Former Miami running back Danny Dillard has seen Bethune-Cookman University from two perspectives: first, as the adversary; now, as the ally.
Receiver Jontavious Carter has had similar views: before, as the headstrong man in orange and green with the U on his helmet; now, as the humbled, more mature man in maroon and gold preparing to play the home-team Hurricanes in the season opener at 6 p.m. Saturday at Sun Life Stadium.
Both transfers originally played for Miami and have been routinely asked about life as a Hurricane. Both were on the sideline as Canes when UM beat BC-U 38-10 in 2012, a year after UM won 45-14 the first time the schools met.
“Kids ask what it was like,’’ Carter said. “They want to know about the school, they want to know about the city, they want to know about the girls.
“I made a lot of bad decisions when I was there outside of football that I’d rather not talk about. When you’re at a big college, you can get a little spoiled with the things you’re granted that a lot of kids don’t get at our level. I think my leaving there and coming here was a turning point in my life where I just had to grow up.
“It doesn’t matter who’s on the other side to me now. I won’t treat this game any bigger than any other on our schedule.”
Dillard and Carter signed with UM in 2012 and both immediately redshirted during coach Al Golden’s second season.
Carter, a 6-3, 205-pound redshirt junior who was a three-star recruit out of Crisp County, Georgia, was dismissed by Golden in late August 2013 for reasons never revealed, during a period when several Canes left or were dismissed, including former Wildcats cornerback Thomas Finnie and defensive end Dyron Dye.
Bethune-Cookman (9-3 in 2014) of Daytona Beach plays in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference of the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-AA. Players in UM’s Football Bowl Subdivision do not have to sit out a year when transferring to the smaller, lower-profile FCS.
Carter’s best on-field moment at UM was in the April 2013 spring game, when he caught five passes for 113 yards. But he never gained traction on the depth chart.
Carter missed last season after fracturing his left wrist during fall camp. He played in 13 games and caught 19 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns
Dillard, 6-2 and 229 pounds, another three-star recruit who starred at Venice High and grew up in Bradenton (except for in third grade when he lived in Miami Gardens), stayed two years with the Canes but never played.
Dillard rushed for 264 yards and three touchdowns in eight games last season, playing behind starter Anthony Jordan.
“A lot of good memories at Miami,’’ said Dillard, “but things weren’t going my way in football. I’m thankful to have gotten another chance at another great school with a great history.
“As long as we fight our hardest we won’t be embarrassed. I expect a good game.’’
Starting BC-U safety Marquis Drayton, one of two dozen Wildcats from Broward and Miami-Dade counties, has no reservations about playing the Hurricanes.
He grew up in Fort Lauderdale, went to Dillard High and played youth football against UM receiver Stacy Coley, and ran summer track with UM fullback Walter Tucker.
The Wildcats defeated FBS member FIU the past two seasons, and in 2013, during a 54-6 drubbing by Jameis Winston and Florida State, Drayton nonetheless registered 11 tackles and recovered a fumble by James Wilder Jr.
“I love the tradition and history of the U,” said Drayton, a fifth-year senior. “But they’re like any other football team. They’re human.’’
In July, Drayton ran into Coley at Joseph C. Carter Park in Fort Lauderdale.
“He was working on his footwork,” Drayton said. “I joined him, and we talked. I was like, ‘You know we’re playing you all?’”
“I’m looking forward to it,” Coley replied.
“Me too, bro,’’ said Drayton, who will have plenty of family and friends at the game Saturday.
Bethune-Cookman coach Terry Sims, a five-year Wildcats assistant in his first year as coach, said Dillard, Carter and Drayton are all “great young men who handle themselves like gentlemen off the field and warriors on it.”
“They give everything they have,’’ Sims said. “They’re going to be excited, and that’s to be expected.
“But we’re keeping them all as focused as possible. They understand it’s a business trip, and we’re going down to take care of business.”