ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Kapri Bibbs was bypassed in the NFL draft despite leading the nation with 31 touchdown runs in his single season at Colorado State. Yet, he insists he’s glad he turned pro.
“I expected to get drafted, but at the end of the day, I can only be happy that I’m here,” the 5-foot-11, 203-pound running back said after the first workout of the Denver Broncos’ rookie minicamp Friday. “I remember when I prayed to God and asked him to just to give me an opportunity, I didn’t ask him to get drafted, I just asked him to give me an opportunity and that’s what he did.”
Therefore, Bibbs said, he doesn’t consider coming out of school after his sophomore season a mistake.
Bibbs said there were plenty of other teams lining up for his services after the draft concluded last weekend, including the Buccaneers, Falcons, Bears and Ravens.
He said he decided to stay in Colorado because he and Denver running backs coach Eric Studesville hit it off at the NFL combine and he wanted to play in an up-tempo system engineered by Peyton Manning.
“I just feel like this is the right spot,” Bibbs said.
Besides, the Broncos didn’t draft a running back after letting free agent Knowshon Moreno go, so “I’ll get as many reps as any new guy will get,” Bibbs said., “I’m looking for opportunity. I’m not coming in and trying to make the practice squad.”
Bibbs hopes to crack a rotation that features projected starter Montee Ball and his fellow second-year back C.J. Anderson — who made the roster as an undrafted free agent last year — and Ronnie Hillman.
He’ll face some strong competition, particularly from undrafted free agent Juwan Thompson, a 225-pound back from Duke and one of four other running backs who were sharing snaps Friday.
None have Bibbs’ resume, however.
In his only season in Fort Collins, Bibbs ran for a school-record 1,741 yards and 31 TDs on 281 carries for a 6.2-yard average.
Bibbs, however, had just six 100-yard games and he only caught eight passes and never more than one in a game.
Then, there was the small sample size.
He attended Snow College in 2011 and Front Range Community College in 2012 before going to CSU in 2013, where he joined his new teammate Ball and Barry Sanders as the only players in NCAA history to run for more than 30 TDs in a season.
Yet, he never heard his name called in the three-day, seven-round draft.
“Hey, at the end of the day, I’m just happy that I’m here,” Bibbs said. “The draft, that’s all fine and dandy but I’m ready to make a name for myself.”
He did that in college with his play on the field, but Rams coach Jim McElwain has a policy that forbids first-year players from speaking with the media, so Bibbs never got to talk about his accomplishments even though he was one of the primary reasons Colorado State won eight games, including the New Mexico Bowl.
“Yeah, I was just the man behind the mask, like Batman,” Bibbs said with a laugh.
As such, his gregarious nature is largely unknown.
Coach John Fox said he got to know Bibbs at a dinner the team had for the rookies Thursday night, and “he’s an impressive young man.”
Bibbs might not be able to flash his full repertoire on the football field, however, until training camp, as he continues to work his way back from a turf toe injury on his right foot that bothered him over the final month of his college career and nags him still.
“I’m getting there,” Bibbs said. “They’re working on it. Just rest always helps, too.”
An undrafted free agent has made the Broncos’ opening-day 53-man roster for 10 consecutive seasons, but that’s not what persuaded Bibbs to sign with Denver.
“No, I don’t care about the history,” he said. “I care about the organization, and they have a great one here.”
And a great opportunity, too.
“They look for talent and the best player plays here,” Bibbs said. “And that’s all you can really ask for as a guy like me.”
– By Arnie Stapleton, AP Sports Writer
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