Barry Jackson

The reviews are mixed for some of Hurricanes’ second-year offensive weapons in spring

UM tight end Michael Irvin II (87) has had some good moments this spring.
UM tight end Michael Irvin II (87) has had some good moments this spring. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Tuesday:

▪ Through 10 of 15 spring practices/scrimmages, there is mixed news on UM’s second-year offensive weapons.

The good news: Running back DeeJay Dallas and receiver Jeff Thomas look really good. Receiver Mike Harley Jr. continues to impress with his toughness.

The unsettling news: Though Michael Irvin Jr. has improved, neither he nor Brian Polendey is at the level Miami wants, especially Polendey.

“Mentally, Irvin is night and day different from where he was a year ago,” tight ends and special teams coach Todd Hartley said. “As far as missed assignments, knowing what he’s supposed to do, where he’s supposed to be, he’s been on top of it. Lot of improvement in his work ethic. He’s done that. He’s matured, not where I want him. He’s better than where he was at. He has improved finishing. There’s no quit. He still has his moments. I’m impressed by his progress so far.”

But.....

“Both of them need to get stronger,” Hartley said of Irvin and Polendey. “When we tee up against LSU in Dallas and play Florida State, Virginia Tech. ... [They’ve] got to get stronger at the point of attack. We have to be able to block these guys. They’re great running routes. I would like them to catch the ball more consistently. But we’ve got to get stronger at the point of attack, both of those guys.”

Hartley said ballyhooed freshmen Will Mallory and Brevin Jordan will arrive in May or June.

▪ Thomas and Harley are both working a lot in the slot.

The son of Hall of Fame receiver and former Hurricane Michael Irvin talks about what his first month and a half at UM has been like. Aug. 8, 2016. Video by Manny Navarro.

On Thomas, receivers coach Ron Dugans said: “He’s done an unbelievable job. He’s played a little bit of inside lane and outside lane, just to get him at-bats [outside as well as inside]. In the scrimmage, he had three catches and three explosive plays and two touchdowns. The kid has been really electric for us. Mike Harley is pushing him.”

▪ Hartley said Dallas, Thomas and Harley are top options for punt returns.

As for kickoff returns, “Jeff Thomas has a pretty strong hold on that,” Hartley said, adding that Lorenzo Lingard, Dallas and Travis Homer could get a look on kickoffs. “Jeff Thomas is one of our best players. He’s electric with the ball in his hands.”

▪ With Ahmmon Richards limited this spring after December knee surgery, Lawrence Cager, Darrell Langham and Dayall Harris are competing on the boundary at receiver.

“Cager was getting there, getting there and it’s like, OK he’s starting to come along,” Dugans said. “And then the last scrimmage he didn’t grade out so well. It wasn’t one of his better days in that scrimmage. I would like to see more out of him getting consistent. Actually him and Langham, my two bigger guys, I want to see those guys play bigger. They have to play to their true size and dominate. I want Langham’s role to expand. The one thing we’ve got to do at that position is improve taking from the classroom and individual drills to live drills. We haven’t done that on a consistent basis.”

UM quarterbacks Malik Rosier, N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams pass to tight ends on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.

Richards should be fine for the start of summer camp. “He’s been running some routes, catching some balls. That’s just about it,” Dugans said. “One time he ran a route, he didn’t have his brace on. What are you doing, man? I think he feels good. I am glad to see him back out here.”

▪ Dugans, on early arrival receivers Brian Hightower and Daquris Wiggins: “I think both guys can help us. Hightower is doing a better job of playing with his pad level. When he first got here, he was playing really high, trying to block people really high. He did a really good job today. Wiggins is doing a good job, also. He’s just still swimming. He hasn’t got it yet. Those guys can help us.”

▪ Hartley said Bubba Baxa, who hasn’t arrived yet on campus, likely will be the kicker. “We signed Bubba Baxa to be our starting kicker,” Hartley said. “That’s our expectation. He knows that. I said that’s a lot of pressure on you. Mike Badgley is leaving. I am signing one kicker for you to be the starting kicker at Miami. He knows that.”

Turner Davidson has impressed this spring and would be an option if Baxa flops in August.

Punter “Jeff Feagles has done a good job” this spring, Hartley said.

Susan Miller Degnan will have a post later with comments from quarterbacks coach Jon Richt and offensive line coach Stacy Searels, who revealed today that Navaughn Donaldson was shifted from right guard to right tackle at least for now, possibly for good.

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