Barry Jackson

Al-Quadin Muhammad looks for fresh start at Combine after UM dismissal

Miami Hurricanes defensive lineman Al-Quadin Muhammad (8) as the University of Miami losses 58-0 to Clemson at Sun Life Stadium on Sat., Oct. 24, 2015.
Miami Hurricanes defensive lineman Al-Quadin Muhammad (8) as the University of Miami losses 58-0 to Clemson at Sun Life Stadium on Sat., Oct. 24, 2015.

Nine NFL hopefuls who played at the University of Miami will participate in the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this week, and none have more to prove than defensive end Al Quadin Muhammad, who has missed two of the past three seasons because of a suspension and dismissal.

UM suspended him for the 2014 season (and fall semester) after he allegedly punched a former student in the face in the Hard Rock Stadium parking lot. And UM dismissed him from the team last August because the university believed that a Miami Beach car dealership gave him the use of an exotic car for free, which is an NCAA violation.

Muhammad said last week that he has “definitely matured” and that an NFL team that drafts him will get “a humble dude. They’re getting a playmaker. They’re getting a guy that’s going to do what they ask and represent them in such a way that it never has been represented before on a positive aspect.

“They’re getting a guy that is humble and hungry and guy that will come in and be a train wreck and make plays and hopefully go to the Super Bowl and win a Super Bowl. I am a high motor dude. I’m very physical. I’m strong, explosive. All muscle. I’m definitely way faster. I’ve been doing a lot of speed drills and stuff like that [to] get faster so I can run faster in the 40…. All my [college] tape is good.”

But NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock told me Monday, on a conference call, that he doubts AQM will be drafted.

"He didn't play two of the last three years," Mayock said. "He's got a significant number of issues off the field. I think teams are intrigued by his athleticism. I would be surprised if he got drafted. I think he will be a free agent."

Muhammad, who had seven sacks in 17 college games (2013 and 2015), declined to discuss details of the car rental suspension but said “it wasn’t a fair decision for everybody that was involved. It wasn’t a fair decision for Jermaine Grace, one of the good friends of mine. I’m not going to give my version. The only thing I am going to say pertaining to the suspension is it wasn’t a fair decision. But God has a plan for everybody. God had a different plan for me.”

Grace, also dismissed from UM because of the car rental scandal, was not invited to the Combine.

Muhammad said when NFL teams ask him about the car-rental issue, “I will be honest and deal with that the best way I know how, which is being honest. The decision that the University of Miami made was not the best decision. It’s not going to stop me from reaching my full potential.”

He said the suspension has given him added fuel: “I’ve always been motivated, but this really put a chip on my shoulder.”

He said UM informed him that he will be allowed to participate with Hurricanes players at UM’s pre-draft Pro Day, but otherwise he isn’t permitted to use the university’s athletic facilities or training room.

“That hurts really bad that I can’t go the facility and use the facility for whatever reason,” he said. “But they got nine guys going to the Combine, which is crazy. I am going to represent them in a good way.”

Instead of transferring to an FBS school to play this season, Muhammad instead began training near his New Jersey home in November, then on Nov. 1 returned to Miami to train at Pete Bommarito’s facility in North Miami Beach.

“I’ve been training my butt off since the incident happened,” he said. “I’ve put myself in position to do great at the Combine, do great at the Pro Day. When that times comes, it’s going to be unbelievable, I assure you of that.”

Muhammad, who signed with agent Drew Rosenhaus, said he has no regrets about not turning pro last winter.

“I don’t regret the decision because coach [Mark] Richt has only been supportive, [defensive line] coach [Craig Kuligowski] has only been supportive. They’re great dudes and I like what they’re doing at the University of Miami. I’m still a part of the University of Miami even though I’m not allowed to go down there and use the facility.”

He said he doesn’t hold a grudge because “that’s not how I operate, that’s not in my blood to be like that. I will always be the rest of my life ‘Go Canes’ no matter what the situation was.”

Muhammad and departing Hurricanes Danny Isidora and Adrian Colbert are among numerous players who have been training with Bommarito in advance of the Combine.

Besides helping mold players’ bodies and enhancing their strength and speed, Bommarito and his staff run a mock combine, preparing players for everything from team interviews to the Wonderlic test. Several agents send their players to Bommarito, whose program also offers use of hyperbaric chamber and muscle-activation therapy.

“Bommarito is a legend and everyone believes in his system,” said University of South Florida running back Marlon Mack, who has been training at Bommarito’s Davie site the past two months.

Here’s my Dolphins post from today on what Mike Mayock had to say about Miami’s pick at No. 22 and the Dolphins’ front-seven options coming into focus.

Related stories from Miami Herald