If anyone ever put the student in student-athlete, it’s Ryan Tannehill.
The 6-4, 220-pound former Texas A&M quarterback put a huge exclamation point on his stellar career last week by being selected the first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins. He also becomes the highest Texas A&M quarterback pick ever, besting Marion Pugh who was a second-round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1941.
A West Texan by birth, Tannehill could be the biggest thing ever to come out of Big Spring, and certainly one of the smartest. He’s already graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in biology, and his next playbook after football could be Gray’s Anatomy. He wants to be an orthopedic surgeon, and medical school is in the future if he can find the time.
While awaiting that milestone, Tannehill’s new employer is counting on his passing skills to lead the Dolphins out of a multi-year slump, and former Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman will be his new offensive coordinator. It’s no secret that Sherman convinced the Dolphins’ management and owner Stephen Ross to grab Tannehill and grab him fast.
“Ryan Tannehill is a unique individual,” Sherman said after the draft. “I didn’t take him as the eighth pick to be a backup quarterback. I picked him to be a starting quarterback in this league at some point, to have an impact on this football team, to help us win games and championships. That’s the expectation that I have going down the line. He has just scratched the surface as a quarterback.”
Everyone seems to agree that Tannehill – who played both receiver and quarterback in his Aggie career – is the perfect blend of brains and brawn.
He became the only player in NCAA history to throw for 4,000 yards and gain more than 1,500 receiving yards in his career, and he’s also the only player to have single games of 400-plus passing yards and 200-yards receiving on his resume.
Not bad for a player who was also selected one of 16 recipients of the National Football Foundation’s Scholar-Athlete Award, and he joins an elite group of previous winners that include actor Mark Harmon (UCLA), NASA astronaut Leland Melvin (University of Richmond), NBC Dateline anchor Stone Phillips (Yale), former NFL quarterback Steve Young (BYU) and Heisman Trophy winners Terry Baker (Oregon State), Gary Beban (UCLA), Doug Flutie (Boston College) and Tim Tebow (Florida).
A three-time First Team Academic All Big 12 scholar, Tannehill was also named a Texas A&M Athletics Scholar four times, a member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll four times and received an “Outstanding Scholar” designation from Texas A&M for posting a 4.0 grade-point average at least once. He finished his academic career with a 3.63 GPA.
Tannehill also has been named to the prestigious Hampshire Honor Society by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF). Qualifications for membership in the NFF Hampshire Honor Society include being a starter or a significant substitute in one’s last year of eligibility at an accredited NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, Division III or an NAIA college or university; achieving a 3.2 cumulative grade point average throughout entire course of undergraduate study; and meeting all NCAA-mandated progress towards degree requirements and graduation.
Tannehill has taken it in all stride.
“I had heard rumors I might be picked high in the draft, but sometimes those are just rumors and you never know,” he told the Houston Chronicle after being selected Miami’s top pick.
“I wasn’t sure of anything until right before my name was called, my cell phone rang and I saw it was a Miami area code. That’s when I knew for sure.
“I’m blessed that I will be joining coach Sherman. We’re so familiar with each other, and he knows what I can do, and I know the kind of offense he likes to run. To see my name on the back of an NFL jersey (as was presented to him following his selection), I could not be more excited. I can’t wait to get to Miami and meet my new teammates and start to learn.”
Odds are good this is one player who will be a very quick study.
Story by Keith Randall, (979) 845-4644