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Author Topic: #1 Round Pick: Rashard Mendenhall  (Read 994 times)
PghSteel-43
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« on: Apr 26, 2008 at 17:00 »

#1 Pick: (HB) Rashard Mendenhall

Overview

A physical inside runner, Mendenhall helped the Illini get back to the national prominence experienced in the 1980s. In his only season as a starter, Mendenhall led the team to a berth in the prestigious Rose Bowl. He went on to set school rushing records for most yardage (1,681) and touchdowns (17) in 2007, while also establishing an annual record with 1,999 all-purpose yards.

With a low center of gravity and thick legs, Mendenhall was a punishing force running between the tackles. He also showed the quick burst and second gear to elude defenders in the open field. Knowing what professional teams want in a tailback, he worked hard in the offseason to improve his pass-catching ability, almost tripling his reception production as a junior over that of his previous season (34 to 12).

At Niles West High School, Mendenhall was rated the premier recruit in the state of Illinois by Scout.com, earning a five-star prospect from that recruiting service, which rated him the 24th-best prep player in the country. He was named to Rivals.com's Top 100 team and rated 17th among national recruits by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. He was a member of the Student Sports Top 100 list of senior prospects, adding Prep Star All-American and Dream Team accolades.

Mendenhall was also selected the top recruit in the state of Illinois by the Chicago Sun-Times and named to Super Prep's Elite 50 list and All-American squad, ranking as the nation's fourth-best running back by the same publication. He also participated in the Fifth Annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The two-sport star was a three-year All-Central Suburban Conference selection for football and two-time pick for track. He was named to All-State teams as a junior in both football and track, in addition to earning All-Area honors for both sports as a sophomore and during his junior year for football.

Mendenhall averaged 9.1 yards per carry as a senior, rushing for 1,453 yards on 160 attempts and 14 touchdowns. As a junior, he gained 1,832 yards and 19 touchdowns, while averaging 11.6 yards per carry and recorded 1,300 yards and 21 scores as a sophomore. He also had over 1,000 career yards receiving and 13 touchdown catches. He was the Outstanding Performer at the Illinois Prep Top-Times meet as a junior and finished seventh in the state 100-meter dash as a sophomore. He also lettered in basketball.

Mendenhall verbally committed to Illinois as a junior in high school, spurning scholarship offers from Arizona, Arizona State and Northwestern, so he could join his brother, Walter, in the backfield for the Fighting Illini. Walter redshirted in 2004 and both brothers lettered in '05. Rashard was listed third on the depth chart at tailback, appearing in 10 games as a reserve. He managed 218 yards on 48 carries (4.5-yard average) and scored twice on 13 receptions for 82 yards (6.3-yard average).

As a sophomore, Mendenhall backed up Pierre Thomas, finishing second on the team with 640 yards and five touchdowns on 78 attempts (8.2-yard average). He also snared 12 passes for 164 yards (13.7 avg) and a score, racking up 870 all-purpose yards. His 8.2-yard rushing average was the best in the Big Ten Conference. He also earned CoSIDA/ESPN Academic All-District and Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2006.

In 2007, was named Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He ranked second in the league and eighth in the country with 262 carries, setting school season-records with 1,681 yards (6.4 avg) and 17 touchdowns. He also set a school record with 1,999 all-purpose yards, ranking third in the Big Ten with an average of 153.77 yards per game. He also made 34 catches for 318 yards (9.4 avg) and two touchdowns, scoring 114 points for his final campaign.

Capitalizing on his standout season, Mendenhall opted to enter the 2008 NFL Draft.

In 35 games at Illinois, Mendenhall started 14 times. He rushed 388 times for 2,539 yards (6.5-yard average) and 22 touchdowns, ranking seventh all-time on the school's rushing yardage list. He grabbed 59 passes for 564 yards (9.6 avg) and five scores, finishing with 162 points. He recorded two solo tackles and ranks 11th in school history with 3,103 all-purpose yards.

Career Notes

Mendenhall gained 2,539 yards rushing, ranking seventh in school history behind Robert Holcombe (4,105 yards, 1994-97), Antoineo Harris (2,985, 1999-2002), Thomas Rooks (2,887, 1982-85), Jim Grabowski (2,878, 1963-65), Rocky Harvey (2,711, 1998-2001) and Pierre Thomas (2,545, 2003-06)...His 1,681 yards on the ground in 2007 broke the old Illini record of 1,330 yards by Antoineo Harris in 2002...His 214 yards vs. Indiana in 2007 rank sixth and his 203 yards vs. Minnesota in 2007 rank 11th on the school's rushing chart...Mendenhall's 22 touchdowns rushing tied Antoineo Harris (1999- 2002) for ninth on the Illini list...His 17 rushing touchdowns in 2007 topped the previous school record of 15 by Howard Griffith in 1990...His three scoring runs in 2007 vs. Syracuse placed him fourth on the school game-record chart behind Griffith (eight vs. Southern Illinois in 1990), Red Grange (four vs. Michigan in 1924 and Antoineo Harris (four vs. Indiana in 2002)...Ran for over 100 yards nine times during his career (team compiled a 7-2 record in those contests), tying Pierre Thomas (2003-06), Rich Johnson (1966-68) and John Karras (1949-51) for third in school history behind Robert Holcombe (10, 1994-97) and Jim Grabowski (12, 1963-65)...His eight 100-yard rushing games in 2007 established an Illinois season-record, surpassing the previous mark of six by both Jim Grabowski (1965) and J.C. Caroline (1953)...His 1,999 all-purpose yards in 2007 broke the old school season-record of 1,818 yards by Keith Jones in 1988...His 79-yard runs vs. both Southern California in the 2008 Rose Bowl and vs. Penn State in 2006 rank 13th on the school's longest run list, while his 86-yarder vs. Northwestern in 2006 is the team's fourth-longest run from scrimmage, ranking behind Buddy Young (93 vs. Great Lakes and 92 vs. Pittsburgh, both in 1944) and Harry Jefferson (89 vs. Syracuse in 1954).

High School

Attended Niles West (Skokie, Ill.) High School, playing football for head coach Mark Egofske...Rated the premier recruit in the state of Illinois by Scout.com, earning a five-star prospect from that recruiting service, which rated him the 24th-best prep player in the country...Named to Rivals.com's Top-100 team and rated 17th among national recruits by the Atlanta Journal Constitution...Member of the Student Sports Top-100 list of senior prospects, adding Prep Star All-American and Dream Team accolades...Selected the top recruit in the state of Illinois by the Chicago Sun Times and named to Super Prep's Elite 50 list and All-American squad, ranking as the nation's fourth-best running back by the same publication...Partici pated in the Fifth Annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl...The two-sport star was a three-year All-Central Suburban Conference selection for football and two-time pick for track...Named to All-State teams as a junior in both football and track, in addition to earning All-Area honors for both sports as a sophomore and during his junior year for football...Averaged 9.1 yards per carry as a senior, rushing for 1,453 yards on 160 tries and 14 touchdowns...As a junior, he gained 1,832 yards and 19 touchdowns, averaging 11.6 yards per carry and recorded 1,300 yards and 21 scores as a sophomore...Also had over 1,000 career yards receiving and 13 touchdown catches...Was the Outstanding Performer at the Illinois Prep Top-Times meet as a junior and finished seventh in the state 100-meter dash as a sophomore...Also lettered in basketball.
 
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DCSteelers
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« Reply #1 on: Apr 26, 2008 at 20:34 »

Great pick, and I'd think he can become an immidiate impact... whether spelling Willie, or lined up somewhere on the field to compliment him.

I'd presume this would come at the expense of Russell.  Too bad, I liked him.  I guess that dookie could be the odd man out, we'll have to see.

I'd thnk Moore is safe for a roster spot as a KR.
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give'emthaboot
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« Reply #2 on: Apr 26, 2008 at 23:25 »

Would be nice to see if Dookie could be moved for a Rd 4 pick tomorrow.  He certainly won't see the field much this year with this team, and if he doesn't get traded or cut, he'll probably be modeling Duce's grey sweats all season.

We know what Najeh has, might as well wait and see on Russell, IMO.  I hope the FO feels the same way.
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'Oh, my, James Harrison is not going to the White House, he must be a devil worshiper!'
DCSteelers
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« Reply #3 on: Apr 27, 2008 at 00:18 »

Wow.  I didn't realize we could save 800K by cutting dooks.  

Russell's salary is 370K.

Seems like a no brainer which way to go..  Parker, Mendehall, Moore  and either Russell #4 or PS.
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