University of Miami

The showdown with FIU just got more challenging for Hurricanes with latest injury news

UM linebacker Shaquille Quarterman on injured Cane Jaquan Johnson

Miami Hurricanes linebacker Shaquille Quarterman talks about the injury to teammate Jaquan Johnson in the game against Toledo Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Toledo, Ohio.
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Miami Hurricanes linebacker Shaquille Quarterman talks about the injury to teammate Jaquan Johnson in the game against Toledo Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Toledo, Ohio.

Two of the best athletes and a freshman quarterback on the No. 21 University of Miami football team will not play in the game Saturday against FIU.

Receiver Ahmmon Richards and safety Jaquan Johnson were ruled out by coach Mark Richt on Thursday because of injuries.

Richards, a junior who was an All-American freshman but missed much of last season with ankle, knee and hamstring injuries, sustained a knee injury in the LSU opener and has not played since that UM loss. He has only one catch this season.

Johnson, a senior preseason AP All-American, left the Toledo game with a hamstring injury just before halftime. After he left, the Rockets began to get big chunks of yardage, scored before the half, then scored another two touchdowns and a field goal to come within seven points twice.

Sophomore safety Amari Carter will take Johnson’s place Saturday in the game in which UM is a 26 1/2-point favorite.

Also, don’t expect to see true freshman quarterback Jarren Williams in this game. Williams did not practice the past couple days, Richt said, because of a recurring abdominal strain that he sustained during fall camp.

He has “a little bit of a chronic abdominal strain,’’ the coach said Thursday. “We just don’t want to make it worse, so we shut it down the last couple days.’’

Williams has played in one game and has completed one of three passes for 17 yards. He also ran for a 2-yard touchdown.

DOUBLE TROUBLE

UM fans no doubt are loving the Hurricanes’ two newest tight ends.

What they’re probably not loving is that true freshmen Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory, who have played in all three games and were considered two of the top three tight ends in the nation when they arrived this summer, have no active backups on scholarship.

After the Canes (2-1) on Tuesday announced that sophomore Brian Polendey sustained a season-ending knee injury and would undergo surgery, becoming the second tight end this season — the first was junior Michael Irvin II — with a major knee injury, it became evident that UM needs to bolster that position in a hurry.

Think double trouble.

“Were trying it two years in a row,’’ UM tight ends coach Todd Hartley said Tuesday night on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline. “We have one young man who is already committed to play for us who we think is one heck of a ball player. And we have a couple other targets that we really, really want who we think will come in and do the same thing that Brevin and Will are doing.

“You hope Mike and Brian come back healthy... But you just never know about these knee injuries. So, you’ve got to recruit like you don’t have them. We need to sign two more this [December or in February of 2019] to get our depth back right. We’re sure shooting for two.”

NCAA rules prevent coaches from naming specific recruits, but the tight end who has committed to the 2019 UM signing class is three-star Tampa Jesuit player Larry Hodges, listed as 6-2 and 234 pounds by Rivals.com. He’s rated the No. 25 tight end by 247Sports and No. 22 by Rivals.

One tight end the Canes are heavily targeting is 6-3, 215-pound four-star prospect Keon Zipperer of Lakeland High, rated by 247Sports as the nation’s fourth-best tight end. But some believe Zipperer will end up with the Florida Gators. He’s also eyeing Alabama, among a long list of major programs that want him.

247Sports also listed 6-5, 235-pound prospect Jalen Wydermyer of Dickinson (Texas) High as a three-star possibility for the Canes. He’s listed as the nation’s No. 19 prospect at the position, according to the composite ranking, and No. 16 by Rivals, which rates him a four-star player.

Hartley said teams usually just sign one tight end a year, occasionally two.

The fact they somehow signed the two exceptional talents of Jordan and Mallory in 2018 was extraordinary.

“Usually, when you bring one really highly-ranked player in you kind of scare away the other guy,’’ Hartley told broadcaster Joe Zagacki of Hurricane Hotline. “It just so happened these two guys believed in what we were doing and became great friends in the recruiting process.’’

”..Buddy, they can’t hide now. There’s nowhere to go but on the field. It’s disheartening, sad and disappointing,’’ the coach said of losing Polendey. “We’ve been kind of snake-bit since Thanksgiving [with] three season-ending knee injuries in our unit — Herndon, Irvin, Polendey. That’s almost catastrophic.’’

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