The University of Miami football team has been dealt a significant blow less than a week before the season kickoff Saturday against Bethune-Cookman.
Running back Gus Edwards, who sustained what coach Al Golden indicated on Wednesday was a minor foot bruise, is now out for the season because of that injury, UM announced Sunday night.
“Gus worked extremely hard for the last nine months to prepare for this moment,” Golden said in a written statement. “He set a high standard and did a great job leading and being unselfish.
“We are tremendously disappointed for him, but we will be there with him on the road to recovery and anxiously await his return.”
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Before Sunday, Golden said Edwards injured his left foot in the Aug 22 scrimmage and that all the medical tests on Edwards were “negative” and listed his status as “day to day.”
The Hurricanes already had lost the services of Miami all-time rusher Duke Johnson when he declared for the NFL Draft after his junior season and was picked by the Cleveland Browns in the third round.
Miami also released its first depth chart of the 2015 preseason Sunday night — Edwards notably missing from it, with sophomore Joe Yearby “or” freshman Mark Walton listed as the co-first-teamers.
Sophomore Trayone Gray is listed next on the depth chart.
Edwards, a 6-2, 240-pound junior nicknamed “Gus the Bus” for his strength and powerful running style, was listed as the No. 1 running back in the depth chart released at the end of spring. He rushed for 349 yards on 61 carries and scored six touchdowns in 2014, a 5.7-yard-per-carry average.
Out of Tottenville High in Staten Island, New York, Edwards was the Canes’ third-leading rusher last season.
The loss of Edwards could mean an expanded role for 6-0, 226-pound junior Walter Tucker, another local runner who graduated from Plantation American Heritage.
Tucker ran only once last season for a three-yard loss, but Golden has said in the past he wouldn’t shy away from using Tucker as a tailback.
Another option: Dallas Crawford, who is now a safety but previously played tailback, gaining 581 yards and scoring 12 touchdowns.
Yearby, who graduated from Miami Central, is the team’s returning leading rusher with 509 yards and a touchdown on 86 carries last season, a 5.9-yard-per-carry average. He is listed as 5-9 and 195, but Golden said last week that he was up to 202 pounds.
Yearby, the father of two young children, had personal issues he needed to deal with during the summer and was given permission by Golden to work things out and train on his own away from the UM facility.
He returned the last week of August and supposedly picked up right where he left off, excelling in conditioning tests and according to his teammates and coaches, in fall camp as well.
Yearby also had a strong spring, but was suspended for the spring game for violating an undisclosed team policy. Golden said at the beginning of fall camp that he was at that time no longer suspended.
Walton, 5-10 and 195 pounds, a talented four-star prep runner out of Miami Booker T. Washington, rushed for 1,472 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior — and chose UM over Auburn, Florida State, Tennessee and South Carolina.
Gray, 6-2 and 216 pounds, graduated from Miami Carol City High and will now take on the role of the biggest UM running back. Gray played quarterback at Carol City, and rushed for 24 yards and a touchdown on six touches last year.
Other than running back, the Canes’ depth chart is mostly what was expected. With Brad Kaaya as quarterback, the offensive line, as previously reported, is left tackle Trevor Darling, left guard Alex Gall, center Nick Linder, right guard Daniel Isidora and right tackle Sunny Odogwu.
The starting flankers are Rashawn Scott and Herb Waters, with Stacy Coley at slot.
The first-team fullback is walk-on Gage Batten, a 6-0, 235-pound junior, though Tucker has the experience.
Standish Dobard is the starting tight end, with Chris Herndon the first-team H-back.
Starters on defense
On defense, the starting defensive end is Ufomba Kamalu, nose tackle is Calvin Heurtelou, defensive tackle is Courtel Jenkins and the rush end is Trent Harris, with Demetrius Jackson “or’’ Al-Quadin Muhammad behind Harris.
Jermaine Grace is the starting weak-side linebacker, Darrion Owens is the strong-side linebacker and Raphael Kirby is in the middle.
The starting cornerbacks are Tracy Howard and Artie Burns.
Crawford, and Deon Bush “or’’ Jamal Carter are the starting safeties.
On special teams, Justin Vogel is the punter, Michael Badgley is the kicker and redshirt freshman walk-on Jon Semerene will handle kickoffs.
Coley and Mark Walton are the kickoff returners, with Braxton Berrios the first-team punt returner.