University of Miami

‘That man’s a hero.’ UM center remembers slain coach as Parkland kids return to school

Aaron Feis
Aaron Feis Courtesy photo

Corey Gaynor is working hard to solidify his spot as backup center to UM senior standout Tyler Gauthier.

On Wednesday, sweat pouring down on another brutally hot summer day at Greentree Field, Gaynor spoke about how hard he and the other linemen are working this camp, how he plays for his family, and especially his father — “I love to make my dad proud all the time”— and on a somber note, how his thoughts are with his alma mater.

Gaynor, a sophomore, was a star lineman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, where his offensive line coach for four years was Aaron Feis, the brave man who died while helping to shield students from gunfire during the mass shooting last February when 17 people were killed. Wednesday was the first day of school in Broward County.

“My thoughts and prayers are over there all the time,’’ Gaynor said. “It’s a day you’ll never forget. But when you step on the football field, that’s something you have to forget. And now that I’m off the football field, that’s something I can definitely think about, talk to Coach Willis May about. It’s just…I’m proud of everybody at that school. We’re starting back up again, MSD Strong.”

Gaynor said that his cousin Gage Gaynor is an offensive lineman for the Stoneman Douglas Eagles.

005 Corey Gaynor DS
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School offensive guard/center Corey Gaynor get a kiss from his mom Tracy during the announcement of his commitment to the University of Miami, during National Signing Day on Wed., Feb. 1, 2017, at his high school in Parkland. David Santiago

“Yes, I’ve been back,’’ he said. “I was actually back a couple weeks ago. They were doing summer workouts and it’s just crazy to see how much stronger they are as a family. ...It’s awesome to see.”

Gaynor said he knew Feis “for a very long time.’’

“My brother [Chris], he was a junior at Douglas when I was in eighth grade, so I got to meet Coach Feis then. So I’ve known him for five years. It’s a very tough loss.

“Great guy,’’ Gaynor said. “Everything you’ve read is him. That man’s a hero.”

Funeral for Aaron Feis, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School security guard and assistant football coach who died while shielding students from the shooter, February 14. The funeral was held at the Church by the Glades in Coral Springs, Florid

Regarding the UM offensive line and loss of former backup George Brown Jr. to knee surgery, Gaynor said that the situation “obviously’’ affects depth.

“The 2s, we shuffle around. But we’re working well. The goal is to find the five best starters and then the second five behind them, and I feel like that’s our job every day, to work to become a starter while pushing the older guys as well.”

On Wednesday, and earlier this week, true freshman DJ Scaife had been playing in Brown’s spot on the second team behind starting left tackle Tyree St. Louis.

UM freshman quarterback Jarren Williams, who missed most of practice Tuesday while being examined by Hurricanes medical staff, has an abdominal strain, UM coach Mark Richt told the Miami Herald on Wednesday afternoon during a one-on-one chat. Richt said Williams was sore, but that he practiced Wednesday and should be fine.

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