The University of Miami’s newest quarterback was the valedictorian — straight A’s for four years — at Jefferson High School in Georgia.
Its newest nationally heralded wide receiver has some great moves on the football field and super-duper moves after touchdowns.
And among its newest linebackers is a young man who grew up surfing at the Jersey Shore and had several of the same teachers that Hurricanes coach Al Golden had at Red Bank Catholic High.
“My honors pre-calc teacher said he was a great guy,’’ 6-4, 235-pound strong-side linebacker Jamie Gordinier said.
“He was a legend. I guess he was smart and pretty good at football, too.’’
The Baby Canes, otherwise known as UM’s freshmen, were given their annual, one-day permission to speak to reporters Friday during media day.
They sat in the sweltering heat while eating burgers, pizza and chicken wings outside the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence, courteously answering questions from the roving media.
They now will be prohibited from interviews until they play in a game.
“I came down here in January and just loved it,’’ said quarterback Evan Shirreffs, a three-star recruit who completed nearly 70 percent of his passes and threw for 2,784 yards, 23 touchdowns and four interceptions last season as a first-team all-stater and MVP of the Florida-Georgia All-Star Game. “The atmosphere is great, and the guys are so close.”
Until his junior year of high school, the lanky, 6-5 Shirreffs, who said he was “pretty excited’’ when he hit 200 pounds on the scale last week for the first time, played behind his older brother, Bryant, a redshirt sophomore quarterback who transferred from North Carolina State to Connecticut.
But the right-handed Shirreffs broke the thumb on his throwing hand on a running play in the fourth game of his junior year and missed the rest of the season, putting him under the radar among recruiting types.
“Incredibly bright,’’ Golden said Friday of Shirreffs, saying that he needed to improve his conditioning but had “a much stronger arm’’ than the coach likely expected. “His arm pops. … I was talking to him [Friday] about ‘slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Nice and easy. Trust your feet and let it go instead of trying to hurry things.’’’
Sherriffs likely won’t play this season, but high school All-American wide receiver Lawrence Cager might.
Cager, a 6-5, 208-pounder from Towson, Maryland, was the only player in the Baltimore area to be invited to Beaverton, Oregon, for The Opening, a six-day Nike camp for elite talent.
At the U.S. Army All-American Game, Cager did a little dance after scoring a touchdown, then flashed the U for fans and the TV audience.
“It’s a dance at home called ‘The Bird Flu,’” Cager said. “It’s by one of the hometown rappers.’’
Cager said he feels physically ready to play but will happily do whatever is asked of him. He likely won’t be doing any dances this season, but nonetheless said he brings a “vibe” with his presence.
“Yeah, I have a little swag. Just trying to bring it to the whole team,’’ said Cager, who said he chose UM over Alabama, Georgia, Virginia Tech and Ohio State because of his respect for Golden and the bond his teammates share.
“You watch tape and he’s exactly what you saw in his high school film, in the all-star game, when he gave us a little cha-cha after a touchdown,’’ said UM offensive coordinator James Coley, laughing. “But now he’s doing it at 205 pounds instead of 188.”
Just as eager to demonstrate their talents are freshman running back Mark Walton, freshman safety Jaquan Johnson and freshman cornerback Sheldrick Redwine — the hometown Hurricanes filled with pride as they try to help resurrect the program.
“I was born and raised a Miami Hurricane, and the opportunity came so I ran with it,’’ said Walton, a Miami Booker T. Washington graduate.
“This is what I wanted as a kid and finally I’m here, and I’m so happy,’’ said the 5-10, 188-pound Johnson, who starred at Miami Killian and is expected to get significant playing time on special teams while rooming with veteran defensive backs Deon Bush and Tracy Howard.
“It’s like having coaches at home all the time with you,” he said of his roomies.
Redwine, also from Killian High, said he’s “surrounded by good people,’’ which has made his transition to college more comfortable.
“My teammates brought me in like they knew me for years,” he said.
“Nobody is selfish on this team. We have a bunch of selfless players. Just being around them is the best thing about being here.’’