Barry Jackson

UM’s starting d-tackles thinking big; UM personnel notes

University of Miami defensive line football coach, Craig Kuligowski works with the team during practice, Monday morning, Aug. 15 , 2016.
University of Miami defensive line football coach, Craig Kuligowski works with the team during practice, Monday morning, Aug. 15 , 2016.

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Wednesday:

• The hallmark of the dominant UM teams has been dominant defensive line play. And UM has the opportunity to have that at tackle, with Richard McIntosh Jr. and Kendrick Norton.

I asked Norton if he and McIntosh ever discuss being the best in the ACC. He said yes, in part because they’re roommates.

But their personal goals extend beyond merely being the best tackle combo in the conference.

“We are expecting that,” Norton said of being among the best tackle duos in the nation. “We know we’re going to be expected to do more, contribute more, it’s going to be a lot of weight on our shoulders. But we embrace it.”

Norton, whose name has popped up on preseason watch lists for best players at their positions, said: “It’s crazy. Being a kid you dream of going to college, and when you get to college you have aspirations of being a good player. Seeing your name pop up feels good.”

McIntosh said coaches want him to improve on “taking on the double teams. To stay low, stay in my gap, to keep fighting.”

Norton told me that he and McIntosh study NFL defensive tackles on YouTube, including Philadelphia’s Tim Jernigan.

Depth behind McIntosh and Norton is shaky with the loss of Courtel Jenkins (bounced from the team) and Gerald Willis (season-long leave of absence), but Diaz said: “One thing that does have us excited is the way Pat Bethel continues to work. We have Anthony Moten who has made plays in games.”

Susan Miller Degnan has a lot more today from Diaz here.

* Norton said freshman end DJ Johnson is “doing good. He came summer B, so he’s still trying to catch up with the Summer A guys. He’s coming out here, learning fast, putting the work in. He doesn’t look out of shape … just like a young guy, he’s progressing.”

Trent Harris predicted Johnson is “going to help us out a lot.” Though some believe Johnson can move to tackle eventually, Harris said he’s “too fast” to move to end.

• We have heard raves about safety Amari Carter for months and he was the first name Shaq Quarterman mentioned when asked Wednesday what young players have caught his eye.

Norton said freshman end Jon Garvin “is doing real good. He works his moves well, is fast. Jon’s going to be a great player for us.”

• How much will linebacker Mike Smith be used at fullback, Diaz said, “That depends on situationally what the offense needs of him. But he’s a guy that from where he was last January to now has made massive improvements as a linebacker. A lot of that comes from his comfort level playing off the ball. The more he sees the game from that spot - I’m training him at Mike and WILL, and we’ll see.”

• Receiver Braxton Berrios’ quick take on freshman wideout Evidence Njoku: “He looks like (former UM tight end and Cleveland Browns rookie first-rounder David) Njoku. He’s lankier, may be taller (than David). He’s a very big body. It’s going to be exciting to see how he unfolds.”

Berrios also said that freshmen receivers Mike Harley and Jeff Thomas “look good as well.”

• FIU and former UM coach Butch Davis ended up hiring seven people with UM ties for his new gig. Among them: former staffers Kevin O’Neill (the Dolphins’ longtime trainer), Andreu Swasey and Aubrey Hill and former players Earl Little (director of player development) and Kenny Holmes (defensive line coach).

Here are a bunch of Dolphins personnel notes from my Wednesday post.

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