The 2011 NFL draft is around the corner and SB Nation's Hail to the Orange gives us the low down on Illinois RB Mikel Leshoure who could be among the top two running backs taken. Visit Hail to the Orange for more on Leshoure.
Mikel Leshoure (6'0", 230 pounds) was a hometown hero, attending Champaign Centennial high school, just a few blocks down the road from the University of Illinois. Leshoure was not particularly highly ranked coming out of high school and shared the rushing duties with two other players his freshman and sophomore seasons. In his junior year though, Leshoure took off for the Illini, rushing for 1697 yards, breaking Rashard Mendenhall's single season record, and scoring 20 touchdowns another Illini record.
During the season, Leshoure averaged six yards per carry and ran for over 100 yards nine times, including setting an Illinois record with 330 yards on 33 carries against Northwestern at Wrigley Field on November 20.
Leshoure has a great speed and size combination, similar to the two NFL backs who played right before him, Rashard Mendenhall and Pierre Thomas. Leshoure's top end speed isn't as high as Mendenhall's but Leshoure and has not had any problems with injury, or fumbles during his time in college.
Leshoure is exactly the sort of story you wish every college player could have. He grew up a fan of Illinois playing his high school ball just down the street from Memorial Stadium and though he had offers elsewhere, he decided to stay with his hometown school.Leshoure is very close with his mother and she has been her son's biggest cheerleader over the last three years. The fact thatLeshoure will be playing in the NFL, and making a life changing amount of money doing it, is a very feel good story.
Oddly enough though, what may have set him on his path to this level of success was an odd and unexpected injury. When Leshourewas a freshman, he was involved in a fight with one of his team mates, supposedly over a cell phone but who knows, and he ended up with a broken jaw, keeping him out for the rest of the season. Having his jaw wired shut, Leshoure couldn't eat like he normally would, and ended up losing about twelve pounds of excess weight and making for a much faster and more agile Mikel Leshoure from his sophomore season on.