CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami/AP) — An unlikely hero has emerged for the Miami Hurricanes over the past two weeks.
Nobody who pores over stat sheets would notice Miami receiver Darrell Langham’s numbers.
He’s tied for 579th nationally in receptions, 355th in receiving yards and 161st in touchdowns.
There’s no stat column for drama.
He might be No. 1 nationally in that department.
“Just in the right spot at the right time,” Langham said.
No player wins or loses a game on his own, but No. 8 Miami — unbeaten and in control of its Atlantic Coast Conference destiny — could easily have two losses and be out of the league race if not for Langham’s last-second heroics. The surprise star was behind no fewer than six receivers on Miami’s initial depth chart, and now is getting called “Mr. Clutch” by Hurricanes coach Mark Richt.
“I feel like I am big man on campus but still everyone else is making plays on the team,” said Langham. “You got to cheer up for them too. The whole team is working together. We all trust each other we’re coming together as a big group right now.”
He may be the only one at Miami downplaying his accomplishments. Langham’s touchdown catch with 6 seconds left gave Miami a win over Florida State two weeks ago and ended the Hurricanes’ seven-game losing streak in the rivalry. And his 28-yard grab on fourth down in the final minute last Saturday set Miami up for what became a 25-24 win over Georgia Tech.
When Miami needs a big play most, Langham has delivered.
“I’m glad we know that now,” running back Travis Homer said.
Miami (5-0, 3-0 ACC) plays host to Syracuse (4-3, 2-1) on Saturday. The Orange come in with two of the three leading receivers in the nation — Miami-area native Steve Ishmael has 62 catches, Ervin Phillips has 56. Ishmael and Phillips both had 11 catches in the same game earlier this season against LSU. Langham has only nine grabs all season.
But he’s made the most of those limited opportunities.
“I feel like the more playing time I get I think in practice and in the game – the plays are slowing down for me and I’m able to focus on the ball and get more yards after the catch. I feel like it’s helping out in the end,” Langham said.
All nine of his catches have gone for first downs, five of them have been for more than 15 yards, three of them for more than 25. And all that has come after he was a non-factor in his first three years at Miami, getting redshirted as a true freshman and then being on the practice squad in each of the last two seasons.
“When you’re third-string going into a game and at the end of the game you make the play that everybody wants to talk about, that’s impressive,” Richt said. “He’s always been the right kind of person, the right kind of student. Now he’s starting to do some things on the field.”
Part of the reason why Langham has finally gotten this opportunity is because wide receiver Ahmmon Richards, who was expected to be the team’s top option this season, has been limited for nearly two months with a bad hamstring. Richards has just seven catches in two games so far this season, though Miami is hopeful that he’ll be full-go soon — possibly even this week.
Even when Richards returns, it’s hard to imagine Miami forgetting to get Langham the ball. He has found one drawback to dramatics — when he walks around campus now, some students seem to stop and stare.
“Everyone says good job, thank you, like kind of celebrates,” said Langham, who was picked by Miami’s staff as a captain for the Syracuse game. “To me, it’s really nothing. I just have to get my job done.”
NOTES: Miami announced its 2018 Sports Hall of Fame induction class, which includes 2001 national championship football coach Larry Coker and football stars Frank Gore and Devin Hester. “More excellence from our football program,” Richt said. … Also to be enshrined — baseball’s Yonder Alonso, basketball players John Salmons and Chanivia Broussard, golfer Tina Miller, track standout Dominique Darden and soccer’s Britney Butcher.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)