The University of Miami announced Saturday that seven football players did not travel to Orlando for the Russell Athletic Bowl “for failing to meet the standards of expectations set by the program.’’
The seven suspended players: walk-on wide receiver O’Juan Carney; freshmen tight end Jovani Haskins; freshman tight end Michael Irvin II; freshman safety Jeff James; freshman defensive tackle Tyreic Martin; redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Gerald Willis; and freshman safety Cedric Wright.
The suspensions will not carry into the spring, coach Mark Richt said.
“It’s just for the game,’’ Richt said. “Just getting guys to do things right. There might have been one guy who absolutely had to [be suspended] by some type of a policy, but it’s more so me sending a message to guys just saying, ‘Tighten up. Do things right.’ A lot of it is little things. It’s a message to them and to the other guys that we’re going to do things right around here. It’ll be a one-game deal.’’
Richt indicated he was generally pleased with the team regarding discipline, but said there can be more of a problem “if you don’t discipline them.’’
“The thing they like the most is playing and also going to a bowl game,” he said. “If you don’t go to the bowl game, you don’t receive bowl gifts. You lose out on a lot.
“Sometimes you have to take away from them what they like the most to send a message. I’ve been coaching long enough to know that any given morning anything can happen — and probably will. You’re dealing with 100 or so 18- to 22-year-old guys. Their frontal lobes aren’t fully developed at this point. They tend to do first and think later.
“I’ve had a lot of very remorseful guys in my office that are great guys who do stupid things. I did my share of stupid things when I was a player. That’s why we’re here — to help correct and help them grow from it.’’
The Canes (8-4) meet No. 14 West Virginia (10-2) at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Camping World Stadium.
Richt said the players were provided different options to attend church in the area for Christmas if they choose. “We’ll have a Christmas meal for them [Sunday].”
The Hurricanes practiced late Saturday morning at Celebration High School, and senior Stan Dobard, who switched from tight end to defensive end during the season to provide a boost to the injury-plagued line, has been switched back to tight end for his last game. The switch is because of the suspensions to Haskins and Irvin.
Several Canes were rehabbing by the track outside the field. They included defensive end Scott Patchan, running back Trayone Gray, offensive tackle Sunny Odogwu, center Nick Linder, linebacker Jamie Gordinier, fullback Gage Batten, receiver Lawrence Cager and walk-ons Mitch Davis and Josh Johnson.
BEST BUY SPREE
Each UM player was given $300 by the bowl to get whatever they chose Friday night at a Best Buy in Orlando.
Defensive tackle R.J. McIntosh said he bought his mom an Apple Watch. “For me, it was special,’’ he said. “She always wanted one. She’ll be happy.’’
Safety Rayshawn Jenkins said he got his younger brother some Beats headphones.
Defensive end Chad Thomas, surprisingly, just got an iPhone case. “Because I have everything,’’ Thomas said. “I have too much stuff.’’
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said the Canes continue to emphasize tackling fundamentals with the long layoff since the final game of the regular season. But Diaz said more of an issue is “the speed of the game.’’
“It’s just different,’’ Diaz said. “What happens is you’re going, you’re going, you’re going and then you stop for four weeks, then you jump right back into it. What other sport does that? Just that idea of here comes a guy running at you in full speed. ..It’ll be a challenge for both teams to just get right back up to speed of the rhythm that you have as you’re going into November.’’