Tulane running back Matt Forte rushed for 2,127 yards during his senior year — second-best in the country — and scored 23 touchdowns in the process.
Following a terrific Senior Bowl performance both running and catching the ball, Forte put up impressive numbers at the NFL Scouting Combine, running a 4.46 40-time that placed him among the top running backs. He also finished among the elite performers in the three-cone drill and the 20- and 60-yard shuttle runs.
Houston and Atlanta have already worked him out. The Bears are scheduled to fly in for a workout April 3rd, but some team reps are also flying in to take him to dinner March 27th to get to know the polite and confident young man.
Forte is currently en route to Detroit for his first official team visit. With the recent release of Kevin Jones, the Lions currently have Tatum Bell and Brian Calhoun on the depth chart, so they will undoubtedly be looking to select one of the top running backs in this draft to compete with the pair for the starter's spot.
Forte talked about all of this recent attention from NFL teams with me during an exclusive interview on Thursday night ...
Ed Thompson: You've been having some exciting times as of late, haven't you? A workout with the Falcons and another one with the Texans roughly a week ago.
Matt Forte: Oh, yes sir.
Thompson: Who came to see you at the Atlanta workout? And what did you do while they were there?
Forte: It was the running backs coach from the Falcons who came to see me. First we watched film, and he was very impressed with how much I knew about the offense and the defense and what's going on between snaps. Then we went outside and went through a few running back drills, and he threw the ball to me to see how my hands were. Everything went well. I don't think I dropped a ball the whole time.
Thompson: What was he most impressed with when you guys were watching film?
Forte: How much I knew about the blocking scheme, who was supposed to have who on the offensive and defensive line. Also, the blitz packages guys bring. Who am I supposed to pick up, and who is the line supposed to pick up.
Thompson: Did he talk much about how he saw you fitting into the Falcons' offense?
Forte: He talked some about their blocking scheme and how they did it. He asked me some questions and drew some plays up to see how fast I learned them, and I think I learned them pretty quick.
Matt Forte tries to slip out of the grasp of a tackler in a contest against Southern Mississippi.
AP Photo/Steve Coleman
Thompson: Where was the workout held?
Forte: It was at Tulane's facilities and field.
Thompson: Then you had Houston come in. Who did you work out for on that day?
Forte: It was the running back coach as well. And we did pretty much the same thing.
Thompson: Were you surprised by anything either of the running back coaches had noticed about you?
Forte: Not really. They all watch film and know what I can do and my ability. The only thing they were surprised by was how much I knew by watching film with them and how much football knowledge I had.
Thompson: I heard you had a trading card signing the other night with Topps. Tell us about how that process works.
Forte: Yeah, I had a bunch of cards to sign for them and another one. A couple days before that, I had just finished a card signing. They either ship them to me or someone will come to the house with them and watch me sign them.
Thompson: How many cards did you sign?
Forte: Approximately 5,000 cards. My hands are still tired. I had about 2,800 on one and almost 3,000 on the other one.
Thompson: How many hours did that take?
Forte: It took about three hours a piece.
Thompson: Was that the first time you had seen yourself on a trading card?
Forte: Yeah, it was. And they had some nice action shots.
Thompson: How cool was that? Did you collect cards as a kid?
Forte: Yeah, I sure did. It was really cool to see that on there. It was like a reality check like, "Man, I'm going to get to be one of those guys that I was looking up to when I was a kid."
Thompson: You have a visit with Detroit coming up, and they have an exciting running back scenario for a rookie because it looks as though it'll be a wide open contest in training camp for the starter's job.
Forte: Yeah, and that'd be a nice situation to go into. I'm excited about going up there. I'm flying out on Sunday, and Monday I'll meet with everybody. It should be nice going up there. They were down at our pro day and I talked to Sam Gash, their running backs coach. We had a long talk, and I think they're very interested in me. It should be fun.
Thompson: Sam had quite a career himself. What have you learned while talking to him, and do you see any similarities between yourself and how he approached the game?
Forte: He was a fullback and played 12 years. He gave me some pointers from what he did in his career. He told me to be confident in my ability and talent because you have to be confident in those in the NFL. He's a really good guy.
Thompson: Any other teams in the mix for a workout or visit at this point?
Forte: I'm supposed to have dinner with some people from the Bears next week. Then in early April, they're coming down and I'm going to work out for them also.