After a tumultuous senior year, top-rated freshman wide receiver Sam Bruce was among several new faces on UM’s campus Sunday.
After signing with the Hurricanes — maintaining a longstanding commitment despite a flirtation with Ohio State — he left Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas on Feb. 16 after an incident that allegedly involved him holding a gun in a photo. He finished his classes at Cooper City-Westlake Prep.
Miami is thankful it all worked out. Bruce (5-8, 180), a four-star recruit rated as high as No. 7 among wideouts by Rivals.com, is a dynamic athlete with a college-ready build. If he picks up the playbook, he will see the field immediately.
“He’ll be able to catch up because he’ll have veteran receivers who will help them, quarterbacks who will help him, [receivers] coach [Ron] Dugans who’ll legally be able to sit down and talk to him, get him up to speed,” coach Mark Richt said recently.
UM also anticipated the arrival of cornerback Malek Young, tight end Jovani Haskins, defensive tackle Tyreic Martin, safety Jeff James.
Because of the Hurricanes’ depth issues at his position, Young (5-10, 185) will likely have the greatest opportunity for playing time. Haskins, Martin and James — Edgerrin’s nephew — are likely to redshirt.
Four-star wide receiver Dionte Mullins and safety Cedrick Wright, both of whom played at nearby Gulliver Prep, did not arrive on Sunday. A program source expressed confidence both players would join the team by the start of fall practices in August.
It’s become common for incoming freshmen to enroll for summer classes, a practice which permits them to participate in their school’s offseason conditioning program. Now that the NCAA allows coaches to conduct a small amount of hands-on training with players, many more are coming early. Most of the Hurricanes’ 2016 recruiting class arrived in mid-May, nearly three months before the official start of fall practices.
“Compared to the old days, when they showed up just one day before camp started, they were lost back then,” Richt said. “They were homesick. They were not in a good place. But now they learn everything in little bitty pieces. It really helps.”
Ideally for the Hurricanes, Bruce would adapt as quick as fellow freshman receiver Ahmmon Richards. Richt said he happened to see Richards, who arrived in May as a four-star recruit from Wellington High, in the training room and quizzed him on the offense.
“Just sitting there, I started asking him questions,” Richt said, snapping his fingers in rhythm. “‘What are you doing on this play? What are you doing on that play? What are you doing on this play?’ Just kind of messing around with him. Ninety percent of them, he knew. Not only what the route was, but how he was going to try to go about it. If they’re a quick study, they’ll get it figured out pretty quick.”
The following new faces also showed up this weekend:
- Fullback Marquez Williams, who will be on scholarship. Williams, who is listed at 6-2 and 265 pounds, played at Division 2 Mars Hill (N.C.). More about him here.
- A walk-on long-snapper, Jake Munoz, who grew up in Miami but played high school ball in Atlanta. To get to UM, Munoz (5-11, 210) dealt with a rare eye disorder.
- Two walk-on freshman linebackers: Dewayne “D.J.” Washington and Shawn Walker. Washington, from Raleigh, N.C. is the 6-0, 220-pound son of Dewayne Washington, a cornerback who was a first-round pick out of North Carolina State and had a 12-year NFL career. Walker (6-2, 220) is from Cardinal Gibbons in Fort Lauderdale and said he will be on full academic scholarship. Scout lists him as a two-star recruit.
- Sophomore walk-on quarterback Tucker Beirne, who spent one year at Bryant, an FCS program in Rhode Island. Berine (6-2, 225) started three years at Miami-Columbus High after starting for Aspen High in Colorado. His Bryant bio contains a few interesting notes from his high school career: he set a Columbus career record for passing yards (7,957) and was the first sophomore starting quarterback in school history. He also holds Aspen High’s single-season passing yards record, which he set as a freshman, and is the only freshman starting quarterback in that school’s history. Miami could do worse when it comes to walk-on QBs.