Barry Jackson

Why a UM coach mentioned two NFL All-Pros in discussing touted Hurricanes freshman

University of Miami freshman wide receiver Mark Pope (6) runs a drill during the first day of fall training camp on Saturday.  Pope has impressed UM people since his arrival in May.
University of Miami freshman wide receiver Mark Pope (6) runs a drill during the first day of fall training camp on Saturday. Pope has impressed UM people since his arrival in May. mocner@miamiherald.com

A six-pack of UM notes on a Monday:

UM cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph offers a unique perspective on the Hurricanes’ new receivers as the man tutoring the players charged with stopping them.

The group of Mark Pope, Brian Hightower, Daquris Wiggins and Marquez Ezzard already have left an impression.

After the five-star Pope arrived in May, cornerback Michael Jackson “told me Pope struggled a bit first two days [this summer],” Rumph said recently. “They say they got him one time because ‘[some freshmen receivers] don’t know how to move off the line against us.’”

But Rumph said “Pope is so crafty, he reminds me of an old school Jerry Rice guy because he has so many moves off the line. [Besides] his speed, he looks so comfortable catching the ball on film. His routes are run really smoothly, almost like a Chad Johnson type of guy because of good footwork. He was my favorite recruit coming in.”

As for Hightower, an early enrollee who excelled this spring, Rumph said: “Hightower made me laugh. In practice [this past spring], we did a good job against him and when the lights came on [in the spring game], he was a whole other player.”

Hightower appears ready for a meaningful offensive role, unless he stops progressing in August.

Wiggins, meanwhile, “is a good route runner [but] he has to get a little more physical,” Rumph said. “I love his route running and how he caught the ball.”

UM is thrilled to have back Demetrius Jackson, its best run-defending defensive end who had knee surgery last November.

In fact, UM plans to use him at both defensive end (his natural position) and tackle.

“I know I’m playing inside in some different packages,” Jackson said. “Whatever the coaches need me at, because I can do it. Most of my success last year came playing inside, so I can play it. I’m a strong boy, I can play it.”

Jackson, who had 3.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss among his half-dozen games last season, has lost seven pounds (to 263) and said: “It’s been a span of 10 months since the last time I played ball. [It’s] a blessing to be back out here. I feel great, in my best shape I’ve been since I’ve been here.”

Among UM’s true freshman defensive tackles (Jordan Miller and Nesta Silvera), Jackson said Miller “started off a little slow coming out of high school but now he’s shed the pounds and is looking real good.”

And Silvera, according to junior Joe Jackson, “has got a lot of power. He has to learn to do different moves, but he’s got a lot of potential. He comes off that ball, his initial punch is very strong. Once he learns the plays better, gets a few more techniques to his resume, he’s going to be a very hard guy to stop.”

Travis Homer held up well physically last year after Mark Walton’s season-ending injury against FSU but said he gained seven pounds this offseason to further withstand the physical toll of a season. He’s now just above 200 pounds.

Homer is clearly No. 1 on the depth chart at running back, with DeeJay Dallas No. 2 and Lorenzo Lingard, Cam Davis and Robert Burns competing behind them.

Homer said Lingard “likes to lower his shoulder a little more than Cam.”

Carol City’s Denzel Daxon, one of only two defensive tackles that had been orally committed to UM for the 2019 class, de-committed when it became clear he was no longer a UM priority.

Mike Tunsil, the former Hialeah Champagnat coach, told Canesport.com that there was “no communication” from UM toward Daxon and that Daxon “wasn’t a Jess guy.” That’s new UM defensive line coach Jess Simpson.

UM has one pure defensive tackle committed: three-star Buford, Georgia-based Jalar Holley. UM also is pursuing others. And St. Thomas Aquinas defensive end Jason Munoz told me over the weekend that UM plans to use him some at defensive tackle.

Why did four-star South Dade High receiver Frank Ladson commit to Clemson over UM and others earlier this year?

“There’s a lot of energy there and everybody knows each other,” he told me Saturday, adding he also likes the school’s academics.

He said he also strongly considered UM and said choosing Clemson was not because he believes the Tigers are much closer to a national title than Miami.

And yes, Ladson has heard from friends who wish he hadn’t chosen the school that beat UM in the ACC Championship last December.

“If you are from Miami and not going to Miami, you are going to hear from them,” he said.

He said UM is still pursuing him but he’s “all in” with Clemson.

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