Barry Jackson

UM greats evaluate the newest Hurricanes football players

pportal@miamiherald.com

UM is doing something really creative - having its elite former players watch tape of UM’s incoming players and evaluate them. The video is available on UM’s new web site here and we encourage you to check it out.

Here’s how they evaluated UM’s 10 early enrollees:

• Steve Walsh, on quarterback Cade Weldon: “He played at a competitive district in Tampa. He was in a good system. One of the things that jumps out is his footwork. He was taught well at a young age. With a young quarterback, I’m always looking for their rhythm. You see good rhythm. I’m sure his dad [former FSU QB Casey Weldon] has taught him to throw in rhythm. You see his footwork - he’s balanced, has a good base as he lines up to throw. So many young quarterbacks want to hop around. He’s athletic enough to make plays with his feet, deadly enough to make plays with his arm. Throwing the deep ball well. Able to make a lot of different type of throws. Has good length at 6-3. Has to gain some weight.”

• Duke Johnson on running back Robert Burns: “He’s tough to bring down. Gets in the open field. Can run. His ability to change directions in tight spaces. He’s a big kid. Bigger than I was. A lot bigger. Able to see the defender. Make him miss. 5-11, 209, good speed.”

• Jon Vilma, on defensive end Jonathan Garvin: “First thing I notice is how long he is. He plays like he’s 6-5 [instead of 6-3]. He gets off blocks and he’s explosive. He’s a hitter. The next thing I like is how much ground he covers off his first and second step. Every defensive line coach’s dream to have a guy to get past offensive tackle, and... bend again and turn the corner and get a sack. The most impressive aspect was his first three steps.”

• Bryant McKinnie, on offensive tackle Navaughn Donaldson: “He’s pretty explosive off the ball, finishing blocks. He’s basically overpowering a lot of these guys he’s playing against. He cut blocks, something I don’t do. He’s pulling well. Looks like he’s pretty dominant. He has pretty quick feet. You can probably move him to left [tackle]” though he will begin his UM career at right tackle.

• McKinnie, on offensive tackle Zach Dykstra: “He’s not allowing the defender to penetrate and wall them off. He has pretty decent feet.”

• Jon Beason, on safety Amari Carter: “First thing I like to see is a guy who’s active, a guy in the passing game who will come up and hit. Reminds me of Sean Taylor. Looking at Amari here, being very ball hungry. I love the way he comes up and hits people. He’s going to be a great, great prospect for us. The ability to catch the football and go the distance. That’s what we want here, game-changers. He has a high football IQ, coming from a program that has won, knowing Palm Beach Gardens, practice schedule is similar to what you do in college. He has a chance to play as a freshman.”

• D.J. Williams on corner/receiver DeeJay Dallas: “What’s great about this kid is he plays multiple positions. What stood out watching the film is I don’t see him get tackled. Very elusive, can make guys miss in the open field. He may end being a defender. That ended up with Devin Hester. He came in as punt return, was drafted as defensive back, was a wide receiver in the NFL.”

• Vilma, on tight end Brian Polendey: “Brian reminds me of Jeremy Shockey when he came in. His height really stands out in high school. What I like is watching him block. He has that attitude. Shockey had that attitude. You don’t have to coach his toughness and tenacity. Just work on his technique. His hands are good. He has good feel for route-recognition. As soon he catches the ball, he’s trying to go upfield instead of stringing it out. That shows me he’s aware of down and distance.”

• Jon Vilma, on linebacker Waynmon Steed (who’s recovering from knee surgery): “When I look at Waynmon, the fact he’s a mike linebacker through and through excites me. That’s the position I played. When I assess Waynmon, it’s his ability to be a three-down linebacker. He chases the ball the way you’re supposed to. He has great balance. Not taking false steps. He’s been coached up well. Has great instincts and IQ.”

• DJ Williams on linebacker Bradley Jennings: “I’ve been hearing a lot about this kid. A lot of these University of Miami linebackers are built on speed. He has the athletic ability to get to the ball. Very rarely do you see patience like this at this level. I think he’s going to be a fine player. He’s a little slim, 6-2, 218. But Gus [Felder] will get him in the weight room. He will probably leave around 235, 240, which is prototypical size for an NFL linebacker.”

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