Barry Jackson

Here’s what UM people are saying on more than a dozen Hurricanes football players

What we’re hearing as UM moves into its voluntary summer football workouts:

One player the Canes are especially excited about: Running back Cam’Ron Harris (formerly known as Cam’Ron Davis). One official in regular attendance at UM spring practices predicts he’s going to be a star.

He followed his excellent work late last season (5.9 per carry average) with a terrific spring.

And even though his contributions in the passing game were limited last season (three catches for 25 yards), UM people believe he will become a dangerous weapon out of the backfield because he has good hands and breakaway speed.

Watch for that element of his game to evolve this season.

UM looks to be in excellent shape at running back the next few years with Harris, Lorenzo Lingard (the five-star recruit should be ready for summer drills after last fall’s knee surgery), DeeJay Dallas (two years of eligibility remaining; had team best 1,260 all-purpose yards last season) former Mr. Alabama Asa Martin (the Auburn transfer must sit out the 2019 season) and elite 2020 commit Don Chaney Jr.

And UM offensive coordinator Dan Enos said he was impressed by Robert Burns before his latest injury (a knee issue) sidelined him late in spring ball.

Receiver talk: One UM official described K.J. Osborn as a better version of both Lawrence Cager (who transferred to Georgia) and Darrell Langham and raved about how reliable early enrollee Jeremiah Payton was in practices this spring.

Brian Hightower also was coming on before his knee injury. But Dee Wiggins and Evidence Njoku must become more reliable, one UM person said.

And the key issue at receiver is how UM is going to combat the “vice coverage” that teams threw at Jeff Thomas last year, which limited his production at times.

Opposing defensive coordinators — determined not to let Thomas beat them — had defenders poised to pounce both inside and outside against Thomas last year, and Enos and receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield must figure out a way to combat that.

Against FIU, North Carolina and Virginia last season, Thomas had a total of three catches for 21 yards. He had four catches for 31 yards in the loss at Boston College, four for 15 in the loss to Duke. That can’t happen this season.

Enos has said he wants the ball in Thomas’ hands 10 times a game.

One UM official who observed spring practices noted that Tate Martell – besides being the most mobile of the three contenders for the job — is also the most intense.

Martell got very upset one time when Wiggins fumbled, though he didn’t do anything over-the-top in his reaction. UM wants its quarterback to have the mind of a coach, and Martell fills that bill. (Not to say the others don’t, but Martell definitely does.)

Though Martell and N’Kosi Perry were the best quarterbacks in the final week plus of spring ball, we have been cautioned not to underestimate Jarren Williams, and that he has had times where he looked very good.

As good as Will Mallory was in the passing game this spring, one UM person said he must become a better blocker. He was demolished at times in that area last year.

And the tight ends, overall, need to do a better job of making contested catches to help their quarterback. There’s certainly the potential for that with this group, and they had a good spring, even with Brevin Jordan sidelined for the majority of spring ball with an injury.

One practice observer made a point about how safety Gurvan Hall displayed an ability to deflect passes in practice.

With his size and intelligence and physicality, it’s time for Amari Carter to become a more impactful player. UM coaches love Carter’s intelligence and toughness and hope he can become a playmaker this year.

The battle among Carter, Hall and summer enrollee Bubba Bolden for two starting safety spots will be one of the more interesting battles of camp.

A UM official said what we saw in the spring game from early enrollee defensive end Jahfari Harvey (two sacks) was in line with what he showed all spring. Harvey appears ready to help, but he probably will begin the season No. 5 at defensive end, barring injuries. Jon Garvin, Trevon Hill, Greg Rousseau and Scott Patchan project as the top four.

I can’t remember hearing more positive feedback about a UM noncoaching staffer than what people are saying about strength and conditioning coach David Feeley.

Manny Diaz told a Hurricane Club event gathering in Orlando that “the strength coach sets the culture in your program” and because of Feeley, players have gotten “bigger, strong and bought into what it takes to be a Miami Hurricane.”



Enos, meanwhile, said at a recent Pinecrest luncheon that Feeley is “on the cutting edge with nutrition, with movements and lifts and different techniques.”

In terms of what the program needs, Feeley appears to be a major upgrade over predecessor Gus Felder.

THIS AND THAT

The Cleveland Browns signed undrafted UM rookies Trayone Gray and Jhavonte Dean after tryouts during their rookie minicamp.

UM rookies who tried out for NFL teams but weren’t offered contracts include Malik Rosier and Darrell Langham (both with the Dolphins), guard Venzell Boulware (Denver) and linebacker Mike Smith (Buffalo).

Though the star system shouldn’t be overstated, here’s an encouraging sign: UM so far has more combined Rivals four- and five-star commits (10) for the 2020 class than Alabama has (nine).

Ten of UM’s 14 commits are rated four-star prospects. Of Alabama’s 16 commits, eight are four-star and one five-star. All of these commits are nonbinding, of course.

The UM baseball team jumped four spots to No. 18 in the Baseball America Top 25 and climbed two spots to No. 17 in the USA Coach’s Poll and rose 10 spots to No. 12 in the College Baseball Poll — Miamis’ first top 15 ranking since 2016.

Miami (36-15, 16-10 in the ACC) closes out its series at Wake Forest at 7 p.m. Monday on ESPNU. UM hosts Duke on Thursday through Saturday in its final regular-season series.

Congratulations to UM’s excellent football information department - led by director of communications Camron Ghorbi - for receiving a Super 11 award, which the Football Writers of America gives out annually to the best performing sports information departments.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is considering changes to his offensive approach. Here’s my story about his recent meeting with one successful coach in which that topic was discussed.

And please check back Monday night for a Josh Rosen story.

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