A heap of preseason accolades are being showered daily on the University of Miami football players.
On Wednesday, the Hurricanes’ big boss received his own honor.
Coach Mark Richt was named to the preseason watch list for the Bobby Dodd Trophy that honors the Coach of the Year at season’s end. And his players, at a community service event Wednesday evening at South Miami’s Palmer Park, indicated the honor was well deserved.
Receiver Lawrence Cager and defensive end Joe Jackson, among several Hurricanes working with youngsters from the South Miami Grey Ghosts, gushed about their high-profile coach.
“In a short time he has already helped turn the program around,’’ Jackson said of Richt, one of 19 coaches to be nominated. “He does everything he can for us to be comfortable, for us to perform better, for us to be happy. When we have a great season this year, I hope he gets it.’’
Added Cager, who will return to the field this season after sitting out last year while recuperating from a torn ACL: “I think he’s the best coach in America. The way he treats us outside of football as family, like his own sons. He takes care of us as a coach and as a man, teaching us life lessons and looking after us.’’
Richt was one of three coaches from the Atlantic Coast Conference on the list. The others: Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who led the Tigers to the national championship last season; and Justin Fuente of Virginia Tech.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was not on the list, though that could change, as the list can grow before it narrows throughout the fall.
Florida coach Jim McElwain was nominated, as was Alabama’s Nick Saban, as usual.
“Anytime a head coach gets nominated for anything, it has to do with everybody around him -- your staff, your players, the support of your administrators, the university itself,’’ Richt said. “Most awards are team awards, and this one especially. If there was no one to coach, there would be no Coach of the Year.’’
Also on Wednesday, the ACC announced that linebacker Shaquille Quarterman, receiver Ahmmon Richards, running back Mark Walton and kicker Michael Badgley were selected to the All-ACC Preseason Team. All four Canes have also been nominated for major college awards.
Walton finished a close second to reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson for ACC Player of the Year. Jackson is from Pompano Beach and a sophomore at Louisville. Walton, a junior, is out of Miami Booker T. Washington High. Jackson’s 132 votes led Walton by only five votes.
“It’s good that people appreciate the talent base we have and what these guys have done so far in their careers to get people to think about them that way,’’ Richt said. “I always say to the team that almost every one of those awards go to teams that win a lot. Even the Heisman. Has there been even one guy who won the Heisman and wasn’t on a winning team?”
Earlier this week, the ACC announced that UM was projected by the media to win the league’s Coastal Division and face Florida State in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 2 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“It makes me happy,’’ said Jackson, who noted he has to work on his “speed, get-off on the ball” and “technique.’’
“Without a doubt we can do it,’’ he said.
Cager, a redshirt sophomore listed as 6-5 and 218 pounds, said he’s feeling good and excited to get going when practice starts Aug. 1.
“I’m doing everything I could before,’’ Cager said, “almost better than I was. My knee is feeling great and I’m just happy to be back. I’ve been away from the game for way too long so every moment I have right now is a blessing.’’
Cager said he expects Richt to be cautious. “Obviously coach Richt expressed a lot of precaution because he really doesn’t want anything else to happen to me. But I have trust in the coaches that they’re going to look after me and monitor what I do. If they say I can do everything then I’m more than happy to do everything.’’