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Memphis running back ready for NFL draft after opting out

Kenneth Gainwell had every intention of playing football with the Memphis Tigers, working throughout fall practice. Six days before the season opener, the running back changed his mind.

The funeral for an uncle, the fourth member of his family to die of COVID-19, made opting out of the 2020 season, not just the best but the only decision for Gainwell. Not to protect his hopes of a professional future but to keep his family safe during the coronavirus pandemic. “Just getting the chance to talk to my family … about COVID,” Gainwell said. “You know my family passed away, so it was a tough, tough decision. I love football. So it was really a tough decision to make, so I just had to do what was best for the fam.”

After spending the past few months studying and training for his future, the running back from Yazoo City, Mississippi, hopes to be selected in the upcoming NFL draft despite a track record of only 18 games at Memphis.

“That moment will be very, very special because it will show the young guys back in the county it’s possible,” Gainwell said. “You can do it. You can do as much as you can, but you know that you can make it, you know so. It would be essential for me for the guys that’s back there.”

After deciding to opt-out, Gainwell went to work. He started training in Memphis, then went to Orlando in November. He worked out and studied until just before coming back to Memphis with pro days replacing the NFL combine. “It was kind of a difficult decision, you know, leaving the team that I loved dearly and just getting myself prepared and just being as safe and doing what I got to do to prepare for myself,” Gainwell said.

Gainwell played only four games in his first season on campus in 2018 and wound up redshirting after four carries for 91 yards. The reason? He was behind Darrell Henderson and Tony Pollard, both now in the NFL.

NFL teams and scouts have his pro-day performance and the 2019 season to evaluate Gainwell. The 5-foot-11, 201-pound Gainwell ran a 4.42 40-yard dash back at his old school.

Molly Aronson

Molly Aronson is a 26-year-old government politician who enjoys bowling, running and jigsaw puzzles. She is creative and exciting, but can also be very greedy and a bit greedy.She is an australian Christian who defines herself as straight. She has a post-graduate degree in philosophy, politics and economics. She is allergic to grasshoppers.

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