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Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Randy Starks Jr. is a big boy. How about 6’3″ and north of 300 pounds. He grew up as a football and basketball star (in b-ball he could score and rebound like a beast). In a decision I am sure he is thrilled with these days he chose to attend the University of Maryland when he could have gone to Penn State. At Maryland Starks was a part of 32 wins over his 3 years there. As we know that number would have been officially reduced to zero if he went to Penn State (that is the fate of his defensive-line mates Cameron Wake and Jared Odrick).
As a true freshman Starks was already making it known that he was legit. He was voted to the 4th ALL-ACC team that season. That improved as a sophomore to 2nd team ALL-ACC, and as a junior Starks was honored as a 1st-team ALL-ACC member. His play was getting better and better so he did decide to forgo his senior year and enter the NFL Draft.
The Dolphins were interested even then, but he was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the 3rd round. He spent 2004 through 2007 with the Titans before Miami snagged him as a free agent in 2008.
The 2012 Dolphins have switched their base defense from a 3-4 to a 4-3 which is a return for Starks as he played in the 4-3 during his days in Tennessee. The transition has been smooth back to being a defensive tackle in the middle of a 4-3. He is helped greatly by the fact that the man in the middle beside him is Paul Soliai, who is awesome. On a roster with numerous question marks the defensive line is not an issue and Starks does his part to help that big-time. He currently is the sacks leader at 2.0.
Starks is arguably a tad undersized at just over 300 pounds for a d-tackle, but he has great strength, great athleticism, and just all around great ability in those trenches. Between him and Soliai there is nothing available up the middle for opposing offenses, and on passes he has the ability to bull-rush and disrupt the pocket.
Starks’ 2010 season earned him his first Pro Bowl acknowledgement. I actually thought his 2011 was even better, but he only ever been honoured as a Pro Bowl player that 1 time (and counting? 2012 off to good start).
A great-memory-turned-painful- memory for 2012 will be when Starks blocked New York Jets FG kicker Nick Folk‘s game-winning OT attempt last Sunday, only to have the play negated by a not-so-timely time-out by head coach Joe Philbin. We (unfortuneately) know the rest of how that went…ahem…
Starks has had issues with the law, but fortunately those days do seem to be behind the 28 year old, 9 year veteran. He has been very solid the past few seasons, and so far so good in 2012. His nice string of solid play could culminate in a nice contract this off-season as this is Starks’ contract year. His partner Soliai just inked a 2 year $12 million extension, which is actually pretty team-friendly considering his talent. We will watch closely to see if/when the Dolphins turn their attention to a re-up with Starks.
He has shown himself to be a team player, and a versatile guy you can count on just about anywhere you need him on the d-line.
He is one of the reasons that the ‘Phins rush-D has been awesome the past few seasons, and he is a main cog that should help them be successful again in 2012.
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