Less than two weeks from now the indoor and outdoor practice fields in Davie will come alive with the sounds of an NFL training camp, but today more than 300 kids enthusiastically took over the Miami Dolphins’ practice bubble.
Former Dolphins defensive end and linebacker Jason Taylor and second-year quarterback
This is the eighth year that Taylor has led the camp but just the second that he has joined forces with a current player. He retired following the 2011 season after 15 years in the league is now an analyst with ESPN, so he was the veteran instructor among the kids and was happy to see it run smoothly yet again.
“After eight years it’s really grown and it’s been fantastic and fun,” Taylor said. “I was very apprehensive about starting a camp eight years ago but I decided to go ahead and try it. There are 40 or 50 guys around the NFL now that do camps like this and for a good reason. These kids come out and have a good time and I think we have as much fun as they do out here.”
Tannehill actually showed up to the bubble before Taylor by about 15 minutes and Taylor joked that it made him look bad. Last year, Taylor teamed up with Reggie Bush but he was pleasantly surprised today with how Tannehill interacted with the kids and made the transition.
For Tannehill, he enjoyed playing the role of teacher and watching these boys and girls soak in the atmosphere and really take the instruction to heart. He had attended some camps at local colleges as a kid but never had the opportunity to take the field with pros, so he could sense the excitement and anticipation in the eyes of the kids.
“I had a few kids tell me they were already better quarterbacks than me so I had to take them up on a challenge,” said Tannehill, who became the first rookie quarterback in franchise history to start all 16 regular-season games last year. “There are some good athletes out here and that surprised me. You have some 8, 9 and 10-year-olds out here that are already showing great ball skills and are able to adjust to a pass and showing great athleticism. So it’s fun seeing kids that are all different skill levels and all having fun.”
Even though Tannehill never got to play with Taylor, his respect level for the Dolphin Honor Roll member is very evident. He leaned on the 2006 NFL Defensive Player of the Year for guidance when it came to working the different stations and blended in well with camp director Rod Huber and 30 of the area’s top football coaches.
“I didn’t really know what to expect being my first camp that I’ve been involved with,” Tannehill said. “A lot of kids are smiling, having fun and learning some fundamentals of football at the same time, which is a good thing. It’s an honor for me to team up with Jason on this camp and he’s a great guy.”
The Citi Jason Taylor & Ryan Tannehill Football ProCamp works with the Urban League of Broward County and the Urban League of Greater Miami to provide camp scholarships to disadvantaged youth.
Taylor wasn’t so sure who the kids wanted to see more, him or Tannehill, being that he has been out of the game now for one full season. But he was happy to share the spotlight with last year’s first-round draft choice and to help show him the ropes.
“He hasn’t been shy and he’s been great,” Taylor said. “My first year when I had a camp I didn’t know what to do. I was by myself and didn’t have a guy that had been through it before and he jumped right in. It’s refreshing to see a young, happy, good guy that’s happy about helping other kids out.”
Taylor and Tannehill will be back at it again tomorrow morning with another group of eager kids.