Douglas High football players relish ‘awesome’ day announcing Miami Dolphins’ picks

Johanna Feis, sister of Aaron Feis, the late offensive line coach at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, holds the draft card for Notre Dame tight end Durham Smythe after she and seniors on the Douglas football team announced Miami’s draft selection. (Hal Habib / Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — Yes, they joked about it.

Members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High football team announced the Dolphins’ Day 3 draft picks Saturday, and there was some joking beforehand about going rogue with any selections they might not approve of.

Just the fact that the seniors on the Douglas team could share light moments during their visit to the team’s training facility made the trip a victory in itself. They were invited — at the suggestion of team VP Jason Jenkins, a resident of Parkland — to help the healing after the Feb. 14 shooting at the school that left 17 dead.

Among the fatalities was beloved offensive line coach Aaron Feis, so it was only fitting that Miami’s first selection Saturday, of Notre Dame tight end Durham Smythe, was announced on national TV from the team’s practice bubble by Johanna Feis, Aaron’s sister.

She was followed by Douglas quarterback Tyler Goodman, who read the selection of Arizona State running back Kalen Ballage.

Center Lucas Taylor acknowledged the chatter about vetoing picks that didn’t mean the players’ approval.

“We’ve got a lot of jokesters on our team,” Taylor said. “We do a lot of fun things together. If do make another pick that the Dolphins don’t like, I was not involved.”

In the end, of course, the players gave the moment the respect it warranted.

“This is a serious moment,” Goodman said. “This is guys’ jobs up there, so if we mess up their jobs, we’re kind of trouble for them.”

The day began when the Eagles toured the draft room and met owner Stephen Ross and Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino.

“He called us his ‘Best Buds,’ ” said Will Pringle, a defensive lineman, said of Marino. “I didn’t expect that. He was making fun of me. Not something you get to do every day.”

Any respite the Eagles get is still very much welcomed.

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[PHOTO GALLERY: From the NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas]

“We had something terrible that happened at our school and it’s just great that a nationally renowned program like the Dolphins cares about us,” Goodman said. “We’re an hour away. It just makes us feel that there’s people out there that still care about the fact that we lost 17 people.”

Pringle: “Focusing on being a friend, doing cool stuff, really takes your mind off stuff. It doesn’t ease the pain or make it go away, but to get your mind off of things is really important moving forward and healing.”

Taylor called it an “awesome” experience.

“It’s been everything to us,” Taylor said. “We come to school every day and there’s banners all over. We’ll see people just in the streets. They’ll come up to us, ‘We’re sorry for your loss.’ It means a lot to us.”

It won’t be long before this group of seniors won’t be together every day. Graduation is around the corner.

“There’s no breaking us apart throughout anything,” Taylor said. “We all know we’re one call away from each other.”

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