2004 Draft Prospect Interview: Fred Russell

He is only the fourth best rusher in school history. He won MVP honors in the Outback and Hula Bowls, rushing for 251 yards and three touchdowns in those games, and now scouts are questioning how good he can be. He is Fred Russell of the Iowa Hawkeyes and despite the talk in the air he is gaining interest from several teams already.

The reason Fred Russell is getting dogged is his size. Russell stands at 5-7, 190 pounds. He is your atypical running back; a Warrick Dunn type player will be the comparison.

Scouts have in their minds a prototypical player in mind when they look at a running back. Someone who is 6-1 and in the 230 pound range. For each inch and pound lost, they deduct points.

Then a player such as Russell comes along – a producer in college whose accomplishments are, perhaps, unjustly set aside because of his height and weight.

At the combines, Russell posted the second best forty time from a running back at 4.45. He also put up 21 reps on the bench press.

But people will claim he cannot handle the load.

Here are some little known facts:

Fred Russell had the football in his hands nearly 300 times during the 2003 season, and he only had one fumble.

His 1,355 yards in 2003 were third in the Big Ten.

But there is something more. Casual fans will point to the always impressive offensive line at Iowa, and for the most part they are right says Russell.

"That was the thing last year. I had three linemen that went in the first day last year. This year we had four new starters and the best left tackle in college football, Robert Gallery. He can't do it all by himself. I put up more yards than I did last year with an inexperienced offensive line."

Each naysayer that comes his way gets a dose of his skills and leaves impressed. Recently, he put his skills on display at the Hula Bowl, when Russell put to rest any doubts regarding his receiving skills.

"Two-a-days at the Hula Bowl I showed them I could catch the ball," Russell said. "I didn't drop any balls. Also, even though I came from the Big Ten and put up back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, I showed them that whatever competition they put me in I could still perform."

Now teams are starting to slide ‘Fred Russell' up their draft boards.

"I talked to a few teams that said they were interested in my style, my running style and the way I perform on the football field. They were interested in me because it could work in with what they are doing."

Those teams include the Miami Dolphins.

There are concerns about the back that broke both scapulas (shoulders) in college. His durability will always be an object of debate, but Russell is the self-proclaimed ‘hardest working running back'.

"I just go out and give my all every day. I try not to let a day go by. I take every day as my last day and I try to improve everyday."

Scout NFL Network Top Stories