Where have all the tight ends gone at the University of Miami?
Freshman Will Mallory is the latest victim of a physical ailment — this one an eye infection — which prevented him from practicing this week and will likely, barring an “emergency,’’ coach Mark Richt said Thursday, keep him out of the home game Saturday against Duke.
Undoubtedly talented fellow freshman Brevin Jordan, who, like all freshmen, has made some mistakes as he learns along the way, is now the only healthy tight end on the Hurricanes’ roster.
“We’re going to have doctors check up on him again tomorrow,’’ Richt said Thursday. “Normally we won’t play a guy if he doesn’t practice. This is kind of an interesting situation as far as the depth at tight end right now obviously is an issue.
“...If the doctors say [Mallory] could go I would probably put him in an emergency situation.. [Tight ends][ coach [Todd] Hartley has been skyping him, or whatever he’s been doing, and trying to get him up to speed on the game plan. So we’re trying to prepare him in case of emergency.
“It’s very, I would say, pretty doubtful.”
Keep in mind that Mallory is Jordan’s roommate, “so we got him out of there as fast as we could, or at least, got one or the other out of there as fast as we could, and had everything cleaned up [and] sanitized in the dorm or wherever they’re staying,’’ Richt said. “We think we’ve taken all the precautions. Fortunately, Brevin didn’t get any of it, at least to this point, and they’ll be staying far enough away from each other that it shouldn’t happen.”
Jordan has the most receptions for the Hurricanes, with 26 for 244 yards and four touchdowns in eight games.
Mallory has one catch this season for a 2-yard touchdown.
So, what happened to the others?
Last year’s top tight end, Chris Herndon, tore the MCL of his left knee going into the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game, but was subsequently drafted by the New York Jets, who, by the way, visit Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday to play the Dolphins.
For the record, Herndon now has 12 catches for 161 yards and three touchdowns. The Canes could have used him against Clemson in that ACC title game.
In September, the Hurricanes announced that 6-6, 245-pound sophomore tight end Brian Polendey would undergo surgery for a right knee injury and would be sidelined for the remainder of the season. He played in UM’s first two games this season, catching one pass for 14 yards.
The Canes (5-3, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) previously this preseason had lost junior tight end Michael Irvin II to knee surgery. Irvin was expected to be out at least four months, and possibly return for a bowl game. But Richt announced on Wednesday that Irvin is out for the rest of the season.
Irvin, who has been seen regularly during practice on a conditioning bike, was running a few short sprints on the UM track adjacent to Greentree Field.
With Mallory likely out, and Polendey and Irvin out, expect to see walk-on tight end Nick Ducheine ready to go, if needed, against Duke (5-3, 1-3).
“I’ll be honest with you,’’ Richt said. “I’m not even sure what number Ducheine is going to wear. But if you see another tight end in there besides Brevin, that will be who it is.’’
When asked if he could switch a receiver to tight end, here is what Richt said: “There’s no way they could learn what to do and be functional at tight end. You’d have to just go to different personnel groups if something happened. You’d have to go two backs and three receivers, or something like that.
“To try to teach a guy what to do at tight end on a week’s notice would be literally impossible to do. You’re better off just trying to get into another personnel group that gives you a better shot at guys knowing what to do.’’