Even though he’s a year or two away from beginning his pro career, Southern Miss running back Damion Fletcher admits he paid close attention to this year’s NFL Draft.
Conference USA had a running back selected in each of the first three rounds. The Tennessee Titans took East Carolina’s Chris Johnson in the first round, Tulane’s Matt Forte went to the Chicago Bears in the second round and the Detroit Lions chose 2007 NCAA rushing leader Kevin Smith of UCF with the opening pick of the third round.
Fletcher couldn’t help but wonder if he might eventually become the next Conference USA rusher to make the jump to the NFL. After all, he ran for more yards than Johnson last year and could finish his career with higher rushing totals than Forte or Smith.
“I don’t know exactly where I’d put myself against them,” Fletcher said. “They’re all great players. But I’m most definitely up there with them.”
In fact, no active player has rushed for more yards the past two seasons than Fletcher, who followed up a 1,388-yard freshman season by running for a school-record 1,586 yards last season. If Fletcher continues that rate of progress, he could ensure that Conference USA produces the nation’s top rusher for the second consecutive year.