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Safety Rayshawn Jenkins to have season-ending back surgery Monday; QB Kaaya runs with first team.

Safety Rayshawn Jenkins, who started 12 games last season and had 46 tackles, three interceptions and five pass breakups for the Hurricanes, will have season-ending back surgery on Monday, a source has told The Miami Herald.

Jenkins first posted the news late Wednesday night on his Facebook page: “Will not be playing this season but I wish my boys the best. I would do anything to be out there with them but everything happens for a reason.#MinorSetBackMajorComeBack”

The source said Jenkins injured his back lifting weights and was trying to play through the pain. Jenkins last practiced on Monday. The recovery following surgery is expected to take at least six months, the source said.

"That hurt. That hurt us big time," senior safety Dallas Crawford said. "But he's still going to be out here coaching us. He has a lot of game experience. So he can still help the team in a lot of ways. But we need him."

-- MANNY NAVARRO

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FRESHMAN KAAYA TAKES FIRST TEAM REPS; PLAYERS TALK QB BATTLE

In Thursday's morning practice at Greentree Field -- one day after the first scrimmage -- quarterback Brad Kaaya went with the first team and Jake Heaps went with the second team. We were told that the first depth chart will be released later today. It is neck-and-neck for the starting quarterback spot between freshman Kaaya and graduate transfer Heaps.

"I feel like I did a good job of running the operation and completing passes but I think the biggest thing is continuing to get better, continuing to work on the overall operation and feeling comfortable with everything,'' Heaps said after practice. "At this point after yesterday and today’s practice this morning feeling good about where I’m at and the progress that I’ve made and now over the next few days this is really going to be a big push so we all need to get better as a team.

When told coaches would narrow the race to two frontrunners, Heaps said, "I’m not worried about that. I’m just going out there and focusing on me and every rep that I get and trying to make it count. What coach decides, what he ends up deciding, that’s out of my hands. All I can do is just go out there and execute the best I can."

 Dallas Crawford told us Kaaya threw the pass that he picked off and he returned 50 yards for a touchdown in the scrimmage. He said Heaps threw the other interception.

 Here's what Crawford said about Kaaya: “He goes through his progressions very well. He doesn’t panic. He has really good feet in the pocket. He doesn’t force anything. I joke with him all the time, I think he’s a junior college transfer or something. He doesn’t act like a freshman. Just the way he carries himself and calls the audibles at the line. He looked really good yesterday.” 

Crawford on Heaps: “Jake’s a leader. As soon as he stepped foot on campus, he’s been leading. He takes command of the offense as well. He looked good yesterday too. It’s a battle. They’re both going at it. They looked good yesterday.”

> Hurricanes RB Duke Johnson said he did not experience any soreness after Wednesday's scrimmage on his surgically repaired right ankle: "Everything was fine. Got in the ice tub. Woke up today feeling better than yesterday.''

Duke also said Brad Kaaya reads defenses "exceptionally well for a freshman,'' but that Jake Heaps is better in that regard. “His checks, his reads, everything is a lot faster and quicker than Brad’s.”

What does receiver Stacy Coley think of the quarterback competition?

"Everybody has their different skill set," Coley said. "Brad is really smart. Brad can just pick out the zones, coverages being run. He picks it up real quick. He's very calm. Since Day 1, he as really calm. He just got in his playbook and was ready to go.

"Jake's just a good motivator. All the quarterbacks are smart. He has a great deep ball, throws great slant routes. It's a good spiral. It comes at you fast. You can catch it on the run and keep going."

Linebacker Denzel Perryman gave us his take, too. What does Kaaya do well in Perryman's eyes? "He's great under pressure man," Perryman said. "I can't rattle that guy for nothing at all. I think nobody can."

What does Perryman like about Heaps? "The fact he's really short -- he's like my height -- and he can still get the job done. He's another one that can't be rattled."

> The players wearing first-team black this morning: DE Trent Harris, DL Anthony Chickillo, S Dallas Crawford, Lb Thurston Armbrister, weakside linebacker Nantambu-Akil Fentress (for the first time), LB Denzel Perryman, LB Raphael Kirby and CB Ladarius Gunter.

> The players wearing first-team orange this morning: G Hunter Wells, G Danny Isidora, TE Standish Dobard, TE Clive Walford, RB Joe Yearby, WR Phillip Dorsett, RB Duke Johnson, T Ereck Flowers, C Shane McDermott, T Trevor Darling and FB Ronnie Regula 

> What does Duke Johnson think of freshman RB Joseph Yearby wearing an orange jersey: "It says he's working hard. He came in ready to learn, ready to listen. He was ready to be ready. He came with a mindset that stuff in high school don't matter. I need these guys as much as they need me. Me and Gus Edwards have to teach him everything we know so he can come out here and be effective.

What's Yearby's next step? "Stay consistent," Johnson said. "That's the hardest thing for a freshman to do because that's something you're not used. You're not used to being out here all the long days, coming back for two-a-days. If he can be consistent he'll be fine." 

> Crawford forced a fumble by receiver Tyre Brady with a big hit in Wednesday's scrimmage. "I guess he ran a post and he was on the goalline and I hit him and he fumbled," Crawford said. "That's pretty much it. I usually don't think, I just react to the play."

> Crawford on Fentress, who is playing outside linebacker and a rover safety position: "We need him to be a big contributor. I don't know if anybody on the defensive side plays as fast he does. He runs from sideline to sideline. He's smart. He gives great effort and he's always where he needs to be. So, I mean, we're going to need to him big time this year."

> UM will be back this afternoon for another practice session. 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

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