In 2005, Wisconsin running back Brian Calhoun had one of the best individual performances by a running back in NCAA history. The 21-year-old junior became just the second Division I player to surpass 1,500 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving in a single season, setting Badgers' football records along the way. Despite Calhoun's success, there are still questions of how well he translates to the National Football League.
Born in Atlanta, Calhoun was part of a military family that moved quite often. The family eventually landed in Wisconsin, and Calhoun became a three-sport star for Oak Creek High School. He lettered in football as well as basketball and track. A highly ranked running back coming out of high school, Calhoun committed to the University of Colorado.
As a freshman in 2002, Calhoun saw sporadic action backing up running backs Chris Brown (Titans) and Bobby Purify. He appeared in all 11 games, starting one, and finished the season with 314 rushing yards, 73 receiving yards with a touchdown reception.
With Brown moving on to the NFL, the sophomore Calhoun emerged as Colorado's top running back. He led the Buffaloes with 810 yards rushing and was second on the team with five rushing touchdowns. Calhoun also finished third on the team in receptions (32) and fourth in receiving yards (266).
Homesick and unwilling to acquiesce to the team's requests to move to wide receiver, Calhoun transferred to the University of Wisconsin in 2004. Per NCAA rules, Calhoun sat out the entire 2004 season.
In what would be his only season with the Badgers, the junior Calhoun put up an outstanding and record-breaking season. He carried the ball 348 times, accumulated 1,636 yards and scored 22 touchdowns on the ground. On top of that, Calhoun was second on the team in receptions with 53 and third in receiving yards with 571. In the team's 24-10 Capital One Bowl win over Auburn, Calhoun rushed for 213 yards and a touchdown.
Calhoun's stock slipped some after the NFL Scouting Combine in February, where he posted 40-yard dash times of 4.59 seconds and 4.62 seconds. A successful track athlete in high school and college, Calhoun is obviously faster than this 40 time. He backed that up at Wisconsin's Pro Day in late March with a much-improved time of 4.38 seconds.
Along with his good speed, Calhoun has good acceleration and agility. Calhoun is shifty and elusive. A smart runner, Calhoun waits for his blocks to develop.
Despite his size (5-foot-9, 204 pounds), Calhoun has the ability to run inside and is tough both mentally as well as physically.
The biggest concern with Calhoun is his size and, subsequently, his durability. He takes a beating when he runs, and it is uncertain whether he will be able to be a feature back at the pro level. With his receiving abilities, he may be better suited for a third-down and situational role, like running back Kevin Faulk of the New England Patriots.
Calhoun is also not a great blocker and will need to work on that area of his game.
You can't deny Calhoun's success in college, and he probably has a place in the NFL. While he is not among the elite running backs available in the 2006 NFL Draft, he is a good athlete who can contribute to a team's air and ground games.
Calhoun will probably be drafted somewhere between the late second-round to the middle of the third-round. It's worth noting that the Green Bay Packers hold the third pick in the third round (67th overall). Though the team does have Ahman Green, Najeh Davenport and Samkon Gado, but all three have contracts that expire after the 2006 season. The team lacks a third-down back with Calhoun's pass-catching abilities, so he could be a good fit. Calhoun probably wouldn't mind staying close to home, either.
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About Chris Nelson
Chris Nelson is a college student at Georgia State University currently majoring in journalism. Chris has been playing fantasy baseball and football for nearly a decade. He one day hopes to be a beat writer for the Miami Dolphins while eventually reaching the pinnacle of sports journalism, that being the ability to write about coffee, traveling, kids softball and whatever else he wants, all the while being paid good money by a national publication to do it. He has been a KFFL contributor since 2006.
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