University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes safety enters transfer portal less than two weeks before opener

UM’s Ephraim Banda comments on safeties Carter and Hall

Miami Hurricanes Co-Defensive Coordinator Ephraim Banda comments on safeties Amari Carter and Gurvan Hall after practice at the University of Miami Greentree Practice Field in Coral Gables on Wednesday, July 31, 2019.
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Miami Hurricanes Co-Defensive Coordinator Ephraim Banda comments on safeties Amari Carter and Gurvan Hall after practice at the University of Miami Greentree Practice Field in Coral Gables on Wednesday, July 31, 2019.

The University of Miami has lost a player to the transfer portal.

Approaching midnight Tuesday, Hurricanes safety Derrick Smith, a 6-2, 220-pound junior, announced on social media that he was leaving Miami and “open for recruitment.’’

“To the Miami Nation effective today, I would like to inform you, I am no longer on the University of Miami football team, Smith posted on Twitter. “I would truly like to thank the Coaches Mark Richt, Manny Diaz, Ephraim Banda, and my recruiting coach Todd Hartley for the opportunity and the experience. I will always love Miami Nation.

“My name is in the portal and I am open for recruitment.’’

The transfer is somewhat puzzling because Smith’s name had been mentioned several times in fall camp for numerous interceptions.

“Derrick is having a really good camp,’’ projected starting safety Amari Carter said July 31. “It’s like his hands have a magnet for the ball. Every single day he’s coming out and getting his hands on the ball. And he’s been making a lot of plays and making big steps in the backfield.”

Smith, who graduated from Jacksonville Trinity Christian, did not practice late Tuesday afternoon.

Smith played in 12 games last season, making 11 tackles. In 2017 he played in 13 games and had 13 tackles and one tackle for loss. He was a consensus three-star prospect and listed as the 76th-best prospect at his position by ESPN when he came to Miami.

“You know, I think he did a really good job in the off season of spending a lot of time in the meeting room and just getting extra work,’’ safeties coach Ephraim Banda said of Smith on July 31. “I think he improved in the weight room and really dedicated himself in that area and really bought into [strength and conditioning] Coach Feeley.

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“To be honest, the best thing that happened to Derrick was Coach Feeley and the staff. They did a tremendous job with him and countless other kids. The biggest difference you see in him is a testament to our strength program and also to him because he’s got himself in the meeting room and really helped himself mentally. But he’s still got a long way to go.”

Though the Canes lost veteran star safeties Sheldrick Redwine and Jaquan Johnson to the NFL, they have young talent at the position in Carter and fellow fall standout Gurvan Hall, both sophomores. Hall said Tuesday at media day that he had three interceptions in recent scrimmages.

“As Coach Banda and Coach Rumph always say, communication is key,’’ Hall said recently before the transfer news. “We learned that from the year that just passed between Redwine, Jaquan, MikeJack [graduated and current NFL cornerback Michael Jackson] and [cornerback] Trajan [Bandy]. We’re doing fine communicating.

Hall said the safeties will uphold the former stars’ standard. “...Urgency is the key. Anything you do you have to do urgently. We learned a lot from those guys.’’

Two projected young standouts are freshman Keontra Smith, a consensus four-star prospect out of Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna, and former USC safety Bubba Bolden, who arrived last week as a redshirt sophomore transfer and was a first-team 2016 Parade All-American. Redshirt senior Robert Knowles rounds out the position.

UM opens its season Aug. 24 against the Florida Gators, who have a talented wide receivers corps this year.

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