CORAL GABLES — As the headline says, a few newsy items from Miami’s final practice before Saturday’s spring game:
1. David Njoku is fine (and apparently, Stacy Coley isn’t bad either). Njoku, who took a hard hit from impressive freshman linebacker Shaq Quarterman in las Saturday’s scrimmage, said he did not suffer a concussion and has been practicing. Njoku appeared woozy after the hit. Coach Mark Richt said Njoku and Chris Herndon are working as the first-string tight ends (though Herndon lined up at fullback and H-back in the scrimmage, and Njoku moved around too. Stan Dobard appears to be more of an in-line tight end). As for Coley, who suffered a pulled right hamstring in the scrimmage, has been among those Richt has spotted working in the return game. Coley has been running at practices. His availability for Saturday is unclear.
2. A backup QB is emerging but Richt isn’t saying anything about it. Asked if anyone has separated himself from the four-man group splitting reps behind Brad Kaaya, Richt said he “has an idea” but declined to name him (the guess here: redshirt freshman Evan Shirreffs, who was victim of a few receiver drops last Saturday and has been praised by teammates for his footwork; Malik Rosier has been inconsistent all spring). Richt said he wouldn’t hesitate to burn Jack Allison’s redshirt if he is the best option, but “if he’s No. 3, we’ll try not to play him.”
3. Receiver Darrell Langham is much bigger this year, checking in some 20 pounds larger (6-4, 236). Richt, who challenged both he and Lawrence Cager (6-5, 213) to “play bigger,” said both are doing so. “[They] are playing a little closer to 6-3, 6-2 1/2,” Richt said. “Remember when I said they played like 6-footers and they’re 6-4? They’re growing.” Langham had a strong scrimmage last week in his home county.
4. There are no plans to move junior Trayone Gray from running back to receiver or anywhere else, Richt said. Gray, who played multiple positions in high school, is thought of as a candidate to change spots. “Right now I see him as strictly a tailback,” Richt said. Gray has been working as a returner.
5. Richt conceded that he doesn’t always keep an eye on the special teams unit at practices, but said he’s noticed Coley, Mark Walton, Braxton Berrios and Corn Elder returning punts and kicks. A UM source said Gray has been working there, too. He also alluded to the possibility of incoming freshmen wide receivers Sam Bruce, Ahmmon Richards and Dionte Mullins — and junior college transfer Dayall Harris — taking on those roles. “That would be helpful,” he said.
6. Offensive line coach Stacy Searels continues to say redshirt senior Danny Isidora is the “most consistent” of his group when asked who the “best” is. Isidora, who has started 26 consecutive games, plays right guard. “Second-best? I don’t know,” Searels said, responding to a question. He likes his first unit, saying all have had good days. He said redshirt freshman right tackle Tyree St. Louis, getting an opportunity with Sunny Odogwu out for the spring, has “given me a lot of confidence…he needs to get better, but he’ll help us win.” It’s also noteworthy that Alex Gall, who has been starting at center this spring in place of the injured Nick Linder (shoulder surgery), was spotted on campus with his right knee in a brace and using crutches. That puts his availability in doubt for Saturday.