A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Wednesday:
▪ For years, wide receiver Braxton Berrios has heard reasons why he can’t do this or do that. Frankly, he’s sick of it.
“There always seemed to be an excuse,” he said.
Berrios will attack the next three months of pre-draft work with the same degree of intensity and preparation that he displayed as a student (he was valedictorian of his class in UM’s School of Business Administration) and as a player (he led UM with nine touchdown receptions this past season).
The first thing he wants to dispel:
“I’m over the quick, not fast thing,” he said two days before the Orange Bowl. “That [misconception] will be done by February. I’ll show it’s not a joke.”
Berrios is pleased he was invited to the Jan. 20 Senior Bowl, which includes several days of practices in front of NFL executives and scouts.
“It’s huge,” he said.
Given more opportunities in the passing game, Berrios had a career year as a receiver as a senior, with 54 catches for 670 yards, a 12.4 average.
He also boosted his punt return average from 11.3 as a junior to 15.9 (13 for 207).
Draft analyst Tony Pauline told me last month that Berrios is “potentially a pro prospect. Came into the year as a low-level free agent. Not really big. Really needs to run well in workouts to show he can play in the slot. He has quickness the first 10 yards and catches the ball well. If he runs well [in workouts], he will get consideration as a late-round pick.”
▪ Berrios hired South Florida-based Drew Rosenhaus to represent him.
The only other Canes players whose agent hires have been made public: Chad Thomas, Kendrick Norton and Chris Herndon, who all hired South Florida-based Malki Kawa.
▪ Four-star tight end Brevin Jordan, who signed with UM on Dec. 20, has told Rivals that he expects to start as a freshman.
And that wouldn’t surprise UM coaches.
“He’s a special player,” coach Mark Richt told WQAM’s Joe Rose this week. “He can get on the line of scrimmage and block like a true on-the-line type and he can play in the backfield as an H-back. He can run routes, catch balls out of a spread look, very versatile, very smart, tough, motivated.
“People use the term alpha dog. He is that kind of a guy. He’s a leader. I think he’s a guy that will play big in big games. I don’t think being a freshman will slow him down, to be honest with you. He’s going to come in, and I think he’s going to come in and produce right away.”
▪ Richt told Rose that his freshmen will again have every opportunity to play immediately.
“We believe [they] have the skill set to make us better at every position across the board and we’re going to allow them to compete and see if they can do it,” Richt said. “We’ve had it happen for the last couple years: Freshmen come in; some become starters, some become leaders, some become guys that are in the rotation [and] some are helping us big on special teams.
“I mean, Travis Homer, his freshman year, was mainly a special teams guy, but he was the best one we had. And then when it was time for him to play this year and take on a larger role because Mark Walton got hurt, he was ready for that. It was not a shock to his system, all of a sudden playing a lot. He was playing a lot as a freshman. It just happened to be on special teams.”
▪ According to Canesport, UM is showing interest in four-star Ohio based linebacker Xavier Peters, a Kentucky oral commitment rated ninth by Rivals among outside linebackers and 143rd overall among all 2018 prospects.
Peters reportedly would have interest in Miami if UM offered him a scholarship.
Despite the risk of losing Shaquille Quarterman (or perhaps Zach McCloud or Mike Pinckney) after their junior seasons in 2018, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz told me last month that UM is reluctant to use many scholarships at linebacker this recruiting cycle (beyond signee Patrick Joyner) because none are graduating.
(After my conversation with Diaz, Darrion Owens subsequently transferred and Jamie Gordinier quit the team because of a history of knee injuries).
UM is now reassessing whether to add a second linebacker. Also, the 2019 national recruiting class is loaded at linebacker, and UM believes it’s in the mix for several of those players.
Richt said UM can sign as many as 27 players, giving the Hurricanes eight more scholarships to use beyond the 19 already signed. UM has one oral commitment who hasn’t signed but plans to: Plantation American Heritage defensive tackle Nesta Silvera.
Meanwhile, UM also has offered a scholarship to College of the Canyons (California) defensive end Dorian Gerald, and Gerald is considering UM, according to Canesport. The junior college player, a South Carolina native, plans to visit Louisville and Florida and might visit UM. He was at one time a Tennessee oral commitment. He had 10 sacks and two forced fumbles last season.
And four-star Kissimmee-based defensive end/tackle Dennis Briggs told the Miami Herald that UM is in the lead for his services and he will visit this weekend.
▪ Mike Farrell, Rivals’ national recruiting coordinator, ranks UM sixth in his first preseason assessment, behind Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Georgia and Oklahoma.
“The Hurricanes flopped down the stretch and I worry about the quarterback play, but the defense is going to be downright nasty and they are adding more offensive playmakers,” Farrell said. “The ACC isn’t very tough next season, and they could take it a step further and approach a playoff berth or at least give Clemson a better title game.”
Here’s what Farrell said last month about UM’s incoming class.