Weight: 238 - 240 pounds
40 Time: 4.65 - 4.75 seconds
Bench Press Reps: 21
Date of birth: March 11, 1988 (1988-03-11)(age 23)
Place of birth: Brawley, California
The Imperial Valley lies deep in Southern California, tucked up against the Mexican border. It is farm land, where they grow tons of lettuce and thousands of pounds of onions. They grow plenty of melons and truckloads of sugar beets.
And one linebacker. One very good linebacker.
Mike Mohamed, the great-grandson of an immigrant farmer who built a thriving farm in Brawley, has grown to be a 240-pound tackling machine for the California Golden Bears.
Niaz Mohamed Sr. was born in India, migrated to America and became a US Citizen. He bought 1,000 acres of the Imperial Valley and began planting. Today, his son Niaz Mohamed Jr., oversees more than 100 employees all of whom likely root for the big Cal linebacker.
Niaz Jr. is Mike’s grandfather and still running the family business, a source of great family pride in the valley.
Meanwhile, Mike Mohamed is headed for NFL career that is sure to add even more pride to the Mohamed family. He’s already had an impressive college career where among other things was named a four-time Pac-10 All-Academic performer.
Mohamed is the oldest of six children, the other five are all younger girls. “His sisters love him,” says his father, Mike. “He’s king of the castle. They’ll do just about anything for him. I don’t get treated that well.”
The goal-oriented Mohameds of Brawley are all over these days. Mike has two cousins, Marty and Kyle, who are starring academically and on the field at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Another cousin, Dylan, is headed to West Point this fall. All have been honored by the National Football Foundation as scholar-athletes.
And giving is part of the Mohamed nature.
“Anytime he’s asked to give his time, he never says no,” says his father. “He’s always willing to help and do things for other people....Sometimes I’m in awe of it because it’s hard for a young man to do.”
After finishing high school at Brawley Union High School Mohamed he decided to attend the University of California.
Mohamed played in 50 of 51 possible games and made 26 starts over the years of 2007-10 after redshirting the 2006 campaign. He earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors in his first season as a full-time starter in 2009 after garnering an honorable mention all-conference selection in 2008 and before picking up second-team all-league recognition as a 2010 senior. In 2009, he led the conference with 112 stops (8.6 per game) to earn first-team All-Pac-10 honors and was Cal's MVP on the defensive side of the ball. He finished his collegiate career fourth on Cal's all-time list for tackles with 340 (197 unassisted, 143 assisted), while adding 20.0 tackles for loss (-81 yards), 7.0 sacks (-51 yards), seven interceptions (77 return yards) including two that he brought back for touchdowns, nine pass breakups, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and nine quarterback hurries. He also brought back two kicks for 10 yards. He recorded double digits in tackles 11 times during his career. He made 47 career tackles vs. rival Oregon for an average of 11.75 stops per game in his four contests vs. the Ducks.
Mohamed played his best football in Cal's biggest game of the year against Oregon with 16 tackles and a sack. He finished 2010 with 95 tackles, five sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception.
He has returned two of his seven career interceptions for touchdowns, with a 19-yard score after a pick vs. UCLA in 2008 and a 41-yard return for a touchdown against Colorado in 2010.
The combination of excellence in the classroom and on the field has planted Mohamed on The Lott Trophy Watch List, the award that goes to the top college defensive player who has the biggest IMPACT on his team both on and off the field.
Mohamed is majoring in business administration at the Haas School of Business at Berkeley, one of the top undergrad programs in the country.
The fact that he is able to balance his academics with his football is a tribute to how he was raised.
“I worked in everything from the cooking shed to driving a tractor when I was growing up,” he said. I learned my work ethic on the farm. The hard work there applies to football. Nothing comes easy and it takes a lot of time.
“I’ve learned to be very time-efficient,” he told Jimmy Tran of The Daily Californian. “I’ve had to get good at picking things up the first or second time I read them. I don’t have the time to keep going over things.”
Fellow Linebacker Mychael Kendricks is dazzled by Mohamed: “He’s smart, without a doubt. He’s fast and strong, too, but when you’re smart on top of that it makes a good combination.”
He’s also one of the most popular players on the Bears.
“He’s the coolest guy,” says D.J. Holt, another linebacker. “He is so chill, never talks about anybody, someone you can trust, a great guy overall. He’s smart, wise and a true friend who gives good advice. He’s always positive and that’s always a good attribute to have as a friend.”
But stardom in college isn’t what makes Mike Mohamed the happiest. “Just being with my family,” he says. “They’re the ones who have been there for me and they always will. My parents made it to all my games last year and other family members are there often.”
“Sports were not an option growing up unless you were working hard in the classroom,” he said. “That really helps when you get to college.”
Named after Pro Football Hall of Fame member, Ronnie Lott, The Lott Trophy is awarded to college football’s Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. Founded in 2004 by The Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation, The Lott Trophy is the first and only college football award to equally recognize athletic performance and the personal character attributes of the player. The Lott Trophy is given to the player who exhibits the same characteristics Lott embodied during his distinguished career: Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.
Cal senior linebacker Mike Mohamed was also selected as a recipient of a NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award, the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame. Mohamed was one of 16 selected from a nationwide pool of 121 semifinalists from among all NCAA divisions and the NAIA. Each member of the group also becomes a finalist for the prestigious William V. Campbell Trophy.
"I am truly excited to be named a finalist for the Campbell Trophy," said Mohamed at the time of announcement. "This is such a great honor and it feels awesome to know that I am being recognized for not only my on the field accolades but for my off the field work, too."
"Mike is well-deserving of being named a finalist," offered Cal head coach Jeff Tedford. "He epitomizes the highest character and positive qualities of a student-athlete. He's a great student, great player, and a great leader. There's no doubt that he deserves this. I know from going to the ceremony when Alex Mack won two years ago, that there were a lot of impressive people there that represented all levels of football. To be one of the people in that group says a lot."
Each Campbell Trophy finalist will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship, and one of the 16 will be announced as the recipient of the 21st William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation. Renamed last fall in honor of Bill Campbell, the chairman of Intuit, former player and head coach at Columbia University and the 2004 recipient of the NFF's Gold Medal, the award comes with a 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship. A total distribution of $300,000 in scholarships will be awarded that evening.
In the classroom, Mohamed has a cumulative 3.43 grade point average and graduated in December 2010 with a bachelor's degree in business administration. He has been named to the Pac-10 All-Academic team three times, including first-team recognition in each of the last two years. He added District 8 All-Academic first-team honors from CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine in 2009.
In the community, he has been one of the team's leaders and has volunteered extensively for many organizations including The Sage Project, an effort that matches Cal football players with local youth in one-on-one mentorship opportunities. He has also been involved with the Alta-Bates Summit Foundation's 10th Annual Thunder Road Crab Feast, a non-profit fundraiser to benefit under privileged children in the Berkeley area. He was a camp coach at the Calipatria Police Activities League all-skills football camp near his hometown of Brawley, Calif. He has been a volunteer reader at Glenview Elementary School in Oakland, and twice has helped give a local youth a behind the scenes look at the day in the life of a Cal football player.
Because Mohamed excelled so much on the field, he has been Cal's most decorated player in 2010. He earned preseason All-American honors from several publications and was also on watch lists for some of the nation's most prestigious awards, including The Lott IMPACT Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award. He was also a candidate for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. In addition, he was named by Phil Steele as the nation's No. 4 draft eligible inside linebacker prior to the campaign. Three times in his career Mohamed has been named the Pac-10's Defensive Player of the Week.
"We are ecstatic about the quality of this year's remarkable National Scholar-Athlete Class. They stand as a testament to our mission of building leaders through football," said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. "From top to bottom, this group has established itself as one of the greatest in the 50-plus years of this program, boasting an impressive array of academic and athletic achievements. We look forward to presenting each of them with an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship to further their education, as there are no limits to what these young men will accomplish following their football careers."
Scheme and position fit will be important for his NFL prospects. Mohamed projects well in a scheme that requires him to run a lot, rather than engaging offensive linemen. While it's conceivable Mohamed could fit anywhere from inside/middle linebacker to strong safety in the NFL, he projects best as a one-gap type in a 4-3 that expects the outside linebackers to run and cover.
|Ht||Wt||Arm length||Hand size||40-yd dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20-ss||3-cone||Vert||Broad||BP||Wonderlic|
|6' ft 3 in||239 lb||33 in||9 1/2 in||4.65 s||1.67 s||2.73 s||4.00 s||6.70 s||32 in||9 ft 7 in||21 rep|
Positives: Extremely smart, productive, durable and experienced. Sure tackler with a nose for the ball. Athletic with good "game speed" on the field. Can turn and run with receivers, and projects well covering tight ends in the NFL. Uses his tall frame well and makes plays on the ball in coverage. Top intangibles; very smart in the classroom. Played in a variety of formations, including inside in a 3-4 and at Mike and Will in 4-3 alignments. Actually may project best in the NFL as a 4-3 Sam.
Negatives: Somewhat high hipped, and as a result tends to play and run high and upright. Too often tackles by diving at ankles. Not a "thumper." Marginal blitzer who struggles to defeat blocks. Doesn't have a lot of "sand in his pants" and tends to get destroyed when colliding with linemen. Looks like a big safety. May need a scheme like a Tampa-2 that doesn't require a lot of collisions with linemen to succeed.
Mohamed is a hard-worker who will maximize his natural tools on the field. Will come into your franchise, understand your defensive system, provide some instant linebacker depth, and contribute on special teams. However, he lacks the power to be a true force in the box against the run and the speed and range to make plays on the outside or mirror explosive space players in man coverage. Probably just not enough physical tools to work with to become an NFL starter, but still a late-round prospect who will bring some impressive instincts and great character to a locker room.
Mohamed is an experienced, productive, heady inside linebacker with great intangibles. Is a smart, disciplined player who won't bite on play fakes or take himself out of position too often. Reads his keys and finds the football against the run. Understands zone coverage responsibilities. Aggressive and competitive.
Doesn't have the explosive burst to make many big plays behind the line of scrimmage or rushing the quarterback. Is tough and feisty but lacks the lower body strength and power to take on blockers in the box. Lack of bulk also results in too many broken tackles. Doesn't have the range to play sideline-to-sideline. Doesn't have the speed to stick with targets in man coverage.
Mike Mohamed was drafted with the 24th pick of the 6th round, 189th overall, by the Denver Broncos in the 2011 NFL draft.
Shortly after being drafted Mike Mohamed took on the Denver media via conference call, here are a few questions and answers:
On whether he will play inside or outside linebacker
“I haven’t been told about my role. I just want to come in, and wherever they need me—wherever I fit in— that’s where I’ll go. As for which one I prefer, I played both during my college career, and to be honest, it doesn’t really matter.”
On being the third linebacker selected by the Broncos
“I guess they thought they needed a little bit of competition, and competition is always good; it always makes a team better. I’m just looking to go in there and give it my all and try to make the Broncos a better team.”
On playing a role on special teams
“Yeah, definitely. I already know that’s kind of my ticket. I’ve done them all throughout my college career. Like I said earlier, I’ll go in wherever they need me.”
On whether he was surprised by falling to the sixth round
“To be honest, I thought I would go a little bit earlier than what I did, but there’s a reason for everything. Going to the Broncos in here the sixth, that’s what was meant to be.”
On whether he has spoken with Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway
“I did. I talked to John over the phone for a few minutes. He told me, ‘Imagine a Stanford guy drafting a Cal guy.’ You would never think that in a million years.”
On his playing style
“I think the first thing that stands out is that I’m a ball hawk. I’m relentless. I’ll always try to get to the ball, obviously within the parameters of the defense. I’m never giving up on plays; my motto is, ‘All or nothing.’”
On whether he has spoken with Broncos CB Syd’Quan Thompson, a former teammate at Cal
“No, I haven’t talked to him yet, but it’s definitely cool for me knowing a guy on the team that I’ve played with already. I’m sure he’s probably got some good advice.”
LB Mike Mohamed (6/189) figures to battle Nate Irving at middle linebacker but has moved all around in his collegiate 3-4 alignment so it figures that he will secure a backup role. Mohamed isn't a burner but is quick, athletic and smart and racks up tackles. He should be a productive special teams player.
As Cal’s inside linebacker, Mike Mohamed had a knack for being around the football. No Cal player had more tackles in the last 16 years than Mohamed, and in the Golden Bears’ best performance last year — a narrow loss to then-No. 1 Oregon — Mohamed had a career-high 16 tackles.
He obviously impressed a certain Stanford alumnus who has final say over the Broncos’ football operations.
With two other linebackers already selected, and D.J. Williams and Mario Haggan still on the roster and third-rounder Nate Irving poised to take over middle linebacking responsibilities, Mohamed’s immediate future may lie on special teams. This is to be expected for John Fox’s backup linebackers, who in Carolina were often selected on the basis of their ability to contribute on kickoffs and punts; that’s why Joe Mays and Wesley Woodyard may still have long-term futures in Denver even with the team’s run on linebackers.
Mohamed also played some outside linebacker at Cal, so he could back up there, as well.
Mohamed’s selection means that the Broncos have selected more linebackers this draft than in the five previous drafts combined, when they only picked two, neither of whom plays there now: Spencer Larsen (2008, now a fullback) and Jamie Kirlew (2010, didn’t make it beyond training camp).
From 1998-2004, the Broncos picked six linebackers, including four in the first two rounds. This allowed them to put together a corps that by the mid 2000′s was among the league’s fastest and best, with outside linebackers D.J. Williams and Ian Gold flanking Pro Bowler Al Wilson.
Since a neck injury brought a premature end to Wilson’s career after the 2006 season, the Broncos have changed to a 3-4 scheme and started 13 different players at linebacker — a group that includes three converted defensive ends: Robert Ayers, Elvis Dumervil and Jason Hunter. All three are back at defensive end in the 4-3 alignment, creating linebacker vacancies that the Broncos spent the last three days filling.
For me Mohamed reminds me of another mighty man that we took late that was probably better suited to a 3-4 inside role. That is Spencer Larsen. Mohamed may not lay wood like Larsen but they both are very smart and good football players. This allows them to get over their speed deficiencies and make plays all over the field. I have heard many say that he will probably get cut and be nothing more than camp fodder. But I think Mohamed offers more than that. He provides good depth to the team and will have a big role on special teams. The Broncos should have one of the best ST units in the league this season. Guys like Burton, McBath, Larsen, Woodyard, Mays, Vaughn and with the addition of guys like Carter and Mohamed it will be a unit to be feared. Mohamed will make his bread and butter on ST and may get a chance at a starting role in the future. But for now is reliable as a depth player. ~ Aussie.