Remember Gerald Willis?
The University of Miami offense hasn’t forgotten.
Willis, a 6-4, 285-pound redshirt junior defensive tackle who transferred to UM in 2015 after playing one season for Florida, sat out in 2015 (NCAA transfer rules), played last season and then took “a leave of absence,’’ per UM, in July. He returned to the team in late August but is just practicing this season for undisclosed personal reasons.
Willis, it turns out, is kicking booty on the scout team. This week, UM scout-team quarterbacks Cade Weldon and Augie DeBiase are playing the parts of vaunted Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall (first in the nation with 13.5 points a game, fourth nationally with nine rushing touchdowns and eighth with 130.8 rushing yards per game). But Willis must be doing his own damage simulating the defense.
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“I really only see the defensive side of the ball,’’ UM coach Mark Richt said Wednesday. “There’s not anybody better than Gerald Willis. We have to tell him to chill sometimes, because he’s disrupting everything we’re doing. If you said one guy, it would be Gerald.”
Playing the role of Georgia Tech’s 6-3, 210-pound receiver Ricky Jeune (171 yards and three touchdowns) this week is Dayall Harris, whose last game of a three-game suspension is Saturday).
No. 11 UM (4-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) will be host to the Yellow Jackets (3-1, 2-0) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (ABC) at Hard Rock Stadium.
▪ Running back Crispian Atkins not only has the best name among the Hurricanes, he now has an athletic scholarship for football, coach Mark Richt said Wednesday on the Atlantic Coast Conference coaches’ teleconference. With Mark Walton’s season-ending ankle injury, Atkins, a 5-9, 185-pound former redshirt sophomore walk-on who played for ASA College in North Miami Beach in 2015, moved up to the third-team tailback behind starter Travis Homer and backup Trayone Gray. He has not yet played at UM.
Behind Atkins in practice is freshman DeeJay Dallas, who was converted this week from receiver.
▪ Offensive lineman Navaughn Donaldson (ankle), receiver Ahmmon Richards (hamstring) and cornerback Dee Delaney (knee) were on conditioning bikes and missed practice again Wednesday, with safety Sheldrick Redwine not there. Defensive tackle Anthony Motten (leg), who did not play at FSU, practiced.
If Richards can’t play, expect to see more of freshman speedster Jeff Thomas. “He’s in a lot of reps,’’ quarterback Malik Rosier said. “He made three one-handed grabs [Wednesday]. He’s really coming into his own. He’s kind of getting like Braxton [Berrios] now because he’s behind Braxton. He’s starting to perfect his routes, which is really nice.”
▪ Berrios practiced again Wednesday with a no-contact jersey, but he said he’ll be fine for Georgia Tech.