In a Senior Bowl where University of Miami players were more likely to find their names on the injury report rather than the stat sheet, Hurricanes cornerback Ladarius Gunter made a big impact in the secondary for the South squad on Saturday.
Gunter had the best statistical performance of any of the corners, North or South, and answered the bell each time he had to make a tackle in the open field. Gunter registered four tackles, the most of any of the corners.
Gunter entered the game as potentially a fourth-round draft pick, but he might have improved his standing by again showing how physical he can be at 6-2, 198 pounds.
He provided one of the biggest defensive plays of the game for the South on the final play of the first half. Gunter was called for pass interference on the previous play on a throw intended for Ohio State receiver Devin Smith to give the North a first-and-goal at the South 1.
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Instead of trying to punch it in, the North chose to throw it, and Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion tossed the ball out wide to Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah. Gunter made Mannion pay for the poor choice, and Abdullah was immediately put to the ground by Gunter short of the goal line.
Time ran off the clock, and Gunter’s tackle kept the North’s lead at 10-7 at halftime.
Abdullah ended up being the game’s MVP with seven carries for 73 yards as the North won 34-13 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
The only other UM player to suit up Saturday was tight end Clive Walford, who had one catch for 10 yards in the first half.
Walford’s day didn’t last long after he sustained a hip pointer that sent him to the locker room. He watched the rest of the contest from the sideline in a sweater and baseball cap.
Even though he didn’t get much action Saturday, Walford left pleased with his week in Mobile after taking part in each of the practices.
“I showed my versatility, being able to be an every-down tight end, catch the ball and block,” Walford said.
Walford was UM’s leading receiver this season with 44 catches for 676 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Hurricanes’ leader in receiving yardage, Phillip Dorsett, didn’t play at all on Saturday after pulling in 36 catches for 871 yards and 10 touchdowns for coach Al Golden this season.
Dorsett didn’t play Saturday because of a knee injury, according to a Senior Bowl spokesman.
He was joined on the injury report by Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman, who was inactive because of an abdominal strain.
Dorsett’s absence in Saturday’s game likely won’t hurt him in the eyes of scouts. He was labeled the fastest player at Senior Bowl practices last week and could be the fastest player in the entire draft.
Walford and Perryman are both projected as possible second- or third-round selections.