UM football assistant offers some clarity on a key position. And Canes personnel notes (2024)

A six-pack of Miami Hurricanes notes on a Friday, with Pro Day scheduled for Monday and spring practice scheduled to resume on Tuesday:

Though there has been some speculation that Jalen Rivers could possibly move from left tackle to left guard, offensive line coach Alex Mirabal said that’s not the plan.

“Someone is always trying to move Rivers,” Mirabal told WQAM’s Joe Rose. “I don’t know why. Unless someone is significantly better than him at left tackle, you don’t want to waste all those reps at left tackle [only to change his position later]. Our plan is to play him at left tackle....

“We’re not going to mess with him. He’s so intelligent and mentally flexible that it’s so easy for him [to change positions]. But at some point, you have to say it’s not fair to the kid. Let him grow with a spot. That’s what we’ve decided to do with Jalen.”

And “for that to change, somebody is going to have him beat him out of tackle,” Mirabal said.

Rivers played guard earlier in his UM career but was an effective left tackle last season.

Second-year player Samson Okunlola, considered the nation’s top tackle in the 2023 class, has played some guard this spring. So what is he long-term — a tackle or guard?

“I see him playing tackle, but he has the versatility to be able to play guard,” Mirabal said. “Everyone talks about five-star stuff. He’s got a five-star work ethic. Same with [right tackle Francis Mauogia].

“Samson is doing really well. He’s been the best example of how someone should deal with it when they’re coming back from being injured.”

Mirabal said new center Zach Carpenter, the Indiana transfer who’s replacing NFL-bound Matt Lee, is a “really, really great player. He’s got 30 something starts at center and has done a heck of a job at center.”

Mirabal also raved about his right guard: “People don’t talk about Anez Cooper. A lot of Mauigoa’s success last season was the fact he was playing with big Coop, and getting [Mauioga] to be on the same page as he was on. Cooper slimmed to 335, 330” this spring.

During the final spring practice before spring break began, UM’s first-team offensive line (from left to right) was Rivers, Lou Cristobal, Carpenter, Cooper and Matthew McCoy, who was filling in for the injured Mauigoa at right tackle.

The second team on that day (last Friday), from left to right: Junior college addition Markel Bell, Okunlola, Ryan Rodriguez, Logan Sagapolu and Tommy Kinsler.

On the defensive side, there’s a microscope on Jadais Richard, who’s trying to win a top-three cornerback rotation spot.

Richard has played with the starters so far this spring and could end up competing with Damari Brown, who is missing spring practice with an injury, for the starting boundary job opposite Daryl Porter Jr. The nickel job also remains open, with safety Mishael Powell working some there.

Richard — who transferred to UM from Vanderbilt a year ago — is “doing good,” defensive coordinator Lance Guidry said. “I’ve seen the most improvement at corner from the fall; he’s doing really well.”

Richard — who has good length and decent speed — wore oven mitts last Friday as a mental reminder not to hold. He said it wasn’t punishment. “We’d been holding a bit, put the ovens on to keep them from holding,” Guidry said.

Richard said he has dropped to 205 to 198 pounds.

“I’ve gotten more muscle, way more lean,” Richard said. “When I came in, I was pretty big, especially to be a corner.”

He said he’s faster now. “Last year I was around 19, 20 range [in miles per hour], now 21, 22. So big improvement for me.”

Richard allowed 10 completions in 14 targets for 120 yards last season – metrics that will need to improve.

In his second year in Guidry’s system, “I feel way more comfortable,” he said. “Now it’s just me going out there reacting instead of thinking. Last year I was thinking, still trying to get familiar with the system.”

Quick stuff: The battle for receiver jobs behind Xavier Restrepo and Jacolby George remains one of the most fascinating story lines of spring practice. “We have a lot of… dudes that are going to be really good from Isaiah Horton to JoJo Trader,” cornerback Porter said. “They can really take the game to a new level.”...

Richard said he told safety Savion Riley — UM’s newest Vanderbilt transfer - that “we had two major safeties leaving with Kam Kinchens and James Williams. That spot will be up for grabs. He wanted to accept that challenge.”

UM guard Wooga Poplar, pegged last October as a potential breakout star and possible first-round draft pick, ended the season with a whimper, shooting 9 for 31, including 1 for 10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament loss to Boston College, which was the Canes’ 10th consecutive defeat.

He averaged 13.1 points and 4.8 rebounds for the season, but his shooting percentage dropped from 47 last season to 42.6 percent this season.

A sprained ankle sustained in December sidelined him for a few games and affected him for part of the season; that should not be glossed over.

Nevertheless, Poplar remains a pro prospect, viewed by some as a possible second-round pick. He now must decide whether to return to UM for his senior season or turn pro.

The “Canes have been a crushing disappointment but have two possibly draftable players in wings Kyshawn George and Wooga Poplar,” according to The Athletic’s John Hollinger, who previously worked in the Memphis Grizzlies front office.

UM football assistant offers some clarity on a key position. And Canes personnel notes (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Gov. Deandrea McKenzie

Last Updated:

Views: 6248

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (46 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Gov. Deandrea McKenzie

Birthday: 2001-01-17

Address: Suite 769 2454 Marsha Coves, Debbieton, MS 95002

Phone: +813077629322

Job: Real-Estate Executive

Hobby: Archery, Metal detecting, Kitesurfing, Genealogy, Kitesurfing, Calligraphy, Roller skating

Introduction: My name is Gov. Deandrea McKenzie, I am a spotless, clean, glamorous, sparkling, adventurous, nice, brainy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.