Highlights from UM coach Mark Richt’s National Signing Day news conference:
• Overview: “We’ve got 24 in the house, counting the guys that are already here at midyear. Sixteen out of 24 from the state of Florida. If you could Jhavonte Dean in the 16, two-thirds of our class are from the state. We really hit across the board all the position needs that we have. There is at least one guy at every position across the board. Couple spots we may look into the possibility of graduate transfers. We do have a space or two left for that type of thing. I thought we nailed it.”
• On Cade Weldon, N’Kosi Perry and the quarterback race: “The quarterback position, talking about having two that we signed, and one already here in Cade Weldon. And N’Kosi on the way. Both are very talented guys. They are quality quarterbacks that are athletic. Sometimes you have QBs who can run, but these guys are true quarterbacks who happen to be able to run. It doesn’t mean you have to have a guy who can run like a deer to be great. But I like that they can move.
“Cade will have a chance to compete. He will get about as many reps as everybody else on scholarship this spring. It’s a wide-open competition. I don’t have a front-runner in my mind. You would think I would after being here a year [but there isn’t]. My guess is it will go well into fall camp before knowing who it is.”
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• Richt said cornerback/receiver DeeJay Dallas will begin his UM career at receiver “as of this second.”
• On Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley and receiver situation: “Harley, Jeff Thomas and Evidence Njoku is pretty fast too. If you have speed at receiver and running back, it’s hard to sit there defensively and shut a guy down. Not only are they fast, they’re very skilled. They can make people miss. They are legitimate receivers, not just fast guys that happen to play football.”
• On offensive linemen Navaughn Donaldson, Kai-Leon Herbert, Corey Gaynor and Zach Dykstra and Zalontae Hillery: “We thought we did great with our offensive line. There was a tremendous need to get our numbers up and bring in guys we really thought could help us be great. All... of those guys are guys that will compete for playing time this season. There’s no doubt they have the skill set to eventually become a starter and be great before this thing is over. It’s hard to be a great offensive team if you don’t provide space for your runners... and quarterback.”
• Richt said it helps that UM’s probation is over: “Last year, kids could only go to one event. That was it. After that got lifted, that allowed us to bring guys to every home game, come to basketball games, come to baseball games. The previous staff was fighting with one staff behind their back. This was first year with 85 scholarships. We were at 80 a year ago.”
• On South Florida; “Everyone talks about putting a fence around South Florida. But there may be 120 guys going D-1. You take 15-20 a year on average. You can’t get every great player in the tri-county area. It’s impossible. The goal is to get a high percentage of those. You’ve got to make sure you are creating those relationships with those players. I went to close to 20 youth parks and started trying to spread the love right away. It takes a lot of time to create those relationships.”
• Some random stuff from Richt: “Our current players have really bought in to helping us be great.”