Fast guys always seem to have a certain bravado about them and Adrian Killins Jr. is no different.
Because despite being a 5-foot-8, 177-pound undrafted rookie running back, the 22-year-old has a bold prediction for what would happen if he lined up in a race next to the Eagles’ other fastest players.
He thinks he’d win.
“I’ve always been the fastest person on the football team,” Killins said last week.
“There are always guys that want to challenge me and think they’re faster than me, but I held the crown all four years at UCF, being the fastest player on the team. And here at the Philadelphia Eagles I feel like I’m the fastest player on the team as well.”
If Killins is going to make the Eagles’ 53-man roster — or if he sticks around on the practice squad — it’ll be because of that speed he showed off at UCF and is now showing off in South Philadelphia.
It might sound crazy, but if Killins isn’t the fastest player on the Eagles’ 80-man roster, he’s damn close.
Remember, Killins is on a team in Philadelphia with DeSean Jackson, John Hightower and Quez Watkins. And he thinks he’d take them all. Really, that’s no different than how most fast guys think. It’s why Tyreek Hill and Marquise Goodwin have been jabbering back and forth on Twitter for a couple years about setting up a race that will never happen.
There’s something primordial about wanting to prove you’re faster than everybody else.
“Nobody wants to say they’re slower than anybody in any way,” Charles Nelson said to NBC Sports Philadelphia on a phone call this week.
Nelson, a current member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL, is a longtime friend of Killins. Nelson, 24, is a couple years older than Killins, but the two have known each other from their early days in Daytona Beach, Florida. They were track teammates on the AAU level and then competed against each other for rival high schools.
Nelson’s name was one of just a couple that Killins brought up last week. He didn’t say directly that Nelson used to be faster than him, but he did say they went back and forth. Nelson, another fast guy, laughed and said he was — of course — faster than Killins in high school.
But playful ribbing aside, Nelson is happy to see Killins in the NFL and is rooting for his success. He thinks Killins’ wheels will translate at the next level.
“Track speed is more straight speed,” Nelson said. “It’s easier to run in a straight line. But being quick on the football field is a lot different. You have to be agile. That’s a trait that he has.”
Killins said recently his speed is something that just can’t be taught. And during training camp, the Eagles have used him in many roles — running back, outside receiver, slot receiver, returner — as they attempt to find the best ways to utilize that speed.
But there’s no question Killins has it. And his new teammates have taken notice too.
“He’ll open up,” Boston Scott said with a smile. “His body mechanics, man, you can tell he’s a sprinter. He ran a lot of track. When he opens up the dude can fly. I don’t know [if he’s the fastest] because we got some speedsters on this team, but dude can fly.”
If the Eagles decide to keep four running backs on their 53-man roster, the decision will come down to two very different players: Elijah Holyfield (5-10, 215) or Killins (5-8, 177). While Holyfield can catch the ball, he’s more of a prototypical between-the-tackles runner. Killins is more of a versatile threat.
In four years at UCF, Killins rushed for nearly 2,500 yards and also caught 70 passes. He left UCF with 34 total touchdowns, ranking him fourth in UCF history.
A big reason Killins ended up at UCF was because of Nelson. After Nelson left high school, he played football at the University of Oregon for offensive coordinator Scott Frost. Two years later, Frost was leaving Oregon to take the head coaching job at UCF. Nelson was fielding questions from Killins on Frost and from Frost on Killins. Eventually, Killins ended up with the Golden Knights and went on to have a prolific college career.
All that didn’t help him in April, when all 32 teams passed on Killins, leaving him as an undrafted free agent. But he signed with the Eagles and has put himself in a pretty good position to either make the Eagles’ roster or stick around on the practice squad.
Before letting Nelson go, I couldn’t help but ask … if you lined up against your old buddy in a race today, who would win?
“I would want to put my money on me, just because,” Nelson answered. “But at this very moment, I’d probably say him. My old age, you know. He’d probably get me."
That’s high praise, especially coming from another fast guy.