The future is now for Rhamondre Stevenson.
Oklahoma’s big, bruising running back can put behind him all the moves he and his family made in high school, all the challenges of waiting his turn in junior college, all the trials he put himself through at OU and just focus on his new NFL team.
Stevenson is still awaiting word, of course, on which team that will be. The first round of the NFL Draft unfolds Thursday night in Cleveland, and Rounds 2-3 are scheduled for Friday. Most projections are that Stevenson will have to wait until Saturday to hear his name called, but then that’ll become just another step on his football journey — one that he leans into.
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Just like he has the whole being-drafted-during-a-pandemic thing. NFL teams didn’t conduct their normal in-person interviews, and the NFL Scouting Combine was shut down altogether. Prospects have availed themselves at pro days and on video conferencing. The lucky ones got to meet and work to for scouts at the Senior Bowl. But that’s been it.
“That’s something that all of us college football players going into the draft look forward to, the combine,” Stevenson said. “We’ve been watching it since we were little and that’s something that we looked forward to. It’s kind of a bummer not being able to do it. But I think I had the upper hand by going to the Senior Bowl and talking to a lot of scouts and showcasing my game there. Then I had a second chance here at my Pro Day. I’m blessed to be in my situation. I’m not taking anything for granted.”
At his pro day, Stevenson measured 5-foot-11 and 5/8ths and weighed 231 pounds. He said he was down from his playing weight as part of an overall design to be fitter and faster.
“I lost about seven or eight pounds with me just focusing on nutrition and working out harder than I ever had,” Stevenson said. “I’m focusing on my body weight and body fat. That’s where that change came from. I’m down like seven pounds. It may have looked like 17 because it’s a lot better weight, things like that. I’m just focusing on more nutrition and on my body.”
The body reshaping wasn’t about just running a faster 40 time, he said. At 231, Stevenson thinks he’ll be a better football player overall and healthier in general.
“Just focusing on your body, period, athlete or non-athlete,” he said, “that would make you sleep better, make you feel better in the morning. I feel like that’s going to help me a lot on the next level.”
That said, one of his primary goals has been to improve his speed. A faster running back is a better running back.
“That’s been a huge focus, getting more explosive, things like that,” Stevenson said. “Another thing is becoming more of a student of the game, the game of football, just trying to make it my whole life because it’s my job now.”
Stevenson saw a jump in the speed of the game going from high school to juco, and saw another one going from juco to Power 5. Stevenson expects a step up in how quickly the NFL game comes at him. But he’ll be ready, he said.
“I think football is the same everywhere. But of course the game is going to speed up a little bit,” he said. “Just like me coming from juco to OU, the game got a little faster, but I think I did a great job of adjusting. I’ve got a lot of mentors that tell me what I need to look for and prepare for at the next level. I’m just ready to make that step. I think I’m being very well prepared to adjust to the NFL game.”