Alvin Kamara is a running back for the New Orleans Saints, but he’s also a rarity on the field. Kamara’s onfield intelligence allows him to decipher defenses and what their next move might be.
With four years in the league now and a supporting cast around him, Kamara has become so adept at reading defenses that he even suggested a play to head coach Sean Payton. Payton took his advice, and the Saints ended up scoring on the drive, a drive that boosted Kamara’s confidence about his ability to read the field.
Alvin Kamara’s humble start
Although a top high school prospect, Kamara had a difficult time adjusting to college life before finding his footing at the University of Tennessee.
He initially attended the University of Alabama under head coach Nick Saban, but knee surgery forced him to sit out his freshman season, and the following year he had a difficult time breaking in through the new recruits. After issues with Saban, Kamara transferred to Hutchinson Community College in Kansas.
His successful play at the junior college led to Division I offers from Tennessee and Georgia. He went off to Tennessee and shared time in the backfield with two other teammates.
That didn’t stop him from averaging 6.2 yards per carry, and he ended his career with 1,294 rushing yards. He entered the 2017 NFL Draft and was selected in the third round by the New Orleans Saints.
Onto the NFL
Alvin Kamara wasted no time in making a name for himself. He was a dual-threat and rushed for 728 yards and caught 81 passes for 826 yards in his first season.
Kamara was named the 2017 NFL Rookie of the Year and led all rookies with 14 touchdowns. He joined football legend Gale Sayers as the only rookies to have five rushing touchdowns, five receiving touchdowns, and a touchdown from a kickoff return.
In his next season with the Saints, Kamara became the first player to accumulate 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in the first 20 games. His growth each season was noticed, and he quickly became known as one of the smartest players on the field.
This designation led Kamara to challenge himself even more. That meant watching opposing defenses and figuring out what their next move was.
Alvin Kamara uses all of his talents
With experience in the league, a dominant and intelligent quarterback like Drew Brees, and a supportive coaching staff, Kamara has flourished. In a recent game against Atlanta, he even saw a scoring opportunity, and let coach Sean Payton know about it on the way to the locker room during half time.
Payton discussed the conversation with ESPN.
“It was just in casual conversation — he happened to be next to me walking to the locker room. And I said, ‘What do you like in the second half?’ Just getting his gut. We talked about a few different runs. And then he said to me, ‘I really like that same play that we ran Taysom [Hill’s quarterback] keeper, but the runoff of it.”
Payton said he adjusted the play a bit, and Kamara ended up scoring in the second half because of it. While it boosted Kamara’s confidence that he read the play properly and had the right idea, Payton wasn’t surprised. “He’s extremely smart, so he can pick things up right away. And he is one of those players that understands what we’re doing formationally.”
While powering through defenses and scoring touchdowns is important, the great players of the game can read the field, and adjust their play because of it. Kamara’s intelligence, and not just his brute strength, will make him one of the greats in the years to come.