New University of Miami offensive coordinator and running backs coach Thomas Brown, a former Georgia star tailback 29 years young, said “as a little kid’’ he “grew up watching Hurricanes Frank Gore and Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee,’’ and relishes his new opportunity.
And Jon Richt, UM’s 25-year-old quarterbacks coach, will take a lifetime of learning from one of the best — his dad — and bring that with him when teaching Brad Kaaya or Malik Rosier or Vincent Testaverde or Evan Shirreffs or true freshman Jack Allison.
“Here’s the deal,” Richt said. “My dad has been tutoring me my whole life. I’ve been under him since I started throwing a football. The thing is, what he teaches is what I teach already.’’
Be assured that UM coach Mark Richt, who serves as their mentor and boss, will be the Hurricanes’ offensive honcho this season, regardless of what title a coach has been given.
“He’s going to call the plays,’’ Brown said of the head coach on Wednesday, when asked how the new system will work. “I’m going to organize everything else from the offensive coordinator’s standpoint and obviously from an install concept. I’m going to introduce those concepts to the players and be able to coach it that way.
“This is my first time. It’s going to work great. I’m excited about it.’’
Mark Richt introduced his assistants to the media this week on National Signing Day, then left the Schwartz Center’s Mann Auditorium to allow his coaches an opportunity to mingle freely.
The younger Richt was a quarterback at Division II Mars Hill College in North Carolina after transferring from Clemson, where he was a three-star prospect when he signed with the Tigers in 2008. He spent 2015 as the Buffalo Bills' offensive quality control coach, “which means I basically did a lot of the behind-the-scenes work — all the playbook [and film] breakdowns.’’ In 2014, he was an unpaid Georgia coach working with quarterbacks.
Richt said his father is “in a position where he’s going to work with the quarterbacks. Not only is he the quarterbacks coach, but he’s really the offensive coordinator. Any offensive coordinator is going to have priority over the quarterbacks.
“He’s going to do a lot of [the] strategic and mental side of it. I’ll probably handle a lot of the developmental and drills and footwork and fundamental part of it, which will be exactly what he essentially will be working with the guys.
“He’s kind of in that mind-set to where he’s going to groom me to be the guy he wants me to be.’’
On the defensive side of the ball, new UM defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Manny Diaz, 41, who grew up in Miami and is the son of former Miami mayor Manny Diaz Sr., said every day he wakes up and pinches himself.
“You don’t ever know that you’ll have the chance to come home,’’ said Diaz, who has coached for 18 years, including as a defensive coordinator for Mississippi State, Louisiana Tech, Texas and Middle Tennessee State. “To have a role in … bringing the U back … to being in the elite of college football,’’ he said, “is something that I take very seriously. We know it’s going to take a lot of heavy lifting, but we’re up for the task.”
Added Diaz: “We want to be aggressive. We want to cut our defensive linemen and linebackers loose. We want to get across the line of scrimmage. We want to create negative plays. But we’re going to be smart. We’re going to be sound. We don’t want to give up big plays.’’
Safeties coach Ephraim Banda, 34, spent this past season at Mississippi State (9-4) under Diaz and also worked with him as a defensive graduate assistant at Texas. Banda, who noted Wednesday that “we blitz our safeties a bunch,’’ said he had no qualms about converting a safety to a cornerback if that’s what is warranted. Other than Corn Elder, the Canes have barely any experienced cornerbacks — rising sophomore Sheldrick Redwine has some — at the collegiate level.
“We’re going to put the best defensive backs on the field and figure out what position they have to play,’’ Banda said.
Cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph, who helped lead UM to its last national title in 2001, said the Hurricanes “have some safeties that can play multiple positions. We have linebackers that can play multiple positions. I’m just happy to have the puzzle almost into play, and now just have to get the pieces to fit the right way.’’