Rookie Mini-Camp Day 2: Langford Looking To Make A Statement; Team Signs Toribio
May 3, 2008
By Andy Kent Special for MiamiDolphins.com
An even playing field is all Kendall Langford has been looking for going back to his days as a two-way player at Petersburg (Va.) High School. Now that he has been given that in Davie at the Miami Dolphins' practice facility, the big defensive end plans to prove he belongs in the NFL, starting with this weekend's rookie mini-camp.
The Hampton (Va.) University graduate approached the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine with a chip on his shoulder, using the logos on the helmets of players from bigger programs like LSU, USC, Michigan and Texas as motivation. At 6-foot-6 and 287 pounds, size is not an issue for Langford, and his speed (4.87 in the 40-yard dash) is another one of his attributes. But proper strength training and access to top-notch equipment like what's available at those bigger Division I schools is something he did not have the benefit of receiving and something that he sees as tougher to overcome.
"I guess the type of program they come from as far as weight lifting and a well-funded school is the toughest difference," said Langford, who had been targeted by Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland for the last year. "I'm from a small black college and we weren't that well-funded. It was private at that so the weight room was smaller. This weight room is beautiful."
According to Langford, the biggest crowd he ever played in front of in college was around 19,000 or 20,000, but he was probably the biggest draw for the Pirates, earning first-team All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference honors as a sophomore, junior and senior. Over his four-year college career, Langford registered 23.5 sacks, 8.5 as a junior and another six last year, to go along with 236 career tackles (110 solo).
Head Coach Tony Sparano had a chance to look over film of Friday's first practice and also paid attention to Langford and the other defensive linemen in this morning's session, the first of two scheduled for today. Basically, Langford helped reaffirm what Sparano, Ireland and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Bill Parcells liked about him when they decided to draft him in the fourth round last weekend with the 66th overall pick.
"I see strength. I'd seen strength at the point of attack a little bit yesterday, you know the strength that you can see when you're not in pads," Sparano said. "But I did see strength at the point of attack and I'd seen a kid that moved his feet pretty well for a big guy, which is what we thought when we drafted him. We were 1-15 last year so we don't have too many developmental projects. ...The best players on our team are going to play, no bones about it. If he's the best, he'll play."
As soon as he received the phone call from Parcells letting him know he was a Miami Dolphin, all Langford thought about was seizing his opportunity and making the Dolphins feel good about spending their first pick in the fourth round on him.
Langford played tight end on offense and defensive lineman on defense in high school and was seen as a unique athletic talent. The only thing that prevented him from being pursued by some bigger Division I schools was his SAT scores. Now that he has his degree in sports management and is quickly adjusting to the rigors of being an NFL player – meetings, workouts and intense practices – he wants to do more than just make the 53-man roster.
"Competition is a great thing and I think competition brings the better person out of you," said the 22-year-old who believes he is either just the fourth or fifth player from Petersburg to be drafted. "I hope to leave a great impression, not a good one, a great one. I'm going to study my plays when I go home and just be ready when I come back. If the coach tells me to go through a wall I'll try to go through the wall."
Two of the five players from his high school that have made it to the NFL – Ricky Hunley and Jerome Mathis – helped prepare Langford for what to expect coming into the league. Mathis is a wide receiver with the Washington Redskins and Hunley most recently was the linebackers coach for the Cincinnati Bengals. Hunley started at inside linebacker for the Denver Broncos in Super Bowls XXI and XXII.
Langford considers his competitive nature to be his strongest asset, and that's what Hunley and Mathis told him would be most important.
"I'm going to compete. I'm not going to just let you get me," Langford said. "Anything I do I'm competitive in, from Madden to anything. We can throw rocks and I'm going to want to throw my rock the furthest. … I think the coaches; they draft players and not decals."
All that's left for Langford is to earn the decal on the side of his Dolphins helmet, as the helmets the players are wearing right now have no decals. Parcells established that tradition a long time ago, stressing to the rookies that they have to earn the decal.
DOLPHINS SIGN TORIBIO: Defensive tackle Anthony Toribio certainly made a strong first impression Friday during the first practice of the three-day rookie mini-camp as he earned himself a contract.
Toribio began this weekend's mini-camp working out with the club on a tryout basis.
"Anthony was here on a tryout basis and really showed to everyone what can happen to a kid when he comes to camp in shape and works hard," said Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland. "In addition, his signing will improve the depth at nose tackle and will help us get younger at that position."
The 6-1, 305-pounder was a four-year letterman at Carson Newman (2004-07) where he finished his career with 59 tackles, 21 stops for loss and 9.5 sacks. As a senior, he collected career-high totals of 25 tackles, 11.5 stops for loss and 5.5 sacks, and was a second-team All-South Atlantic Conference selection. He also was a second-team all-conference pick as a junior in 2006. Born March 1, 1985, he attended Miami (Fla.) Central High School.
MEET THE SKILL GUYS: One day after all the big guys hogged most of the attention from the media, undrafted free agent wide receivers Davone Bess and Jayson Foster along with running backs Jamele Parmale and Lex Hilliard, both sixth-round picks, were in high demand after the morning practice.
And in the afternoon session, they each showed why they were deserving of a little buzz, as Bess made a couple of impressive grabs and Foster displayed some of his raw speed running deep patterns, while Parmale and Hilliard ran in between the tackles and in the open field with good success. Bess was projected by the draft advisory board to be a third-round pick so he is trying to prove something while he's here.
"I didn't run a good 40 at the Combine, but a lot of scouts knew I wasn't a 4.3 guy but I have no idea (why he wasn't picked)," said Bess, who caught 293 passes for 3,610 yards and 41 touchdowns over three years at Hawaii. "My specialty is my run after the catch and just my ability to get out there and make plays. Everybody's entitled to their own opinions, you can't judge people for what they think, but at the same time if you watch tape you can see where the flaws are, you can see where people are lacking and their weaknesses and consistency. I think I'm doing all right but I definitely can do better."
Parmale, who was taken 176th overall out of Toledo, showed a nice burst getting through the hole and good balance on one run, and then showed that he could make cuts side to side while moving north and south at the same time. As a senior at Toledo last season, he rushed for 1,511 yards and 14 touchdowns on 276 carries for an average of 5.5 yards per carry.
Hilliard, who bounced back from a torn left Achilles tendon that caused him to miss all of 2006 at Montana to rush for 1,132 yards and 16 touchdowns, is roommates with Parmale. The number from his bio that jumps off the page is the number of touchdowns he scored in college (50), and in a two-back set he led the other tailback through the line on some occasions, which shows he can play fullback if he has to, and he is confident in his abilities.
"I'll go around guys or run them over; I've just got to do what I've got to do to get in the end zone," Hilliard said. "I try to do my own thing, go around guys or go through them, whatever it takes. I've been playing mostly running back and I didn't take any snaps at fullback but I imagine that will come here pretty shortly. My pass blocking is good, but I'm always looking to better myself anyway I can."
Coming from Kalispell, Montana, where the temperature was in the 30s recently, Hilliard considered the temperatures in South Florida to be quite hot, and then was reminded how much hotter it gets in July and August. He also had a chance to speak with Ronnie Brown, who addressed the whole team, and relayed the most important message from Brown was not to spend their money all in one place.
Finally, Foster talked about making the conversion from quarterback, which he played at Georgia Southern, to wide receiver as well as how he has overcome his height disadvantage, being that he's listed at 5-7 and 170 pounds. He refers to himself as being 5-8.
"My greatest attribute's probably just speed," said Foster, who won the Walter Payton Award that goes to Division I-AA's best player. "I did have to learn a playbook rather quickly from playing quarterback and a lot of different positions, but basically I work on catching the ball and focus in on that and learning the plays. (Receivers coach Karl Dorrell) has taught us a lot and I'm just trying to soak in the knowledge he brings coming from UCLA, which was a pretty good passing team. We were more of a running team at Georgia Southern and he's a good teacher of the game."
DOLPHIN TIDBITS: In the afternoon, the 39 rookies performed in front of an audience for the first time as a large group of Dolphins marketing partners and their families took their place in the stands. After the workout ended, the players signed autographs ... Seventh-round draft pick Lionel Dotson showed a little speed off the edge in the afternoon and was able to get in on the quarterback as well as on the running backs on a few plays.
"What I saw in the second day was the effort," Sparano said. "From an effort-standpoint and an assignment-standpoint I saw guys a little bit more sure about what they were doing, moving around just a little bit faster, which you would expect in day two. They had one more time through it this morning in some meetings and they were able to play a little faster out here today, which was good."