INDIANAPOLIS — Turns out, when UW running back Salvon Ahmed said “we’ll see you guys next year for a bigger season’’ after the Huskies’ Las Vegas Bowl win in a video posted to the team’s Twitter page, he already knew what next year would entail.
Despite that statement, which could’ve been interpreted as Ahmed announcing his return to UW in 2020, he is instead now preparing for the NFL as one of seven Huskies taking part in the NFL combine this week.
Ahmed received his invite after publicly declaring for the draft Jan. 3, roughly two weeks after UW’s 38-7 win over Boise State.
But during his session with the media in Indianapolis on Wednesday morning, the former Juanita High standout said it was a decision that had been a long time coming.
“Kind of going into the bowl game I knew that was going to be my decision to get out of there,” Ahmed said. “I talked to my parents about it prior to that, I talked to coaches about it, family, high school coaches, everyone. I kind of let everyone know. No one made the choice for me. I made the choice for myself.”
The choice was made in part because Ahmed said he felt he had met all of his goals at UW, particularly during a junior season in which he rushed for 1,020 yards on 188 carries with 11 touchdowns and was named honorable mention All-Pac-12.
“It was definitely something that I’ve been thinking about since I got to college,’’ said Ahmed, who served in a reserve role behind Myles Gaskin his first two seasons at UW. “Everyone’s dream is to leave after three years, but for me I had goals I wanted to accomplish. I definitely wanted to be a 1,000-yard rusher, I wanted to have 10-plus touchdowns, I wanted to have explosive plays, and if I didn’t have those things I wasn’t going to leave and I was fortunate enough to mark off every single one of those goals. And I felt physically and mentally on top of that that I was ready to be a pro.’’
While Ahmed’s decision caught some by surprise, few usually question the wisdom of a running back trying to get to the NFL as quickly as possible given the often short shelf-life of that position and potential for injury.
While getting noticed in a pretty deep class of running backs won’t be easy, Ahmed has a chance to gain attention Friday, when he and the rest of the backs run the 40-yard dash. Ahmed has a listed best 40 time of 4.32 seconds, and running anything close to that will help his case.
Ahmed, in fact, was included in a story from The Ringer about players at the combine who have the most to gain: “Western Michigan’s LeVante Bellamy, Washington’s Salvon Ahmed, and Louisiana’s Raymond Calais each have the type of top-end speed to put their names on the proverbial map heading into the draft.”
Still, the general perception of Ahmed is as a likely third-day pick (Rounds 4-7) at best, with NFL.com’s scouting report on Ahmed giving the candidly blunt assessment that he “faces an uphill battle to make a team” and that “he suffers from a debilitating lack of vision and decisiveness that prevents him from reaching his athletic potential as a runner.”
Ahmed, though, said Wednesday that he doesn’t care where he’s drafted — all he wants is a foot in the door.
“I haven’t looked into none of that (draft projections),” Ahmed said. “I just want to control what I can control, and I can control this workout and I can control what I go out there and do (on Friday) and I want to be drafted at my highest projection whatever that is and go from there.”
And doing so with, he promises, no regrets however it turns out.
“A dream come true,” Ahmed said of taking part in the combine. “I’ve been playing this game since I was 6 years old, so it’s years and years and years of practice and blood, sweat and tears literally put into this game. So being able to get drafted, that’s a dream come true, just putting in this work right here making sure I’m cherishing this moment and getting ready for this workout Friday to make sure I can make that dream come true.”