Thursday, January 21, 2010
Browsing over the roster for the 2010 Senior Bowl, Southern Miss career rushing leader Damion Fletcher is not listed as a participant in this year’s game. It makes a person from the Pine Belt wonder why and brings up the old-time clichés of, “He’s too small for the NFL,” and “He’s too slow for the NFL.”
Here are some reasons why Damion may not be considered a top pro prospect. According to NFLDRAFTSCOUT.COM, Fletcher, nicknamed “Fletch” by some, has a physical stature of 5′-10″ tall, weighs 182 pounds, and runs a 40-yard dash time of 4.65 seconds. Fletch is also ranked by the website as number 45 out of 194 running backs and number 654 out of a total of 2,759 athletes.
Now, these statistics may not blow away most professional scouts, but there are some other figures that impress many others who follow college football. According to ESPN’s College Football Nation Blog by Graham Watson on December 21, 2009, Fletcher is tops in USM Football History with 1,009 carries for 5,302 yards, 44 touchdowns, and the most career 100-yard games at 21.
In addition to his career statistics, Damion ranks eighth all-time in NCAA career rushing yards behind Ron Dayne, Ricky Williams, Tony Dorsett, DeAngelo Williams, Charles White, Travis Prentice, and Cedric Benson as reported by Tim Hyland from About.com: College Football. Dayne, R. Williams, Dorsett, and White all won the prestigious Heisman Trophy.
That is a real impressive list of former college players Fletch follows. He also passed some great running backs in 2009 like Ladanian Tomlinson, Herschel Walker, and Archie Griffin. The latter two athletes each won the Heisman Trophy and all three had successful careers in the NFL; Tomlinson still competes for the San Diego Chargers.
The NFL Combine, which began in 1977 and is held annually at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, also raises some interesting conversation in relation to Damion as a pro prospect. The Combine, or National Invitational Camp as it has been called before, can process up to 335 total players. This would leave an exceptional talent like Fletcher out of participation in the Combine because most scouts agree he is the 654th rated player eligible for the NFL Draft.
It is apparent that the “experts” will go by the numbers, statistics, and projections in considering Damion Fletcher to play on Sundays. There are other knowledgeable people who feel that past performances, records, and heart should give him, at the very least, an opportunity at the next level.