Iowa running back Ivory Kelly-Martin dealt with plenty of adversity in college. And yet, despite all the injuries and the crowded depth chart for the Hawkeyes, he continued to put in the work.
Kelly-Martin finished his Iowa career with 181 carries for 804 yards and six touchdowns. He also had 24 catches for 192 yards during his time in college.
Although injuries prevented Kelly-Martin from showing his full potential at Iowa, he impressed NFL coaches and scouts at his pro day. In addition to running the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds, he performed well during the pass-catching drills.
We caught up with Ivory Kelly-Martin to discuss all the adversity he overcame at Iowa, his pro day performance and much more.
The Spun: You had an impressive pro day. Were you pleased with your performance?
Ivory Kelly-Martin: I was pleased. There were definitely some things I wanted to do better, but I PR’d in a lot of areas. I was happy with a lot of the numbers, but I was really pleased with my work during position drills.
The Spun: What do you think you showed scouts on tape?
IKM: I think I showed I can catch the ball out of the backfield. I caught everything thrown my way at pro day, and I think I showed that on film as well. I try to be as versatile as I can be. You’ll see me make plays on special teams and pick up blocks in pass protection. They blitz all the time in the NFL, so I need to be ready to step up.
The Spun: So many former coaches and players have praised your leadership skills. Is that an attribute you’d say belongs high up on the list for you?
IKM: Absolutely. The players have the power when it comes to how far the team can go. If you have control of the locker room and everyone is on the same page, there’s no limit as to how far you can lead a team.
The Spun: You’ve spent the past few years at Iowa. What was your favorite moment during that time?
IKM: I loved playing at Kinnick Stadium with those guys. There are two games that will stick with me - the Ohio State game during my freshman year and the Penn State game during my senior year. It was so special to play in such a great environment during my final season.
The Spun: You’ve battled a lot of injuries during your time at Iowa. How’d you manage to get through that adversity?
IKM: It took a lot of work and effort, but I love the game of football. When I set my mind to something, I put all my energy towards it. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without such a strong supporting cast. It’s a lonely road at times when you’re going through an injury, but the joy of coming back outweighs the initial disappointment of suffering an injury.
The Spun: What’s your mindset as you get ready for the pros?
IKM: My mentality is that I need to go all out. I have to put all my effort into making an NFL roster. I’m going to give this my best shot and trust the process. I know I have the capabilities to play in the NFL. I just have to go out and do it.
The Spun: Which running backs do you think have similar playing styles to yours?
IKM: A guy like Dalvin Cook stands out to me. We have similar styles. He’s a really good downhill runner. He’s able to make a quick jump cut and change gears very quick. I also like to watch the 49ers’ running backs.
The Spun: Why is the best yet to come for Ivory Kelly-Martin?
IKM: I’ve been through a lot of injuries, but this year I’ve been fully healthy and been able to attack this offseason workout program. I’m going to keep growing and keep getting better up until the point where it’s time for me to show what I can do.
The Spun: What has gotten you through this journey?
IKM: This journey means everything to me and my family. When I was younger, I dreamed of being in the NFL. I was born in Chicago, Illinois, living with my brother and sister. My parents had a plan for me. They gave me as many opportunities as they could. I’m just so motivated to get to the point whereI can be a role model for people.
Kelly-Martin certainly helped out his stock at his pro day. His performance made NFL personnel take a second look at his tape at Iowa.
We'll find out where Kelly-Martin's pro career will begin later this month.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.