Martin, McCray drafted into NFL
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Both former Appalachian State football players were selected in the NFL Draft on Saturday. The Detroit Lions selected Martin with the 32nd pick in the fifth round of the draft. The Jacksonville Jaguars took McCray with the fourth pick in the seventh round, the 210th overall.
Martin, a punter who can also place kick, is the first Mountaineer to be selected in the draft this year. He is the 165th player taken in the draft, and made a pre-draft visit to Detroit.
The Lions, who used three punters in 2012, have had trouble with their punting lately. They ranked 31st in net punting last season.
The Lions signed punter Blake Clingan after a March tryout. Longtime Lions kicker Jason Hanson, who was one of the three punters last season, retired.
"He's a guy -- he punts, he kicks, he holds, he's done PATs and kicked field goals. He's versatile,'' Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said to the Oakland (Mich.) Press.
Martin, a Fayetteville, Ga. native, averaged 45.9 yards per punt in 2012.
Martin's longest career punt at Appalachian State was 74 yards, which he kicked in 2009. Martin, who is 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, averaged 40.9 yards per kick his junior season on 54 attempts.
He is the first punter the Lions have drafted since 1984 when they took Mike Saxon in the 11th round. Martin did not take up football until his senior year in high school when he started kicking field goals and kicking off.
"I started messing around the beginning of my redshirt freshman year,'' Martin said on a conference call. "A lot of guys my age have been doing it since their freshman year in high school, I picked it up pretty late. It took me a couple years to get comfortable and confident with doing it. I always had the strong leg but the consistency wasn't there.''
McCray, who stands 6-foot-1, could get a good chance to make the team since the Jaguars lost most of its secondary from last season. Derek Cox, Rashean Mathis, Aaron Ross and Will Middleton, and safety Dawan Landry, all left the team.
The only returning starter in the Jacksonville secondary is Dwight Lowery.
Jacksonville also selected safety Jonathan Cyprien in the second round, cornerback Dwayne Gratz in the third round, safety Josh Evans in the sixth round and cornerback Jeremy Harris with the second pick of the seventh round.
The Jaguars used the pick they acquired from the Eagles to select McCray, who said the Jaguars were in contact with him for most of the day.
"I did know," McCray said about the Jaguars' secondary situation. "We were communicating all day. They were trying to find a slot to pick me and they pulled the trigger."
McCray was sixth on the Mountaineers in tackles with 55.
He intercepted five passes in 2011 and has 10 career picks.
McCray, who participated in the NFL Scouting Combine, also returned an interception 38 yards in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. He added five tackles to those totals in leading the National team to a 34-0 victory over the American squad.
McCray was anxious to get started with his new team.
"I know it's a nice city and they're a good team," McCray said. "They're a team on the rise looking to get to the next level."
There had been rumors that McCray could be moved to safety. He said before the draft that it didn't matter as long as he got on a roster.
"I'll play anything," he said.
He and Martin get that chance.