You want a scene to remember? Owner Stephen Ross is posing for a picture with Tannehill, who is holding his brand new No. 17 jersey.
“This is your number?” Ross asked. Tannehill nodded. “That’s what I wore in college.”
Ross paused: “Hope one day we can retire this number.”
That’s what you call lofty expectations and in his first face-to-face meeting with the South Florida media, Tannehill did nothing to temper those expectations.
“I couldn’t have come to a better place,” he said. “I feel blessed.”
He stood there wearing a gray suit with an aqua tie and a white Dolphins cap. His attractive wife Lauren sat nearby. Met her on spring break in Panama City a few years ago. Twenty-three and already married? He looked over to his wife: “Do you blame me?”
The last few days have been a whirlwind for the No. 8 pick in the first round. A quick celebration at home. A flight to South Florida. Dinner with the Dolphins brass. A tour of his new home facility.
“It doesn’t get much nicer than this,” he said, looking around the newly-renovated auditorium.
Your initial impression is that this is such a well-grounded person. Small town Texas upbringing. A close-knit family. The son of two administrators, his father a principal, his mother a teacher. So sure of what he wants. So sure of how to get there.
On Friday, he was handed the new Dolphins playbook.
“It was pretty familiar,” he said with a smile.
And why shouldn’t it be? If you’re looking for an easy adjustment period, can there be a better one than your college head coach being your new offensive coordinator? Talk about room service. The terminology. The plays. So many of the pages. It was just like he was back at Texas A&M. In fact, you could make the argument that Tannehill knows the new Dolphins offense better than veteran quarterbacks
I asked Tannehill that if someone hadn’t ever seen him play, how would he describe his skill set. He didn’t hesitate. “I think of myself as an athletic guy who can make all the throws from the pocket, but is able to use my athleticism to escape the pocket, whether it is escaping pressure or throwing accurately on the run. The key to playing quarterback is you’ve got to be able to throw on time and you’ve got to be able to throw accurately. I feel like I have those things, though I know I still have a lot to learn.”
One of the things I like most about Tannehill is that he is a converted wide receiver, almost an unprecedented path for a quarterback. What it does most is give him a huge advantage. “I know where a receiver likes to get the ball, how he likes to get it, when he likes to get it,” he said.
His personality? He oozes confidence. He speaks with certainty. He understands the importance of his role. “I’m not a rah-rah guy,” he said. “But I’m not afraid to be vocal either. I can lead by example. I like to bring people together. I know how important it is to gain the respect of your teammates.”
He paused, obviously reminding himself to pull back just a bit. “This is a new locker room. Like I said, I know I have a lot to learn.”
And that learning will begin immediately. While the playbook is similar, it isn’t a carbon copy. There will be meetings, introductions, more meetings and a rookie camp next weekend. Tannehill knows there are two veterans ahead of him on the depth chart and, despite the lofty expectations, he has miles to travel and many obstacles to clear.
But if anything is certain at this early date, it is that Ryan Tannehill has the make-up for success. You see it in his eyes. You hear it in his voice.
“I’m honored to have been selected by such a great organization,” he said. “I just want to soak up everything I can.”
He posed for a few more pictures, then slowly walked away from the podium and out a side door. There is much work to be done. Ryan Tannehill is obviously a young man on a mission.