Meet Isaac Odim, running back from Minnesota-Duluth (UMD).
Currently ranked the 61st overall running back by Scout Inc.’s draft board on ESPN.com, Odim is hoping to get a shot in the NFL and prove that playing for a Division 2 team can’t keep him from being a professional athlete.
Odim is a 5’11”, 210lb player who runs the 40 in approximately 4.5 seconds. His speed is solid for a runner, but his best attribute is his outstanding ability to run hard and break tackles. “I pride myself on never giving up on a play, not letting the first person tackle me, and fighting for extra yards,” said Odim. According to him, he tries to emulate Adrian Peterson’s physicality by always fighting to keep the play alive while picking up more yards.
One thing that he feels could use some work is his pass blocking abilities. “My blocking has not been an issue at the Division 2 level, but it will be a big difference going up against NFL linebackers,” Odim said. “Scouts have pointed it out as an area to work on.”
Unfortunately for Odim, his physical style of play has led to an injury that could put his future in question. In mid-October, Odim went down with a knee injury that kept him out for the rest of UMD’s run for a D2 national championship. However, that hasn’t stopped Odim from dreaming big. “I need to focus on getting back to 100% as quickly as possible,” he said. “My immediate goal is to get onto an NFL team… The rehab is coming along very well. If anything I would say I’m ahead of schedule.” He feels that he will be at full-speed and strength by late March or early April and should have plenty of time to display his skills before the draft.
Over his career at UMD, Odim has overhauled the school record book in just about every rushing category. He racked up 4,245 yards on 589 attempts (7.2 yards-per-carry) and 72 rushing touchdowns during his career, including a 1,808 yard, 29 touchdown 2009 season. He was selected to five different All-American first teams as a junior and was honored as part of the 2010 ESPN Academic All-American College Division Football Team with a 3.85 GPA. He also returned the occasional kickoff or punt for the Bulldogs.
One reason he feels he’s been so successful is UMD’s outstanding defense, which has consistently been one of the best in all of Division 2 football. “Going up against that kind of talent in practice has helped me progress as a player,” Odim said. “More so than I probably would have at another D2 program.” However, NFL defenses and their speed will definitely be a big step up from UMD’s outstanding defense.
Despite being a part of a two-time National Championship team, Odim considered UMD’s 2008 quarterfinals victory over Grand Valley in overtime his most memorable moment as a Bulldog. The thing he will miss the most though as he leaves UMD and heads towards the NFL will be his teammates. “UMD has done a great job at recruiting unselfish players with great character, and it was a pleasure to play in that kind of system,” he said.
Odim feels confident that he will have plenty to offer any team that decides to take a chance with him. “I’m coachable and an inherent playmaker, whatever the situation may be,” he said. “I think my biggest challenge will be just proving myself as a valuable part of the team and overcoming the preconceptions of Division 2.”
Although it’s unlikely he’ll get a phone call on draft day, don’t be surprised to see Odim get a chance to prove himself as an undrafted rookie free agent.
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