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After the Dolphins selected him in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL draft, Cornell Armstrong got a congratulatory tweet from one of the best cornerbacks in team history, Patrick Surtain.
It was a shout-out from one University of Southern Mississippi player to another, as Armstrong became the fourth USM pick in Dolphins history — all of them defensive backs.
Without question, it was a big deal to Southern Miss for Armstrong to get drafted, especially since it gave the school three picks in one draft for the first time since 2004.
It was an even bigger deal for the folks in tiny Bassfield, Mississippi, where Armstrong grew up after he moved there as a child from Southern California so his family could take care of an ailing relative.
Despite a population that in 2016 was estimated by the census bureau at 222, Bassfield High enjoyed its share of success in football in recent years.
But Bassfield High had never had one of its alums selected in the NFL draft — until Armstrong, that is.
“Words can’t even explain,” Armstrong said. “It’s such a blessing. I just want to give a shout-out to God for that. Just for being the first person that ever really (did that), it’s a lot of motivation.”
The 2017 college football featured eight players from Bassfield playing at FBS in Mississippi — five at Southern Miss, two at Ole Miss and one at Mississippi State.
Armstrong very well could become the only Bassfield High player ever to become an NFL draft pick because last year the school merged with Prentiss High to form Jefferson Davis High School.
Armstrong was a first-year all-state selection in his final year at Bassfield High before he earned playing time as a true freshman at Southern Miss.
Before his college career ended, Armstrong had started 40 games, including all 35 games he played the past three years.
Listed at 5-11, 180 on the Dolphins roster, Armstrong isn’t a particularly big cornerback and he compared his playing style to that of an even smaller DB, former Dolphins Pro Bowl selection Brent Grimes.
“(He’s) just a feisty guy,” Armstrong said. “He loves to compete. I watched his film and I like the way he plays. He goes and gets it.”
This is just what Armstrong plans to do for the Dolphins.
He’s coming to a team with an abundance of talented young cornerbacks — Xavien Howard, Cordrea Tankersley, Bobby McCain, Tony Lippett, to name just four — and he understands he’ll have to fight to earn playing time.
“I mean, I looked at the depth chart, but I’m just here to embrace my role and do whatever the team needs me to do,” Armstrong said. “I’ll play anything. I’m just here to embrace my role and be my best.
“Every rookie knows that you’ve got to get in there and get on special teams. Like I said, I’m just here to do whatever they need me to do. Whatever it is, I’ll do it.”