Turning heads. For Saints undrafted rookie free agent RB Darius Victor, it's an accurate phrase to use for describing the past 2 practices of Saints Training Camp, in which he's been a participant.
Victor, who prior to the 2017 NFL Draft scouts and analysts were referring to as a "small school gem" out of Towson University in Maryland; a FCS school (formerly Division I-AA) in the CAA (Colonial Athletic Association) -- declared for the Draft, but wasn't chosen.
He was then invited to New York Jets rookie camp, and after trying out there; decided he'd give himself another opportunity elsewhere and then attended the Saints mandatory Mini-Camp in mid-June on a tryout basis.
Victor finished his college career with the Towson Tigers football program with a flourish, and the long-time Hyattsville, Maryland resident tallied a grand total of 3,309 yards rushing and 41 touchdowns on 637 carries (including two seasons with more than 1,000 rushing yards) during his 4-year college career.
Prior to his college career, Victor shattered the state of Maryland high school record --- when he rushed for an incredible 2,107 yards and 31 touchdowns in his senior season of 2012 at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, approximately 40 miles southwest of Baltimore.
The 23-year old Victor was one of 7 children born at a refugee camp in Ivory Coast, a nation in West Africa. Victor's parents, who are natives of the neighboring West African nation of Liberia, were fleeing the First Liberian Civil War when they ended up at the camp.
The family immigrated to the United States in 2000 when Victor was 6 years old, where they settled in Maryland.
Victor was officially signed on the Saints' day off from practice on Tuesday, and after only just his 2nd practice earlier today was already the topic of discussion among writers and analysts that cover the team.
Impressions during that 11-on-11: Darius Victor is a baller. Intriguing prospect to watch rest of camp.
— Herbie Teope (@HerbieTeope) August 2, 2017
As it is, actually seeing Victor up close is a sight to behold.
— PFS Agency (@pfsagency) August 1, 2017
To use an analogy, Victor is "chiseled from stone", and his dedication to fitness and specifically training with lifting weights is evident; when you see the muscles that ripple from his arms like a competitor in a "Mr. Universe" competition.
But because he's so compact (only 5-foot-9, 209 pounds), Victor can be hard for bigger would-be-tacklers (especially D-Linemen) to corral or attempt to pin down because he darts through the hole so quickly.
Although Victor says that he feels that his game compares most to former NFL star Maurice-Jones Drew, for me personally Victor reminds me of 1980's New York Giants RB Joe Morris; the 5-foot-7, 190 pound dynamo who used his small but powerful frame and athletic quickness, to his full advantage by getting 'lost' in the scrum taking place among the linemen from both teams at the line of scrimmage --- and then suddenly bursting through the hole for big gains.
That type of running style was on full display at Victor's first official practice with the team on Wednesday; when he took a hand-off from QB Garrett Grayson and dashed through the hole at the line of scrimmage as if he had been shot out of a cannon.
— PirateLife Football (@PirateLifeFF) August 3, 2017
— Amos Morale III (@Amos_MoraleIII) August 2, 2017
As Victor burst into the secondary where he flew by the Saints DB's in the defensive secondary, one of the fans in attendance in the bleacher seats at the Saints Practice Facility yelled out: "That's a Mighty Mouse!!!"
Recentlty signed RB Darius Victor, who is 5-9, 202 pounds. with a nice run. Fan yelled out, "That's a Mighty Mouse!"
— Herbie Teope (@HerbieTeope) August 2, 2017
Victor then was "mighty" yet again earlier today as the Saints practiced indoors due to rain; and though only the media was allowed to view practice, it was New Orleans Advocate beat writer / analyst Nick Underhill who observed that the impressive rookie was turning heads once again for a 2nd straight day.
Underhill noted that Victor continues to break long runs during practice; and after having done it yesterday in those 11-on-11 drills mentioned above, did so once again today. Underhill added that Victor is making the right impression early on in Camp.
The biggest question now becomes: will it become good enough to earn a spot on the Final 53-man roster?
At the moment, Victor is now part of a 3-way battle with back-up RB's Travaris Cadet and 2016 7th Round pick Daniel Lasco for what likely will be the #4 (and final) RB spot.
Victor will need a few more impressive or at least solid practices as well as some good showings during the upcoming Pre-Season games (which includes making a contribution on special teams and pass blocking, two Sean Payton offensive "staples"), to stick around for the 2017 regular season.
One thing that fans should always keep in mind is that just because a player looks great in practice, it doesn't always translate over to success in game situations.
Former Saints WR and 2012 4th Round draft pick Nick Toon, who looked great in Camp every year but finally was released by the team after 3-non productive seasons, would be just one of the perfect examples for that sad but sobering reality.
But if nothing else, Victor appears to be a "lock" at this point, to make the Saints Practice Squad.
Nevertheless, none of the other competitors for that #4 RB spot should let their guard down. They'd be very smart to maximize their efforts every single day from now until the final Pre-Season game against the Baltimore Ravens later on this month (August 30th).
Especially since the impressive young man named Darius Victor, keeps turning heads........