Barry Jackson

Another UM freshman impressing, plus Canes nuggets

Miami Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz coaches from the sidelines as the University of Miami hosts Florida A&M at Hard Rock Stadium on Sat., Sept. 3, 2016.
Miami Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz coaches from the sidelines as the University of Miami hosts Florida A&M at Hard Rock Stadium on Sat., Sept. 3, 2016. adiaz@miamiherald.com

A six pack of UM notes on a Thursday:

• UM absolutely loves this freshman class, with the three linebackers and receiver Ahmmon Richards at the top of the group.

But former Coconut Creek cornerback Malek Young has been playing more in Adrian Colbert’s absence and coaches like what they’ve seen.

Young, who threw up before making his first college start at Virginia last week, originally committed to Georgia when Mark Richt was there but de-committed after Georgia fired defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

“Malek is baptism under fire,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “Very talented player thrust into a very important role. He’s having to grow up in a hurry in terms of maturity of not just covering but being able to play all the calls. He’s got a very bright future and for better or worse, that future is now.”

Richt’s take: “Malek Young's going to be a good player. He's very tough. He can run. He's got little nuances he's got to get better at” – including how much space to give receivers.

Beyond praising Corn Elder and Young, Richt said this about his defensive backs: “[Sheldrick Redwine] has been a pretty physical tackler. Our DBs in general have really become a physical bunch. I'm proud of how they tackle.”

• If UM wins out to finish 8-4, the Hurricanes believe they could wind up playing a bowl game at Yankee Stadium or in Jacksonville.

They would love to play in New York, but the Taxslayer Bowl in Jacksonville also would have some appeal.

• Freshman Ahmmon Richards not only has risen to fourth in the nation in average per reception (21.5), but it’s the highest average by a freshman receiver since TY Hilton averaged 24.7 for FIU in 2008.

“Ahmmon can’t get complacent,” safety Rayshawn Jenkins told me this week. “There’s no telling how good he can be. He can do everything – go deep, turn short gains into big gains.”

• Mark Richt, on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline on Monday: “Just think about those three [freshman] linebackers. If they stay healthy, they will probably be three years together. Who knows beyond that? I do think they have potential to play NFL ball down the road.”

• Richt, on the state of his program, on Hurricane Hotline: “We're not a team that has proven to anyone that we should be feared. I think... people respect us. I don't think they fear us. That's the goal for people to look at the film and go, ‘Oh, geez.’ I think they see a team that's formidable and will play hard and has got some players. One day we're looking to get people a little nervous.”

Richt added: “If you can't create a little bit of space for backs or a little bit of a pocket for [Brad] Kaaya, you are going to struggle. The goal is to keep recruiting, keep developing. We had a great offseason. We will have a better offseason next year. Our kids will understand a whole lot more. The more kids are used to doing things a certain way, the more confidence they get from it.”

• UM’s newest five-star basketball addition, elite Class of 2017 shooting guard Lonnie Walker, averaged 16.7 points and 4.1 rebounds for Team Final on the Nike EYBL circuit last spring and summer, shooting 39.1 percent from 3-point range.

He told ESPN in January that his Miami campus visit was “beautiful. The environment, the people, I meshed with the players really well. Ja'Quan Newton, Dewan [Huell]. The coaches and assistant coaches, I mesh with really well. I thought it would take a little bit longer to talk to the players and hang out and everything, but it sort of just snapped right away."

Here is ESPN’s scouting report on him:

Strengths: “Walker is a very good athlete. He is an athletic wing playmaker that applies relentless pressure to the defense. He attacks on the break where he is an excellent finisher. Walker is an excellent slasher. Walker will hit the open three when his feet are set and in rhythm. Walker does a great job running the floor and passing in the open court as well.”

Weaknesses: “Walker will need to add strength and continue to build his ball skills. He also will need to become a better perimeter rebounder.”

Bottom line: “Walker is an skilled wing that can make scoring plays. He is a high major talent with excellent upside.”

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