Miami Hurricanes freshman Brevin Jordan didn’t know how to react when teammate and fellow tight end Michael Irvin II went down with a right knee injury early in fall camp.
The veteran had served as a valuable mentor to the rookie, with Irvin helping Jordan adjust to life as a college football player and as a student-athlete.
“Losing Mike, we lost so much help at the tight end position,” Jordan said. “It was just a sad feeling.”
But with that injury comes an opportunity for both Jordan and fellow freshman Will Mallory.
The one-two tight end punch, already expected to receive playing time during their freshman season, will now be pushed into the spotlight to open their Hurricanes’ careers.
Their first test is a big one with the No. 8 Hurricanes opening against No. 25 LSU on Sunday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, as part of the AdvoCare Classic.
“There’s nobody else,” tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Mike Hartley said. “They better get used to it.”
If they can live high to their hype coming out of high school, the fresh-faced tight ends should be just fine.
Jordan, out of Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman, came in as the 247Sports composite rankings’ top-ranked tight end in the class of 2018. He likens his game to NFL tight ends Travis Kelcee and Delanie Walker — he wants to “excel in the blocking game and the run game and the pass game, but also be a guy that can split out wide, play in the slot, catch bubbles, do everything, take a bubble 40 yards.”
Mallory, from Jacksonville, came in close behind Jordan in the recruiting rankings, clocking in as 247Sprots’ No. 8 overall tight end in last year’s class. At 6-5 and 230 pounds, he’s a big-bodied receiver known for his soft hands who is working to improve his in-line blocking.
He also made a highlight grab in the Hurricanes’ first fall scrimmage. As Jordan recalls the play, Mallory ran a sail route and the pass to him was underthrown. The freshman made the instinctual play and caught the ball off a defender’s helmet.
“It was crazy,” Jordan said. “Ridiculous.”
The duo hopes more plays like that come their way.
Their goal: Add to UM’s legacy of producing NFL-caliber tight ends. The short list of Canes at that position to make it to the professional level includes Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow II, Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham and most recently David Njoku and Chris Herndon.
“We’re a two-headed monster, no doubt,” Jordan said. “We’re going to be gross. For sure.”
Mallory added: “You have two really big athletes who can both do the same things and different things on the field. Having us both together on the field will be a mismatch for defenses. The way the coaches want to use us will be a really, really good fit and kind of scary for other people.’‘
But while the potential is there, Jordan and Mallory still lack the in-game experience that Irvin provided, that veteran presence that comes with being around the program for two years.
“When Michael leaves and Michael has surgery and Michael’s not around, they don’t have that upperclassman presence to show them just how to run from drill to drill,” Hartley said. “You’ve got coaches yelling and barking, but one of the best things a young kid can have is an upperclassman just to model and look up to. They don’t have that right now.
“They understand that if they’re not in the game, then nobody’s in the game because they’re all we’ve got.”
With that, it’s trial by fire for now with the two newcomers. Already high expectations have likely been heightened a bit, too. And they’re OK with that. After all, this is what they’ve been working toward their whole lives.
Their dreams will become reality on Sunday night when they walk into the packed AT&T Stadium ready to begin their college careers.
“I came here to play,” Jordan said. “I didn’t come here to sit behind anybody, so that pressure has always been there. Nothing’s changed. I’m coming in with the same approach.”
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