On the latest episode of Listen In With KNN on Fox Sports 1340AM, host Kelsey Nicole Nelson welcomed Miami Dolphins linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill to the show.
The Hawaii native didn’t start playing football until his junior year of high school. He would get more playing time as a senior and as a result, got a scholarship to attend Eastern Illinois University as they were the only school to give him a scholarship. What made it challenging for Grugier-Hill was he couldn’t find where Illinois was on the map.
“It was a crazy experience. I really didn’t wanna go but my mom made me go. First six months there, the team and the guys were great but it was such a culture shock for me. It actually ended up being the best years of my life and I’m so thankful and the biggest blessing in disguise I ever had,” he said.
At his Eastern Illinois Pro Day, Grugier-Hill ran 4.4 seconds on the 40-yard dash to prepare himself for the 2016 NFL Draft. He was drafted in the sixth round by the New England Patriots.
“I’ll never ever forget that day. I had a bunch of my friends and family come out to Chicago. Throughout the day, I was a little upset but once my number got called, I was talking to (Bill) Belichick and Robert Kraft. It’s such a blessing and I’ll never forget it,” Grugier-Hill said.
However, his stint with the Patriots was short lived as he was released as part of the final roster cuts. But Grugier-Hill was picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles as the 2016 season began. In 2017, it was a magical season for the Eagles despite losing their starting quarterback Carson Wentz because of a torn ACL as they had a 13-3 record and won their first Super Bowl title in franchise history by defeating the Patriots, 41-33.
“That day will be the number one memory in my life. It was that entire year as a whole with the locker room, teammates, coaches and the experiences we had. That Super Bowl week, we were in Minnesota and I remember everything. I’m so grateful to have experienced that,” he said.
After spending his first four seasons in Philly, Grugier-Hill signed with the Miami Dolphins as he was reunited with head coach Brian Flores, who was his linebackers coach with the Patriots. Also, he would be teammates with a fellow Hawaiian by the name of Tua Tagovailoa. The 2020 season was unlike any other year due to COVID-19 having a huge impact on the NFL.
“The training was a totally different feel, we didn’t have OTA’s and we were working out at home. When the season started, it was just a whole another battle. We’re getting tested everyday and guys are having to sit out if they have sniffles or anything. It was a pretty frustrating year but our training staff did a great job at managing everything and keeping us as safe as possible,” said Grugier-Hill.
Despite the circumstances, the Dolphins had a great season as they were sixth in scoring defense and finished with a 10-6 record.
“I credit that to Coach Flo (Brian Flores). He really held us to a high standard every week and it’s business. That’s the way he’s done things and if you’re not performing, then we’re gonna find someone that does. We wanted to be a good defense and we had goals and standards that had to be met,” he said.
Grugier-Hill takes pride on being one of the players from Hawaii to step foot onto the NFL field.
“The whole state has your back and it doesn’t really matter what team you’re on. I’ve been on three teams essentially and I have all these Hawaiian fans that are fans of completely different teams. The support here is amazing and I think that’s the one thing that’s so amazing in Hawaii,” he said.
Super Bowl 55 is on Sunday February 7th between the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Grugier-Hill has a feeling where this game will go.
“It’s a toss-up but for me, I would love to see (Tom) Brady win another one. If he gets seven rings, he’s the greatest ever. I’m going to go 31-24 Tampa.”