When University of Miami receiver Phillip Dorsett was told he ran the 40-yard dash this summer in 4.16 seconds, even he was in disbelief.
He felt fit. He felt fast.
But 4.16 seconds?
“It was a great feeling just to have somebody have that on their watch,” said Dorsett. “Everybody is going to second-guess it. I second-guessed it. I was like, ‘I didn’t think I was that fast.’ But all the watches were around the same time. It’s not like somebody had 4.1 and 4.4.”
Dorsett’s average time by hand-held watches after running the distance twice was 4.21 seconds, bettering former Hurricane Sam Shields’ 4.26 record.
For comparison’s sake, the fastest 40 ever run at an NFL combine was the 4.24 by current Titans running back Chris Johnson in 2008.
The combine times are recorded electronically using a laser.
This much, however, is not debatable: Dorsett, a senior, is fast. And what he has done with his rehabilitation since missing five games last season with a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee, not to mention his pulled left quadriceps just before the Russell Athletic Bowl, is fairly amazing.
But what UM offensive coordinator James Coley wants Dorsett, as well as the other wide receivers, to do first and foremost this season is “catch the ball.”
“It’s huge,” Coley said. “Catch every ball. Those guys have had a great summer with their conditioning. They’re really looking forward to showing they can handle it. I’m looking forward to watching them.”
Dorsett, 5-10 and 185 pounds, has caught 85 passes for 1,261 yards and seven touchdowns in 32 games.
He is one of two receivers who wore the offense’s coveted orange jersey during Day 3 of practice Thursday. The other was 6-2, 205-pound senior Rashawn Scott.
“Man, glad to have him back,” Coley said earlier this week. “He made some big plays before he was hurt last year. He never really came back. I think he played in one play in the bowl game. His speed is something we missed.”
The Canes also missed Malcolm Lewis, a redshirt sophomore out of Miramar High who sustained a gruesome left-ankle injury in the fourth game of his freshman season in 2012, sat out the rest of the year and came back in 2013 only to be hampered by a groin injury.
Lewis, who said he has lost 11 pounds since his high of 200 last season, said the ankle “is 100 percent” and the sports hernia surgery he underwent in February has that issue completely resolved.
In his injury-plagued two seasons, Lewis had 15 catches for 144 yards and one touchdown.
On Thursday, in the fifth-quarter drill to end practice, Lewis ran a corner route and lunged for a perfectly lofted 30-yard pass from Jake Heaps. With safety Jamal Carter over him, Lewis made the diving catch.
“Malcolm looks like Malcolm again,” coach Al Golden said. “Probably looks like before the accident to be honest. …He looks fast. I’m pleased with him. I’m pleased with the whole group and the guys coming in.
“Stacy [Coley] is doing good. It’s just a deeper position than it was a year ago, and [freshmen] Tyre Brady and Braxton [Berrios] tightened it up for us. Again, with Phillip healthy, Herb [Waters] healthy and Rashawn back, it’s a much different group.”
UM, which finished 9-4 last season, ranked 33rd nationally in passing offense, averaging 265.5 yards a game.
Coley, a 6-1, 185-pound sophomore out of Oakland Park Northeast High, led the Hurricanes with 1,461 all-purpose yards – the10th highest single-season total in school history. The freshman All-American also led UM with seven receiving touchdowns and ranked second in receiving yards (591) and third in receptions (33).
He said Thursday that his goal is to break Allen Hurns’ 2013 single-season record of 1,162 receiving yards.
“Right now everybody is set out to break Allen’s record,” Coley said. “When he left he told us to go get his record. I feel like he’d be amazed and grateful if we did that.”
All of UM’s receivers are intent on helping their quarterbacks excel in the competition for the starting job between graduate transfer Heaps, redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen and true freshmen Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier.
“I love the competition with the quarterbacks,” Lewis said.
Dorsett, no matter how fast he flies, believes this receiving corps will be special.
“We’re more together as one,” he said. “We’re a lot closer and we’re a lot better as a unit now. I just want to win games. That’s all I’ve been wanting to do since I’ve been here. Just win games.”