Two of the biggest stories of fall camp at the University of Miami have involved offensive tackles.
One has revolved around Seantrel Henderson’s ongoing absence; the other has centered on the emergence of true freshman Ereck Flowers.
Malcolm Bunche? He has quietly settled into his new job at left tackle, which could be the most important responsibility of all because he has to protect the blind side of quarterback Stephen Morris.
As for getting some attention, the 6-7, 323-pound redshirt sophomore from Newark, Del. — and strongest player on the team — wants to grab that when he and his offensive line teammates start barreling through opponents.
“I’m really excited, honed in, ready to go,” said Bunche, who served primarily as the backup to Brandon Washington at left tackle last season and made his only college start at right tackle in a loss to Virginia.
“I feel like I’ve been waiting for this opportunity forever. I just can’t wait to get out there and take care of our guys — Stephen, the running backs, every single one of them.”
After playing guard on the scout team during his freshman season in 2010, Bunche moved to tackle last season and saw action in eight games and roughly 106 plays, according to line coach Art Kehoe.
“He was the best lineman coming out of the spring,” Kehoe said last week. “He’s trying to stay healthy. I think it’s going to be a major thing for him to stabilize and play for us and do real well because he has lots of ability. He’s really working well with [left guard Jonathan] Feliciano, too, and I like that left side.”
Food for thought
Bunche, whose father played in the NFL and whose mother is a personal trainer and powerlifter, isn’t your typical hulking lineman. Sure, he can put down large amounts of food. But his diet hardly consists of fast food, and he’s definitely conscious of his body-fat percentage. Asked Tuesday morning if he can remember the last time he stopped somewhere for a cheeseburger or something greasy, Bunche said he honestly couldn’t remember.
“I would say maybe the beginning of the summer. It was chicken nuggets,” Bunche said. “If I eat fast food, it’s usually Subway or Subs Etc. I try to stay away from McDonald’s. I got to be light on my feet, man.”
When Bunche isn’t busy pounding down “two chicken breasts, a big bowl of salad, a bowl of fruit, yams or sweet potatoes, broccoli and spinach,” he’s usually lifting weights, studying film or asking sophomore Anthony Chickillo to go out for some extra one-on-one work.
“I pretty much go against Chick about 90 percent of the time,” Bunche said. “It’s always a battle. He’s a good guy. We help each other out.”
Bunche, who said he has made his biggest strides with hand placement in camp, lifted 225 pounds 36 times this spring. That would have been tied for the third-best mark at the most recent NFL Combine. Bunche said he has been focused on doing what his predecessor was good at, “running and making blocks down field in the second level.”
“He’s a big juggernaut, man,” Feliciano said. “We’re excited to see what he can do because he’s big, strong and smart.”
And funny, too, Feliciano said. “When Bunche laughs, everyone laughs,” Feliciano said. “He’s very loud. You hear his laugh and you know who it is.”
Now all coach Al Golden said he wants is for Bunche to cement his spot by showing “consistency with his pass set, consistency with his punch and his approach every day.”
“But Malcolm does a great job with his assignments and his execution,” Golden said. “We just have to keep moving forward.”
• Defensive tackle Curtis Porter missed his second practice in a row Tuesday. Porter was spotted in a yellow, noncontact jersey last week. Asked if this might be a long-term issue, Golden said: “I don’t know, to be honest with you. It’s day-to-day right now in terms of the information I’m getting. He’s got a health issue — it’s not football related.”
Receiver Allen Hurns returned to a full-contact jersey Tuesday after being limited or in a noncontact jersey for the past week with a “head injury.”
• Golden said he hopes to set the 60-man travel roster for the Hurricanes’ season opener at Boston College on Sept. 1 by Thursday. UM will begin to install its game plan for the Eagles on Friday.