CORAL GABLES — Senior center Nick Linder is leaving the Hurricanes, Mark Richt said Monday.
Linder, who started 26 games for Miami the last three seasons, will play elsewhere as a graduate transfer next season.
Richt said Linder plans to graduate from UM this week, use the fall to train, and join another program for the spring. He will have one season of eligibility remaining.
Why is he leaving?
“You’d have to ask him,” Richt said.
It’s clear that ongoing shoulder issues and Tyler Gauthier‘s performance were contributing factors.
Linder did not participate in spring drills in 2016 and 2017 while recovering from two separate shoulder surgeries. Gauthier replaced him as UM’s first-string center both years. Gauthier, a 6-foot-5, 305-pound junior from Venice High, opened fall camp last week as the No. 1 center.
Gauthier’s first opportunity to start last season came after Linder’s season-ending shoulder injury Nov. 5 against Pittsburgh. Gauthier entered UM’s starting lineup at left guard, with senior Alex Gall taking over at center. Those two started the final four games of the year, and UM’s offensive line seemed to click.
Richt, whose comments Monday were brief, said Gauthier “has done very well” as UM’s first-teamer.
Last week, offensive line coach Stacy Searels reiterated his comments from the spring, saying he expected both Linder and Gauthier to be in the rotation this fall.
“Nick has played a lot of ball and Tyler has really come on in the last year or so and played well for us,” Searels said. “Both of them can play center and both of them can play guard and both of them are going to help us win this year.”
Linder (6-3, 298) opened 2015 as the Hurricanes’ starting center and started all 13 games that season. He started the first nine last year, before his injury. He also started four games at left guard as a true freshman in 2014.
Richt said the team will miss his experience.
“When guys leave, it just puts pressure on the rest of the team,” Richt said. “He’s a really good player, and he really knows what he’s doing. Certainly I’m disappointed, because I’d rather him be here than not be here.”
The move makes true freshman Corey Gaynor (6-4, 285), whom coaches spoke highly after signing him in February, the second-string center. Redshirt sophomore Hayden Mahoney (6-5, 295), who has been playing left guard, will also train in the middle.
Linder, the brother of Jacksonville Jaguars starting center and former Miami third-round draft pick Brandon Linder, was a three-star recruit in the 2014 out of Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas High.
* Richt said true freshman wide receiver Evidence Njoku, who was seen on crutches before practice, hyperextended his knee and is “day-to-day.” He will not have surgery.
* Sophomore starting weak-side linebacker Michael Pinckney, Richt said, is “day by day” with a strained hamstring. “You just never know,” Richt said. “We’re hoping sooner than later. We’re thinking sooner, but who knows.” Richt said he’s concerned about backups taking too many reps. “We’re trying to go fast,” Richt said. “It puts pressure on the rest of the guys. I think Pinckney will be fine, but he needs to be sharp. He’s not a guy who’s some wily veteran who doesn’t need to get better. He needs to get better too.”
* Sophomore tight end Michael Irvin II, who has struggled with dehydration according to Richt, is “getting better” and should be back at practice “very soon.” He was not at practice Monday.
CANES CAMP 2017
Day 6 [no practice]
Walton weighs in on QBs, RBs, coaches
Perry ‘a passer, not just a thrower’
Injury updates: Burns could miss opener
Video: Perry runs through first drills
Porter’s video recap, live chat
Day 1 practice notes: Perry batting third
Photos, videos: Practice footage, field under construction
10 big storylines, how to follow camp
Offseason features, news
A sit-down with Richt, Parts I-IV
Miami gearing up for QB battle
Perry learning, adjusting, impressing
UM’s offense will depend on Walton
Quarterman leading Miami’s defense
LBs motivated by UM’s ‘ghosts of greatness’
Richards hoping to be All-American
Berrios tired of hype
‘The Playmaker’ high on Richards
Winston: Perry’s going to be ‘really good’
Cager angling for a comeback
Richt on swag | Says ‘The U is back’
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The Guide to Watching Miami Football
A visual history of Miami football stadiums
Exclusive look at UM’s new alternate jerseys
UM jersey numbers have meaning
The Glossary of Canes player nicknames
Thomas produces music for DJ Khaled
Fun facts from the 2017 media guide
Projecting Miami’s 2018 draft class
Miami’s over-under: 9 wins
UM picked to win the Coastal
Porter’s preseason All-ACC ballot, predictions