Turn The Music Up: Don't Sleep On Miami's DeeJay Dallas

Photo: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Before Kam Chancellor, Lane Johnson, Cole Beasley or Michael Crabtree were NFL stars, this unorthodox group were high-school quarterbacks, using their athleticism to the best of their capabilities. 

Miami’s DeeJay Dallas, a former signal-caller himself, has a chance to join this prestigious list in mere days.

"It just helps with vision and overall ball skills," Dallas told The Draft Network in a conversation about his passing background. 

This refers to his time back at Glynn Academy in Georgia, where Dallas lined up practically everywhere including at the QB position. Dallas threw for roughly 1000 yards and eight touchdowns in his senior season; he was a natural football player. It didn’t matter where he lined up, he was going to make an impact. 

Whether it was as a runner, receiver or even tossing the pigskin, Dallas’ natural feel for the game raised him high on recruiting boards all over the country and eventually earned him a 4-star tag at the designated “athlete” position.

Dallas became one of the hottest names in the country and for good reason. He received offers from numerous FBS programs including Clemson, Oregon, Alabama and Florida State. This hype culminated in a commitment to Georgia, where Dallas seemed destined to take over for ball-carriers like Todd Gurley, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, establishing himself as part of "RBU." It didn’t last for long, however, as he quickly pulled his commitment after head coach Mark Richt was fired. Dallas followed Richt to Miami, enrolled with the Hurricanes to ditch the so-called ball-carrier factory and head down south.

Dallas, much like any new student, didn’t know exactly what to expect. Whereas most still had course outlines and mandatory subjects to work with, he didn’t even have a position. He was eventually placed as a wide receiver. Despite playing sparingly in a rotational role during his first year, Dallas found a way to help Miami including returning kickoffs and rushing for a touchdown during a bowl game. It was a successful season — in large part due to his versatile nature — but only a small sign of things to come.

Over the next two years, Dallas converted back to running back, a more comfortable position, where he accumulated over 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns. He split reps with Travis Homer — now playing for the Seahawks — and took major strides as a sophomore, establishing himself as more than just an athlete with a "tweener" label. Dallas displayed exceptional strength, toughness and grit. He removed all doubts on whether he had what it took to be a legitimate next-level rusher.

"Gritty is a word I like to use (over feisty)," he said. "When I think of feisty, I think of a cat."

It was great for scouts to see Dallas rounding into more than just an athlete, even if his chess-piece ability was the main sticking point in his evaluation.

"As a runner, I feel like I bring a nice blend of speed, power and finesse," Dallas explained. "I model my game after guys like Alvin Kamara and Gurley, but really, I just like to play like myself."

Dallas’ combination of traits isn’t something that can be easily replicated by just any normal prospect. After all, not many can say they’ve run the ball, played quarterback, receiver and returned kicks in such a short time. Dallas himself realizes this unique, Swiss Army knife ability and doesn’t shy away from it, but rather — just like he does with his shoulder to opposing defenders — leans into it.

"My background at receiver makes me a lot more versatile than a bunch of the backs that are in this class," Dallas emphasized. "You [also] don’t get a lot of running backs who know how to return or can return, especially on punt returns. I can play all four [special teams] phases: punt coverage, kick coverage, kick return, punt return, so you don’t get that often [with running backs]."

It’s his special teams ability, in particular, that should have teams intrigued given the nature of Dallas’ likely NFL draft selection. He’s expected to be a late Day 3 choice or go undrafted; being able to play in all phases plays a massive role in sticking on a final roster. His success on special teams already gives him a leg up on others that will be scrapping for the same roster spot Dallas will be gunning for.

Being a late draft choice does imply that he faces an uphill battle towards producing a next-level impact, however, as draft capital is often an indicator of future NFL success. Still, this doesn’t worry Dallas, who’s used a “gladiator mentality” to beat the odds at every stage throughout his life.

"When I play, I call it the gladiator mentality," he said. "It’s you versus me, and if I lose, it’s not a loss necessarily, [but rather] it’s a lesson."

This mentality doesn’t just affect Dallas out on the field, but rather is something that he applies in all facets of his life. Dallas has proven no situation is too big for him to handle; it’s evident by his ability to take care of a newborn son, finish up his degree and prepare for the draft at the same time.

"It's not that hard. I mean, it’s life," he said. "When life gets thrown at you, you’ve got to deal with it and adjust. So I’ve been taking care of my baby boy and creating a plan to get my degree. I’m almost there. I just got, like two or three classes to finish and I’ll have it."

This sense of purpose and ability to adapt is the sort of selling point that can stick with organizations and fans. Leadership and effort aren’t always easy to find, but that isn’t something that’ll ever need to be questioned with Dallas.

"I know my leadership ability, playmaking ability and I feel like I’m a ‘team-first’ guy," he said. "I don’t really think about individual accolades as much as I think about a team win."

As for how he’d sell himself to NFL organizations, the Miami prospect summed it up in four words: tough, hard-nosed, playmaker, athlete.

Written By:

Carter Donnick

Publications Intern

Publications Intern at The Draft Network. Very Canadian.

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