Barry Jackson

Two defensive backs join Canes. And UM offers a QB, welcomes Pac-12 transfer to campus

Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatoryfootball players talk new season

Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory receiver john dunmore and receiver Keontra smith share their expectations for the new football season.
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Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory receiver john dunmore and receiver Keontra smith share their expectations for the new football season.

Chaminade-Madonna in Hollywood has produced some distinguished alums, including ESPN (and Miami Herald alum) Dan Le Batard, Fox sportscaster Chris Myers, longtime UM radio announcer Joe Zagacki, ex-Cincinnati Bengals coach Dave Shula, former UM and NFL linebacker Jon Beason and ex-MLB pitcher Joe Klink, who once went 90 games without allowing a home run — most by a lefty since at least 1957 and possibly ever.

Safety Keontra Smith and cornerback Te’Cory Couch hope to someday join that group. The friends and teammates — who helped Chaminade-Madonna win the 2018 Class 3A championship — enrolled at UM on Wednesday, bringing to eight the number of players who have enrolled for Summer Session 1.

Smith, 5-11, was a consensus four-star prospect by ESPN, Rivals and 247sports and ranked the 15th-best cornerback and 38th-best player overall in Florida by ESPN.

As a senior, he led the team with 115 tackles, including an absurd 31 for loss and eight sacks. He chose offers from Alabama, Oklahoma, Michigan, UF, Auburn and many others.

Co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Ephraim Banda called Smith “arguably the best safety in Broward. He plays with an edge, with a lot of juice. He’s always got a smile on his face. When he walks in a room everyone knows he’s a leader.”

Banda didn’t rule out Smith possibly even working at the striker spot. “I have a feeling he’ll find his way on the field somewhere,” Banda said.

Smith, who was once a Kentucky commit, sees similarities between himself and Jaquan Johnson, who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in April.

“I feel like he can cover better than me, but I’m a for-sure tackler,” Smith said. “I can tackle very well, and I’ve got decent coverage skills. That’s one thing I’m going to have to clean up before I get to Miami, but I’m confident in myself. I’m ready to come in. I’m ready for college football.”

Couch, a 5-9 cornerback, will immediately join the competition to start opposite Trajan Bandy — a group also including DJ Ivey, Al Blades Jr., Nigel Bethel and four-star Christian Williams, who also enrolled this week.

Couch was a consensus four-star prospect by ESPN, Rivals and 247sports. ESPN rated him 230th in its top 300 and ranked him the 18th-best cornerback in the country.

As senior, he had 65 tackles, including four for loss, and five interceptions. He chose UM over LSU, Oklahoma, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and others.

“I love Te’Cory, his ability to bend his hips and play press man,” Banda said. “He’s super focused and locked in; he just plays with great pace, doesn’t care who he’s going against. He’s a very good playmaker. The ball in the air he usually comes down with it. Super happy we got TC.”

Here’s a look at six other players who enrolled this week and who’s expected for Summer Session 2.

THIS AND THAT

UCLA transfer Chigozie Nnoruka, who had initially hoped to enroll this week, will be permitted to participate in team activities beginning next week.

Nnoruka — 6-1 and 294 pounds — had 53 tackles (including eight for loss) and two sacks in 16 games at UCLA and will join a defensive tackle rotation also including Pat Bethel, Jon Ford, Nesta Silvera, possibly Jordan Miller (who improved this spring). And three freshman Summer 2 arrivals will add depth at defensive tackle.

Georgia-based Class of 2021 quarterback Colton Gauthier announced he has been offered by UM. He also has offers from Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, Duke, West Virginia, South Carolina, Colorado, Louisville and others.

UM offensive coordinator Dan Enos presented the offer to Gauthier’s coach, ESPN NFL studio analyst and former Colts center Jeff Saturday.

Gauthier is expected to visit UM in June.

Receiver Lawrence Cager, who left UM for Georgia as a grad transfer earlier this year, to dawgnation.com: “God works in mysterious ways. I’m here now with the coach I loved at Miami [James Coley], and the coach I loved at Alabama (Kirby Smart), so I couldn’t ask to be in a better position.”

Coley recruited Cager to UM when he was offensive coordinator here.

Another touching story about the bond between Canes players:

Jaquan Johnson told the Buffalo Bills’ website that he called NFL Hall of Famer and former Canes star Ed Reed the day before he arrived for Bills rookie minicamp.

“I called him on Wednesday and we just talked,” Johnson said. “He basically told me, ‘‘Q’ it’s all right. You’re a rookie. You’re going to mess up some things. It’s going to happen. Just keep trying and take a lot of notes on everything.’ That’s the biggest thing with him. Taking notes, watching film and get on the JUGS machine. Our relationship is amazing. I can text him or call him whenever I want.”

With the ACC expanding to a 20-game conference schedule, all teams are playing a conference games Nov. 5 or 6. UM’s will be Nov. 5, at home against Louisville, on ACC Network, which launches Aug. 22.

Here’s my Wednesday Dolphins piece with the latest on the attempts by former Canes Mark Walton and Kendrick Norton to make the Dolphins roster, and some significant NFL TV news today.

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