Mendenhall played sparingly as a freshman, racking up 214 yards on the ground, while adding 82 yards and two touchdowns on 13 receptions out of the backfield. As a junior, he became more of a factor in the offense, rushing for 640 yards and five touchdowns to go with 164 yards and a touchdown on 12 receptions. All that was leading up to the massive season he had this year. Mendenhall ran for 1,681 yards and 17 TD’s on the ground to go along with 34 receptions for 318 yards and two touchdowns.
As Mendenhall goes, Illinois goes. He was the catalyst for the offense that led the team to the Rose Bowl. He has very good size, and shows the ability to pound it between the tackles and pick up the tough yardage. He also has the quickness to make a defender miss, and the speed to turn the corner and make the big plays. Mendenhall has also become a threat as a receiver out of the backfield and a guy you have to keep an eye on.
Mendenhall does not have one true standout trait about his game. He has also only been the feature back for one season, although that may be spun as a positive because he lacks the wear and tear other backs may have on their body.
Mendenhall had a huge season this year, establishing himself as a legit first rounder. He had a great season, capped off with a tremendous Rose Bowl. He then further legitimized his status with a quality showing at the combine. Mendenhall could be the second back selected in April, but is a first rounder nonetheless.