When the Dolphins take their home field for the first time in 2013 this Saturday, a dream will come true for first-year running back Mike Gillislee.
Gillislee, a graduate of the University of Florida, grew up idolizing Dolphins’ running back Ricky Williams and says he’s been looking forward to Saturday his whole life.
“It’s going to be a great feeling for me, because this is something I’ve always dreamed about,” Gillislee said in an interview with The Finsiders. “We had a scrimmage there, and I kind of got a little feeling, but I know the atmosphere is going to be bigger, there’s going to be more fans there and my family is coming up, so I’m going to be all juiced up and ready to go.”
And Dolphins fans will be juiced up to see Gillislee, who’s shown promise with his speed over the course of training camp and preseason, in action at Sun Life Stadium. In addition to running back, the Dolphins have also placed Gillislee at kick return over the past few weeks.
“You never know,” Gillislee answered when asked if he expects to be one of Miami’s return men this year. “Coach has got me back there returning kicks and every time I receive a kick, I’m going to try to take it to the house.”
But while there’s plenty of excitement in his life right now, the Lakeland native admitted he’s faced a significant learning curve since arriving in Miami as he undergoes the process of transitioning from college to professional football.
“In college, meetings are probably like two hours,” Gillilsee said. “In this case, in the pros, it’s all day. If you’re not out on the field, you’re in the meeting room. So adapting to that was pretty hard, but I think I’ve adapted pretty good so far.”
Gillislee added that he has “no choice but to get comfortable”, considering football is now his full-time job and he’s at work from sun-up to sundown.
Another part of the transitioning process for rookies is, of course, paying their respects to the veterans on the roster. For this year’s class, the rookies put on a talent show.
“I sang ‘My Girl’ by the temptations,” Gillislee said with a grin. “I had no choice. I’m not a singer, but I had no choice, so I got up there and gave it my all.”
However, the former Florida Gator said his position group isn’t quite as harsh when it comes to poking fun with the new guys.
“Well, for the running backs, we’re all young in the room,” Gillislee said. “So they don’t really believe in all that. I pretty much just bring in snacks and things like that.”
Speaking of the running backs, Gillislee praised both offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and running backs coach Jeff Nixon for their work with the group.
“Both coaches, Coach Sherman and Coach Nixon, are very detailed,” Gillislee said. “The little things—your footwork and your pass protection, mostly—those guys do a great job at it.
“All we do is take their coaching in. All the running backs are young, so we all pay attention and we go out and try to do our best on the field when it’s time.”
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