Barry Jackson

Here’s what to expect from UM’s new receivers, tight ends

Teammates Mark Pope, left, and Daquris Wiggins, right, both signed with UM on Wednesday.
Teammates Mark Pope, left, and Daquris Wiggins, right, both signed with UM on Wednesday. cjuste@miamiherald.com

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Thursday:

• With rumors swirling about him possibly joining FSU’s coaching staff, UM receivers coach Ron Dugans declined to definitively say Wednesday if he will be back as UM’s receivers coach in 2018.

But whoever coaches UM’s three incoming receivers will have a lot to work with.

Dugans’ breakdown on each of the three:

On Southridge’s five-star Mark Pope, rated the nation’s 25th best overall prospect by Rivals: “Mark Pope has quicks, speed, he can catch the football. The thing with Mark Pope is he makes a lot of contested catches. Anybody can make the easy catch. But he makes a lot of contested catches. He does a good job. He’s a good route running, brings a lot to the table as far as skill set.”

On four-star IMG Academy’s Brian Hightrower, rated the nation’s 217th overall prospect by Rivals: “He brings size. He brings strength. To be that size [6-3], he’s athletic, good route runner. Good ball skills. We need his length. Good kid on the field, good kid off the field.”

On Southridge’s three-star Dequris Wiggins, who’s 6-3: “Wiggins wants to prove to everybody I don’t have all these stars but I’m the best receiver in the country. At Paradise [camp], he proved he’s a really good football player. He ran track this offseason. Got faster on track. Is a good route runner. Is willing to block. I want guys that can block, too. I like what Wiggins brings to the table. Every time I see him, he gets taller and taller. He’s got really good body control. I think he can be a really good natural receiver.”

Though Dugans declined to discuss the FSU rumors or his plans, in responding to a question about Evidence Njoku he did say he looked forward to working with him in a spring. Dugans attended FSU, which is one factor that has fueled speculation that he might join Willie Taggert’s staff.

• In Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory, UM has added two of players considered among the top six tight end prospects in this class.

Tight ends coach Todd Hartley said of Jordan:

“Brevin’s such a high-end player. He has unbelievable ball skills, just the ability to track a football and make the catch, body control in the air. Once he makes the catch, he’s such an athlete that he makes plays in space that most big men can’t make. And then he has the size and the girth to be able to break an arm tackle or run through a DB trying to tackle him. Then he has the ability to get on the line of scrimmage and be able to block anything that anybody throws at him, a defensive end, a linebacker, a safety, whatever it is.

“He’s very polished. He comes from an unbelievable high school program who’s won a lot of football games and they’ve played very, very high-level competition throughout his four years there at Bishop Gorman. You don’t want to say he’s ready-made, but he’s as close to ready-made as you’ll find throughout the high school ranks. He’s a good kid, too. He’s a competitor, he’s a leader. He’s been a leader of this class, so he kind of checks all the boxes.”

Hartley on Mallory: “He can run, he’s got great length. He really reminds you of a young David [Njoku]. He’s a track star like David was, he has unbelievable hands, a great kid, highly intelligent, just a matchup nightmare on the perimeter. You kind of see him – we play our tight ends two different ways, we have one that’s – both of them can be flexed out, both of them can be attached, but I’d say Will will probably be a little more flexed out than Brevin would be, kind of like David was a little more than Chris [Herndon]. He’s an unbelievable route-runner, we saw that at our Paradise Camp. He came here and nobody could cover the dude. He catches everything thrown his way, he’s very intelligent, very smart and he’s a competitor as well. I mean, it really doesn’t get much better than the two kids we got this year.”

Hartley said they will be roomates and told them they “will be brothers for life.”

• Looks like cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph is going to have a special relationship with incoming freshman cornerback Al Blades Jr. Rumph played with Blades’ father, who died in a 2003 car crash.

“The best leader when I was here, besides Ed Reed, was Al Blades,” Rumph said. “To see the same kind of person in his son, and now I get to coach him, it’s amazing. There are so many stories I can tell him about his dad. He probably doesn’t know.”

Al Blades, who was a first-team All Big East safety at UM, went undrafted in 2001 and spent two years with the 49ers.

Rumph, who left UM a year after Blades did, said he saw Al Blades Jr. “as a baby in the locker room, a little kid throwing up the U. It was a little more personal. At the same time, his stats and what he did as a player is what really stood out to us. If he wasn’t the person he is on the field, the personal part wouldn’t have a chance.”

• New UM cornerback DJ Ivey had six interceptions at South Dade High last season and “whenever I watched him, he kind of reminds me of myself,” Rumph said.

• UM offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said the staff isn’t considering moving Navaughn Donaldson from guard to tackle next season.

“I would say right now with where he is weight wise he's definitely going to be a guard down the road,” Brown said.

• Delone Scaife, the most ballyhooed of UM’s incoming offensive linemen, can play guard or tackle, according to Canes people.

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