CORAL GABLES — A few early notes from the media viewing portion of Wednesday’s practice, the second of Fall 2017:
* Sophomore tight end Michael Irvin II was back at practice. Irvin, a contender for the backup job behind senior starter Chris Herndon, missed the second half of Tuesday’s practice. That’s according to Mark Richt, who wouldn’t elaborate on the reason in his post-practice comments to reporters. The coach was asked directly if it was heat-related.
UM lacks proven depth at tight end, with a cast of reserves that includes Irvin and true freshman Brian Polendey vying with walk-on Malik Curry, a redshirt sophomore. Herndon, taking over the starting role after first-rounder David Njoku left early, could be one of the ACC’s best. He finished second to Wake Forest’s Cam Serigne in the preseason All-ACC balloting. He will almost certainly be one of Miami’s most valuable players, considering his size (6-4, 252), speed and proven production (46 catches, 571 yards, three touchdowns in the last two years). He’s also versatile; in the months after he took over at Miami — and inherited a new team of players — Richt made glowing comments about Herndon’s receiving, blocking, route-running and ability to play in-line, out wide, as an H-back and a fullback.
None of the players behind him have caught a pass in a game.
Irvin (6-3, 248) played in six contests as a true freshman, mostly on special teams. Adding to Miami’s depth issues: it parted ways with Irvin’s fellow 2016 signee Jovani Haskins, who wound up at West Virginia. Bottom line: Irvin is needed here. And it would benefit the Canes greatly if Polendey (6-6, 230) came along quickly. Curry (6-3, 230), we should note, was running as the No. 2 in Tuesday’s practice. Richt didn’t seem to think that was too significant, saying UM is divvying up tight end reps evenly at this point in camp.
* True freshman offensive lineman Zalon’tae Hillery was not spotted during today’s media viewing portion (if you care: it lasts about 20 minutes, divided into two 10-minute portions, during the first of which we can take photos and videos. It’ll be that way from here until the end of the season, most likely). Hillery is expected to be a reserve. The reason for his absence is unknown.
* Other early true freshman impressions: wide receiver Jeff Thomas looks like he will contribute this year. Very quick and smooth getting around defenders (in warmup drills, sure, but his talent is apparent) … Got a first look at punter Zach Feagles today. Strong leg. Looks the part of a scholarship punter recruited by several FBS programs. Expect him to win the job over former UF walk-on Jack Spicer. Is he as good as his dad? Let’s see him in a game, first. … would not be stunned if high school All-American defensive end D.J. Johnson was a future solution to UM’s defensive tackle issues. Listed at 6-5, 240 and has the frame to carry much more. Also moves extremely well for that size.
* Running back Robert Burns was again in a green (no-contact) numberless jersey. We addressed his status (and plenty of other depth chart notes) in yesterday’s reports.
* Defense-heavy day today. UM plans to bring (subject to change, mind you) defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, linebackers Shaq Quarterman and Zach McCloud and defensive ends Trent Harris and Demetrius Jackson to the media scrum.
Also planning to go on WQAM’s “Hochman and Crowder” afternoon show at 3:25 p.m. to talk all things Canes.
Before that, let’s do a post-practice Facebook live chat. Meet me at Facebook.com/PostOnMiamiHurricanes at 2, and as always, bring the comments and make it weird, because I usually do. Click here to recap yesterday’s chat, if you’re so interested.
CANES CAMP 2017
Porter’s video recap
Perry ‘a passer, not just a thrower’
Injury updates: Burns could miss opener
Video: Perry runs through first drills
Day 1 practice notes: Perry batting third
Photos, videos: Practice footage, field under construction
10 big storylines, how to follow camp
Offseason features, news
A sit-down with Richt, Parts I-IV
Miami gearing up for QB battle
Perry learning, adjusting, impressing
UM’s offense will depend on Walton
Quarterman leading Miami’s defense
LBs motivated by UM’s ‘ghosts of greatness’
Richards hoping to be All-American
Berrios tired of hype
‘The Playmaker’ high on Richards
Winston: Perry’s going to be ‘really good’
Cager angling for a comeback
Richt on swag | Says ‘The U is back’
Richt has really strong sandwich takes
Willis takes leave | Gone: Mayes | Odogwu | Haskins
Other fun stuff
CanesFest set for Aug. 12
Analyzing the 2017 schedule
The Guide to Watching Miami Football
A visual history of Miami football stadiums
Exclusive look at UM’s new alternate jerseys
UM jersey numbers have meaning
The Glossary of Canes player nicknames
Thomas produces music for DJ Khaled
Fun facts from the 2017 media guide
Projecting Miami’s 2018 draft class
Miami’s over-under: 9 wins
UM picked to win the Coastal
Porter’s preseason All-ACC ballot, predictions