University of Miami sophomore receiver Dionte Mullins missed his senior football season at Gulliver Prep because he was academically ineligible, arrived late to fall football camp late last August, and played sparingly in only three games.
But his natural talent — and popularity among UM football fans on social media — still thrives.
“It feels great,” Mullins said Saturday in his first interview as a Hurricane. “I haven’t been out here in a while, but I’ve still been training. I’m back in the mood with the team and I feel good now.”
Mullins, in high school a coveted four-star recruit rated No. 11 in the nation by ESPN.com, became an online celebrity when during the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 2, 2016, he “reached back and snared a touchdown pass with one hand to make what most considered the most memorable play” of the game, according to the Miami Herald game story.
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He followed that play — the touchdown was thrown by current UM quarterback Jack Allison — by throwing up the ‘U.’
Coaches know he’s a special talent, but have said more than once that he needs to be more consistent.
Richt said that Saturday, “a very hot day,” he saw Mullins “push past the first rep of the drill” with “juice,” but “the second rep not so much. And the third rep he looked tired. I know that [receivers] coach [Ron] Dugans has been on him about that. We have all been talking to everybody about that.
“You have to be able to play the second, the third, play, a fourth play if it’s a four-play rack. I saw him really pushing and trying to enjoy the day. I love energy and I love enthusiasm, and he had both today.”
Richt explained that Mullins’ late arrival last year made it hard on the young receiver.
“By the time he got here, we were really rolling and he just was behind,” the coach said. “It was hard for him to run a route with precision, when you’re still not even sure what the route is, what’s the signal, the code name. Now he is much more comfortable and I see him playing a lot faster.”
Mullins, listed on the UM spring roster as 5-10 and 200 pounds, said he’s been meeting daily with Dugans and sometimes with star receiver Ahmmon Richards and fellow wideout Dayall Harris. “I’ve been pretty consistent,” he said. “It’s just that right now I’ve got to cut down a little bit of my weight.”
Mullins said his teammates are “a brotherhood” to him, and he’s insistent on “never” being average.
“I’m going to get better,” he said. “I’ll just take it a day at a time.”
More news Saturday:
▪ Early-enrollee running back Robert Burns did not practice for the second session in a row, confirmed by Richt.
“Robert, he still is being evaluated right now. Trying to decide what to do,” Richt said after practice. “But he did get injured. I won’t say what, because I don’t really have permission from [trainer] Vinny [Scavo] or family on that. If they want to say something they can. But he got an injury. Just not sure how severe yet. Within a few days we’ll know exactly what it is and what we’re going to do about it. But he was out because of an injury.”
Peter Ariz of CanesInsight.com reported through a source that Burns is nursing a shoulder injury.
On Thursday, the last time the Canes practiced, Burns was carted off before media was allowed to enter, and missed the entire practice.
“It’s tough. Just love him and do what’s right by him as far as diagnosing anything he may or may not have and trying to decide what’s the best course of action with his input, his family’s input as well,” Richt said.
▪ First team offensive line Saturday was Kc McDermott (who had been playing right guard) at left tackle, Trevor Darling at left guard, Tyler Gauthier at center, true freshman Navaughn Donaldson (who had been playing right tackle) at right guard and Tyree St. Louis at right tackle.