Miami Dolphins

Dolphins’ Tunsil plans to train at Ole Miss — even after draft-night gaffe

Now this could be awkward.

Laremy Tunsil plans to go back to school this summer.

Now, it’s not uncommon for rookies to train at their university in the five weeks between minicamp, which for the Dolphins ended Thursday, and training camp.

But there’s nothing common about the way Tunsil left the University of Mississippi.

On draft night, he acknowledged being paid by his coaches after leaked text messages suggested he had.

Reminder: It’s a no-no for college coaches to pay their players. Ole Miss is the subject of an NCAA investigation, and the case’s Exhibit A might just be Tunsil’s draft-night press conference.

And yet, Tunsil said he will “probably” work out at Ole Miss this summer, under the instruction of Rebels strength coordinator Paul Jackson.

Granted, Tunsil spending the summer in Oxford makes some sense. He still has family in the area.

But it could make for some uncomfortable moments — particularly if Ole Miss ends up on probation because of his gaffe.

“Workouts, man,” Tunsil said of his summer plans. “Get in that playbook. Still continue to get better. You don’t want to be slacking off.”

Particularly since he’s not guaranteed a starting job — despite being the 13th pick in the draft.

Dallas Thomas started ahead of Tunsil at left guard at practice all week, even after offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said this about him the week before:

“He’s been very, very, very impressive. He’s every bit what we thought he was, which has a chance to be exceptional.”

On Thursday, Dolphins coach Adam Gase wasn’t quite so enthusiastic.

“I mean, he’s got a lot of room to get better,” Gase said of Tunsil. “Any position that you play as a rookie, it’s a different animal.” 

The speed of the NFL game is light years ahead of the SEC -- and that’s just in minicamp. It will ramp up in training camp, then again in the preseason and regular seasons, and then — should the Dolphins get there — even more so in the playoffs.

Plus, Tunsil is learning a new position. A tackle in college, his best (and short of injury, only) chance to crack the lineup is at guard.

At least Tunsil doesn’t have to learn a new side. The Dolphins are keeping him on the left.

Gase on Thursday explained why:

“The way we looked at it was, when you put a guy on the left side, he’s playing the two positions that are making the calls together, whether in the run game or the pass game. It’s not like he’s learning something completely different, working on different sides of the ball. That’s kind of why we said, ‘Hey, we know he’s going to be on the left side.’ So what we ended up doing, we put him out there, and whether it’s left guard or left tackle, it’s easy for him to go back and forth.”

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Problem is, right now he’s behind at both left tackle and guard.

Thomas, who has been a disappointment in his first three years, has bulked up in Year 4. And the added strength has made a difference, Gase said.

Tunsil will have the summer to catch up. He compared being a backup now to his freshman year at Ole Miss. Respect and playing time must be earned.

When asked what he most wants accomplish this summer, Tunsil replied: “Just being in the best shape I can be, and get in that playbook.”

Gase added: “We just can’t have guys that just don’t do anything. It’s not 20 years ago where you had six weeks to work into shape. You’ve got to hit the ground running.”

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