Miami Hurricanes football: UM’s newcomers wear jerseys loaded with history

Miami freshmen like Brian Polendey (left) and Amari Carter (right) have a lot to live up to. (Palm Beach Post photos, illustration by Matt Porter)
Miami freshmen like Brian Polendey (left) and Amari Carter (right) have a lot to live up to. (Palm Beach Post photos, illustration by Matt Porter)

[Related: Miami adding green, black jerseys for 2017]

Jersey numbers carry with them a certain tradition. Every defensive back recruit who loves the Hurricanes has respect for Sean Taylor’s No. 26. Running backs know Willis McGahee wore No. 2 at “The U.” A Miami linebacker wearing No. 52, whether he likes it or not, is carrying on the legacy of Ray Lewis.

So this 2017 freshman class — nearly all of which is on campus and has been assigned a jersey number — may want to know some of the players, some well known and some long forgotten, who came before them.

Connecting the most recent, most famous and most obscure players to wear the jerseys these freshmen inherit, with partial assists from UM’s archives, pictorial and otherwise; Google, with its infinite power and the official (albeit highly incomplete) historical rosters on UM’s website.

I hope the diehards reading this are flooded with memories. I hope the current players reading this learn something. That’d be cool, too.

1 – DE D.J. Johnson (6-5, 240)

The last non-defensive back to wear No. 1 was linebacker Jessie Armstead (1989-92), a member of Miami’s “Bermuda Triangle” unit with Darrin Smith and Micheal Barrow. There’s a memory for you. More recently, Artie Burns (2013-15), cornerback Brandon Harris (2008-11) and safety Kenny Phillips (2005-08) have gone uno.

On the offensive side of the ball, running back Mark Walton currently wears it, following receivers Allen Hurns (2011-14), Roscoe Parrish (2001-04) and Daryl Jones (1997-2001) and running back Danyell Ferguson (1992-96).

In case you were wondering: Since teams can carry up to 105 players and only 1-99 are in use, NCAA rules let teammates wear the same jersey number. However, they cannot appear on the field at the same time. That’s why on the 2014-15 Canes, running back Walton and cornerback Burns each could be “1” — they just couldn’t play on special teams together.

2 — CB Trajan Bandy (5-9, 180)

Most recent Hurricane to wear this jersey, and a solid on-the-field, off-the-field example to follow: Bandy’s fellow Miami-Columbus High alum, safety Deon Bush (2012-15). Bush had injury trouble in his first couple seasons, but wound up being a valuable starter and fourth-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears. Like Bush, Bandy is likely to have a role immediately in a rebuilding UM secondary.

Heart-and-soul linebackers Jon Beason (2003-06) and Rohan Marley (1992-94) add more weight to the legacy. Oh, and don’t forget about Kenny Calhoun, who broke up the 2-point try in the 1984 Orange Bowl. Miami doesn’t win its first national title without a game-saving play from No. 2.

3 — WR Mike Harley (5-9, 160)

Harley is taking the jersey of Stacy Coley (2013-16), one of the most impressive receivers in program history. Coley (6-0, 193) finished his career with 166 receptions, second all-time at UM, 20 touchdowns (tied for fourth) and 2,218 yards (fifth). Imagine if he didn’t lose about a season and a half to injuries. Anyway, Harley can probably match him in the speed department.

UM Sports Hall of Famer Randal “Thrill” Hill (1987-90) also wore the shirt. Like Coley, Hill was a monster as a freshman. The Hurricanes hope Harley is the same, and they hope like Hill, he wins two national titles. Another national champ, Jason Geathers (2000-03), was No. 3 for Miami. Geathers, a Spanish River alum, became an excellent receiver, linebacker and kick returner in the CFL a decade ago. In a 2008 Post story, his CFL GM touted him as “one of the best athletes this league has to offer.”

3 – DB Dee Delaney (6-1, 193), redshirt senior transfer

The last defensive player to wear it was cornerback Tracy Howard (2012-15). A former five-star recruit who went undrafted, Howard is with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. Delaney, a two-star recruit who was an FCS All-American the last two years at The Citadel, had mid-round draft stock if he came out last year. With a good season after transferring to UM – he’s expected to start, at least – someone’s probably scooping him on draft day.

Howard played in 15 games last year with the Browns, was cut, and recently hooked on with the Jacksonville Jaguars. More Canes connections: the Browns have given big-money rookie contracts to David Njoku (four years, $9.5 million) and Duke Johnson (four years, $3.1 million) in the last three seasons.

[Related: Get to know the nicknames of Hurricanes players]

4 — WR Jeff Thomas (5-10, 175)

Most recently worn by receiver Phillip Dorsett (2012-15), who in 2014 set the program record in the 40-yard dash with a hand-timed 4.21 seconds (Sam Shields had the old record, at 4.26). Thomas, no slouch, was named Fastest Man at The Opening recruiting combine last year. Dorsett is eighth in UM history in receptions (121), touchdowns (17) and yards (2,132).

Another No. 4 Thomas wouldn’t mind following: Devin Hester (2003-05), one of the most dangerous return men the sport has ever seen. As good as Hester was, the No. 4 sits in Miami’s Ring of Honor not for a wideout, but for quarterback Steve Walsh (1987-89), a two-time national champion.

5 — S Amari Carter (6-2, 197)

Linebacker Jermaine Grace (2013-15) was a speed demon at outside linebacker before UM dismissed him last summer. Carter is about the same size as Grace when he showed up as a freshman; Grace, now with the Atlanta Falcons, had trouble putting on weight. Another hard-hitting player who wore No. 5: Greg Threat (2002-05), who led UM in tackles in 2004 as a safety. Two excellent comps for Carter.

5 — QB N’Kosi Perry (6-4, 185)

On the offensive side of the ball, the shirt of three all-time UM greats: receiver Andre Johnson (1999-2002), running back Edgerrin James (1996-98) and running back Melvin Bratton (1983-86). Quite a trio. If anyone inside the Hurricanes football building does not believe Perry has a chance to be just as special, they have yet to come forward. We’ll see Perry for the first time when Miami opens camp Aug. 1.

If a quarterback has ever worn No. 5 at Miami, it happened more than a generation ago: no such player is listed on UM’s online rosters that go back to 1989, and reviews of historical photos (admittedly an incomplete way to assess) turned up nothing. @mattyports if you can think of anyone.

Also, shout-out to tight end Stan Dobard (2013-16) and the running backs Mike James (2009-13) and Javarris James (2006-09), who are possibly but not certainly related through a mutual cousin, Edgerrin James. Everyone in the previous sentence wore No. 5.

6 – CB Jhavonte Dean (6-2, 185), junior college transfer

Dean inherits the number from safety Jamal Carter (2013-16), who is now with the Denver Broncos. Any Miami cornerback wearing No. 6 can look up to Antrel Rolle (2001-04), but Dean doubly so: he played for the same high school (Homestead-South Dade) as a guy who became an All-American, national champion, Super Bowl champion and three-time Pro-Bowler. Dean, a transfer from Blinn College in Texas, has two years at UM to carve his own path.

11 – LB De’Andre Wilder (6-2, 195)

Not a traditional linebacker number, but a speedy, potential coverage specialist like Wilder could make it look good. The last defensive player to wear it was nose tackle Michael Wyche (2014-15), who had an undistinguished career. Other recent defenders to don the sticks include defensive end David Gilbert (2013) and cornerback Larry Hope (2012).

The one-one is the domain of quarterbacks, from Jack Allison (2016) and quarterback Ryan Williams (2011-14) to Ken Dorsey (1999-2002), Scott Covington (1995-98) and Frank Costa (1990-94).

Also looks good on a wideout. After four years in No. 80, Rashawn Scott (2011-15) switched No. 11 for his senior year, and that 695-yard, five-touchdown season is a reason he hooked on with the Miami Dolphins. Scott’s health had more to do with his resurgence than the jersey change. Dale Dawkins (1987-89) won two championships in it and played four years in the league.

13 — WR/ATH Deejay Dallas (5-10, 200)

Largely a special teams or quarterback number, last worn by quarterback/H-back Gray Crow (2012-15) and before that, punter Dalton Botts (2011-12). Maybe Dallas will have a similar path as defensive back Ryan Hill (2006-10), who began his career at wideout and special teams, and switched to defense as a junior.

This spring, Miami’s coaches gave Dallas a similar first-year role, catching passes and returning kicks and seeing if they like him there, or want to move him to an area of greater need. Both Hill and Dallas were four-star prospects recruited by some of the top schools in the nation.

Hill was also frank in describing the program’s problems under Randy Shannon. Mark Richt hopes Dallas won’t have similar allegations.

17 — QB Cade Weldon (6-3, 212)

The most recent offensive player handed this jersey was receiver/award-winning artist D’Mauri Jones (2012-15). The last quarterback was Stephen Morris (2010-13), who threw for a school-record 566 yards in a game in 2012. Morris finished third in career yards (7,896) and is fourth in attempts and completions, and 10th in completion percentage. Perry may be the real deal, but Weldon has this advantage in Miami’s impending QB race: he enrolled in January, five months before his classmate.

17 — LB Waynmon Steed (5-11, 223)

A number worn most recently worn by linebackers with big personalities: Tyriq McCord (2012-15), who always had fun with the media, noted journal-keeper Willie Williams (2004-06) and D.J. Williams (2000-02), who told plenty of stories in “The U” 30-for-30 documentary and now sells Miami-themed gear. UM Sports Hall of Famer Ronnie Lippett, a defensive back, wore it from 1979-81. He talked a little trash, too.

18 or 38, unofficially – P Zach Feagles (6-2, 210)

UM hasn’t confirmed, so here are two good guesses. Jeff Feagles, who had a 22-year NFL career and is the only punter in the UM Sports Hall of Fame, wore No. 38 as a Hurricane. He wore eight different numbers for five different NFL teams, and No. 18 during his final four years with the New York Giants. As a high-schooler Zach Feagles wore No. 18, which Dad wore as they celebrated Super Bowl XLII in 2008.

22 — RB Robert Burns (5-11, 215)

Last scholarship offensive player was running back Mike James (as a freshman in 2009), but the last regular was Tony Gaiter (1994-96), who played tailback his first two years and wound up a sixth-round draft pick of the New England Patriots after a breakout senior season at wide receiver. The Hurricanes hope Burns becomes at least the equal of safety Sheldrick Redwine, who has had No. 22 on the other side the last two years.

25 — S Derrick Smith (6-2, 200)

Most recently, the number of cornerback Adrian Colbert (2016), a one-year contributor who signed with the San Francisco 49ers and documents for his social media followers the adventures of a small Lego man named Peter (yes, really). Before that? Dallas Crawford (2011-15), who played running back and safety. He held for field-goal attempts but was never used in a trick play in that setting. He did, though, put those high school quarterback skills to use during “The Return.” He fielded the initial kick and threw two perfect laterals to keep the play alive.

In year one, expect Smith to be a hard-hitting special teamer, as both of those players were during their careers.

A hodge-podge of other players who wore No. 25 at Miami: defensive back Dennis Scott (1993-97), fullback Talib Humphrey (1999), defensive backs Jared McClure (2000) and Alfonso Marshall (2001-03), running back Bobby Washington (2004), defensive back Joe Tolliver (2005) and kicker/punter Matt Bosher (2006-10)If you could recite all those players by memory, I’d like to know what else your brain holds.

44 — LB Bradley Jennings Jr. (6-1, 230)

Jennings’ father wore the same digits at Florida State (1997-2001). At Miami? Not counting defensive end Demetrius Jackson (2014) and fullback Walter Tucker (2013-15), the last full-time linebacker to wear No. 44 was Eddie Johnson (2011-12).

Miami would probably be satisfied if Jennings had the same career as Colin McCarthy (2006-10), who finished with 308 tackles and was a second-team All-ACC player as a junior. Leon Williams (2001-04) was a fine player for UM, while Dan Morgan (1997-2000), the school’s career tackles leader (532), is the best linebacker to wear the number.

55 — OL Navaughn Donaldson (6-6, 350)

Last to wear it: O-lineman Ben Jones (2008-12), a member of UM’s heralded 2008 Miami Northwestern signing class. He was mostly a scout-team player. Donaldson, a Miami Central grad, enrolled early and impressed coaches with his size, strength and athleticism. He is expected to push for a starting job at right tackle.

57 — OL Kai-Leon Herbert (6-5, 285)

Defensive end Allen Bailey (2007-10) comes to mind, but to find a non-snapper offensive lineman wearing No. 57 you’d have to go all the way back to John Abreu (1995-98). Perhaps Herbert can play O-line with the ferocity of another No. 57, linebacker Bernard “Tiger” Clark (1989).

65 — OL Corey Gaynor (6-4, 285)

Like Gaynor, Brandon Linder (2010-13) was a rugged, nasty interior O-lineman from Broward County. Gaynor is expected to play center at UM. Linder plays center now for the Jacksonville Jaguars, after manning right guard for UM. Another excellent guard who wore the Hurricanes’ No. 65: Martin Bibla (1997-2001). With senior Nick Linder and junior Tyler Gauthier ahead of him, Gaynor could spend this season prepping for a greater role in the coming years.

67 — OL Zach Dykstra (6-6, 300)

Without question, the best No. 67 in Miami history was defensive tackle Russell Maryland (1988-89). But since we’re talking offensive lineman, Alex Gall (2013-16) comes to mind. He had a quiet, injury-riddled career until coming on strong in the final month of his senior year. An injury to starting center Nick Linder put him in the middle for the stretch run, which seemed to help UM’s line click. The Canes went 9-4 and won their first bowl win since 2006, thanks to a line that struggled in the middle of the year but wound up being decent. Dykstra will likely redshirt.

75 – OT Zalon’tae Hillery (6-6, 287)

The last two offensive linemen to wear it: Brendan Loftus (2015-16) and Jared Wheeler (2009-13). Loftus saw spot action before transferring. Wheeler was a valuable sixth man who played all positions along the line, mostly guard. Hillery is seen as a long-term prospect with good upside, and seems due to redshirt.

83 – WR Evidence Njoku (6-5, 200)

A classic wideout number, 83 was the jersey Kevin Beard (1998-2002) and Braxton Berrios (2014-present) wore as freshmen before single-digit numbers became available. Sam Shields (2006-09) wore it as an underclassman, before switching to defensive back. Njoku wore No. 83 in high school, so maybe he wants to make it his own. He’ll have to crack a deep rotation at wideout first, but his length and leaping ability — he’s David Njoku’s brother, as you may know — are intriguing.

The most recent standout who wore it long-term: Sinorice Moss (2002-05), who combined with brother Santana for 28 touchdowns at UM. And who could forget defensive lineman Jim Burt (1978-80), a UM Sports Hall of Famer.

To give the real diehards something to chew on, other past 83s include Dietrich Clausell (listed as a receiver in 1990, linebacker in 1991, tight end in 1992-93), receivers Andy Atrio (1994-95) and Audric Dodds (1996), defensive back Dennis Dalton (1997), tight ends James Sikora (1999) and Aaron Greeno (2000) and receiver Kendal Thompkins (2008-12).

88 – TE Brian Polendey (6-6, 230)

Among scholarship tight ends, Jake O’Donnell (2012-15) most recently wore it. Bubba Franks (1997-2000) had an outstanding Miami career. But the No. 88 tight end jersey truly belongs to Jeremy Shockey (2000-01), until further notice. Polendey, who appears in the image at the top of this post, enters his freshman year as Miami’s third-stringer.

97 – DE Jon Garvin (6-4, 235)

Miami has high hopes for Garvin, which means they hope he’s at least better than the last three defensive ends to wear this jersey: Dwayne Hoilett (2012-13), Adewale Ojomo (2007-11) and Rhyan Anderson (2004-06). A No. 97 defensive end who had a solid UM career: Anthony Hamlet (1987-91), who played at Atlantic High, a few towns over from Garvin’s Lake Worth High.

? — DT Jon Ford (6-4, 250)

We’ll have to wait on this one, since Ford won’t enroll until Aug. 1.

We know is his high school number, 44, is taken. Jennings got to it first.

If he wants something ending in 4 (sounds like “Ford,” you see) that is not spoken for, may we suggest 54, a mean-looking number for a D-lineman.

He could also go with positional classics like 92, recently worn by Courtel Jenkins (2014-16), 96 (Curtis Porter, 2009-13) or 98 (Al-Quadin Muhammad, 2013).

Plenty of options, Jon Ford. Make one of them your own.

Twitter: @mattyports 

Facebook: Post on Miami Hurricanes

Four of five remaining 2017 Miami Hurricanes freshmen report to campus

DJ Johnson (247Sports)
D.J. Johnson (247Sports)

[Miami commits make highlight-reel plays at The Opening]

[Position switch for upperclassman LB Mike Smith]

The Hurricanes’ signing class is nearly complete.

UM confirmed Monday that four of the five incoming freshmen yet to enroll had done so.

Defensive end Deonte “D.J.” Johnson, wide receiver Evidence Njoku, linebacker De’Andre Wilder and punter Zach Feagles were set to begin classes Monday, the start of UM’s Summer ‘B’ session.

The only player yet to arrive is defensive tackle Jon Ford. The reason for that hold-up is unclear.

Everyone else Miami signed in the 2017 recruiting cycle has reported for duty. Ten freshmen joined the program in January and were permitted to participate in spring ball. Eight more freshmen, including heralded quarterback prospect N’Kosi Perry, and two transfers — junior college cornerback Jhavonte Dean and The Citadel cornerback Dee Delaney — joined for the May 22 start of Summer ‘A’ classes.

Arriving early — often months, not weeks, before the start of fall practices — allows players to engage in offseason workouts and, per NCAA rules, receive a limited amount of coaching.

UM begins fall practices Aug. 1. The ACC’s annual media days are next Thursday and Friday in Charlotte.

The highest-rated of this wave of arrivals is Johnson, a four-star recruit from Sacramento. He is listed at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds and reportedly had more scholarship offers — 100 — than any recruit in the country this year.

Njoku (6-5, 200), a three-star prospect from Cedar Grove, N.J., is the brother of former Miami standout David Njoku. Wilder (6-2, 195), a four-star recruit, is a rangy linebacker from Miami-Carol City High. Feagles (6-2, 210) is the son of Jeff Feagles, who had a 22-year NFL career and is the only punter honored in the UM Sports Hall of Fame. He is expected to start as a true freshman.

Ford (6-5, 275) is seen as a future starter in Miami’s defensive tackle unit, which could be rebuilding after this year. Coaches believe starters Kendrick Norton and R.J. McIntosh, both of whom will be NFL draft-eligible juniors, could turn pro. Reserve Gerald Willis is a draft-eligible redshirt junior. Senior Anthony Moten will graduate.

Once he arrives, Ford, a three-star prospect, will compete with Moten, Willis, sophomore Pat Bethel, redshirt freshman Tyreic Martin and redshirt sophomore Ryan Fines for backup reps.

 

N’Kosi Perry, Miami Hurricanes’ first wave of 2017 summer enrollees set to arrive

N'Kosi Perry (247)
N’Kosi Perry (247)

[Mark Richt interview: Spring | Expectations | QB talk | Final thought]

The competition on Greentree Practice Fields is about to to heat up.

Ten players on scholarship — eight freshmen and two transfers — are set to arrive on campus by Monday, when the first of Miami’s two summer-school sessions begins. They will immediately join the Hurricanes’ informal offseason workouts.

Update: Monday afternoon, Miami confirmed all the players named below had enrolled. 

The most prominent newcomer is quarterback N’Kosi Perry, who will vie for the starting quarterback spot vacated by Brad Kaaya, now a Detroit Lions rookie. Perry, a four-star recruit from Ocala-Vanguard High, tweeted that he will wear No. 5.

Last week, coach Mark Richt shared his initial expectations for the 6-foot-4, 180-pound freshman, who threw for 4,085 yards, 46 touchdowns and six interceptions in his final two high school seasons.

“Just learn what to do,” Richt said. “Learn what do to. He’s going to be in the huddle — and we don’t huddle every play — but he’s going to be in the huddle, or in the middle of a no-huddle drill, and he’s got to know what to do. If he can do that, the players are like ‘OK, he can handle that part.’ Then when the ball’s snapped, they’ll find out what he can do after that as well.

“If you don’t know enough to function well and communicate well and get us in the right situations, it’s going to be hard to compete, truly. I’ve always told our freshmen quarterbacks, ‘Your first competition is to learn what to do. When you learn enough to truly compete, then that’s the next phase.”

“If you know what to do, they see that as a guy they can follow. When the ball’s snapped, if you start playing well and making good decisions, then they’re like, OK, this guy can play. You earn the right to lead through your performance. If they don’t think you can win – they may think you’re the greatest guy in the world and have all the leadership qualities in the world, but if you can’t play, or if you can’t handle the pressure of the job, then it’s hard for them to follow you. You don’t have to say a word to be a leader. You’re already a leader by your position. Now it’s a matter of, can you convince everybody that you can function well and help us get in the end zone.”

Others who said they will enroll for Summer ‘A’: wide receivers Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley, cornerbacks Dee Delaney and Jhavonte Dean — transferring from The Citadel and junior college, respectively — and Trajan Bandy, as well as offensive linemen Kai-Leon Herbert, Corey Gaynor and Zalon’tae Hillery and safety Derrick Smith.

Several of those players are expected to hold prominent roles this fall. Delaney, an FCS All-American and NFL draft prospect (and, apparently, someone who enjoys fishing) is likely to win a starting job in a secondary that graduated four seniors. Dean and Bandy should see significant action. Thomas and Harley have the type of speed UM covets (and we are soon to find out who is faster). Herbert and Gaynor could immediately challenge UM’s veteran linemen for playing time.

In addition to confirming the enrollment of the above 10 players, Miami said wide receiver Marshall Few, a preferred walk-on from Ponte Vedra Beach, had joined the program.

Those players aren’t the only ones who will join the program this summer. Miami’s highest-rated recruit, defensive end D.J. Johnson, said he plans to enroll by July 3, when UM’s second summer session begins. Johnson (6-5, 240) is talented enough to play early, even though defensive end is arguably UM’s deepest position. The Hurricanes’ remaining signees — defensive tackle Jon Ford, linebacker De’Andre Wilder, receiver Evidence Njoku and punter Zach Feagles — are expected to join him.

Miami Hurricanes recruiting honor roll: Track and field personal bests of UM recruits

Running back Lorenzo Lingard is one of the top hurdlers and sprinters in the Southeast U.S. (247Sports)
Running back Lorenzo Lingard, a 2018 Miami commit, is one of the top hurdlers and sprinters in the Southeast U.S. (247Sports)

Miami signee D.J. Johnson’s impressive sprint times – 11.22 in the 100, 23.79 in the 200 at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds – had me thinking of a feature we used to run when I covered high school sports.

Here’s the spring track honor roll, with a Miami bent.

A caveat: Not all football players compete in track, and not all fast, strong, explosive football players are great track athletes. But here’s saluting the recorded accomplishments of those who will wear the ‘U’ in the future (or already do) — such as running back commit Lorenzo Lingard, who wants to compete in the 2020 Olympics.

https://twitter.com/TweedFlake/status/861238278896463872

Notable personal bests of Hurricanes recent signees/commits

All results from Athletic.net and from the 2017 outdoor season, unless otherwise noted.

100-meter dash

10.71 – Lorenzo Lingard, 2018 RB
10.73 – Jhavonte Dean, 2017 CB**
10.78 – Mike Harley, 2017 WR*
10.90 – Josh Jobe, 2018 CB*
11.07 – Trajan Bandy, 2017 CB
11.11 – Robert Burns, 2017 RB**
11.19 – Daquris Wiggins, 2018 WR

200-meter dash

21.52 – Mike Harley, 2017 WR
21.56 – Josh Jobe, 2018 CB*
21.94 – Lorenzo Lingard, 2018 RB
22.31 – Daquris Wiggins, 2018 WR
22.62 – Avantae Williams, 2020 ATH
22.87 – De’Andre Wilder, 2017 LB*

400-meter dash

48.16 – Jhavonte Dean, 2017 CB**
48.80 – Mike Harley, 2017 WR
51.78 – Demetrius Ivey, 2018 CB

110-meter hurdles

13.94 – Lorenzo Lingard, 2018 RB
14.38 – Gurvan Hall, 2018 S*
14.99 – Will Mallory, 2018 TE

300-meter hurdles

36.63 – Lorenzo Lingard, 2018 RB
39.45 – Gurvan Hall, 2018 S*
39.58 – Mike Harley, 2017 WR
40.09 – Will Mallory, 2018 TE

https://twitter.com/TweedFlake/status/860963399982886912

Long jump

21’9.5” – Gurvan Hall, 2018 S
21’5.75” – DeeJay Dallas, 2017 WR*
19’9.75” – Evidence Njoku, 2017 WR**

Triple jump

43’4” – Josh Jobe, 2018 CB
43’1.5” – Demetrius Ivey, 2018 CB
42’2” – Evidence Njoku, 2017 WR**

4X100 relay

40.97 – Josh Jobe, 2018 CB (and UM 2017 CB signee Trajan Bandy, UF 2018 CB signee Christopher Henderson and 2018 WR Tyler Harrell)

4X200 relay

1:27.51 – Mike Harley, 2017 WR (and Tucker Conine, Justin Brown and Elijah Moore)
1:29.63 – Avantae Williams, 2020 ATH (and Javion Goosby, Emmanuel Hinds and Jeremy Wilson)

4X400 relay

3:15.44 – Mike Harley, 2017 WR (and UM 2018 CB target Al Blades Jr., Justin Brown and Jermaine Byrd)
3:19.58 – Gurvan Hall, 2018 S (and Kevin Mitchell, Jimmy Hicks, Nick Hollis)

Shot put

47’1” – D.J. Johnson, 2017 DE
43’2.75” – Zach Dykstra, 2017 OL*
42’9.5” – Jesiah Pierre, 2019 LB
39’3.5” – Cleveland Reed, 2018 OG
39’3” – Brian Polendey, 2017 TE**

Discus

155’1.75” – Jesiah Pierre, 2019 LB
111’1.5” – Zalon’tae Hillery, 2017 OT
108’2” – Brian Polendey, 2017 TE**
97’8.5” – Cleveland Reed, 2018 OG

* 2016 result
** 2015 result

Could D.J. Johnson be Miami Hurricanes’ version of Brandon Jacobs?

Brandon Jacobs (left) was a 6-4 running back in the NFL. D.J. Johnson is an inch taller. (Getty Images; courtesy D.J. Johnson)
Brandon Jacobs (left) was a 6-4 running back in the NFL. D.J. Johnson is an inch taller. (Getty Images; courtesy D.J. Johnson)

Has there ever been a Canes running back bigger than D.J. Johnson?

Maybe not. Unless Ted Hendricks, who came to UM as a tight end, got a spare carry or two.

Johnson, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound defensive end signee, may get a shot at running back according to Canesport. The Hurricanes, looking to solve their depth issues in the backfield, could give the Sacramento native a two-way tryout.

Mark Richt was “still looking for a running back in general and for short yardage [and] asked if I would be interested in playing it,” said Johnson, who is set to arrive at UM in July. Johnson thinks defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski “might not be that happy, but it’s what is best for team. They’ll try me out at running back and see how it goes.”

Kuligowski would still get to work with Johnson, who had more scholarship offers — 100 — than any recruit nationally. Despite his large frame, Johnson has run the 100-meter dash as low as 11.22 seconds this season and has a PR of 23.79 in the 200. He is the highest-rated recruit in Miami’s 2017 signing class.

Defensive end is perhaps the deepest position on Miami’s roster. In the spring, early arrival Jon Garvin made an impression on coaches behind established veterans Chad Thomas, Demetrius Jackson, Trent Harris and last year’s freshman standout, Joe Jackson. 

Johnson’s future appears to be on defense, but perhaps he could be another Brandon Jacobs. The former New York Giants running back, who was 6-foot-4-and-change and 265 pounds, had a strong nine-year career and twice rushed for 1,000 yards.

His potential road recalls that of another top recruit from Northern California: former Miami linebacker D.J. Williams (6-2, 245), who played fullback at UM as a freshman.

If Johnson became a star ballcarrier, it would make him unique in Hurricanes history.

All but one of the top 25 players on Miami’s career rushing list range from 5-8 (Leonard Conley) and 5-9 (Duke Johnson, Frank Gore, Tyrone Moss, Joe Yearby) to 6-2 (Ottis Anderson, Chuck Foreman, Vince Opalsky).

Eddie Dunn, currently No. 16, held UM’s rushing record (1,778) from 1938 until Anderson smashed it nearly four decades later (3,331 yards from 1975-78).

He was listed at 6-3 and 192 pounds; UM’s “Ibis” yearbook from 1938 described him as “rather elongated.”

Check out Johnson in action:

Jameis Winston’s advice to Miami QB signee N’Kosi Perry: ‘Focus on the details’

Jameis Winston (top left) is giving tips to future Hurricane N'Kosi Perry (bottom left). The two worked out in Tampa this week. (Getty Images, 247Sports and Snapchat photos)
Jameis Winston (top left) is giving tips to future Hurricane N’Kosi Perry (bottom left). In the image at right, the two are shown during a recent workout in Tampa. (Getty Images, 247Sports and Snapchat photos)

N’Kosi Perry is a Hurricane, through and through.

But he doesn’t mind taking advice from a Seminole.

Perry, Miami’s highly touted quarterback recruit, has been studying under Jameis Winston, whom he knows through a mutual friend.

See video of the two throwing together Monday in Tampa, courtesy of Perry’s Snapchat account:

Perry told The Post by phone Tuesday he met Winston through P.J. Williams, the former FSU cornerback now playing for the New Orleans Saints. Williams and Perry grew up near each other Ocala and attended Vanguard High five graduating classes apart. Perry met Winston during his FSU days.

Advice from the former national champion, Heisman winner, No. 1 overall draft pick and Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ starting QB can only help Perry as he tries to win the Miami starting job, which was vacated by NFL-bound Brad Kaaya. 

[Meet the contenders in the UM QB race]

“I learned a lot of the smaller things. Quarterback stuff,” Perry said, adding that Winston told him to “always be a leader, process information, and focus on the smaller things.”

Perry, who was rated the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback and No. 84 player overall in the 2017 signing class by ESPN, won’t be around for spring drills — he said he plans to arrive May 22 — but his talent level means he will be a factor in the quarterback race this fall. Coaches believe he can be a Deshaun Watson-caliber talent, which is undoubtedly another reason Winston wanted to work with him.

Winston’s advice on winning the starting job?

“Just play football and focus on the details,” Perry said.

More video: Watch Perry throw last summer at UM’s Paradise Camp

 

Early enrollee Cade Weldon will try to impress Hurricanes coaches this spring, along with redshirt freshman-to-be Jack Allison, redshirt sophomore Evan Shirreffs, redshirt junior Malik Rosier and walk-on Vincent Testaverde. Coach Mark Richt has said the battle is likely to last until the second scrimmage of fall camp.

On the day Perry signed his letter of intent with UM, quarterbacks coach Jon Richt described him as a “a tall, more athletic, very loose guy that has a cannon for an arm,” and likened him to another former FSU Heisman winner, Charlie Ward.

“He’ll be able to make plays that sometimes shouldn’t have been made that are awesome,” Jon Richt said. “But he’s gotta be a guy that makes the consistent play, the play that day-in and day-out we need him to make.”

Another focus for Perry is adding weight — he’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds — and becoming a vocal presence, in addition to learning the offense. Perry regularly texts and video chats with coaches and has access to certain areas of the playbook.

He said his classes this spring end at 12:30 p.m., so he spends his afternoons lifting, training and, once school is out for the day, throwing with receivers.

Recruiting: S Randy Russell commits to Miami Hurricanes

Randy Russell poses with UM safeties coach Ephraim Banda before committing to the Hurricanes. (Twitter)
Randy Russell poses with UM safeties coach Ephraim Banda before committing to the Hurricanes. (Twitter)

[Beason kicks in $250K for indoor facility]

[Richt: ‘May take a minute’ to find next QB]

Mark Richt celebrated his 57th birthday on Saturday by hosting dozens of underclassman recruits at an on-campus event. Randy Russell brought a present with him.

Russell, a safety from Miami-Carol City High, gave a commitment to the Hurricanes. He chose UM over Florida, telling Canesport his local school “felt like home.” According to 247Sports, Russell was heavily leaning toward the Gators before his unofficial visit to UM.

He is rated a three-star recruit and No. 41 at his position by 247Sports’ composite ratings. ESPN, which has not rated him, wrote he has “the size speed and athleticism to excel in both man and zone at the next level” and that “his best football is ahead of him.”

Russell, 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, is the 10th commit in a recruiting class rated No. 4 nationally by 247Sports. He is the fifth defensive back and only safety in the group, though Rivals lists four-star commit Josh Jobe as a safety. UM, Alabama, Florida State and Georgia are heavily pursuing Palm Beach Lakes four-star Gurvan Hall. 

Here’s Russell’s highlight tape, featuring a track by Carol City alum Rick Ross:

https://twitter.com/randy_knows/status/833089676412063745

Miami Hurricanes excited about speed, depth upgrade at wide receiver

 

 

Wide receiver Lawrence Cager. (Matt Porter)
Wide receiver Lawrence Cager. (Matt Porter)

[Miami’s 3 LBs inspired by greatness | Pinckney Q&A]

With inexperience at quarterback for the first time in three years and playmakers Stacy Coley and David Njoku moving on, could there be a better time for Miami to upgrade its wide receiver unit?

The Hurricanes added All-American recruits Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley and long-limbed target Evidence Njoku on signing day. Lawrence Cager returns from a knee injury. Braxton Berrios has a senior’s mindset. Dionte Mullins could become a contributor. Dynamic signee DeeJay Dallas will start out as a receiver.

Oh, and Ahmmon Richards should be bigger and stronger coming off his freshman All-American year.

If Miami struggles to throw, it likely won’t be from lack of receiving options.

Position coach Ron Dugans drew plenty of signing-day praise from his colleagues. “Cleaned up,” safeties coach Ephraim Banda said. “Did a hell of a job, and is only going to make everyone better.”

A few moments with Dugans, who assessed his group on signing day:

Jeff Thomas celebrates during the Under Armour All-America Game. (247Sports)
Jeff Thomas celebrates during the Under Armour All-America Game. (247Sports)

* Thomas, a four-star recruit rated No. 8 among receivers and 55th overall by ESPN, was “a big-time get for us,” said Dugans, who began recruiting him last summer. That’s long before Thomas made a splash with his MVP performance in the Under Armour All-American Game last month. “A lot of people don’t know that,” Dugans said.

“He can run. He’s electrifying. He’s really good with the ball in his hands. Makes a lot of plays. Contested catches. Can play some special teeams for us. Return some punts and kicks. He’s a special athlete.”

Dugans compared Thomas to Devin HesterPhillip Dorsett and his former Florida State teammate Peter Warrick, who shined in Mark Richt‘s offense. Dugans said he has no worries about Thomas’ academics, an issue that hampered his recruitment (and was even mentioned by ESPNU’s broadcast team during Thomas’ televised commitment ceremony).

Like Thomas (5-10, 170), Harley (5-10, 160) is a speedy threat who can “flush the field” from the inside or outside lanes. Dugans compared Harley, from Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas, to Santana Moss and praised him for his fearlessness going across the middle.

“Tremendous kid that loves to work. Kid can run. He can outrun people,” Dugans said.  “Good ball skills. Really good route-runner. He’s a competitor. I don’t care what size he is. He competes. That’s what you love about Mike Harley.”

 

Njoku, listed at 6-foot-6 and 195 pounds, is a receiver — though tight ends coach Todd Hartley said he would love to work with him — and projects as a big-bodied outside threat.

” I think he’s a better route runner than his brother was at the time. I just feel he’s a better receiver prospect right now,” Dugans said, when asked if Njoku would switch to tight end like his brother, David. “I was pretty impressed with the way he’s able to bend, run routes. That’s a skillset that he has that his brother didn’t have, being able to get in and out of breaks. He has such a long wingspan.

“He’s not a kid I want to get to 230. Maybe a 215, 220 kid. He’ll put some weight on.”

Hartley’s assessment of the younger Njoku:

“He’s definitely got David’s length. He may be taller than David, which David won’t agree. He is a specimen, just like David is. Will he grow to have David’s stature? I don’t know. He’s going to be a really good football player, no matter where he’s at. Whether he’s in coach Dugans’ room or my room, he’s going to be a great asset. If he gets big enough to play for me, great. If he stays in coach Dugans’ room, he’ll make a lot of plays there.”

As for Dallas (5-10, 190), who may wind up at cornerback, several coaches praised his knack for scoring touchdowns and his potential to become a leader. That’s a quality Miami is in need of (considering Brad Kaaya‘s departure, to name one example).

“It’s not just leadership at the quarterback position,” Dugans said. “I want guys at receiver to lead, too. I love his work ethic, his habits. He’s trying to learn the system so he can get a chance to be on the field and not have to think while he’s on the field. Just go out and play.

“He does the things you want a receiver to do after he catches the ball,” Dugans said. “He gets yards after the catch. He makes people miss. He scores touchdowns.”

Several more seasoned receivers hope for breakout years around Richards. Miami could have used 6-5, 210-pound Cager last year, and though his ACL tear happened before camp, UM coaches won’t rush him.

Injured wide receiver Lawrence Cager catches passes after practice. (Matt Porter)
Injured wide receiver Lawrence Cager caught passes after a 2016 practice. (Matt Porter)

“One thing coach Richt said is I’m not trying to win the spring,” Dugans said. “He may do some drill work in spring ball. I’m not sure. He’s been progressing pretty good. I don’t know his limit with spring ball. Just to see him walk by, it’s like, ‘Wow’ You hope he can play [laughs]. I’m excited about him.

Before his injury, Dugans said, “Cager had gotten really good. He had gotten better from spring ball to offseason. There were some things the kid did where you said that’s what I want to see. The kid works his tail off.”

UM will begin spring practice after it returns from spring break (which runs from March 11-19).

Berrios, who was a “heck of a punt returner” in the words of special teams coach Hartley, was an afterthought in the offense (12 catches for 178 yards and two touchdowns). Dugans explained that by noting that Njoku and Coley played in the slot at times, with Richards playing outside. “It’s tough to get the ball in his hands when you got a guy that left early [Njoku] and a with first-, second-round talent [Coley],” Dugans said. “I was excited for him in the bowl game.”

Dugans on Mullins (5-10, 190), who played sparingly last year and recorded zero catches:

“The kid hadn’t played football in two years” because of academic issues in high school,” he said. “We knew it was going to be an uphill battle to get him on the field. We wanted him on the field. I saw him with his shirt off the other day and I said, ‘Oh, wow. Hope he’s not getting too big.’

“Now you want to see him go through the offseason mat drills he hasn’t gone through. He’s still learning how to be a pro. Got to keep teaching him that. Teaching him the ‘how to play the next play’ mentality. He’s coming along the way I thought he would.”

On Dayall Harris, who didn’t make an impact (nine catches, 90 yards) after transferring from junior college:

“He’s doing the same thing. At one point in time, he was up and down. When he caught on — ‘I’ve got to stay focused. I can’t get complacent.’ At one point in time, that happened. He learned from that. He’s built on to what he’s done. Bowl practices, he’s had some unbelievable practices. He’s done a good job.”

Overall, Dugans said he felt “a lot better than last year,” when he recruited a host of wideouts down the stretch (Georgia’s Javon Wims, Florida’s Freddie Swain, South Carolina’s Randrecous Davis) and saw three-star commit Latrell Williams flip to Tennessee the night before signing day.

“We got faster” this time around, Dugans said. “How much faster, I don’t know. At one time, we had some guys that are possession guys. Now we’ve got some guys that can really take the top off it.”

Behind starter Chris Herndon, Miami Hurricanes TE jobs are wide open

Outgoing tight end David Njoku believes Chris Herndon (above) could be just as special as he was. (Getty Images)
Outgoing tight end David Njoku believes Chris Herndon (above) could be just as special as he was. (Getty Images)

[Canes coaches excited about OL upgrade]

[Coaches talk QB race WR signees will boost D, too]

[All UM recruiting bios | Gould’s gradesVideo: class analysis]

It seems silly to expect Miami’s next tight end to be as good as David Njoku, but that’s what Njoku himself expects of Chris Herndon. 

“He’s a freak athlete, just like myself,” Njoku said of Herndon, who finished fourth on the team in receiving yards (334, with two touchdowns on 28 catches). “Probably even better.”

While waiting to see if Herndon develops into a potential first-round pick in his senior year, Hurricanes tight ends and special teams coach Todd Hartley is more concerned about those behind him.

Last Wednesday he said his two 2016 signees, Michael Irvin II and Jovani Haskins, must grow up before they’re ready for action.

“They need to mature this spring,” Hartley said. “They need to show us that we can trust them. They’re not freshmen anymore. They need to stop acting like freshmen and start putting themselves in positions to play. Right now it’s Chris, and then after that it’s wide-open.”

Both Irvin, who played mostly special teams last year, and Haskins (redshirted) were suspended for Miami’s bowl game for misbehavior. That’s a long way from the standard set by Herndon and Njoku, who led ACC tight ends in yards (698) and touchdowns (eight) and was second in receptions (43). They were so consistent that senior Stan Dobard was free to move to defensive end.

“Last year we played with two tight ends most of the time,” Hartley said. “Can we do that this year? I don’t know if we have a second tight end. Who’s going to step up and show they’re not a freshman?”

That could be Brian Polendey, a three-star recruit from Denton, Texas. He enrolled last month and Hartley is impressed with his game.

“He’s polished,” Hartley said of Polendey (6-6, 230). “He’s extremely intelligent, can pick up on the playbook really fast. He’s a tireless worker. Just works his butt off. Reports from the weight room have been positive. He’s going to be an asset from a physical standpoint.”

Irvin (6-3, 230) was more of a receiver in high school and Haskins (6-4, 245) was a quarterback. Polendey, Hartley said, is “a very physical kid. Tenacious blocker. Actually very well polished in what he does at the point of attack.

“Nowadays you don’t see a lot of kids like him. A lot of high school teams don’t use a tight end anymore. A lot of times you’re trying to find kids that are big, that fit your size and speed profile that project to a tight end, much like a Jovani Haskins last year.”

Hartley said UM would like to add a walk-on to a room that also includes walk-on Malik Curry (6-3, 230), and would be open to a grad transfer.

 

 

Miami Hurricanes coaches excited about offensive line signees

The Hurricanes' offensive line could be much improved this fall. (Matt Porter)
The Hurricanes’ offensive line could be much improved this fall. (Matt Porter)

[Coaches talk QB race WR signees will boost D, too]

[All UM recruiting bios | Gould’s gradesVideo: class analysis]

As Mark Richt and his staff try to rebuild the Hurricanes, they achieved a major goal on signing day: bolstering the offensive line.

Not only did Miami keep Navaughn Donaldson — a player rated No. 43 nationally regardless of position by Rivals — away from Florida State and held off Florida for tackle Kai-Leon Herbert, coaches believe their under-the-radar signees will make a difference.

In a WQAM interview Tuesday, Richt raved about center Corey Gaynor, a local recruit who was committed to Minnesota when Miami offered last fall.

Richt said the 6-foot-4, 280-pound Gaynor plays “mean as a snake” and compared him former Georgia center Ben Jones.

That’s a high honor in Richt’s world. Jones had Air Force, Troy and UAB offers in 2007 when then-UGA offensive line coach Stacy Searels told him the Bulldogs wanted him. He started four years at UGA and has started five seasons in the NFL, last year for the Tennessee Titans.

“Corey Gaynor is not going to be a four- or five-star guy, but he might start as a freshman,” Richt said.

That will perk the ears of senior-to-be Nick Linder, who has started the last two seasons but is coming off shoulder surgery.

That’s fine with Searels, who enters his second season at UM with a deeper, more talented group.

Right tackle Danny Isidora and center Alex Gall graduate, and two Al Golden signees, Hunter Knighton and Brendan Loftus, left the team late last season.

“We needed numbers in this class,” Searels said. “To get five in this class gets our scout team numbers up to where they should be.”

Miami also signed three-star Zach Dykstra (6-6, 300), an Iowa native who enrolled early, and three-star Georgia product Zalon’tae Hillery (6-6, 280), who will enroll in May.

In addition to Linder, the Hurricanes return seniors Kc McDermott and Trevor Darling, both of whom have played tackle and guard. Junior tackle Tyree St. Louis and guard/center Tyler Gauthier figure to be in the mix, along with redshirt senior tackle Sunny Odogwu, assuming he recovers from leg surgery.

Another new face this spring: LSU transfer and redshirt sophomore George Brown (6-7, 283), whom coaches challenged to gain weight in last year’s redshirt season.

Donaldson, who is already on campus and expected to begin training at right tackle, could push for a starting spot this fall. He needs to reshape his body — he’s listed at 6-6, 335 pounds — but may be the most gifted athlete UM has up front.

“I can’t wait to get my hands on him this spring and really work with him,” Searels said. “He needs to get a grasp of our system, our scheme, our technique. Physically, he’s got all the tools you’re looking for. It’ll be a process. Hopefully by the time that first game rolls around, he’ll be ready to play.”

Searels, who said he envisions Herbert (6-5, 285) as a tackle, thinks the Plantation-American Heritage product “can come in and help us quickly. … Very athletic young man. He’s gotten better every time I’ve watched him, since spring ball.”

Like Richt, he had lots of praise for Gaynor, who reported he had 106 pancake (knockdown) blocks as a senior.

“I think that kid’s toughness, attitude, demeanor is awesome,” he said, enthusiastically. “I love the kid. He’s going to be a great addition to our room.”

The returnees, Searels said, “understand what’s expected. They’ll feel pressure to step their game up. We all want to be better than we were last year.

“I’ve told all these kids to get ready to fight for a starting job. If you sit and wait, you’re getting passed by. It’s been made real clear.”