Tuesday marked the two-third point for Miami’s spring practice schedule. Having completed 10 sessions, the Canes have five remaining – concluding with an April 22 session at Boca Raton High School.
Though the final practice will be held off campus, it is still going to be a closed session.
Following Tuesday’s practice, head coach Mark Richt and a handful of players spoke to the gathered media.
>>> Sophomore middle linebacker Shaq Quarterman spoke Tuesday, and it is easy to see the continued maturation in the leadership qualities that were recognized by Richt and the coaching staff in 2016.
As he did during his freshman year, Quarterman spoke with poise and appeared even more settled in his role as one of the team’s defensive leaders.
He did say that defensive linemen Chad Thomas (senior) and Kendrick Norton (junior) along with junior safety Jaquan Johnson were being more vocal as defensive leaders this spring.
>>> Coach Richt gave injury updates on a handful of players Tuesday – including redshirt quarterback Jack Allison, who was injured during this past Saturday’s scrimmage.
“He has a bruised shoulder, basically. Some people call it a bruise; some people call it a strain. There are different ways to term it,” Richt said.
It was reported after the scrimmage that Allison had separated his shoulder, but Richt denied that being the case.
“When the shoulder separates, it comes apart. It did not come apart. It is just bruised, and it’s sore. He is already getting his range of motion back, which is good. He’s day-by-day…things are moving in a good direction as far as that’s concerned.”
>>> The big thing last week was whether Richt would allow the quarterbacks to be full contact participants in the weekend scrimmage.
Richt said last week and reiterated Tuesday the need to see how the quarterbacks would respond to pressure, to having to move around and to being hit in live action.
When asked if he regretted his decision – given Allison’s injury – Richt was stern in his response and defended his decision.
“Let’s make everything clear – I don’t ever want a guy getting hurt,” Richt said. “But a cornerback can get hurt. A tackle can get hurt. A running back can get hurt. A receiver can get hurt. Everybody can get hurt. My goal is not for anybody to get hurt. My goal is to learn as much as I can about these guys, who are competing for the most important job on the team.”
Richt has remained tight-lipped about the status of the quarterback battle, but he said Tuesday that he is still trying to learn as much as he can about the quarterbacks currently on the roster.
“There’s so many things you can learn about a guy. If you wait until Game 1, and you base your decision on everything but true reality in football, you might be making the wrong decision. Then the guy’s in there, and you realize, ‘He can’t really handle it, when the bullets are flying.’ Now I have to make a change after Game 1 or after the first quarter, I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, he can’t handle it.’ I certainly don’t want anybody getting hurt, but I felt it was the best shot for me to learn some of the things I need to learn about these kids.”
>>> On running back Robert Burns, Richt said: “I don’t know for sure, but we believe Robert will be back in plenty of time for the season.”
>>> When asked about who impressed him during this past Saturday’s scrimmage, senior offensive lineman KC McDermott praised two early enrollee freshmen for their play.
“Navaughn Donaldson had one heck of a play during a power…and DeeJay Dallas, you know, if you put a ball up there he will go and grab it,” McDermott said.
Talking to other players, coaches and personal sources this spring – all have, at one point or another, lauded Dallas and Donaldson for their performances in practice.
The 6-foot-6, 350-pound Donaldson has been seen working a lot with the No. 1 offensive line at right tackle through the spring.
“It kind of helps when you are 350 pounds…but yeah, he is pretty advanced for his age,” McDermott went on to say about his freshman O-Line teammate. “[He is] someone who is a student of the game and studies everything…he is always here, putting in extra time, studying stuff – he is studying NFL players, he is studying us, looking at what he can do to get better and that is what I love about this kid.”
>>> Dallas has not drawn praise because he can play multiple positions, but he can play those multiple positions well.
As told by sources days ago and confirmed by some of Coach Richt’s comments Tuesday, Dallas has been mostly working at wide receiver. But it’s not out of the realm of possibility for him to also see time at a different position – specifically running back.
“If we didn’t think “Choc” [Trayone Gray] was coming back, if we didn’t think [Robert] Burns was coming back, if we didn’t think there was any hope of anyone else joining us, then he would probably be the first guy on the roster to do that. But at this point, we didn’t want to jack him around,” Richt said.
Dallas is listed at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, giving him the requisite size to carry the ball out of the backfield – Mark Walton is listed at 5-foot-9, 205 pounds and Travis Homer at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds – if he were asked to.
Richt said that even though Dallas has treated the situation with a “team-first” attitude, he doesn’t want to move him.
“The running back position, you tend to be able to teach that a little bit faster. There’s a little bit less of a learning curve. So if we absolutely had to, by the first summer session, start training him as a running back, we can. We’ve talked. All along, he’s been like, ‘Whatever you ask me to do, coach, I’ll do it.’ But our goal is not to do that.”
>>> Speaking of running backs, 5-star running back prospect and University of Miami verbal commit Lorenzo Lingard joined the SFHSSports Radio Show Monday night on 560 WQAM.
The 6-foot, 190-pound complete back from Orange Park, Florida answered various questions about his commitment to Miami.
“First of all, I want to say go Canes,” Lingard said to open the interview.
A very assuring statement in itself for Miami fans, given that Lingard has offers from all the college football heavyweights – but remains strongly committed to the Hurricanes.
When asked about Miami’s 2018 recruiting class, Lingard offered up another nugget that should make fans giddy.
“The class is just phenomenal…I cannot wait to be with those guys. We talk almost every week. We have a group chat and we stay in touch a lot,” Lingard said. “All the guys are excited – me personally, I’m excited – it’s a lot of great guys with great heads on their shoulders and I can’t wait to ball with them.”
Blustein also asked him about his plans for his final year of high school.
“My summer is going to include going to Nike’s The Opening and playing in some 7-on-7’s with my team,” Lingard said. “From an academic standpoint, I’m going to be doing a lot of online classes and just work so I can graduate early.”