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Vikings Draft UAB Running Back DeWayne McBride


EAGAN, Minn. — Considering DeWayne McBride's press conference energy, it's easy to envision him making plays on the football field.

McBride spoke to Twin Cities media members Saturday evening via videoconference shortly after Minnesota selected the running back with the 222nd overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Complemented by his pairing of a white shirt with white pants, McBride's smile shined throughout the interview.

"I'm happy I'm y'all's family now, you know? It's a blessing to be here," he said. "I'm very excited to get to hang out with my family and get this experience. It means a lot. … I'm gonna do everything it takes. I'm gonna come in and give it everything I've got."

Listed at 5-foot-10 and 209 points, McBride was rated as the No. 5 running back in this year's class by ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., and Pro Football Focus.

He played in 30 games at UAB, totaling 484 carries for 3,523 rushing yards (7.3 yards per carry) and 36 touchdowns from 2020-22.

McBride rushed 233 times for 1,713 yards and 19 scores last season, leading FBS with an average gain of 7.35 yards per carry. According to Will Ragatz of Sports Illustrated, a whopping 1,072 of his rushing yards came after contact.

He credited his father, with whom he shares the nickname "Debo," for fueling the effort.

"I'm gonna give it all to my dad. He always told me, 'Never let one man take you down,' " McBride said. "I just love this sport, so I'm gonna give it all I've got. I hate getting tackled by two or three, man. My dad says one; I hate two or three. I just hate getting tackled."

It doesn't hurt that McBride is able to squat 550 pounds – which, if you're keeping track at home, is 11 pounds more than the combined listed weights of Minnesota's first three draft picks (Jordan Addison, Mekhi Blackmon and Jay Ward).

"You've gotta hit that weight room hard," said McBride, who also mentioned the importance of nutrition and overall fitness. "If you stay on top of all of that, it'll pan out real well for you. And staying consistent."

McBride is entering a Vikings running backs room that currently has Dalvin Cook, with whom General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said conversations are "ongoing"; Alexander Mattison, who signed an extension with Minnesota this spring; 2021 draft pick Kene Nwangwu and 2022 selection Ty Chandler.

Asked what he expects his role to be with the Vikings, McBride kept it simple:

"I'm just here to play football."

He later emphasized, though, that whether he's looked at for special teams, offense or both, he's whole-heartedly committed to do whatever he's asked.

And McBride is a little extra motivated to put his best feet forward in Minnesota.

He described the anticipation of waiting for that phone call.

"At times, it can give you chills. I'm not gonna lie – a couple times I looked at my phone, but it would be, like, my cousin calling me. I'm thinking it's a coach or something and then I'd be like, 'Aww. I've gotta wait again,' " McBride laughed. "But I like the position I'm in today because I see that I've still got a lot to work on, and I want to prove to the world I'm the best at what I do, and I'm gonna make a statement."

View photos of UAB RB DeWayne McBridel who was selected No. 222 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft.

McBride may have had to wait until the seventh round, but it doesn't lessen the Vikings excitement about him.

Adofo-Mensah said he and his staff actually had the running back "fairly high up" on their draft board and were thrilled when he fell to them.

"Kind of a starter grade, somebody that obviously carried the ball a lot, was really productive," Adofo-Mensah said. "I think a lot of times in college, a lot of times the running backs aren't used in the passing game, so maybe there was some questions on his ability, but [Vikings running backs coach Curtis] Modkins has been doing this a long time and coached some really good ones, and he knows what to look for in those limited opportunities when you get a chance.

"And [Modkins] is super connected with running back coaches, so we had some good intel that he's got more pass game value than he showed," Adofo-Mensah continued. "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. So we're really excited to add him."

The Vikings hosted McBride earlier this month on a Top 30 visit, which proved to be a positive experience for both parties.

McBride appreciated the opportunity to get to know Adofo-Mensah and the coaching staff, with whom he said he'd stayed in contact with.

"I can't even lie to you, it just felt like home. … I felt like I could come here and help the team out," he said. "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."

Since Minnesota will be just a tad colder during football season than McBride's hometown of Starke, Florida, he was asked about being prepared for an adjustment.

"I'm ready for the cold," he smiled. "I got a little teaser from Birmingham."

(So … who's gonna tell him?)