Hatchett gets first taste of NFL
Once Douglas High graduate Gabe Hatchett arrived in Miami last week, he was thrown right into the mix at the Dolphins’ first minicamp.
A week later and he is still afloat, holding his own and armed with a two-year NFL contract.
“It went great, it went awesome,” Hatchett said. “I made some mistakes and did some things well. It was a pretty amazing experience.”
Hatchett, a wide receiver, returned to Gardnerville this week but will be back in Florida starting May 16 to participate in the Dolphins’ conditioning program, which runs through the start of the next minicamp on June 9.
“They already sent two receivers home, so there’s only 10 receivers on the roster,” Hatcett said. “They’re looking to keep eight to 10 during the season with one going down to the practice squad. We’ll see. I just have to keep working hard.”
Hatchett had to make a number of quick adjustments once he arrived in Miami, the biggest of which might have been the heat.
“It was hotter than anything I’d ever been through,” he said. “There was 90 percent humidity and it was 110 degrees at field level at 10:30 in the morning.
“It was physically exhausting. They were throwing a lot of stuff at us on the run. It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve been through.”
Hatchett said he arrived last Thursday, had breakfast with the team and then went straight into practice.
“There was no honeymoon period, it was straight to work,” he said. “I was sucking wind a little on the first day, but I got acclimated to it. They had people out there helping us stay hydrated. It was OK.”
There was also that little bit of being on the same field with seasoned professional football players.
“I think at first, I was awed just a tad bit,” he said. “You just have to get in that mindset where you’re there to do a job and earn a spot on the team.
“It’s a process of realizing that all these names you know so well are your teammates now. Everybody out there with me is a Dolphin.
“I don’t want to downplay it, but you really have to set yourself in and know you’re there to work.”
He spent time with receiver Chris Chambers, gleaning tips and wisdom between plays at practice.
“He helped me out a lot,” Hatchett said. “We’re to the point where everyone is just trying to help you to be better so that the team is better.
“I spent a lot of time trying to soak up knowledge from the older guys, the veterans. I’m just trying to be a more complete receiver. Everything is so precise at that level. there’s no more room for error. You have to be right on time with your routes, you can’t cut any corners.”
Hatchett is also getting a quick introduction to playing in a big city with a big fanbase.
“The fans there are incredible,” Hatchett said. “They’re sitting through these workouts in the extreme heat. We got to sign autographs after practice and it’s weird. People are starting to know my name. I’m hearing ‘Hey, Gabe Hatchett, No. 19.'”
Speaking of numbers, Hatchett swapped his number, 19, with first-round draft pick Ted Ginn out of Ohio State after the minicamp.
“It was no big deal,” Hatchett said. “He likes 19, so I took No. 11. I like that number anyway”
Hatchett also has been doing interviews with a Miami radio station that sought him out before camp began to do a series on trying to make the cut in the NFL.
“I’m just trying to build a fan base,” Hatchett said. “People are kind of coming out of nowhere all of the sudden. It’s pretty strange.”
— Joey Crandall can be reached at email@example.com or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.