University of Miami football coach Mark Richt spoke publicly for the first time Monday about the dismissals of linebacker Jermaine Grace and defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, describing the situation during his weekly WQAM radio show as “sad’’ but ultimately out of his control.
Later in the day, UM released the first depth chart of the Richt era, with redshirt sophomore Malik Rosier winning the backup quarterback battle behind starter Brad Kaaya, and 6-2, 250-pound junior Trent Harris replacing Muhammad at what UM now calls the “Viper” position.
Additionally, the spot vacated by dismissed strong-side linebacker Grace will go to 6-2, 230-pound true freshman Zach McCloud, filling out a starting linebacker trio that — for likely the first time in school history — is made up of players just out of high school.
Muhammad and Grace were dismissed by UM on Saturday because they violated NCAA rules, UM stated that day in a written release. The situation focused around the players’ alleged use of cars provided by a luxury car-rental company.
“It’s sad that it happened,” Richt said on the Joe Rose Show, just five days before the season opener against FAMU at Hard Rock Stadium.
“But there was something being investigated for a while. You got to the end of the line and the decision had to be made.
“Through some consultation from an outside source who is very tied into the NCAA and universities across America, this is kind of what he does for a living, that was the decision that was made.”
Was that decision made by the administration ultimately? Richt was asked by WQAM.
“I guess. Somebody had to make the decision. It was made, yeah, by our administration. There were lawyers from our university and legal counsel. We had the advisor, and the athletic association, basically, made the final call.”
When asked if he was kept “up to speed” about the daily situation , especially in light of Grace and Muhammad practicing with the starters just about every day in the preseason, Richt said, “Yeah, well, I was getting a rough idea of what was happening but I wasn’t totally in the loop. I wasn’t hearing every story of what was going on. I wasn’t in the middle of any of that. It was something that had started prior to me getting here actually and it was handled by them.
“I was not part of the final decision-making process.”
Did Richt have a chance to talk to both guys and give them the news? Richt was asked.
“[Athletic director] Blake [James] gave them the news,” he told WQAM, “and then I communicated through a text message right away and hadn’t had a chance to sit down and talk. It was right in the middle of our meetings and practices and by the time we were done doing what we were doing those guys were out of the building.”
▪ Among the new depth-chart highlights, 6-1, 220-pound weak-side starting linebacker Michael Pinckney has an “or’’ after his name, followed by redshirt freshman Jamie Gordinier and junior Darrion Owens. True freshman Shaquille Quarterman, 6-1 and 240 pounds, is starting in the middle.
The starting corners are Corn Elder and Texas graduate transfer Adrian Colbert, with the starting safeties Rayshawn Jenkins and Jamal Carter. The starting defensive tackles are R.J. McIntosh and Kendrick Norton. Note that expected backup tackle Gerald Willis is suspended for the opener and was not on the depth chart.
On offense, Stacy Coley, Braxton Berrios and true freshman Ahmmon Richards (with an “or Dayall Harris’’ behind Richards) are listed as the top three receivers, with walk-on Malik Mayweather as the backup to Coley. Mark Walton is the top running back and Joe Yearby “or” Gus Edwards are the backups.
Marquez Williams is the fullback in Richt’s pro-style, blocking-heavy offense. The starting tight end is listed as Chris Herndon, with David Njoku “or” Standish Dobard behind him, though Richt will often use two tight-end sets.
And the offensive line, left to right, is tackle Trevor Darling, guard Kc McDermott, center Nick Linder, guard Danny Isidora and tackle Sunny Odogwu.
▪ Richt indicated for the first time that he intends to redshirt true freshman quarterback Jack Allison.
“Jack Allison is probably not going to play this year,” Richt told WQAM. “You never know how things go, but other than that, maybe our young offensive tackle [Tre Johnson] — let’s see if things would have to happen for him to get in a game.”
Richt did not list a third quarterback on the depth chart. Vincent Testaverde was battling Rosier for the backup spot.