Devine Redding Hopes To Follow Path Of Recent Hoosiers Running Backs

Intro: Like Jordan Howard and Tevin Coleman before him, running back Devine Redding hopes to take what he’s learned at Indiana University and turn it into instant success at the NFL level.

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INDIANAPOLIS — We've seen this before.

In 2015, the Atlanta Falcons selected Tevin Coleman in the third round of the NFL Draft. After showing glimpses of what he could do in his rookie season, Coleman really emerged as a versatile running back for the eventual NFC Champions in 2016, collecting more than 940 yards of total offense and scoring 11 touchdowns.

In 2016, the Chicago Bears selected Jordan Howard in the fifth round of the draft, and he would go on to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark, becoming just the fifth rookie in franchise history to accomplish that feat, and earning a trip to the Pro Bowl.

This year, Devine Redding hopes to make the same kind of impact in his rookie season.

And what do Coleman, Howard and Redding all have in common? They all are Indiana University products.

After two straight 1,000-yard seasons with the Hoosiers, Redding decided to forego his senior season and declare for the 2017 NFL Draft. He said he's gotten plenty of advice from his fellow Hoosier backs as he continues to get closer and closer to learning where he'll be playing professionally later this year.

"Playing high school ball, going through college, and seeing the guys that were in front of me like Tevin and Jordan, I was able to see an example and kind of pattern my game off of the both of them, even though our styles are different," Redding said last week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "I still took away some of the things that they did, and I put it into my own style of game, and it got me to where I am right now."

With Coleman doing his thing at the time, Redding played sparingly as a freshman in 2014. But his sophomore season, he teamed up with Howard to form perhaps the best running back duo in the nation, as both players would rush for more than 1,000 yards. Then, last season, he had an even better year, running 253 times for 1,122 yards (4.4 yards per carry) with seven rushing touchdowns, while also catching 27 passes for 146 yards and another two scores through the air.

He became the first running back in school history since Vaughn Dunbar in 1990-91 to run for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons, and earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in 2016 for his efforts.

At the Combine, Redding said he told NFL coaches and front office personnel that his college tape will show that he excel at everything a running back needs to do at the professional level.

"Obviously I can run in between the tackles, I can run outside," Redding said. "I've got some pretty soft hands, so I can be used in pass routes, the passing game, and I'm a great pass blocker, so I'd be able to protect the quarterback no matter what the cost is."

Just in case the game tape isn't enough, Redding flashed some nice numbers in his Combine workouts. Although his 40-yard dash time — 4.76 seconds wasn't blazing, he put up 16 reps on the bench press, had a 30.5-inch vertical jump, a 116.0-inch broad jump, ran the 3-cone drill in 7.18 seconds and performed the 20-yard shuttle in 4.46 seconds.

He said last week he had been in contact with the Indianapolis Colts, who could be looking to further pad its stable of running backs as starter Frank Gore enters the twilight of his career, as well as several other teams.

And while the physical part of Redding's game appears to be fine, he said he's told NFL personnel that he is fully anticipating a major step up mentally as he learns the ropes early on in his professional career.

It's something that Coleman and Howard have done well early on in their careers, so Redding hopes he can continue to follow suit.

"I tell every coach, I really want to focus on my mental. Because going to the next level, it's a bigger playbook, more plays, more defenses you have to run against, and just seeing looks — reads and everything," Redding said. "So I tell coaches, I'll work on my mental. Even though it's good, it can always be better."

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