Barry Jackson

Some UM legacy kids struggling to measure up; Canes nuggets

UM's Michael Irvin II (87) at the University of Miami's first day of football practice for the 2017 season, Miami, Florida, August 1, 2017.
UM's Michael Irvin II (87) at the University of Miami's first day of football practice for the 2017 season, Miami, Florida, August 1, 2017. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

UM chatter:

• One lesson learned in recent years, as one UM official put it: Don’t get your hopes up when the Hurricanes sign a sibling/son/cousin of a former UM standout. Almost always this decade, they haven’t quite measured up to their famous father/uncle/brother.

Linebacker Ray Lewis Jr.’s brief tenure here included a suspension. He never played a down at Miami and then transfered to Coastal Carolina and later was cleared of sexual assault charges after an initial indictment.

Quarterback Kevin Olsen (brother of tight end Greg Olsen) failed a drug test, was bounced from UM, surfaced at Towson State, wore out his welcome there, enrolled at the University of Charlotte and will be arraigned on rape charges on Sept. 28.

Jeff James Jr., nephew of Edgerrin James, left the program this spring after it became clear he wouldn’t play; he’s now at a Mississippi junior college.

Defensive end Scott Patchan, son of former UM standout Matt Patchan, has undergone three knee operations, and while UM hopes he will contribute this season, he played just six snaps in 2016. So this is more an injury than talent issue.

Vincent Testaverde, a walk-on and son of the Heisman Trophy winner, likely won’t ever play a meaningful down here.

UM defensive end Scott Patchan is doing well and ready to contribute after two ACL surgeries.

UM had concerns last season, from a maturity standpoint, with tight end Michael Irvin Jr., who was suspended for the bowl game, and one UM official said even walk-on Malik Curry at times has shown more than Irvin this summer.

Though tight ends coach Todd Hartley said Irvin is intelligent and has good hands, here’s the problem: “His conditioning,” Hartley told me Monday. “He’s got to be able to go four, five six plays in a row without tapping the helmet [to come out]. That’s something we’ve told him. Chris Herndon can’t go the whole time. Chris can go eight plays in a row but hell, I can’t have him go 10, 12 plays in a row.”

Injuries prevented Nick Linder from being as good as his brother/Jacksonville Jaguars starter Brandon Linder, and he abruptly left the team last week after it became clear Tyler Gauthier likely would win the center job. His offensive line coach, Stacy Searels, refused to acknowledge Linder’s existence when asked about him this week.

Certainly, a few legacy kids have helped this decade. Anthony Chickillo (son of Tony) was a good player but never fully fulfilled his potential because UM played him at the wrong position. AJ Highsmith (son of Alonzo) was a solid safety and impressive young man and is now working for the 49ers’ scouting department.

Patrick Bethel Jr., son of former UM tight end Randy Bethel, showed promise this spring after moving from end to tackle, and he and Anthony Moten will be UM’s No. 3 and No. 4 d-tackles, in some order.

But here’s the bottom line, as one UM football employee said: Canes fans should curb their expectations when UM lands familiar last names. Often, you’re setting yourself up for a letdown.

Hopefully, four-star 2018 commitment Al Blades Jr. will be the first truly great UM legacy kid this decade. A cornerback with size (6-0) and very good closing speed, he has a real chance to be.

Miami Hurricane defensive end Chad Thomas relives his fumble recovery that led to a touchdown against Pittsburgh on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016.

• For years, some UM officials wondered if Chad Thomas’ work in the music industry took anything away from his ability to focus on football.

“You know, we’re certainly worried about it, but it certainly hasn’t gotten in the way at all,” defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski said Monday.

And Thomas makes a good point: “I could easily go back to Liberty City and be caught up in [trouble]. So I stay home in the studio and make [music].”

Thomas is UM’s only remaining five-star recruit, and Kuligowksi said: “He’s a really top-end talent guy and his performance has not really matched.... his potential. I’ve coached some guys who made a big transformation their senior year and I hope he does.”

• As our Susan Miller Degnan reported earlier, defensive tackle Jon Ford enrolled this week, meaning every member of UM’s 2017 class qualified.

Safeties coach Ephraim Banda, the only UM assistant coach who spoke to reporters on Thursday, said of Ford: “The big thing that Jon needs to do is, I know Coach Kool [Kuligowski] is talking about this, is one, get in training camp shape. But two, learn to just chase the ball and go from whistle to whistle. That’s what we tell all of our young guys now. I’m going to tell Derrick Smith the same thing that Coach Kool is going to tell Jon - just learn how to run to the ball. You are going to screw things up, it’s going to happen. That’s why they call us ‘coach.’ Your job as a young guy is to develop a standard of chasing the ball and tackling the proper way first. That’s all Jon’s got to worry about. We will figure out where he’s got to go later....

“Jon Ford loves Miami. He was coming to this place, had a passion for this place, was dying to get here…the smile on this face, when I saw him walking down the hallway, I turned the corner and I saw this big old grin. He loves this place and we are super excited. It was kind of like what Coach [Manny] Diaz said - we removed the Christmas tree, put it all away and found a little gift in the back corner. Actually, it wasn’t a little gift, it was a big gift back there.”

Ford, who is 6-5 and 275 pounds, will compete with Tyriec Martin and Ryan Fines for the No. 5 defensive tackle job behind starters Richard McIntosh Jr. and Kendrick Norton and top backups Moten and Bethel.

• An involved source said today he fully expects the UM-Alabama 2021 opener in Atlanta to happen, though nothing is signed.

Hurricanes coach Mark Richt talks about how the UM quarterbacks performed during the scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, at Hard Rock Stadium.

This is my final post until Aug. 28. Please check back then.

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