Sam Bruce is still a couple weeks from suiting up in a Miami uniform for the first time, but coach Mark Richt likes what he sees out of the freshman wide receiver.
“Great practice player,” Richt said. “Works hard. Brings a lot of energy. He’s not getting as many reps as the other guys, so he’s fresher. But when he gets his reps, he’s going full-speed. He looks like a player.”
He could say the same about Bruce’s classmates who saw action in last Saturday’s 70-3 win over Florida A&M, Ahmmon Richards and Dionte Mullins. All three were high school All-Americans who, at different stages of their development, are impressing coaches.
Richards, from Wellington High, was on the field for 26 of Miami’s 57 offensive plays against FAMU and was targeted three times. He caught two passes for 31 yards and a touchdown. His first career reception was a 15-yard pass from Brad Kaaya. The second was a screen pass he took 16 yards for a touchdown (with ace cut blocking from fellow receivers Braxton Berrios and Stacy Coley). In between, he dropped a 48-yard deep ball, which Kaaya said he underthrew.
“I’ve always known Ahmmon is the player he is since he got here,” Kaaya said. “He got the playbook down pretty fast. He’s a smart kid. He’s a guy that we can rely on as an offense. Just like [linebackers] Shaq [Quarterman] and Mike Pinckney, he doesn’t play like a freshman. He doesn’t carry himself like a freshman. He carries himself like he’s years older. Credit to him. And physically, he’s just so far advanced than most freshmen, too.”
Other than Quarterman on Saturday, Richt didn’t allow freshmen to speak to the media this week. UM typically allows freshmen to be interviewed during the season after they play in their first game. Richt reasoned he was “just trying to slow down the train for them a little bit.”
On the first play of Mullins’ career, he raced downfield on running back Gus “The Bus” Edwards‘ 74-yard touchdown run. Mullins, who arrived late to camp, was on the field for five snaps in total and wasn’t targeted.
“He’s still learning,” Richt said. “He does not know all the plays, to the point where I can just call a game and not worry about him. If he’s in the game, I have to know and take care of him a little bit. And that’s last Saturday. He’ll get better this Saturday. Somewhere along the line, when we feel comfortable that he knows what to do, he’ll play. Because he has got the ability.”
Bruce was suspended for an incident dating back to high school, in which he held a gun in a photo. He withdrew from Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas and finished classes at Cooper City-Westlake Prep. Once his punishment is over, he’ll see his workload gradually increase.
“I would hope, by the time he gets in position to be in the game, that he’ll know enough to play,” Richt said. “I would think we’ll be integrating him into the plan. Hopefully, where we’d feel comfortable, is he knows it all. But if not, we’ll pick and choose some spots for him. He’ll play.”