Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt says team made ‘amazing’ fitness gains in offseason

MIAMI GARDENS — Like their coach, who referred to himself as “chubby” and went on a summer juice cleanse, the Hurricanes have spent the summer whipping themselves into shape.

Mark Richt likes what he sees.

“We spent two hours today talking about every player with our strength and conditioning coaches, with our athletic trainer and our nutritionist,” he said Wednesday, eight days before the Hurricanes open fall practices. “We talked about all of them. We talked about some of the gains of these kids in strength.

Kc McDermott, was one of several Hurricanes who reshaped his body this offseason. (Matt Porter)

Left guard Kc McDermott was one of several Hurricanes who reshaped his body this offseason. (Matt Porter)

“Some guys cut weight and went from 23 percent body fat to 14 percent body fat.  I’ve got guys gaining weight and still cutting body fat, lean muscle mass. Guys are making personal bests in some of their lifts and runs. It’s amazing the transformation with some of the bodies in just a short time.

Richt declined to discuss specific players, but multiple offensive linemen and defensive linemen spotted this summer appear much more trim. Richt, offensive line coach Stacy Searels and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz have professed a wish for leaner, quicker players instead of the bulkier bodies Al Golden and his staff seemed to prefer (that’s not true in every player’s case, but Golden talked an awful lot about players who were adding weight, rather than losing it, and his 3-4 defense called for larger linemen and linebackers).

Richt said his offensive line, which struggled with injuries last year, “transformed their bodies.

“We gave everybody a target weight and a target body fat. Sometimes, like, there might be a guy where we said, we want you to weight 315 and have 18 percent body fat, if you’re an offensive lineman. Guys might have got down to 320, but their body fat was right so we were like, you know what? That’s right, you’re in great condition, 320’s OK. 315, maybe we’ll – because we’re learning about these guys, to a certain degree.”

Commenting on the state of the line itself, he said this: “We probably got seven guys that we think can function and play well in our league. We’ve got to stay healthy. We’ve got to develop the younger guys.” Those who can “function” are likely Trevor DarlingKc McDermottNick LinderDanny Isidora, Alex Gall, Sunny Odogwu and Tyree St. Louis, all of whom saw significant action last year. St. Louis, a sophomore, is the only underclassman.

Richt touted two freshman linebackers who arrived in January and gained 22 and 17 pounds, respectively, while decreasing their body fat (he didn’t name them, but Shaq QuartermanMichael Pinckney and Zach McCloud fit that description). Of course, freshman always get bigger, often in a short period of time as they adjust to college-level eating and lifting. Richt is just pleased they’re gaining good weight.

“We’re doing the right things, and we will practice in such a way that we will be in great condition,” he said, referring to the high tempo he prefers in practices.

Miami was outscored 115-97 in fourth quarters and overtime last year, though that doesn’t tell the whole story. UM surrendered a 23-point lead late against Nebraska, couldn’t put away Florida State after leading with 10 minutes left, barely survived Duke, Virginia Tech, Virginia and Pittsburgh; and was thoroughly whipped by Clemson and North Carolina. Conditioning certainly played a role.

Elsewhere …

During a question-and-answer session with youth league players, Richt was asked: “How fast are your players?”

Richt said that in recent testing, “three or four guys ran [the 40-yard dash] in the 4.3-something range. We had about five guys in the 4.4-something range. We had about 10 guys in the 4.5 range, another 10-to-15 in the 4.6 range. Pretty fast guys.”

“How strong are they?” another youngster asked.

“We didn’t do the bench, because it’s too close to the season and we don’t want to get anybody hurt, maxing out the bench. But I know we had one guy squat 570 pounds. The same guy cleaned 380 pounds, which is a beast. We’ve got a lot of strong guys.”

When we spoke with him afterward, Richt declined to reveal the names.

Richt also revealed plans to bring youth league players to Hurricanes games.

“I’m working on it where I can get all of y’all to at least one ballgame every year from here on in,” Richt told about 75 young players, with their coaches and parents listening. “I’m still working on it, no promises yet, but I’m making good headway, and I think we’re going to get that done too. Because I want you to fall in love with the ‘U,’ and I want you to get excited about playing in that stadium right across the way.”

Asked about the jersey numbers of his best players by another bright-eyed kid, Richt said this:

“Well, we’ve got a lot of really good players. I know there’s a guy, Mark Walton, No. 1, he’s pretty good. Our quarterback, Brad Kaaya, No. 15, he’s pretty good.”

“Eight?” a player called out.

“No. 8, who’s that, Quan Muhammad? He’s pretty good,” Richt said. “Chad Thomas, he’s No. 9, I think he’s pretty good.”

Jermaine Grace,” someone called out, showing love to the senior linebacker from Carol City who played at Betty Ferguson Park.


Reader Comments 0