Home > Illinois football > Illini Mikel Leshoure: ‘Blessing’ to be picked by Lions

Illini Mikel Leshoure: ‘Blessing’ to be picked by Lions

Mikel Leshoure described his selection by the Detroit Lions with the 57th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft as “the biggest moment of my life.”

Leshoure, the 25th selection in the second round, also registered pretty high on the excitement scale when he was told during a teleconference Friday night that Illini teammate Martez Wilson had been drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the third round with the 72nd overall pick.

“Oh man, Tez is going to the Saints!” Leshoure said. “Oh, that’s crazy. Haha, yeah!”

Leshoure was equally emotional when Corey Liuget shook hands with NFL commission Roger Goodell on Thursday after the former Illini defensive tackle was selected 18th overall by the San Diego Chargers.

“When I saw Corey walk across that stage, it felt like it was me,” Leshoure said. “I got goosebumps. Now that Tez (was picked), I feel like everything is complete. I’m happy for all three of us.”

The Lions traded back into the second round to select Leshoure to complement the quick-footed Jahvid Best, who ran for 867 yards and 12 touchdowns last year as a rookie. Detroit finished in third place in the NFC North in 2010 with a 6-10 record but could have been better if starting quarterback Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick in 2009, had not sat 13 games due to injury.

But the Lions are projecting upward with Stafford, Best, Pro Bowl wide receiver Calvin Johnson and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the 2010 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. The Lions added Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley with the 13th overall selection and Boise State wide receiver Titus Young in the second round.

“When I went on my visit there, I had a good vibe with the coaches,” Leshoure said. “I like the facilities and everything was good. To see that they feel the same about me, it just feels good. I’m excited to get to work with everyone in that organization.”

Leshoure was the fourth running back selected, behind Alabama’s Mark Ingram, Virginia Tech’s Ryan Williams and California’s Shane Vereen. Leshoure didn’t take too much offense.

“That’s something I can’t control,” Leshoure said. “I wish them the best of luck.”

The phone call ended a whirlwind year for Leshoure, who began 2010 spring practice competing for the starting job with classmate Jason Ford. But 1,697 yards and 17 touchdowns later, Leshoure begins his NFL dream.

“For me to get drafted wherever was a blessing whether it was a first round pick or a second rounder or beyond that was still a blessing,” Leshoure said.

“To get that call was just like the earth was lifted off my shoulders.”

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