Miami Dolphins

Dolphins RB Lamar Miller’s presence at UM’s Pro Day provides example of NFL success

Former Hurricane Lamar Miller had a career year in 2014 — rushing for 1,099 yards and eight touchdowns as the Miami Dolphins’ featured back.
Former Hurricane Lamar Miller had a career year in 2014 — rushing for 1,099 yards and eight touchdowns as the Miami Dolphins’ featured back. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Three years after Lamar Miller starred at his own Pro Day, he was back on the University of Miami campus — bigger, stronger and more accomplished than he was as an undergraduate.

Miller was there Wednesday to watch the next class of Hurricanes draft prospects audition for all 32 NFL teams. And as if they needed any additional motivation, Miller was an example of what could be.

He had a career year in 2014 — rushing for 1,099 yards and eight touchdowns as the Dolphins’ featured back.

“It was a blessing,” Miller said of his breakout season. “In that last game [against the Jets], I was aiming to get 1,000 yards. That was one of my main goals. I was blessed.”

Yet when Miller went back and watched film from last season, he saw flaws.

He didn’t break enough tackles, so he put on seven pounds of muscle in the UM weight room to get up to 225 pounds.

And he didn’t catch enough passes (38 in 2014, with six drops).

So Miller has spent the offseason in front of the Jugs football-passing machine. He has worked on technique with standout wide receiver Andre Johnson, who’s now a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

And he runs routes for Ryan Tannehill with the team’s other young skill-position players. On Tuesday, Jarvis Landry and Rishard Matthews were part of a group that caught passes from Tannehill.

The backup to Miller remains unclear. Former Patriots back Stevan Ridley left town without a deal after visiting the Dolphins on Tuesday; he was reportedly meeting with the Jets on Wednesday.

The Dolphins might find a running mate for Miller at his alma mater. Jeff Nixon, who coaches the Dolphins’ backs, was one of 10 team representatives on the Coral Gables campus. He took a close look at heralded UM back Duke Johnson, who ran two sub-4.5-second 40-yard dashes on his home turf.

In the past, the Dolphins have been criticized for not mining the talent in their own backyard enough (see: T.Y. Hilton). There was no questioning the team’s commitment Wednesday.

The heavy hitters were all there: Mike Tannenbaum, Joe Philbin and Dennis Hickey, to name a few.

Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor got a private audience with Miami coach Al Golden during individual drills.

And special-teams coordinator Darren Rizzi paid close attention to Phillip Dorsett’s workout; the team might need a returner now that Landry is an unquestioned starter.

Dorsett didn’t disappoint, wowing Dolphins coaches with a pair of blazing 40s (4.25 and 4.27 seconds). If he would end up with his hometown team, it would be a “dream come true,” Dorsett said.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of talent,” Hickey said of the entire UM draft class. “You see all the representatives of all 32 teams. It’s a great day for us, because there’s so much talent here. They performed well. It’s good to see them live in person. The more exposure the better.”

▪ Jeff Ireland was back in South Florida on Wednesday, but in unfamiliar colors. The former Dolphins general manager was at UM on behalf of the Saints. He now runs New Orleans’ college scouting department.

▪ Hurricanes tight end Clive Walford, a likely second-day draft pick, said again Wednesday that the Dolphins have expressed interest in him.

▪ Dolphins safety Michael Thomas officially signed his one-year exclusive rights tender Wednesday. Thomas, who also met with Dolphins coaches, is expected to play a significant role for the team this season — particularly if Louis Delmas’ rehabilitation from a torn ACL takes a turn for the worse.

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