DAVIE (CBSMiami) – With training camp well underway, the Miami Dolphins’ focus is razor sharp as they continue preparing for the team’s first preseason game this Friday in Atlanta.
One player that has emerged as a leader both on the field and in the locker room is defensive end Cameron Wake.
Nobody questions his commitment to fitness and training as he always keeps his body in tip-top shape. When CBS4’s Kim Bokamper was able to catch up with Wake, it was at the gym. With such dedication to keeping his body in great shape, it raises the question of how long he’s been such a gym rat.
“Started probably around my sophomore year of college,” said Wake. “I started kinda realizing ‘What am I gonna do to set myself a step ahead of that offensive tackle whose big and fast and strong?’”
There are obvious benefits to staying in shape. It keeps you healthy and in the case of an athlete, ready to perform at a high level. But Wake says there’s an added bonus that keeps him motivated and always moving forward.
“I like [working out] and I actually love watching the results. I love going out there and putting that extra five pounds on that bench or that squat that last week I know I couldn’t do. In my mind I know every time I do that, the extra five pounds, that’s gonna benefit me when the lights come on on Sundays.”
Around that time, when Wake was still a youngster in college, he went by a different name. Through the first 18 years of his life everyone knew him as Derek Wake, as that is his given first name.
That changed while he was in school and looking for a side job in order to earn some money.
“It started off as just a paper work mix-up when I was filling out my paperwork for a personal training job,” explained Wake. “They always say ‘first, middle, last’ and I don’t know how it got switched but my middle name is actually Cameron and they put it as my first name and gave me a name tag that said Cameron.
“At the time I’m like ‘hey, you know what…who cares?’ I’ll just wear the name tag and it started off as people calling me Cameron. At that time I introduced myself to my agent and he knew me as Cameron and that’s kinda how I got into the CFL (Canadian Football League) and it kinda just snowballed. At the time I’m like ‘hey, you know Cameron is doing pretty well and if it aint broke, don’t fix it’ and I just stuck with it.”
It comes as no surprise that he did stick with Cameron. While his football career path may not have been exactly what he hoped when dreaming of playing in the NFL as a child, the amazing work ethic that Wake has had since his days at Penn State helped him stay focused while working his way up the professional football ladder.
After graduating from college, Wake found himself a free agent when he wasn’t selected in the 2005 NFL Draft. He signed briefly with the New York Giants but was cut after just two months with the team, not even making it to training camp.
Wake spent the next year working as a mortgage broker but he wasn’t ready to give up on his dream of playing pro football. Putting the NFL on the back burner, Wake traveled north of the border to the CFL, signing with the BC Lions in May of 2007.
He had an immediate impact and was named the Defensive Player of the Week during his first week in the league, picking up seven tackles and three quarterback sacks.
Wake ended up leading the CFL in sacks with 16 and had the only blocked field goal in the league that season.
He became the first player in the leagues history to be named both Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season.
Following another successful season in 2008 in which he once again led the CFL in sacks and was named the Defensive Player of the Year, Wake had plenty of interest from the NFL.
A total of 17 different NFL teams showed interest in Wake though he chose to only work out for eight, including the Miami Dolphins. Three days after his initial workout in Miami, Wake signed a four-year deal with the Dolphins.
It’s been a long and winding road that has gotten Wake to where he is now, entering his 6th year in the NFL and 8th as a pro football player. Having turned 32 in January, Wake isn’t letting his age slow him down in the least.
“I feel good, I definitely feel good. They always say you’re only as old as you feel and I feel young, I feel great. There’s a lot of guys out there pushing me every day, the Olivier Vernon’s of the world and the Dion Jordan’s. They’ve got the young legs and they’re running around and making plays and everyday you’ve gotta go out there and keep that premiere level.”
“I feel good but at the same time I have a lot of wisdom that you can only gain from going through the things that we’ve gone through. Being able to work smarter and help some of these younger guys along that, they work hard but sometimes maybe not as smart.”
If anybody can help the younger players on the team, it’s Wake.
He has embraced the leadership role and is taking the younger players under his wing. It’s now a matter of seeing how much will translate onto the playing field, but signs out of the Dolphins practice facility in Davie are that the team is as close as it’s ever been and are working hard together to bring a winning team back to Miami.
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