University of Miami

Mark Richt says UM safety is 'the nicest player in America,' but 'the meanest' as well

UM sophomore-to-be safety Amari Carter (5) holds a sledge hammer after UM defeated Bethune-Cookman 41-13 in its season opener last September. UM coach Mark Richt thinks Carter is an elite player on the field and the nicest guy off it.
UM sophomore-to-be safety Amari Carter (5) holds a sledge hammer after UM defeated Bethune-Cookman 41-13 in its season opener last September. UM coach Mark Richt thinks Carter is an elite player on the field and the nicest guy off it. adiaz@miamiherald.com

University of Miami coach Mark Richt, nearly his entire coaching staff and several Miami Hurricanes — many of them from Palm Beach County — hit Lake Lytal Park in West Palm Beach on Friday for a free satellite camp for about 250 enthusiastic youngsters.

"I’ve learned this over the years: When players do something for somebody who can’t help them back, it blesses them more than who they’re trying to bless,'' Richt said.

One of those players, UM sophomore safety Amari Carter, grew up in Riviera Beach and was shown plenty of love in a warm welcome by members of the Riviera Beach Chargers youth football program, the same one he played with from age 5 tol 13. Carter, a solid 6-2, 197-pounder out of Palm Beach Gardens High, is a hard-hitting star in the making who should amply compensate for current All-American safety Jaquan Johnson, a senior who could have turned pro but wants to win a title.

"A great example of what comes out of Palm Beach County and out of these parks,'' Richt said of Carter, who played in all 13 games as a freshman and had 26 tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks, a quarterback hurry and forced fumble. "Great player. He’s the nicest kid in America when you meet him, but he’s maybe the meanest player on the field when it comes to stroking somebody.

Miami Hurricanes safety Amari Carter is given warm welcome by Riviera Chargers youth football players who attended a free camp in West Palm Beach on Friday, June 8, 2018.

"Football is a physical game. It’s about hitting people and driving through people and he does that in a really spectacular way."

Carter said this summer is about improving in every way.

"Hard work in the weight room, knowing that every rep counts, every sprint counts,'' he said. "Right now it’s a mind-set thing... You can’t take this rep off, you can’t come in last. Just try to push yourself to get better. … I want to be that guy, whatever that guy has to do for the time or that play that needs to be called. I want the coaches to have confidence in me to be able to do it."

Also speaking to the media was junior receiver Ahmmon Richards, who said as of two weeks ago, he felt 100-percent healthy to be a force again after a severe hamstring injury, meniscus surgery toward the end of the season and even a high-ankle sprain marred his sophomore season on the heels of an All-American campaign in 2016.

Said Richt of Richards: "If Ahmmon can stay healthy, and that’s true of everybody, I can’t imagine him doing anything less than he did his freshman year, which was phenomenal... I can easily see him get over 1,000 [yards in 2018] and who knows how many touchdowns.

"...It’s really confidence-gaining time, confidence that [his] leg is fine. He had a hamstring issue and then he had a knee issue. Now he’s got full-go as far as our training staff is concerned. Now it’s got to be, 'Get the reps, get the confidence and the condition it takes' and he’ll do great.''

Strong-side linebacker Zach McCloud, who badly hurt his left wrist during the spring and missed most of spring practice, was at the event. He said he has gained about 10 pounds and is up to 240 pounds of good weight. But it's still unknown if he will be ready for the start of fall camp.

"Right now it seems like it’s trial and error,'' said McCloud, who is lifitng weights. "It will probably be another month before we know for sure. They don’t want to give me a CT scan now and not be able to get another scan later and know what’s up. We’ll know in about a month whether or not I’ll be going full-go before camp starts."

More, from Richt:

▪ "The last week of June and first week of July is going to be a discretionary period for us. We’re not going to be with them and they’re not going to be with us. They’re going to have a little bit of a break in the action. They’ll still have some classes. Through the Fourth of July holiday, there will be some time away from us as coaches, which I think is healthy for them. But when we get back, that’s when I think the intensity comes up. I’ve always told my wife, ‘After the Fourth of July, I can’t keep my mind off of football.’ But between now and then I’m trying to have a little bit of balance.

"We’re working with them eight hours a week, which we’re allowed to do, two hours of which can be meetings and walk-throughs, and there’s time they get the ball out there and do it on their own. It’ a great time for us to install and reinforce but it’s also a great time for them to take over the leadership of the team when we’re not out there."

Richt's expectations for 2018?

"Every year, we expect to win every game we play. The goal is to win. We train every day to get back to Charlotte and win the game when we get there. And hopefully that will be good enough to get in the playoff because that’s kind of a subjective thing. More than likely, if you get to Charlotte and win that game you’ll be in the playoffs."

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