From the hills of Kamehameha to Eastern Illinois, followed by stints in the NFL with the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, Kamu Grugier-Hill’s football journey has spanned the country. His latest stop takes him to the Miami Dolphins, where he signed a one-year prove-it deal worth $3 million in March.
Grugier-Hill is still young in football terms, having just turned 26 last Friday. But as he approaches the 2020 season, he hopes to show he’s worthy of a longer contract and the stability that comes with it. At the same time, he believes he’s used to proving himself and is prepared to do so again when the NFL kicks off another season.
“I’d like to say I’ve definitely found my identity in that and it is a comfortable position for me to be in at least because I’ve done it for so long but at the end of the day, the longer you are in the league and stuff, it comes closer to a point where you want to be an established vet and starter and all that kind of stuff so my mentality this year is this is the last time (on a short-term deal),” he said.
After earning All-Ohio Valley Conference honors in 2014 and 2015 at linebacker, Grugier-Hill was selected by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He was cut by the team before the season but latched on with the Philadelphia Eagles and won a Super Bowl with the franchise in 2018.
Grugier-Hill emerged as one of the team’s captains and a starter for both the 2018 and 2019 seasons in Philadelphia. However, leg and back injuries plagued Grugier-Hill’s final year with the team and limited him to 10 games.
Grugier-Hill’s introduction to the Dolphins franchise is already off to an atypical start, as the COVID-19 pandemic has limited communication with his new teammates and coaches to a virtual capacity.
“It’s definitely not the ideal situation. Joining a new team, you want to be able to have that interaction with your teammates,” he said. “Being able to do that virtually and stuff is definitely an adjustment but we’re getting it done. We’ve been doing some virtual (communication), just not even talk football. Kind of just hang out, get to know some of the guys. That’s what we have for now so we just gotta deal with it but it’ll be worth it in the long run.”
When teams can start to return to their facilities, Grugier-Hill will be ready. He has already relocated into a home on the water in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
In signing with the Dolphins, Grugier-Hill is reunited with Brian Flores, who was New England’s linebackers from 2016 to 2018 and is entering his second season as the head coach in Miami.
“I’ve never really been to Miami, I’ve never been to Florida like this and I’m in love with it,” Grugier-Hill said. “It’s not Hawaii but it’s pretty close. I’m actually very excited about the situation I’m in. Brian Flores came out and drafted me basically out of college so he has great confidence in me and me and him have a really good relationship.”
Of course, Grugier-Hill won’t be the only newcomer on the Dolphins from the islands. Former Saint Louis and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will make his NFL debut after getting selected fifth overall by Miami in April.
“It’s kind of cool. God has had his hand over me this entire time because if you think about it, I went to Eastern Illinois, I has my friend Pono (Choy) come with me and when I went to Philly, we even had Nate Herbig who just came there from Saint Louis,” Grugier-Hill said. “Now having Tua, it’s kind of awesome just having someone that’s from the islands and we all know how small Hawaii is and we’re gonna get along great and I can’t wait for him to get out here because he’ll be like my little bro.”