Hurricanes fans embraced their moment Saturday night at CanesFest.
Players reveled in theirs Friday afternoon, somewhat again Saturday morning and by Saturday night were preparing for a Sunday to remember — a day off.
University of Miami coach Mark Richt surprised the Canes with the afternoon off from Friday’s scheduled two-a-day session, then pulled back the intensity from Saturday morning’s shortened practice under the broiling summer sun — just hours before the CanesFest fan festival commenced at the BankUnited Center for UM aficionados of all ages.
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“It feels amazing,” said left guard Kc McDermott of Richt’s generosity — or wisdom. “Coach Richt is a guy that really cares about us and our bodies and knows exactly when to pull off the throttle a little bit and let us relax and get our feet back underneath us. He’s doing a great job of that so far all camp.
“We really enjoyed not having that second practice [Friday], and [Saturday] we had a lighter practice. We really enjoyed that.’’
Running back Joe Yearby was asked his reaction when he learned Richt gave the team off Friday afternoon and evening.
“I was smiling,’’ he said, “and I hurried up and got out of the building.’’
Then, Yearby “went to sleep — the whole night, about 12 hours.”
Yearby said he also will sleep much of Sunday, which will be UM’s first day off since camp opened on Aug. 4. Practice will resume Monday morning.
“We went helmets only, as you can see,” Richt said after Saturday’s one-hour-and-change workout. “We did that just to give them a little bit of a break. … More of a teaching day.”
Richt said his decision to give the players off Friday was not only because “it is smoking hot out here and they’ve been working in the heat,” but because they’ve been “working well’’ in that heat.
“Usually by practice 10,’’ he said, “there’s at least one dud in there — just not giving effort, not giving us all they have. I just didn’t see that yet.
“You want them to fight through fatigue, but you also want to be wise with soft tissue injuries. It looked like a good time to give them a little bit of a break.’’
Saturday’s CanesFest was the first in two years at the BUC, where thousands of fans snaked outside the arena with long lines to obtain vouchers for autographs from players.
Teddy Wagner, 6, strolled the arena collecting autographs with Roan Hurwitz, 6, Sam Geronemus, 5, and Zachary Geronemus, 7.
“Stacy Coley is my favorite player,’’ Teddy said, “because he’s a good receiver, and he’s super fast.”
“I like Brad Kaaya because he’s a team player, he’s smart and a lot of times he makes touchdowns,” Sam added.
“It’s great to see it through their eyes,’’ said Scott Wagner, a Miami lawyer. “To them it doesn’t matter whether they’re meeting one of the stars or a guy who sits on the bench.’’
The players seemed to appreciate the love.
“It’s always good to support the people who support you,’’ senior safety Rayshawn Jenkins said after practice. “It gives fans that personal experience that they don’t really get while we’re on the field and doing our thing within the facilities.”
Added McDermott: “It’s a real good time for them to get close up and experience us as people, not just football players. We have a great fan base, and I absolutely love our fans.”
▪ Hurricanes signee Dionte Mullins, a wide receiver out of Gulliver Prep, watched practice in street clothes Saturday but still isn’t enrolled at UM.
Miami had hoped he would arrive by Monday’s practice, but Mullins told the Miami Herald on Saturday that he had not heard yet regarding his status.
He was finishing up his summer academics and waiting for approval by the NCAA Eligibility Center.
“We’re still very encouraged about his arrival,’’ Richt said Saturday regarding Mullins. “We think that’s going to happen. We’re anticipating that.’’
▪ Among the ailing seen on exercise bikes Saturday were: linebacker Michael Pinckney (hamstring), safety Robert Knowles (right hand/finger), tight end Stan Dobard (ankle) and fullback Gage Batten (foot).
Freshman defensive lineman Tyreic Martin’s left knee was heavily bandaged, and he used a crutch.
▪ Richt said the injury situation, compared to his previous camps at Georgia, “has been very, very good to this point. Very few. We had one I.V. on a player and one I.V. on a coach — I won’t say which coach,’’ he said, laughing.
“I don’t want to be bragging about anything because then things happen sometimes, but it’s been good overall, I think. There’s been nothing catastrophic, nothing season-ending.”
▪ For the third consecutive day, the quarterback order behind Kaaya during media viewing was redshirt sophomore Malik Rosier, redshirt freshman Even Shirreffs, freshman Jack Allison and redshirt sophomore Vincent Testaverde.