The longer answer is that he was a stellar cornerback for an NAIA school but wanted to see if he could cut it in the big-time world of the Pac-10.
It would seem that he’s having an impact at Ol’ Wazzu. Twice in the last three weeks, this 5-11, 177-pound junior from Riverside, Calif., has earned WSU’s scout team defensive player of the week honors.
Anthony Martinez isn’t your typical walk on. The majority grew up in the Pacific Northwest and come to Pullman directly out of high school, eschewing the call of smaller schools in the hopes of growing into a bona fide major- conference player.
Not so with Martinez. He walked on at WSU in 2009 after a standout season at Rocky Mountain College, a tiny liberal arts school in Billings, Mont. He earned honorable mention all-league honors at Rocky Mountain and was 15th in the nation in interceptions (five) at the NAIA level in 2008. But it wasn’t enough.
And now he’s at Washington State. Martinez is the prototype unsung hero -- one of the guys who toils far from the limelight, fueled purely by love of the game. He comes to practice every day with a focus on making the first- and second-string players better, and positioning himself for one day getting that shot at playing on Saturdays.
Martinez is one of three Cougars who have earned scout team player of the week honors twice this season. The others are defensive end Matthew Bock, a second-year walk on from Santa Margarita Catholic (Calif.) High; and much-touted on-scholarship freshman quarterback Connor Halliday of Spokane’s Ferris High. Bock, by the way, earned scout team defensive player of the week plaudits twice last season, too.
Martinez and Bock are hoping to follow in a long line of WSU walk ons who have made it into prime time on game day. Four notable contributors on this year’s team – Myron Beck, Jeffrey Solomon, Zach Enyeart and Casey Hamlett – came to WSU as walk ons.
Three Cougar walk ons from yesteryear went on to earn first-team All-American honors: center Geoff Reece in 1974; kicker Drew Dunning in 2003; and kicker Jason Hanson in 1989 and 1991. WSU's 1998 Rose Bowl team featured five starters whose careers began as walk ons: Cory Withrow, Rian Lindell, Lee Harrison, Todd Nelson and Shawn Tims. Withrow and Lindell have gone on to long NFL careers.
Other notable Cougar walks on over the years included Don Sweet, Paul Watson, Gavin Hedrick, Tim Davey, Kyle Basler, Mawuli Davis, Scott Lunde, Tomasi Kongaika, Mike Shelford, Josh Duin, 2008 starting offensive lineman Brian Danaher, current WSU co-defensive coordinator Jody Sears, and former Chicago Bears running back Ken Grandberry.