Dolphins new head coach Brian Flores, ‘if you are on time you’re late’
When the Dolphins began minicamp this week, one undrafted rookie opened drills — albeit briefly — with the starters. And it’s appropriate that it was a young man who spent much of his childhood in Miami Gardens, in the shadows of Hard Rock Stadium.
Terrill Hanks, the former New Mexico State linebacker via Miami’s LaSalle High, grew up a big Dolphins fan. He also wanted to be a Miami Hurricane but didn’t have the money to attend Al Golden’s camp – which he said was a condition for getting an offer.
But he’s back in South Florida, having chosen the Dolphins over at least seven other offers after the draft, and hoping to do enough to make the 53-man roster. He said the Dolphins called him during the final rounds of the draft, eager to get a commitment if he went undrafted. And coming home was appealing to him.
“I grew up watching Channing Crowder, Jason Taylor, Junior Seau, Zach Thomas, all those guys,” he said this week. “Dolphins Stadium was in my backyard when I was staying with my grandma at the time.”
Hanks confirmed he opened Tuesday’s practice with the starters at inside linebacker, with usual starter Raekwon McMillan out of the lineup in a particular formation. “That was exciting,” he said. (Hanks wasn’t with the starters Wednesday.)
Coach Brian Flores likes what he has seen.
“Hanks works hard,” Flores said. “He’s got a good amount of ability. He’s smart. He’s eager to learn and very coachable. I enjoy working with him. He’s got some talent and hopefully continues to progress.”
Hanks said he had no Power 5 Conference offers coming out of LaSalle, partly because he was a late qualifier.
“Nobody waited on me,” he said. “The best thing I did was push myself and get somewhere Division I.”
He said the Hurricanes were “definitely my favorite school, and I went to a private practice when they had Duke Johnson. [Al Golden] said come to their camp; he had an offer for me. I never went to the camp; I didn’t have the money to go.”
And so the offer from Golden and UM never came.
So instead, he traveled the 1,978 miles from Miami to Las Cruces, New Mexico.
In four years at New Mexico State, Hanks had 391 tackles, including 43.5 for loss, 11 sacks, eight interceptions, 14 passes defended, three fumble recoveries and seven forced fumbles.
“He had a very impressive senior year [101 tackles],” Dolphins assistant general manager Marvin Allen said. “You know this guy is really, really fast. We were able to get him here for the local pro day and he impressed us all. When we saw he was available, we jumped at the opportunity.”
Going undrafted added to Hanks’ motivation.
“I had a chip on my shoulder and was able to tell myself once I was able get into camp, stay there and prove that I belong,” he said.
What does he do well? “I have a knack for the football, where the ball is going to be,” he said. “Just my instincts.”
Linebackers coach Pat Leonard has told him “that I’m really strong, [but] that I just need to relax and trust my teammates on the field with me and make plays.”
Hanks, who’s 6-3 and 235 pounds, had an interception during OTA practices, but running back Kenneth Farrow poked the ball out and coaches “got on me, so I learned from my mistake.”
THIS AND THAT
Flores said receiver Brice Butler — who left Tuesday’s practice with a leg injury — will be fine; he was on the exercise bicycle during Wednesday’s session. He said receiver Kenny Stills — sidelined the first two days of this minicamp — also will be fine.
Also sidelined Wednesday: tight ends Durham Smythe and Dwayne Allen, receiver Albert Wilson, defensive tackle Jamayus Pittman, linebacker Chase Allen and cornerback Cordrea Tankersley.
▪ The Dolphins parted ways with Cameron Wake, Robert Quinn and Andre Branch and retained only one of their incumbent defensive linemen who’s 27 or older: Akeem Spence.
Why was Spence retained?
“He’s athletic, strong, a hard worker,” Flores said. “He works as hard as anyone on this team. He’s had some success in this league. We want to keep good players around.”
Spence, 27, is also relatively cheap, with a $2.9 million salary and $3.5 million cap hit. But Miami could have cut him without having any dead money.
▪ Defensive back TJ McDonald said it’s a “refreshing… challenge” to learn a defense in which “you have got to know the scheme as a whole, not just your position, because there are so many moving pieces. I think it’s going to give offenses fits once we get lined and you don’t know who’s where. That can help us in the long run. The big thing right now is buying into knowing what the hell we’re doing.”
Please check back in a few hours for another Dolphins post with a lot more information.