Seahawks GM John Schneider Loves Hurricanes' Special Teams Units

Placing an emphasis on special teams in each of the past two drafts, the Seahawks clearly love what the Hurricanes are doing in south Florida preparing players for the third phase of the game at the next level.
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Last season, the University of Miami hired Manny Diaz to replace Mark Richt as their head coach. The Hurricanes' former defensive coordinator made it a top priority to hire David Feeley away from Temple University, appointing him head of the team's strength and conditioning program.

Over the last four years at his various stops at Ball State, South Carolina, and Temple, Feeley has helped and mentored 11 players that were drafted in last month's draft. Those players are Danny Pinter, D.J. Wonnum, Bryan Edwards, T.J. Brunson, Chapelle Russell, Shaun Bradley, Matt Hennessy, Shaq Quarterman, Jonathan Garvin, K.J. Osborn, and DeeJay Dallas.

Dallas, a running back out of Miami who was recently drafted by the Seahawks in the fourth round, revealed last month on the Through The Smoke podcast that he is a big supporter of Feeley.

"He made our team better," Dallas said. "As long as he's there, the team is going to be well-conditioned, and shoot, a group of warriors because [of] that offseason program, them 33 110 [yard sprints]? Yeah, that's no joke. I feel like as long as Coach Feeley is there, no matter what coaches roll in or roll out, as long as Coach Feeley is there, Miami will be the most well-conditioned and prepared team, physically."

Along with Feeley making a strong impression on players, Miami special teams coach Jonathan Patke has also done an excellent job coaching up his players on the field and has drawn notice from NFL teams.

Specifically, the Seahawks really like what the Hurricanes staff is doing down in at "The U," as they have selected Miami running backs, Dallas and Travis Homer, in back to back years in the fourth and sixth round. Both backs fit the toughness profile Seattle looks for and the fact each player contributed extensively on special teams played a huge role in them being drafted.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider was a guest last week on the 950 KJR AM with Dave Mahler and Dick Fain and shared that he likes the way the program approaches special teams and how they put an emphasis on it.

"Deejay Dallas is a guy that kept rising for us [in the draft] and what we saw in Travis [Homer] last year and the way that they approach special teams at the University of Miami, and the way they put an emphasis on it, and the guys compete. Whether you are a starter or a third-string guy," said Schneider. "They have a really nice special teams group down there. The guy is a damn good special teams player, he can return punts and kickoffs, and he has a real nice feel about him. So, he was a player that we didn't want to pass up."

During Dallas's post-draft interview on Day 3 of the draft, he was asked about how much time he spent at Miami as a returner. Viewing his return skills as another dynamic to his game, if that's how he can get on the field right away for Seattle, he's prepared and willing to do it as a rookie.

"If that's what the team needs, I'll be returner," Dallas said. "But I really like returning the ball. It was fun to me and I feel like it added another aspect to my game. If that's what the coaches want me to do, I'll do it. That's all I can really say about that."

He was later asked if he preferred returning kickoffs or punts and shared he doesn't really have a preference, opening up options for him as he starts his career with the Seahawks.

"Either one. I really feel comfortable doing both. Whatever they ask of me, I'll do it."

Dallas only returned one kickoff as a junior after being installed as the starting running back to replace Homer, but back in 2018, he returned 11 punts for 191 yards and a touchdown while also contributing as a kick returner.

As they have tried to do the past few years, the Seahawks are looking to replace Tyler Lockett in the return game. Dallas and their sixth round pick, receiver Freddie Swain, both could be options to take over and will have a chance to compete for the role in training camp.