The Hurricanes continue to prove they’re on their way up — although several of them are on their way out to what they hope will be NFL careers.
Nine former University of Miami football players have been invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, which will be held from Feb. 28 through March 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Last year, five Hurricanes were invited.
Fellow Atlantic Coast Conference member Clemson, which beat Alabama for the national title, also had nine players invited. Only Michigan, with 14, and Alabama and LSU, with 10 apiece, had more players invited than Miami.
The invitees include defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, who was dismissed from the team shortly before the 2016 season.
The others, all of whom played for UM this past season: safety Jamal Carter, receiver Stacy Coley, cornerback Corn Elder, guard Danny Isidora, safety Rayshawn Jenkins, quarterback Brad Kaaya, tight end David Njoku and punter Justin Vogel.
Not invited after choosing to forgo his senior season to enter the NFL Draft: running back Joseph Yearby.
The combine draws NFL executives, coaching staffs, player personnel departments and medical personnel from all 32 NFL teams “to evaluate the nation’s top college football players eligible for the upcoming NFL Draft,’’ according to NFL.com.
Njoku and Kaaya, both of whom elected to enter the draft as underclassmen, are receiving the most attention nationally, with Njoku now a first-round prospect.
Kaaya, the Hurricanes’ all-time leading passer with 9,968 career yards in three seasons, recently won the accuracy competition in the State Farm All-Star Football Challenge at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“With all the momentum and how the season ended, it just felt right,” Kaaya told UM radio broadcaster Joe Zagacki on WQAM 560’s Hurricane Hotline about turning pro. “If the bowl game and last five games of the year had gone a lot differently, maybe a different outcome, it wouldn’t have been such a clear-cut decision.”
UM finished the season with five consecutive victories for a 9-4 record.
This year’s three-day draft is April 27-29.
SPRING GAME UPDATE
In other UM football news, athletic director Blake James talked to reporters on Tuesday about the status of the spring game — and if there will even be one this year. Word among insiders for weeks now was that UM was possibly — perhaps, probably — not going to have a spring game like in the past, as the ones the Hurricanes have had at Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium.
A source told the Miami Herald that UM would have three spring scrimmages, but that it was unknown exactly how many would be open to the public. At least one of those scrimmages, the source said, could be in Boca Raton, possibly at coach Mark Richt’s alma mater, Boca Raton High School.
James all but ruled out anything at Lockhart.
“Obviously, if you have a spring game you want to have it at your stadium,” James said. “Due to renovations that are ongoing at Hard Rock Stadium, we’re not going to have a spring game there. Then it’s really figuring out what makes sense for us as a program, and those are things we’re still trying to finalize.’’
Regarding the planned indoor practice facility, James said UM continues “to move forward with the project and has raised $31 of the approximately $34 million needed.’’