Miami football is back: Observations from the Hurricanes’ first practice of training camp

UPDATED AUGUST 01, 2023 1:57 PM
The Miami Hurricanes kicked off training camp Tuesday with a host of new faces dotting the field at the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility.
On another scorching day in Coral Gables, seven new coaches began their first fall camp at Miami with about half a dozen newcomers also getting in some work with the first-team units.
Reporters were able to watch about 30 or 40 minutes of the first practice of the preseason. This is what there was to see:
▪ There were no surprises with the first-team offensive line to start camp. From left to right, the Hurricanes’ offensive linemen lined up as: Jalen Rivers, Javion Cohen, Matt Lee, Anez Cooper and Francis Mauigoa. Three of those — Lee, Mauigoa and Cohen — weren’t at Miami last year, although the alignment could change if and when star tackle Zion Nelson finally gets healthy.
▪ Speaking of Nelson, the offensive lineman was really the only potential starter missing from Day 1 of camp. The other scholarship players absent, at least from the first half hour of practice, were all freshmen: running back TreVonte’ Citizen, offensive linemen Antonio Tripp Jr. and Frankie Tinilau, defensive lineman Collins Acheampong and defensive back Markeith Williams.
▪ Instead of going straight into 7-on-7 work at practice, Miami split into two groups. In one group, quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends worked against defensive backs, with a few young linebackers also involved. In the other, the offensive line blocked for running backs, going up against defensive linemen and most of the linebackers.
▪ The split made it hard to get a full picture of who might be sitting atop the depth chart to start camp, but there were still some position groups with an apparent first team, including: Tyler Van Dyke at quarterback; Henry Parrish Jr. at running back; Jacolby George, Colbie Young and Xavier Restrepo at wide receiver; Cam McCormick, who transferred in from Oregon, at tight end with fellow tight end Elijah Arroyo still limited as he recovers from a knee injury; Kamren Kinchens and James Williams at safety; and Te’Cory Couch, Davonte Brown and Jaden Davis — the later of whom are both newcomers — as the rest of the defensive backs, with Davis working in the slot.
▪ It’s not a surprise to see Kinchens embracing a major leadership role this year. It was good to see James Williams was, too. They were always the first two in line for drills, trying to lead by example, and with their words, for some of the younger defensive backs. At one point, Kinchens took a long time to give some hands-on instruction to defensive back Jaden Harris, showing the redshirt freshman how to better pivot his hips to track a ball in the air.
“They’re the guys that I need to push me, so I’ve got to make sure they’re on my game like I am,” Kinchens said. “Anytime I’m seeing something, I’m saying something to them or anytime they see something, they’re saying something to me.”
▪ It was also good to see running back Donald Chaney Jr. out at practice, looking completely healthy after playing in just one game in the last two years because of a pair of major lower-body injuries. The redshirt sophomore looked noticeably bigger and could add a power dimension to the backfield this year.
James Williams also looked a little bit bigger, which is a good thing because new defensive coordinator Lance Guidry plans to use the junior as a linebacker sometimes this year, too.
▪ Defensive back Jadais Richard, who transferred to Miami from Vanderbilt in May, made a strong first impression, breaking up one throw by freshman quarterback Emory Williams and then picking off Van Dyke by breaking on an out route right before the media viewing period ended.
“He started at nickel, at corner, at the boundary safety spot, the field safety spot last year at Vanderbilt, so he’s a very experienced player and he’s long,” coach Mario Cristobal said. “He’s a big, strong, explosive guy, so he’s more than flashed out there.”
▪ George, and freshman wide receivers Nathaniel Joseph Jr. and Robby Washington all made impressive diving catches.
▪ Some number changes from last season include: wide receiver Brashard Smith to No. 0 from No. 12; George to No. 3 from No. 15, Young to No. 4 from No. 88, wide receiver Michael Redding III to No. 13 from No. 83, offensive lineman Jonathan Denis to No. 66 from No. 56, Cooper to No. 73 from No. 55, defensive lineman Akheem Mesidor to No. 3 from No. 90, defensive lineman Nyjalik Kelly to No. 9 from No. 32, defensive lineman Ahmad Moten to No. 99 from No. 92, defensive back Daryl Porter Jr. to No. 2 from No. 5, Kinchens to No. 5 from No. 24 and James Williams to No. 20 from No. 0.
▪ Numbers for newcomers include: Joseph is No. 5, freshman defensive back Damari Brown is No. 6, Davonte Brown is No. 7, freshman defensive lineman Josh Horton is No. 8, Washington is No. 12, wide receiver Tyler Harrell is No. 15, freshman defensive back Robert Stafford is No. 16, Emory Williams is No. 17, freshman defensive back Kaleb Spencer is No. 21, freshman running back Mark Fletcher Jr. is No. 22, Davis is No. 22, linebacker K.J. Cloyd is No. 23, freshman running back Chris Johnson Jr. is No. 24, freshman linebacker Malik Bryant is No. 24, Richard is No. 25, running back Ajay Allen is No. 28, defensive back Demetrius Freeney is No. 29, freshman linebacker Raul Aguirre Jr. is No. 32, freshman linebacker Marcellius Pulliam is No. 33, linebacker Rocky Shelton is No. 43, linebacker Francisco Mauigoa is No. 51, offensive lineman Luis Cristobal Jr. is No. 52, Lee is No. 55, defensive lineman Branson Deen is No. 58, defensive lineman Thomas Gore is No. 59, Francis Mauigoa is No. 61, freshman offensive lineman Tommy Kinsler IV is No. 62, freshman offensive lineman Samson Okunlola is No. 63, Cohen is No. 70, Tripp is No. 71, Tinilau is No. 75, wide receiver Shemar Kirk is No. 83, McCormick is No. 84, freshman tight end Jackson Carver is No. 85, freshman tight end Riley Williams is No. 88, defensive lineman Anthony Campbell is No. 93, freshman punter Dylan Joyce is No. 94 and Acheampong is No. 96.

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