BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns rookie running back Matthew Dayes is making an impression on teammates and coaches alike in his first training camp in the National Football League, and he is using his doubters to fuel those efforts every time he takes the field.
Dayes was the 30th running back selected in the 2017 NFL Draft, and was the second-to-last player chosen in the entire three-day event, and those facts have stuck with him throughout the offseason and the first 10 training-camp practices.
“Every day, when I wake up, I think about that,” Dayes said after a recent practice.
“I thought that I was going to go in the third or fourth (round) and ended up going in the seventh round. I am thankful right now because I am with a great organization. I’m blessed, and I’m happy with how everything has gone so far.”
In his four years with the North Carolina State Wolfpack, the 5-foot-9, 205-pound Dayes rushed for 2,856 yards and 34 touchdowns on 550 carries. Additionally, Dayes caught 98 passes out of the backfield for 933 yards and six touchdowns.
During his senior season in 2016, Dayes turned 249 carries into 1,166 yards and 10 touchdowns. He added 32 catches for 267 yards out of the backfield. The carries, yards and passes caught set or matched new single-season personal career highs.
Dayes’ best year for rushing touchdowns came in 2015, when he had 12 scoring runs.
“I don’t know how I knew that number, but I just know the number to tell you the truth,” Dayes said of being the 30th back selected in April. “I know for a fact there were not 29 running backs in that draft that are better than me.
“I was already talking to a bunch of teams about free agency. I had no idea the Browns were going to pick me up, so I was happy when I got that phone call.”
And Dayes plans on rewarding the Browns for their faith in spending a pick on him by continuing to do what he did throughout his first week in training camp, rushing hard and catching the ball well out of the backfield.
“I think I did pretty well this week,” Dayes said. “There is some stuff I need to clean up, but for the most part, I’m making plays out there. I know I am capable of making those plays, so it is not a shock to me at all.
“I love running the ball inside. I love running the ball outside a lot. I was used as a receiver a lot in college. I look at myself as an every-down back. I can do everything.”