For quite some time now Saints fans have been hoping to see the team significantly upgrade the outside linebacker position, one of the weaker spots on the defensive side of the ball, and third round NFL draft pick Martez Wilson represents a legitimate solution to that problem.
I had the unique opportunity to speak with the former Illinois linebacker and get to know him better as he begins his long and exciting journey into the NFL. Below you will find part one of our conversation, in which we discuss his younger days and his recent draft day experience.
A sincere thanks to Martez for taking time out of his assuredly busy schedule to talk with all of us, the fans. I wish him the best of luck and health as soon as the season actually starts.
Dave Cariello: Martez is a unique name. Where does that name come from?
Martez Wilson: My aunt actually gave me that name; my mother's sister. It's Spanish for Tuesday except with a "z."
Dave: People call you Tez, though...
Martez: Yes, they call me Tez or Super.
Dave: Where does the Super name come from?
Martez: It started my freshman year in college because I played so many different positions and special teams. They called me Super Tez.
Dave: How did you first get into football?
Martez: I started in 8th grade. I was actually playing basketball in 8th grade and my basketball coach told me I should try out for the football team and from that time forward I've been playing football ever since.
Dave: You actually grew up in Chicago. Did that make you a Bears fan growing up?
Martez: I really just grew up watching players pretty much. I never had a favorite team, just favorite players.
Dave: Okay, who were some of your favorite players growing up?
Martez: Jerry Rice, Reggie White, Lawrence Taylor. Then as I got older I started noticing more linebackers like Ray Lewis or Bart Scott. I can name a lot and go down the list. I like Drew Brees. I could keep going on and on.
Dave: Why did you choose Illinois over other schools like Notre Dame and USC?
Martez: The coaches. The coaches fitted me best and it was the best situation for me to come in and play right away as well. It was close to home so my family could come and see me play every game so that played a role, too. The decision was made.
Dave: You were projected as being a first round pick. Were you disappointed or surprised that you didn't get selected until the third round?
Martez: I was a little disappointed because I was expecting to go in the second round. That's what I was pretty much hearing. But to get drafted by the Saints in the third round is an honor because it's not all about how high you go it's about the team you come into and the defensive scheme you fit into because that can make or break a player. I feel like I fit in with the Saints scheme well. The linebacker spot is a need so I'm gonna come in and work as hard as I possibly can and earn my respect.
Dave: Where were you when you got the call?
Martez: I was actually at the gas station. I was sitting in my car at the gas station not too far from my house.
Dave: Were you getting gas?
Martez: I just had to take a ride.
Dave: So you were at a party with friends and family and feeling a little stressed so you went to take a ride and that's when you got the call?
Martez: Yes, as soon as I left. I'm glad I wasn't far from my house. I made a quick turnaround and came back home.
Dave: Who was on the other end of the line?
Martez: I wanna say Coach Vitt but I was just so excited...I was just happy.
Dave: What did he say? Did he say anything special?
Martez: Yes. He said, "How are you doing? This is the New Orleans Saints and we're getting ready to pick you with the next selection. Are you ready?" I said, "Yes I'm ready. I'm happy. This is a dream come true." He said, "Alright, buddy." Then I just started talking to a lot of different staff members. Then I celebrated with my family and talked to media people.
Dave: Did coach McMahon have anything in particular to do with bringing you to New Orleans?
Martez: If he did I would like to thank him but I wouldn't know.
Dave: I know you came down here for a pre-draft visit and met with coach Vitt and coach Williams but have you met coach Payton?
Martez: I actually didn't. Coach Payton wasn't there when I took my visit.
Dave: So you haven't met him at all?
Martez: No, I haven't.
Dave: Are you nervous about meeting him?
Martez: No, I'm not nervous. I rarely get nervous.
Dave: Have you received a playbook yet?
Martez: No, I haven't but Jonathan Vilma has been a great teacher so far, you know, going over things with the rookies and the other young players, going over the defense with us. Then doing film work as well, making sure we're doing the right thing. He's doing a great job. He's coaching us very well.
Dave: I've talked to a few players and they all throw out Vilma's name. It sounds like he's taking over coaching duties while the lockout is going on.
Martez: Yeah, he and Drew are the coaches right now.
Dave: Do you call him coach Vilma?
Martez: No, I call him J. Vil.
Dave: Have you been following the lockout closely at all?
Martez: Drew's been keeping us updated on the situation. I'm just working hard with the rest of the team, waiting for it to end. Because once it ends it's going to be grind time. We're going to head right into football. So for me, coming in as a rookie with other players that are there already, we don't want to be too far behind. We're gonna be right on point.
Dave: How often is Drew keeping you updated on the situation?
Martez: Just as things happen, he'll keep us updated.
Dave: How does it feel coming into the league during such a unique time with the lockout? Is there any deep down resentment?
Martez: It's a little disappointing only because we don't get to experience a lot of the things the rest of the rookies did like the minicamps, the OTA's and things like that. Now it's up to us. If we want to learn anything we're gonna get down here early enough, because of the lockout, so we don't get behind. I was told once you're behind, it's hard to catch back up.
Don't forget to check back later this afternoon for Part Two. Thanks, once again, to Martez Wilson.