Barry Jackson

This star recruit is improving. And why UM left home turnover chain from spring game.

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Tuesday:

UM has only two Rivals.com five-star recruits on the roster, and while one of them (Lorenzo Lingard) was sidelined this spring recovering from major knee surgery last fall, the other — receiver Mark Pope — displayed some measure of improvement.

Pope didn’t play a lot as a freshman — and caught only one pass — in part because he didn’t know the playbook well enough and didn’t always run routes correctly, according to sources.

But he has displayed growth in those areas this spring.

He had two catches for 34 yards in the scrimmage at Traz Powell Stadium on April 13, then had two catches for 23 yards in the spring game in Orlando. He also took an end-around in the Traz Powell scrimmage and scampered for 52 yards.

K.J. Osborn, the grad transfer receiver from Buffalo who has taken on a mentoring role with the group, saw some of the limited tape from Pope’s 2018 season and sees improvement. Most importantly, Pope is doing extra work to make sure he runs routes correctly.

“Mark Pope is a guy that wants to get better,” Osborn said. “He meets with [wide receivers] coach [Taylor Stubblefield] every morning at 6 something, before breakfast and treatment. He’s in there at 6 trying to get the plays down. I watched some of the film from last year [and] he’s progressed a lot. Coach [Stubblefield] always talks about he’s so quick, he’s fast, he runs really good routes. He’s a guy that wants to get better; so that’s good to see.”

With Dan Enos now running UM’s offense, look for Miami to take some plays that Alabama used in his one season there as quarterbacks coach.

Osborn revealed that his 80-yard catch-and-run scoring play on Saturday — on a pass from Tate Martell — was something Enos brought with him from Alabama.

“Jerry Jeudy scored on it a couple times,” Osborn said. “I knew it could be a big play. Tate threw me a good ball, and I was able to make a defender [walk-on Gannon Feldman] miss.”

Osborn said from going against UM’s young cornerbacks in practice every day, he’s feeling encouraged: “DJ Ivey is a long corner, very patient. All the corners are really smart with leverage and how they play you.”

Osborn — who picked UM over FSU and North Carolina — said: “I’m definitely happy I made the transfer [here]. I think I did OK [this spring]. I can’t lead if I don’t know what I’m doing, so I’m one of the guys that is getting the offense down really well. That’s one thing I wanted to be, a leader.”

It’s highly likely that Osborn and Jeff Thomas will play a lot. Mike Harley Jr., Pope, Brian Hightower, Dee Wiggins and impressive freshman Jeremiah Payton will also push for playing time, with Evidence Njoku needing to make up a lot of ground.

At a Hurricanes Club event before Saturday’s game, coach Manny Diaz said UM didn’t bring the turnover chain to Orlando because “we’re working on something for the offense. We would love to have a touchdown chain.” Diaz expects an offensive equivalent to be in place by the Aug. 24 opener against the Gators.

The new redshirt rule — allowing players to redshirt if they play in no more than four games — will help UM with several players, including Patrick Joyner Jr., who was limited to four games last season and will thus be a redshirt freshman this fall. Joyner came on strong this spring.

“Patrick Joyner stepped up at linebacker,” Diaz said. “That’s who he was in high school. We recruited him with the idea of being both.”

And UM gets help this summer with the arrival of well-regarded freshmen linebackers Avery Huff and Sam Brooks.

“We speak to them,” senior linebacker Mike Pinckney said of the two freshmen. “I talk to them on Instagram or we see them out at practice, but the standard is the standard. When they get here, they’re going to realize what kind of environment they’re in and they’re going to realize that they have to compete.”

Pinckney’s message to them now is “enjoy your senior year of high school. You don’t get that time back. When you get here it’s time to work.”

Quick stuff: Diaz and his assistants are having exit meetings with players this week to tell them “here’s where you are [and] if you want to become ‘this guy,’ here’s where you have to go.”…

UM is among six finalists for four-star Class of 2020 Connecticut quarterback Tyler Van Dyke...

Well deserved: Hurricanes radio broadcasters Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey, Jr. have been selected to receive the UM Sports Hall of Fame President’s Distinguished Service Award at the Hall of Fame’s 51st Annual induction banquet on Thursday, May 2 at Jungle Island.

Zagacki began working Hurricanes games during the 1983 national championship season and will begin his 20th season as UM’s play-by-play man next season. Bailey will begin his 20th season as the Canes’ color analyst working with Zagacki. The Pinstripe Bowl in December was their 250th broadcast together.

Here’s part 1 of my series with thoughts and news from UM offensive coordinator Dan Enos, shared at a luncheon and afterward in Pinecrest on Monday.... Here’s part 2 of the series... Part 3 will run May 1.

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