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Brandon McGee is back in black; plus freshman receiver Malcolm Lewis is running with the 1st team

A lot of news nuggets and notes from today's media day at UM:

DEFENSIVE BACKS COMPETITION GETTING CLEARER

Cornerback Brandon McGee was back in a black jersey Saturday -- four days after it was taken away from him and given to freshman Tracy Howard. But McGee, who was starting on the outside, did most of his work at nickel and Howard and Ladarius Gunter still had their black jerseys on.

"Great day yesterday taking a leadership role and great day today," Golden said of McGee. "Good too see that from Brandon."

Defensive backs coach Paul Williams said McGee playing a lot of nickel doesn't necessarily mean he will end up playing there solely. But Williams did say McGee is the most experienced nickel corner the team has.

"He ran it all last year and we're in a situation with a lot of young guys where he's just one of the few who is good at it," Williams said. "That's a hard spot. It's hard to find a guy that's good at that spot."

Williams said he's trying to develop freshman Vernon Davis and sophomore Thomas Finnie at the nickel spot as well. Williams said safety Kacy Rodgers has also seen some time there.

> Hard to imagine there is a happier assistant on the team than Williams, who now has arguably the most talented group on the team with eight new additions. Ultimately, Williams said six cornerbacks and four safeties will travel to Boston College on Sept. 1 for the opener.

Who is in the mix at cornerback aside from Howard, McGee and Gunter and Finnie? Williams said freshmen Antonio Crawford and Davis have worked themselves very much into the conversation.

"He's talented," Williams said of Crawford. "He's fast. He can break on a ball. He's going to be a good player.

"They're all really talented. We've just got to be careful because it's got to the guys who are really ready. That's why the scrimmage is huge with these young guys. That's why I don't just want to say they're in. Until we get that scrimmage and throw the bullets at 'em and see the pros and cons, see how they're going to react, we can't lock things down."

> Safety appears to be a different story. Rodgers appears to have the starting safety spot opposite Vaughn Telemaque locked down. "He hasn't blinked yet," Williams said of Rodgers.

> As good as Tracy Howard is, Williams said he isn't perfect.

"He got some work to do," Williams said. "The biggest part of it is just technique. One of his biggest flaws right now is technique. He's not a finished product by no means. But he's got talent. He's trying to get better everyday. You tell him something, he tries everything to fix it."

Williams said it didn't take Howard long to impress him though. In one of the first practices, Williams said, "Tracy made a play on a ball, a fade ball where I was like 'OK, this kid has a chance.'"

FRESHMEN MAKING A PUSH AT RECEIVER

As much love as Robert Lockhart has received early on in camp, former Miramar standout Malcolm Lewis is a bit ahead of the rest of the freshman according to both Al Golden and Jedd Fisch.

In fact, he's been getting first team snaps for the last two days. 

"Robert has a long way to go in terms of just learning the plays and reading the coverages. But there's no doubt his innate skills are there. Now we have to develop that discipline and process. Malcolm is a little bit further ahead in terms of his overall process and consistency. I'm excited about that group. Herb Waters is doing a nice job. That group has really come at a good time for us," Golden said.

Lewis, who said he's turned a lot of baby fat into muscle since arriving at UM, credits former roommate and fellow receiver Phillip Dorsett (the only true freshman to start on the Canes' offense last season) and junior Allen Hurns for helping him pickup the playbook quickly.

"They've been good mentors to me, teaching me the playbook inside and out," Lewis said. "We use flash cards. The play will be on the front and the name will be on the back. I got to say the routes, what's my responsibility with each coverage and what I've got to do. I'm getting it down pact. At first it was a challenge, but now everything is becoming easier. It's about concept. There's a purpose for everything."

Lewis said Dorsett has given him good advice too.

"He said 'Don't take the freshman route. Just pretend like you've been here before and you know what you're doing. And always have confidence in every rep,'" Lewis said. "So far, it's worked."

> Lockhart said he's gained five pounds of muscle since his arrival from prep school and considers himself a physical receiver with good route running skills. He likens his game to 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree.

"I'm just very excited to be out here making plays," Lockhart said. "I plan on making some big plays, getting my name out there."

> As for the defensive tackles, Golden wants to see someone separate themselves on Sunday.

"I think our depth is making progress. Do we have one or two guys that are going to give the other team a fit yet? I want to see that," Golden said. "Luther Robinson, Olsen Pierre, Curtis Porter, Darius Smith, I want to see someone separate tomorrow.

"I want to turn on the film and see man, we just couldn't deal with him. Finally, we have a defensive tackle the way Miami should there. I'm looking for someone to go in there and really dominate a game and cause havoc for us and give the offensive problems and we want to see the young guys and see what they can do."

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