Carlton Martial looks to keep proving doubters wrong

Published 11:09 am Friday, March 24, 2023

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As the NFL Draft inches closer, Troy senior linebacker Carlton Martial continues to show off the hard work he’s been known for since arriving on campus.

Martial was one of more than a dozen Trojans that worked out in front of NFL and Canadian Football League scouts at Troy’s Pro Day this week.

“It feels good to get back out here doing football stuff,” Martial said after his workout. “I know a lot of guys can say that they’re proud of what they put on that field today.”

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Martial is coming off a senior season in which the Mobile native not only earned his fourth straight All-Sun Belt honor, but he also become Troy’s all-time leading tackler and NCAA Division I’s all-time leading tackler all in the same season. The honors don’t stop there for Martial, however. During his career at Troy, Martial has been a Freshman All-American, All-American Honorable Mention, Second-Team All-American, First-Team All-American, Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time finalist for the Burlsworth Trophy. In five seasons at Troy, Martial amassed 577 tackles, 50.5 tackles-for-loss, 10.5 sacks, six interceptions, 15 pass breakups and eight forced fumbles. He was the unquestioned heart and soul of what may go down as the school’s greatest defense this past season.

After all of that, Martial earned a spot in the 2023 Senior Bowl, played in his hometown, and while an injury kept him out of the game, the experience was well worth it.

Carlton Martial (2) is the NCAA’s all-time leading tackler. (Photo courtesy of Troy University Athletics)

“It was a good experience going down there and getting to know some of the coaches and scouts,” Martial said. “It was good to have that familiarity. A lot of them came up to me (during Pro Day) and we had already talked and sort of got to know each other.”

Martial said the feedback he’s received from teams has been positive.

“I’ve gotten some pretty good feedback,” he said. “They thought I did good (at Pro Day). I just wanted to come out and do everything I can to show them what I can do.”

Standing at 5-foot-8-inches and 210 pounds, Martial has heard the doubts about his size dating back to his high school days. Martial came to Troy as a walk-on before earning himself a scholarship and becoming one of the best defenders to put on the Cardinal and Black jersey. When asked if he uses that doubt as motivation heading into the draft, he said he uses it at all times.

“Not just going into the draft, you have to have that mentality and that motivation in your day-to-day life,” he emphasized. “I’ve had those doubters all my life but even more than trying to prove them all wrong, it’s more so about proving myself right and proving that I can do those things they say I can’t.”

Martial said he doesn’t like to dwell too much on the past and deflects praise to his teammates and coaches for contributing to his college success.

“It’s really shocking and almost a surreal feeling,” Martial said of going from a walk-on to potential NFL player. “It try not to think about the past but everyone I’ve met here (at Troy) has helped bring me up and I have to give them all a special thanks because I wouldn’t be here without them and their support. Those are my brothers forever.”

While Martial’s dream is to suit up for the NFL, he knows there are also other options in modern professional football, whether that be the CFL, United States Football League or XFL.

“Anywhere I can go to further my career and play ball, that’s what it’s about,” he said. “It’s about the love of the game, I’ll play ball anywhere. My goal for my pro career is to ride it until the wheels fall off. As long as I can, I’ll play.”

Carlton Martial (2) set the NCAA tackle record against Army. (Photo by Henry Otto/Creative Media Images)

Wherever Martial ends up continuing his football career, he said there would be no doubts in what his team gets in him.

“You can ask around, you know what type of guy you’ll get,” said Martial. “(You’ll get) a guy that’s all in for the team and will do anything for the team. It’s about going out there and giving your best effort and play the cards you’re dealt.”

With his final college season, the Senior Bowl and Pro Day in his rearview mirror, Martial isn’t slowing down as he continues to work to reach his goals.

“Right now, I’m going to go back to Mobile and keep training and working out and try to get bigger and faster and keep the grind going,” he flatly said.

The NFL Draft takes place April 27-29 and will air on ESPN and the NFL Network.