A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Wednesday:
▪ NFL draft analyst Tony Pauline said he expects UM defensive linemen Gerald Willis and Joe Jackson to go late in the second round or the third round in this month’s NFL Draft but has some concerns with each.
“Joe Jackson is solid but has to develop a full game; he gets exploited against the run,” Pauline said. “Willis is a little small and had just one real productive year. He must prove he’s more than a flash in the pan.”
Pauline said two UM prospects going under-the-radar are guard Venzell Boulware (“I like him a lot and nobody talks about him at all”) and defensive tackle Tito Odenigbo. Both should get a chance in NFL camps.
Pauline said safety Sheldrick Redwine “has good size and can develop into an NFL starter,” cornerback Michael Jackson has seen his stock fall (“he was awful during East-West Shrine practices”) and said Jaquan Johnson “is relegated to playing in certain systems. He runs slower than most linebackers and plays safety.”
▪ One longtime AFC scout who has studied the Canes prospects closely on tape and in person said he has a difficult time envisioning any Cane going before the third round.
But an NFC executive said he could make a case for Willis and Jackson in the second round, though he has no confidence they’ll be drafted that high.
The AFC scout said the concern with Willis is the spotty body of work before his breakout senior season, including the UF transfer and sitting out a year for personal reasons. That being said, UM coaches are said to be speaking very highly of Willis to teams, and he was a model teammate and great player last season.
The AFC scout noted that Willis “is big and can move and had stamina to play into the fourth quarter, which impressed me.”
With Joe Jackson, the scout said he doesn’t believe he’s as good as a half dozen other defensive ends in the draft but would still take him in the third round.
The scout and executive projected Jaquan Johnson as a third-day pick. One said he rates Redwine higher than Johnson. (Close friends Johnson and Redwine were teammates at Killian High and UM.)
The scout said he envisions Travis Homer as a No. 2 or No. 3 NFL back with special teams ability.
▪ Receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield likes Mark Pope’s progress — he had a long touchdown reception in the scrimmage — but Pope said he still must improve in terms of “me knowing what to do.”
Said Stubblefield: “He’s very gifted. He’s fast, he’s quick, catches the ball pretty naturally. The biggest thing is him understanding. Our offense is complex, but it’s very simple once you understand the foundation of it. What’s good with him is he’s up for the challenge, is doing some extra things so that he can learn what he needs to learn.
“We want him to be confident with what he’s doing. In years past it was a signal; now the quarterback has to speak it, we have to hear it, decipher what it means and act accordingly.”
▪ Stubblefield, on other receivers besides Jeff Thomas (who colleague Susan Miller Degnan wrote about on Tuesday):
On former Buffalo grad transfer KJ Osborn: “It’s no longer about how many stars he was out of high school, how much promise he has. This is his last year playing. He wants to be the best he can be.”
On Evidence Njoku: “I’m going to continue to challenge Evidence. Evidence has a tremendous amount of talent. We have to make sure that he has a sense of urgency about his development. There are times he wants to be the best and sometimes we have to motivate him to be the best. He’s improving, has been maybe a little banged up, battling back from that. If he comes out with a workmanlike mentality he’ll have a chance.”
▪ The UM men’s basketball team has five scholarships to give out this offseason, and their preference would be to add two high school players, two grad transfers and one transfer who would sit out a year. But that’s a flexible plan and UM will take the best players available.
Among the players we hear they’re pursuing, in no particular order:
1. Shooting guard Harlond Beverly, one of the better remaining unsigned players, visited UM two weeks ago but Miami has considerable competition from Michigan State, Georgia and others. Rivals ranks Beverly — who attends Montverde Academy not far from Orlando — as the 59th best player in the class.
Rivals’ Eric Bossi said the senior guard from Michigan “ is in my opinion the best available guard in the country not named Cole Anthony.
“Beverly is explosive, he can shoot with range, he does things pretty efficiently and he knows how to shine and get his while playing with other big time talent. Beverly took an official visit to Indiana recently, Kansas has made him a major priority and so has Georgia, Michigan is circling, Miami wants him and many others are trying to get a sniff. The more I see of him, I see a potential impact player anywhere in America and I have a feeling the race for his services is about to get very intense.”
2. Forward T.J. Holyfield, a grad transfer from Stephen A. Austin. He sat out last season with a knee injury but was all-conference the previous two years and averaged 10.7 points and 5.9 rebounds in three seasons there while shooting 53.4 percent from the field and 37.6 percent from three-point range.
He’s visiting UM this weekend and this is considered a three-team race among Miami, Illinois and Texas Tech.
3. Tristan Enaruna, who attended a prep school in Utah by way of the Netherlands. The 6-7 small forward is considering UM, Kansas and Creighton, among others. Georgia Tech, Texas Tech and Illinois have offered as well.
Rivals ranks him 105th among all 2019 prospects.
▪ UM already has eight scholarship players on its roster for next season: returnees Chris Lykes, Rodney Miller, Deng Gak, Sam Waardenburg, D.J. Vasiljevic, transfer guard Kameron McGusty (who averaged 9.2 points in two weeks at Oklahoma) and incoming freshmen Anthony Walker (a forward) and Isaiah Wong (a guard).