During the first day of fall camp for the Miami Hurricanes football program, all eyes were on the right knee of starting quarterback D’Eriq King.
King wore a sleeve on the knee, which he sustained an ACL injury at the end of December during a Cheez-It Bowl loss to Oklahoma State, but other than that, he appeared to be the same D’Eriq King.
During the course of the practice, King was not held back in any way. He showed plenty of pocket mobility and rolled out and made throws on the run at full speed—but there was one moment that showed everyone on Greentree practice field that he feels totally healthy.
Near the end of the practice, King kept a read-option play and darted to his right. He then decided to make two cuts off his right leg to get upfield and scored a touchdown on a run that was over ten yards.
“Right before I pulled the ball, I was talking to my physical therapist and I told him that I hope they give me a pull read so I can show you how I am doing—and it happened.”
After that play, the whole team celebrated.
“It was a big relief,” King said of that play. “I was hoping they would give me a pull read so I could get out and run. It felt good.
“I told him that he needs to chill out and he said he needs to hit 21 miles per hour,” wide receiver Mike Harley joked “He looks faster. His body is up to part.”
Safety Bubba Bolden was glad to see King on the field again.
“Looks like the same old D’Eriq,” Bolden said. “He hasn’t lost a step and he might have actually got faster. He has the same speed and the same cuts.”
Coach Manny Diaz couldn’t have been more pleased with how King looked following UM’s first practice of the season.
“It looked like nothing happened,” Diaz said. “You saw him spin some of the throws in there. He took off and ran and you could tell he wanted to go and back up what he had done with our training staff in the summer. It looked good to me.”
Read on for more news and notes coming out of practice.
NEWS & NOTES
– Miami is one of the oldest and most experienced teams in the country going into the 2021 season. The Hurricanes rotated plenty of players on the first team because of that depth. “Where you probably see the difference is the depth between the first two groups with the execution level,” Diaz said. “We had 44 guys run with the starting lineup today with the first and second team. We did that and didn’t have a noticeable drop off and that is a testament to our age and depth.”
– Diaz on if taking over the defensive play-calling has gotten the results on that side of the ball he is looking for: “We have a hungry room of players on defense. They have pride and they know there is a standard and they get it. They know what happened a year ago doesn’t carry into this year. It is a similar movie to what happened in 2015 to 2016 where there was a stigma that followed the kids around. Mentally we have to let that go in the past and choose to write our own story for this version of the defense. Whether I am calling the defense or not is not the most important factor in that equation.”
– DB Bubba Bolden has enjoyed learning under secondary coach Travaris Robinson this year. “He comes here and teaches in a different way,” Bolden said. “He has a NFL mindset and he played in the NFL. He can relate to us a lot as football players and young men. He has the enthusiasm and confidence that wears off on us.”
– WR Mike Harley is excited about the depth Miami will feature at receiver this season. “That is going to help us dominate a lot of defenses,” Harley said. “We will have three guys out there rolling and then we will bring in another three guys that coach Likens can trust. It is going to be a rolling team that can beat a defense.”
– Harley on what the freshmen receivers flashed during the first practice: “Romello showed me his length with how he reaches for the ball. Jacolby made contested catches. Brashard caught a one-handed catch and got two feet on the sideline off instincts. We just need to get them ready and get them to keep pushing through and do all the right things.”
– Diaz was asked to highlight some freshmen that kept their head above water during day one: “It looked like Brinson had a couple of good catches and Kinchens had an interception at the end. It is good to see James Williams back there running around in the secondary, but it was going a little fast for all those guys today.”
– Overall, Diaz is very excited about the potential of Miami’s 2021 recruiting class. “I think it is a phenomenal class in terms of the stuff they do in the weight room, the academic center, and the training room,” Diaz said. “This 2021 class is different. They are special.”
– Bubba Bolden on freshman DB James Williams: “He is freakishly athletic and you see how big he is. The sky is the limit for him. You can see he is getting adjusted to the playbook.”
– Miami will practice at night during the first two weeks of camp. He says the team works plenty in the heat during summer workouts. “We will get all the heat acclimatization we need,” Diaz said. “We were doing 110s and working in the sand box all summer. We eat the heat, I promise you.”
– DB Avantae Williams was dismissed from the team after being arrested for domestic violence. Diaz hopes the team can learn from that unfortunate incident. “We talked to our guys about that,” Diaz said. “It can be one poor choice that has consequences. I hate to trivialize it as a learning incident, but we spoke to our team about it and what it means and hopefully we can learn from it going forward.”
– Diaz says the team will be at the 85 percent vaccination level within the next week, when some players are set to get their second dose.
– OL John Campbell had a serious knee injury this summer and is being held out of action.
– LB Sam Brooks is progressing from his toe injury and should be in action at some point during fall camp.