Mark Richt discusses Miami Hurricanes freshmen, newcomers

CORAL GABLES — Apparently Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud are no longer fresh-faced newcomers.

“I see them as veterans,” coach Mark Richt said Thursday, after his team ran through its first fall practice of his tenure as head coach. “Two of them are lining up with the first team, and McCloud’s getting a lot of reps with the 2 unit. He’ll be fighting for a starting job, too.”

(RELATED: Check out the amazing photos from the Hurricanes’ first day of practice)

Quarterman and Pinckney, who like McCloud enrolled in January, earned starting jobs early in spring drills. McCloud, from Santaluces High, battled a shoulder injury but ran with the second team. On Thursday he lined up at Will linebacker behind Pinckney, while Quarterman was the Mike.

“They went through spring ball, which is huge,” Richt said. “They’ve had as much experience in this defense as anyone on the team because we were brand-new in the spring. It’s an advantage to be a midyear enrollee this particular year with the new staff.”

As for Richt’s side of the ball — he calls the offensive plays — he’s encouraged by freshmen receivers Ahmmon Richards and Sam Bruce, each of whom spent time with the first team.

“Ahmmon’s a little further ahead because he’s been here a little longer,” Richt said. “He’s doing a really good job knowing what to do. Sam’s a little behind because he hasn’t been here as long, and we’re trying to get him to learn a couple spots, flanker and the Y – the slot. He’s got a little more to learn, so he’s trying to learn it. I think they’ve got talent. They’ve got some great physical speed. Their ball skills, they’re still learning, but they caught the ball well today.”

And what about big fullback Marquez Williams, who ran with the first team and looked surprisingly fast for a man of his size?

“He moves well,” Richt said. “He’s about 6-foot, 280 and he’s very physical. If you looked up the definition of fullback in Webster’s, you’d probably have a picture of that guy. That’s the body type you’d love to have to do it, and the athleticism.”

Mark Richt discusses the first day of training camp with the media on Aug. 4, 2016. (Matt Porter)

Mark Richt discusses the first day of training camp with the media on Aug. 4, 2016. (Matt Porter)

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