A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Thursday:
▪ For the first time, the NCAA is allowing an early signing period before the traditional National Signing Day on the first Wednesday in February.
And UM coach Mark Richt said this week that he hopes more than half of UM’s 19 oral commitments commit to the school in writing during that designated Dec. 20-22 window.
“We are shooting for the majority to go ahead and sign,” Richt said on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline this week.
In the past, “kids that came in January didn’t have a day to celebrate, a festive atmosphere. We have a lot of kids who will sign early.”
Richt wants to personally visit with each of the Hurricanes’ 19 oral commitments. “I will try to get to every single one of them,” he said. “I will be on the road Sunday. I like going to the house where the decision is already made. I want to go on the victory tour.”
According to Canesport.com, players expected to enroll early at UM and be available to practice next spring include Gregory Rousseau (who will play a hybrid defensive end/linebacker role), running back Lorenzo Lingard; receivers Mark Pope, Brian Hightower and Daquris Wiggins; offensive lineman Delone Scaife, John Campbell and Cleveland Reed and defensive backs DJ Ivey and Gurvan Hall and Gil Frierson.
Rivals.com ranks UM’s 2018 class third behind Ohio State and Penn State.
Richt said coaches are allowed to be on the road recruiting this week but are not because of preparations for Saturday’s ACC Championship Game against Clemson.
Richt said the UM staff will attend the Florida high school football state championship games the following weekend.
▪ Amazingly, a holding penalty hasn’t been called against an opposing offensive lineman in a UM game for 620 consecutive plays, dating to the Oct. 7 FSU game.
“Our guys must be too easy to block,” Richt cracked on his radio show.
▪ Though senior defensive end Chad Thomas’ numbers are down from a year ago (30 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 11 games, compared with 37, 4.5 last season), that isn’t a reflection of the quality of his play, coaches say.
But even beyond the on-field contributions, Richt loves something else about him.
“He is the No. 1 leader on this team,” Richt said. “People want to say he’s worried about his music. No way. Once he figured out what we wanted, he was going to make sure he did it and everyone did it.”
▪ Couple quick linebacker notes: Richt told WQAM’s Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey Jr. that Shaquille Quarterman reminds him of former NFL star Mike Singletary. “Vicious for a ballplayer but has a great heart,” Richt said of his sophomore. “He thinks before he speaks and makes a lot of sense.”…
Richt said of Zach McCloud: “His problem has been wanting to hit a player so hard he just misses him. He did a better job” not doing that against Pittsburgh.
▪ Quick stuff: ESPN’s College GameDay will originate from a park in Charlotte, North Carolina (300 South College St.) at 9 a.m. Saturday, with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit calling the UM-Clemson game at 8 p.m. …
UM receiver Braxton Berrios was named recipient of the The Tatum Award, given annually to the ACC’s top senior student-athlete. Berrios, who has a near perfect grade-point average, leads UM with 45 catches, 583 receiving yards and nine touchdown receptions. Tatum, a two-time ACC Coach of the Year, coached in the 1950s at Maryland and North Carolina and believed strongly in the concept of the student-athlete.
▪ A couple of basketball notes after Wednesday’s win at No. 12 Minnesota that pushed 10th-ranked UM to 6-0: There’s nothing more encouraging than the growth of Dewan Huell, who clearly has improved his offensive game. Huell was active around the rim and displayed a nifty jump hook. He’s averaging 15 points and 6.3 rebounds and shooting 69.1 percent (38 for 55). …
We haven’t seen the best yet from elite recruit Lonnie Walker, who’s averaging 6.8 points and 21.2 minutes per game while shooting 40.5 percent (15 for 37).
“We’ve got to remember this young man comes during the summer and gets hurt third day of our workouts and is rehabbing for months,” assistant coach Chris Caputo told WQAM’s Zagacki after Wednesday’s win in Minneapolis. “His first practices were two weeks into our start of practice. So it’s mid-October, even late October and we are looking at a guy that has been only playing college basketball at any sort of high level of execution for like a month.”
Here’s my Thursday six-pack of Dolphins notes, including a coach admitting frustration with DeVante Parker’s season. Twitter: @flasportsbuzz