One member of the Miami Dolphins who is quickly becoming a favorite of mine is second-year receiver Brian Hartline. Last offseason, Hartline was the second of two receivers Miami drafted in the middle rounds of the 2009 NFL Draft. It quickly became apparent, though, that Hartline was going to become an immediate factor in the passing game.
Hartline was the recipient of Chad Henne's first career touchdown pass en route to the team's first win of 2009. He would end up leading the team in touchdown receptions and yards-per-reception as a rookie and finish the season third on the team in receiving yards.
I recently had the opportunity to ask Brian some questions, which are below. I want to send out a huge "thank you" to Brian for taking some time out of his schedule to do this.
Going back a year to draft day 2009, what was your experience like?
It was pretty intense but it was one heck of an experience. I was down at my parents cottage with the family. I couldn't have picked a more relaxing place but it didn't help to much.
How would you describe your rookie season? What was it about life in the NFL that surprised you the most?
Nothing really surprised me to much about life in the NFL. I would describe my rookie season as "getting my feet wet." I feel like I did a little here and did a little there but I want to do a lot more in 2010.
What was the toughest part of the game itself as you transitioned from the college level to the professional level?
Going against so many smart guys. People really understand the game in the NFL and you are going up against "all-stars" in your profession every week.
Which veterans helped you the most last season in making the transition? And what kinds of things did you learn from them?
The whole receiving room really helped us young guys come along. Just everyday activities was the most important information they could give to us. From what to do and what not to do gave us the biggest opportunity to stay relaxed and just play football.
What was the one play in your rookie season that you think you will remember years from now when you think back to your rookie season?
Probably the touchdown against the Patriots.
You always hear "experts" try to classify receivers as "possession receivers" or a "big-play receivers" and labels like that. How would you classify your own style of play?
I really do not like to give labels. I guess that will have to be up to the "experts."
The big story of the offseason in Miami was obviously the acquisition of Brandon Marshall. And while I’m sure you’re excited because he will bring another element to this offense, are there any mixed emotions? After all, the addition of a receiver means the playing time of the other receivers on the roster could get cut into. Is that something you think about as a player?
My only reaction was excitement. I love the dynamic he brings to the team and the influence he brings to the offense.
What aspects of your game have you been focusing on improving this offseason?
I wanted to add some size and strength and I feel I have done that so far.
What are your goals for the 2010 season – both individually and as a team?
Individually I have some very high goals. But more importantly our team goals are to win the division and then win the Super Bowl. Those are the goals. Nothing less.
I have to ask. You have a Michigan quarterback throwing the football to you. As a Buckeye, did it take some getting used to having a Michigan guy throwing to you? And did you guys make any wager on the Michigan/Ohio State game last year?
Coming in I didn't even think of the rivalry. The only time that topic comes up (for the most part) is during that week of the college season. Plus they are not doing so hot in that rivalry right now so him and Jake Long try not to bring it up too often.
Speaking of Henne, we all see the kind of player Chad is becoming on the field. But what kind of leader is Henne becoming in the huddle and in the locker room?
He is a great leader and someone I love playing along with.
When you aren’t working out or at practice, what kinds of things are you typically doing?
I like to play as much golf as I can. I also try to get out on the water as much as possible and play with my dogs.
Final question. Do you read or listen to what the fans or media are saying about you or about the team?
Not too often. No one has higher expectations for myself than myself. And no one has higher expectations for our team than our coaches and they can tell us everyday how we are performing.
Again, a huge thanks to Brian Hartline for doing this. And be sure to follow Brian on Twitter.