UAB running back DeWayne McBride, once thought to be as high as a third-round choice, slid into the final round of the NFL Draft. McBride was the 222nd player chosen in the draft, with the Minnesota Vikings picking him in the seventh round.

In a Zoom call with Minnesota reporters, McBride explained his process during what amounted to three long days of the draft.

"At the end of the day, I just had to keep my head high and move day-by-day," McBride said. "Keep God in my prayers and keep it moving. You can't really expect too high or too low."

McBride was the 15th of 17 running backs picked in the three-day draft. None of them had better production running the football than McBride this past season. The 5-foot-10, 215-pound McBride was the nation's leader in total rushing yards (1,713), rushing yards per game (155.7) and yards per carry (7.35). He was second nationally in rushing touchdowns with 19.

Hamstring problems kept McBride from testing at the NFL Combine and during the UAB Pro Day. He had hoped to show NFL organizations that he could catch the football after catching just four passes in three seasons at UAB.

"He was somebody we had fairly high up on our board, kind of a starter grade, somebody that obviously carried the ball a lot, was really productive," said Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. "I think a lot of times in college, the running backs aren't used in the passing game, so maybe there was some questions on his ability. But Coach (Curtis) Modkins has been doing this a long time and coached some really good ones, and he kind of knows what to look for in those limited opportunities when you get a chance, and he is super connected with running back coaches, so we had some good intel that he's got more pass game value than he showed."

Minnesota was one of the teams he visited during the draft process.

"I can't even lie to you it just felt like home," McBride said. "I felt like I could come here and help the team out. I don't care if it's special teams, running back or whatever it is, I could come in here and just help the team out. I just felt like it was home and they showed me love. I kept it real with them and they kept it real with me and told me what it was."

Eventually, he got the call from the Vikings, but it took a while.

"A couple times I was looking at my phone and it wouldn't even be on, it would be my cousins calling me, and I would think it's a coach or something," McBride said. "Then I would have to wait again, so going through that I like the position I'm in today because I see I still have a lot to work on. I want to prove to the world that I am the best at what I do and I'm going to make a statement."

Adofo-Mensah expects him to make that statement.

"I think there was some ball security issues at times, but other than that, really good contact balance, super productive, like I said, ability to create at the line of scrimmage but also turn a good run into a great run," Adofo-Mensah said. "So we're really excited to add him."

UAB had an NFL draft choice for the third consecutive year. Defensive lineman Alex Wright went to Cleveland in the third round last year, and Jordan Smith was a fourth-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021.

McBride was the lone UAB draftee this season, but two Blazers quickly signed as undrafted free agents. Offensive tackle Kadeem Telfort signed with the Green Bay Packers, and cornerback Starling Thomas V signed with the Detroit Lions. Others will follow in the next few days.

In other NFL Draft news for within the state:

*Troy center Jake Andrews was chosen by the New England Patriots in the fourth round. Andrews, who was the 107th overall selection, was the lone Troy player chosen in the draft. Andrews could play some guard for the Patriots, which is familiar to him.

"I was always a swing guy," Andrews said. "When I got there, I always had to know center even when I had two years as guard, I had to know how to play center, just in case. And then this past year, obviously playing center for the whole entire season, it was really good transition and was something that I wanted to do to show that I was versatile, to show that I could snap the ball and make calls and identify defenses so it was a pretty smooth transition for me."

*Former McGill-Toolen High cornerback Jakorian Bennett was selected in the fifth round by the Las Vegas Raiders. Bennett, who played at Maryland, was the 104th player selected in the draft.

*The San Francisco 49ers selected cornerback Darrell Luter Jr. in the fifth round. Luter, who played at South Alabama, was the 155th player selected in the draft.

*Wide receiver Grant Dubose was the seventh-round choice of the Green Bay Packers. Dubose played in high school at Park Crossing High in Montgomery. He began his college career at Miles College before moving on to Charlotte. He was the 256th player drafted.
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