Wednesday was the second day of training camp for most of the Hurricanes football team, but the first day for freshman Trayone Gray. Still, it did not take the Miami Carol City High athlete long to impress coach Al Golden.
During the day’s second 11-on-11 period, Gray caught a screen pass from Jake Heaps along the left sideline, turned upfield, and blew through the defense for one of the biggest plays of the day.
“He took that first screen for quite a long way,” Golden said after practice. “We’re happy he’s here.”
Gray impressed before that too, showing up 14 pounds heavier than the 208 pounds he was listed at while retaining speed and agility.
“He’s big, but he’s also fast; he’s athletic,” fellow running back Gus Edwards said.
Now that he’s cleared the academic hurdle to get on campus, Gray’s next test is learning the playbook. Edwards said running backs in this system have to do it all, and Gray’s challenge is only compounded because he does not have experience playing running back.
Edwards added that Gray still has to master the fundamentals of making the right steps at the right time but said, “Once he gets the playbook right, I think he should be able to help us a lot this year.”
Gray spent the day with the running back group, but Golden said Gray could develop into a wide receiver, too. Either way, he also has the potential to be a special-teams contributor and wildcat quarterback.
Heaps, a transfer, and freshmen Malik Rosier and Brad Kaaya alternated behind center during the day’s final 11-on-11 period. Golden said he was impressed by the three newcomers’ knowledge.
“For the guys that just got here to be able to conduct the offense the way they are, they put a lot of time in,” Golden said. “They sacrificed a lot and put themselves in a position to compete.”
The coach added that a lot more would be revealed about how the quarterbacks compare starting Thursday as the team adds play-action plays to its sessions. For the first two days, the quarterbacks have been working on fundamental drops and have had only two full offense-vs.-defense drills each day.
“Everything changes dramatically [Thursday],” Golden said. “We’ll really get a good sense of where everyone’s at.”
Though he added that there was still a long way to go, Golden did compliment Kaaya when asked about the 6-4 freshman.
“[He’s] really mature, smart, shown a lot of pocket poise and presence,” Golden said. “His length really stands out and his ability to stand up and see.”
THIS AND THAT
• Receiver Darrell Langham was not at practice again Wednesday, but Golden said he expects Langham to report Friday.
• Sophomore Walter Tucker has been working with the linebackers while remaining the team’s No. 1 fullback. Golden said the Plantation native has worked enough at the fullback position to be comfortable, and that Tucker started learning the linebacker position last year. He figures to contribute depth at a position lacking in it after the dismissal of Alex Figueroa and JaWand Blue.
• After practice, linebacker Jermaine Grace said, “We’ve been dominating the offense so far.” The defensive highlight of the day came during the final 11-on-11 session, when Antonio Crawford intercepted Rosier and then high-stepped to the end zone with the entire defensive side of the roster running onto the field to follow him. “We all are coming together as a team and a unit and as brothers,” Grace said.