University of Miami

Serious knee injuries for UM tight ends mean Canes will recruit two more for 2019

Hurricanes’ offensive coordinator on loss of tight end to injury

UM offensive coordinator Thomas Brown discusses the loss of tight end Brian Polendey to season-ending surgery.
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UM offensive coordinator Thomas Brown discusses the loss of tight end Brian Polendey to season-ending surgery.

University of Miami 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 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.

“They’re up and coming. It’s Tight End University,’’ Wydermyer previously told Canesport.com. “It’s something I can be a part of and I know coach Hartley can get me right if I go there.’’

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 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 and really hit it off since Day One.

“We really liked the mold we had when we had [former UM tight ends] Chris Herndon and David Njoku [and] had a recruiting plan that we wanted to kind of recruit back to that mold. We identified Brevin as a kid that was very closely related to Chris Herndon as far as skill set is concerned [and] identified Mallory as somebody being very similar to David Njoku.

“Buddy, they can’t hide now,’’ Hartley said. “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.’’

Herndon is a rookie with the New York Jets.

Jordan now has seven catches for 52 yards and two touchdowns. Mallory, with one catch for a 2-yard touchdown, has also had significant playing time.

“If you look at Brevin in the first three games he’s averaging about 70 a plays a game on offense, near the top of the team...’’ Hartley said. “Brian was spelling those guys late in the game. Now they’re going to have to play from start to finish.”

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