All of UM’s assistant coaches gathered around a campus auditorium to speak with reporters after Mark Richt’s National Signing Day news conference on Wednesday. Receivers coach Ron Dugans looked particularly pleased.
And with good reason.
In a 24-hour period, Dugans and UM got commitments from the player rated by Rivals at the No. 8 receiver in this recruiting class (Jeff Thomas) and the No. 18 receiver (Mike Harley).
And then he got more good news, when Mark Richt decided that DeeJay Dallas, rated the nation’s 190th-best prospect, would begin his UM career at receiver, not cornerback.
UM also added three-star New Jersey based receiver Evidence Njoku.
Those four join returning several players: Ahmmon Richards (a freshman phenom last season/pictured above), Braxton Berrios, Dayall Harris, Dionte Mullins, Lawrence Cager and Darrell Langham.
“We got faster,” Dugans said of his group. “How much faster, I don’t know. At one time, we had some guys that are possession guys. Now we’ve got some guys that can really take the top off it.”
On Richt’s decision to have Dallas play receiver, Dugans said: “The good thing about it is I’m always in the meetings with coach Richt on the offensive side of the ball so I have the upper hand on the defensive guys as far as begging coach Richt to keep them on our side of the ball. His willingness to play wherever we want to play speaks volumes of the type of character this kid is.”
What enticed UM about him as a receiver? “He does the things you want a receiver to do after he catches the ball. He gets yards after the catch. He makes people miss. He scores touchdowns. His ability to lead. And it’s not just leadership at the quarterback position. I want guys at receiver to lead, too. I love his work ethic, his habits. He’s trying to learn the system so he can get a chance to be on the field and not have to think while he’s on the field. Just go out and play.”
Asked if he’s a slot receiver, Dugans said: “I can’t say that. I don’t really recruit like, ‘you’re going to be a slot or you’re going to be outside type guys.’ He can play outside or inside lanes. He’s got size and the speed enough to do it.”
Dugans, on his other new receivers:
• On Thomas: “He can run. He’s electrifying. He’s really good with the ball in his hands. Makes a lot of plays. Contested catches. Can play some special teeams for us. Return some punts and kicks. He’s a special athlete.
“He’s a kid you’ve seen like the Devin Hesters, the [Philip] Dorsetts. One kid I saw play in this offense under coach Richt was [FSU star] Peter Warrick. He played in the same type of offense. You see him as a kid who can do some of those similar things.”
• On Harley: “Tremendous kid that loves to work. Kid can run. He can outrun people. Not afraid to go across the middle.
Good ball skills. Really good route runner. He’s a competitor. I don’t care what size he is. He competes. That’s what you love about Mike Harley.”
Do you see any similarities with Santana Moss? “I do. He’s a track kid. Santana Moss was a track kid. Harley is the same way.”
• Though former UM star David Njoku (who turned pro) was a tight end, Dugans said Evidence will not be a tight end here.
“He’s a receiver.”
Why? “I’ve seen him play. I’ve seen him run routes. I think he’s a better route runner than his brother was at the time. I just feel he’s a better receiver prospect right now.”
FYI: It appears that UM - in spring ball - will be cautious with Cager, who missed last season with a knee injury.
“One thing coach Richt said,” Dugans said, “is I’m not trying to win the spring. He may do some drill work in spring ball. I’m not sure. He’s been progressing pretty good. I don’t know his limit with spring ball. Just to see him walk by, it’s like, ‘Wow’ You hope he can play [laughs]. I’m excited about him.”
For some UM news from Wednesday evening about UM’s situation about running back, please click here.
And for a look at what Mark Richt said today about this UM class and the QB competition, please click here.