Barry Jackson

Here’s what we’re hearing after five Miami Hurricanes spring football practices

Miami Hurricanes quarterback N'Kosi Perry (5), seen here on the sidelines during the Dec. 30 Orange Bowl game, has improved in his second year on campus.
Miami Hurricanes quarterback N'Kosi Perry (5), seen here on the sidelines during the Dec. 30 Orange Bowl game, has improved in his second year on campus. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Some buzz from UM spring practice through five sessions:

▪ Quarterback N’Kosi Perry has improved, but one observer said his deep ball is not as good as Malik Rosier’s even though Perry’s arm is excellent.

Perry sometimes spins out of trouble when he’s under pressure and ends up turning his back on a play — in other words toward his own backfield. But that can be corrected.

And there has been overall growth in his game. He’s playing more relaxed.

“It seems like some first-year quarterbacks, they’re not vocal because they don’t want to say the wrong thing,” center Tyler Gauthier said last week. “Now, you can tell he’s more assertive. He’s going to walk in there and he wants eyes on him in the huddle. He’s going to make a play call and we’re going to run it and that’s the way it’s going to be. It’s definitely good to see him step up as a leader like that.”

Rosier has a solid camp. He made one of the best plays in camp, avoiding a blitz, ducking out of traffic and running for a touchdown of close to 40 yards.

Jarren Williams has impressed everyone with his arm strength but must learn to vary the speed on his throws. Mark Richt previously said he doesn’t expect Williams to challenge for the starting job this spring but that he might in August.

Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt speaks to reporters about how his team did on National Signing Day at the University of Miami's Schwartz Center in Coral Gables on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018.

One UM official said Cade Weldon clearly has improved. He’s big, strong, can throw on the run and has a good grasp of the offense.

▪ Feedback has been positive on early enrollee receivers Brian Hightower and Daquris Wiggins. Wiggins, in particular, has shown good hands.

▪ Early enrollee Greg Rousseau has made an impression at defensive end. He’s a patient pass rusher and on one play in the past week, he used his long arms to knock the ball away from Rosier.

We hear Jon Garvin also has taken another step in his development.

“It’s kind of like a fresh slate,” Garvin said. “With DJack [Demetrius Jackson] out [this spring recovering from a late-season knee injury] I have to step up. When he gets back coach says it’s going to be a fair opportunity [to start] so I’ll be looking to battle with him. He’s great and I think he’s going to be great when he gets back as well.”

Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said Garvin “can still do the thing where he runs around, can bend and turn the corner in a way a guys his size shouldn’t be able to do. He’s remarkably never off his feet because his center of gravity is so low. But the neatest part was a play yesterday where a quarterback flushes out of the pocket and [Garvin] sprints from one side of the hash all the way to the other sideline to run the guy out of bounds for no gain. That’s just playing with a sense of urgency, and that’s the hardest thing for young players to understand.”

▪ We hear tight end Michael Irvin needs to do more to help the quarterback, such as catching balls that aren’t thrown perfectly.

▪ Cornerback Jhavonte Dean is getting a lot of reps with the first team in practice but still has work to do.

When UM opens with three corners, Dean and Michael Jackson could open on the boundary with Trajan Bandy in the slot.

“I feel like I’m ready,” Dean said of starting. “Coach [Mike] Rumph coaches me very well, I’m very well prepared. He feels I have improved.”

Diaz said of Dean: “He’s getting more confident in his technique,” Diaz said. “From an ability standpoint, his ability to run, his length, all his physical attributes are off the charts so now it’s just really feeling comfortable with his technique so he can lean on (that). … This month is vital for him and we like the way he’s coming along.”

▪ We hear the early enrollee corners, D.J. Ivey and Gilbert Frierson, have displayed an ability to break on passes quickly. Same with safety Gurvan Hall, another early enrollee.

Diaz said that Ivey has “nudged ahead” ahead of Frierson “because of his urgency, a little greater attention to detail.”

Diaz said they “both have outstanding length, are highly competitive guys. They can both run, make plays on the ball.”

Diaz also says he likes the physicality both bring to the position and that “they need to get up to speed in a hurry” given the team’s need at the position.

“Oh, Ivey’s the real deal — Ivey and Gil are the real deal,” Bandy said. “They’ve impressed a lot of guys. They’ve been impressive in one on ones, correct me on a lot of my stuff when I mess up on the field. And they’re becoming leaders too.”

▪ Linebacker Mike Pinckney said linebacker Mike Smith has raised his game with Zach McCloud sidelined for the rest of the spring with a wrist injury.

Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt addresses the media after UM lost to the Wisconsin Badgers 34-24 in the Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Saturday, December 30, 2017.

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