The Southeastern Conference is a breeding ground for NFL talent. The SEC had the most players selected in this year’s draft with a total of 49 taken in the seven rounds. The Miami Dolphins are not averse to this trend, and there seems to be one school that seems to be infiltrating the Dolphins roster more than any other: the University of Georgia.
The Dolphins have six former Bulldogs on their roster, two more than any other school. That could partially be a product of legendary Bulldogs’ Head Coach Mark Richt, who has led the ‘Dogs to 13 straight bowl games, including eight victories since he took over in 2001. Richt is proud not only of his team’s success at the college level, but also in the pro players Georgia has produced, and in an interview with The Finsiders, he talked about the current Bulldogs influence on the Miami Dolphins roster.
The Dolphins’ love for the SEC was on display a little bit during this year’s draft; as they selected three players from the conference, including using their fifth-round pick on Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch. Coach Richt sees Lynch as a great character guy with a high football IQ, and while it could take him a while to have on the field impact, he’ll surely be a great addition to the locker room.
“He’s got a lot of charisma, guys really gravitate to Artie,” said Richt. “He’s kind of a friend to everybody, he can relate to everybody. When he speaks, they really respect what he has to say. He grew into quite a young man, and he’s a really special person.”
Lynch is one of three rookies from Georgia on the Dolphins roster along with UDFAs Rantavious Wooten and Garrison Smith, and being a draft pick is the headliner of the group. Richt sees Lynch as a tight end with an advantage over opponents because of his great size, and comprehensive understanding of the game.
“He’s very strong, I think he can block well, and he runs precise routes,” said Richt. “He understands that his way of getting open is going to be using his size and leverage, and his ability to screen people off and find separation with his size and ability to reach out and snatch a ball.”
While it may take a while for the Georgia rookies to come into their own, there are already three Bulldogs that have plenty of star power and NFL experience that will be difference makers for Miami this year. On offense, running back Knowshon Moreno has the tools and skill set to do everything a running back needs, and then some.
“He explodes on contact…he catches the ball out of the backfield, and he can pass pro,” said Richt. He’s just a really dynamic back to me. He’s got great vision, great balance. He could make people miss in a short space better than anybody I’ve ever seen.”
And on the defensive side of the ball, Richt is extremely proud of the way Dolphins linebacker Dannell Ellerbe has developed as a player and person, and how despite a rough start in college, he’s become successful in the NFL.
“I’m as proud of Dannell about as anybody that’s come through the Georgia because he overcame a lot,” said Richt. “He actually had a rough start at Georgia. But he decided he was going to get his act together. He did, and he grew into a very fine young man. He got his degree, and he left on a high note.”
Oh, and about the other defensive playmaker in safety Reshad Jones? Richt thinks it’s a very good thing that he’s flourished in the NFL, because the constraints of the college game surely does not fit Jones’s headhunting abilities anymore. He joked that he wouldn’t last in games nowadays with the new rules in the college level.
“I don’t know if Reshad could play with the rules now in college,” said Richt. “He’d probably play every other game I would think with the way he likes to hit.”
Seeing former players reach their ultimate goal is a thrill for the Georgia coach, and he describes it as one of the best rewards of the coaching profession.
“It’s that thing in coaching that fires us up. We see them as young guys that are kind of knuckleheads, and we watch them grow up. I’m just really proud of all those guys.”
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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