Miami Hurricanes football: RB Robert Burns may miss 2017 season opener; three freshmen out; RB depth update

CORAL GABLES — Freshman running back Robert Burns may not be available when Miami opens the season Sept. 2 against Bethune-Cookman, coach Mark Richt said Tuesday.

“I don’t think he’ll be ready for game one,” Richt said.  “I don’t think so.  I don’t know. We’ll see.”

Burns, who missed most of spring with a shoulder issue, wore a numberless green jersey at his first Hurricanes fall practice, to signify that other players should not hit him.

It was unlikely they would have. NCAA rules prohibit teams from wearing shoulder pads or running through full-contact drills until their fourth practice of the fall.  In UM’s case, that would be Friday.

Before then, Richt said, the team has to decide whether to hold Burns out from drills entirely, or let him participate once the team begins hitting. The reasoning: Richt is not yet sure if Burns’ teammates will be “smart enough” to not bump him.

Burns was a three-star recruit out of Miami-Gulliver Prep. He missed large parts of his junior and senior high school seasons because of shoulder and ankle injuries.

Good news for Miami’s running backs room: Richt said Travis Homer, a sophomore taking on a larger role behind returning 1,117-yard rusher Mark Walton, was “moving quick” and “knowing what to do” in UM’s first session.

“He’s very confident in what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” Richt said. “He’s doing a nice job. He’s ready to be a solid backup to Walton, and if you’re No. 2 at running back you’re playing a bunch. We expect him to play a bunch unless somebody rolls by him.”

Redshirt junior Trayone Gray, who missed last year with a knee injury, is “starting to get his feet under him. We’ll see how it goes.”

Richt said freshman DeeJay Dallas didn’t take reps as a running back — he wants to train him at receiver, first — but said Dallas would “do a little bit” of running back work as camp progresses.

Dallas, Richt said, “made some great plays at wide receiver today. We’re going to have a hard time not letting him do that.”

* Two other freshmen, linebacker Waynmon Steed and offensive lineman Zalon’tae Hillery, were not full-go, according to Richt. Their injuries are unknown.

Richt also said he isn’t sure when defensive tackle Jon Ford, who has yet to qualify, may do so. He is hopeful Ford will be able to join the team during camp.

“He’s still in the running,” Richt said,” comparing his situation to 2016 late arrival Dionte Mullins. “We’re still hopeful he  ends up getting in time … if he just makes it, qualifies, we’ll be very happy. We have hopes that he will. We believe that he will.”

* Sophomore tight end Michael Irvin did not compete in the second half of practice, Richt said, declining to address the nature of the situation. Asked if was heat-related, Richt said: “I’m not going to get into it. We’ll know more tomorrow. He may be practicing tomorrow. It was something we had a suspicion of, that you’ve just got to keep him out of the drills. We’ve got to make sure he’s healthy before we get him out there.”

During the media viewing portion of practice, Irvin was running as a third-teamer behind walk-on Malik Curry and senior starter Chris Herndon. Freshman Brian Polendey was fourth. “We’re rotating all those guys,” Richt said.  “If that’s how it went, that’s how it went.”

Mark Richt said he doesn't believe RB Robert Burns (in green) will be ready for Game 1.

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CANES CAMP 2017

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