Tony Lippett, who has played both wide receiver and cornerback, was selected in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. When he was announced, Miami made it known that he would be a cornerback. Now, with the switch to the other side of the ball, he is eager for the challenge and has full confidence in his ability to easily transition.
“I’m very confident in my skills and ability at the next level. I know it’s something a little new. I’ve been doing it my freshman year and my senior year. I’ve been going up against some big wide receivers in the conference that we have. I feel that my capabilities are pretty deep for this level of ball. I’m just excited to be a Dolphin, and I’m ready to play.”
While he may have found success at the collegiate level at the cornerback position, he understands that the National Football League is a different type of beast. With that said, he knows he’s ready.
“I feel like it’s a challenge and if anybody knows me, they know I’m open to a lot of challenges. I feel good about their decision of choosing me. I’m just grateful for this opportunity. It’s a blessing. I’ll be ready to go, ready to compete against whoever. It’s going to be a learning period, but I willing to do that, I’m ready.”
While Lippett said that he doesn’t have any preference of playing offense or defense, he did admit that he thought he would be playing the receiver position heading into the draft last weekend.
“Yes, I probably did head into it thinking that I was going to play receiver because that was the primary position I played the last three years. Teams here, teams there thought about drafting me as a corner or a wide receiver and wanted to see how I felt if they drafted me as a corner. Early in the process, it was kind of vague, but later in the process, I felt good about the situation. I was just ready for an opportunity. That’s really it. Whatever people drafted me as, I’m just going to try to excel the best I can at that position.”
In 2014, Lippett started two games at cornerback and during his freshman campaign, he started five games. In between, he played every other game at the wide receiver position. Playing both sides of the ball could get confusing for some but Lippett said his experience growing up and in high school prepared him for the challenge.
“It was different a little bit. But playing in high school and playing in little league, growing up in my neighborhood we played both sides of the ball all the time. So it was different at this level and with this intensity beyond this game. But it felt good, I felt good out there. I wasn’t winded like that because it was kind of cold where I’m from. It was pretty good, I had a good experience with it. I could probably say I was one of the few players to do that at Michigan State or even in college football. So I had fun with the experience. It taught me a lot. I just kind of rolled with it.”
That’s because Lippett put in the extra work to make sure he was well conditioned and in shape to handle the added pressure and energy it took to be successful. He described what it was like during and after practices in college.
“It takes a lot. When he told me he wanted me to play a little bit, after the practice I probably ran a couple more liners or jabs like that just to get my wind together. Then in practice I tried to not take reps off because I was flip flopping from offense to defense in practice. So I was just trying not to take reps off to get my mind and my body physically and mentally ready for the intensity I was going to be playing at. I was just ready for it. It took a lot but I did it. I didn’t have a choice.”
Although Lippett is slotted in the cornerback position right now, he hasn’t ruled out a return to the wide receiver position in the future. However, he’s ready to devote all his attention to becoming the best possible cornerback for the team.
“Like I said, you never know. You never know what’s going to happen, but right now, I’m a corner for the Miami Dolphins, and I’m going to try to excel at that position as best as I can.”
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs