Q&A: Mike Rumph goes in-depth on Miami Hurricanes cornerbacks

Jhavonte Dean (6) runs a drill during practice. (Miami Herald)

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CORAL GABLES — Mike Rumph has the task of replacing Corn Elder and Adrian Colbert, but he’s more than pleased with his transfers and youngsters.

“They’re doing well,” Rumph said. “Just battling each and every day, understanding how we do things at the University of Miami, the standard that we set for them. Now they all have a feel, it’s been about two weeks already. We’re looking to see who can compete through stress and injury and different things. But so far, so good.

“The No. 1 thing we’re excited about are guys starting to be leaders, taking the cornerback room away from me. They’re on each other now.  That’s what I like the most.”

A conversation between The Post and Miami’s cornerbacks coach, a Boynton Beach native and Atlantic High alum, at UM media day:

Coaches have talked about Malek Young’s playmaking ability, that he “seems to get a pick every day” in practice, that he has instincts and ball skills. What else is helping him make those picks? 

“He’s always had those instincts and ball skills, but he knows the defense way better now. He understands where the offense is going to try to take advantage. He does a great job of being in the right place when those situations occur. It’s kind of falling into place with him and slowing down for him now.”

Are teams going to pick on him because of his size? 

“Oh, without a doubt. If you’ve got a Dee Delaney opposite him or a Mike Jack (Michael Jackson), you know you’re going to go at Malek Young. We’re kind of excited about that, seeing how he rises up to the occasion, knowing he’s a great ball-skill kind of kid.”

Where is Jhavonte Dean at in his development? He’s got the speed and length; in which areas does he need to improve to be starter-caliber?  

“Just waiting on his physicality. He’s picking things up pretty good. Everything’s starting to slow down for him. But I just haven’t seen him make that big hit yet, or show he can get a guy on the ground. That’s where he needs to graduate to. If you know the Hurricanes defense, you know we’re going to tackle. He’s getting close, but he’s not there yet.”

We all expect Delaney to be a plug-and-play guy. Do you expect that? If not, what more do you need to see?  

“I’m very excited. When I talk about leadership in my room, he’s one of the leaders who’s already starting to get guys lined up and knows everything that needs to be done. He’s been a really good fill-in guy, ready to go already, because his capacity to learn, his urgency and how tough he is.”

Are you seeing starters emerge at this point?  

“Yeah, we see it, but we’re still rotating them.  Everyone gets reps with the 1s. Trajan Bandy and Dean have as well. Mike Jack (Michael Jackson) he’s in there.  He’s been very consistent. Dee Delaney, very consistent. Malek Young is making the plays but I want more consistency effort-wise. Jhavonte Dean is still learning, the speed of the game, but once he gets tied into everything, it’s going to be a big-time cornerback room. I know what he can do as well.”

We know Michael Jackson is big and can run. What else has he shown you that makes you believe he can push for playing time?  

“His physicality. We knew he was big and he could run, but he’s been more physical and more consistent that anything, not giving up a deep ball, stripping the ball out, filling up on the run, being able to fit in and play some dime and nickel as well. We haven’t seen anything that says he can’t play for us.  He’s been showing us, ‘You guys need me to be on that field.’ I’m so proud of him about it. Hopefully it continues throughout camp.”

Who’s your fastest corner? 

“Jhavonte Dean.”

Without a doubt? 

“And Malek Young is right there with him, but Jhavonte Dean’s probably one of the fastest players on the team, right next to Ahmmon Richards.”

His 40 was reported as a 4.3. Is that legit? 

“Yeah, I think he’s a 4.3, but right now he’s playing more like a 4.5, 4.6 because he’s still learning. That’s what I’m waiting to see. Once he sees everything, he can start being himself.”

What does Bandy have to do to get on the field? 

“Just being consistent. He wants to learn, loves to learn, he asks a thousand questions. He’s shown me some physicality early on. Just for him to be consistent and keep filling in. He’s got an opportunity at the dime and nickel as well.”

The 2018 recruiting class has some highly regarded DBs. Are some of the current guys thinking, ‘I need to make an impression now’? 

“I think it’s there, but it’s way in the back of their heads. We’re putting so much on them to come in this building and be great, I’m not sure they’re worried about that. They might be thinking about how tough it’s  going to be on those kids, because the standard is set so high. I think they’ve been there and  they know what the transition is from high school  to college. I think they know it in the back of their heads, and they’re focused on one day at a time.”

We know there were interceptions in the scrimmage. How was the tackling? Do you need to see more in that department?  

“I’ve got some questions answered in my head about who can do what. But it’s not enough. Until you see them setting the edge and hitting like linebackers, it’s not going to be enough for me. Because I was that guy. I see a lot of me in these guys in the sense they’re learning how to be physical. Hopefully this second scrimmage they’ll have it all down and be more aggressive and physical.”

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