It was tough to ignore the No. 30 jersey during the Miami Dolphins 2017 season. Spectators saw the jersey deflecting footballs from would-be receivers, blanketing receivers stride for stride and making crucial open-field tackles.
The player who wears the jersey is second-year cornerback Cordrea Tankersley, who was drafted out of Clemson University by the Dolphins after winning a national championship and earning a First team All-ACC spot for the 2016 season. Tankersley during his time at Clemson was known for his ball skills, athleticism and the ability to stuff the running game against opposing offenses.
The Beech Island native went on to be selected No. 97 overall in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins. He started in 11 games and made 31 total tackles.
With his rookie season now behind him, Tankersley said he hearkens back on lessons learned from the first year of his NFL career.
“I definitely learned to adjust to the speed of the game,” Tankersley said at the Silver Bluff High School Youth Football Camp on Saturday. “Coming from high school and college, you’re one of the better players on the field, but it’s not like that now. Everybody is good in the NFL – so it’s just adjusting to the speed.”
Tankersley said it's plays like the one he vividly remembers against Drew Brees and the Saints in Week 4 of last season that highlight some of the tendencies he'd like to correct. Brees zipped a ball to a receiver Tankersley had tightly covered for a completion that Tankersley felt he should've broken up.
“I read it perfect. I felt like I should of gotten that extra push and went a little higher,” Tankersley said. “It was a hard throw but I feel like I could of gotten it, and I think it would of changed the trajectory of the game.”
It's also those type of plays that have pushed Tankersley to set high goals this year.
Tankersley enters his second season with a clear goal of having a breakout year, and earning spots on the Pro Bowl team and being named All-Pro.
“I just want to get better on my craft each and every day individually and make those teams – that’s really it,” Tankersley said.
One teammate Tankersley said he can learn the ropes from is Reshad Jones. Jones, an Atlanta native, has had recent success, earning spots in the Pro Bowl two out of the last three years.
Tankersley said his professionalism and intelligence are qualities he wants to emulate going forward.
“He doesn’t have the best athleticism, but his knowledge of the game and experience is crucial; that’s what makes him the great player he is today,” he continued. “ He knows where to be at the right time – where to help and where not to help. This shows on the field each and everyday, not only on game day but practice.”