His father is a University of Miami legend.
So it’s understandable that University of Miami sophomore Michael Irvin II would be scrutinized a bit closer than the usual Hurricanes battling for playing time.
And after some questionable reports from coaches regarding the younger Irvin, whose father Michael Irvin is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Canes tight end coach Todd Hartley divulged some uplifting news Friday for fans who feared they might only have one significant tight end this season after David Njoku left for the Cleveland Browns.
Michael II has made great improvements the past couple weeks, indicated Hartley, and has solidified a spot as the No. 2 Canes tight end.
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“Those two right now are head and shoulders above the rest,’’ Hartley said of talented senior starter Chris Herndon and Irvin.
Hartley mentioned “maturity,’’ when asked what he’s seen lately from Irvin to make him feel better about him. “He’s matured and [is] really focused. He missed some time early on with a little deal and it was tough because he needs those reps – just from an experience standpoint, he needs reps. Coming back, he’s a very intelligent kid and just getting out there and getting into condition’’ has been beneficial, according to Hartley, “because he was out of shape.
“He’s done a nice job the last couple of weeks.’’
Because Irvin II, out of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas High School, came into fall camp poorly conditioned, he couldn’t string together reps, Hartley previously said. “He’s got to be able to go four, five, six plays in a row without tapping the helmet [to be removed from play],’’ Hartley said earlier in camp. “That’s something we’ve told him. Chris Herndon can’t go the whole time. Chris can go eight plays in a row, but hell, I can’t have him go 10, 12 plays in a row.’’
Irvin, a three-star prospect out of St. Thomas with soft hands and a good mind, is listed as 6-3 and 248 pounds. He played in six games last season but did not record any stats.
Senior Herndon, a soft-spoken. 6-4, 252-pounder out of Norcross, Georgia, started 12 of 13 games last season, with 28 catches for 334 yards and two touchdowns. Irvin making improvements means the Canes can depend more readily on their two tight-end package.
Irvin was held out of multiple practices this fall because of the conditioning, “dehydration” problem, coach Mark Richt said.
Walk-on Malik Curry played ahead of Irvin earlier in camp.
“We just have to make sure he’s healthy before we get him out there full speed,’’ Richt previously said. “…I’m not going to get into it.’’
Irvin, whose father was a receiver at UM from 1985 to 87, already had problems maturity-wise, as he was one of seven players suspended for the Russell Athletic Bowl “for failing to meet the standards of expectations set by the program.’’
“There might have been one guy who absolutely had to [be suspended] by some type of a policy,’’ Richt said at the bowl, “but it’s more so me sending a message to guys just saying, ‘Tighten up. Do things right.’ A lot of it is little things. It’s a message to them and to the other guys that we’re going to do things right around here.’’
▪ Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz named redshirt junior Mike Smith as a starting linebacker along with usual starters Shaq Quarterman and Zach McCloud. Usual weak-side backer Michael Pinckney is suspended for the first half of the opener against Bethune-Cookman because he was called for targeting in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Pinckney also missed several days of fall camp because of a hamstring injury.
▪ Diaz said his top three safeties are Jaquan Johnson, Sheldrick Redwine and Robert Knowles. He said Dee Delaney and Michael Jackson will start at cornerback, with others, such as Malek Young, rotating in.
▪ Hartley said Braxton Berrios, Travis Homer, Malek Young, Mike Harley, Jeff Thomas and DeeJay Dallas are in the kickoff rotation. He said the punting is neck-and-neck between Zach Feagles and Jack Spicer, in part because Feagles is a newcomer.