Day 2 of UM Hurricanes spring football practice: Tyriq McCord, Deon Bush, Phillip Dorsett, Tracy Howard
It was another beautiful day at Greentree Field on Sunday, with Day Two of spring practice in the books.
Coach Al Golden seemed pleased, saying the team "got a lot done'' and had "good energy again.''
Golden said he is now the special teams coordinator, taking the place of Micheal Barrow, who remains the linebackers coach. "I've been working with special teams my whole career,'' Golden said. "We wanted to free up Micheal to continue to recruit the way he recruits down here and also focus on the linebackers. A lot of them are very young, and they're going to have a lot to do.''
*Tyriq McCord has made the switch from defensive end to outside linebacker. Golden said "it's really not much of a departure for him'' because "he worked at open-side end or [strong-side] linebacker for us, and then obviously rushed the passer for us on third down.''
Last October, McCord, then a freshman, said sometimes he got "pushed around'' because he had only 232 pounds on his 6-3 frame. He started the 2012 season weighing 227, he told us Sunday. Today, he said he weighs 236 and would eventually like to hit 245.
He said he's eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to keep his weight up.
He said he "took the challenge'' of changing positions to "help out my teammates.''
"The reaction time is much faster'' being a linebacker, said McCord, who had 15 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles-for-loss and a fumble recovery last season. "I really see how fast the game is going because I have to read everything. I get to play out in space and sometimes I get to put my hand in the dirt -- I move the D-line sometimes. I get to run around and use my speed a little bit more.''
*Herb Waters, a rising sophomore receiver, had 10 catches for 227 yards and two touchdowns last season for a team-high 22.7-yards-per-catch average. He said quarterback Stephen Morris is looking very strong. "Better than ever,'' said Waters, who, according to Golden, had one of the best off-seasons. "I just worked out with my [more experienced] receivers and they've been helping me get better time-wise and in the weight room.''
*Safety Deon Bush, another rising sophomore, said this spring "feels very different having a year under my belt. Now I feel more comfortable out there and got adjusted to the speed. Sometimes it was difficult last year not knowing what was going on but I just had to learn quick.
Bush, who had 34 tackles and three forced fumbles in 2012, struggled with stingers last year, but said his "neck is stronger than ever. I've been rehabbing it in the offseason and just working hard getting bigger and stronger.'' He is listed as 6-1 and 201 pounds.
*Phillip Dorsett, a 5-9, 185-pound rising junior out of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas High, was the leading receiver last season with 58 catches for 842 yards and four touchdowns.
He said competing in track has "helped me get in way better condition than last year.'' He also has put on five pounds since last season, weighing in now at 184 -- nearly 20 pounds heavier than as a freshman.
* And Tracy Howard, a rising sophomore cornerback out of Miramar High, seemed contented and happy Sunday.
Howard is back in the coveted black jersey worn by defensive starters, and ready to replace his mentor, departed cornerback Brandon McGee.
“The key is, he just had to live up to our expectation, not what the outside’s expectation was for him,’’ defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said Sunday. “Once they become comfortable and understand that they don’t have to, Day One, come in and be the best corner that ever played… That’s unrealistic, and it’s really not fair.
“He’s improved because he’s doing exactly what we’re asking him to do. He’s improved because he’s [doing] the same thing that got him here. The reason why he had such success in high school is because he really loves and game and he will work really, really hard at it.’’
Howard ended his first season with 17 tackles and four pass breakups. He played in all 12 games and started the final one at Duke. He’s now listed as a starter opposite junior Ladarius Gunter, who had 27 tackles in 12 games (five starts) last season, plus an interception, two fumble recoveries and six pass breakups.
“I learned to be more patient,'' he said of last year's experience. Everybody wants to come in and be very dominant. But at the cornerback position it takes a lot of learning.”
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN