Oh, to be a freshman at the University of Miami.
According to players, coaches and insiders, this crop of 2018 freshman Canes is extremely talented. But no matter how highly touted, each newcomer is going through growing pains. The game is faster. The veterans are bigger and stronger. The learning curve is tough.
Take new fullback Realus George. Out of Atlanta Pace Academy, he’s listed as 6-2, 255 pounds and was rated by Rivals.com as the nation’s No. 1 prep fullback. ESPN and 247Sports had him as the nation’s second-best fullback.
But at some point since UM fall camp begin last Saturday, George got drilled by one or more Canes linebackers— the starting three (Michael Pinckney, Shaq Quarterman and Zach McCloud) considered one of the best trios in the nation.
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“Realus has the physical tools, he’s big enough,’’ UM offensive coordinator Thomas Brown told reporters on Tuesday after fall camp session No. 4. “Doesn’t get it here yet. It’s about the mentality.
“In high school he was 40 pounds bigger than everybody else. These linebackers will knock you slap out and I don’t think he realizes that yet. He got a little wake up call yesterday and hopefully that’s the last time that’s going to happen.
“But it’s hard to play the fullback position. It’s a different spot, a different mentality. He has the physical tool, but he just has to get a lot stronger. He’s a big dude size-wise, but strength is going to definitely take some time to catch up to.
For now, indicated Brown, Trayone Gray is the only viable option the Canes have.
Gray is a 6-2, 240-pound fifth-year senior out of Miami Carol City High School. He has stayed the course since coming to Miami as a high school quarterback who rushed for 1,121 yardsw and 11 touchdowns as a senior, and passes for 807 yards and nine touchdowns.
Gray sat out his junior season after tearing his ACL in August 2016. His UM career numbers, most of them as a tailback: 211 yards on 36 rushes for a 5.9-yard average. He has three touchdowns.
Some notables from Thomas:
▪ “We’ve got some super, super tough dudes on offense, but not enough of them -- a handful of guys who come out every single day and they’re physical, mentally tough and they finish everything. Those guys have to command that from the rest of the group so we can bring it every day as a whole, as a unit. We have some really bright moments and some really terrible moments...’’
▪ “It’s early, but [tight ends] Brevin Jordan [and] Will Mallory are going to be really good for us. Those guys are rotating and playing a bunch for us. Still got to learn what to do and got to grow up in a hurry, but they have flashes of some great plays.’’
▪ [Freshman tailback] Cam Davis has flashes, but he don’t get it yet. Obviously, he’s the newest [running back] to get here. Just from a how-do-you-do-stuff practice wise, how we finish stuff, the mindset we have every day, he has a long way to with that. But he’s got really good ball skills, runs the ball well.
▪ Freshman offensive lineman DJ Scaife, a 6-3, 300-pound, former four-star recruit out of Miami Southridge, “is definitely pushing behind’’ the starting five offensive linemen “to possibly’’ be “the sixth guy in that rotation.’’