Evidence Njoku, the 6-6, 196-pound “little’’ brother of former Miami Hurricane and NFL-bound tight end David Njoku, was the first Cane to sign his scholarship papers just past 7 a.m. Wednesday on National Signing Day.
That made UM coach Mark Richt and wide receivers coach Ron Dugans very happy.
But will it one day make tight ends coach Todd Hartley just as happy?
Njoku, a consensus three-star receiver prospect who graduated from Wayne Hills ( New Jersey) High after playing three seasons at Cedar Grove (where David graduated), caught 27 passes for 415 yards and eight touchdowns this past season, and is listed as a receiver at Miami.
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Older brother David, who left UM after his redshirt sophomore season, had 40 receptions for 981 yards and 14 touchdowns as a high school senior – not to mention being the national high-jump champion.
David also started his UM career as a wide receiver, and was experimented at linebacker by former UM coach Al Golden during fall camp of 2014. Eventually, he settled in as a tight end, and finished this past season with 43 catches – many of them leading to spectacular plays – for 698 yards and eight touchdowns.
On Wednesday, Dugans said Evidence has “a receiver skill-set, bends well for his size, has an enormous wing span and is a good route runner to be that big.
“He’s got a lot of upside to play the receiver position, so I feel really good about him staying at receiver.’’
Hartley likely is crossing his fingers that the younger Njoku fills out like his older brother did.
“He’s a receiver for now,’’ Hartley told the Miami Herald. “Evidence could go his whole career at receiver, and I think he’s going to be really good at that. But nature could take its course and he could put on some weight like David did.
“He’s taller than David – David won’t admit that, but he is taller. He’s skinny, yeah. But with [strength-and-conditioning coach] Gus [Felder], who knows? Whether Evidence ends up in Ron’s room or he ends up in my room, I think he’s going to be a good player no matter what.”
Concluded Hartley, who is already very happy with newly signed tight end Brian Polendey, a 6-5, 230-pound, consensus three-star prospect from Guyer High in Denton, Texas:
“We’ll kind of let nature take its course. He’ll go to where he needs to go and he’ll be a great player regardless. The genes just take over and he’s either going to be 220 – or 250.”
Either way, UM hopes Njoku’s hands are as good as those genes.