Hurricanes defensive tackle Calvin Heurtelou came into spring practice eight months ago overweight and out of shape.
He’s hardly that guy anymore. He has been outstanding in camp in the eyes of his teammates and defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio, and Heurtelou said Thursday his confidence playing nose guard is growing.
“I figured out I’m one hell of a player in this 3-4 defense,” Heurtelou said. “I realized I’ve made progress since I’ve been here. It was a new position for me, but I’ve done well the last three weeks.”
Heurtelou said he played the 4-3 defense in junior college, so it took him some time to adjust. When he arrived at Miami in January, he weighed 330 pounds. He lost 25 pounds on a vegetable and low-carb diet and then gained 10 pounds of muscle over the summer. He posted the third-most bench-press reps (33 of the NFL-testing standard of 225 pounds) on the team his summer.
“Calvin’s got a lot of energy, really strong guy,” senior defensive end Anthony Chickillo said. “He comes to work every day. He’s just what you want inside. I’m really happy with Calvin’s progress, and he just needs to keep getting better.”
THE BEST JERSEY
Senior middle linebacker Denzel Perryman wasn’t wearing a black starter’s jersey on Wednesday — the first day back after Monday’s scrimmage. But he was back in black Thursday morning.
“It feels good. I’m not going to lie,” Perryman said. “I was in a green jersey Wednesday. That’s based on my play in the second scrimmage. I didn’t perform as well as I did in the first scrimmage.
“I picked it up in practice [Wednesday] and got my jersey back. I made a couple mistakes in the second scrimmage. Coach D asked me if I wasn’t focused in the scrimmage. I was focused. I was just being overly aggressive, and it caused me to make mistakes.”
Senior Nantambu Fentress, who has played at weak-side linebacker and safety in camp, will be on scholarship for the second year in a row, coach Al Golden said.
Fentress (5-9, 195 pounds) is a former walk-on who first received a scholarship last year. The scholarships are one-year renewable, and Fentress said last Friday he didn’t know if he would receive one this year.
“He’s been renewed,” Golden said. “He’s basically a starter. The only reason he doesn’t start on every special teams is because we save him for all the other things he does. Nantambu is smart. He plays two positions. He’s a tremendous leader for us, and he’s doing a great job for us on special teams.”
Golden wouldn’t reveal which other walk-ons have received scholarships. He said he usually keeps that private. Golden said Fentress has spent the past two days working at safety.
• Freshman David Njoku is back playing receiver after spending two days last week working at linebacker.
“We think he’s more inclined to be an offensive player,” Golden said. “Just where he is right now in terms of his body and his makeup he would have to stay on Slim Fast for four years to stay at 230. I think he’s going to develop into an H [back]. If he helps us at all this year, it will be as an X receiver, low red zone, things of that nature.”
• Golden said sophomore Al-Quadin Muhammad came out of Monday’s scrimmage having earned a first-team spot at rush end. Junior Tyriq McCord and freshman Trent Harris continue to receive reps there behind Muhammad.
• Chickillo said he has watched some film on Louisville and knows the Russell Athletic Bowl rematch on Labor Day night won’t be easy.
“They’ve got a lot of veteran guys coming back on their O-line,” he said. “Both their tackles are coming back. They’ve got a really good guard in [ John] Miller. They’re going to be a really tough challenge for us. Teddy [ Bridgewater] was a big piece for them. But [ Bobby] Petrino is a really smart football coach, a really good offensive mind. So, we know they’re going to be ready for us, and we’ve got to be ready for them.”
• Chickillo said he’s unhappy that EA Sports did not come out with a video game this year for college football (in light of the NCAA and Ed O’Bannon case). He and his teammates have been playing FIFA World Cup soccer instead.