Barry Jackson

UM loses impressive freshman for rest of spring

University of Miami coach Mark Richt has liked some of what he has seen through six spring football practices.
University of Miami coach Mark Richt has liked some of what he has seen through six spring football practices. mocner@miamiherald.com

A bunch of Canes notes after the sixth practice of the spring:

• Safety Gurvan Hall, a freshman early arrival who was expected to challenge for playing time at safety, will miss the remainder of spring practice because of a knee injury, coach Mark Richt said Saturday.

Hall could still yet emerge as a factor in August, competing for playing time behind starters Jaquan Johnson and Sheldrick Redwine.

Hall will be challenging safeties Amari Carter, Derrick Smith and Romeo Finley for a role on defense next season.

Smith and Finley have been working at linebacker in Miami’s nickel package.

Hall “hurt his knee, won’t be here the rest of spring,” Richt said. “He’ll be here, won’t practice. We don’t believe it’s going to be any surgical thing. You never know for sure, but probably four to six weeks.”

A UM official said Hall, in the initial spring practices, had shown an ability to break on the ball quickly, at one point signaling incomplete on a pass before the play had even finished.

Hall joins several other players sidelined in camp. Linebacker Zach McCloud will miss the remainder of spring ball with a wrist injury.

Receiver Ahmmon Richards, receiver Evidence Njoku and defensive end Demetrius Jackson aren’t full participants this spring because of late-season knee injuries. Richt said Njoku is rehabbing well.

Of Njoku, Richt said: “He’s not going to be able to do anything (this spring) but we believe in season he’ll be able to,” Richt said. “The key is how early in the summer is can he do everything to prepare. And I’m not even sure of that date yet.”

• Hayden Mahoney got first team right guard work Saturday ahead of Navaughn Donaldson.

“Hayden is a veteran, knows what to do, knows the calls,” Richt said. “He can play either guard, play center, and if you threw him at tackle he’d know what to do, too. He’s doing a really nice job for us and we’re just using a lot of different combinations. But we want him to be competing for a starting job and if he’s in the top five he’ll start. That’s just how it is. And he certainly knows what to do and is tough and is going to help us.”

• Richt said returning starter Tyree St. Louis is clearly ahead of Kai-Leon Herbert at left tackle. “There’s no competition (there) right now, no,” Richt said. “Tyree is by far ahead of Kai physically and mentally.”

But Richt said right tackle is unsettled, with George Brown playing with the starters but Zalon’tae Hillery also getting a lot of work.

• Freshman Delone Scaife, who can play both guard and center, “is talented enough to protect our edge, could throw his hat in the ring at tackle if we don’t get what we need.”

• Jahair Jones remains with the starters at left guard.

“He’s always been able to do it physically; mentally on a consistent basis it wasn’t always there,” Richt said. “Now that he’s sitting there as a starter it’s kind of changing his mindset, or at least it looks like it. He’s had very few missed assignments, he’s playing as physical as we would hope. Maybe a missed assignment here or there, but everyone’s doing that. Right now we’re very encouraged by Jahair.”

• UM welcomed the Margorie Stoneman Douglas team to practice.

“I didn’t even know for sure they were going to be here, didn’t get a chance to say hello,” Richt said. “But through the media I want to tell them we love them and we’ll have something to honor their school, the fallen schoolmates and coach and teachers in season.”

Richt said UM will have a tribute in honor of the victims of Stoneman Douglas masacre in conjunction with the Sept. 2 game against LSU at Arlington, Tx. Seventeen people were killed in that tragedy.

On Douglas students advocating change, Richt said, “Sometimes when change is needed people got to step up and stand up for what they believe. Everybody has different opinions for what should or shouldn’t happen, but the beauty of this country is the ability to say what you believe and have faith and confidence you’ll be heard. When you do it in numbers it makes a bigger statement. I’m proud of them for doing that.”

• Richt said UM had “way too many penalties today, the blood got pumping and guys started to lose their ability to function properly as far as alignments and things like that. Guys got a little fatigued. It was a warmer day than probably we’ve had in a while. But overall I love how these guys compete.

“We couldn’t even go with our three unit today even in 7 on 7, we just don’t have enough receivers now, not enough linemen, not enough people to do a 3 unit which is the first time in my career we’ve dealt with that. So we still need more help in recruiting.” 

QB PURSUIT

Oregon-based Michael Johnson, the Class of 2019 four-star quarterback that Miami apparently most covets, enjoyed his visit to UM’s campus this past week.

He told Canesport’s Matt Shodell that Miami is now in the lead.

"Everything went real well - Miami definitely impressed and all that," Johnson said. "I’d say yeah, right now they’ve pulled ahead."

But that could change depending on what Johnson thinks of his visits to LSU, Florida State, Penn State, Nebraska and Arizona State.

"I have a lot of other places to see," Johnson said. "I want to commit after I visit all those schools, and I’m not sure when I’m going to see them all."

He also hasn’t ruled out Oregon, where his father is an assistant coach.

Rivals rates Johnson the 122nd best player in the 2019 class.

Here are some things we’re hearing from UM spring football practice.

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