We have finally arrived at the culmination of the 2017-’18 season. Sunday, at 6:30 PM EDT, the Philadelphia Eagles will look to keep their underdog trend going by upsetting the reigning New England Patriots as kings of the NFL. The playoffs started with 16 former UM players in the NFL that has now dwindled down to a single remaining Miami Hurricane alum.
The last ’Cane standing is Patriots’ wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. Before entering the league, Dorsett showcased his elite speed for the Hurricanes from 2011 to 2014. After posting 36 receptions, 871 receiving yards, 24.2 yards-per-catch and 10 touchdowns to lead all Miami receivers in each individual category, Dorsett appeared poised to translate that success to the pro level. The former St. Thomas Aquinas standout was invited to the Senior Bowl, yet did not suit up for the game due to injury. Posting a blistering 4.33 official 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, only to surpass that mark with a 4.29 and 4.27 at Miami’s Pro Day, Dorsett’s ability to fly off the line of scrimmage was never in doubt.
For a player that is known for his speed, Dorsett’s NFL career came out of the blocks rather slowly. Dorsett was forced to find targets wherever he could in a Colts’ offense that constantly changed its offensive philosophy each off-season. In two seasons with the Horseshoe on his helmet, Dorsett caught 51 receptions for 753 receiving yards, averaging 14.3 yards-per-catch and catching three touchdowns.
Before the start of the 2017 regular season, the Colts pulled the trigger on a rare one-for-one trade, acquiring QB Jacoby Brissett in exchange for Dorsett. The trade worked out for both parties, seeing as the Colts were not going to have QB Andrew Luck to start the season and the Patriots were in need of depth at the receiver position after a season-ending injury to Julian Edelman. Now in the northeast of the country, Dorsett found himself catching passes from one of the G.O.A.Ts (greatest of all-time) at QB, Tom Brady. Aside from learning New England’s extensive offensive system and philosophy, Dorsett joined a receiver room that had Danny Amendola, Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan. However, after five months, 12 receptions, 194 receiving yards and a career-high 16.2 yards-per-catch average, Dorsett is one more victory away from securing a championship ring.
In fact, should the Patriots win, Dorsett would be the first Hurricane to be on a Super Bowl winning team since NT Vince Wilfork did so with the same franchise against the Seahawks at Super Bowl XLIX in 2015.
While there has not been an abundance of snaps for him during the playoffs, Brady has zero hesitation in tossing the ball Dorsett’s way. While Dorsett has just one postseason reception entering US Bank Stadium on Sunday, a 31-yard reception against Jacksonville in the Conference Championship, he has the trust of both his QB and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to do his job. Against a Philadelphia defense that has picked off as many interceptions as they’ve allowed (two, respectively), there is no bigger trust exercise than the bright lights of the Super Bowl. The Eagles’ secondary should provide gnat-like coverage against the Pats receivers, with the key matchup being Rob Gronkowski probably drawing coverage from Eagles’ safety Malcolm Jenkins. Can LB Mychal Kendricks be able to stay with New England running backs James White and Dion Lewis running routes out of the backfield? The answer to that question should determine the victor.
It should turn into an entertaining game, even if you’re not a fan of Justin Timberlake. At the very least, it would be nice to see a Hurricane of yesterday bathe in the shower of confetti after the final whistle.
While WR Braxton Berrios, K Michael Badgley and DE Chad Thomas got to do on-field work at the Resse’s Senior Bowl a week ago, TE Chris Herndon could only get measured and speak with teams as he continues his rehab from a torn ACL. Herndon is aiming to participate in on-field drills at next month’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
The very versatile Chris Herndon couldn't practice at Senior Bowl this week because of Nov. knee injury but the UM TE met with teams including Dolphins, per source.— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) January 25, 2018
As Justin Dottavio wrote in his summary of the Senior Bowl last week, after participating in the first practice, Chad Thomas was held out for the remainder of the Senior Bowl week due to a groin injury. Thomas should be able to participate in the on-field drills at the scouting combine next month, though.
Here is what Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller had to say about Thomas as we head toward the NFL Combine:
NFL Draft Sleeper No. 2: Miami defensive end Chad Thomas
“Chad Thomas was thankfully added to the Senior Bowl roster late and had good performance in the Shrine Game one week prior, but I have a second-round grade on him. He should have been a first-wave add to the Senior Bowl, not an afterthought. Maybe I’m too high on him, but the 6’5”, 277-pounder is an ideal 4-3 defensive end and has the agility to stand up and be a big rush end.”
In what is already a busy weekend for the Walter Payton Man of the Year finalist, Carolina Panthers TE Greg Olsen will be a guest analyst on Sunday for ESPN’s Super Bowl coverage.
The Panthers' Greg Olsen called a game for Fox earlier this year. Now, he's serving as a ESPN guest analyst ahead of the Super Bowl. Post-career broadcasting plans look likely. https://t.co/gn8YPwW307— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) January 26, 2018
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!