What stands out to you the most from your Draft Day experience?
Mark Duper: “My draft day was a big surprise. Really, to tell you the truth I had no idea that Coach Don Shula was going to draft me in the second round. I got a call from Charlie Winner and I was in my room sitting down with my fraternity brothers and we were playing dominoes and I got the call that I was drafted in the second round. I had no idea what I was doing because I didn’t play football (until his junior year of college as a walk-on). They called me after the fact and that was it.”
How did you celebrate being drafted?
Duper: “We didn’t have any money and I didn’t know what was going on so we bought us another six-pack and kept playing and celebrated that way.”
What did you personally do in preparation for the draft to help your draft position as far as special workouts, etc.?
Duper: “I did one camp and I’ll never forget that. That was in the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit (the BLESTO scouting camp) and I’ll never forget that picture of Billy Sims where he was cutting and he was so low to the ground. The only person that I really touched base with and I really, really liked and that made me do a whole bunch of stuff was Coach Shula. He was that person and I did everything. I didn’t know he was thinking about drafting me in the second round there.”
Was there something about your interviews with prospective coaches before the draft that stood out?
Duper: “What Coach Shula told me in Detroit was, I ran the 40 and he said, ‘Run it again,’ so I ran it again and then he told me to run it again so I ran it again and the time didn’t change. So he said, ‘I want you to catch the ball over your shoulder.’ So I was outrunning all the quarterbacks throwing the football and so he said, ‘I wanted to see you catch it over the shoulder,’ and I’d just reach back and catch the ball and then take off. He said, ‘No, I want to see you catch it over the shoulder,’ so I had to slow down and I leaned way back and I caught the ball over my shoulder and that’s when he drafted me.”
What was it like to know you were going to be coached by Don Shula?
Duper: “To tell you the truth I had no idea what football was all about. I really didn’t. I’m serious. I had signed with the Philadelphia Pioneers to run track and do promotions, but I had heard about the 1972 team and all of that. Once I got to Miami it’s like a spark hit me. That first year I stayed on the bench the whole year and he gave me that chance to stay on the bench and I thought to myself, ‘You know what, this guy is taking a chance. He gave me a whole year, a free job. I’ve got to show him what I can do.’ And that’s when I took over, my second year.”
What advice would you give to this year’s class of draft choices?
Duper: “You take it with pride and dignity and also understand that the people who are drafting you are putting faith in you and wanting to feel that you can help the team. Don’t go in there with a negative thought of getting cut. Go in there with a positive thought of getting drafted and making plays and getting the job done.”