Hello and welcome back to the 20th edition of Connor’s Corner, a column where I discuss a standout performance in professional sports and that player’s journey from high school to the professional level. While the NFL season is young, we have seen much drama thus far. Dak Prescott has looked poor throughout the first three weeks, Jordan Love is playing like the next Hall of Fame Packer Quarterback and the Chicago Bears have yet to win a game. While these are great headlines, the real story came out of Miami. In the Broncos vs. Dolphins matchup, the Miami run game was in full attack against a helpless Denver defense, accumulating 350 yards on the ground. Not to mention the air attack was in full effect, too, as Tua Tagovailoa threw for over 300 yards, and even backup Mike White got in on the action, scoring a touchdown of his own on a perfect 2-2 passing for 67 yards. One player, in particular, was a factor in the passing and running game, and that’s is none other than running back Raheem Mostert.
It took fewer than two minutes for the Dolphins offense to find the back of the endzone thanks to a 54-yard reception by Tyreek Hill, who celebrated the score by jumping into the stands and dancing with the lucky fans seated there. This play perfectly summed up the way this contest would go; it was never close, and everyone on the field for Miami had a game to remember. Mostert’s day was extra special as he had 13 carries for 82 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Typically, this alone would be the best league-wide performance, but the 31-year-old added on seven catches for 60 yards and a touchdown, guaranteeing not only the Dolphins’ victory but the countless fantasy managers that had him in their lineups.
In sports, there are blowouts. Then there are the events of Sept. 24, 2023. This game this past Sunday was no ordinary beating; it was a historic one. With their 70-20 victory, the Dolphins scored the most points in a game since 1966 and even had a chance to break the all-time scoring record, but head coach Mike McDaniel elected to kneel out the game instead of kicking the chip shot field goal.
Before the fame and fortune, Mostert attended New Smyrna Beach High School in Florida, where he excelled at football and at track, being a great sprinter, hurdler and jumper. Mostert especially excelled in the 100-meter sprint, where he finished first in the 2011 FHSAA State finals with a time of 10.68 seconds. The future NFL star was a force to be reckoned with in the 300-meter hurdle, as he placed fourth in the state championship with a personal best of 37.95 seconds. For as good as the Florida native was on the track, he was just as good, if not better, on the gridiron. Interestingly enough, Mostert didn’t play running back during his high school days; he was used as a cornerback, wide receiver and kick returner. His quickness was on display as in his senior year, where he returned nine kickoffs and a punt for a touchdown, had 39 catches for 723 yards and four receiving touchdowns. What helped get him on the radar of colleges was his performance in the 2010 Central Florida All-Star Game, where he won MVP with three catches for nearly 100 yards. For good measure, Mostert also returned a kickoff 94 yards for a score. Because of his dominance in multiple sports, the Florida native attracted the attention of Purdue, where he was a member of the track and football teams.
During his time as a Boilermaker, he was excellent, but it was not the Hollywood-esque career you’d expect. Mostert was immediately utilized as a kick returner and was one of the top returners in the country. But he failed to garner significant offensive statistics until his senior year, where he had 93 carries for 529 yards and 18 catches for 166 yards. Despite his immense talent, Mostert went undrafted and signed as a free agent with the Eagles.
Mostert has had to fight for everything in his career. He has been one of the most motivated players around, and he has always performed at the highest level. Despite this, six different NFL teams have cut him for numerous reasons. Mostert never let it bring him down; in fact, it serves as his motivation. During his time with the 49ers, on the biggest stage, Mostert finally got his chance to shine and never looked back; in the 2019 NFC Championship, he carried the ball 29 times for 220 yards and four touchdowns. After his monster performance, he revealed that he carries around a piece of paper with the dates and teams that cut him throughout his career. For him, that serves as a reminder of how far he has come and the motivation to strive for greatness.
Mostert’s journey has been one of many twists and turns. He’s only 31 years old, is still in his prime and Miami needs him more than ever. The Dolphins are seen by many as not only the best team in the AFC East but also the favorites to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Mostert finally has his shot as the best runner on the best squad. If the Dolphins wish to win their first Super Bowl since 1974, they need him to be on his A-game. And if he plays half as good as he did on Sunday, it’s hard to see any teams coming close to stopping this dynamic Miami squad.