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Eric Peterson, Published January 03 2013

Bison transfer cornerback Andre Martin to play in a FCS title game

Frisco, Texas - Andre Martin experienced the national championship game last season – on television.

“I was at home wishing I was in this position, wishing I could play, looking at those guys,” said the North Dakota State senior cornerback, who transferred to NDSU from Northern Iowa prior to this season.

Martin will get that wish Saturday when the Bison play Sam Houston State for the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision title at FC Dallas Stadium.

“It’s really hard especially for a fifth-year senior to come into a new program that’s a rival program,” said Bison defensive coordinator Chris Klieman. “It shows the character of Andre Martin and what kind of kid he is. He’s an easily acceptable person. He’s a great person.”

Martin, who started his playing career at Northern Iowa, earned his degree from UNI last spring. The school didn’t have the master’s program that he wanted to pursue, so that’s how Martin ended up at NDSU for his senior season.

Martin started 23 and played in 36 games while at Northern Iowa.

“It’s been a work of God, for everything to fall into place,” said Martin, who starts at cornerback opposite All-American Marcus Williams. “It’s been a lot of work, a lot of sacrifice that has been involved. It’s been a heck of a ride. You can’t ask for anything better.”

Klieman, a former UNI assistant, coached Martin for three seasons at Northern Iowa before Klieman joined the Bison staff for the 2011 season. Martin said Klieman was the reason he watched last year’s championship game so closely because he wanted to see how his former coach was doing.

“I just wanted to see how his team was playing so I had to tune in,” Martin said.

The transition into the Bison program has been smooth for Martin, who has had a memorable senior season in more than just football. His wife, Nadia, gave birth to their daughter Ataliya Martin in September. Coincidentally, Ataliya was born in the week leading up to the NDSU’s game at Northern Iowa.

Martin’s fellow Bison defensive backs organized a team drive to get baby essentials for the young family. They left a gift box next to Martin’s locker.

“It’s been amazing just being able to be a part of these guys,” Martin said. “It’s funny how we clicked together and meshed. It’s been a beautiful thing.”

Bison senior safety Bobby Ollman was part of the Bison championship run last season and is Martin’s roommate on the trip. Ollman said it’s been fun to see Martin experience the championship build-up for the first time.

“Right away he looked at the schedule and was like, ‘What’s this? What’s this? What’s this?’” Ollman said. “I’d explain a couple things to him. He’s really excited to be here. It was kind of like the freshmen who were new here, too.”

Martin wasn’t in the starting lineup at the beginning of the season, but earned a starting spot by Game 3. The 5-foot-10, 191-pound Martin, who is from St. Louis, has 44 tackles and leads the team with six pass breakups.

Martin and Ollman are the only two senior starters on the Bison defense.

“He’s had a great season for us and I couldn’t be happier for him to come here and get a chance to play for a national championship,” Klieman said. “He fit in extremely well because two things you know about Andre Martin: He’s going to work extremely hard and he’s a loyal guy.”

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Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com