As of Monday morning, University of Miami defensive tackles RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton were still undecided about their futures — or at least they hadn’t made their decisions public.
Minutes after football coach Mark Richt spoke to Joe Rose on WQAM, McIntosh’s father, Richard, told the Miami Herald that his son and Norton, both juniors, still haven’t even told the family whether they intend to enter the NFL Draft or stay for their senior seasons at Miami.
“It’s just undecided,” Richard McIntosh said. “That’s what the problem is. They’re talking a lot to each other but they decided to sleep on it again. When they get up, hopefully that decision will be made. I understand it’s a difficult decision.”
McIntosh told the Herald on Saturday night that he, RJ, Richt, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and line coach Craig Kuligowski met late that afternoon to discuss the situation.
“It was a real good meeting, and they really gave the boys something to think about,” the elder McIntosh said Monday. “If I had to bet, they would have made their decision by now. But because of the meeting, they haven’t.”
After the Saturday meeting, the three UM coaches went to Norton’s mother’s home in Jacksonville, Richard McIntosh said, to discuss the same situation. Richard said his son and Norton would make the same decision, regardless of what it is.
“I just told my wife, ‘It’s [the NFL] a dream they’ve been dreaming about for a long time, and it’s tangible, right in your face.’ But at the same time, I would love to see them at UM next year.’’
When asked by Rose for “good news” about the situation, here’s what Richt said:
“We’ve had a chance to talk, and I thought the time we spent went well. I think they’re just trying to figure out what’s best. That was the whole goal of the meetings, just to try to give them the best information possible, give them the most NFL information as possible and then just talk about how the draft works and how second contracts work and all those types of things.
“Just get all the information. Talk about what it’s like to leave with your degree in your hand, talk about what it’s like to be a leader on your team and have a chance to possibly get in the [playoffs]. You know, we all smelled the playoffs, we didn’t quite get there.
“It’s probably something that every young man would love to experience during his time in college.”
Did Richt and the other coaches “have a good feel when they walked out?” Rose asked.
“I think they definitely have some things to think about and pray about and decide,” Richt replied. “It’s truly a family decision. Like we told them, ‘We’re not mad if you decide to go. We just want you to be able to make the decision based on the best available information and do what’s best for you.’’
McIntosh, 6-4 and 293 pounds, is a junior out of Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons. He played in all 13 games this past season and had 52 tackles, leading the team (along with Chad Thomas) in tackles for loss with 12.5. He had 2.5 sacks, seven pass breakups, four quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and fumble recovery.
Norton, 6-3 and 312 pounds, is a junior out of Jacksonville Trinity Christian. He also played in all 13 games and had 26 tackles, with 6.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and a breakup and quarterback hurry.
Later in the radio interview, Richt discussed his former team Georgia in the national championship Monday night against Alabama, and he made sure to talk about his former Georgia running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, as well as defensive stars Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter returning for their senior seasons.
“I’m happy for them to be able to experience what they’re going to get to experience tonight,” Richt said. “So, I wish them well. You talk about Sony and you talk about Nick. There are two guys who could have easily been drafted this last cycle, the last draft. And they said, ‘You know what? We’re coming back. We want to win a championship.’
“And there are a couple D-ends there, Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter, a couple guys that had draft grades as well. They could have gone to the NFL and they said, ‘No, we’re staying. We want to win.’ I’m hoping that spreads locally here.”
Added Richt about his former Dawgs: “It is fun to see those guys have success. They’re an awesome bunch of guys. I’m truly happy for those guys. I’m happy for the Georgia coaches. I’ve got nothing against those guys. They’re great guys. They’re doing a good job.
“And the Georgia people, we were part of the fabric of that team for 15 seasons.”