Martin enjoys a doggone good Pro Day

Wes Martin did it for the dogs.

At Indiana’s Pro Day on Tuesday, the Hoosiers’ former left guard had more than his NFL dreams on his mind.

He was trying to save a few dogs in the process.

Last summer, Martin founded Brave Breed Rescue, a non-profit that aims to rescue and re-home at-risk dogs of all breeds. At Pro Day, the burly offensive lineman dedicated his performance on the bench press to that cause, soliciting pledge donations for each completed rep.

Martin didn’t disappoint.

In front of representatives from 26 NFL teams, Martin did 38 reps of 225 pounds, backing up his reputation as the strongest player on Indiana’s football team. It also seemed to put him on the radar of at least one organization, with the Detroit Lions conducting an impromptu, post-workout meeting with Martin that lasted more than an hour.

Tuesday was a good day for Martin, who raised more than $1,300 for his non-profit and improved his odds of playing at the next level with a strong showing in the weight room.

“It was a ton of fun,” Martin said. “There’s a little bit of nerves, just because it’s a new environment and you don’t really get to practice doing a Pro Day. So there’s a little bit of nerves, but once you get going, it’s a lot of fun trying to beat your previous bests and all that good stuff, and showcase what you got.”

Although Martin didn’t get an invite to last month’s NFL Combine, the numbers he posted at IU’s Pro Day stacked up favorably to those posted by college football’s top prospects.

His 38 bench press reps would’ve ranked second-best among all players at the Combine, while his broad jump of 113 inches would’ve ranked seventh among all offensive linemen.

Martin, though, was mildly disappointed he wasn’t able to fit in a few more reps on the bench press.

“A couple weeks ago, I hit 42,” he said. “When you get to that many reps, it’s all about your timing and your breathing pattern. My breathing pattern was just a little bit off. Your body just wears out quicker when that patterns isn’t right. … I wish I would’ve hit 42 or over again, like I did previously, but it was good. I think scouts knew I was a strong guy, but this kind of reinforced that and allowed them to see it in person.”

Martin built his strength years ago, while baling hay on the dairy farms that dot the landscape near his hometown of West Milton, Ohio. And when he wasn’t working on farms — or playing football — he was developing a fondness for man’s best friend.

“I grew up with dogs,” said Martin, who owns three dogs and is currently fostering another with his fiancee. “Last summer, I started the rescue, Brave Breed Rescue, and we got our 501(c)(3) and all that good stuff and got things up and running. … However many reps I did on the bench press, people could pledge towards that. It was awesome. It was a lot of fun to be able to publicize that and bring awareness to the rescue that we started.”

For Martin, it was also fun to build his NFL stock.

After playing 50 career games at left guard at Indiana, Martin has spent the past few months trying to diversify his NFL profile. The 6-foot-3, 316-pound lineman did some snapping for scouts on Tuesday, showing off a side of his game that has gone mostly unseen up to this point.

“I’ve been practicing it a lot because I knew that was a skill I needed to have coming into this stage in my career,” Martin said.

It’s not clear that Martin will be selected when the three-day NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 25. If he’s not picked, Martin will likely get scooped up on a free agent or tryout deal shortly after the draft.

Indiana has had at least one player selected in each of the past five drafts, but that streak could end this year. Offensive lineman Brandon Knight, safety Jonathan Crawford and long snapper Dan Godsil were each invited to last month’s Combine, and of that group, Godsil might have the most NFL-ready skill set.

Godsil was the only long snapper invited to the Combine, where he set position records for highest vertical jump (34 1/2 inches) and longest broad jump (118 inches).

Martin, meanwhile, seemed to help his chances with a good showing on Tuesday.

He also made sure he helped a few good dogs in the process.

“It was a great event,” Martin said. “We got a lot of good support from a lot of different individuals.”