Mobile, Ala. — Jeremy Langford filled Le'Veon Bell's shoes well the past two years at Michigan State, running for 2,944 yards and 40 touchdowns in 2013 and 2014. Now, Langford is hoping to follow in Bell's footsteps and become a three-down running back in the NFL.
Despite Langford's gaudy stats with the Spartans, the John Glenn High product knows he has plenty to prove during the Senior Bowl this week. On Tuesday, Langford showcased his ability as a receiver out of the backfield, running good routes and displaying good hands, and he said he hopes to prove he can pass block today.
But after seeing Bell rise from a two-star recruit to a top NFL running back with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Langford is confident he can make the leap to the next level, too.
"He wasn't the most highly recruited running back," said Langford, who was a three-star recruit. "I think he did a lot to persevere through that and show everybody that you can do it regardless of how popular you are."
Now, the question will be how high Langford can climb on the draft boards in what many analysts consider a loaded running back class.
With potential first-rounders in Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon and Georgia's Todd Gurley as well as significant depth, NFL Network's Mike Mayock said this has the potential to be a "great" group of backs.
And Langford is among the second-tier behind Gordon and Gurley who will be jockeying for position and hoping to be drafted on the second day of April's draft.
Some of the other players Langford is battling are in Mobile, too, with Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah and Minnesota's David Cobb as his teammates on the North roster, and Auburn's Cameron Artis-Payne and Northern Iowa's David Johnson on the South's.
ESPN ranks Langford as the No. 8 back in the draft behind Gordon, Gurley, Tevin Coleman (Indiana), Duke Johnson (Miami), Abdullah, T.J. Yeldon (Alabama) and Mike Davis (South Carolina).
In order to improve his stock, Langford said he has to prove he can do more than run between the tackles, his primary task with the Spartans.
"I think I have to do my best to become an all-around back, a three-down back," he said.
On Tuesday, Langford impressed Spartans safety Kurtis Drummond with his pass-catching in practice. Drummond and wide receiver Tony Lippett are both representing Michigan State on the North team, too, for Saturday's game.
"I don't think he really got to showcase it as much at Michigan State just because we had weapons out there such as Tony Lippett," Drummond said. "Jeremy looked good today really catching the ball and making plays afterwards."
At 5-foot-115/8 and 211 pounds, Langford isn't the biggest back, but after having 276 carries in 2014 and 292 in 2013, he's proven he can take a pounding, according to NFL Network analyst Charles Davis.
"I think he's a good volume back, used to carrying it a bunch, great determination through that."
The other question about Langford is his top-end speed, which he'll have a chance to test at the combine. But as Davis said, "How many of (the top backs) in the NFL have monster top-end speed?"
Langford's draft stock will be determined over the next few months, but as long as he's in Mobile, he hopes to show continued improvement. By catching passes well Tuesday, he's off to a good start.
"I felt good," he said. "You can always get better. No one is perfect, but I feel like I did good and I can get better at the routes at the same time."