CORAL GABLES — The Hurricanes are in need of quality offensive tackles.
They believe they just added one.
Michael Tarquin, a four-star prospect from Orlando-area Belleview High, pledged to Mark Richt on Saturday.
Tarquin (6-5, 290) is the 26th-best tackle in the 2019 class, according to 247Sports, and the top-rated offensive tackle in the state of Florida. Rivals, which lists him 29th at his position, said he plans to graduate early and enroll at UM in January 2019.
ESPN is higher on him, ranking him 13th among offensive tackles and 125th overall in the 2019 class.
Wow! We just got some AWESOME news! It’s a special day. We just got better!! What great day to be a Cane!!! U Family!!
Tarquin, who was also recruited by Oklahoma, Ohio State and numerous other big-name programs, joins a Miami recruiting class rated seventh nationally by 247Sports. The class also includes Palm Beach Central High offensive tackle Renato Brown and Jacksonville-Atlantic Coast High tackle Kingsley Eguakun. Both are three-star prospects.
Another player of great interest to Miami, 6-foot-7, 390-pound Evan Neal (Bradenton-IMG Academy), is the top-rated offensive lineman in the state (and eighth-best offensive lineman in the country for 2019). He is listed as a guard.
Like any Hurricanes fan, Chris Fallica has a certain degree of loathing for the Fighting Irish. But he can’t quite bring himself to go full-bore.
“My wife’s entire family is a Notre Dame family,” he said. “Her dad went to Notre Dame. Her grandfather was a vice president at Notre Dame, when Ara [Parseghian] was there.
“It’s funny. And her dad still calls me, regardless.”
Fallica, the ESPN College GameDay producer known as “The Bear,” has a dinner bet riding on Saturday’s game, to be paid this offseason. But that’s not the meal he’s thinking about this week. He’s pumped about hitting Joe’s Stone Crab for dinner and snagging lunch at The Big Cheese.
This is a work week to remember for the 1994 UM graduate. He gets to hit familiar food spots. He’s eager to see old friends. He’ll spend time touring a campus that’s changed quite a bit since he was a sports information department intern handing out stat sheets at the Orange Bowl.
It has been a long time coming. GameDay, ESPN’s signature college football show, hasn’t been in South Florida for a Hurricanes game since 2006, a Monday night affair. It hasn’t done a Saturday morning with UM since 2001. It has never set up in Coral Gables. Fallica hasn’t been back to campus in “a good 10 to 12 years,” he said.
Fallica, 45, will be hanging out near Lake Osceola on Saturday morning, at the edge of the GameDay set. He controls graphics, notes and stats for the show, passes info to hosts Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and Lee Corso, and offers his picks for games. At night, whether it’s on-campus or across the country, he’ll be at the ABC game of the week.
This week, it’s a quick trip up the Palmetto to Hard Rock Stadium. Know this: he wouldn’t be stunned to see the seventh-ranked Hurricanes (8-0, 6-0 ACC) beat the third-ranked Irish (8-1).
“I’m just glad they’re back in a big game,” he said.
Fallica, who joined ESPN in 1995 and got the GameDay gig the year after, admits he always pulls for the Canes. His allegiance wasn’t much of an issue in UM’s lean years, but he said he’s always been “very aware” and careful of perceived bias.
“If I picked Miami to win every game since I graduated, I’d probably have a losing record at this point,” he said. “We all want to see our alma mater win, deep down. But I’ve never had an instance where I’m altering a fact to try to make Miami out to be better, to tell a story that’s really not there.”
Like many, he expected Miami to continue building — “I thought 10-2, 11-1 with a loss in Tallahassee was on the table” — and compete for a playoff spot next year. He was among those who expected true freshman N’Kosi Perry to win the starting quarterback job, but he’s been impressed with gutsy junior Malik Rosier.
He called Notre Dame “really good,” but pointed to one possible disadvantage.
“I think (Brandon) Wimbush is a good quarterback, (running back) Josh Adams is in the Heisman mix, and their offensive line has a couple of surefire NFL first-round picks (left tackle Mike McGlinchey and left guard Quenton Nelson). But they haven’t been on the road in over a month … this is a different atmosphere on Saturday night they’re going to have to face.”
Just like Adrian Colbert last year, UM’s graduate transfer cornerback in 2017 is struggling with injuries.
Dee Delaney will miss his second game in a row with a “right lower extremity” injury, per UM’s ACC-mandated pregame report, which was released Thursday. Delaney injured his right knee against Florida State two weeks ago and will sit Saturday against Syracuse (3:30 p.m., ESPN).
Also on the report, but in a positive way: freshman right guard Navaughn Donaldson, who UM listed as “probable” with the same ailment as Delaney. Donaldson sprained his right ankle against FSU.
Freshman wide receiver Evidence Njoku (knee) and junior running back Mark Walton (ankle) are out for the season.
Other Hurricanes known to be injured, but not listed on the report: safety Sheldrick Redwine (missed last week’s game against Georgia Tech with an “upper extremity” injury, per UM) and linebacker Michael Pinckney (injured his chest last week).
In Delaney’s place, Michael Jackson started last week. Donaldson’s replacement is likely to be Hayden Mahoney, with Corey Gaynor seeing time.
Colbert, by the way, wound up with the San Francisco 49ers after one injury-plagued season at UM. He played his best against Notre Dame and in the Hurricanes’ Russell Athletic Bowl win over West Virginia. He was a seventh-round NFL draft pick despite playing in eight of UM’s 13 games.
DURHAM, N.C. — There’s may be a top-10 team playing in Tallahassee next week.
In a surprising development, it may be Miami, not Florida State.
After a 31-6 win at Duke, the 14th-ranked Hurricanes (3-0, 1-0 ACC) stand to move up from that spot in the polls. They’ll watch Saturday’s games — including one involving the Seminoles — and feel quite good about themselves.
You might say — unless you’re the type that doesn’t want to jinx it — that ‘The U’ has its swagger again.
The Hurricanes feel they are clicking, and there’s no better week to feel that way for a Miami team to feel that way than this week.
Star running back Mark Walton (ankle) is ailing, but the ACC’s leading rusher should be more than ready to face FSU. Top wide receiver Ahmmon Richards (hamstring) returned strong Friday, catching three passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. New starting quarterback Malik Rosier has looked the part, ranking 15th nationally and second in the ACC in passer rating (166.98). Senior Braxton Berrios (192 yards, three touchdowns on 10 catches) has been productive in his increased role.
Entering Saturday, with Miami having played three games and most other teams four, UM ranks second nationally in yards per play (8.22) and 24th in yards per play allowed (4.66).
This rivalry game, which has gone Florida State’s way the last seven years, comes at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN). For the Hurricanes, not a moment too soon.
“We feel good. We’re playing well,” Berrios said. “We’re ready. We want this game. We’ve been waiting for this game. In a normal season, it would have already passed. So, it’s overdue.”
The game was originally slated for 8 p.m. Sept. 16, but Hurricane Irma changed those plans. This won’t be in prime time, but there will be no lack of attention centered on Tallahassee.
Mark Richt feels his team is where it needs to be.
“Yeah. You’re 3-0, 1-0 in the league. We do have an extra day to regroup,” Richt said. “We’ve got a ways to go. It gets real hot in Tallahassee, so I’m sure we’ll be dealing with that for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.”
If it wants to re-enter the rankings, Florida State, which is 0-2 (0-1) entering Saturday’s game at Wake Forest (4-0), will have to do what Miami did Friday: knock off a previously unbeaten team on the road in North Carolina. UM will be scouting from home.
“We’ll see what we can learn from that,” Richt said. “You do your summer reports on the team that would have been our third game, first conference game, so we did some film study. I don’t know if they’ve changed a lot. We’ll just have to see.”
Miami has won its last eight games, dating to a Nov. 5, 2016 win over Pittsburgh.
They’re determined to not let its losing streak to FSU reach eight games.
“We’ve just got to keep working,” linebacker Michael Pinckney said. “We took two or three weeks off, so we’re still trying to get back to game mode. A lot of teams have four or five games under their belts. We’ve just got to keep preparing this week, can’t do anything different. I feel like we’re going to have a great week coming up.
“It’s Miami-Florida State. It’s going to be a great game. There’s going to be a lot attention on this game, but we’ve got to come out and treat it like a regular game, and know we’re playing for not only each other, but the alumni. It’s a big game.”
Brad Kaaya, the former UM quarterback now with the Carolina Panthers, was impressed with what he saw Friday. He watched with former and current teammate Corn Elder.
“You can tell the maturity level is different,” Kaaya said. “I’ve noticed that on the sideline. Guys are running to the ball and making plays. They’re picking up where we left off in 2016, and that’s a good thing.”
One of the Hurricanes’ concerns is their inexperienced secondary, which is replacing Elder and three other players now in the NFL.
“They’re very talented, but it takes time to get the communication down,” Elder said. “They made some great plays and had some communication errors or whatever. I feel the sky’s the limit for them.”
They’d feel sky-high if Miami won in Tallahassee for the first time since 2009.
For linebacker Shaq Quarterman, playing the Seminoles adds extra spice to the mix, but he said he and his teammates find a way to be caliente about every game.
“There’s always a chip on our shoulder,” he said.
“I don’t have any comments on them. I’m just ready to prepare for this week and travel to Tallahassee.”
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — UM’s Paradise Camp, its invite-only summer recruiting event, will be held July 21-22 on campus, coach Mark Richt said Friday.
The event, which is modeled after the “Dawg Night” hehosted at Georgia, was a smash hit when he debuted it last year.
“It showcases our university and our players and coaching staff and former players and their love for this place. It’s awesome,” he said. “We’re trying to attract the greatest players in this country to come and compete and get after it. Hopefully we’ll have a good turnout.”
Miami’s top-rated 2018 recruiting class is expected to attend en masse, and several top targets have told recruiting websites they will show. (The Post will have full coverage next week.)
Richt said the event will be held on UM’s intramural fields, with Greentree Practice Fields under construction.
Last year, UM greats Ray Lewis and Michael Irvin spoke to players, and a slew of former stars participated as coaches. Lewis is rumored to be returning this year, and Duke Johnson is another name believed to be involved.
UM said it would release more information about the camp Monday.
He showed that contested catches are not a problem, as he outwrestled 6-1 defensive back Ryan Mayes for a 4-yard TD pass from Cade Weldon. Langham also made a nice adjustment, diving for a 6-yard touchdown reception from Jack Allison.
“Langham, he’s a bully on the field, honestly,” Richards said. “Any 50-50 ball, he’s going to come down with it. He made a huge jump and he’ll be no surprise to everyone this year.”
Langham: “This spring I had to really push myself do better and actually just explode this year. Had to do more.”
Step 1, coaches were saying, was just look in the mirror and realize how much of a weapon size can be.
“I’m told every day I have to use my body to to get between the ball and the corner or the safety,” Langham said. “I push myself to do that every day but I have to do that more.”
D’Aundre Holmes Wilfork, the son of former Hurricanes defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, was dismissed from the University of Houston football team after he was arrested on Dec. 21 and charged with possession of a controlled substance, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Wilfork, 19, allegedly had 381 grams of codeine when he was arrested, and he now faces the felony drug charge, which carries a potential prison sentence of 2 to 20 years, according to the Chronicle.
Wilfork, who graduated from Friendswood (Texas) High School, was a member of the Houston football team this season but did not dress for a game. The program dismissed Wilfork, who played safety, from the team, university officials said in a statement, according to the Chronicle.
The elder Wilfork, 35, was a star at Santaluces High before playing for Miami, where he earned All-American honors. He played 11 seasons for the New England Patriots, earning five Pro Bowl selections and winning two Super Bowls, before playing for the Houston Texans the past two years.
Midway though his senior season at the University of Miami, Stan Dobard took a look around and saw way too many downers for his tastes.
Defensive ends kept going down.
Dobard himself always seemed to be sitting down, on the bench.
And the Hurricanes were dropping down in the ACC standings amid a four-game losing streak.
So Dobard decided it was time to speak up. He approached coach Mark Richt and defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski with an unexpected pitch: What if I switch from tight end to defensive end?
“I kept telling them I want to play defense to help the team out, and it happened,” Dobard said.
“It” did. After a couple of weeks of learning, Dobard found himself on the field late in the Hurricanes’ 51-28 victory over Pittsburgh last weekend. And he found quarterback Nathan Peterman running his way with 2:04 remaining.
And he made the tackle.
It may not meet Rudy standards, but it did transform garbage time into celebration time.
“Everybody went crazy,” Dobard said.
Defensive lineman Chad Thomas: “He’s got a ‘dog’ mentality, even if he doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
Dobard turned it into a dog day despite getting only a handful of snaps.
“I’m still working on my technique,” he said. “You know, I just got there two or three weeks ago. Right now I’m playing with just a dog mentality, just trying to get to the ball, just make plays.”
Dobard’s attitude hasn’t gone unnoticed in the locker room.
“When you see things like that, you just look at a guy, you say he’s unselfish,” defensive back Rayshawn Jenkins said. “Because he’s a senior, he easily could have shut it down and been just like, ‘No, I’m just going to start training.’ He’s unselfish and he works hard.
“And then again, he’s not bad at D-end, either.”
Richt said he listened to Dobard, then discussed it with his defensive coaches.
“He wanted to go help and he knew he had at least the body type and the athletic ability,” Richt said of Dobard, who is 6-foot-4, 252 pounds. “At the time, it was a good idea, as thin as we were at that spot.”
That was then. Now?
“”We’re getting more guys back healthy but we kept him over there because he’s just been doing a good job and he’s been enjoying it,” Richt said. “If we need him to play tight end we can do that in a pinch, too.”
After catching a pass or two in three of the first four games as a tight end, Dobard had been shut out. But after his debut on the defensive line, there’s a big 1 next to his name on the tackle sheet.
“I think I like defense better,” he said. “I don’t know, I just like hitting people.”
Probably the last few chances to see Brad Kaaya in person, in other words, unless the junior decides he needs to do more before going out in the NFL draft.
Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya looks to throw during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
I’m increasingly of the opinion that he does need to do more, but Kaaya’s pro style game is never going to work until Miami fixes its offensive line problems. Already he’s taken too much punishment. Already Mark Richt has run out of ideas on how to make Kaaya get the ball out faster or move out of the pocket or do anything else to get the Hurricanes offense fully ignited again.
It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way for the 6-foot-4 star, who likely will finish No. 2 all-time behind Ken Dorsey in passing yards by a Miami quarterback.
The best scenario would be for some NFL team that believes in Kaaya to draft him in the first round and set him aside for a season of training. That’s what the Los Angeles Rams did with No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff from the 2015 draft.
Goff played on a California Bears team that was 4-5 in the Pac 12 his junior year but won the Armed Forces Bowl 55-36 over Air Force. Miami could still rally to a similar finish with Kaaya, improving his overall profile along the way, but Kaaya is never going to reach Goff’s ridiculous total of 43 touchdown passes in his final college season.
As a matter of fact, it’s difficult distinguishing Kaaya’s stats from the other quarterbacks remaining on Miami’s 2016 schedule.
See if you can pick his out from the following strings while matching the others to Nathan Peterman of Pittsburgh, Kurt Benkert of Virginia, Ryan Finley of North Carolina State and Daniel Jones of Duke.
11 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 128.2 rating
17 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 126.5 rating
13 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 144.8 rating
12 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 152.3 rating
13 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 138.1 rating
Kaaya is answer C, and he doesn’t really stand out by numbers alone.
The others are (A) Jones, (B) Benkert, (D) Peterman and (E) Finley.
Both Kaaya and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer had their moments in Saturday’s high-profile game at South Bend. NFL scouts will see the Fighting Irish quarterback as more athletic and Kaaya as more of a ready-made pro. It’s all in the eye of the beholder.
What I see right now though is a challenge for Kaaya to finish strong, beginning with Saturday’s possible shootout with a Pittsburgh team that has scored at least 36 points in seven straight games. That’s the longest active streak in the FBS category.
Pitt has three losses but all have been to teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25 – North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State.
Make it work in the season’s final month and Kaaya’s draft stock could rise dramatically again.
Miami put true freshmen Shaq Quarterman, Zach McCloud and Michael Pinckney on the field to start its season-opener, which it won 70-3. Backups Gordinier, redshirt sophomore Mike Smith and sophomore Charles Perry played in the first half. Redshirt sophomore Terry McCray saw action late in re game.
Gordinier was “banged up” early in the game, coach Mark Richt told reporters Sunday evening. He did not comment further. Miami released its statement after Richt’s chat with the media.
Gordinier is a 6-foot-4, 235-pound weak-side linebacker from Red Bank Catholic High in New Jersey. He was a three-star recruit in the 2015 signing class.
Miami’s most experienced linebacker, junior Darrion Owens, did not play against FAMU. He is recovering from a serious knee injury he sustained last Sept. 11. He is several weeks from returning, according to team sources.
Last week, UM dismissed senior Jermaine Grace after it determined he and defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad committed NCAA violations when they dealt with a luxury rental car agency in Miami Beach. Muhammad was also dismissed. UM also dismissed junior linebacker Juwon Young, a key reserve, in July as part of the same reason.