Name, (School - Year), Height, Weight,
Steven Jackson (Oregon State - 3JR) 6'3"
Second leading returning rusher in D-IA from 2002, he broke the
Beavers single-season rushing record with 1,690 yards.
Started were he left off last season, piling up six straight 100-yard
games, including 227 yards and 2 TDs on the ground, and another
TD receiving, in a win at California. After that, both the team
and Jackson struggled for a couple weeks. He was held under 100
yards and without a TD for the first time in a lose vs. Washington,
producing only 49 yards on 22 carries. Then he was held to 22-85-0
in a lose at Washington State the following week. After watching
Jackson tear through the early schedule, teams started stacking
the line and daring inconsistent QB Derek Anderson to beat them.
The team got back on track in a blowout of Arizona, where Jackson
had his 1st career 4-TD game, going 28-107-3 on the ground and 2-26-1
through the air. After a bye week, he ran all over Stanford, chalking
up his 18th career 100-yard game, going 22-152-1. He was limited
to 68 and 62 rushing yards, respectively, in big loses at Oregon
and at USC, but scored a TD in each and contributed in the passing
game, as the team fought from behind through the air. Finished the
year leading the PAC-10 in rushing attempts, yards, and TDs. Returned
home for Las Vegas Bowl and went out with a bang. He tied a Bowl
record, and set an Oregon State record, with 5 touchdowns in the
game. That also tied him with Larry Fitzgerald for most D-IA TDs
with 22. His Vegas Bowl line was 28-149-4 rushing and 5-51-1 receiving.
Not surprisingly, he declared for the draft after the game.
2003 PAC-10 1st Team All-Conference and AP 3rd Team All-American.
He has the prototypical build of a feature back and can handle the
workload, including being a very good receiver. Speed to get the
edge and breakaway, combined with size to bowl between the tackles,
he offers the complete package as a runner. He carries similar concerns
about his upright running style that Eddie George and Larry Johnson
did, and also could hit the hole faster, but the positives attributes
far outweigh the questions. Solid workouts will insure this workhorse
is a first round pick, if not the first back taken.
Kevin Jones (Virginia Tech - 3JR) 6'0"
After bursting on the scene as a true freshman in 2001, followers
of college football have been waiting to see what Kevin Jones can
do with Lee Suggs out of the picture. Finished 2002 with 160-874-9
as a back-up to Suggs.
Started off a bit slow, missing an opportunity to bolster his stats
when he had to leave the game vs. James Madison early, after a frightening
injury. He hurt both hands when he was driven into a concrete wall
out of bounds. His backup, 3SO Cedric Humes, ran for 75 yards and
3 TDs after replacing Jones in the second quarter. Fortunately,
Jones suffered no serious damage and came back the next week with
188 yards and 3 TDs against Texas A&M. He was also limited to
12 carries, and just a half of work, in a blowout of UConn, allowing
Humes to get some more reps, after Jones averaged 8.8 for 105 yards.
Their Big East opener against Syracuse was a big victory featuring
2 long TD runs for Jones and 131 yards on just 19 carries. After
a bye week, perhaps looking forward to Miami, the Hokies were upset
at WVU and he was upstaged by Quincy Wilson. VaTech fell behind
early and couldn't get an offensive rhythm going against the Mountaineers,
limiting Jones to 11-57-0. The following week, in the biggest game
of his career as a starter, he came up huge. The Hokies threw only
8 passed, riding Jones and great defense to a dominating win over
Miami. He rushed for 24-126-1, bursting through holes and getting
the corner on Miami's fast and athletic defense. The week after
that, he had the best performance of the year, but the team came
up short at Pittsburgh. Jones ran for a VaTech record 241 yards
on 30 carries, with 4 TDs, including taking one 80 yards. He followed
that career performance up at Temple with his 7th 100-yard game
of the season, a Hokie record. He ended with 28-150-1 in an OT win
over Temple, playing through sickness the entire game, throwing
up a few times on the sidelines. While he kept running strong, including
contributing in the passing game, he couldn't stop the Hokies from
ending the season with a three-game losing streak. He went 24-165-3
on the ground and 3-57-0 through the air in a lose to BC, then 25-75-2
and 3-41-0 going down at Virginia, and finally 16-153-1 and 4-25-0
in their Insight Bowl lose to Cal. Prior to their Bowl Game, he
declared for the draft. He finished the season with nine 100-yard
games, and in a Big East stocked with talented RBs, second in rushing
yards and first in TDs, with 21.
2003 Big East 1st Team All-Conference, AP 2nd Team All-American,
TSN 1st Team All-American, and Walter Camp All-American. He's a
tough, but smooth runner with explosion. A natural running with
the ball, his cuts are effortless and once he bounces outside, he's
up field quickly, with the speed to go all the way. He's not used
much in the passing game, so he'll have to work on catching the
ball to be a complete back at the next level. His overall athleticism
is great, and should impress in workouts, insuring a first round
pick, if not the first RB picked overall.
Greg Jones (FSU - 4SR) 6'1" 250 4.55
Displayed great skills for a large back and soared up draft boards
as a potential early entry in 2002. Led Seminoles in rushing yards
(938) and rushing TDs (10), despite playing only 9 games. Missed
final five games after tearing his right ACL against Wake Forest
in ninth game of last season (11/2/02).
Despite not seeing many carries, he started off the season well
at UNC and against Maryland, going 8-59-1 and 14-88-2, respectively.
He then had a miserable 13 yards on 14 carries against Georgia Tech
and an unimpressive outing against Colorado. He bounced back at
Duke, posting 8-79-1. After the bye week, he managed only 15 yards
on 13 carries in monsoon condition against Miami. He posted perhaps
his best overall game of the season, putting up 96 yards on a season-high
20 carries at Virginia. He had 36 yards in the final 6 minutes,
demonstrating the ability to wear down a defense and securing victory
grinding out yards in a close game. He then had a solid 12-50-1
effort against Wake Forest. However, the next two weeks, he struggled
mightily again. He totaled only 21 yards on 14 carries at ND and
Clemson. His last two regular season games were solid, but unspectacular,
performances in wins against NC State and at Florida. Ran strong
in Orange Bowl loss to Miami, but inexplicably only saw 6 carries,
gaining 38 yards, in a close game. Obliterated All-World safety
Sean Taylor on one run, knocking him over like he was a blocking
dummy. He finished the season leading the Seminoles in rushing attempts,
yards, and TDs, but his 144-618-7 was disappointing and his ypc
was the lowest on the team.
His limited touches and struggles weren't alarming in the beginning
of the season. After missing spring ball while still rehabbing from
his knee injury, they presumably wanted to ease him back. This was
facilitated by some blowout victories, allowing opportunities for
the extremely talented stable of young RBs behind him. 3SO Willie
Reid, 2FR Lorenzo Booker, and 2SO Leon Washington were all producing
well. However, after his disappointing showing in the Miami game,
it was apparent he wouldn't regain the feature role and couldn't
be leaned on to carry the team. He was frequently outperformed by
the younger backs, and although their emergence was impressive,
as a player with NFL aspirations, such shouldn't have been the case
for Jones. Although he and the team denied it, the knee appeared
not to be fully recovered. He didn't start practicing without a
brace until the ninth week of the season. The OLine did have four
new starters and was hit by injuries, but it didn't seem to affect
the other backs as much. Tremendous showing during Senior Bowl practices,
where his running skills were impressive and his physique was unparalleled.
His receiving skills are a weakness, leaving some talk that he may
just be a two-down back in the NFL. He is a capable blocker with
a willingness to take on the task, but disliked working in a fullback
during Senior Bowl week. His performance in the actual Senior Bowl
game was tremendous. Combined with his practice week, he may have
pushed himself back into early Day One. How his knee checks out
and how much speed it has cost him could move him once again, after
the Combine and FSU's Pro Day.
Cedric Cobbs (Arkansas - 5SR) 6'0"
After posting the best freshman season ever by an Arkansas RB in
1999, people were expecting a Heisman contender. However, injuries
and off-field problems dampened the fanfare around him and have
hampered him since. In 2000, a separated shoulder in the third game
ended his season early and resulted in a redshirt. The following
year, a hamstring injury cost him two games early in the season
and he never regained the feature role. In early 2002, an arrest
for a variety of driving infractions and marijuana possession almost
got him kicked off the team. He started the first four games in
2002, but a toe injury cost him four games in the middle of the
season and he saw limited actions the rest of the season.
He started 2003 sharing carries with 3SO De'Arrius Howard, but
his performance steadily got him most of the work. Started the season
with four straight 100-yard games and a score in each, including
season-highs of 36 carries and 198 yards at Alabama. Showcased breakaway
ability with long runs against Tulsa and in a huge upset at Texas,
as well as bruising running between the tackles at Alabama. His
success and the team's four-game winning streak ended against Auburn.
The Tiger's strong defense was the first to hold him under 100 yards
and without a score, although he did have a 68-yard run called back
for holding. Got back on track the next week vs. Florida, going
14-88-1 in the first half, before pulling a hamstring that ended
his day. Missed the game at Mississippi the following week with
the hamstring injury and saw very limited action (9-46-0) in a 7-OT
win at Kentucky the week after that. With Cobbs limited and Howard
hurt, 3JR DeCori Birmingham, a converted WR, rose to the occasion.
Birmingham posted 40-196-2 in the Kentucky win. Cobbs saw more work
the next week, going 15-51-0, but Birmingham was the rushing star
again. In a blowout of New Mexico State, QB Matt Jones had the big
rushing day, while Cobbs had only 7-35-0, seeing just one carry
the rest of the game after a 1st quarter fumble. Came back the following
week with a 30-150-2 effort against Miss. State, going over the
1,000-yard mark in a season for the first time in his collegiate
career. Found early success at LSU, tying the game at 17 with a
20-yard 2nd quarter TD run on a drive in which he also had a 61-yard
run. Although LSU eventually blew them out, Cobbs finished with
21-169-1, being only the second 100-yard rusher against LSU this
season and scoring only the third rushing TD on them. Finished second
in the SEC in rushing yards. Led the Razorbacks to an Independence
Bowl victory over Missouri, rushing 27-141-1 and being named the
game's offensive MVP. It was his 7th 100-yard game of the season,
an Arkansas record, and the 11th of his career.
2003 SEC 1st Team All-Conference. While he put up fine numbers
this season, in addition to the hamstring injury, sharing carries
and a mobile QB limited his rushing stats from appearing outstanding.
He has excellent size and the power to be a tough, physical runner,
but has been labeled as soft in the past, likely due to the frequency
and duration of some of his injuries. He had a good Senior Bowl
week, but didn't run much in the game. However, he had a nice touchdown
reception, which was probably more valuable for scouts to see than
his running. Vision needs a little work, but if the hole is there
he can hit it and take off. Great straight-line speed, but not as
much quickness or ability to change directions. The issues that
have plagued his career stunted his development, so he is still
a little raw, but the physical skills and flashes he has shown are
extremely promising. Talent is on par with the top backs in this
class, but underachievers have a way of falling on draft day. Should
be a Day One pick on measurables and potential.
Chris Perry (Michigan - 4SR) 6'0" 225
Shared carries with B.J. Askew in 2001, replacing Michigan's all-time
leading rusher, Anthony Thomas. In 2002, saw the bulk of the work,
posting 1,110 yards and 14 TDs.
A tremendous start to 2003, he had 549 yards rushing and 8 total
TDs in first 3 games. Talk of a National Championship and Heisman
Trophy was disrupted in Oregon. Perry gained only 26 yards rushing
against the Ducks, starting a run of 6 games where he compiled just
545 rushing yards and 6 total TDs. He'd blown up against the inferior
competition and played average vs. ranked teams. That changed at
Michigan State. In a win over their ranked in-state rival, Michigan
literally rode him to victory. Perry had a Michigan-record 51 carries,
finishing with a TD and 219 yards at MSU. Unable to achieve back-to-back
100-yard games since the first 3 games of the season, he corrected
that the following week, with 22-125-2 at Northwestern. His last
Big Game against OSU punctuated his season and propelled him back
into the Heisman race, rushing for 31-154-2 and catching 5-55-0,
he was the most dominant player on the field that day, shredding
the Buckeyes defense. Finished leading the Big 10 in rushing carries
and yards, and second in rushing TDs, with eight 100-yard games.
Did not find much running room in Rose Bowl loss to USC, putting
up 23-85-1, his worst day since the lose at Oregon.
2003 Big Ten 1st Team All-Conference and Offensive Player of the
Year, AP 1st Team All-American, TSN 1st Team All-American, Walter
Camp All-American, Doak Walker Award winner, and Heisman finalist.
He has ideal size and is an excellent receiver out of the backfield,
but speed and quality of supporting cast (as far as contributing
to his accomplishments) will be questions on the road to the draft.
Decision to not attend Senior Bowl on his agent's advice may have
hurt him, as scouts would have liked to have seen him measure up
with top competition to answer some of those questions. He'll be
a Day One pick, but I'd be surprised to see him go in the first
Michael Turner (Northern Illinois - 4SR)
5'10" 235 4.41
When Thomas Hammock's productive career was cut short, "The
Burner" set the MAC on fire in 2002. Went over 200-yard mark
five times, finishing the season with 1,915 yards and 19 TDs.
Entered 2003 season as the leading returning rusher in the nation.
Held in check in the season opener against Maryland with "just"
90 yards. However, he still helped the team to a huge upset victory,
including a key play late in the game, turning a screen into a 41-yard
gain. He exploded the next three games, including 27-156-0 in another
upset win at Alabama. With the team on a five-game winning streak
, he had his best performance of the year at Central Michigan. He
finished with 199 yards on 7.1 ypc and 2 TDs in a come from behind
win. He followed that up with 35-173-1 and 1-38-1 against Western
Michigan. The next week, NIU's undefeated season and his dark horse
Heisman hopes crashed at Bowling Green. They limited him to only
87 yards and kept him out of the end zone. He and team rebounded
against Ball State, where he had 24-126-2 on the ground, topping
100 yards by halftime, and a season-high 3-52-1 through the air.
He opened the game at Buffalo with a 60-yard run and was over 100
yards in the 1st quarter. He finished with 19-163-2 rushing and
2-12-1 receiving. The team had another let down the following week
at Toledo, but Turner did his part, going 32-177-1. Finished the
regular season with 25-166-3, his 21st career 100-yard game, against
Eastern Michigan. He finished the season leading the MAC in rushing
yards and tied for second in rushing TDs, helping the Huskies to
only their second 10-win season in team history.
2003 MAC 1st Team All-Conference, AP and TSN 2nd Team All-American.
Turner lacks some elusiveness, but is a very strong north-south
runner with speed, able to run over or by defenders. There is some
skepticism in most of his production being done against mid-major
competition. However, he had a solid showing against Maryland, a
tremendous performance at Alabama this year, and one against Wisconsin
last year. Those games, along with the improved perception of the
competition in the MAC, will help him. Decent receiver in college,
but struggled in all phases of the passing game, including blocking,
during Senior Bowl practices. Adds value as capable kick returner.
In a class where a lot of the talented RBs are undersized, his potential
as a feature back makes him a project worth a Day One pick.
Maurice Clarett (Ohio State - 2SO) 5'11"
After one of the most dynamic debuts of a true freshman in history,
helping lead his team to a National Championship, his collegiate
career came to an abrupt end. Off-field troubles led to a suspension
for the season, which prompted Clarett to sue the NFL, challenging
the requirement that a player be out of high school for 3 years
before entering. He won, but there are serious questions about character
and maturity, as well as the issues of his lack of durability and
exaggerated OSU measurables. He finished 2002 with 1,237 yards rushing
on a 5.6 average and 18 total TDs.
Tatum Bell (Oklahoma State - 4SR) 5'11"
Replaced 3JR Seymore Shaw when Shaw was injured early last year
and quickly emerged. Bell got on the radar of scouts putting up
great games in the heart of the Big 12 schedule, posting 100-yard
games in 6 of the Cowboys last 7 games and a 1,000-yard season.
Struggled in lose at Nebraska in the 2003 season opener, but then
pasted 215 yards and 3 TDs on Wyoming and 143 yards and 4 TDs on
SW Missouri. He was out of the picture in Rashaun Woods record-breaking
7-TD game at SMU. The next week, he lost a fumble on his second
carry against Louisiana-Lafayette, and didn't get back on the field.
2SO Vernand Morency went on to rush for 189 yards and 2 TDs in a
blowout victory. Bell got back on track the following week, leading
the team to an upset over KSU with 28-143-2. Even bigger things
followed, as he put up back-to-back 3 TD games against Texas Tech
and at Texas A&M, gaining 238 and 196 yards rushing, respectively.
This made him only the third player with back-to-back 1,000-yard
seasons in OSU history. In a drubbing at Oklahoma, he had only 23
yards on 6 carries in the first half, all in the 1st quarter, before
Shaw and Morency got chances to be equally ineffective. Bell finished
with 22-122-0, but most of that was in garbage time late the game,
when it was no longer competitive. He was limited to 37 yards in
another blowout against Texas the following week, having to leave
in the 1st quarter with a sprained ankle. Missed the last two games
of the regular season with the ankle injury. With Shaw also injured,
Morency put up back-to-back 200-yard games in wins. Returned for
Cotton Bowl, but was outperformed by Morency, who he split carries
evenly with. Bell finished with 14-46-1, to Morency's 15-59-2 in
the lose to Mississippi.
2003 Big XII 1st Team All-Conference. It has been a roller coaster
ride this season for Bell, with him unable to end on a positive
note. In the media, he remained in the shadow of teammate Rashaun
Woods, but he will not be overlooked on draft day. Fumbling has
also been a problem for him, and it plagued him during Senior Bowl
practices. However, his speed and running skills impressed, and
overall he helped himself at Senior Bowl week. An excellent athletic
specimen with plenty of speed should make for good workouts. He
tends to bounce outside too early and will have to improve running
between the tackles, but has great acceleration to the hole and
down field, once he's bounced outside. At the low end of ideal size
for a feature back, although he can add weight to his frame, but
combined with his fumbling, he may be looked at as a change of pace
back who'll be challenged to prove he can carry the load.
Julius Jones (ND - 5SR) 5'10" 210 4.5
The brother of TB RB Thomas Jones was an impact player since he
stepped on the field as a true freshman in 1999. He was the leading
rusher for ND in 2000 and 2001, as well as being one of the top
kick and punt returners in the nation. What should have been a huge
junior year in 2002 as the feature RB, ended before it started when
he was dismissed for academic reasons.
Reinstated with the team for the 2003 season, however with 3JR
Ryan Grant's breakout season in his place last year, Jones was second
on the depth chart. He started the year big with 11-72-1 in a win
over Washington State, quickly forcing a full-fledged RBBC with
Grant, and eventually earning the bulk of the running chores. The
team struggled over the next few games. In dropping 3 straight to
Big Ten rivals Michigan, MSU, and Purdue, Jones posted only 80 rushing
yards and no TDs. Then he reminded people what all the hype was
about his first three years, when he set a ND single-game record
at Pittsburgh with 262 yards rushing, averaging more than a first
down per carry (10.9) and scoring 2 TDs. He followed that up with
18-84-1 in a blowout lose to USC. Against FSU, he found some running
room early, but the passing game couldn't keep up. ND went down
17-0 in the 1st quarter and he did little, until he broke a 30-yarder
when the game was over in the 4th quarter, to finish with 76 yards
rushing. The following week against Navy, he had his second 200-yard
game of the season, only the fourth ND back to accomplish that.
He finished 33-221-2, including a 48-yard TD run. He posted 161
yard and 3 TDs on a career-high 35 carries against BYU. At Stanford,
he set an ND record with his third 200-yard game, finishing with
218 on just 23 carries, for a 9.5 ypc average and a TD. In that
game, he also became the eighth ND RB to rush for 1,000 yards in
a season. He finished his ND career with a disappointing 54 yards
on 20 carries at Syracuse.
The running game struggled due to an unstable QB situation and
the loss of four starters from last year on the OLine. As both developed
and improved later in the season, he was able to find running room
more consistently. Typically it is a media bonanza for a player
to excel at ND, but the struggles of the team impacted his exposure
through the season. A strong Senior Bowl week helped his value,
displaying great instincts and running skills. His outstanding athletic
ability and potential he flashed should have him highly-regarded
by scouts. His tremendous return abilities should help him find
work immediately on Sundays next year, with an opportunity to work
his way into the running game.
Mewelde Moore (Tulane - 4SR) 5'10"
He was one of the most productive offensive players in the country
as a sophomore in 2001. First player in NCAA history to rush for
more than 1,250 and catch more than 60 receptions, and was third
in nation with 2,259 all-purpose yards. Targeted as a likely early
entry, and high selection, for 2002 draft coming into last season,
he seemed to get lost in the post-Patrick Ramsey plan. He still
posted 1,138 rushing and 545 receiving last year, but it was a bit
of a let down from his previous year.
The D-1A active career rushing and all-purpose yardage leader,
returned for his senior season in 2003. With another strong QB leading
the team in J.P. Losman, he got off to a decent start and gained
steam into the season, despite a bad defense and Losman's bouts
of inconsistency this year. He had a streak of 5 straight 100-yard
games, including 114 rushing yards and 2 TDs in a loss at Texas.
Then, in an unfortunate ending to a tremendous collegiate career,
Moore broke his hand 11/1/03 in a loss to Navy. He had surgery and
missed the rest of the regular season. He finished with 185-915-5
and 39-408-4. Ended as the leading career rusher in Tulane and Conference
2003 Conference USA 1st Team All-Conference. Drafted by Padres
in 4th round of 2000 MLB draft, he has played in their minor league
system, but appears committed to football. He doesn't possess tremendous
speed or great size, but turns in incredible all-around production,
a collegiate Marshall Faulk. His pass receiving skills were the
best displayed by a RB during Senior Bowl practices and he did well
running in the game. A natural athlete, he has exceptional coordination
and instincts. However, his college career has gone in the wrong
direction since his breakthrough in 2001. He is a lock to find an
opportunity as a third-down back, but may be pigeon-holed into that
roll on a team who views him as a bit undersized.
Brandon Miree (Pittsburgh - 5SR) 6'0"
Alabama transfer quickly impressed and emerged in his first active
season with Pitt in 2002. Finished last season with 100+ yards in
4 of the last 5 games, including great efforts in a near upset of
Miami, an upset of VA Tech, and a bowl win over Oregon State. Without
the clear starting role until the second half of the season, he
still compiled 943 yards and 4 TDs on the ground in 2002.
Picked up where he left off this season, with 186 yards rushing
and 4 TDs in his first two games. Then suffered a severe deep bruise
in his right calf and stress fracture in a loss at Toldeo the third
game, 9/20/03. He finished the game, but missed the next 2 months.
He returned with a bang in a win at Temple, rushing for a career-high
188 yards and helping the Panthers to an early lead with 2 TDs in
the 1st quarter. He might have had a third TD on a 76-yard run late
in the first half, but lost his shoe near the line of scrimmage
and was caught. A week later he was held to just 10 carries for
27 yards in a loss to Miami. While Larry Fitzgerald failed to keep
his TD streak alive against Virginia in the Continental Tire Bowl,
but Miree grabbed a TD pass. He rushed for 110 yards and getting
43 more, and the TD, receiving.
Overlooked talent with all the media focus being on Larry Fitzgerald,
as demonstrated in not receiving a Combine invite. However, his
injury also contributed to that. Participated in the Gridiron Classic,
where he had a nice 4-yard run for the North's first TD, but he
injured his hamstring shortly after, and finished the day with just
3 rushes for 7 yards and 1-17-0 receiving. Very physical downhill
runner who uses his size well, hits the hole hard, and has displayed
adequate hands as a receiver. He heads into workouts with only a
partial body of work in college to judge him on, but has size and
potential to be a feature RB.
Quincy Wilson (West Virginia - 5SR) 5'9"
Otis Wilson's son ran for 901 yards at 6.4 ypc in 2002, good for
eighth most rushing yards in the Big East, despite being Avon Cobourne's
back-up. Some WVU followers thought the bigger and faster Wilson
was already better than Cobourne last year.
Held off highly-regarded JUCO transfer 3JR Kay Jay Harris in camp
this year. Started the 2003 season decently, with 99 yards and 2
TDs in a loss to Wisconsin and 147 yards on 7.7 ypc in a win at
East Carolina. Struggled a bit the next two games, before taking
off. He had 142 yards from scrimmage and 2 TDs, including a spectacular
33-yard TD on a screen where he knocked down a few defenders, in
a near upset at Miami. That game propelled his national status and
began a tremendous run for he and Mountainers. He followed that
up with 3 straight 100-yard days, including 33-178-1 in an upset
of VA Tech. That streak ended at BC, where he was held to 19-73-0.
However, he went over 1,000 yards for the season that game, and
the team continued winning. He bounced back with a career night
against Pittsburgh, posting 34-208-4 in another upset win. He put
up 105 at Syracuse, helping lead the Moutaineers to their first
victory in the Carrier Dome in a decade. He sat out the regular
season finale with a sore ankle. His efforts helped WVU to a share
of their first conference title since 1993, their first seven-game
winning streak since 1996, and a bowl appearance, their first New
Year's Day bowl since 1996. Unfortunately, his Gator Bowl performance
was disappointing, putting up only 49 yards on 12 carries and was
outperformed by Harris in a loss to Maryland.
2003 Big East 1st Team All-Conference and AP 3rd Team All-American.
After the disappointing end to his season, failed to reverse the
momentum towards the draft in the Shrine Classic. Weather limited
practice and he saw only 2 carries for 0 yards in the game. A physical
runner with power, he is very strong for his size. However, he has
less than ideal size for a feature RB, so he may not be able to
run with as much authority between the tackles at the next level.
Without the great speed or elusiveness that some smaller backs pack,
he will be physically challenged to achieve similar results He is
a hard-worker in the off-season and has excellent conditioning,
qualities that should help stick on a roster.
Adimchinobe Echemandu (California - 5SR)
6'0" 225 4.65
Missed last two seasons with academic ineligibility and a knee injury
(torn ACL and lateral meniscus in 4/24/02).
His 147 yards in a stunning upset of USC was the first 100-yard
rushing day they had allowed in 16 games. He followed that up with
a 146 yard and 2 TD rushing day against Oregon State in a match-up
with top RB prospect Steven Jackson, who also had a huge day. His
best day was a career-high 201 yards and 3 TDs in a blowout of AZ.
He severely sprained his ankle in the game at Orgeon on 11/8, and
missed the game against Washington the following week. He returned
at Stanford for the Big Game, helping Cal to their second-straight
win over the Cardinal and clinch their first bowl appearance since
1996 with a 16-87-1 rushing day. He was held to only 34 yards on
13 attempts, but did contribute a TD run in their Insight Bowl victory
over Virginia Tech. However, he left the game early with a leg injury.
He was second in rushing attempts, yards, and TDs in the PAC-10.
2003 PAC-10 1st Team All-Conference. After a troubled start to
his career, he became an everyday name, albeit a challenging one,
on the RB lists of NFL scouts. His solid production is more impressive
considering HC Jeff Tedford is known for his passing schemes and
molding NFL QBs, bringing in top JUCO QB Aaron Rodgers in 2003,
after losing Kyle Boeller. A former sprinter in track, he has put
on 25 pounds in college, so it is questionable if he still has ideal
NFL RB speed. If not, he could be looked at as just a goal-line
back or target to convert to fullback, as opposed to becoming the
next Nigerian Nightmare. His leg injury in the Insight Bowl hurts
greatly impacts his draft status. It was originally thought he aggravated
the sprained ankle that had bothered him much of the season, but
it turned out he broke his fibula. He had surgery and missed the
Shrine Classic game, which would have been a good chance for scouts
to get a better look at him, since they only have one season, in
which he was hampered by another injury, to evaluate him on. If
his leg is not healed and rehabbed in time for the Combine and individual
workouts, his value will fall greatly, as speed and health are two
big question marks about him.
Jason Wright (Northwestern - 4SR) 5'10"
After being converted from WR in 2001, he earned the starting tailback
job in 2002 and took off. Rushed for 1,234 and 12 TDs and grabbed
27 passes for another 266 yards last season. Very intelligent player,
2002 1st Academic Team All-American.
Started 2003 season strong, with 41-196-4 in a win at Kansas. Had
3 other 100-yard games before he suffered an ankle injury against
Wisconsin on 10/25/03, but still put up 97 and a TD on the ground
and caught a 53-yard TD pass in an upset of the Badgers. The following
week, although he got the start, the ankle limited him in a loss
at Purdue. He had only 7 rushes for 28 yards and uncharacteristically
coughed up a fumble, after 383 consecutive touches without one.
The next game against PSU, he saw only 6 carries for 21 yards and
a TD. 4JR Noah Herron carried the load, going 35-180-0. Against
Michigan, playing from behind was more responsible than lingering
ankle problems in him getting only 9-34-0. Herron also continued
to see work after his breakout. Still struggling with the ankle,
Wright had a huge day in his final Big Ten game, running for 251
yards and 4 TDs on 42 carries at Illinois. He finished his collegiate
career with another superb effort in a loss to Bowling Green in
the Motor City Bowl. He had 336 all-purpose yards, including an
88-yard kick-off return and a 77-yard TD run, finishing with 237
rushing yards. Apparently, he took offense to being called slow
by an announcer during the Hawaii Bowl, and set out to prove a point.
He did. Finished second in rushing yards and first in rushing TDs
in the Big Ten.
2003 Big Ten 2nd Team All-Conference. Overshadowed by Fred Russell
in the Hula Bowl, but was the most utilized Aina weapon, posting
a solid 43 yards on 11 carries and adding 2 passes for 17 yards.
Very instinctive with a slashing running style, is more quick and
elusive than a burner, but still has good speed. He is an excellent
receiver, solid blocker, and was one of the best kick returners
in the country in 2002 (those duties have been much more limited
this year). That type of versatility is a strength. One strike against
him is he has padded his stats against some lesser competition,
and struggled against some of the better teams, but the timing of
the ankle injury impacted that, as well.
Derrick Knight (BC - 5SR) 5'8" 200
Was not named starter until a few games into the 2002 season, but
still amassed 1,432 on the ground and 372 in the air.
The leading returning rusher in the Big East got off to a fast
start in 2003. Miami was the first team to hold him under 144 rushing
yards, in the fourth game of the season. Still had a decent performance
against them with 21-83-1 on the ground and 2-22-0 through the air
in a loss. After a couple more 150+ days, he ran into a wall at
Syracuse and against Notre Dame, rushing for less than 3 ypc and
74 yards in those two games combined, less than he amassed in any
other single game this season. The effect of carrying 20+ times
every game seemed to be catching up to him. However, he bounced
back in a loss to Pitt, posting 19-119-0 against their porous run
D. Another sub par game followed against WVU, where he went 21-79-0.
Came back with his best game of the year the following week at Rutgers,
rushing for 224 yards and 3 TDs. Didn't shy away from the spotlight
in the Big East finale at VaTech, totaling 38-197-2 and 1-37-0 in
the upset victory, while passing Mike Cloud to become the Eagles
career rushing leader. He finished his collegiate career with another
bowl victory (BC has won five straight), putting up 122 yards and
3 TDs in a San Francisco Bowl win over Colorado State. Saw only
3 attempts for 6 yards for East in Shrine Classic, but did catch
3 passes for 18 yards.
2003 Big East 2nd Team All-Conference. He struggled to get the
recognition among a group of talented RBs in the Big East, but he
was the first to 1,000 yards in the conference, and ended the season
as the conference leader in rushing attempts and yards. Typically
gave way to the larger 5SR Horace Dodd in goal-line situation, he
had only 3 TDs most of the season. A flurry of 8 in his last 3 games
gave him a respectable total for the year. Weather limited practice
time for the Shrine Classic, and he only had 6 yards rushing in
the game. However, he did grab 3 passes for 18 yards. Tremendously
talented player, his size will be a factor in the NFL. Likely to
fall in the draft because of it, his workouts, particularly his
hands and speed, will be crucial. Most likely viewed for a change
of pace and back-up role, he will need the right opportunity to
Bruce Perry (Maryland - 5SR) 5'9" 195
Burst onto the national scene in 2001 with 1,242 yards and 10 TDs
at 5.7 ypc clip, adding 40 receptions for 359 yards and 2 TDs on
his way to ACC Offensive Player of the Year. Expected to build on
that, he was recognized as a top collegiate RB heading into 2002.
However, he tore his groin in preseason, struggled with a strained
stomach muscle, and injured his shoulder on his first carry in a
game last year, which plagued him most of the season. Finished last
season with just 72-341-1 rushing.
To start 2003, injury problems returned. He suffered a high ankle
sprain in camp this year, and it continued to plague him much of
this season. 2SO Josh Allen, who performed well as a true freshman
in Perry's absence last year, was the primary ground option, generally
getting the start and outperforming Perry. Posted decent games during
the season against WVU and Georgia Tech, two solid run defenses.
He had 14-79-2 in a win vs. WVU and 17-75-0 in a loss at GT. He
built on the momentum of the GT game to have his best game of the
regular season in a blowout of North Carolina, where he rushed for
96 yards early, averaging 5.6 ypc and getting more work than Allen.
However, he aggravated his sprained ankle in the first half of that
game and did not play two weeks later against Virginia. Allen took
the opportunity to reestablish himself, rushing for a career-high
257 yards and 2 TDs. Perry returned with 8-20-0 against NC State,
again in the shadow of a strong performance by Allen. With Allen
limited by an ankle sprain, he returned to his 2001 form in the
ACC finale. He had the second 200-yard day of his career against
Wake Forest (his first against Wake in 2001), putting up 25-237-3.
Posted 67 yards on 20 carries in a route of a WVU in the Gator Bowl.
Perry carries some injury baggage and is undersized, resulting
in being overlooked for the Combine and the major all-star games.
In the Gridiron Classic he had a solid effort, posting 11-51-0 and
showing good speed around the corner. Despite his size and durability
questions, he has some skills that will excite scouts. Good acceleration
and quickness, as well as demonstrating he can catch the ball out
of the backfield, make him an ideal candidate for a third-down back
at the next level. Ability to carry the load sporadically when the
starter is down, but unlikely to be looked at as a feature back.
Troy Fleming (Tennessee - 5SR) 6'2"
Converted to a fullback at Tennessee, he hasn't seen much action
rushing, lost in a deep and talented backfield. However, he has
been reliable when he has gotten opportunities. Multi-dimensional
player, he worked to become a solid blocker, both in the running
game and pass protection, and an excellent receiver out of the backfield,
leading the Vols' RBs in receptions. Demonstrated receiving skill
leading the team in reception with 6 for 54 yards in Peach Bowl
loss to Clemson. He is a good single-back set runner, particularly
in short-yardage situations (never stopped for a loss in 34 rushing
attempts in 2002), but with tailback speed. Raw talent, but lack
of use in running game leaves him a project as a runner. He may
be looked at primarily as a fullback by scouts, but his versatility
gives him the potential to be a Mike Alstott-type player in the
NFL. Type of unheralded player in college with physical skills to
succeed, seemingly out of no where, if given a chance in the NFL.
He should impress at the Combine, and did at the Gridiron Classic.
Overlooked for the higher profile all-star events, he helped his
stock demonstrating he can be a feature back at the Gridiron Classic,
winning MVP honors by posting 19-101-2.
Fred Russell (Iowa - 4JR) 5'8" 180
Along with his team, became a surprise on the national scene last
year, rushing for 1,264 yards, 9 TDs, and All-Big Ten honors, behind
one of the best offensive lines in the country.
Continued his strong play in 2003 with an OLine that returned only
one starter, top OT prospect Rob Gallery. Had 7 100-yard games,
including 26-110-0 in an upset of Michigan. The return to health
of 4JR Jermelle Lewis began to cut into his touches. Lewis was more
productive than Russell at Purdue and against Minnesota. However,
he ended the season strong, with 137 yards and a TD in a win at
Wisconsin and 150 and a TD against Florida in an Outback Bowl win.
2003 Big Ten 2nd Team All-Conference. Extremely impressive day
at the Hula Bowl helped his stock. He was named the Aina's MVP,
putting up 101 yards on just 8 carries. He also had two touchdowns,
on 12 and 35 yard runs. Shifty back with great speed, but too small
to have great potential at the next level. For a guy whose best
chance is as a change of pace back, he hasn't shown much in the
receiving area, either.
Arandric Carthon (Florida - 5SR) 5'11"
Ran is the son of former Giant RB, and Dallas OC, Maurice Carthon.
Stuck behind Earnest Graham, he had only one career start heading
into the 2003 season.
Nominally the #1 RB heading into this season, he split time with
a talented young stable of RBs, including 2SO Ciatrick Fason and
2FR DeShawn Wynn. Had a season-high of 108 yards on 7.2 ypc in a
loss to Mississippi. Missed the 10/18/03 Arkansas game with a hamstring
injury, seeming to fall farther behind Wynn and Fason after that.
Wynn outperformed him in an upset win over Georgia and Carthon saw
only 2 carries when Fason went for 190 yards at South Carolina.
Good effort in win over FSU in regular season finale, where the
youngsters struggled. Led the team with 13-62-0 and grabbed 3 passes
for 16 yards. Quiet college finale, as the team threw over 40 times
in an Outback Bowl loss. Finished the game leading the team in rushing
Very good hands helps his value, but he isn't an exceptional talent.
Overlooked for the Combine and the major all-star games. In the
Gridiron Classic though, he took advantage of the opportunity to
showcase his skills. He finished as the South's leading yardage
gainer, posting 17-76-1 on the ground, including breaking a long
run where he showed some good moves and surprising speed. He finished
that drive off with the TD. He also caught 1 pass for 5 yards.
Jarrett Payton (Miami - 5SR) 6'2" 224
A combination of injuries and future pro talent ahead of him have
prevented Walter Payton's son from getting much of a chance to prove
himself in college.
When 3SO Frank Gore returned from a torn ACL to earn the starting
role prior to the 2003 season, it looked like he would never get
an opportunity in a feature role. However, another torn ACL for
Gore on 10/2/03 against WVU opened the door for him. After Gore
went down, Payton put up 72 yards on 22 carries and added 10 receptions
for 71 yards to secure the win. Payton was solid, but unspectacular,
the next few games. Struggling against Syracuse, after back-to-back
losses at Virginia Tech and against Tennessee, HC Larry Coker turned
to 1FR Tyrone Moss for a spark and he provided it. Payton remained
technically the starter, but Moss continued to get work. This seemed
to motivate Payton, as he elevated his play the last three games,
all wins, averaging over 6 ypc in each. He outperformed Moss against
Rutgers, posting 13-82-1. Both combined to go over 100 yards in
the Big East finale against a weak Pittsburgh defense, but Payton
was again better, with a career-best 131 yards on 17 carries and
a TD. Just missed going over 1,000 yards for the season, posting
131 yards in a rematch victory against FSU in the Orange Bowl.
Productive on his 3 carries in the Hula Bowl, totaling 18 yards.
An excellent athlete with ideal size and good speed, but he is still
very raw. He was a standout soccer player his first two years of
high school, and didn't hit the football field until his junior
year. He was a natural and excelled at that level, but he hasn't
had the chance to develop his football skills as primarily a reserve
in college. His athletic potential and name may get him a look,
but a team will have to be patient and try to develop him. It won't
be an easy road for him carrying the famous last name. The Combine
and Miami's Pro Day are likely to determine if someone will give
him that chance.
Shaud Williams (Alabama - 5SR) 5'7"
Texas Tech transfer emerged last year when Ahmaad Galloway went
down. Despite less carries, he out-produced Santonio Beard, who
shared time in replacing Galloway. Williams was a big play specialist,
with 7 plays of 25 yards or more, in 2002.
He earned sole possession of the feature back role in 2003, and
was a tremendous producer. He had five 100-yard games, including
a 40-166-1 day in a near upset of Tennessee. His final Iron Bowl
was a disappointing loss at Auburn, but Williams did his part with
93 yards on 18 carries and a 3rd quarter TD that brought them within
2 points. He closed his Alabama career with 18-105-1 on the ground
and a season-high 5 receptions for 73 yards at Hawaii. He was the
SEC leader in rushing attempts and yards.
2003 SEC 2nd Team All-Conference. His accomplishments came on a
team with few other offensive weapons, where he was viewed the primary
threat by opposing defenses. Despite his size, he carries the load
of a feature back, isn't pulled at the goal line (as evidenced by
his 14 rushing TDs, second in the SEC), and is more of a north-south
runner than darter that many backs his size are. During Senior Bowl
practices, he displayed strong receiving skills, having worked as
a WR before, and was a surprisingly effective blocker, for his size.
Unimpressive running in the game, but had a couple catches for 27
yards. He mastered 5 different offenses in his 5 years in college,
an important skill for complex and constantly changing NFL schemes.
His versatility and being a quick study could help separate him
among a large group of undersized, but skilled, RBs in this draft
Clarence Farmer (AZ, dismissed - 4SR) 6'0"
He was viewed as one of the top RBs in the nation coming into last
season, after posting 1,229-5.9-10 as a sophomore in 2001. However,
he suffered ligament damage to his left knee four games into the
season and missed the rest of 2002. On his 17 career TDs runs coming
into 2003, he averaged 25.7 yards.
He was suspended in the spring by head coach John Mackovic, and
his tenuous relationship with the coach has led to a rough start
this season. 2SO Mike Bell, who was one of Farmer's replacements
last year, led the team in rushing in the season opener. Bell injured
his arm missed a few games. Farmer failed to impress while he was
out, however Mackovic was fired. Bell returned and got more carries
than Farmer in their first game without Mackovic, but interim coach
Mike Hankwitz briefly let Farmer out of the doghouse. Farmer started
against UCLA and showed his previous form, beginning the game with
a 29-yard rush. He finished with 122 yards on 25 carries and a TD.
Despite this, Bell got the start the following week against Cal
and produced 182, most after the team was already out of the game,
while Farmer got only 7 carries, producing 21 yards. His collegiate
career prematurely came to an end, as his problems were apparently
irreconcilable with his new coach. He was dismissed from the program
10/28/03 for undisclosed reasons.
He may also pursue baseball, as he was drafted by the Dodgers,
but they lost his rights when he returned to school this fall. He
has great size, plays faster than his timed speed, and previous
accomplishments, but he now carries tremendous injury and behavior
baggage. However, a Combine invite shows there is still interest
in his skills.
Renaldo Works (OK - 4SR) 6'1" 220 4.45
Saw little work behind Quentin Griffin and 2SO Kejuan Jones in 2002.
He earned the starting tailback job for 2003 over Jones, but injured
his knee in the season opener, which got him off to a slow start
the first two games. However, he rushed for 548 yards and 8 TDs
in his next six games, including 15-112-2 in a big win at Texas.
He was outperforming Jones, but they still split carries pretty
evenly. In their intra-state match-up with Oklahoma State, he lead
the team with 103 yards in a blowout, but Jones had more carries,
especially while the game was still competitive, including 2 short-yardage
TDs. He suffered a bruised back in that game, and missed the next
two, against Texas A&M and Baylor. The back plagued him the
rest of the season, and Kejuan Jones capitalized, taking over the
workload. He returned at Texas Tech, and while he didn't get much
done on the ground (8-12-0), he had 3 receptions for 50 yards. Similarly
limited and ineffective in the Big XII Championship, going 5-4-0
on the ground. Only had 1 carry for 2 yards in Sugar Bowl loss to
LSU. Finished the season with 146-716-8.
Participated in Shrine Classic, but did not touch the ball. Despite
being the bigger back, Works was replaced by Jones in short-yardage
situations and Jones displayed a nose for the end zone that got
him involved in more key situations. Works is an intelligent kid,
earning multiple All-Academic honors. Ideal size with great measurables,
he is one of the most physically-gifted and relatively strongest
players on a team of great athletes. He is a straight-ahead runner
who has the size and strength to run through and over people, where
his breakaway speed can take over, but gets indecisive when approaching
the line. For a good sized back, he doesn't possess good tackle-breaking
ability. He has not been able to translate his smarts and athleticism
into above average football skills. If he performs as well as expected
in the Combine and at Oklahoma's Pro Day, someone will take a chance
on fitting him somewhere on the football field.
Chris Douglas (Duke - 5SR) 5'11" 190
Slowed by a hamstring for most of 2002, he finished with only 640
yards rushing after a breakout 2001.
Entered 2003 as ACC's active leading rusher, but receives little
recognition playing for a bad team that is the red-headed stepchild
program of the university. Finished the season third in the ACC
in rushing yards. Had six 100-yard games, including 2 TDs and a
career-high 218 yards on 30 carries against Georgia Tech and 29-128-0
at Tennessee. Ended his career just 10 yards short of the Duke career
2003 ACC 1st Team All-Conference. A standout on the Blue Devil
Track & Field team, he is an excellent all-around athlete who
is a decent return man and capable receiver. He brings a variety
of talents that will get more of a look if he has an impressive
Zack Abron (Missouri - 5SR) 5'9" 235
Steady progression throughout career took a leap in 2002, when he
scored 17 TDs (15 rushing and 2 receiving) to finish as one of the
nation's top scorers.
His standout games in 2003 included 139 yard, 3 TD day in a dismantling
of Texas Tech and a 19-137-1 effort wasted their Independence Bowl
loss to Arkansas. Played in the shadow of standout QB Brad Smith,
who led the team in rushing yards and TDs. Despite Smith dominating
most of the offense, finished season with five 100-yard games and
his first 1,000-yard season.
2003 Big XII 2nd Team All-Conference. Combine snub makes his road
to the NFL more challenging, so he hit the all-star circuit to showcase
himself. Made the most of 2 carries in Hula Bowl, leading the Kai
with 23 yards rushing. Also had 2 catches for 4 yards. Looked slow
and stiff in Gridiron Classic, posting only 13 yards on 8 carries.
He is thick for his height, but with quick feet. A physical, downhill
runner, bounces off tacklers like a bowling ball, with a knack for
the end zone. A bit of a poor man's Jerome Bettis, but more like
Bettis's teammate, Verron Haynes. Like Haynes, he may be looked
at as a possible FB convert, and has been tabbed as one in both
his all-star game appearances. Needs lots of work on his blocking
to succeed as a FB.
Derrick Ward (Ottawa Kansas - 5JR) 5'11"
Injuries and academic problems stalled the career of Ward at Fresno
State after being a Freshman All-American in 1999. Ruled academically
ineligible prior to the 2002 season, transferred to Ottawa (Kansas)
University. He set the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference on
fire in 2003, winning Player of the Year by averaging a NAIA-record
7.8 ypc, totaling 2,061 yards and 28 TDs. He was invited to the
Blue-Gray All-Star Classic and left as the Blue Team's Offensive
MVP, going 5-38-0 on the ground and leading the squad in receptions
with 5 for 59 yards. Excellent size and strength to run between
the tackles, he has a burst into the secondary. His standout all-star
performance and previous accomplishment in higher levels of college
football, combined with strong measurables, make him an intriguing
late Day Two pick or good bet to make a roster as an undrafted free
Larry Croom (UNLV - 5SR) 5'9" 205 4.6
The Arizona transfer emerged as a multi-talented threat in 2002,
leading the team in all-purpose yards and posting a spectacular
7.2 ypc average on his 84 rushing attempts. Started this season
as the primary running back, but strained a thigh at Kansas 9/6/03
allowed 3JR Dominique Dorsey to demonstrate his ability in an upset
at Wisconsin, while Croom sat out. Dorsey continued to get his share
of carries while Croom got back on track, resulting in a solid,
but unspectacular, season for Croom, overall. He finished leading
the team, and third in the MWAC, in rushing yards, with 208-932-3
for the season. His somewhat disappointing season and lack of an
invite to the Combine, led him on an All-Star game barnstorming
tour to prove his ability. He was the leading rusher for the Blue,
with 15-48-1, in the 2003 Blue-Gray game. Under his college coach
John Robinson, he was showcased in the Shrine Classic. He led all
rushers with 9 carries, 63 yards, and two 1-yard TD runs . Added
another TD in the Hula Bowl, but only managed 10 yards on 6 carries.
Versatility as a receiver and returner help his value.
Jermaine Green (Washington State - 4SR)
5'11" 220 4.5
The JUCO transfer made an immediate impact last year, winning the
starting job, despite beginning low on the depth chart and battling
a knee injury in the fall. For 2002, he led the team with 150-839-9.
Big things were expected of him in 2003, but he got off to a slow
start, bothered with some stomach problems. Outperformed by 4SR
Jonathan Smith in the season opener against Idaho, created an opportunity
Smith and 3JR Chris Bruhn took full advantage of as Green struggled
throughout the year. Green injured his ribs against Arizona 10/4/03,
missing most of that game and the one the following week. He saw
very limited time the week after that against Oregon State, not
even getting a rushing attempt. He returned at USC, but saw only
4 carries for 8 yards, in a pasting where WSU officially had minus
25 rushing yards. However, he did have a TD. Still getting back
in the groove when QB Matt Kegel went down, the team looked to Smith,
not him, to carry the load. Against ASU, Smith again saw more of
the workload, but Green did go 10-41-1 rushing. Looking to end his
season strong in the Apple Cup, Green was suspended 11/22/03 for
violating an undisclosed team rule and missed the Washington game.
He went AWOL after that, and was eventually kicked off the team
by HC Bill Doba.
He participated in the Las Vegas Classic, posting 12 yards on 3
carries. Good speed for his size and considered a solid NFL prospect,
he failed to meet his potential this year. His suspension and subsequent
dismissal from the team was not a good end to his career and leaves
questions about his character heading into the draft. Not getting
invited to the Combine shows little interest, as well.
Rich Alexis (Washington - 4SR) 6'0"
Tremendous year in 2000 as true freshman ended with dislocated shoulder
that has continued to give him problems throughout college.
For 2003, there was a question of whether or not he would hold
the job, and he started the season ineffectively against defending
national champs, Ohio State. Then he began to heat up, averaging
over 100 ypg and scoring 4 TDs in the next 5 games. He suffered
a torn muscle in his thigh against Oregon State on 10/18, leaving
that game and ending his season and career. 2FR Kenny James and
2FR Shelton Sampson performed well in his absence.
He never succeeded in surpassing his performance his freshman year,
and he has played mostly in a RBBC. Some of the blame goes to OLine
play and being in a pass-first offense with two different talented,
mobile QBs and a star WR. He has good size and speed to get the
corner, but can't always utilize them, seeming to lack instinct
and vision, perhaps from being developed in a pass-oriented offense.
However, that has made him a solid blocker and allowed him to display
very good receiving ability. Invite to the Combine shows there is
still some interest in his potential.
Rod Malone (North Dakota State - 4SR) 6'1"
Standout JUCO transfer earned starting job in second half of 2002
and has been productive since. Entered 2003 as starter and posted
239-1,251-17, earning 2003 North Central Conference 1st Team All-Conference
and Daktronics Division II All-Midwest Region 2nd Team. Decent Cactus
Bowl practice week, but unimpressive 6 yards on 6 carries in the
Josh Davis (Nebraska - 5SR) 5'11" 200
After tearing his ACL as a redshirt freshman in 2000, emerged as
one of the top return men in Big XII and country, but saw little
work as a running back. Holds several Nebraska return records, including
career kickoff return yardage. In 2003, split carries at I-Back
with 3SO Cory Ross. With QB Jammal Lord doing most of the rushing,
ended second on team in rushing attempts and yards with 138-600-2.
Decent size and good speed could earn him a chance on a roster as
a return man.
DeJuan Green (South Florida - 5SR) 5'11"
Georgia transfer joined a crowded backfield of talented runners
and hasn't had an opportunity to showcase his talents. In 2003,
he split carries with starter 4JR Clenton Crossley and 4SR Vince
Brewer has seen a lot of work, as well. Broke a knuckle during the
season and labored through wearing a cast while playing. With the
cast removed and Crossley out with a shoulder injury, he got that
start at East Carolina and had his best performance of the year,
with 13-117-0 in a victory. Only saw 6 carries, posting just 15
yards, for Gray squad in Blue-Gray All-Star classic. He isn't registering
much on the radar of scouts now, but should display impressive speed,
if he gets any individual workouts.
David Mikell (Boise State - 5SR) 5'10"
Brother of Eagles DB Quintin Mikell was promoted from change of
pace back to featured back this year, after Brock Forsey departed.
His breakout game came against Idaho on 9/13/03, when he rushed
for 235 yards and 2 TDs. On a rare national TV performance in a
Thursday night game at Fresno State, he was unimpressive, limited
to only 19 yards on 9 carries, although he did score a TD. A week
later, helped the Broncos clinch their second straight WAC championship.
He rushed 13 times for 48 yards, to put him over 1,000 for the season,
and a TD. He also caught 3 passes for 27 yards and another score.
Limited to just 6-17-1 in the season finale at Hawaii, in a game
where 3JR Donny Heck saw the bulk of the work. Led the team with
16-101-1 in a losing effort to TCU in the Fort Worth Bowl.
He benefited from playing in one of the top scoring offenses in
the nation, led by NFL prospect QB Ryan Dinwiddie, but is also limited
by it, as the ball is spread around. Saw 4 carries for 16 yards
in the Las Vegas Classic. One of the most electrifying players in
the WAC, he is a good kick returner and capable receiver, adding
value as a multi-purpose threat.
Jonathan Smith (Washington State - 4SR)
5'10" 190 4.5
Former Los Angeles JUCO star played in shadow of another JUCO transfer,
4SR Jermaine Green, in 2002.
Injuries and inconsistency from Green early in 2003 opened the
door for an RBBC with Smith, Green, and 3JR Chris Bruhn. Smith was
not able to take full advantage of a Green rib injury against Arizona
10/4/03 that cost Green most of three games, as Smith sprained his
ankle and was limited in the next few games. Smith returned at USC,
but managed only 20 yards on 10 carries, in a contest where WSU's
running game was completely shut down. His biggest game came the
following week against UCLA, when QB Matt Kegel went down, and the
team leaned on him. He played through an ankle injury and responded
with 36-130-3, as well as 4-85-0 through the air. At Washington,
he gave the Cougars plenty on the ground, posting 128 yards, but
the team came up short for the sixth-straight time in the Apple
Cup. Capped his breakout year leading WSU in rushing, 21-110-1,
and receiving, 5-51-0, in a Holiday Bowl win over Texas. Finished
third in the PAC-10 in rushing attempts, yards, and TDs.
2003 PAC-10 2nd Team All-Conference. An elusive runner, he could
be an excellent fit as a change of pace back, with great hands out
of the backfield. At a bit of a disadvantage not having been on
preseason watch lists and not getting any all-star invites or asked
to the Combine. However, his emergence, especially the last few
games, should have scouts pulling film on him and on their way to
Pullman for the Cougars' Pro Day.
Joey Harris (Purdue - 4SR) 5'11" 215
Emerged in 2002, leading team with 1,115 yards, including six 100-yard
games, on school-record 250 carries. Declared academically ineligible
for 2003. A successful sprinter, he is definitely a project as more
of a track runner trying to play football, than a fast football
player. Played in Las Vegas Classic, despite being out all of 2003,
and had 14 yards on 5 carries and caught a pass for 14 yards. No
invite to the Combine made that attempt to get drafted less promising.
Franklin Wallace (Marshall - 5SR) 5'11"
"Butchie" led the Thundering Herd in rushing as a redshirt
freshman and sophomore. Injury problems began plaguing him as a
sophomore, and continued into his junior season in 2002, resulting
in him falling short of leading the team in rushing again. Began
2003 as the starter, but JUCO transfer 3JR Earl Charles was impressive
in spring and began to share carries. Wallace broke his hand 9/27
at Troy State, and Charles began to emerge while he was out. Finished
the season continuing to split carries and second on the team in
rushing, with 132-729-6. Collegiate career was extended as an injury
replacement to the Blue-Gray All-Star Classic roster. He finished
in strong fashion, rushing 7 times for 33 yards, including two 4th
quarter TDs to help the Blue win the game and propel himself back
into the minds of scouts. Good size and speed combinations, also
developed good hands in Marshall's passing offense. His agent expects
him to run 4.38 at the combine, but short of a tremendous display
like that to boost his draft value, his injury history likely has
him more likely looking at the undrafted free agent route, if any,
into the NFL.
Brandon Warfield (Utah - 4SR) 5'10"
As a JUCO transfer in 2002, he was slated to redshirt, but replaced
promising 5SR Marty Johnson after Johnson suffered a season-ending
knee injury. Warfield finished with 919 yards rushing and 9 TDs
in only 5 starts.
In addition to his knee, Johnson had off-field problems and was
put under indefinite suspension, solidifying preseason all-conference
Warfield's spot heading into this season. He continued to produce
despite loss of 2003 1st round pick Jordan Gross paving the way
for him, including season highs of 36-181 and 3 TDs in a near upset
of Texas A&M at College Station. He sprained his left MCL on
his second carry against New Mexico on 10/25. It required minor
surgery and he missed two games before returning a month later against
BYU on 11/22. Not at full strength, he put up just 50 yards on 18
carries, but with the help of the Utes D, they shut out BYU for
the first time in 28 years to win the Mountain West. Returned to
form in Liberty Bowl win over Southern Mississippi, going 27-91-1
2003 MWC 2nd Team All-Conference. Most effective RB in the Las
Vegas Classic, he led RB's with a 6.8 ypc average on his 41 yards.
He was a good RB in a second-tier conference, but without much speed
and not getting a Combine invite, he's unlikely to be drafted.
Keylon Kincade (SMU - 4SR) 5'11" 205
Posted third highest rushing total for season in SMU history in
2002, going 327-1,279-7. Finished 2003 second in WAC in rushing
this season, despite playing for a winless team with few other offensive
threats for opposing defenses to consider. With the team struggling
and Kincade a senior, the team has gave 1FR Chris Phillips more
opportunities at he end of the season to prepare him for the future.
After posting 1,280 yards rushing this year, he has 3,038 for his
career, fifth highest total in SMU history. Finished collegiate
career as leading rusher for Gray in Blue-Gray All-Star Classic,
posting 9-44-0. 2003 WAC 2nd Team All-Conference. Productive collegiate
player, but if he is as slow as his alleged 40 speed, he won't be
working in the NFL on Sundays.
Vick King (McNeese State - 5SR) 5'10"
Southern transfer built on a strong 2001 campaign, winning 2002
Offensive Player of the Year in the Southland Conference after averaging
5.1 ypc on 216-1,103-9. Knee injury had him miss the D-IAA Championship
and spring practice, but he returned to form in the 2003 season,
once again Southland 1st Team All-Conference and winning the Offensive
Player of the Year averaging 5.9 ypc on 210-1,240-11. Invited to
Blue-Gray game, but saw only 3 carries for 10 yards on Gray roster.
Gary Jones (Albany - 4SR) 5'10" 215
JUCO transfer is returning NEC Offensive Player of the Year in 2002
after posting 1,509 rushing yards and 23 total TDs in 2002. In 2003,
again led NEC with 1,524 rushing yards on 211 carries for an incredible
7.2 ypc. Also led conference with 19 total TDs. 2003 NEC 1st Team
All-Conference and Offensive Player of the Year, AP Division I-AA
3rd Team All-American.
Horace Dodd (BC - 5SR) 6'1" 220 4.5
Transferred from PSU where he went to be a tailback, but was moved
to OLB. He got the start for BC's opener in 2002, but the emergence
of 5SR Derrick Knight soon relegated him to a back-up role. In 2003,
was the goal-line specialist, until the end of the season, when
Knight was allowed to pad his stats. Dodd typically replacing the
diminutive Knight in short-yardage situations and was second on
the team with 10 rushing TDs. He injured his right knee at Virginia
Tech in the regular season finale, and missed the San Francisco
Bowl after surgery was required. Injuries and the transfer stalled
a promising career, but he still has raw talent and measurables
to eventually show up somewhere.
Daniel Davis (Kansas State - 5SR) 5'11"
Former Tar Heel led UNC in rushing in 1999, ran into some auto-related
legal problems and ended up at Garden City Community College. He
was a highly rated JUCO player, one of the top non-high school prospects,
when he transferred to KSU in 2002. Ran into some more legal problems,
again auto-related and failing to appear to take care of them, prior
to season. Was effective in limited time behind 3JR Darren Sproles
in 2002. Yet again had legal problems, assault and arrested for
theft, prior to the 2003 season. Did not play in 2003. Tremendous
talent with good size and speed, but ruined his career not learning
from his mistakes.
Rahsaan Sanders (Colorado State - 5SR) 6'0"
Stuck behind Kevin McDougal and Cecil Sapp through his collegiate
career, and almost moved to DB, this season appeared to be his opportunity
to emerge. However, Colorado transfer 4JR Marcus Houston was granted
an unusual reprieve from having to sit out, creating an RBBC in
which Houston has been the most productive. Houston wasn't been
able to wrestle the job away, as much as injuries have plagued Sanders
this year. As Houston continues to find himself in HC Sonny Lubick's
dog house for fumble problems, Sanders saw opportunities when healthy.
However, 4JR Jimmy Green also got healthy, and Sanders has now taken
a backseat to him, as well. A sprained ankle kept him out of their
San Francisco Bowl loss. Good combination of speed and power, along
with good size, makes him a potential project, but teams have little
to judge him on as a career back-up/RBBC member.
Kirwan Watson (Fordham - 4SR) 5'9"
One of the top returning rushers in Division I-AA didn't disappoint
in 2003. While overshadowed by fellow Patriot League RB Jamaal Branch's
breakout season, he finished with 311-1,465-19 on the ground and
27-223-1 through the air. Fordham's career rushing leader finished
with 20 100-yard games. 2003 Patriot League 1st Team All-Conference
and AP Division I-AA 2nd Team All-American.
Ralph Davis (Louisiana Tech - 4SR) 6'0"
Big things were expected out of him in 2003, after Joe Smith graduated.
Mixed in a couple good games at UL Lafayette and at Fresno State
with a couple horrible performances against Miami and at Michigan
State. Then he was suspended after an altercation at a bar and 2SO
Ryan Moats emerged in is absence. His suspension evolved into an
indefinite one, which ended his career.
Marty Johnson (Utah - 5SR) 6'0" 230
All-American JUCO transferred to Utah in 2001 and started the first
game, but a rib injury in the game ended his season. In 2002, led
nation in rushing the first two games, before knee injuries in the
second game ended his season. This opened the door for 4SR Brandon
Warfield to explode. Set to back-up Warfield in 2003 and try to
resurrect his once promising career, a foot injury cost him the
first 3 games and that led into an indefinite suspension for what
the team termed "a number of issues". One of the issues
was 2 drunken driving convictions in 11 months. While his former
team was winning the Liberty Bowl, Johnson was serving his 35-day
Cal Murray (Miami Ohio - 5SR) 5'10"
Injuries limited him throughout his collegiate career, but combined
with 3JR Mike Smith to form two-headed monster at RB after 4SR Luke
Clemens was lost to injury. Finished the season with a quiet 186-1,030-12,
capped by a season-high 142 yards and a TD in a GMAC Bowl win over
Louisville. Benefited from playing with top NFL prospect QB Ben
Roethlisberger, who opposing defenses had to focus on, and a big,
veteran offensive line. Speed back who developed his receiving skills
tremendously playing with Roethlisberger.
Adam Matthews (Northern Colorado - 5SR)
5'10" 205 4.6
Son of former NFL RB Bo Matthews is the career rushing and all-purpose
yardage leader for the Bears, ended career tying an NCAA record
with 11 straight 100-yard games, including 6 straight 150-yard games.
Finished 2003 with 263-1,653-18, earning 2003 Division I-AA Independent
1st Team All-Star and Offensive Player of the Year, and AP Division
I-AA 3rd Team All-American. Playing below D-IA and getting no Combine
invite, he went to the Hula Bowl to advertise himself. He had 4
carries for 14 yards and added 6 more on a reception.
Duron Croson (Fort Valley - 4SR) 6'1"
2002 Offensive Player of the Year in D-II SIAC rushing 252-1,384-18.
Preseason D-II All-American found himself splitting carries with
emergence of the 2003 SIAC Offensive Player of the Year, 3JR Derrick
Wimbush, resulting in a disappointing season. Finished with 168-735-6
in 2003. Invited to Las Vegas Classic, but didn't help regain any
Cortlandt Florence (Tuskegee - 4SR) 6'0"
Cousin of SD Chargers 2003 2nd round pick Drayton Florence, also
a Tuskegee alum, the JUCO transfer finished the 2002 season with
225-1,162-12. He received a lot of recognition after the season,
and big things were expected of him in 2003. Missed a couple games
in 2003, finishing with a disappointing 143-475-2. Disappointment
continued in Catcus Bowl, where he had 5 carries for 1 yard.
Ronald McClendon (Mississippi - 4SR) 5'8"
JUCO transfer in 2002, led the team in rushing last year as part
of an ineffective RBBC. Suffered a hamstring injury running tack
in the 2003 indoor season, and missed the spring. 5SR Tremaine Turner
became the starter, but the team had many participants in the RBBC.
Held out of last five games of season, including Cotton Bowl, due
to a school investigation for NCAA rules violations involving McClendon.
Great speed and quickness, but too small to have such an empty resume.
Philip Reed (Western Michigan - 5SR) 5'10"
Emerged in 2002, rushing for over 1,000 yards at a 4.8 clip. Entered
2003 with a bullseye on his back with an unstable QB situation.
Injured is shoulder in the middle of the season, limiting him for
a few games. Finished with 189-744-8 rushing. Good size, straight-line
runner with some elusiveness.
Terrence Jackson (Central Michigan - 4SR)
6'0" 235 4.55
He gained recognition as a sophomore in 2001, rushing for 100 yards
in 7 straight game, compiling 1,194 and 10 TDs, as well as second-team
All-MAC honors. He suffered a foot injury prior to the start of
the 2002 season, and missed the first 5 games, finishing with only
399 yards rushing. After regaining his starting job in 2003, he
had a nice start to the season, putting up 21-104-0 at Michigan.
However, his role diminished this season with emergence of 1FR Jerry
Seymour. He has gotten a lot of credit for being supportive of Seymour
and accepting being replaced, but it's dropped him off the NFL radar.
Rodney Davis (Fresno State - 4SR) 5'8"
After starting 2002 as a back-up, the JUCO transfer had a breakout
season, posting 313-1,586-9. With big things expected of him in
2003, he struggled at the beginning of the season. In their fourth
game against Louisiana Tech, he was replaced by back-up 3JR Dwayne
Wright. After being demoted to third string most of the season,
reemerged in Silicon Valley Bowl victory over UCLA. In the bowl
he won MVP honors in 2002, he ended his career rushing for 77 yards
on 13 carries and winning Offensive Player of the Game.
Tremaine Turner (Mississippi - 5 SR) 5'10"
Outperformed by JUCO transfer 4SR Ronald McClendon in 2002, but
Turner claimed the nominal starting spot after a spring injury to
McClendon. Saw bulk of carries in 2003 in large RBBC, but offense
was dominated by the passing of QB Eli Manning. Finished year with
career game against Oklahoma State in Cotton Bowl victory. Rushed
20 times for a career-high 133 yards and a TD, adding 2 receptions
for 19 yards and another TD.
Muhammed Abdulqaadir (SIU - 4SR) 5'7"
JUCO All-American who transferred to SIU last year. Took over for
5SR Tom Koutsos in third game, after he broke his wrist. Finished
the season rushing for 196-1,331-20 in just 8 games, as he broke
his hand and missed the final three games of the 2002 season. The
return of Koutsos in 2003 saw him splitting carries, but helping
lead SIU into the D-IAA playoffs. Finished with 183-1,041-11 and
2003 Gateway 1st Team All-Conference.
Andre Raymond (Eastern Illinois - 4SR) 5'11"
Gave Panthers a strong 1-2 punch with J.R. Taylor last season, before
breaking his leg. Talented multi-purpose threat, posted 122-608-4
rushing, 70-672-5 receiving, and almost 1,000 yards as a returner
in 2002. Expected to emerge as feature back in 2003, but struggled
with ineffectiveness and injuries, eventually losing his starting
job to 2FR Vincent Webb. Second on team with 156-561-3 for 3.6 ypc.
Posted 8-28-0 in the Las Vegas Classic.
Joel Tudman (Texas A&M-Commerce - 4SR)
6'0" 220 4.5
Played in just 4 games in 2002 due to knee injury. Ran a 4.36 40
before knee injury, allegedly a 4.48 after. Had breakaway speed
before injury. Runs tracks and qualified for D-II Championship in
2002. 25 years old (3-14-78), don't know what he did from 1995-2000,
but he didn't play football. Led team in rushing and scoring with
172-569-5 (2.8 ypc) in 2003, 2nd Team All-Lone Star Conference Honorable
Isaac Mitchell (Idaho State - 5SR) 5'11"
Leading returning rusher for Bengals was unable to duplicate his
2002 success, one of the best seasons in Idaho State history, but
was once again the team's leading rusher and scorer, posting 216-883-9.
A competent receiver, he averaged 36 receptions the last two seasons
as the starting tailback. 2003 Big Sky 2nd Team All-Conference.
Rashad Armstrong (Baylor - 4SR) 5'6"
JUCO transfer led the team in rushing in 2002, emerging later in
the season and ending with 100-yard performances against Oklahoma
and Oklahoma State. To start 2003, he was held out of spring ball
for academic reasons. He regained his starting position and finished
the season with 258-1,074-6. Disappointing 3 yards on 5 carries
at Hula Bowl.
Bob Hendry (Akron - 5SR) 5'10" 200
Led team in rushing last two seasons. In 2003, getting dinged up
in a couple games landed him just short of back-to-back 1,000 yards
season, totaling 977 on the ground. Had 6 100-yard games on the
season, including 24-101-1 at Wisconsin. Second (tied) in the MAC
with 14 rushing TDs.
Ricky Madison (TCU - 5SR) 5'10" 200
Led the team in rushing yards in 2001 and was second behind 2SO
Lonta Hobbs, a freshman phenom, in 2002. Entered 2003 looking to
share playing time at RB with Hobbs and 2FR Robert Merrill. Great
opener at Tulane, where he started, leading the team with 115 rushing
yards and catching 3 receptions for 91 yards and a TD. In second
game against Navy on 9/6/03, his season ended with a torn ACL. Having
already redshirted in 1999, he is out of college eligibility.
Justin Kammrad (Nebraska Omaha - 5SR) 6'0"
Knee injuries plagued the career of this walk-on, but he emerged
in 2003. Had just 77 yards after sitting out the second half of
the season-opener, then blew up for 10 straight 100-yard games,
including 308 yards in his final game, breaking his own school-record.
Led Division II in total rushing yards, with a school-record 1,866,
and rushing yards per game, with 169.9, earning North Central Conference
1st Team All-Conference and Offensive Back of the Year, AFCA 1st
Team Division II All-American, and a finalist for the Harlon Hill
Division II Player of the Year. Saw 7 carries for 21 yards in the
Gaven Varner (East Tennessee State - 4SR)
5'11" 230 4.6
Leading returning rusher from 2002 emerged from RBBC to have one
of the best seasons in the Bucs history. Finished with 270-1,269-7.
2003 Southern Conference 1st Team All-Conference.
Zach Gerstner (Idaho - 5SR) 5'10" 200
Career back-up emerged in 2003 to lead team in rushing attempts,
yards, and TDs with 256-1,157-5 and second on team in reception
with 32 for 309 yards and 2 TDs. Second in Sun Belt in rushing yards
and earned 1st Team All-Conference.
Akil Harris (UCLA - 5SR) 6'0" 210 4.55
Started first four games of 2002 before getting hurt and giving
way to 3SO Tyler Ebell. Once a top high school recruit, he fell
off the map in 2003. Didn't get a carry in their RBBC until the
last game of the year, his final collegiate appearance.
Derek Armah (Wyoming - 4SR) 5'10" 205
Former standout high school QB was decent, but unspectacular, runner
for the Cowboys, leading them in rushing the last 3 years. Finished
2003 with 177-683-5 on the ground.
Tom Koutsos (SIU - 5SR) 5'10" 220 4.6
Rushed for 1,000 yards each of his first three seasons, becoming
the first Saluki with multiple 1,000 yard seasons. Broke school
rushing record his junior year, in 2001. Last season he rushed for
6 TDs in his first 2 games last season, before breaking his wrist.
The injury ended 2002 with a medical redshirt. After 4SR Muhammed
Abdulqaadir emerged in his presence, they split carries evenly in
2003. Finished with 187-968-14 and 2003 Gateway 2nd Team All-Conference.
Scheduled to play in Blue-Gray All-Star Classic, he suffered a knee
injury during the practice week and had to withdraw.
Hiawatha Rutland (Iowa State - 5SR) 6'0"
Talented runner and receiver has had multiple issues the last two
years. In 2002, led ISU in rushing with 160-614-6, but was plagued
by nagging injuries in the second half of the season. He was suspended
the first game of 2003, then tore his ACL 9/27, ending his college
career. Off-field problems continued when he was ticketed for a
traffic accident in December.
Ell Roberson (Kansas State - 5SR) 6'1"
In 2002, he rushed for an incredible 1,032 yards and 16 TDs (9 more
than he passed for).
His rushing statistics took a dip as he focused more on passing
this year, hoping to be the next Michael Vick, as opposed to the
next successful college QB viewed as a better fit for another position.
Injured left wrist against McNeese State on 9/6 and left the game
early, then missed the next two games. Finished the season leading
the Wildcats to a huge upset over previously undefeated Oklahoma
in the Big XII Championship. Finished the regular season with 211-943-13
on the ground.
Although he is the standout QB for the Wildcats, his best asset
is his running. His passing has improved each year, but it remains
to be seen if scouts believe his best opportunity in the NFL will
be viewed as a RB. He has great speed and ankle-breaking open field
Jammal Lord (Nebraska - 5SR) 6'2" 220
Next in a long line of mobile Nebraska option QBs who will be looked
at for other positions in the pros. In 2002, had one of the best
statistical season in Cornhusker history, setting team records for
total offense in a season, rushing yards for a QB in a game (234
vs. Texas) and in a season (1,412).
He finished leading the team in rushing attempts, yards, and TDs,
with 215-948-10 and to an Alamo Bowl victory. Not as accomplished
a passer as fellow slash Ell Roberson, he is more likely to only
be considered with a position change. Surprising snub in not being
invited to the Combine.
Jason Geathers (Miami - 4SR) 6'3"
Standout high school tailback, he was converted to WR due to an
abundance of talent at RB, but has bounced between positions as
needs at Miami have dictated. Being a jack of all trades, master
of none, never gave him an opportunity to lock down one position
to display his skills. He holds good potential as a kick returner,
and that might be how he gets a chance in the NFL.
Thomas Tapeh (Minnesota - 5SR) 6'1"
A standout high school RB, he's moved over to fullback and lived
in the shadow of a tremendous group of runners in his career at
Minnesota. He has been a productive rusher, when given the chance.
He gained 906 and 8 TDs as Thunder to Terry Jackson's Lightning
in 2002. In the same role to 1FR Laurence Maroney and 3SO Marion
Barber III in 2003, he had 570 and 11 TDs in 2003, including 3 TDs
in the Sun Bowl and 7 TDs in his final three games.
He's benefited from the RBBC, as teams don't know what type of
back to prepare for. Impressive Senior Bowl week, including displaying
some unexpectedly soft hands. Tremendously strong, he'll be looked
at as a fullback in the NFL, but could have some upside as a runner
in short yardage and goal-line situations.
Mike Karney (Arizona State - 4SR) 5'11"
Crushing blocker who, although a little stiff and upright as a runner,
powers his way to positive yardage the rare time he touches the
ball. Short yardage and goal-line potential, along with decent hands
for a big man, make him a solid multi-purpose threat as a fullback.
Nice showing in Shrine Game, where he had 7 carries for 14 yards
and led the West with 6 receptions.
Lousaka Polite (Pittsburgh - 5SR) 5'11"
In addition to being a prototypical fullback, the four-year starter
is a great leader, including in the weight room and locker room.
Decent speed for a fullback, doesn't look uncomfortable running
with the ball. Without a star running back at Pitt most of his career,
he saw more carries than a typical fullback (180 career attempts).
He was involved more in the passing game in 2003, ending fourth
on the team with 25 receptions.
Vonta Leach (East Carolina - 4SR) 5'11"
Converted from LB to FB in 2002, where he paved the way for a huge
year for 4SR Art Brown. When Brown went down in spring 2003, his
role increased. He remained primarily a blocking FB, leading 4JR
Marvin Townes to a 1,000-yard season as the new tailback, but also
carried 83 time for 290 yards and 5 TDs. Finished collegiate career
as Offensive MVP for Gray in Blue-Gray game, rushing for 5-28-2
and receiving 3-27.
Alex Wade (Duke - 5SR) 6'1" 255 4.65
Usually the fullback paving the way for 5SR Chris Douglass's success,
he impressed with his running skills in 2002 when Douglass was hampered
by an injury. Wade finished 2002 with 979 yards and 4 TDs on the
ground, including tying a school record and leading the ACC with
six 100-yard games. He returned to more of a FB role with Douglass
healthy in 2003, but has definitely helped his NFL potential with
the versatility he displayed for a big man.
Travis Wilson (Kansas State - 5SR) 6'3"
Michigan State transfer is an excellent physical specimen, with
his strength and size making him an extra lineman in the backfield.
Helped make running room for record-breaking running from 3JR Darren
Sproles. Carries some baggage with legal problems stemming from
battery charges in 2002. Saw 2 carries for 3 yards in the Hula Bowl.
Mark Pierce (Arkansas - 3JR) 6'0" 242
Good athlete and excellent blocker who helped open up holes for
a talented stable of Razorback runners. Maturity and behavior will
be issues, as he has faced a string of problems since his father
died following last season. He took a leave of absence from the
team for July, then returned and was arrested on disorderly conduct
and battery charges late in August in a bar incident. He was suspended
the first game before returning and helping the Hogs lead the SEC
in rushing for the second straight year. His season of turmoil ended
early when he chose not to participate in Independence Bowl to prepare
for NFL draft.
Luke Lawton (McNeese State - 4SR) 5'11'
Paved the way, as FB, for 5SR Vick King to win back-to-back Southland
Offensive Player of the Year awards. Multi-purpose threat makes
him useful despite current trend of underutilizing the FB in NFL.
Had 246 career carries for 1,123 yards and 22 TDs, as well as 70-569-9
receiving for his career. Southland 1st Team All-Conference. With
not many scouts catching McNeese State games regularly, he participated
in Las Vegas Classic and Gridiron Classic to help his stock. Didn't
see the ball in Las Vegas, but had a 1-yard TD run in Gridiron Classic.
Doug Eastlick (Virginia Tech - 5SR) 5'11"
Started his career as tailback, but evolved into punishing blocker
for Lee Suggs and 3JR Kevin Jones. Remains an effective short-yardage
runner and involved in passing game, displaying reliable hands.
Caught 16 passes each of the last 2 seasons, good for fourth and
third, respectively, on a team that didn't pass much. Participated
in the Gridiron Classic, catching 1 pass for 7 yards.
Brandon Johnson (Auburn - 4SR) 5'10"
Excellent attitude and aggressiveness saw him spend time at LB in
prior years. Settled in a FB in 2002 and began opening up holes
for a talented group of RBs. He's a pure FB, rarely touching the
ball, but impressed scouts with his effort and toughness during
Senior Bowl practices. Some injury problems in past, knee surgery
in 2000 and shoulder surgery after 2001 season.
Carey Davis (Illinois - 5SR) 5'10"
Strong combination of running and receiving skills for a FB, one
of best combination in the class. Excels as a receiver out of the
backfield, averaged over 30 receptions a year, and had over 4.5
ypc on his 216 carries, in his career. Undersized and not a strong
enough blocker for an every down FB, and too slow for a HB, he's
a tweener who'll struggle to fit in the NFL. Good experience learning
pro-style offense at Illinois. He had a 6-yard TD catch in the Gridiron
Classic, but also had an uncharacteristic drop in the flat.
Antwan Jenkins (Delaware - 5SR) 6'1"
Bruising interior runner was featured in one-back sets for the Division
I-AA National Champion Blue Hens. Lacks speed for tailback role
in NFL, so projects as a fullback. Third on team in rushing in 2003
with 696 yards at a 4.0 clip. Second on team with 10 TDs.
Sean McHugh (PSU - 4SR) 6'5" 260 4.90
Converted TE returned from broken leg in 2001 to lead the way for
Larry Johnson's record-setting 2002 season. Rushed for 54-256-3
and was third on team in receptions with 27-185-1, earning team
MVP for 2003. Participated in Las Vegas Classic as a TE, where he
caught 1 pass for 13 yards. Good blocker at fullback, but might
be too tall to get away with not keeping pad level low in NFL. Likely
to be looked at as a blocking TE.
Ben Moa (Utah - 5SR) 6'1" 252 4.86
Originally committed to Utah, but was kicked off team and spent
2 years as a top JUCO TE before returning in 2002. Versatile athlete,
played flex TE, split out at WR at times, and also worked in at
fullback. Good leaper and dependable hands, but lacks size for TE
Judd Davies (Nebraksa - 5SR) 6'0" 245
Typical Nebraska FB: big and strong kid, excellent blocker, doesn't
touch the ball much, questionable hands straight ahead speed, but
not very elusive. Smart player, recognized with multiple All-Academic
awards. Not the versatile type of player used in most offenses,
but could flourish in right system as a lead blocker.