UM received plenty of love in early 2018 preseason football polls posted in the hours after Monday’s National Championship Game.
Where UM was ranked:
▪ ESPN’s “Way Too Early” 2018 poll by longtime writer Mark Schlabach has UM seventh.
Schlabach’s take: “In Mark Richt’s second season back at his alma mater, the Hurricanes returned to national relevance with their first 10-win season since 2003, introduced us to the turnover chain and played in the ACC championship game for the first time. However, their three-game losing streak to close the season showed that the “U” isn’t yet all the way back.
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“If Miami is going to be better in 2018, quarterback Malik Rosier will have to avoid the mistakes and turnovers that plagued him in his first season as a starter. Wide receiver Braxton Berrios and two starting offensive linemen will be missed. Sophomore Ahmmon Richards might be Miami’s next star if he recovers from a knee injury.
Richt and his staff will have to continue to build depth through recruiting to catch Clemson in the ACC. They’re off to a great start in doing so.”
▪ USA Today’s Paul Myerburg has Miami ninth: “Miami is still not quite ready to be included among the best of the best, though the program is making obvious progress. It probably will take another recruiting class or two to get this roster’s talent level on par with a Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State or Georgia, but that time is coming. For 2018, look for the Hurricanes to compete for an ACC crown and take another step toward knocking Clemson off the top of the heap.”
▪ Sports Illustrated’s Joan Neisen also has Miami ninth: “The Hurricanes came out of nowhere this season to captivate the general college football populace — but it was arguably a year ahead of schedule for the breakout promised by Mark Richt’s arrival, and they return tons of talent [plus the turnover chain] in 2018.”
On Tuesday morning, Richard McIntosh Sr. gave some insight into the process that resulted in his son, Richard Jr, bypassing his senior year at UM to turn pro. Some draftniks project him as a third-round pick.
Some newsy items from the phone conversation:
▪ McIntosh Sr. said Kendrick Norton decided to turn pro before Richard did and “once Norton made that decision, that helped convince Richard. I don’t know how they got to that.
“I don’t know what pushed Norton over the hump. If Norton had stayed, Richard would have. He felt it would be hard to come back without having Norton. I always felt it was going to be what one does the other one wanted to do, that’s how close they are.”
McIntosh is considered a better prospect than Norton. The two juniors are roommates and close friends.
▪ McIntosh Sr. said the feedback from the draft advisory board was that Richard wasn’t projected to be selected in the first two rounds, but “some said second, third. Majority said third. Some said third, fourth; one said fifth round.”
▪ He said Richt, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski — during their meeting with the McIntoshes on Saturday — said they were told he would likely be a third- or fourth-round pick, but that agents told the McIntosh family that he would be picked “late first or no later than the third round.”
▪ How did the three UM coaches try to sell McIntosh on returning for his senior season?
They cited research that players who get their degree “can sustain a longer career in the league,” McIntosh Sr. said.
“They talked about doing things to increase his production on the field and that was intriguing to him also. They talked about things that increase his play on the field, such as playing on third downs.”
And coaches tried “to convince them how special the defense could really be. And being there their senior year and having their degree — those things weighed on him.”
McIntosh Sr. said the UM coaches flew to Jacksonville to meet with Norton after their meeting with them.
▪ I asked McIntosh’s father if Richt & Co. mentioned questionable early-entrant decisions made last year by quarterback Brad Kaaya (sixth round) and running back Joe Yearby (undrafted and out of football).
McIntosh Sr. declined to say what names were mentioned on the negative side but said Richt “mentioned several players good and bad and the risks you take by doing it.”
He confirmed that tight end David Njoku, drafted by Cleveland in the first round, was one successful go-pro-early example that Richt mentioned.