Bills hope Omon's production carries over into NFL Print
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Saturday, 03 May 2008 11:49
NFL Headline News

 ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -Having scored 98 touchdowns - that's right, two short of 100 - in four years at college, Xavier Omon has a knack for finding the end zone.
``Let's hope it stays that way,'' the running back said, cracking a smile.
The Buffalo Bills hope so, too, after getting their first glimpse of the sixth-round draft pick out of Northwest Missouri State during a three-day rookie minicamp this weekend.
``It's hard to project on to the next level, but he's a guy that we're very pleased with,'' coach Dick Jauron said, noting it's difficult to overlook Omon's ability to score, even if it might have been at the Division II program. ``He's scored a lot. He knows what it's like to score. It's not unusual for him. ... And we're going to find out if he can do it at this level because we need it.''
The Bills are coming off a season in which their offense finished 30th in the NFL in yards gained, while scoring a league-worst 20 touchdowns, which was also the fewest in franchise history in a 16-game season.
The question in Buffalo is where Omon might fit on a depth chart flush with talented young players.
It's a group headed by Marshawn Lynch, the former first-round pick, who is coming off a stellar rookie season, in which he had 1,115 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. Rounding out the group are Fred Jackson, who showed promise in taking over the backup job last season, and Dwayne Wright, Buffalo's fourth-round pick last year.
With the Bills prepared to reintroduce a true fullback to their offensive set, it's unlikely the team will carry four running backs, meaning someone's not making the team, barring injury.
That's fine with Jauron.
``We've got to have everybody pushed as much as you can,'' Jauron said. ``It's a very young group. So he just steps up and starts competing and it'll make everybody else a little better. It's got to.''
Omon is aware of the challenge he faces. He's also willing to play any role, including special teams, in order to make the Bills.
``Whatever they ask me to do,'' he said. ``I figure if I work hard and stay determined and keep learning the playbook, my athletic ability will take care of everything else. ... I've just got to worry about myself.''
He has reason to be confident. He's coming off an eye-popping senior season in which he scored 38 touchdowns, including 37 rushing, and had 2,337 yards rushing - fourth-most in Division II history. Overall, he averaged 1.8 touchdowns and 130.98 yards rushing over 54 career games.
Omon became the first player in NCAA history to break 1,500 yards rushing in each of his four seasons and now holds 32 of 34 school and Mid-America Intercollegiate Association records.
How big were his numbers? Omon's 92 touchdowns rushing in four years at college were more than the 86 the Bills have managed in the past eight seasons.
From Beatrice, Neb., Omon humbly credited his offensive line and the team's coaching staff as the reasons behind his success.
``Other than that, it was just hard work and determination, just wanting it more than the people trying to stop me from getting there, I guess,'' he said.
Listed at 5-foot-11 and 220 pounds, Omon has a compact and muscular build. He has a strong first step and soft hands, which he showed off by catching most every pass thrown his way during the past two days of practice.
In scouting Omon, assistant general manager Tom Modrak said the challenge was determining whether the player's success was the result of facing lesser competition at the Division II level.
``A lot of guys did a lot of work on him ... and the conclusion was: this transfers, or we think it'll transfer,'' Modrak said. ``He was maybe a man among boys in some respects, but he looks like he's moving around well out here. We're excited.''
 

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