Defensive tackle: It’s an honor to even wear this number

Defensive tackle: It’s an honor to even wear this number

Defensive tackle: It’s an honor to even wear this number

Defensive tackle Joey Ivie had never been to Texas before he flew into DFW Airport on Thursday to report for Dallas Cowboys rookie minicamp.

But now that he’s here, the seventh-round pick out of Florida is quickly becoming steeped in what he called “the Cowboy way of doing things.”

First up was a history lesson after telling his father, Joe, that the Cowboys had given him No. 74.

“You know that’s Bob Lilly’s number, don’t you?” his dad asked.

The Cowboys’ press corps also reminded Ivie of Lilly’s stature during his first media availability Friday in the locker room at The Star.

 

“It’s an honor to even wear this number,” Ivie said. “He was such a great player, and definitely a guy I’d say that I look up to. It’s just cool to be able to wear this number.”

A world of football separates the two. Lilly used an All-America senior season at TCU to become the Cowboys’ first-ever draft pick in 1961. Ivie, meanwhile, waited until the 10th pick of the seventh round after starting at defensive tackle for just one season at Florida.

“I thought I was going to get a call in the fifth, then in the sixth, and my whole family’s over at my brother’s condo, and I start to think, ‘Gosh, I might not get drafted,’ ” Ivie said.

“Then the seventh round comes, and I get a call, and it’s the Cowboys. The emotions were everywhere. I was just so happy. It wasn’t just getting drafted, it was the fact that I got drafted to such a great organization.”

Within that organization, the Cowboys need to strike pay dirt with some of their defensive draft picks. Due to salary cap limitations, the team let free agent after free agent walk this off-season from what was already an average defensive unit. They looked to the draft to rebuild, taking a defensive lineman or defensive back with seven of their nine picks last month.

“We need every one of these guys,” Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said Friday after the first rookie workout. “You treat every guy like a starter, every guy like a first-rounder, and get them going.”

There are spots available in the defensive line rotation after the departures of tackle Terrell McClain to the Redskins and end Jack Crawford to the Falcons. But will Ivie and fellow seventh-round DT Jordan Carrell be part of the youth movement to replace what was lost?

Marinelli and the rest of the defensive coaches began sifting through the possibilities Friday. But if his reaction to getting Ivie with the 228th overall selection is any indicator, Marinelli likes the lump of clay he has to mold in the Florida product.

Marinelli threw a pretty emphatic fist pump in the draft room when team representatives turned in Ivie’s draft card in a moment caught on Twitter.

“That made me smile,” Ivie said. “It’s always great to know that a coach likes you and appreciates what you do on the field. It shows he cares and that he wants to coach me up.”

But he also knew going in what it meant to get coached up in a Marinelli defense. He signed up for it when he signed his rookie contract with the Cowboys on Thursday. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

“My expectations are to get my butt kicked, honestly,” Ivie said. “All of us D-linemen have it coming. They’ve been hinting at it. It’s going to be a heavy load, but it’s nothing that we can’t handle. It’s about being mentally tough and making it through.”

“That’s Mr. Cowboy. On the Mount Rushmore of the team, that’s the first name,” went the lecture at the lockers.