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How surprising was Miami’s kicker change? A starting WR didn’t even know it happened

It’s easy to miss Turner Davidson. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound is the very definition of unassuming and he made his Miami Hurricanes debut on the sort of play most fans either head to the bathroom or grab a beer during.

He stepped in to end Miami’s first drive of a 17-9 win against the Virginia Cavaliers on Friday and slipped his first career extra point through the uprights at Hard Rock Stadium to give the Hurricanes a 7-0 lead.

“You know what’s funny? I obviously know who he is, but I didn’t know he was kicking until I got in the locker room,” wide receiver K.J. Osborn said as a room of reporters laughed. “I didn’t know. We were in the locker room and coach [Manny] Diaz said, ‘Special teams,’ and then they held up Turner. I looked around and said, ‘What did Turner do?’ And they were like, ‘He was kicking field goals,’ and I was like, ‘Oh.’ I didn’t even know.”

This was right around midnight, right after Davidson scored five points in Miami’s win against No. 20 Virginia in Hard Rock Stadium. The redshirt sophomore made both of his extra-point attempts and sunk a 19-yard field goal. His field goal came on the Hurricanes’ penultimate drive to keep Miami ahead 10-6 with 10:06 remaining. His last kick was an extra point to give the Hurricanes an eight-point lead with 2:31 left.

“This was like 10 minutes ago,” Osborn said. “I really didn’t know because I get back on the sideline, everybody’s over there, you can’t really see, he’s a little guy. I just see it go in.”

Davidson was never supposed to be a player Miami had to use this season. He still isn’t listed on the Hurricanes’ depth chart, but Bubba Baxa has struggled on short kicks as the Hurricanes’ starter and fellow kicker Camden Price, listed as Baxa’s backup, was “unavailable,” Diaz said Monday.

Who is this guy, anyway? Not many people know where he came from to wind up in Coral Gables.

“I don’t either,” Diaz joked. “He just ran on the field during pregame and started knocking some in, and we said, Hey, here we go.”

It actually did come down to warm-ups, though. Diaz said Davidson has been impressive and improving in practices this season, and the coach decided to go with the specialist who looked better in warm-ups. It wound up being Davidson, the walk-on from San Antonio.

Baxa was just 5 of 9 on field goals and 15 of 17 on extra points in the first five games, with three misses inside 30 yards. In Miami’s loss to the Virginia Tech Hokies on Saturday, Baxa missed an extra point which would have put the Hurricanes ahead in the final four minutes. Baxa did remain the kickoff specialist Friday.

Davidson is now 2 of 2 on extra points and 1 of 1 on field goals.

“It really came down to warm-ups. We let it kind of go down to warm-ups and he just had a better warm-up than Bubba and that doesn’t mean that’s a permanent move or whatever, but we just felt like from a pure evaluating who was making the kicks that he was the guy.

“He was without a doubt the better guy in the warm-up.”

Davidson wasn’t fazed.

“They told me after we stretched and they were like, ‘Alright, you’re the kicker today,’” Davidson said. “[My reaction was], ‘Okay, that’s good.’”