It’s not easy sharing the football as a running back. It’s a necessity at Louisiana State University.
Spencer Ware was used to handling the ball all of the time as the quarterback at Cincinnati’s Princeton High School but when he went to LSU and became a running back he learned an important lesson.
“Whoever’s hot is going to keep the rock and that’s how we’d go,” said Ware. Ware was a productive player for the Tigers the past three seasons but chose to forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft.
On Tuesday, Ware was one of 32 draft-eligible players with local ties the Bengals hosted for physicals and workouts. It is one of the final pieces of the evaluation puzzle for the team with eight more days to go before the annual draft begins on April 25. TheUniversity of Cincinnati had 14 players represented, while 20 players who prepped at Greater Cincinnati high schools were at the workout.
Cincinnati tight end Travis Kelce, the highest-rated player among the 32, was not able to attend because of a delayed flight but the Bengals plan on working him out individually before the draft.
“This is an opportunity to take them out on the field and teach them some things from our offense and see how well they react to it, see how well they learn it and how quickly they respond to instructions,” said scout Greg Seamon, who headed up the workout. “It’s one piece of the whole thing.”
The 5-foot-11, 228-pound Ware is coming off a hamstring injury that prevented him from running at the NFL combine in February. Looking over multiple draft ratings, Ware is likely to end up being taken late on Day 3 or go undrafted. Whatever happens, he’s positive about his prospects.
“It’s all about how bad you want it and what you’re willing to do to get it, whether it’s at the collegiate level or the NFL level,” said Ware. “The only thing you need is the opportunity. When you get in, seize the moment.”
Ware doesn’t have to look far outside of the LSU running back room and its alumni for proof of that statement.
Joseph Addai was the last LSU running back selected in the first round, when Indianapolis made him the 30th overall pick in 2006, but there have been several former Tigers who have been productive players picked after Day 1 of the draft since then. Jacob Hester went to San Diego in the third round in 2008 and was the Chargers’ fullback for four seasons. Trindon Holliday, who returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns for Denver against Baltimore in the playoffs last season, was a sixth-round pick of Houston in 2010 and Stevan Ridley of New England was a third-round pick in 2011.
Ridley started 11 games last season for the Patriots and rushed for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns. Ridley bided his time playing mainly special teams his first two seasons before becoming the starter as a junior when he started nine times and rushed for more than 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Michael Ford, who led LSU in rushing in 2011, is also entering the draft early.
“As far as the running back room, the chemistry there was a brotherhood in there,” said Ware. “We didn’t have a lot of moaning or complaining or selfishness if someone was having more success than another person. We’d cheer each other on. If someone scored then all of us were down in the end zone cheering him one another up and also helping one another while we’re on the sideline if we see something that they don’t see. We just look at it more as a unit than as an individual.”