DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Terrence Fede was watching the NFL Draft this past spring and noticed that the Miami Dolphins were selecting plenty of players from small schools.
Not long afterward, his phone rang.
Marist to Miami, that’s not a likely path. Going from a seventh-round pick to the 53-man roster, that’s also improbable. Going from the Pioneer League to the NFL, let’s just say it’s not exactly a commonplace occurrence.
For now anyway, Fede has defied the odds. He’s a member of the Dolphins, the first player from the little school in Poughkeepsie, New York to make an NFL regular-season roster.
"It’s a moment in history for my college," said Fede, a 6-foot-4, 282-pound defensive end. "Whatever I do, I’m representing Marist. Marist is always going to be on my back. It’s something I dreamed of, it happened and now I want to get back on the field."
Fede was slowed by a knee injury late in training camp, but made the team nonetheless. He’s improving, though his status isn’t clear for Sunday’s season-opener at home against the New England Patriots. Fede is listed as the second-stringer at right defensive end behind Olivier Vernon on the initial depth chart.
"When we evaluate players, we evaluate traits," Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said. "The traits that we saw out of Terrence, whether it be from initial quickness to power to motor to production, what we saw was a guy that we felt had the traits to translate to the next level."
On a team that kept 12 rookies, though, Fede might have been the longest of long shots.
Think of pro athletes who hail from Marist, think of former NBA star Rik Smits, because the 7-foot-4 center is about the beginning, middle and end of the list of well-known Red Foxes who got paid to play anything.
Fede played last season against Georgetown, Davidson and Mercer. In basketball, that’s solid college competition. In football, only the most ardent of fans knows anything about those teams — or that those teams even exist, frankly.
"We follow him every day," Marist coach Jim Parady said. "We read every article. We’ve all become Dolphins fans up here, because of the way he’s progressed down there."
Fede’s playing days at Marist are obviously done, but his impact remains. He’s already a recruiting tool, the ultimate example for Parady to point to and say to prospects that they can, in fact, get to the pros from a little school like Marist.
"Kids, they look at us differently now, because they know one of ours is in the NFL," Parady said.
Fede knows everyone at Marist is watching. He’s embracing the challenge of actually sticking around now. Nothing is guaranteed, and he understands that for as hard as he fought to make the team, he’s going to have to fight at least that hard to stay put.
"I visited here and I really wanted to come here," Fede said. "Dennis Hickey, he didn’t look at where a player comes from, but what that player can bring to the table. That’s pretty cool."
NOTES: Rookie Jarvis Landry is listed as the starter at both kick-returner and punt-returner, with Dolphins coach Joe Philbin saying the former LSU star has demonstrated "some elusiveness." Landry returned a total of eight kicks in his three college seasons. . C Mike Pouncey (hip) reiterated that he’s upbeat to not start the season on the physically unable to perform list, but says there’s no target date for his return, either. "You don’t even understand how much you miss it until it’s taken away from you," Pouncey said.