- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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He could feel it during warmups and then again as he took his first and second strides during the 40-yard dash Monday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
For Mike Martin, it was going to be a very good day.
Two months of training with former Michigan strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis at his BarwisMethods gym in Plymouth, Mich., had led to this 24-hour period between Sunday's bench press and Monday's field workouts. The results could have a major impact on where Martin, a former Michigan defensive tackle, will be selected in April's NFL draft.
As Martin drove from Indianapolis back home to Michigan on Monday night, he was happy with how it went.
"I think I did very well for myself overall," Martin said. "My goal going into this was really to showcase how athletic I am, and how smooth, and how well I run, and how quick I am. I really think I did a good job with that.
"I think I really showed up, and I got a lot of good feedback from the coaches saying I did a great job and they enjoyed watching me."
Martin, who credited his work with Barwis over the past two months as a factor in his performance, finished in the top five among defensive tackles in every drill in which he performed.
His official 40-yard dash time of 4.88 seconds finished just outside the top 15 performances overall by defensive linemen but was fouth among defensive tackles. His vertical jump of 33.5 inches was fourth among defensive tackles and 13th among defensive linemen.
His broad jump of 9 feet, 5 inches tied for 14th overall among defensive linemen and tops among defensive tackles. Martin's 3-cone drill time of 7.19 was tied for 15th among all defensive linemen and second among tackles, and his 20-yard shuttle time of 4.25 seconds was sixth among defensive linemen and second among tackles.
"What showed up at Indy was everything I was getting at Mike's, so I knew what I was going to get," Martin said. "I was just really happy to get them, because that was the hardest part.
"A lot of guys say, 'Man, I didn't have a good day, because at training I was getting this, usually I get a 4.8 but here I got a 5 flat.' That's terrible. You want to get what you have been getting and expecting to get, and that's what I got."
With Martin's focus for the combine on his speed and field work, he said he paid less attention to the bench press during the lead-up to the combine, although he still wanted to put up a good number.
While he didn't reach the combine record of 49 repetitions set last season by Oregon State's Stephen Paea, he did bench 225 pounds 36 times. That was second among defensive linemen -- Memphis' Dontari Poe benched a combine-best 44 reps -- and tied for third among all combine participants.
He said Monday night he was OK with that number because it still displayed his strength -- and he said the most common question he heard from teams and scouts anyway were about his athleticism, not his strength.
"I knew I was going to get a good amount of reps, but I really think other people really put a big emphasis on me wanting to break the record because of how much we were doing at Mike's," Martin said. "But what it came down to is I trained a lot more for my drills and my movements and my agility, because that's what I really needed to prove to the teams."
Martin said he met with "quite a few" teams at the combine, including Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Denver, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Washington. He said most teams saw him as a player who could be disruptive, but they wanted to see how quick he was.
It is something he felt he proved Monday.
His combine performance means a transition back to football training instead of speed and agility work because he likely will not have to participate in combine drills at Michigan's pro day in March. He'll continue that training, preparing for April's NFL draft and the minicamps and training camps that will follow alongside former Michigan football players Brandon Graham, LaMarr Woodley and Larry Foote at BarwisMethods.
And Martin also knows he'll never have to run a 40-yard dash again in his life.
"Put me on the football field," Martin said. "And let's play some football."
Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mikerothstein.
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