It’s always special to have a college football player who makes things happen on the field, but when that player is also super smart off the field, the combination is one that coaches covet.
At the University of Miami, the player that stands out among the others in both areas is wide receiver Braxton Berrios, who graduated from Leesville Road High in Raleigh, N.C., and made his homecoming Friday at Duke in front of what he expected to be about three dozen family members and friends.
Berrios scored a touchdown Friday on a beautiful, 27-yard strike by Malik Rosier into the rear center of the end zone with 8:25 left in the first quarter. He also caught a 25-yard pass late in the first half that helped set up a 20-yard field goal to make it 17-3 UM, and returned a punt 25 yards midway through the second quarter.
On Wednesday, the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame announced that Berrios, a senior who had a career-high 105 receiving yards and a touchdown last week against Toledo, was one of eight Atlantic Coast Conference football players named as semifinalists for the 2017 William V. Campbell Trophy – known as the “Academic Heisman’’ – that goes to the nation’s best football scholar-athlete.
Berrios has a 3.96 GPA out of a perfect 4.0 and is majoring in both finance and entrepreneurship.
UM offensive lineman Joaquin Gonzalez received the trophy in 2001. Finalists, who will be named Nov. 1, receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. The winner will earn a $25,000 scholarship.
“You never realize how quickly the four years go in college,’’ said Berrios on Wednesday, before the announcement. “It’s especially awesome to revisit back home and still be on the same path when I left four years ago. I think it speaks volumes, especially to kids that I mentored or kids that follow me back there, that you can pick a path and stick to it and even years down the road it will still be there.’’
Added coach Mark Richt: “Very proud of Braxton. He’s been everything you could hope for in a player as far as work ethic, as far as effort [and] productivity on the field. Unbelievable grades.’’
D. HARRIS SUSPENDED
UM announced before the game that redshirt junior Dayall Harris is suspended for three games for violating team rules. Harris has two catches for 16 yards and a touchdown this season.
Former UM cornerback Corn Elder, now on the injured reserve list for the Carolina Panthers, drove to the game Friday and stood on the sidelines, joined by former Canes linebacker Rocky McIntosh and later by former quarterback Brad Kaaya.
“It brings back a lot of memories,’’ Elder said. “Last time I was here of course the great play happened. It is weird. I’m standing here watching the guys I used to play with and it definitely feels different. But I have faith in my Canes and I know they’re going to come out and play. I got to see them Thursday night at the hotel and I know they’re ready.’’
SEASON IN FLUX
The Hurricanes were scheduled to have played two road games by Sept. 29, the first at Arkansas State on Sept. 9 and the next at Florida State on Sept. 16. But Hurricane Irma caused the cancelation at Arkansas State and a postponement of the FSU game, which will now be played at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Tallahassee.
The Canes opened their ACC schedule on the road Friday for the eighth time in the past nine seasons. Coming into the Duke game, they were 7-6 all-time in ACC openers and had a 4-4 road record in those games.