The opening game against Louisville may be scheduled for Labor Day but the 2014 college football season begins today on newly renovated Greentree Field behind the Hecht Athletic Center in beautiful Coral Gables, Florida when your Miami Hurricanes will complete their first practice of Fall camp.
UM head coach Al Golden will be entering his fourth season as he pursues what has turned out to be an elusive ACC division championship and conference crown once again this season. On Monday he held his annual pre-camp press conference with the local media and here is part of what he had to say:
“Welcome to training camp. We’re excited to get going. Most of our kids are in already. Some are being processed today, but we expect everybody out there but two individuals tomorrow. We’ll reaffirm that as the day goes on. We’re still waiting on the arrival of Trayone Gray and Darrell Langham, just to save you that question. Welcome, we appreciate you coming, and with that, we’ll open it up to any questions that you have.”
On linebackers coach Micheal Barrow’s sabbatical and staff changes…
“First of all, Micheal has always conducted himself with class, with dignity, with integrity. He has been a great leader here for a long time, not just on campus and with our team, but within our community. As I said to him as he was starting to try to figure out what direction he wanted to go, I said to him there is no calendar with family. If this is the direction you want to go, it’s our job to help you with this transition. It’s been difficult for him. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like over the next month – I don’t think he’s been in a situation like this since [his youth] where he’s not participating.
“We miss Mike, but at the same time, we had a chance to move Hurlie [Brown] back to defense, something that he’s very comfortable with. Being in the staff meetings and understanding the nomenclature of the defense and being the type of guy to have a rapport with everybody, I think he’s going to make the transition quickly.
“Then we elevated Ice Harris, who is more than deserving and obviously very grateful. Here’s a guy that’s been doing this for a quarter-century for this opportunity, and I know he’s going to give everything he has and going to make us better. Clearly we had an opportunity to bring on Kevin Beard, so we did that. Not the best of timing, but all that is is a circumstance. It’s not the definition of what’s going to happen moving forward and it’s not the result, it’s just the circumstance. It doesn’t determine anything. We have good veterans at those two positions, and I expect our guys to rally and be sharp during camp.”
On the play of the linebacker group and specifically sophomore Jermaine Grace…
“Jermaine has had a good summer. He ran some of the fastest 40’s on the team, not just the linebacker position – consistently under 4.5 (seconds). He’s about 210 pounds now, he has more experience, he’s smart, he’s an excellent special teams player, he gives us three down value, he’s a competitor and a striker. I’m excited about Grace.
“Clearly [Darrion] Owens, you guys knew I was excited about his focus and his performance in the spring, and now he’s going to get a good opportunity at SAM along with Thurston Armbrister. We’ll start with [Terry] McCray over there as well.”
On the team’s linebacker depth heading into fall training camp…
“I don’t think there’s any question we lost some depth, but we have some other guys that are going to rally. It’s going to give [Terry] McCray an opportunity, a guy like [Mike] Smith an opportunity, Demetrius Jackson an opportunity, Juwon Young, and obviously you mentioned [Jermaine] Grace. Those guys are all going to get an opportunity.
“I’m excited about our group. I don’t want those that are not with us to diminish what the guys that are with us are all about. [Raphael] Kirby, we mentioned [Jermaine] Grace earlier. Denzel has had a great summer – 245 pounds now. [Darrion] Owens I mentioned earlier and Armbrister.”