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Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross made it pretty clear before the draft he wouldn’t have minded had the team come out of the draft with a player from the University of Michigan.
After all, safety Jabrill Peppers and defensive end Taco Charlton both were highly touted prospects and both were mentioned as possible Dolphins selections in the multitude of mock drafts that showed up before the actual proceedings.
As it turned out, the Dolphins didn’t draft a Michigan player among their seven selections, but they did get a Wolverines prospect as a rookie free agent in the form of running back De’Veon Smith.
Smith met Ross during his college career when Ross served as a team captain for a Wolverines game and talked to the players before the game, and he got the chance to speak to him again after becoming a member of the Dolphins.
“He’s been waiting for a Michigan guy to get down here,” Smith said. “So he’s happy to have me. He said I’ll enjoy my experience and hopefully I can make the team basically.”
Smith joins the Dolphins after starting the past two seasons while Michigan put together back-to-back 10-3 seasons. He earned honorable mention All-Big Ten recognition each of the past two seasons.
He ended up at Michigan after being an all-state high school player in Ohio State. He followed his two older brothers in playing in the Big Ten, though oldest brother Maurice played at Wisconsin and Lance played at Michigan State.
When it came time to choose an NFL team, Smith said there were several factors involved.
“I was just calculating, talking to my agent, talking to my family what was the best situation for me,” Smith said. “I like Coach (Adam Gase), he kind of stuck out to me. I like Ross. I like the offensive coordinator. I like how they’ve developed all their running backs so far. Jay Ajayi had a great year and I figured, why not come down here and see what I can do, help out in any way.”
At 5-11, 228 pounds, Smith is a punishing running back, and he also found a way to get to the end zone, scoring 16 rushing touchdowns over the past two seasons.
“I’m a downhill runner for sure,” he said. “I know my running style. I catch out of the backfield. I feel like I’m a little bit elusive than people give me credit for, but only time will tell. We’re going to figure this out here soon.”
Smith will be joining a Dolphins running corps led by Ajayi, fresh off a Pro Bowl season, and also featuring Damien Williams, 2016 third-round pick Kenyan Drake, as well as Sinorise Perry and Storm Johnson.
Smith says he’s coming to South Florida well prepared for the rigors of the NFL after playing for Coach Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. He’s also not looking back at the NFL draft, although it will serve as additional motivation.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Smith said. “The draft is over with. I’m not really worried about. I don’t really care why I didn’t get drafted. I’m just here to put in my work and show them why they should have drafted him. Or every team that passed me up, they’re just going to have to pay for it.”