Derrius Guice all smiles, a 'ball of energy' in rookie minicamp

ASHBURN, Va. -- The smile showed up whenever he answered a question. Or when he bounded onto the field. Or when he ran off the field. Derrius Guice was happy -- to be in Washington, to worry only about football and not school, to impress his new coaches.

And, for now at least, he’s not worried that he was the seventh running back selected in the draft. Maybe he’ll renew that slight for fuel during the season. After the draft, he said the Redskins “definitely got a steal.”

“I’m not worried about the other running backs,” Guice said. “They’ll do great things there. I’m just worried about me and my organization ... it really don’t matter. It’s one of those things you can’t control. All I can do is control what I do for this organization.”

His stance might change during the season. After all, he likes to run angry and a player who some viewed as a first-round talent only to fall to late in the second round will have plenty of motivation. Former Redskins running back Clinton Portis, who once endured a similar stumble, said he ran angry for his first five years.

For now, it’s all about learning the plays and getting acclimated to a new city. Guice provides hope for a Redskins run game that hasn’t had a 1,000-yard runner since Alfred Morris in 2014. Nobody topped 751 yards last season. And they haven’t had anyone with Guice’s potential since Portis, who retired after the 2010 season.

It would be a major surprise if Guice doesn’t start this season. His violent style helps create extra yards and fits well with the style of run game they like to use. The big question surrounding Guice will be his ability to help in the pass game -- not as a third-down back, but to expand his role and the offense.

The Redskins grabbed him at No. 59 in the draft despite league-wide concerns over perceived maturity issues. Guice’s first day of the minicamp Friday, the only one open to the media, ended early when he exited before team drills to go inside and work with the strength and conditioning staff.

Guice dealt with a knee issue throughout his final college season. The Redskins didn’t want him injuring a hamstring because he hadn’t been training for football drills. And the Redskins want to make sure he’s in the right shape for the rest of the spring.

“He’s just a ball of energy,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “He’s really excited to be here. He’s willing to learn. He’s first in the meeting, got his playbook open and just soaking in all the knowledge.”

But it was hard to miss Guice’s smile, mainly because it was omnipresent. He called it a dream come true being on the field. He said the most fun part was just running with a football and not training for drills he wouldn’t have to worry about again, like the 10-yard shuttle run.

“Just football all day,” he said. “That’s the best part about being a pro, you don’t have to worry about X, Y or Z or other things to worry about. Just learning these plays and putting it to the test.”

Guice will be part of a backfield that also includes third-down back Chris Thompson. Samaje Perine, a fourth-round pick last year, likely will be part of that group, too. After that, it’s uncertain who will be part of this unit -- whether Rob Kelley or one of a handful of options.

But Guice is the one who can provide the every-down oomph. Running backs coach Randy Jordan will be the one who tries to maximize his talent. With Guice’s strong personality, there could be times they clash; there could be times they’re strongly embracing the other.

“That’s my dude, man,” Guice said of Jordan. “He’s one of the guys you know you can lean on whenever you need help. He loves when you stop him to ask questions to make sure you know what’s going on. He really likes that.”

And Guice wants to pick Thompson’s brain, too.

“I’m very eager to learn from him,” Guice said. “What was easy for him to learn? How did he process everything so quickly? How did he learn the routes so quickly? I have a lot of questions for him. I can’t wait to meet him.”

Guice is a 20-year-old kid enjoying his new life. He’ll look to the future while at the same time retweeting something about him being first in the meeting room and making a crack about his supposed immaturity. Mostly, though, it’s all smiles right now. For both him and the Redskins. If he plays the way they hope, there could be a lot more in the season.