University of Miami

UM coach Mark Richt to meet with draft-eligible underclassmen, address assistant coaches

University of Miami head coach Mark Richt, center, watches from the stands during the second half of a high school football championship game between Jacksonville Raines and Booker T. Washington.
University of Miami head coach Mark Richt, center, watches from the stands during the second half of a high school football championship game between Jacksonville Raines and Booker T. Washington. AP

University of Miami football coach Mark Richt said Monday that he had a “big pow wow” on Saturday morning — likely with UM assistant coaches, though he didn’t specify — “and sat down and talked about every single player from a football standpoint, from an academic standpoint, from a social point of view.

“How are they doing in the strength room? How are they doing in athletic training? I was able to at least assess where we’re at. … You’ve got to have so many players at each position across the board,” Richt said in his first weekly radio interview with UM-affiliated station 560 WQAM.

The Hurricanes’ new coach also told host Joe Rose that he already had meetings planned “early this week” with those UM underclassmen who might “test the waters” and apply to the NFL Draft Advisory Board for a projected status because they are draft-eligible.

The four underclassmen expected to contemplate entering the draft are junior cornerbacks Artie Burns and Corn Elder, junior receiver Stacy Coley and redshirt sophomore linebacker Al-Quadin Muhammad.

On Friday, at the news conference to introduce Richt, UM quarterback Brad Kaaya told the Miami Herald that “at the end of the day, it’s their decision,” when he was asked if Richt being hired might have a bearing on whether some of them return next season. “We’ll see. But having Coach Richt around, the only thing that is going to happen is it can benefit their stock.

“I think being in a pro-style system that he runs can definitely bode well for [receiver] Stacy Coley. [Richt has] coached A.J. Green and a lot of good players.”

Other topics Richt discussed with Rose:

▪ He reiterated that he expected to call plays for the offense, but that he would likely hire an offensive coordinator to “organize an awful lot of things” and work with the offense. It is still unclear if current UM coordinator James Coley would be that man, or if Coley will choose to leave so he can call plays elsewhere.

▪ He again said regarding recruits that “I’m not running around trying to snag everybody, but if … you have a relationship with a certain kid [e.g. players from his former school of Georgia] and he wants to come with me rather than go to a certain place, we’ll work that out.”

▪ He agreed it is important for his assistants to be paid well “because you know what it takes to get the right kind of people and keep them. … Sometimes it’s not a matter of money, but sometimes what you make in a salary is a sign of respect as well.”

▪ He said he will be “open and honest” to the current UM assistants, whose jobs are on the line. “You can only hire nine, and I think everybody understands that,” Richt said. “It’s always good to network. It’s always good to get to know more people. I think everybody understands it’s part of the business. … I think everybody is going to land in a good spot. It’s just that there’s a little bit of anxiety of knowing what’s going to happen next.

“You can’t blame anybody for feeling that.”

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