Quarterback Jalen Hurts visited the Hurricanes on Sunday, and the Canes believe they have a good shot to land the Alabama grad transfer.
Hurts’ visit was his third in three days, after stops Friday in Maryland and Saturday at Oklahoma.
The Herald reported Saturday that Hurts would visit, and The Athletic reported Sunday that the visit with UM coaches was Sunday.
Hurts later dined with UM coach Manny Diaz and a large contingent of Canes people at a dinner at Prime 112.
UM’s best advantage in luring Hurts: new offensive coordinator Dan Enos, who was his quarterback coach last season at Alabama.
“I think he’s a great coach, a really smart football mind, and I’m blessed to have him,” Hurts said Jan. 5 of Enos.
Hurts said Enos helped him “in many different areas. Really polishing me up, taking me to the next level, getting better.”
But Hurts also has a relationship with Maryland coach Mike Locksley, who also previously coached him at Alabama.
A player in attendance at Sunday’s team meeting at the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility said he did not see Hurts at that meeting and that he also didn’t see receiver Jeff Thomas, who has asked coach Manny Diaz to reinstate him.
One person in contact with Thomas said Thomas was maintaining hope that Diaz would reinstate him but not necessarily very optimistic, either. He is awaiting a decision.
New UM coach Manny Diaz met with his team and introduced his new assistant coaches to them on Sunday night, and that represented the first opportunity for Diaz to make clear what already should be obvious to all of his players:
Last year wasn’t acceptable. And nobody, not a single one of you, should be tolerant of losing, or this isn’t the place for you. But all of you now have a fresh start, and only what you do from this point forward will matter.
To emphasize that message and further light a fire under his team, it would behoove Diaz - at some point in the coming months - to play the video that five-star receiver Jadon Haselwood posted on social media in recent days.
In the 20-minute video, Haselwood, his mother and others discuss his decision to attend Oklahoma instead of Miami or Georgia or anywhere else.
The discussion about Miami lasted several minutes, but here are Haselwood’s words that Diaz needs to play for his team:
“From a football standpoint, damn, how you lose to Duke, a basketball school? They got to a bowl game and they get blistered. That ain’t men I want to play with. Some of their players just be happy with losing and they don’t have no chip on their shoulder because they lost.”
Whether Haselwood’s comments were fair or not, this wasn’t the first suggestion of a problem with the attitude of some players. A former coach also expressed concern before he left.
“We need more unselfish guys who are going to help the team however possible,” offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said in late November, five weeks before his dismissal. “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 some players who complained about playing time, and others that the staff hoped would show more toughness physically and mentally. That needs to change.
Now let’s be clear: There have been a bunch of tough players on this team who care deeply about losing. DeeJay Dallas. Departing safety Jaquan Johnson. Shaq Quarterman. And many others.
But there have also been exceptions, UM people say.
Haselwood, incidentally, said in the video that one point – apparently last summer – “I really liked Miami. A stable program to tap into. Then Mark Richt retired.”
Asked by a friend in the video if he thought he could go to UM and change the culture, he said: “None of that matters. If you [are] going somewhere where it’s not stable, you still got to be able to win and make a change. I could have come in and [had] all those receiving yards and score all those touchdowns and none of that matters unless [you’re planning to go] to the NFL.
“Me changing that program around has nothing to do with anything.”
Haselwood’s mother, in the video, said she “fell in love” with former receivers coach Ron Dugans. “He was a wonderful person,” she said. “I was convinced it was going to be Miami.”
Haselwood, who is rated by Rivals as the No. 4 overall player in the 2019 class, said he heard that Richt was told to fire his son Jon, the quarterbacks coach, and refused, or “something like that.” But there is no evidence to suggest that’s accurate.
To set the tone for a new era of Canes football, Diaz had Hurricanes players at Sunday evening’s meeting run under ropes to attack tackling dummies inside the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility, as 247sports.com’s Andrew Ivins and others chronicled on Twitter. It was a WWE-wrestling style approach to mat drills.
Whether Haselwood’s words have merit or not, Diaz’s players need to hear them – if only to further motivate a team that needs to help re-establish the mentality that losing at Miami should never be shrugged off.