DAVIE, Fla. – As a kid growing up in Central Florida, Mike Gillislee idolized one of his Miami Dolphins predecessors at running back.
"Ricky Williams," Gillislee said Saturday. "His vision, the way he ran the ball . he was a very tough running back. And I liked that he was humble, he didn't say very much.
Gillislee now follows in Williams' cleat marks as a soft-spoken Dolphins rusher. In his only year as a Florida starter, Gillislee last season ran for 1,152 yards (4.7 avg.) to become the Gators' first 1,000-yard rusher since Ciatrick Fason in 2004.
Gillislee hasn't gone unnoticed even though veterans Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas began training camp higher on the Dolphins depth chart.
"He hasn't been tentative," Miami coach Joe Philbin said. "That's the one thing, when you get a young back, you're a little concerned — a new scheme, getting used to pro football, maybe a little dance and shuffle. We haven't seen a lot of that. We've seen some get to the point of attack, make a decision and go."
Gillislee returned to Gainesville after June's minicamp to condition, lift weights and work on his techniques. He said the toughest part, so far, of going from college to pro has been in the passing game.
"Knowing where you have to be and knowing who you have to pick up in the blocking schemes," he said.
The 5-11, 213-pound Gillislee figures see time on special teams besides battling Jonas Gray and Marcus Thigpen for spot duty running the ball.
"Anything that the coaches want me to do," Gillislee said. "I'm going to work, I'm going to learn and I'm going to try and be the best at whatever the role is."
Gillislee was one of three Florida Gators — receiver Jelani Jenkins and kicker Caleb Sturgis — selected by Miami in April's draft. Add center Mike Pouncey, who's entering his fourth season, and there's a strong Gators presence at Dolphins camp. But that doesn't mean the Florida alums are spending all their time together.
From Deland, in central Florida, Gillisliee already appears to be helping to stimulate the Dolphins' fan base.
"When I went home after the (organized team activities), everybody had on Miami Dolphins stuff," Gillislee said. "Pretty much all the guys that I saw came up to me telling me how long they've been Miami Dolphins fans and they're glad I got the opportunity."