University of Miami quarterback Malik Rosier stood at the lectern Saturday after his team’s 41-8 blowout over then-No. 3 Notre Dame, answering questions about the program’s most momentous victory in more than a decade.
What did he think, someone asked, of receiver Braxton Berrios’ first-quarter “touchdown celebration,’’ in which the senior put his head down and clasped his hands behind his back as if he were in handcuffs while he jogged toward his teammates – sarcastically playing off the UM-Irish rivalry’s “Catholics vs. Convicts’’ theme that spawned an ESPN 30 for 30 film last year?
“Honestly, I didn’t see it until I got in the locker room and everyone told me about it,’’ Rosier said. “It was actually kind of funny. They call us convicts, but I think we’re No. 1 with community service, so you can’t really say that.
“I don’t think convicts do that – willingly at least.”
The media, and Rosier, broke into laughter. But Rosier meant what he said. The No. 2 Canes (9-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) are known nationally for their volunteer work, including being ranked No. 3 last April in the NCAA Team Works Helper Helper Community Service Competition.
The quarterback pointed to some of his teammates’ community efforts, such as the foundation belonging to defensive end Demetrius “D-Jax” Jackson.
“There are so many guys giving back,’’ Rosier said. “You can call us thugs, call us convicts, but at the end of the day that’s not who we are and that’s not what we represent.’’
On Monday, Jackson, who had season-ending knee surgery last week and is UM’s reigning Hurricanes’ Community Service Man of the Year, was with tight end Christopher Herndon and defensive linemen Chad Thomas, Trent Harris, Kendrick Norton and Pat Bethel, handing out turkeys at Jackson’s former Phillis Wheatley Elementary in Overtown.
They then went to Horace Mann Middle School.
Jackson has his own nonprofit foundation, Young Men of Tomorrow, to help youngsters and their families in the community, and was able to garner more than 60 turkeys through the generosity of Canes fans and community members, according to InsidetheU.com.
“It was an awesome event for Mr. Jackson to give back to his former elementary school,’’ Phillis Wheatley principal Cathy Williams told the Miami Herald by phone. “He gave 15 turkeys and canned goods away to some of our neediest families and they were very appreciative. Just an awesome event for kids to see they are important as students to someone other than family members and the school.
“This month our core value is citizenship, and Mr. Jackson exemplifies what it is to be a good citizen, one that gives back to the community and one that goes above and beyond and wants to help his fellow man.
“No matter how successful you are in life, you still can help those who are needy.’’
On Saturday night after the game, Berrios described his low-key dramatization as “fun,’’ but still a message that the Hurricanes are not the old, stereotypical “thugs’’ that many football fans make them out to be.
“Honestly, all week, and actually it was kind of Thursday-Friday [I thought of the idea] and it was like, you know what, kind of the same thing as UNC,’’ Berrios said of when he slowly and conspicuously threw up the U after a touchdown in Chapel Hill because some Tar Heels mockingly displayed the inverted U during last year’s rout over UM. “You can label us what you want, you can say whatever you want about us. At the end of the day, we’re going to make you respect us.
“So, if you want us to play that, we can play that. But I was having fun.”
UM coach Mark Richt talked about the Catholics vs. Convicts subject Monday during his weekly interview with 560 WQAM’s Joe Rose and Zach Krantz.
Does that stuff bother Richt or any of the players?
“I guess some of the players will get all caught up in it,’’ Richt said. “We didn’t talk about it. I never once mentioned it at all. All I mentioned was lining up and getting after people. A couple of the guys made some references to it and I know some of the fan base did.
“But I think that’s dying away as far as some type of motivating factor. People want to live in the past a lot but we’re just trying to live in the future and do the best we can do.”
▪ The newest College Football Playoff rankings will be announced live on ESPN at 9 p.m. Tuesday. UM is currently No. 7.
▪ The ACC announced that UM’s final regular-season game at Pittsburgh the day after Thanksgiving will kick off at noon and be televised by ABC. UM’s noon home game Saturday against Virginia (6-4, 3-3) also is on ABC.