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Regis' play becoming as good as his bark

The musical beats provided by Duke's marching band are usually the loudest sounds heard at Wallace Wade Stadium on football Saturdays in Durham, N.C. But for a brief moment last weekend -- while the Blue Devils band was taking a short break -- Hurricanes defensive tackle Micanor Regis found an opening to sound off. And in the process, he created a little bedlam of his own.

Micanor Regis "Rick does this bark," Canes defensive lineman Allen Bailey said. "It sounds like a real dog, like an angry rotweiler. We were on the sidelines and he just let one of those out. He barked at the band and half of them jumped like two feet in the air. I laughed so hard."

Regis did more than put a scare into Duke's band Saturday. Like a dog chasing after a frisbee in flight, he snatched a Sean Renfree pass out of the air in the third quarter and rumbled 22 yards for a touchdown in what UM coach Randy Shannon called the play of the game in a 28-13 win over the Blue Devils. 

The play made Regis the focal point of teammates' jokes after the game for the way his 6-3, 305-pound body looked chugging toward the Canes' second defensive touchdown of the season. But all of that teasing, Bailey said, was of out of love for the Regis, who has always tried to pass himself off in practice as a sleek skill player and not a lumbering lineman.

"When I was growing up, I didn't think I was going to play football. I thought I was going to be the next Michael Jordan," Regis said.

"I was five feet tall when I was in the fourth grade. By the time I got to sixth [grade], I was 6-feet, 300-pounds. I always looked two grades ahead of my class. People were scared of me until they got to know me. I was just a regular guy. I wasn't a bully or nothing. I was just bigger than everybody else."

The fourth of seven children raised by a single mom in the football hotbed of Pahokee in Palm Beach County, Regis didn't begin playing football competitively until he was 13. Once he put on the pads, It didn't take him long to begin making an impact. A three-year starter at left tackle and at defensive tackle, he helped lead Pahokee to three state championships. By the time he was a senior, he was tabbed the 29th-best defensive tackle prospect in the country by Rivals.com.

"He couldn't be blocked," Pahokee coach Blaze Thompson said Monday. "Whoever we were playing, their big hoss on the line, Micanor just wanted to dominate him. I don't remember him being beat once. I just always worried before the game what might happen if he got a hold of the quarterback. 

"He was a great offensive lineman too. In the Muck Bowl [against rival Glades Central] we ran leads right behind him the entire game and he led us right down the field, opening holes every play getting five, 10 yards a pop. They knew exactly where we were going to go and they still couldn't stop it. He was just a beast."

Former recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt (now at Louisville) discovered Regis midway through his sophomore season. Regis, the second cousin of Ravens Pro Bowl receiver Anquan Boldin (a former Florida State star), said he was told by Hurtt to expect an offer from UM on the first day he could receive one as a junior. Once he did, Regis said he fell in love with the Hurricanes and never once thought about going anywhere else.

"He's a Cane true and through," Thompson said. "I had coaches from Ohio State, Oklahoma, Florida State in my office trying to talk to him. He would just tell them 'Coach, I don't want to waste your time. I'm going to Miami.' "

"Now that he's playing, starting, you can see he's excited. I didn't see the interception return for the touchdown Saturday, but I heard about it. I think he's doing great. I get the sense he's just about ready to really start coming on."

After two seasons as a reliable backup, Saturday's game might have been that turning point for Regis. In only the third start of his career at Miami, he finished with a career-high nine tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. The interception was the third of his career (he had two as a sophomore) and the touchdown he scored was his first at any level.

The play, while funny, didn't surprise teammates at all according to Bailey, who have seen Regis transform himself from a sloppy 330 pounds freshman to a well built 305 third-year tackle who is more than capable of making athletic plays.

"He's like an interception magnet," Bailey said. "For some reason, every time the ball gets batted up in the air, he gets it. Micanor is just a great player. He's worked hard to get where he is.

"And he's got a great personality. He's a fun guy to be around. He kind of bullies the small guys, tries to give [defensive backs] tips how to catch balls like if he played corner or something. He makes us laugh."

Regis doesn't just provide comic relief. A self-described video game junky and fan of old action movies starring James Bond and Bruce Lee, he also entertains his teammates when he listens to his favorite musician, rapper Slick Rick. His passion for the old school rapper earned Regis the nickname 'Rick' from his teammates.

"I've never heard him rhyme," Bailey said laughing. "But I like his bark and the way he plays football. He should stick to that."