University of Miami redshirt freshman quarterback Malik Rosier waited a year to get in a college football game.
And when he did Saturday in the Hurricanes’ 45-0 opening-night victory against Bethune-Cookman, it was every bit as exhilarating as he imagined.
He just didn’t figure on the part afterward that included comforting his mom.
“She cried when I first got in and she almost cried when I got hit,” Rosier said. “When she came back and talked to me, I was like, ‘Mom, it’s football. I’m going to get hit.’”
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Regardless of mom’s — or moms’ — angst, count Game No. 1 as a coup for the young, and in some cases, not so young, Hurricanes who played for the first time Saturday.
“I was just overwhelmed with emotion,” said true freshman cornerback Sheldrick Redwine, 18, recently graduated from Miami Killian High. “It was crazy. I couldn’t stop smiling, honestly.”
According to UM, 26 players made their debuts Saturday as Hurricanes, almost all of them playing in college for the first time.
Tuesday, during his weekly news conference in advance of the FAU road game at 8 p.m. Friday, coach Al Golden indicated he was especially gratified to see how seamlessly so many of the newcomers adapted, calling them a “very bright” bunch.
“The thing that was exciting for me was that you could talk to [cornerback] Michael Jackson during the game [while] making adjustments with him. [Safety] Quan Johnson, we were making adjustments.
“Sheldrick Redwine is really bright. He could be exhausted, he could have just covered the kick, and he’s coming off breathing and he just looks you right in the eye. And you can speak to him.”
Among the other newcomers Golden praised were offensive linemen Tyler Gauthier and Tyree St. Louis, running back Mark Walton, defensive linemen Kendrick Norton and R.J. McIntosh, linebackers James King and Charles Perry; and redshirt freshmen defensive lineman Demetrius Jackson.
Norton, a 6-3, 318-pound second-team nose tackle out of Jacksonville Trinity Christian, had his first career college sack.
“It wasn’t really me,” he explained. “Everyone did their job, the pocket collapsed and I just got off a block. If Chad Thomas and Anthony Moten and everybody hadn’t collapsed the pocket, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the sack. It was really on them.”
Was the sack at least exciting?
“I really didn’t know I sacked him because his back was turned. He faked like he threw the ball and jumped in the air so I just hit him anyway. And when he rolled over he had the ball.”
“I didn’t really feel anything. It was nice.”
Walton looked like a star in the making, leading UM with 85 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. He was exuberant Saturday, pumping his fists and leaping with joy after his score.
“I was waiting on that for the longest [time],” said the Miami Booker T. Washington High graduate. “It was going through my head the whole time —‘Try to get in the end zone.’ And when I got in there it was unbelievable.”
Rosier got in the game midway through the third quarter, completing one of four passes for 11 yards. He led two scoring drives.
“We were very base,” he said, “but the offense performed well. We looked smooth. It was a great feeling to be in there... a very original feeling. There’s never going to be a feeling like that again.”
The same undoubtedly goes for backup center Hunter Knighton, who spent 12 days in a coma at UM Hospital after collapsing from heatstroke during an outdoor offseason workout in February 2014.
Although Knighton is a redshirt sophomore, Saturday was his first game as a collegian.
“It was amazing, you know, finally getting back out there,” Knighton said. “I kind of forgot how that felt to be able to run around and play football again in a game situation. I was blown away.”