Barry Jackson

Where Mel Kiper ranks draft-eligible Miami Hurricanes. And UM eyeing a grad transfer

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Friday:

The Canes have no sure-fire first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft but they have several who could be picked between the second and fourth rounds.

Among draft-eligible players, ESPN’s Mel Kiper rates senior Gerald Willis 10th among defensive tackles, junior inside linebacker Shaquille Quarterman fifth among inside linebackers, junior defensive end Joe Jackson sixth among outside linebackers (even though he’s a college defensive end) and senior safety Jaquan Johnson 10th among safeties.

There’s optimism inside UM that Quarterman and fellow junior linebacker Mike Pinckney will return for their senior seasons. But nobody would be surprised if Jackson turns pro after an 8.5-sack season.

Some recruiting notes: UM, which is always active in the grad transfer market, became the first major program to offer Butler left tackle Tommy Kennedy, who was second-team All-Pioneer league last season... With UM oral commitment and four-star St. Thomas Aquinas linebacker Anthony Solomon now considering Michigan too, the Canes have been poking around on other linebackers, including Plant City-based James Gordon (a Minnesota commit) and Aquinas’ Jahmar Brown (a South Carolina commit). Neither yet has a UM offer...

One priority is snagging four-star Lakeland-based defensive end Lloyd Summerall, who is down to Nebraska, UF (he visits there Dec. 7) and UM (Dec. 14). He and teammate Keon Zipperer, the four-star tight end, both received in-home visits from several UM coaches this week, but they aren’t necessarily a package deal.

As far as intangibles are concerned, offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said there’s something that needs to be fixed with the program.

“We need more unselfish guys who are going to help the team however possible,” Brown said. “We have to do a good job as coaches of bringing in guys that are talented enough for this program but also love Miami and are tough individuals. It’s tough for you to be successful in the game of football and also in life if you’re mentally and physically soft.”

Over the past two years, there were players who complained about playing time, and others that the staff hoped would show more toughness. That needs to change.

How far or close is this offense from being what Brown wants in terms of players that are accountable, tough and leaders?

“I think we definitely unperformed a lot this year,” he said. ‘”We played some young guys at different spots that will be great for us in the future. We’re going to move forward with the guys that are committed to this program and continue to recruit guys that will help us win football games, coach these guys up and get better in every aspect and bring Miami to what Miami should be.”

Freshman fullback Realus George ended up playing fewer than a dozen offensive snaps, playing behind senior Trayone Gray.

“I believe he’ll be able to fill my shoes,” Gray said. “He weighs more than me. He could be even better than me, I told him that. I’m not like a real fullback, I just made the transition, but he’s a natural fullback. He’s got a lot of work to do and he could be good in the future.”

What does George need to work on? “Just pad level, but that’s [the same for] me too,” Gray said. “You know . . . pad level is one thing [that is important] when you’re a taller guy. Just, conditioning and staying in the playbook, and he’ll be fine.”

Sophomore Trajan Bandy closed the season well and is poised to become UM’s No. 1 cornerback next season with Michael Jackson departing.

“You see him make physical plays, blowing up a blocker and making a tackle three or four yards behind the line of scrimmage,” Richt said. “He plays corner and takes on blocks on the perimeter like a linebacker would in the box.”

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