First Kalen Ballage was mad.
Now, he's grateful.
Ballage was so insulted by falling to the draft's fourth round, he brought it up unsolicited to reporters.
Two weeks later, the Arizona State running back still had the chip on his shoulder, but he also had perspective.
"Like I said in the interview, there were 130 people picked before me and 11 other running backs," Ballage said. "More and more each day I thank God that I ended up in Miami because I think it is going to be the perfect fit for me. It’s just something that motivates me."
Asked why he is so sure that this is the right spot for him, Ballage responded:
"Just the coaching staff, the facilities, Miami in itself. I think that this is somewhere that I’ll be able to flourish."
Short of a disastrous training camp, injury-wise, Ballage will not be asked to do too much, too soon.
He begins his NFL career behind a future Hall of Famer and an ascending talent.
Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake are expected to split carries this fall, so special teams is where Ballage must make his mark as a rookie. But that does not mean he will not play from scrimmage. The Dolphins will likely have a package of plays for Ballage, who at 229 pounds became the Dolphins' biggest back the second Miami drafted him.
"When he walks through the door, that’s what they’re supposed to look like," said Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. "He’s big, he’s put together and he’s a really smart kid. We’re excited about trying to tap him out and make sure his head is hitting the ceiling. He’s got size, he’s got height, weight, speed. Doing those things, we’ve got to figure out what he does well and find out quickly with that stuff because he does have good hands.
"He can move around and do different things," Loggains continued. "He’s got the size to sit in there on third down and be in pass protection that way. He’s a guy that shouldn’t have a lot of limitations, and [as for] limitations, we’ve got to figure out those quick and we’ll put him in spots to be successful."
Balllage should have the support system he needs. One of the game's greats has already shown an eagerness to help.
Shortly after the Dolphins took Ballage, he reached out to Gore on Instagram. To his surprise, Ballage heard back quickly.
"That was welcoming for sure," he said. "That’s just somebody that I look up to. A lot of people don’t see Frank as the flashy running back or anything like that; but he’s consistent every year. He rushes for 1,000 yards and I think that’s definitely somebody that I can learn from."
Ballage considers himself an untapped potential, and it's easy to see why. At Arizona State, he touched the ball just 532 times in four seasons — or 11.6 times per game. He will probably get fewer than that as a rookie, but that's OK. This is a developmental season, and he is embracing it.
"I feel like I’m definitely somebody that needs to grow as a player in general. I feel like everybody needs to grow at some point," Ballage said. "Tom Brady probably has a bunch of things that he needs to work on and get better at. Like I said earlier, I think that’s a part of being a competitor and taking the next step and being a good football player."