Malcolm Bunche redshirted last year at right guard, where he practiced during fall camp next to the nation's top recruit, tackle Seantrel Henderson.
Now, Bunche, listed as 6-7 and 328 pounds, is the starting left tackle -- with 6-8, 345-pound Henderson behind him.
UM coach Al Golden said Thursday that Bunche has had "a fantastic spring,'' and will stay at left tackle. Henderson has been sidelined this week with an undisclosed injury, and won't play in the spring game at noon Saturday at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.
"You don't mess around with that position,'' Golden said. "If they're over there, it's because they have the tools to do that. That's the one position on the offensive line, other than center, that you want to make sure you have the right guy there.''
Golden was asked how Bunche's status will affect Henderson and if that could result in Henderson moving back to the right side, where Jermaine Johnson plays. "It affects all those guys,'' he said. "We're just trying to find the right combination. ...The best five start and the best 10 travel.''
HERE'S TO BRANDON WASHINGTON
Guard Brandon Washington is a very endearing fellow. He's candid and down to earth and pretty much always pleasant. He also is a returning first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference offensive lineman. Among his thoughts today:
* On his coach: "Al Golden is a wonderful guy. He knows a lot of football. ...He has gained everyone's trust on the team.''
* On the spring game: "I'm very excited.You know why, because I feel like I ain't got no teammates after today. I wanna take somebody's head off. I'm jacked up. I'm excited. I want to play with the passion Al Golden is looking for. I just want to go out there and rip somebody's head off and participate. I want to put on a show for everybody.''
* On his team, Team Green, for the spring game: "We're going to kick butt. We got the starting three from last year, with me, Tyler Horn and Harland Gunn -- probably the most explosive offensive linemen. We got tackles who are good enough -- I mean they're here at the University of Miami so that's good enough. Our backfield, we got Lamar Miller. We got two of the fastes guys at wideout in Travis Benjamin and Kendal Thompkins. We got Stephen Morris. We protect Stephen -- we block -- and we're good. Nobody can touch the quarterback.''
* On Malcolm Bunche being ahead of Seantrel Henderson at left tackle: "He shocked me. I thought for sure Seantrel would be in there. When [Bunche] told me he made the move from right guard to left tackle I was like, 'Well, he just left from being behind me to being behind Seantrel. It's going to be a few more years.' But I mean he fought hard and did what he had to do to get the position.''
* On how his grandmother's death recently has affected him: "I lost my grandma... and I felt down. I felt like, 'This is tough.' My grandma meant a lot to me.
"A couple days before she passed I went to her and I said I want to cut my hair. She said, 'Don't, that's the only way I can spot you.' And now she's gone. I don't know what to do -- keep it, cut it, get it done? I don't know what to do.''
*On whether he thinks he is underrated by the fans: "No, not at all. Fans are going to be fans. I mean, they’re here to cheer on the whole team. ...I’m just here to make a play. I mean, I just hope [fans] know that when Lamar Miller breaks down the sideline or Mike James breaks down the sideline it was because of the offensive line. And when Jacory completes a pass it was because he had the time, so I don’t get too discouraged about the fans [or] about, Do I get enough attention? Attention is nothing to me.''
FORMER GREATS WILL DOMINATE SPRING GAME SIDELINES
Al Golden said he expects about 300 former UM football players to attend the spring game.
"I hope for [the current players'] sake that they understand there’s over 300 players back, from what I understand, clearly a who’s who. So I hope our guys are excited about that and they don’t feel pressure but they feel grateful to be a part of that lineage.
"I’ve never seen that. I’ve been in college football for 21 years as a player and coach and I’ve never seen 300 football alumni anywhere that would come back. And obviously I have many colleagues in the business but I’ve never heard of that for a spring game. That is not a reflection on me at all. That is a reflection of the bond that those guys created and the family that is University of Miami football."
KICKING GAME HAS HIM CONCERNED
Jake Wieclaw kicked a 40-plus yard field goal during the last scrimmage, so Golden was asked if he is more comfortable about the kicking game now. "I'm slightly more comfortable,'' the coach replied. "I don't know what that means. I'm somewhere between worried and comfortable, which I think is called uncomfortable.''
GOLDEN LIKES SPRING GAME DRAFT
Golden said he had "no problem'' with the way the teams were decided for the spring game -- through a draft by two UM fans (along with UM coordinators) who were allowed to pick the teams as the result of an online auction.
"We had fun with it,'' Golden said. "If we have an excited fan base and an energetic fan base, as we do a student population, why wouldn’t we include them? We’ve included the faculty and employees this spring. We’ve included the students and that’s a way to include the fans in addition to the scrimmages and the spring game.''
Golden was told that some of the fans were concerned about who the players would line up with because of the draft, as opposed to if he had chosen the teams.
"Well, he said with a smile, "tell them to bitch at the guys who picked the teams, then.''
Linebackers Kevin Nelson and Jimmy Gaines were among the injured players sidelined Thursday and wearing red jerseys. Also injured: defensive tackle Olsen Pierre, who walked with crutches and had his right leg in what appeared to be a soft cast.
--SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN