LUTCHER — After being a five-star recruit and turning in a stellar career at LSU, Jarvis Landry has made the Pro Bowl, set the Miami Dolphins rookie record for receptions and receiving yards and caught more passes (194) in his first two seasons than anyone else in NFL history.
But Landry maintains his greatest football thrill is the one he first experienced as an eighth-grader and got to experience again Friday: coming through the inflatable Bulldog and onto the field at Lutcher High School.
“It’s still real for me,” Landry said after hosting some 100 youngsters at his GiveBack mentoring event, double those who attended last year. “It’s the memories of seeing the track covered with people and the stands full. When you’re 14 or 15 years old, that’s pretty powerful. Today brought all of the memories back.”
It’s the people who made those memories possible, and a chance to visit Convent, the nearby St. James Parish community where he grew up, brought Landry home Friday, just a few days before training camp begins.
Along with a clinic and some motivational remarks, Landry gave backpacks to the attendees and announced a $5,000 academic scholarship for a graduating Lutcher senior, he said, for the positive influences he had growing up and for what he wants to be now.
“When you can see someone from your hometown and your school doing what Jarvis has done, then it makes you feel like you can, too,” said Lutcher senior Jontre Kirklin, an LSU commitment. “Jarvis shows that size and speed don’t always matter as (much as) how big your heart is. It’s a blessing for everybody here for him to show us what you can achieve.”
Landry said his early success in the NFL has made him want to achieve even more — with rewards likely to come with it.
There were OTA sessions with new Dolphins coach Adam Gase and quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Landry came away raving about Gase’s system, which promises to get Landry out of his usual slot role and to play more freely in space.
Landry spent almost all of the summer training in Miami, at one point working with best friend and former LSU teammate Odell Beckham Jr. and Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro Antonio Brown.
Outside of some sponsor obligations, that has pretty much been it.
“The first couple of years, Jarvis liked to go out in Miami and stuff because you’re always getting invites to a lot of parties,” said Gerard Landry, Jarvis’ older brother. “But he pretty much declines them all now and just works out or stays around the house playing video games when he’s not. He took one vacation to Los Angeles but came home a day early. It’s pretty dull.”
When Landry came back to Louisiana on Thursday, instead of going clubbing in New Orleans or Baton Rouge, he played basketball in Lutcher for two hours with some old friends before going to the home of his uncle, Gregory Clayton, to play video games into the wee hours.
Let Beckham date rock stars. Landry is a homebody.
Instead of South Beach, he lives in relatively staid Fort Lauderdale, near the Dolphins’ training facility.
“I’m just here to play football,” he said. “I don’t care much about being in the spotlight, and I keep my relationships and things like that private.”
Especially with so much on the line this year.
The Dolphins are expected to strongly consider restructuring Landry’s contact after the season to lock up one of the league’s emerging stars in the prime of his career.
Landry definitely avoided the sophomore slump last season, going from 84 receptions (a Dolphins rookie record) for 758 yards and five touchdowns to 110 catches for 1,157 yards, although his TD total dropped to four. Landry also is the team’s punt returner and all-around special teams ace.
Now, with an offensive-minded coach like Gase, Landry could be doing even more. For someone who plays with a chip on his shoulder after being a second-round draft pick who has outdone the receivers picked ahead of him — including Beckham — that can be a powerful incentive.
“I know there’s a good opportunity for me,” Landry said. “But it’s not the kind of thing I like to pay a lot of attention to. At the end of the day, my production will speak for itself, and that will take care of the money.”
Miami views Landry as one of the foundations for rebuilding a franchise that was once considered among the NFL’s elite but has dropped into mediocrity — or worse — in the past decade. It’s a situation Landry’s not used to. Miami is 13-19 in his time there; in his three years at LSU, the Tigers were 33-7.
“When you come from a winning situation like I did, it’s frustrating, but I think we’re ready to make the jump into being a contender,” Landry said. “You see signs that we’re moving on from the past of the Marino years. This is 2016. We’ve got to be those Miami Dolphins.”
Those are things to be taken care of in Florida.
Friday was about being at home.
“When I was little, there wasn’t anybody coming here to put on clinics like this for us,” Landry said. “But I want to use my resources to do things for the kids in the community. This is going to keep getting bigger and better.”