UCLA running back Demetric Felton created buzz at the Reese's Senior Bowl by putting his wide receiver talents on display. He set out to show off his versatility and accomplished that with ease.
"It was huge for me to be able to show my versatility; that is how I have been playing ever since I started playing football," he said. "I was always moved around a lot and able to do multiple things. I was recruited by UCLA as a receiver. At the beginning of fall camp of my junior year, our star running back, Joshua Kelley, got an injury so they needed to add someone to the depth chart while he was recovering.
"The running backs coach, DeShaun Foster, he knew I had a running back background by watching my high school film and they had moved me back there a couple of times. He asked coach [Chip] Kelly [to move me], coach Kelly agreed with it and that's how I moved to running back. Ever since I moved to running back, I never stopped working on my receiver game. In the offseason, I always ran routes with the receivers and made sure I was up in my game in that aspect as well while learning running back because it was definitely different than high school. I just tried to work on both and make sure I knew both positions well so wherever my team needed me, I could go and support them."
Felton is regarded as the No. 12 running back and the No. 139 prospect overall by CBS Sports and is likely to rise in future updates because of the versatility that he put on display.
The California native was eager to show that he can be an asset to modern NFL offenses.
"I think that is very valuable to teams right now to have a running back that is able to split out wide and run as good of routes as a receiver; that is huge. I think the NFL right now is about mismatches and getting your playmakers the ball in space. I feel like that is what I bring to the table. I feel like I can go on to a team and be in the backfield and I can go at receiver and be able to make plays there as well."
How does the UCLA product distinguish himself from other running backs in the class?
"I don't think there are a lot of guys out there that are able to be productive at both spots like I am. I think that separates me from the rest of the guys is that I am able to go to either position, learn them very well and be able to execute them at a high level."
Two NFL running backs, in particular, have been his muse.
"I watched a lot of Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey. Those are both great backs that I try to model my game after because of their versatility. They showed that they can be split out wide and be able to run routes against defensive backs. When you put them against linebackers, it is impossible for the linebackers to guard them. I feel like I am the same way. Linebackers are not able to stay with me and I am able to get at DBs so that is something that I tried to hone in on at my time at UCLA."
Felton has been training in Tampa and expects to run a sub-4.40 second 40-yard dash at his pro day.
As a rookie, Kelley had over 500 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. His success has motivated Felton.
"It definitely inspires me a lot. Being able to work with Josh, learn from him and just see his work ethic, he just made me a better player. Being able to follow in the footsteps of him after he left and be the starting running back at UCLA was huge for me. Just to see his growth and determination, it makes me want to do the same thing," he finished.
The former Bruin recorded 668 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 132 carries. Over the past three years, he has averaged 32.3 receptions annually.
The 2021 NFL Draft takes place at the end of April in Cleveland, Ohio.