Mark Richt confident about Miami Hurricanes DTs, even without Gerald Willis

New Hurricanes defensive lineman Gerald Willis. (
Hurricanes defensive lineman Gerald Willis during a 2015 interview (

[Matt Porter’s preseason All-ACC ballot, predicted order of finish]

[Fun facts and figures from the 2017 Canes football media guide]

[Miami DT Willis will not play in 2017]

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Gerald Willis, according to a release UM sent Thursday evening, is still a member of UM’s “family.” But not only is he currently not a part of the  football team, coach Mark Richt said the defensive tackle’s leave of absence means he has also left campus for an indefinite period of time.

“I don’t know for sure,” Richt said, when asked if he had any clarity on when Willis may return. “I just don’t know for sure. I can’t define it  yet. I know he needs to take this leave of absence, and it’s for personal reasons. In time, we’ll know more about all  those things. … It’s personal because it’s personal.”

As for what that means for Miami’s defensive tackle depth, Richt was optimistic.

“I would say if we don’t have a rash of injuries at that position, we’re pretty strong at that position,” Richt said.  “If we got one or two guys banged up, that would make it tough on everybody.”

Richt expressed confidence about sophomore Pat Bethel, who “gained weight and strength” after moving from end. Little-used redshirt sophomore Ryan Fines, Richt said, “could give us some quality snaps.” Redshirt freshman Tyreic Martin, he said, is “starting to make some strong improvement. And of course having guys like [KendrickNorton and [R.J.McIntosh is tremendous. We’ve got some good edge rushers.”

True freshman Jon Ford, Richt said, has academic issues “similar to a Dionte Mullins,” who enrolled midway through last August. “We expect him to be with us before it’s over.”

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