As the only returning Hurricanes offensive lineman to start all 12 games last season, right guard Brandon Linder took on the responsibility this offseason of trying to groom a potential next-door neighbor, freshman tackle Ereck Flowers.
“In the summer time, I had him make all the calls on the offensive line,” Linder said.
“I wouldn’t say anything so he would learn it — line calls, blitz pickups. Now, he’s been coming out here everyday competing, grinding and showing us he can handle everything. I have all the faith in him.”
Linder isn’t the only Hurricane who has developed faith in Flowers. Offensive line coach Art Kehoe has consistently raved about the 6-6, 314-pound Under-Armor All-American out of Miami Norland since camp began, and has had him running with the first team with Seantrel Henderson out.
So could Flowers be UM’s starting right tackle come Sept. 1? Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch hardly seemed appalled at the idea Friday.
“I don’t have any apprehension at all starting any true freshman that deserves to be the starter,” said Fisch, who started just one true freshman — receiver Phillip Dorsett — in one game last season on his offense.
“Ereck is doing great. I’m really impressed with him. He’s running with the ones everyday. There is no hesitancy. You wouldn’t think he’s a freshman the way he’s playing. He understands the system. He’s next to Brandon Linder everyday and he can communicate. I’m really proud of the way Ereck is playing and all the potential he’s showing us. He’s strong. He’s physical. He’s athletic and he really seems to enjoy the game.”
Flowers, a former basketball standout who didn’t begin focusing on football until his junior year at Miami Dr. Krop, was known best at Norland for his run blocking and opening up holes for fellow Canes freshman and Mr. Florida football, Randy “Duke” Johnson. But so far at UM, Flowers’ pass blocking has also passed the eye-test according to Fisch, who said Flowers has “great feet.”
“He’s made a big leap from spring to now,” Linder said. “He fits into the group just fine.”
• Henderson, who has yet to practice with the Hurricanes since returning from a friend’s funeral in Minnesota, is still awaiting medical clearance for a concussion according to coach Al Golden before he can return to the team.
“Right now, it’s day-to-day based on the medical evidence,” Golden said. “When he gets cleared from a medical standpoint, we can put him back out there. But that’s completely out of my hands. That’s with our medical staff.”
Henderson was involved in a car accident Aug. 1 in Miami and cited for three infractions: driving without a license unknowingly; driving with a suspended license and disobeying a traffic sign totaling $484 in fines.
“He’s going through a lot right now,” Linder said. “A lot of things happened off the field. We’re just there for him. He’s our teammate, our brother. He’s going to come back. He just has to deal with these things off the field and we will be there support him.”