University of Miami

Stacy Coley leads infusion of freshman talent for Miami Hurricanes

Running back Eduardo Clements said the offense won Sunday’s scrimmage.

Linebacker Jimmy Gaines concurred with a pained smile.

But what Miami coach Al Golden mentioned Tuesday were some freshmen who lived up to their pre-Hurricanes hype.

“It was nice to see some of the young guys,” said Golden. “The moment wasn’t too big for them.”

Freshman Stacy Coley, the second-fastest Hurricane with 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash and hands like oversized magnets, appears to be, indeed, special. But UM offensive coordinator James Coley, who came from Florida State and was instrumental in the younger Coley’s decision to choose Miami over FSU, has the intricate job of cultivating that talent while, to some extent, reining it in.

“You jab at them at meetings but then you bring them over to the side and love them up and then you put them back on the field and then you rip them a little bit,” the elder Coley said of some high school superstars. “Eventually, they’re like, ‘OK, this isn’t recruiting anymore’ – just joking. “Eventually they’re like, ‘OK, I understand. I’m one of the guys.’ And that’s what it is. Everybody is one of the guys. There isn’t anybody above anyone else.’’

By all accounts, Coley, Broward County’s top 2012 high school player who was rated by ESPN as the nation’s fourth best wideout, had an excellent scrimmage Sunday. But his offensive coordinator indicated that like many highly touted freshmen, Coley needs to realize he’s just one component in a machine with many parts.

“He’s a young guy who has to continue to push and work hard,’’ the coach said of the Oakland Park Northeast High graduate. “He’s not scared to go in and play and when the ball is thrown to him he catches it. But just learning, with our style of offense, the whole process – that he’s part of a concept, not the entire concept,’’ is something the offensive coordinator indicated was crucial.

“If the read goes to him,’’ Coley said, “obviously he needs to be where he needs to be at.”

On media day Friday, Coley, 6-1 and 180 pounds, said his biggest adjustment in his short time at UM has been to the speed of the game.

“The tempo is really fast so we’ve got to pick it up and just go with it,’’ Coley said. “I feel great about myself. I’m learning the plays. The older guys are helping me with everything.’’

Clements, who returned from a herniated disk in his neck to score a 6-yard touchdown Sunday, noted that since Coley “stepped on campus,’’ he has done “everything right.’’

Golden named other freshmen who excelled Sunday, including defensive end Al Quadin-Muhammad, linebacker Jermaine Grace, cornerback Artie Burns and linebacker Alex Figueroa. He also praised kicker Matt Goudis (3-for-3 on field goals, and all over 40 yards), defensive end Anthony Chickillo and defensive tackle Olsen Pierre.

As for senior quarterback Stephen Morris, Golden said a “couple times he didn’t have the type of balance he wanted and he missed some throws. The timing wasn’t there on every throw. When the bullets are flying live for the first time, sometimes that happens. Expect him to do better [in the scrimmage] Friday night.’’

On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said he wants to see improvement in “open-field tackling and pursuit’’ and mentioned pass-rushers Tyriq McCord and Muhammad as “probably our fastest guys off the edge.’’

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