University of Miami middle linebacker Shaq Quarterman is still thinking national championship.
Strong-side starter Zach McCloud is thinking of the next guy in line gunning for his job.
And Demetrius Jackson declared Wednesday that this defensive line could be “Great.’’
“Good is not in our vocabulary this year,’’ Jackson said.
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Day Two of Hurricanes fall camp featured some of UM’s defensive leaders and their always colorful, tell-it-like-it-is coordinator, Manny Diaz.
What’s the next step Diaz would like his defense to take after last year’s breakout season?
“Win us games,’’ the coach said.
“First and foremost, we can never forget the main thing, which is to uphold the legacy of what it means to play defense at the University of Miami and those things that are the non-negotiables. But now, if we felt like last year’s defense accomplished that mission… we have to win more games.”
Quarterman wants to win that national title ring, one he has talked about since last year.
“We haven’t really accomplished anything,’’ Quarterman said after another 85-degree practice at Greentree Field. “We want a ring. As long as we don’t have that, we haven’t won anything. We won the Russell Athletic Bowl. The Russell Athletic Bowl. We’re trying to go something way bigger than that.”
According to UM, Miami’s defense brings back 13 players with a combined 122 career starts. Quarterman, a 2016 freshman All-American who had 84 tackles,10 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and a defensive touchdown, said the leap in progress this season could be “monumental.’’
He has lost 15 pounds from his 250-pound playing weight last year, calling the lost baggage his biggest improvement since then.
“You know, fatigue is a real cancer when you’re trying to play this game,’’ Quarterman said. “The fact I lost a lot of weight, and I’m still building that football endurance, I’m really, really excited about that. Trying to see how this 235 moves around now, as opposed to 250.’’
Despit their proficiency, Quarterman and McCloud are looking ahead – and behind their backs.
“We all push each other,’’ said McCloud, who has junior Charles Perry and freshman De’Andre Wilder behind him. “Coach told us yesterday, ‘You go to the League, you have to take another man’s job to be able to have your own job.’ It’s the same thing here. You gotta take my job or I have to take their job to be able to play.’’
McCloud was asked if he ever felt worried about that.
“It’s breathing down my neck,’’ he replied.
Tight end Michael Irvin returned to practice, but still appeared to be in some type of discomfort. Coach Mark Richt won’t address the media again until Friday…6-6, 287-pound freshman offensive lineman Zalon’tae Hillery was not at the media viewing Wednesday. Richt said on Tuesday he was not at full go – nor is freshman line backer Waynmon Steed.
Freshman running back Robert Burns (shoulder) practiced again in a green, noncontact jersey.
The order of quarterbacks during early viewing: redshirt junior Malik Rosier, redshirt sophomore Evan Shirreffs, freshman Cade Weldon and freshman N’Kosi Perry.
Diaz praised Quarterman’s backup Smith, saying he “has made massive improvements as a linebacker.’’ He acknowledged that Smith will be used as a fullback when needed, necessitating that Smith spend some time learning the offense.
Diaz added that new transfer cornerbacks Jhavonte Dean and Dee Delaney “have the talent we expected. Now what they’re learning in a crash course is how we operate and how we work.’’ He noted that “the standard of major college football’’ requires a lot more than “just being tall and fast.’’
Thursday, the players will don shoulder pads for the first time in camp and have limited contact – “thudding’’ – Richt calls it.