The Buffalo Bills announced today that they’ve signed free agent running back Walter Mendenhall, the older brother of Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall.
Mendenhall has never played in a regular-season NFL game, but he has spent time with the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles.
Illinois recruited Walter out of Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois, in large part because it was hoping the presence of Walter on campus would convince Rashard to sign with Illinois a year later. It worked, and for three years Walter backed up Rashard for the Fighting Illini.
But after Rashard left school early for the NFL draft, Illinois coach Ron Zook told Walter (who had redshirted a season and still had a year of eligibility) that he was no longer wanted. So Walter transferred to Illinois State for his final college season. Rashard wasn’t happy about that and hasn’t spoken highly of the Illinois football program since his brother’s departure.
At Illinois State in 2008 Walter was the Redbirds’ leading rusher with 796 yards on 126 carries. Mendenhall will be behind Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch on the Bills’ depth chart.