By Chelsa Messinger
Southwest Florida has become a hot-spot for NFL running backs.
Colts' All-Time Leading Rusher Edgerrin James hails from Immokalee. Longtime Bucs running back Earnest Graham went to Mariner High School.
Now, Naples Alum Carlos Hyde hopes to join those ranks.
Hyde was drafted in the second round of this year's NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers after a successful career at Ohio State. But Hyde still has work to do when it comes to earning his position in the NFL.
Hyde will be competing with 49ers starting running back Frank Gore, as well as former South Carolina star Marcus Lattimore for snaps at his position.
Earnest Graham started his career as a free agent, so he knows the importance of earning a spot at training camp.
"Training camp is all about competing," said Graham. "Don't label yourself as just a running back. Find a way to get on the football field. Whether it's special teams, tailback, fullback... whatever. That's how to build a long career."
Edgerrin James knows a thing or two about coming in hot. James was the 1999 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
"Stay healthy. That's the biggest thing," said James.
"[Hyde] is actually playing on the same team as one of my good friends, Frank Gore, that he has a chance to be mentored by. That's one thing that very few get a chance to do."
Hyde's high school coach, Naples Head Coach Bill Kramer, says Hyde has been molding his game after Frank Gore long before he got to San Francisco.
"If you would've asked him five years ago, 'who's your favorite running back?', he would've said Frank Gore," said Kramer.
"It's this guy that he's always looked up to, tried to emulate, and now he gets to do exactly that."