Despite 12 of his Miami Hurricanes unable to take part in the first day of spring football, coach Al Golden was especially chipper Saturday after a nearly three-hour practice at Greentree Field.
“It was a great first day,” said Golden, who had an especially tough week in light of the death of former Hurricane JoJo Nicolas and the hospitalization of current offensive lineman Hunter Knighton. “It was a lot of teaching, a lot of installation, breaking down, three-step game, drop-back game, those types of things. They did a great job and were prepared for it.”
Knighton, who was transported to UM Hospital on Monday and unconscious and in intensive care after a campus workout, has improved, the coach indicated.
“Hunter is doing really well,” Golden said, stressing that Knighton’s family has asked for privacy and has not revealed the diagnosis. “I had a chance to see him [Saturday] morning — just really excited how he’s doing. … Everybody is thinking about the young man right now and the family really appreciates the privacy that everybody has afforded him.”
The players who did not participate Saturday and will be wearing red, no-contact jerseys for their respective injuries: receivers Braxton Berrios (ACL), Malcolm Lewis (sports hernia) and Herb Waters (knee); cornerbacks Corn Elder (knee), Nate Dortch (knee) and Ladarius Gunter (shoulder); safety Rayshawn Jenkins (unspecified); defensive end Anthony Chickillo (unspecified); center Shane McDermott (foot); running backs Duke Johnson (ankle) and Joseph Yearby (fibula); and tight end Clive Walford (unspecified).
Chickillo, Lewis, Jenkins and Waters are expected to return for at least part of the spring session, which encompasses 15 practices and ends April 12 with the spring game at Sun Life Stadium.
Wearing yellow (limited) jerseys were linebacker Thurston Armbrister and safety Nantambu Fentress.
Golden confirmed that junior Dallas Crawford has changed positions from running back to safety, the position he was recruited to play and spent a year practicing as a redshirt. He called Crawford one of the 22 best overall players on the team.
• Ricky Carroll, a 6-3, 198-pound fifth-year senior out of Mission Viejo, Calif., and formerly of Orange Coast College, is the punter.
• Senior Denzel Perryman, now 6-0 and 245 pounds and looking more muscular than ever, said he will play middle linebacker during 4-3 defensive schemes. Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said he will continue to use the 3-4 scheme as well.
• Receiver Rashawn Scott, who had a long touchdown Saturday, is back after a season marred with injury and suspension. He was contrite about the past and said he is eager to make the most of his final season.
• About 200 fans showed up for the open practice, with the players wearing shorts and no pads. UM’s next practice is at 9:40 a.m. Sunday, 40 minutes later than originally scheduled.