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Illinois LB Martez Wilson the Newest Saint with the 72nd Pick

The Saints selected Illinois LB Martez Wilson with the 72nd selection of the 2011 NFL Draft Friday night.

One of the most coveted defenders in the country coming out of high school, the 2010 season saw Wilson live up to those lofty expectations. He earned All-Big Ten Conference first-team honors in 2010, a season that catapulted him among the top inside linebacker prospects eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft.

The Illini defense started off strong but struggled in midseason during the 2010 campaign. As a team leader, he worked hard to help his teammates regain their edge. By the end of the year, the Illini unit finished 38th in the nation in total defense (351.31 ypg), 32nd in rush defense (130.77 ypg) and 48th in scoring defense (23.46 ppg). These numbers represented a vast improvement from the 2009 season, when Wilson missed the majority of the year with an injury and was granted a medical redshirt. Without their defensive leader, Illinois ranked 91st nationally in total defense (403.25 ypg), 76th in rush defense (154.42 ypg) and 96th in scoring defense (30.17 ppg) with Wilson sidelined.

At Simeon Career Academy, Wilson was a consensus five-star prospect. Parade, USA Today, Super Prep and Prep Star All-American was rated the second-best defensive end prospect in the nation by both and He was ranked sixth on the ESPN Top-150 list and rated the 21st-best player in the country by Prep Star.

The Champaign News-Gazette first-team All-State pick was regarded as the best player in the Midwest by the Detroit Free Press. rated him the state of Illinois’ top prep prospect and 22nd overall on their national ranking chart. He was a member of the Chicago Tribune All-State and Chicago Sun-Times All-Public League and All-Area teams. Hewas also named Super Prep’s Midwest Defensive Player of the Year.

Wilson added Super Prep Elite 50 honors after he finished his senior season with 240 tackles, seven sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery. On offense, he made 42 catches for 1,005 yards and nine touchdowns. As a junior, he earned All-Metro honors from the Chicago Sun-Times, as he compiled 99 tackles, 20 for loss, 18 sacks, seven forced fumbles and an interception in 2005. He also ran track, specializing in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

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