JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - This year, spring football for the Dolphins starts off with a new face at the helm, and I have never been more anxious to start spring practice.
My name is Armani Sampson and I wear number 24 as a rising senior cornerback for the Dolphins. I've been a two-year starter and accounted for six interceptions, two touchdowns, and 52 tackles. With this being the first spring under new Head Coach Ian Shields, many people, including myself, don't know what to expect from the upcoming spring practice. So to update people of what is happening throughout spring practice, I've decided to start a blog to keep people informed on the endeavors within the football team, and what better way to do it that than to interview the head man himself.
1. How are you liking Jacksonville so far (Shields was in Hickory, N.C. previously)?
I love it! Jacksonville is great, the University is great, and the people working here are great. I have been encouraged by our team internally, and I can't wait to get spring underway. Plus, you can't really complain about palm trees and sunshine.
2. What's the schedule for spring practice? What your expectations for spring practice?
We are going to start Wednesday (Feb. 24). Practice will be at 3:45 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the Saturday practice will be in the mornings since we don't have to worry about any class conflicts. Then, our spring game will be Saturday night, Mar. 19, right before spring break. We are going to have a big 'celebration' of spring practice, and get under the lights and have some fun to end the spring right.
I think I'd be considered by the players I have coached before as really being a player's coach. I like having fun and turning loose, meaning playing hard, playing fast, living on the edge, and attacking. Every phase of the game that personifies how we play, we're an attack offense, we're an attack and swarm defense, that's how we play. We have an aggressive style and that goes through out our entire staff. As far as me, I'm a positive guy, 'glass is always half full' type guy, and I'm big on family. We have this acronym that we're still learning here called 'EMAD', which means, 'Every Man A Dolphin', meaning we are all family, from the fourth string tackle to the starting cornerback.
The biggest challenge right now is fitting the pieces together for this 2016 team. Anything that has happened before now is irrelevant at this point. So this spring is going to be about fitting the pieces together, and finding out where the limitations are and where strengths are, where are some things that are less than optimal and get those fixed and maximize our strengths. That's what you always do as a football team, you find out the talent you have and adjust accordingly. We have an idea based on the guys we have on film from last year but our eyes are open. Every day is a job interview.
5. You were in this positon before where you had to come and implement your rules and culture on a new team. How have you started this transition?
It's always a challenge because you have young men that have a way of doing things, and they have just been in that way because they're young, they haven't been exposed to different things. There's a lot of different ways to coach football, and there's a lot of different ways to play football, there's no right way, but there is a right way for each team and the trick is trying to find that. Fortunately, I have some great experience on my staff, and this isn't my first time being a head coach. We as a coaching staff have a plan, and the plan is crystal clear and we all see it as coaches, and as practice starts, everyone else will start to see it as well. Until we start breaking huddles together and sweating with each other, it's all a lot of lip service. We have to get to know our team, and the players have to get to know us, and we have to have fun and open to the possibility of something great happening.
In my interview with Coach Shields, I couldn't help but notice his eagerness to get started with practice, and I found myself just as eager when I left his office. It wasn't just Coach Shields that was excited either, I couldn't help but feel the enthusiastic atmosphere in the football field house, weight room, and in the locker room. It seems to me that the whole Dolphin program is ready to start off a new era of football this spring. Go Dolphins and Fear The Fin!