Miami coach Mark Richt, on hand Thursday for the opening of his 7-on-7 Mark Richt football camp, spoke to the media at the Coral Gables campus for the first time since spring practice ended in mid-April.
Richt discussed everything from his $1 million pledge for the planned indoor practice facility, the format of his camps, some recruiting philosophy and the status of running back Mark Walton.
Richt confirmed that Walton, who was suspended indefinitely on April 23 after being charged with driving under the influence and driving with knowledge of a suspended license, is “still on the team.’’
“He’s working out and he’s going to school,’’ the coach added. “Anything beyond that, I’ll let you know.’’
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Richt did not touch on any potential punishment for Walton, but it’s believed the sophomore still could be suspended for a game or two. UM is likely waiting for the disposition of the court case to make further announcements.
Regarding the indoor facility, Richt was asked by the Miami Herald to elaborate on his reasoning behind the $1 million pledge.
“Probably, first is we need it,’’ he said. “Second would probably be it’s my alma mater. That’s probably tied for first. Just being here, living it out and knowing why it’s so important. I’m serious about getting it done. We must get it done. We’re gonna get it done.
“And the other thing is, I want people to understand I’m all in. I’m Miami, that’s it for me. I’m not going anywhere else. This is where I want to finish my coaching career and I want it to be great. … I think it helps other donors see my commitment. I think it helps recruits see my commitment. It helps our current and former players, alums, say, ‘Hey, this guy is serious about trying to make this place the best it could possibly be.’’’
Richt said he’s hoping an official announcement on the future facility will come before fall camp starts, but that’s dependent on a lead gift.
When asked about timetable expectations for having the facility completed, the coach said if UM could get “a shovel in the ground’’ soon enough, “the end of the season would be awesome. I’m not going to sit here and say the wheels will turn that fast, but it would be wonderful if it could happen. Every place is different with codes and all the things that have to get done, so I can’t make any promises.’’
Regarding his 7-on-7 camp format, which includes separate sections for linemen and is targeting eight to 12 different high school teams each of five days, Richt said he can manage the situation better and be more hands-on this way instead of, for instance, having “40 teams in one day.’’
“I’d like to see as many players as I can see’’ and “meet every high school coach and thank them for coming and spend some time with them.’’
The camps, he said, are about “instruction’’ and “ability to evaluate’’ and “creating relationships.’’
On recruiting, for which these camps are basically a breeding ground, Richt said he does not want to be a coach that offers players scholarships and then turns around and says, “I don’t want you anymore.’’
“I just want our evaluation process to be really sound where the position coach wants him and the coordinator wants him. I want that kid to know that we are really sincere, so that’s kind of how we’re rolling right now.’’
Richt also reiterated about his decision to not hold satellite camps off campus. He said he didn’t want to wear out his coaching staff, that he has had 168 opportunities “like everybody else’’ to see prospects and many of them will make unofficial visits to UM this summer.
“I’ve learned over the years that if you don’t get them on campus, the chance you get them is pretty slim,’’ he said.