Enjoy Premium Content!
Breaking News. No Network. Only Alabama Football.
Subscribe Today
Alabama in the Pros

Ex-Tide RB Kenyan Drake showing out on special teams for Miami Dolphins

Former Alabama RB Kenyan Drake (No. 17) scores 95-yard kick return TD vs. Clemson in CFP title game: Erich Schlegel- USA TODAY Sports

A 95-yard kickoff return touchdown against Clemson in the 2016 College Football Playoff national title game was the final image Alabama fans saw of running back Kenyan Drake, until he was taken in the third round (70th overall pick) by the Miami Dolphins in the NFL Draft.

As it continues with OTAs, Miami’s special teams coordinator and assistant head coach Darren Rizzi is locating players that can handle the ball on kickoffs and punt returns.

Drake and Jakeem Grant were two players Rizzi singled out during his presser on Tuesday.

“It is definitely a competitive battle out there,” Rizzi said.

“When you look at Kenyan Drake, you are trying to get him ready for all facets, whether it’s protection, kickoff coverage, blocking, tackling and at the same time, returning. We are trying to find a delicate balance between the return stuff and the core values of special teams.”

Rizzi said he started Drake on punt return early on before transitioning him to kick return, nevertheless, the former Alabama standout has excelled in both areas.

“Both Drake and Grant are ahead of where I thought they’d be at this point,” Rizzi said.

“Watching those guys on the offensive side of the ball is impressive too.”

When it comes to the punt return game, Rizzi wants to make sure that whoever wins the job possesses the ability to field the ball cleanly and make plays in space.

“If you look at a rookie that has done it before in college, then you can tell that their skill set is pretty good,” Rizzi said. “Kick returns and punt returns are two different things. The majority of players can field kickoffs, but not everybody can field punts. It’s one of those things where you have to get the ball in your hands first.

Despite one fumble in 2015, Drake totaled 505 kick return yards. The Powder Springs, Georgia native ended the season with 1,189 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, earning his second national championship. He is poised to have a strong impact on offense and special teams.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

Facebook Comments

To Top