University of Miami

Nick Linder, Kc McDermott ready to lead Miami Hurricanes O-line like brothers did

MIAMI HERALD STAFF

One pair of University of Miami siblings split apart from each other on the football field after the 2013 season.

The other pair of brothers were separated on the football field after 2014.

All four are close friends and still as tight as size 10 cleats on size 14 feet. And now, two of them are left to help man the Hurricanes offensive line that lost its starting left guard, left tackle and center to NFL aspirations.

Nick Linder, 6-3 and 300 pounds, started four games and played in nine last season as a freshman left guard. He is competing with Alex Gall for the starting center spot, where Shane McDermott — soon-to-be-sophomore Kc McDermott’s older bro — used to start.

Linder’s older brother, Brandon, played guard for the Canes before he was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014. He started 15 games this past season.

“He’s a little different from me,” Brandon said of his younger brother last year. “I worked hard in high school, but this guy, man, his work ethic is relentless.”

Kc, overcoming a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee sustained Sept. 27 against Duke, is vying for the starting left tackle spot vacated by Ereck Flowers, projected to be a first-rounder in the 2015 NFL Draft.

The younger McDermott, 6-6 and down to 314 pounds, has been working out during spring practice in a yellow (limited) jersey and announced to reporters Thursday that he will be back “officially full go” on March 17.

“The strength is there. The stability is there,” said McDermott, who played as a reserve tackle in four games last season before being injured. “Obviously, it’s just a precaution. They don’t want anything bad to happen.

“…I just wish I could always be out there. It’s part of the competitive spirit I have. I don’t want to miss out on anything. I’m in meetings, I’m in drills, pretty much doing everything they do. I’m just not doing the full-contact stuff, which is annoying, but it’s something that’s understandable.

“I can’t wait for that day, March 17.”

McDermott said he’s practicing at both spots but would like to protect quarterback Brad Kaaya’s blind side.

“I just want to play,” he said. “That’s all I want to do.”

Also rotating at tackle are 6-5, 318-pound sophomore Trevor Darling, who started the last five games on the right side; 6-3, 335-pound junior-college transfer Jahair Jones; and 6-8, 324-pound redshirt sophomore Sunny Odogwu.

Former starting right tackle Taylor Gadbois is still rehabilitating from a knee injury sustained the same day as McDermott’s.

“I’m excited for Kc,” older brother Shane McDermott said Thursday by phone, adding that the MCL injury “is no big deal” and that Kc “hates sitting on the sideline and can’t wait to get back.”

“Obviously, it’s just like any new year when you have a whole new offensive line. They’re going to have to gel together. They’re going to have to become a tight-knit group in the offseason.”

Cornerback Antonio Crawford, who created a stir by posting a tweet Saturday that complained about the way he was treated, missed his second day of practice Thursday. “There’s no resolution there,” UM coach Al Golden said.

It seems unlikely that Crawford will return, though nothing is official.

Linebackers Jermaine Grace and Terry McCray returned Thursday after missing Tuesday’s session with academic woes. Tailback Trayone Gray, also facing academic issues, is still out.

“I’m not pleased where that is, and he knows what he needs to do,” Golden said. “And that’s that.”

On Thursday, multiple recruiting websites reported that cornerback Terrance Henley out of Pompano Beach Ely has joined the 2015 UM class.

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