You have to give Lamar Miller credit -- at least he tried. Twice during track season the 5-11, 212-pound running back said he challenged receiver Travis Benjamin for the title of fastest Hurricane. And twice, Miller laments, Benjamin got the better of him -- barely.
"It's hard to beat him," Miller said of the much thinner Benjamin who placed fourth in the 60 meters (6.74 seconds) and two spots ahead of Miller (6.84 seconds) at last weekend's ACC Track and Field Indoor championships. "He runs at warp speed."
Miller might not be fast enough to catch Benjamin in track, but on the football field he's fast enough to grab just about everyone's attention. Tuesday, as the Hurricanes resumed spring practice in full pads and shorts, the redshirt freshman was back on the football field, flashing his speed and talent. And just like last season, he's receiving rave reviews.
"I couldn't wait to see him come back out on the field," said redshirt freshman defensive end Dyron Dye who faced Miller plenty on the Canes' scout team. "The things he sees, does, I've never seen a running back do the things he does. It's very exciting to go against him. It's crazy. I'm excited to see what he does this year."
Miller said he had a couple "big runs" Tuesday. "One, we were running a counter and I saw the hole, cut back and outran everybody," he said. "The next one was a stretch play, I cut back in the inside and did the same thing."
Miller knows the Hurricanes are likely to rotate running backs plenty this season and he said he just wants to earn his share of carries with the other guys -- likely senior Damien Berry and sophomore Mike James. He said his goal this spring is to stay healthy, drop down a few pounds (he wants to weigh 205 when the season starts), and work on his pass blocking -- something he didn't do a lot of at Miami Killian.
A FEW MORE TIDBITS...
> I almost made the mistake Tuesday of confusing redshirt freshman defensive end Dyron Dye with senior Allen Bailey. Dye isn't as beefy as Bailey yet, but you can definitely see his 6-5, 250-pound frame has room to grow. Dye, who had knee surgery before the Oklahoma game last season, said he has added 15 to 20 pounds since returning.
"The way I put it on, I don't feel heavy," Dye said. "It came on bit by bit. I feel real good. I'm still moving the same as I did before."
> UM coach Randy Shannon said he hopes to run about 130 to 140 plays during Saturday's closed scrimmage at Greentree practice field. That's seems like a lot more than usual. The Canes usually run about 75 to 80 per scrimmage. Shannon said all players -- including the quarterbacks -- will receive equal reps. The scrimmage is open to local high school coaches and youth football coaches who participate in UM's weekend coaching seminar ($50 to register).
> The Hurricanes will have two open scrimmages for the public. The first one is Thursday, March 11th at Fort Lauderdale's Lockhart Stadium at 7 p.m. The spring game is set for Saturday, March 27th at Traz Powell Stadium in Miami. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on CSS. There will be an autograph session for fans an hour before both scrimmages are set to begin.
> Shannon said he was pleased with the first week of spring practice including the progress of his young quarterbacks in the offense. Occasionally, he says, a few scuffles have broken out between other players because of the intensity of the workouts. "That' the one thing you like, that those guys are really going after each other," Shannon said. "Instead of `you're my teammate, my roommate,' it's more of `you're on offense, I'm on defense, now I'm going to get after you,' which is good."
> Shannon praised receiver LaRon Byrd as one of his one of the opening week's biggest standouts. "He made a lot of plays last week, improved from last year," Shannon said. "We told him, and I told him Saturday, `Hey you had a great week. But now when we come back you have to have a different mentality; what you did last week is over with.' I'm trying to prepare those guys for next season, because we had success early in the season, guys were feeling good about themselves and probably slacked off. Now this is a time you can actually work on it to see if you take that next step, not relax now."
> Former Hurricane Ed Reed watched Tuesday's practice.