Barry Jackson

The sad tale of Joe Yearby; Richt helps AQM; UM draft postscripts

A lot of people are second-guessing former UM quarterback Brad Kaaya for turning pro after he fell all the way to the 215th pick, fourth-lowest in the sixth round, where the Detroit Lions drafted him on Saturday.

But at least Kaaya is a legitimate NFL prospect.

The same cannot be said for running back Joe Yearby, and that’s why his decision to turn pro was so inexplicable and regrettable.

As expected, Yearby went undrafted this past weekend. Not a single team has offered him a contract afterward, as of midday Monday.

The San Francisco 49ers called over the weekend and offered him a tryout this week, and Yearby accepted that invitation in hopes of catching on for the 49ers’ offseason program.

The Dolphins studied him but opted instead to sign undrafted Michigan running back De’Veon Smith.

Yearby’s decision to turn pro ranks as the most questionable of any UM athlete in recent memory.

Upset about getting only three combined carries in UM’s final two regular season games, Yearby quickly made the decision to go pro, believing he wouldn’t get many carries behind Mark Walton and Gus Edwards. But after Yearby made his announcement, Edwards transferred to Rutgers.

If Yearby didn’t have any idea that Edwards would transfer, that shouldn’t have been the case. Yearby should have at least weighed that factor before turning pro.

“When he turned pro, I was saying what the hell was he doing?” an NFC scout told me today. “He should take another year at Miami – let them take care of his room, board, tuition. I don’t see him getting into a [training] camp. He has quickness. He could go into the arena league. But there’s nothing special about him” to think he will be an NFL back.

And his size (5-9, listed at 200) also worked against him in the eyes of NFL teams.

Of the 103 players who turned pro, Yearby was among 28 who went undrafted.

Yearby was a quality college running back. He averaged 6.0 yards per carry last season, 608 total and scored seven touchdowns. In three seasons, he averaged 5.4 per carry and scored 17 touchdowns.

If he had returned to UM, he very likely would have been No. 2 on the depth chart behind Walton at a position where the Hurricanes are desperate to add depth. And he would have received another free year of education to help prepare him for life.

Instead, Yearby – a good young man - made the wrong decision, and one we hope he can overcome as he looks for a job.

More Canes draft postscripts:

• Al Quadin Muhammad, drafted in the sixth round by New Orleans, expressed appreciation that Mark Richt defended him to teams even after Muhammad was dismissed from UM last August amid the rental car scandal.

"Mark Richt played a major part in this (process)," Muhammad told New Orleans media after the draft. "After the situation that happened at the University of Miami, he didn't look at me any different, he welcomed me with open arms and I really appreciated that. It showed what type of guy he is. It showed me a lot about his character and what he is about.”

Saints coach Sean Payton also suggested that Canes coaches vouched for AQM, saying: "When you talk to those people at the school, they had a strong opinion about him in regards to football makeup. Certainly, he made some mistakes, but they were ones that we were very comfortable with. ... We sat for a good round and a half waiting on this selection."

Muhammad, who told New Orleans media that “I’m a hell of a pass rusher,” also expressed appreciation for UM defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski, former UM coach Al Golden and former UM assistants Mark D’Onofrio and Jethro Franklin.

“They all stayed close to me, spoke to me and also told me to stay focused, keep working hard, do not make the same mistake twice and good things are going to happen,” Muhammad said. “I really just relied on the good support I had from the coaches that were around me, that believed and cared about me and loved me as the good person I am. That is pretty much what I relied on. They surrounded themselves around me and helped me. It’s definitely going to help me in the future.”

• The Los Angeles Chargers defense will have a UM flavor, with Rayshawn Jenkins joining Denzel Perryman.

“I knew that if anything got by me, Rayshawn would be back there to clean it up,” Perryman told “If it was a deep ball, you better get ready for the show. The Chargers are getting another hitter and another ball-hawk. He’s another Miami guy, I’ll put it that way. Just watch out.”

Jenkins said the Chargers “got a steal.”

• It was surprising to see Stacy Coley drop to the seventh round, where Minnesota took him, and one scout with a different franchise told me today that his team dropped Coley on its board because of durability concerns.

“He has tremendous speed,” Minnesota GM Rick Spielman told Minneapolis media. “He can play in the slot, he can play outside, and he always has kickoff return ability. And he makes big plays.”

• Carolina Panthers GM Dave Gettleman said UM cornerback Corn Elder, selected in the fifth round, “is smart and instinctive. He plays nickel and outside. He's a tough, tough kid."

Elder told Charlotte media: "A lot of people question my size, but if you turn on the film, you can't tell it. I'm a physical player. I love to tackle and that's what I'm going to bring to this team. I'm going to bring that passion and everything to the field."

• UM added two grad transfers in Richt’s first full offseason here and both ended up being drafted: Adrian Colbert in the seventh round by San Francisco and fullback Marquez Williams in the seventh round by Jacksonville.

"We know he can play safety," 49ers general manager John Lynch said of Colbert. "We’re going to give him a go at probably corner first. Don’t want to speak for the coaches, but this is what we were thinking when we drafted him and know that he has safety versatility and is we believe going to be one heck of a special teams player as well. We’ve seen it on film. And so, we were kind of crossing our fingers that he stayed up there and he did and we jumped.”

• If you missed it, among undrafted players, Jamal Carter joined Denver, Jermaine Grace signed with Atlanta, Justin Vogel with Green Bay and Malcolm Lewis with the Dolphins.

Stan Dobard will have a tryout with Seattle.

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