Mark Richt has made his final pitch to starting defensive tackles RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton.
No final word yet.
“I thought the time we spent went well. I think they’re just trying to figure out what’s best,” Richt said Monday on WQAM.
The goal of his Sunday meetings with the juniors and their families were to “give them the best NFL information possible, talk about how the draft works, how second contracts work and all those type of things,” Richt said. “Just get all the information. Talk about what it’s like to leave with a degree in your hand. Talk about what it’s like to be a leader on your team and have a chance to get into the — I think we all smelled the playoffs. We didn’t quite get there. I think that’s something every young man would like to experience during his time in college.”
So, how did they leave things?
“I think they have some things to think about, pray about, and decide,” Richt said. “It’s truly a family decision. Like we told them, we’re not mad if you decide to go. We just want you to make the decision based on the best available information, and do what’s best for you.”
The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is next Monday, Jan. 15. Draft analysts are waiting to see what both will do.
McIntosh, listed at 6-4 and 293 pounds, won the team’s defensive MVP award after registering 52 tackles (12.5 for loss), 2.5 sacks and seven pass break-ups, the most by an ACC defensive lineman in 2017 and tied for the fourth-most in the last decade. He also recovered a fumble and had Miami’s longest return — 35 yards — of the year.
“He’s a good player who could be a very good player down the road,” longtime draft analyst Tony Pauline, who pegs McIntosh as a third-rounder, said Sunday in a phone call with the Post.
Miami has had at least one first-rounder in each of the last three drafts: offensive tackle Ereck Flowers and wide receiver Phillip Dorsett in 2015, cornerback Artie Burns in 2016 and tight end David Njoku last year. McIntosh may not be drafted that high, but is considered a strong pro prospect.
“He’s an athletic guy,’ said Pauline, who said McIntosh fits as either a defensive tackle in a 4-3 or a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. “The lack of size is an issue. He needs to get stronger and keep his quickness and agility. He’s been a decent player for a while, it’s a matter of how much growth potential does he have?”
Norton (6-3, 312), whom Pauline projects as a fifth-round pick, finished with 26 tackles (6.5 for loss) and 2.0 sacks in his junior season. At the NFL level, he won’t be a “playmaker,” Pauline said, but a “big gap-occupier type of guy who will take on blocks and let the linebackers make plays on the ball. He could grow into a zero-technique, a nose tackle. He’s not there yet, but he’s got that playing style. He’s not getting any taller. He could get wider, which could be a benefit for him.”
Richt, who spoke to WQAM about 12 hours before his former school, Georgia, was set to play Alabama in the national championship game, turned a good-luck wish into a backdoor recruiting pitch.
In expressing his love for players he recruited and mentored, he mentioned running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb returned to the Bulldogs for their senior year and are playing for a national title.
That idea, he said, “I’m hoping it spreads locally.”
* Richt referred to tight end signee Brevin Jordan, who was a standout in last week’s Under Armour All-America Game, as “a special player” and an “alpha dog. … “I think he’s going to come in and produce right away.” Jordan is one of 19 players to have signed with UM, but he will enroll in May. Richt noted that UM can sign as many as 27 recruits in this class — remember, traditional signing day is less than a month away, on Feb. 7 — but the Hurricanes want to leave “maybe one or two or three” scholarships open entering the spring in case a graduate transfer or other player of interest becomes available.
* Richt said quarterback Malik Rosier “is our starter right now, there’s no doubt about that.” However, he echoed his previous comments that there will open competition “at every position.”
* Graduating senior defensive end Chad Thomas signed with agent Malki Kawa, who also represents former Hurricanes first-round pick David Njoku.