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Beast Mode 2.0? Why Utah’s Zack Moss sees similarities between his game and Marshawn Lynch’s

Utah running back Zack Moss runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 28, 2020.
Charlie Neibergall, AP

SALT LAKE CITY — When Utah’s Zack Moss bulldozed his way to a 91-yard touchdown run last October in the Utes’ 52-7 victory over Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore., it may have evoked memories of another running back who tore his way through the Pacific Northwest: Marshawn Lynch.

As Utah’s all-time leading rusher gets ready for the 2020 NFL draft, he’s fine with any comparisons between himself and the physical back with the nickname Beast Mode.

The hype surrounding Moss has been mostly positive in the lead-up to the draft (April 23-25 in Las Vegas), even with a physical limitation hindering his on-field workouts at the NFL scouting combine, where Moss is in attendance with eight other former Utes this week.

Moss tweaked his hamstring during the vertical jump portion of Friday’s workouts, per ESPN senior NFL insider Adam Schefter, but still participated in the 40-yard dash, where he clocked a 4.65-second time. That ranked 25th among the running backs at this year’s combine. Schefter reported Moss will run again at Utah’s Pro Day on March 26.

Player comparisons are a part of the evaluation process, and one name that keeps coming up with Moss is his similar style to that of the five-time Pro Bowler Lynch. Lynch, known for his physical-style running, won a Super Bowl with Seattle and has played for the Bills, Seahawks and Raiders after entering the league in 2007.

Moss told CBS Sports earlier during combine week he’s looking to be more elusive and add more explosive runs to his game, while mentioning he’s patterned himself after Lynch.

“I watched a lot of Marshawn Lynch growing up. I like (Cowboys running back) Ezekiel Elliott — big fan of a lot of guys, but those two predominantly were the guys for me,” Moss told CBS Sports. “... I think you see a lot of Marshawn in the way I run and how I approach the game.”

USA Today’s Doug Farrar sat down with Moss for an extensive film session before the combine and also made that comparison to Lynch.

“Moss, like Lynch, combines overwhelming power with an anarchic running style and underrated acceleration that makes him very difficult to tackle,” Farrar wrote.

The 5-foot-9, 223-pound Moss credits Utah coach Kyle Whittingham for instilling toughness in him that was evident as he rushed for a school-record 4,167 yards and 38 touchdowns as a Ute.

“Coach was always looking for guys who were tough, smart,” he told Miami Dolphins staff writer Travis Wingfield. “... He instilled in us to be tough, smart guys, be accountable for ourselves and what we did on the field.”

Moss’s NFL Scouting Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.65 seconds (25th among RBs)

Bench press: 19 (tied 12th)

Vertical jump: 33 inches (22nd)

20-yard shuttle: 4.37 seconds (13th)

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