2004 Draft Prospect Interview: Andre Raymond

He had 70 receptions in one season to lead his team and oddly enough he is not a wide receiver. Anytime you see a running back coming out of college with 70 receptions in one season you begin to think about a back such as Roger Craig or LaDainian Tomlinson that have done that and more in the NFL. But 70 as a college back is almost unprecedented and this all occurred as a junior for Andre Raymond.

Then as a senior Andre Raymond suffered through injuries and ended up splitting his carries with Vincent Webb.

"I was coming in as the featured back, but there were a lot of injuries that slowed me down," said Raymond. "I didn't mind sharing carries."

While he had more carries as a senior, his stats dropped. After gaining 612 yards as a junior to go with his 70 receptions, Raymond gained just 561 yards on the ground and his receptions dropped from 70 to 10.

It didn't help that his replacement in early October, Webb, ran for 206 yards in the game following Raymond's injury. He would miss two games a year after he broke his leg.

How do you feel now?

"I feel great," said Raymond. "I am completely healthy. Everything is A-ok."

Now Raymond must prove he is healthy. Words are fine, but the action is what will separate him from the pack.

Raymond got that chance in the Paradise Bowl. He ran the ball eight times for 28 yards for the West. He hopes he proved his health has returned to scouts.

"I think the scouts know that I can play," Raymond said. "I know that a lot of them know that this year injuries slowed me down, but I proved myself when I went to the Las Vegas All American Classic and that opened a lot of scouts' eyes. I was completely healthy and I ran real hard. The only thing I have to prove to them is my workouts. If I have a great workout, they will know that I am legit."

Over the last two seasons at Eastern Illinois, Raymond averaged over 20 yards per kick return and took one the distance. It is his versatility that has some NFL personnel believing he will surprise at the next level.

Raymond looks at his ability to run the ball, catch the ball and return kicks as an added bonus that not many other backs can boast.

"Because I can return kicks and I can return punts and an excellent receiver out of the backfield – I can play the slot – I feel I have an advantage over a lot of guys out there because not a lot of guys do the things that I do," Raymond said. "That is an extra bonus. If I do get drafted it is not solely as a running back, you could put me all over the place and I will do very well."

As the league turns to backs that have all those traits, Raymond has a good chance in the NFL. More and more running backs are asked to not only carry the load as a rusher, but they have become the main outlet receiver for quarterbacks young and old.

He doesn't think he will start at the next level right away, but is more than willing to put in the work to become a featured back down the road.

Raymond said he would be happy, "Not getting the bulk of the carries, (getting) some receptions, and contributing on special teams. As the years go on I would like to be that main, featured back. That suits me because I can catch the ball, I can run the ball and block pretty well."

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