Mark Richt can’t recognize his Hurricanes players, but he loves them

Spring football is here

Click the links for position-by-position looks at the Hurricanes entering spring ball, with thoughts on key battles and issues at each spot.

 QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ST

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CORAL GABLES — The question drew a chuckle from Mark Richt, as he stood at the edge of the practice field talking about the “smokin’ hot” and humid Coral Gables morning.

At this point, where are you with learning your players?

“Ahhh,” he said. “I’m learning. I’m learning. You see the names on the helmets, right?”

Quarterback Brad Kaaya is a recognizable player, but even he has his name on his helmet. (AP)
Quarterback Brad Kaaya is a recognizable player, but even he has his name on his helmet. (AP)

Every Hurricanes player this spring, even Brad Kaaya, is wearing their first initial and last name in block lettering on their helmet. Their base layer  — the t-shirt and shorts they work out in — bears the same information. It’s stuck on there good, too.

It’ll help a group of coaches that is entirely new — save for some support staff — and began learning about their new players in January.

“All the coaches need it,” said Richt, who spent 15 years ago Georgia and first met a few of Miami’s players on the recruiting trail, namely running back Mark Walton.

“Even the position coaches might be very familiar with their guys, but might not be sure on the other side of the ball who everybody is. I’m trying to learn 100 of them and little by little I’m getting there.

“It does take a while to memorize all those guys, memorize all the recruits we signed, memorize all the 2017’s and 18’s we’re trying to recruit. There’s a lot of names for one man being the head coach. If all I did was coach QBs, I think I’d know all the QBs and I’d know all the recruits who are QBs.

“I know I love ‘em all even though I can’t recognize them all.”

Kaaya — who, essentially, is learning his third different offensive style, after going mostly pro-style in 2014 and including more spread in 2015 — said Richt’s hands-on approach is helping them forge a bond.

“It’s still fairly new,” he said. “He’s only been here a few months and started really fine-tuning our offense after the recruiting season ended. So far it’s going really well. He’s an awesome guy. He is in every single meeting, play install and time we are working out and practicing. He is watching everything the quarterback does and to have your head coach be so hands on is helpful.”

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