NFL Scouting Combine Notebook: Big Ten RBs meet the media
Mar. 4—INDIANAPOLIS — Mohamed Ibrahim answered a lot of questions with a sterling on-field performance in 2022.
The Minnesota running back tore his Achilles' tendon in the first game of the 2021 season against Ohio State. He had 30 carries for 163 yards and two touchdowns at the time of the injury and seemed well on his way to another outstanding season.
But there was immediate concern he might never regain his burst and play at the level that already had made him a two-time 1,000-yard rusher.
The Golden Gophers star allayed those concerns with 320 carries for 1,665 yards and 20 touchdowns, proving he can still handle a hefty workload and create hefty production.
Meeting the media at the NFL Scouting Combine on Saturday morning, Ibrahim took joy in his journey.
"I kind of just had to put all my trust into God, leave it all into his hands," Ibrahim said. "I take it day by day, not looking at the final results. I think I just put weeks together. I came out with a great result, and I'm kind of just putting that behind me now and just getting ready for the NFL."
It's a deep and talented running back class led by Texas star Bijan Robinson, and Ibrahim was one of three rushers from the Big Ten alone speaking on the final day of media availability at the Indiana Convention Center.
He's just the 16th-ranked prospect at the position, according to NFLDraftScout.com, owed in part to the injury and in part to his wear and tear. Running backs generally don't have a long shelf life in the NFL, and Ibrahim already has 867 carries and 4,668 yards on his odometer over five years at Minnesota.
But he believes playing in the bruising Big Ten against some of the nation's best defensive talent helped prepare him for the next level.
"That's hard-boy football at the end of the season," Ibrahim said. "It gets cold. It gets hard to tackle, gets hard to run. But it forces you to run harder."
There's also a mentality that comes with surviving in that environment.
The one guarantee every NFL rookie will face is adversity. How they handle the inevitable bumps in the road determines the longevity of their career.
Ibrahim's already seen his fare share of obstacles and overcome them. He believes he's ready for whatever comes next.
And he believes he owes much of that preparedness for the long haul to the mentality of his position coach at Minnesota.
"You go out there with the mindset of dominating the other team, taking their soul over the time of the game," he said. "Me and Coach (Kenni) Burns, we look at it as like a boxing match, getting stronger throughout the whole match and just wear teams out."
Illinois running back Chase Brown is one of five Canadians at this year Combine — including his brother Sydney, a safety for the Fighting Illini.
If they're all selected during next month's NFL Draft, it will make an even dozen players drafted over the last three years from Canada.
"It's a blessing, but it's not a surprise at the same time," Brown said. "There have been good players north of the border for years now, and the fact that this year's there's five Canadians in the Combine is just showing that we're getting the recognition we deserve.
"I just hope it sets the standard for future Canadians that are trying to get to this position."
HULL OF A RUN
Northwestern's Evan Hull has one 1,000-yard rushing season on his resume and combined for nearly 1,500 total yards in 2022, including 546 receiving yards.
He has a chance to be drafted in the late rounds, and he's enjoying the moment.
"I would say it was always a dream of mine, even like when I started playing football," Hull said. "But I would say it really became a possibility towards midway through high school, when I started getting recruited. I started playing more on varsity and all those types of things, and things started to just fall in place for me.
"So God has brought me this long way, and I'm super blessed just to be here."