10 Questions With Julius Thomas

He stands 6-foot-5, weighs 250 pounds and runs with such uncommon ease for a man that size. But that’s only the beginning of what makes Julius Thomas so different. Listen to him talk. Hear about his journey. Understand a little about his internal make-up. You’ll quickly realize how refreshingly unusual he is.

Whether it’s the books he reads, the educational foundation he started, the questions he asks or the passion he exhibits, Thomas has so much to offer. It is knowledge that drives him, both on and off the field.

“The questions he asks in meetings,” said coach Adam Gase, “are very impressive.”

When the regular season begins, we’ll get a clearer picture of the things Thomas can do on the field. How he brings another dimension to the tight end position. How he is so sure-handed, so effective near the goal line. How he has the ability to dominate, something he last did while playing for Gase in Denver.

But to truly appreciate the player, you need to understand the man, and that’s something Thomas helped us do by answering the following 10 questions.

1. How would you describe the pro football journey you have taken to get where you are today?

JT: I think there’s a unique perspective that I’m able to have because I didn’t play football in high school and I only played football for 10 months in college. A lot of things had to go absolutely perfect for me to have the opportunity that I did. That I really thank God for. I wasn’t able to come into the game with much confidence from having done it. I just had to believe in myself. Every day I woke up with the attitude and mindset that I would be able to catch up and get better.

2. What are some of the things you had to do in order to overcome that lack of experience?

JT: I had to continue to do the things off the field to become a better player. If that’s calling every quarterback on the roster during my last year in college every day of the offseason to see who was willing to help throw and putting that time in, then that’s what I did. If that’s spending hours in the coaches’ offices to understand what coverages are and route concepts than that’s what I did. I think that the beauty of it is that I’m always going to be a student of this game. I’m always going to do what I have to do to continue to get better and grow and to become the best football player that I can be.

3. What was it about Adam Gase that convinced you this is the head coach you wanted to play for?

JT: When you’re talking about (Coach) Gase – I call him Goose — what really made me want to come to Miami to play for him was just the relationship that we were able to establish in Denver. He’s a guy that I have a ton of respect for. I like the way that he approaches the game in an innovative way. He’s not trying to do things in a way that’s already been done. He’s trying to do what hasn’t been done. He’s a great football mind.

4. In what ways is he a great football mind?

JT: I think he’s one of the best we have in the game at understanding how to attack a defense. What things to do on offense to make sure you’re executing well. I truly believe in his system and I believe in him as a man. He made it kind of a no-brainer for me to want to play with him again. It was something that I always wanted to do. I’m happy and blessed to have the opportunity to do so.

5. What exactly do you feel you can bring to this Dolphins’ offense?

JT: When I think about this Dolphins offense and what I can bring to it, I just think a lot about versatility. I think with my skillset that I’m able to give the play-caller a lot of different options. I feel pretty comfortable anywhere on the field, whether that is in a three-point tight end stance, whether that’s detached, or whether that’s all the way outside. I’ve been able to learn and experience a lot of different things while playing this game. I feel very comfortable with whatever it is they ask me to do. I think my greatest asset to an offense is just the different things we can do offensively because of my skill set and my ability to conceptualize what we are trying to do.

6. The one play in your pro football career you’ll never forget?

JT: It was a play against San Diego (a 73-yard catch in 2013). A dream I always had was running for a long touchdown. You don’t always get the opportunity to hit full speed. There’s always traffic. There’s always bodies around you. It was great. A lot of my friends and family were out there to see me because I’m from California. It was just a good feeling when you’re running down that sideline and just staring at the end zone. All you’re thinking about is not getting caught. I still visualize it today. I’m able to go back and remember the sounds and feel of that moment.

7. Tell us what Julius Thomas is like off the field. What are your passions?

JT: I’m probably not your typical athlete. One of my favorite things to do is read. I’ve been trying to study a lot about philosophy and theology. Right now, I’m just interested in that time period. When you start looking right around the birth of Christ and that time, we start seeing what people were thinking about and how people viewed the world. It helps me understand my faith. In my whole life, I always said I was a Christian, but I didn’t understand what that meant. To go back and understand just the journey that Christians have had throughout time has been something that has been exciting for me.

8. Other off the field interests?

JT: I also really like to look at art. Art is something that stimulates me and gets my mind going. I love hanging out with people that I love and that are close to me. I think the biggest thing about me is that I always want to learn and enjoy life. It’s something I wake up excited to do every day. I’m always looking to have fun in every situation.

9. You played four seasons for the Portland State basketball team. How much does your life as a basketball player help you as a football player?

JT: I think that just the versatility that you have to have as an athlete to be a basketball player to play offense and defense. To have to understand and learn the coordination, balance, timing that it takes to be a really good basketball player definitely helped me athletically to develop and to understand my body and why I’m in space. If you get somebody 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds that can run fast and catch the ball well than I think those guys will probably do well at any sport. I don’t know if I agree with the rest of the world that all basketball players would make very good tight ends. They are just good athletes in the right position with the right work ethic.

10. When you are done playing, how do you want to be remembered by your teammates and fans?

JT: This is my seventh season. It’s pretty surreal. You start to realize that the guys you came in with are no longer playing. You start to realize that you are respected and you get that veteran feel. I still remember how hard I had to work to make it into the league. I want to keep that work ethic with me throughout my career. I also want to be known as a guy who was very positive and knew how to make sure everybody was having fun. This is a tough game. There’s a lot of pressure and I’ve just always wanted to be that calming presence. When it’s over, I just want people to say that I gave my best, everyday.