The Redskins' offense struggled in short yardage during the 2004-05 season, with Clinton Portis converting 53 percent of third-and-one situations. So, in the April 23-24 NFL Draft, head coach Joe Gibbs targeted several bigger running backs who could drive into the line of scrimmage and push the pile forward for a first down.
In the fourth round, it was UCLA's Manuel White, Jr. The 6-2, 235-pound White is expected to see action at H-back. Then, in the seventh round, the Redskins delved into the Division I-AA ranks to find "Nemo."
Nehemiah Broughton, a self-described "bruising" running back nicknamed "Nemo," was drafted out of The Citadel. Although the 5-11, 245-pounder did not attend a big-time Division I college like the Redskins' other five draft picks, Gibbs believes Broughton can contribute on both offense and special teams in his rookie season.
"We think he will fit in real well on special teams," Gibbs said. "He is a big running back. When I say big, he is only 5-11, but he is 250 pounds. [Running backs coach] Earnest Byner really liked him in the workout."
Broughton compared his style of play to that of Jerome Bettis. His combination of size and speed appealed to the Redskins. In 40 games for the Bulldogs, he rushed 581 times for 2,638 yards (4.5 avg) and 25 touchdowns. Broughton also caught 47 passes for 455 yards and three touchdowns.
Coming from The Citadel, a military college in Charleston, South Carolina with an undergraduate enrollment less than 2,000, Broughton had to work overtime to get the attention of NFL scouts.
"I took a different road than other folks took to get here," Broughton said. "It's a smaller college, but we all ended up in the same situation in the end. I'm happy that I ended up here."
Broughton said that Division I schools passed on him because he broke out as a high school senior in 2000, after D-I recruiters had targeted the players they wanted for the incoming class. He rushed for 23 touchdowns and 1,670 yards in his final season at North Charleston (S.C.) High School and was named to the All-State team.
"I guess I flew under a lot of [college] teams' radar," he said, "but I wouldn't change anything."
Broughton likes to use his size to punish defenders, but he is also agile enough to make tacklers miss. When he arrived at The Citadel, Broughton's package of size and speed impressed one teammate so much that he earned the nickname that was eventually shortened to "Nemo."
"One of my teammates back at The Citadel, he was trying to say that I was a different breed," Broughton said. "He was calling me 'Nemo-sapien' instead of just being a Homo-sapien or other human. The name kind of stuck."
At the April 29-May 1 Rookie Camp, Broughton wasn't overwhelmed by the atmosphere. He felt that he thrived off the competition and being around Coaches Gibbs and Byner.
"It was as much as I expected," Broughton said. "Being here with Coach Gibbs and Coach Byner, they really explained things to the running backs. It was really easy to move forward to the field."
Broughton tweaked a previous hamstring injury during the Rookie Camp but still participated in drills through Sunday, the final day.
Broughton left rookie camp already looking ahead to mini-camp in June. Gibbs said that Broughton will be included in the rotation of fullbacks, and Broughton is looking forward to the opportunity.
"They talk of me being a short yardage back, but I still want to try to push to be a starter someday in the near future," Broughton said.