By Will Martin
On May 8 Zack Martin was the #16 pick of the Dallas Cowboys. May 10th he visited Valley Ranch for his first official press conference with the media. Here’s how that went down.
Does being here make your selection seem more real?
Absolutely. Yesterday I spent the day relaxing, and to actually get down here, it is finally starting to sink in.
Has Bill Callahan spent any time coaching you as of yet?
I saw him briefly in the hall and I was able to come for a visit a few weeks ago and we talked some ball. I am sure I will meet with him later today.
Does it matter to you how fast you know if you play the left or right side of the line?
No, not really. They will let me know when the time comes, and whatever they ask me to do I’ll be willing to do it.
Is there a special feeling to know you’re the third offensive lineman chosen since 2011?
It feels great. They obviously have a great offensive line already and it is going to be fun to join that group and help out any way I can.
Does it feel weird coming into a new situation after four years as left tackle at Notre Dame?
Yeah, it’s a little different, but I went through it going to college. Everyone has to do it, but it has been a few years since I’ve had to play this role.
Have you had the chance to talk to Travis Frederick or Tyron Smith yet?
I have not.
Will there be a bond formed by virtue of you working alongside two other young lineman?
Yeah. Like I said, it’s already a great group and it’s going to be fun to play with some guys that are younger too.
Are you surprised that you are older than your other linemates?
Actually, my Mom asked me to look up some of the offensive lineman on the team, and I saw their birthdays and I am older than both of them. That’s a little weird.
Can you explain the transition to guard at the Senior Bowl after so many years at tackle?
I think it was a lot of the drill-work we did at Notre Dame was drill-work for the offensive line and not drills for specific positions. Besides playing in space, the techniques are not all that different. You are going to use your hands the same way and you going to come off the ball the same way. It was a pretty easy transition.
Have you watched Tyron play? What do you think of him?
I watched Tyron because I played tackle in college, so last year I watched him. He is unbelievable; really fun to watch. I was able to watch a lot of him last year.
Any specific memories of time spent with the Cowboys at the Senior Bowl or at the combine?
I met with them in the ‘train station’ at the combine. I remember that. I met with Coach Pollack there, and like I said I was able to come down for the team visit and get to know all the coaches and staff. I would say being down here a few weeks ago was my big visit with them.
What are some of the challenges you will face moving inside?
I haven’t had as much experience at it. Obviously I played tackle my entire career, so that will be the biggest change; just getting experience and getting reps for wherever they put me.
Do you like to play a particular side of the line?
It doesn’t really matter which side.
Looking back, was it a good decision to stay an extra year at Notre Dame to be with your brother?
Yeah, especially sitting here in front of you guys, it’s an even better decision now. We would have liked to win some more games last year, but I had a great year with my little brother and feel like I developed a lot more as a player.
Can you talk about having played all five positions on the offensive line?
I think that was one of my strengths in this whole process, was my versatility. I haven’t played center ever in a game, but I’ve snapped for teams. I was able to play some guard in the senior bowl and then obviously everyone has seen me at tackle. I think that was my biggest strength that I wasn’t tagged as one specific position and teams were confident that I could play multiple spots.
Did you show any teams that you can play center?
At our pro day I snapped for a while.
How much do you feel the Senior Bowl helped you?
I think it helped a lot. I’ve played against some great competition throughout my career, but to be able to go and you know, for some team, the coaches, it’s their first time ever seeing you. They may not even have seen your tape yet, so it’s great to make a first impression in the meetings. It’s the first time they get to see you in that aspect too. I think it helped a great deal.
Was putting on the Cowboys cap as special a feeling as donning the Notre Dame cap?
Yeah, absolutely. At Notre Dame you’re in the spotlight a little bit. Obviously being down here you’re definitely in the spotlight. Notre Dame kind of introduced you to some of these things, like the media, and just being in that spotlight, so absolutely.
Is it about the spotlight…or the tradition?
There’s obviously the tradition. Notre Dame’s tradition is second to none, and obviously Dallas’ is too. There’s a lot of correlations that go around with the organization and Notre Dame’s program.
Did Jerry Jones talk to the team when you were here at Cowboys Stadium with Notre Dame?
He didn’t speak to the team, but I remember coming down here for the game. It was obviously pretty fun, we had a big win.
How excited are you for minicamp?
I’m anxious to get out there and show coaches and guys what I can do. Just kind of test my game against that next level competition and show them what I can bring to the team.
Was high school the last time you were injured?
Yeah, I had mono in high school and missed a game, but I haven’t missed a game for serious injuries.
Does having played 52 straight games at Notre Dame serve as a source of pride?
Yeah, absolutely. I think the biggest thing in that is that my teammates knew I was going to be out there every week. They knew I was going to be doing my job and they could count on me being on the field.
Does it feel a little better to be able to dress casually instead of a suit and tie?
This is definitely more me, more laid back. Especially, I figured if I was wearing a suit I’d be sweating profusely.
Compared to Travis Frederick your beard is not as long.
No, I need to work on it a little bit I think.
Will it be tough to be remembered as the guy who came to Texas and not the overhyped Quarterback from College Station?
I think I can do a lot for this team. I think I can help this team a lot. To tell you the truth, I really haven’t thought about that whole comparison really at all until today when someone else brought it up to me. I’m not worried about that, I’m just here to compete and do whatever I can to help the team.
And with that we say, ‘Welcome to Texas Zack.’ See you at mini camp.