Barry Jackson

UM’s Richt talks crime rates, personnel issues

A six-pack of UM notes on a Monday:

• When Mark Richt addressed reporters at the Atlantic Coast Conference media session last Friday in Charlotte, it was natural to expect references to the team’s quarterback battle and its formidable defense.

What you didn’t necessarily expect was Richt referencing crime rates.

Richt has been pushing the narrative that parents don’t need to worry about their sons attending UM because Coral Gables is different, and safer, than the perception of Miami fueled on TV shows (such as Miami Vice) and elsewhere.

Richt and his staff have done a good job making that case; Miami has the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class for 2018, according to Rivals and 247sports.

Asked by an out-of-town reporter on Friday about the initial U movie on ESPN – which detailed crime in the city during UM’s reign of dominance – Richt said:

“For a lot of people, that’s what they know about Miami. Those and the Notre Dame-Miami series. If that’s all they know about Miami, then, ‘Gosh, I don’t know about that place.’ I can promise you it’s a beautiful place.

“If you take the city of Coral Gables and the stats of the crime in Coral Gables and compare it to all the cities in the south, ACC, SEC, I don’t care where it is, and take those towns and take the actual crime reports the law forces you to provide, you are going to see it’s probably the safest environment you have. People don’t know that. People think it’s a state university. It’s a private university, 10,000 students.

“They don’t understand a lot of things about it. I can’t tell you how many parents have gone, ‘I have a completely different feel than I thought I would. Our son is like, please let’s go look.’ And then they see and say, ‘Wow. I get it.’”

According to bestplaces.net/crime, Coral Gables has a score of 16 on the violent crime rate, which is much better than the U.S. average of 31.1. Violent crime includes murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

For property crime (burglary, larceny theft, motor vehicle theft and arson), Coral Gables has a score of 56, compared to the U.S. average of 38.1.

“Let’s say all you know is the 30 for 30 you watch on TV,” Richt said of the two ESPN films about UM football, “and whatever you see on the news on Miami, you’re like, I don’t know. You’re a parent you say I don’t know. When the parents come and see the place for the first time, they realize it’s an intimate private school education. Classroom size is 18 to 22. You have the weather all year around. The campus looks like a resort. The campus is not in Miami.

It’s in Coral Gables, one of the most beautiful cities in South Florida. [They say] this experience for my son feels really good to me. If we just get them on campus, they see it.”

• Richt acknowledged concerns about depth at tight end, where Michael Irvin Jr. and freshman Brian Polendey are the only backups (on scholarship) behind Chris Herndon.

“Well Chris Herndon, I’ve got a lot of faith in,” Richt said. “He’s one of the better tight ends I’ve been around. Very physical at the point of attack, good route runner, good ball skills. Probably runs a 4.6 at 255 pounds. He’s very smart and he of all our players has to adjust more than anybody we have. We’ll call certain plays and formations and he’s the guy that moves the most, has to understand where to be. If we want to go the tempo we want to go, when he hears the play he has to know where to go.”

• And behind Herndon?

“We’re young, inexperienced, and I don’t know if we’re ready to play championship football,” Richt said. “There’s time between now and then where Irvin can get there, Polendey is a young freshman. I’d be very concerned if something happened to Chris, I can tell you that.”

• At linebacker, Richt said Shaq Quarterman is “in much better condition, is lighter and leaner. And he’s smarter. His IQ didn’t change, but his football IQ changed because he understands the game better. He’s also a tremendous leader for our defense and our team as early as it is in his career.”

• Richt told WQAM that right tackle Tyree St. Louis “looks awesome” and right guard Navaughn Donaldson is down to 335 to 340 pounds after enrolling at 380 pounds in January.

“He’s changed his body in a short time,” Richt said. “We have some of these skinny receivers showing up and all of a sudden they are five or eight pounds heavier. For some of these guys that’s a lot of weight. “Kids understand what the goal is, what’s expected of them.”

• Richt, on WQAM, referenced left guard Trevor Darling in making a point that veterans will need to compete for their jobs.

“I can see Darling getting a lot better because he sees Kai-Leon Herbert back there, a freshman coming to compete,” Richt said. “So these guys go `I better pick it up, if I want to keep my job I have to go.”

Richt added “We got guys coming in that ultimately could take a veteran’s job, let’s face it.”

Here’s my six-pack of nuggets from Richt from Friday night, if you missed them...

This is the second in a flurry of posts this morning. Please click here on Dion Waiters being all-in on a potential Dwyane Wade return to the Heat, should it ever happen. And please check back for more shortly.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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