Receiver Sam Bruce, one of the University of Miami’s most ballyhooed incoming freshmen, will miss a quarter of his first regular season as Hurricane.
UM suspended Bruce for three games, and though a reason wasn’t given by the school, a source said it was the result of a photo that featured Bruce holding a gun, the Miami Herald first reported back in February.
The three-game suspension was one game more than originally expected.
According to a source familiar with the February incident, Bruce used the photo of himself with a weapon as part of an ongoing conflict with an older, former St. Thomas Aquinas male student — a dispute centered around Bruce’s former girlfriend.
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The source said the photo ended up in the hands of the former student, who then called police and Aquinas officials.
Even though Bruce was not enrolled at UM at the time of the incident, UM suspended him because it wanted to make clear that such behavior would not be tolerated by players who were intending to attend UM.
As expected, UM defensive tackle Gerald Willis, was suspended for one game for an undisclosed violation of team rules and did not play Saturday. Willis transferred from Florida and sat out last season, per NCAA transfer rules.
Willis’ suspension, combined with Anthony Moten’s shoulder injury, left UM with only three experienced defensive tackles Saturday: Richard McIntosh Jr. (who moved over from defensive end during the offseason), Kendrick Norton and Courtel Jenkins.
Meanwhile, the suspension of the four-star Bruce left UM with only seven healthy scholarship receivers: Stacy Coley, Braxton Berrios, Ahmmon Richards, Dayall Harris, Dionte Mullins, Malcolm Lewis and Darrell Langham.
▪ UM walk-on quarterback Tucker Beirne, 19, was arrested in Tavernier early Saturday morning and charged with a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence and a felony count of cocaine possession. He had a blood alcohol level of .08 or more, according to police.
The redshirt freshman was a three-year starter at Columbus High in Miami and set a school record at Columbus with 7,957 career passing yards. UM declined to comment.
THIS AND THAT
▪ UM’s offensive starters: Quarterback Brad Kaaya; running back Mark Walton; receivers Richards and Coley; tight ends David Njoku and Christopher Herndon; and offensive linemen Trevor Darling, Kc McDermott, Nick Linder, Danny Isidora and Sunny Odogwu.
▪ UM’s defensive starters: defensive ends Chad Thomas and Demetrius Jackson; defensive tackles Norton and McIntosh; linebackers Shaq Quarterman, Mike Pinckney and Zach McCloud; cornerbacks Corn Elder and Adrian Colbert; and safeties Rayshawn Jenkins and Jamal Carter.
▪ UM started four incoming freshmen: Richards, Quarterman, McCloud and Pinckney.
Several other freshmen received considerable playing time, including defensive linemen Pat Bethel and Joe Jackson. Bethel, son of former UM tight end Randy Bethel, blocked a punt in the first quarter.
▪ Some firsts from the Mark Richt era: First interception by Corn Elder. … First play from scrimmage (a 25-yard Mark Walton run). … First touchdown: Kaaya to fullback Marquez Williams for a 4-yard touchdown. … First sack: Demetrius Jackson.
▪ Braxton Berrios worked as UM’s punt returner and scored on a 41-yard return to make the score 56-3 in the third quarter.
▪ Richards’ 48-yard reception, on a bomb from Kaaya, was overturned on replay.
▪ Michael Badgley, who was 25 for 30 on field goals last season, missed a 33-yard field goal.
▪ UM began the season with just over 40,000 season tickets sold, compared with 29,000 last season.