Barry Jackson

UM concerned about running back; Heat, Marlins, Panthers nuggets

Miami Hurricanes running back Mark Walton (1) runs for a a first down in the fourth quarter as the University of Miami takes on the West Virginia Mountaineers at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando Wed., Dec. 28, 2016.
Miami Hurricanes running back Mark Walton (1) runs for a a first down in the fourth quarter as the University of Miami takes on the West Virginia Mountaineers at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando Wed., Dec. 28, 2016. adiaz@miamiherald.com

A few UM, Heat, Marlins and Panthers notes on a Wednesday:

• UM coach Mark Richt said he’s looking for a grad transfer running back and also considering moving a returning player (he won’t say who) to running back because of lack of depth there beyond Mark Walton and Travis Homer.

Richt told me that Robert Burns, limited to nine carries at Gulliver last season because of an ankle injury, “is supposed to be” ready for spring ball but Richt said he’s not sure if Trayone Gray (knee surgery last year) will be.

And though Gus Edwards hasn’t transferred anywhere yet, Richt said: “Everything I heard is he plans on moving on somewhere.”

Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt talks about the victory over West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Wed., Dec. 28, 2016.

• Count Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell among those who love the two running back oral commitments that Miami has landed for 2018.

“First it was potential five-star Lorenzo Lingard who popped to Miami about 10 days ago and then last week he was joined by Camron Davis,” Farrell said. “This gives the ‘Canes a great 1-2 punch at the position. Lingard is the taller, more angular back who makes people miss with an effortless, gliding running motion. Davis is stouter and more powerful but boasts amazing top end speed. Both can score from anywhere and should complement each other well.”

• Though the Heat is open to upgrading before Thursday’s trade deadline, one general manager who has spoken to Miami said the impression he received is “they seem content to stand pat.”

Though several journeymen with specific skills are available - such as Denver’s Wilson Chander and the Nets’ Trevor Booker - those players have money and years left on their contracts and the Heat isn’t going to tie up future cap space with marginal players.

Chandler, for example, is due $12 million next season, with a $12.8 million player option the following season. Booker is due $9.1 million next season. Reducing your flexibility this summer to take on that type of contract doesn’t make sense.

Don Mattingly, Miami Marlins manager, talks with the media on the teams first day of full squad practice and how they deal with off-field distractions.

• After watching his average plunge from .333 in 2015 to .268 last season, Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon said he must try to bunt once a game, which the Marlins are all in favor of.

Gordon attempted only 13 bunts (six hits) in 79 games. He attempted 32 (with 16 hits) in 145 games the previous year.

In his defense, he said he “got a lot of hard outs” before and after his 80-game MLB suspension last season and you should only “get nervous when you get soft outs.”

• Two historical factoids from Elias as the Panthers return from a 5-0 road trip to host Edmonton on Wednesday:

1) Vincent Trocheck’s goal with 4.6 seconds left in the third period on Monday was te latest game-winning goal in the third period in Panthers history. The previous latest was at 19:46 scored by Kristian Huselius on March 28, 2002 at Ottawa. What’s more, the last NHL player to score a game-winning goal that late in the third period was Brayden Schenn who scored at 19:57 of the third period for the Flyers in a 5-4 win over the Islanders on April 7, 2015.

2) This was the first time that the Panthers won every game of a road trip of five or more games. This was the 31st time in franchise history that the Panthers played five or more straight games on the road. Only one other NHL team swept a road trip of at least five games this season: the Blues (5-0-0 from February 6-15).

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