in line and level-headed and focused.”
Martin said what made the coach different was his ability to talk about things besides football. All the safeties at OSU knew they could talk to DeForest about anything, he said. Some days, the safeties would sit around and talk about how each player was doing instead of watching film, Martin said.
DeForest was not only a coach but a coach who cared about his players and there wasn’t any inclination he was paying players for performance, Martin said.
Even though the rumor about DeForest bothered Martin, he said another rumored allegation that bothers him is about the academics. Martin said he knows from experience the coaches at OSU hold players accountable for academics.
“I missed the Holiday Bowl because of academics,” Martin said. “(Mike) Gundy is a real-good guy and has always held his players to the rules. I mean, that is Gundy’s rule, ‘You are responsible.’”
Martin said he had to earn his way back and had to make a strong effort to get eligible academically again. He said for anyone to say the professors, coaches or players cheated academically is disrespectful.
Martin said when the coaches held him accountable for his academics, it was an eye-opener. Martin felt he was tough and could slide by because he graduated high school early to come to Oklahoma State, he said. When his academics didn’t make the cut come December, it was hard not practicing, participating or getting to go to the Holiday Bowl game, he said.
“Whenever I slipped up, they always held me responsible,” Martin said.
Martin said even though the coaches were his father figures while at Oklahoma State, they aren’t responsible for one thing he is proud he accomplished. Going back to the idea of a bounty system, Martin said the secondary didn’t need a bounty system and came up with its own motto.
Martin said in 2009 or 2010, a solider came and spoke to the OSU football team. This man had one motto the secondary at OSU took to heart.
“I remember him saying, ‘Nothing comes into the U.S. without our say so,’” Martin said.
He said the secondary took this motto and established it as their motto in the defensive back-field.
During this time, Martin said people began to notice how the secondary started hitting harder and getting more turnovers. He said the safeties’ self-motivation and motto was the reason people saw the hitting increase in Boone Pickens Stadium.
“We came up with something called ‘The no fly zone,’” Martin said. “That is something our hard-hitting safeties took to heart and that motto is still there today I believe, and it’s my own personal motto.”
Martin said he has a camp named after the “The No Fly Zone” motto Victor Johnson, who was a safety at OSU and was later was kicked off the team, started at OSU approximately four years ago.
Martin said without the motto, Gundy, and DeForest, he wouldn’t be where he is today. He said the staff he was associated with was too respectful to do what the rumored allegations said happened during his time at OSU.
Martin said if a person wants to know why the safeties at OSU made big plays during those seasons, it was because of one saying that was going around the locker room before every game and not because of a bounty system.
“If it flies it dies,” Martin said. “We played hard because we were part of the, ‘The No Fly Zone,’ and coach DeForest had nothing to do with that.”