Barry Jackson

Allison finds new home; Haskins departs UM, leaving shaky depth at tight end

Head coach Mark Richt during University of Mami spring training practice on Tues., March 21, 2017.
Head coach Mark Richt during University of Mami spring training practice on Tues., March 21, 2017.

Before we get to news on UM’s current team, a quick note on three players who left the program: Quarterback Jack Allison on Tuesday committed to playing at West Virginia, his family confirmed. He also considered a community college in Mississippi but hit it off with Mountaineers coach.

Also, Sunny Odogwu is enrolling at UCLA and Courtel Jenkins at Houston.

All three must sit out next season under NCAA transfer rules.

A six-pack of UM notes from Mark Richt, who was at one of his camps for kids in Hollywood on Tuesday morning:

• UM announced that tight end Jovani Haskins is departing the program, which leaves UM with shaky depth at the position. Michael Irvin Jr. and Brian Polendey are now the only scholarship tight ends behind Chris Herndon.

When I asked Richt, on Tuesday morning, specifically about his comfort level with Haskins, Irvin and Polendey, he made no mention of Haskins’ departure. Two hours later, UM announced Haskins is gone.

“I talked to Jovani and we both felt it was in his best interests to get a fresh start somewhere else,” Richt said. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”

Two hours earlier, Richt said of Haskins, Irvin and Polendey: “They’ve got a ways to go. There’s a pretty good little dropoff between Herndon and the next guy. Those guys are learning and getting better, but Herndon is leading the pack by a pretty good margin.”

Haskins and Irvin were left home from UM’s bowl game last season for disciplinary reasons, and Irvin ended the spring ahead of Haskins, according to a UM official.

Haskins, a native of Bergenfield, N.J., redshirted for the Hurricanes this past season.

•Jobs are still wide open for the No. 2 and No. 3 receiver jobs (behind presumed No. 1 receiver Ahmmon Richards).

Asked about the competition for the starting receiver job (or two) opposite Richards, Richt said: “Braxton Berrios is the best route runner we’ve got bar none. He is super at understanding how to run routes at what we call the outside lane and the inside lane which is the slot spot. You can video him on every route we have and that’s how you do it. And he’s got great leadership.

“Ahmmon had the numbers a year ago and probably gets most of the national attention but Berrios is a great leader for us and also runs superb routes. Got good speed. Lawrence Cager , we had high hopes last year. He had a good spring and was having a great summer. Unfortunately got hurt a year ago and now will be freed up to see what he can do.

“Dayall Harris had a really good spring. [Darrell] Langham got better. [Dionte] Mullins, a year ago, he was coming late, trying to learn what to do, things were happening fast. Now things have slowed down for him. He’ll be able to compete. And we’ve got these young kids coming in who can really run, really make plays for us.”

Those “young kids” include January arrival DeeJay Dallas (who impressed this spring) and May arrivals Mike Harley and Jeff Thomas. Evidence Njoku also is enrolling.

• Richt said: “We’ve got a chance to be a very good team. We are a lot faster now than we were in a little while ago. We’ve got some very good speed at the edges at receiver. If you look at our depth chart right now, I’m a little concerned at the running back position….

“We have inexperience in the defensive backfield but we’ve got the right guys and not only with the guys we’ve had, but some of the guys now, whether it’s freshmen or junior college player or a graduate transfer. I feel pretty good there. We have to figure out who’s going to punt. We had one of the greatest punters in America in Justin Vogel and now we don’t know who our punter is going to be. If you struggle in the punt game, you make it very difficult for your defense to have success.”

• What are the strengths of his team?

“We have enough d-line, interior and on the edge, not only do we have talented guys but we have a good many of them. We like to substitute. We like to roll guys in and out. We like to keep guys fresh. I think we’ll be able to do that if we stay healthy. We’ve really got some depth at the linebacker position as well.”

• Richt said everyone, from a health perspective, will be fine and cleared for contact work by the Aug. 1 start of practice…. Richt isn’t sure how he will use the new NCAA-permitted assistant coaching position… Richt said he would take a “great” grad transfer at any position, not just running back.

• Former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich was among those who spent time on UM’s campus this spring, meeting with coaches.

“There are always little things [you can learn],” Richt said. “How they may hand signal or a code name or how they can go with a certain tempo. Or certain schemes. Maybe schemes they ran successfully that we didn’t run and a formation or two. We’re not looking to overhaul anything. With Mark, we knew he was a guy that had a little free time and had a wealth of experience. We thought it would be good to talk to him. We had the line coach of the Dolphins come in. We had some guys defensively that came to talk to us. Ideas get exchanged on opponents.”

Do coaches like to share information? “I think they love it. When you get them in the room, it’s fun to talk ball.”