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First day in the limelight for UM Hurricanes quarterbacks Kevin Olsen and Gray Crow

With spring practice winding down in a hurry, quarterbacks Kevin Olsen and Gray Crow took center stage Tuesday at Greentree Field, as fifth-year senior teammate Ryan Williams prepared for Wednesday's surgery to repair his torn ACL -- among other injuries to his right knee.

Practice was so spirited and intense that tight end Standish Dobard and defensive back Hugo Delapenha got into a brawl that became a massive pileup -- but just for a few seconds before coaches broke it up. Al Golden ended the practice after that, and said he was pleased with the day.

"There was a really good quarterback competition today and that will continue through the spring game, and then obviousy we'll add two more guys to that mix before Ryan comes back. But as soon as Ryan gets through this initial recovery phase and transitions into rehab, he'll be around, he'll be leading. I promise he will.''

Golden said "the whole day'' was what coaches were looking for. "The whole day was really crisp. I ended up cutting 20 minutes from it. It was fast. It was up temp. I thought Friday was our best day and this day was better than Friday.''

Golden said Crow "performed his best without question and Kevin did an excellent job, too. That was a good start for those two guys and I think the team rallied around them today.

"Kevin right now is creating really well. In other words he's stepping up in the pocket and keeping his eyes down the field and finding his second and third receivers, which is really good. He was unflappable the other night.

"Gray, today, you could see he's got a strong arm. We got him on the move a little bit more, so play action, move the pocket with him and I thought he threw some really good balls today.''

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Incoming freshmen quarterbacks Brad Kaaya of West Hills Chaminade High in California and Malik Rosier of Mobile, Alabama's Faith Academy, will arrive on campus in five weeks, Golden said. They're already studying the playbook.

UM offensive coordinator James Coley said the best quarterback, regardless of age, will win the starting job. "They're two smart kids that are really studying the books,'' he said. "There are no rules on starting true freshmen. So, if they come in here and beat out the guys that are here right now and they're the best player I wouldn't be hesitant because the best player has got to play.''

Coley said Olsen needs to improve on "the process.'' Though he said he understands the game well, he needs to communicate better with the offense during plays. "OK, I know you now football,'' Coley said, "but it's very important you point this guy out during this play because the left tackle needs to know that information or don't forget to give a signal to the receiver when you see this certain coverage because just because you know it doesn't mean he knows it.''

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KEVIN OLSEN: "Being the guy is why I came here to Miami. It's a shame that this is how I got to be, maybe, 'the guy,' or whatever. I'm going to embrace the break I got. It's unfortunate for Ryan. I feel awful.

  "When [Ryan] told me [about his injury] I was so sad for him. I'm going to be there for him for whatever he needs from me. And I know he'll be there for me while I'm getting ready to be the guy.''

He said he wasn't nervous about the opportunity. "I probably shouldn't be here if I was nervous. I didn't come here to be the backup. I didn't come here to sit behind people the whole time. This year Ryan was going to be the starter and I was going to be there to be in the backup role. Sometimes in football people get tough breaks. We've got to help him move on and we've also got to move on as an offense and as a team in general.''

GRAY CROW: "Normally this spring I haven't really gotten a lot of reps so I've had to take advantage of Ryan and Kevin, what they see in their mistakes and learn from them and take a lot of mental reps. But I feel like what I've done so far the past couple weeks has really prepared me for today."

Crow said he normally gets between five and 10 snaps a practice, but Tuesday he got "30 to 40.''

"Playing quarterback you're always one play away so you always have to be ready and prepare yourself like you're going to get in there.''

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 Running backs Duke Johnson and true freshman Joe Yearby, both rehabilitating from injuries, returned to practice in yellow (limited) jerseys for the first time this spring. "Number one, I just expressed our gratitude from everybody in our organization because that took a lot of work,'' Golden said. "For them to be out there where they are right now took a lot of work, took a lot of individual time. 

"Clearly Randy [Duke] took Joe under his wing and brought Joe along. After what I saw today, I have no doubt that if we had another two weeks of practice they would be back. So that issue is resolved. They'll do a little bit more Thursday, get a little run in the stadium without any contact and then be ready to transition to full go.''

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Tight end Jake O'Donnell, who sustained an undisclosed injury in the scrimmage and had to have an MRI, has results that "are coming back negative, so it's just going to be time with him,'' Golden said. "He's had an excellent spring and he's got a chance to be 260 by training camp, which is good. It's unfortunate he couldn't finish [spring], but 12 really good practices for Jake.''

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Black first-team jerseys for defensive players Tuesday: linebackers Jermaine Grace, Raphael Kirby, Denzel Perryman, Alex Figueroa; safety Dallas Crawford, defensive tackle Earl Moore.

Orange first-team jerseys for offensive players: running back Gus Edwards, guard Jon Feliciano, tackle Taylor Gadbois, tight end Standish Dobard, receiver Stacy Coley, receiver Malcolm Lewis, tackle Ereck Flowers and kicker Matt Goudis.

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Canesport.com reported that UF punter Justin Vogel of Tampa "is in the final process of transferring to MIami.'' He will be a redshirt sophomore and able to play immediately, according to his high school coach, because he'll be a walk on.

He never punted at UF.

"Miami's coaches said there's an open spot and they're looking for someone to come in and play right away,'' Vogel told Canesport.com. "They said there's no punters there right now, that they were going to have to try to use their field goal kicker [Goudis] to do punting...They're allotting a scholarship for a punter for next year, so if I'm good this year they'll just give it to me instead of giving it to someone else.''

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Defensive tackle Olsen Pierre (concussion) returned to practice Tuesday and was not limited.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

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