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Seahawks select nation’s leading rusher, Rashaad Penny, with their first pick

RENTON, Wash. – The Seattle Seahawks weren’t kidding: They want to focus on the run game again.

After trading down in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday, the Seahawks used the No. 27 overall pick to take running back Rashaad Penny out of San Diego State.

He was the leading running back in the nation last season, and a three-time special teams player of the year in the Mountain West Conference.

“His ability as a return man, as well as a running back, is what really separates him from the other backs in this draft,” said draft analyst Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com.

Penny rushed for 2,248 yards and 23 touchdowns last season, capping a career in which he ran for 3,656 yards and 38 TDs.

He also caught 42 passes in his career for 479 yards and six TDs, and averaged 30.2 yards on kickoff returns over the course of his career, picking up another seven TDs.

“Pete Carroll has talked about getting back to winning the line of scrimmage with a solid rushing attack,” Q13 Sports Director Aaron Levine said. “They believe that’s a formula that’s proven, and that’s why they went after a running back.

“Also, remember, the Seahawks had the fewest rushing touchdowns by running backs in the league last season. Rashaad Penny has the ability to change that.”

Penny became just the  third running back the Seahawks have selected in the first round, joining an elite in Curt Warner and Shaun Alexander.