Punter with a pedigree
Among the seven punters at the 2020 combine is one whose last name should be familiar to longtime Dolphins fans: Michael Turk.
His uncle is Matt Turk, who punted for the Dolphins from 2000-01 and again from 2003-04.
Michael Turk entered the 2020 NFL draft after his redshirt sophomore season, making him a rare specialist underclassman in Indianapolis.
"All the variables lined up," Turk explained. "My uncle was willing to let me live with him and train this whole past month. I just felt confident I could punt right now and, Lord willing, at an All-Pro level.
"My uncle has been a huge blessing in my life, not only just in football but in life in general. He helped me make this decision. I trusted his experience. He punted a long time. He was a big influence and I'm thankful for his advice and help."
After redshirting in 2018 following one season at Lafayette College, Turk earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors at Arizona State after setting a school single-season record with a 46.0-yard average. In the opener against Kent State, he sent an NCAA record for a game involving at least five punts with a 63-yard average.
Michael said the best punting advice he got from his uncle was making sure to be consistent with his drops, and maybe that's why Michael brought a football with him to practice while he waiting to walk to his table for his media session at the combine.
"I've seen all the highlights and everything," Michael said of his uncle, who played 17 NFL seasons with six different teams. "He goes out with me now. He just had a hip replacement surgery. I wish he could show me in person. But I've seen enough highlights to see he was an awesome punter and definitely a good role model."
Backs in the family
Florida running back La'Mical Perine's most productive college game was his last, a 138-yard performance against Virginia in the Orange Bowl Classic at Hard Rock Stadium.
His cousin, however, had the best game a Division I-A running back EVER had. And that cousin happens to be Samaje Perine, who ended the 2019 season with the Dolphins.
Perine, who rushed for 427 yards against Kansas as a freshman at Oklahoma in 2014, signed with the Dolphins off the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad last December and appeared in one game.
Perine, who came into the NFL as a fourth-round pick of the Washington Redskins in 2017, is scheduled to become a restricted free agent March 18.
"I feel like we're two totally different running backs," La'Mical said Wednesday. "He's a power guy, hard-nosed. I'm a hard-nosed runner as well, but I catch the ball a little better, I feel like. But he's a dynamic running back. I feel like I am as well. But we just bring two different things to the game."
Perine, whose father played at Auburn, was asked about the possibility of one day being part of the same running back corps as his cousin.
"That would be actually pretty crazy," La'Mical said. "At one moment I wanted to go to Oklahoma, but they never offered me. It would be a crazy moment if we get two Perines in a backfield at the same time."
Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton earned the distinction of being the heaviest offensive line prospect at the 2020 combine when he came in at 364 pounds.
Becton, who stands 6-7, had a simple explanation for his weight: his mother.
"She's a caterer," Becton explained. "That's why I'm so big."
Making his own name
Maryland running back Anthony McFarland shares the same name as the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman who's now the ESPN color commentator for "Monday Night Football," but the two are not related.
"I get that a lot," McFarland said. "A lot of people think that's my dad. I always have to tell people that's not my dad. … I have to make my own name."
Actually, college football fans should have become well aware of McFarland the running back when he rushed for 298 yards against Ohio State as a freshman in 2018.
"It was just clicking, man," McFarland said. "The offensive line was doing their job. Everything was just clicking. I could say that game, I was hot. At the end of the day, they just were feeding me the ball."
McFarland declared for the 2020 NFL draft as a redshirt sophomore despite an injury-plagued 2019 season.
They said it
- Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas on his NFL comparison: "I think I'm a mix of Tyron Smith and Trent Williams. Trent Williams because of his athleticism and Tyron Smith because of how consistent his set is no matter who he's playing."
- Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III: "I'm a playmaker. I don't just pride myself on just speed. I want to be a guy can do everything on the field. I get downfield to block for my teammates, just as they do the same for me. I play without the ball, and with the ball in my hands I can make a play."
- LSU tight end Thaddeus Moss on his father, Randy Moss: "He's helped me all the way up to this point in my career. He's been through a lot and seen a lot, so he has answers for everything. And this process itself, it's nothing new. Nothing has changed. He has the answers to everything. I'm leaning on him during this time because he has the answers to everything."
- Florida State running back Cam Akers on his mother being an inspiration: "It just taught me to never complain. Seeing my mom go through breast cancer — she's a survivor now — but her going through breast cancer taught me there's not much to complain about in life, seeing her fight and knowing it was for her children. She said that all the time. It made me a fighter."