Couple quick 1 p.m. notes:
• Guard Dion Waiters today explained on Instagram why he took the Heat's $2.9 million room exception: "I didn't do it for the money. I did it for the opportunity to go out and ball and have fun. Everything else will take care of itself!!! I just felt like it was the best situation for me and my family. I could have waited and got [what] I wanted. But I rather be happy than miserable at the end of the day!!! Meaning you can have everything and still not be happy. #heatnation let's get it. #provethem wrong."
And Pat Riley said: "Dion is not a Room Exception player. He wanted to play for the Miami Heat and chose to forgo other more lucrative financial opportunities to be a part of our championship organization. We are very honored that he made the commitment to come to South Florida and sign with us. Dion is young, athletic and explosive, which fits in with our roster. He will add a great dimension for us at the off-guard spot. I really like the depth and versatility that we now have in our perimeter positions. Welcome aboard Dion!”
• Adam Gase, in his pre-training camp press conference, said of Arian Foster: "I just think it adds great competition to that group. I really like his skill set. I’ve been an admirer of his for I don’t know how long he’s been playing. It just feels like forever. A great opportunity for us, him still being out there. We had been in conversations with him for a while. We had brought him in on a visit and we had a really good talk and just kind of allowed him to get healthy and work to get back. It’ll be interesting when we get him out there and just to see how he kind of fits in.”
On his route running, Gase said: “I’ve always been a fan of how he does things. He’s the type of guy that he can run his route tree similar to what a wide receiver’s is. When we worked him out, I put him in a couple of spots just to see how that looked and he runs about as smooth as any running back that I’ve ever seen. I’ll be interested to see how far we can grow the running back position with him.”
• Though Xavien Howard will begin camp on PUP after arthroscopic knee surgery (Gase expects him back by the Sept. 11 opener), Gase is confident in Tony Lippett, who's the front-runner to start opposite Byron Maxwell: "I thought he did a good job. Me and Vance were talking about it the other day, as far as, as the spring went on, we saw him get more comfortable. He did a good job. He had a couple of picks there towards the back half. It seems like he did a good job, even when the ball popped up in air, he gets his hands on it. He makes sure he does a good job he comes down with the ball when he does get his hands on it. We're seeing improvement. The fact that he'll get to the line of scrimmage and press and be aggressive. We just need guys to be able to hang in there for a short period of time. That's why I love our pass-rush. That thing's coming."
MARK RICHT TALK
Lots of UM football today, on top of last night's post here about a big oral commitment for UM:
• Interesting last night to watch Mark Richt address a bunch of 3 to 14 years at Gwen Cherry Park in Miami. (Credit to Mark Walton and Chris Herndon for also attending.)
Richt told one child: "In eight years, I might be able to sign up."
Richt wants to visit local parks weekly, even during the season. "We're just trying to love 'em up," he said, adding he didn't do this at Georgia.
• I asked Richt specifically if he envisions Al-Quadin Muhammad and Jermaine Grace being available for the opener, or are they both at risk for suspension.
“I will give you any information if it’s appropriate to give it to you," Richt said. "Right now, it’s not.”
The fact he didn't rule out a suspension confirms what we have been told: The investigation into AQM has not been closed.
As we've reported, UM has been investigating players (including AQM, Grace and Juwon Young) for possibly taking heavily discounted cars from a Miami Beach dealership (South Beach Exotic Rentals) in exchange for giving the car rental agency a stake in their professional future.
Young has been suspended and is not expected back at UM, barring a dramatic change.
• With Lawrence Cager out for the year with a torn ACL, UM is down to seven healthy scholarship receivers. Dionte Mullens would be an eight if he qualifies, as UM expects.
"It's going to be all hands on decks at that position," he said.
On Darrell Langham, who's one of several competing to replace Cager, Richt said: “We wanted him to cut to a certain weight, but the reality was he got down to a certain body fat, which was excellent; sometimes if they hit a certain body fat and they’re at a weight that maybe we didn’t think was low enough…we’re asking a guy to go lower when he already has the proper body fat.He looks good. He’s just a big man. He’s probably in the 225, 230-range. He’s plenty fast. His body, his presence is a big, strong receiver. He’ll be able to get open just by virtue of his size and his range.”
Richt said transfer Dayall Harris is a "smooth, fluid athlete. He can help, no question.... Got great ball skills. And he’s got some experience. He played a year at Ole Miss. He played in junior college. He’s not a kid anymore. He’s a little further along than a true freshman would be. He’ll definitely be able to help. He’s going to have to.”
• Might tight ends Chris Herndon and David Njoku play some at receiver?
"They really are," Richt said. "They flex out and they can play the receiver position. Am I going to train one at the split end and train one at the flanker? Probably not. But they know the two inside slot positions. If we go three receivers, they can easily be one of the three, both of them.”
On Herndon, Richt said: "Herndon…he’s a legit tight end, he’s a legit fullback and he’s a legit receiver. I haven’t really had a guy that can really be proficient at all three and be smart enough to really pick it up. In one spring, he knew all the fullback position, he knew all the tight end position, he knew all the slot receiver position. I mean, the guy’s…like he said, he has a 3.1 and he’s a smart kid. He really cares.”
And Richt said Standish Dobard, who was the third-string tight end coming out of spring, has had "a great summer. He’s slimmer, he’s trimmer. His body fat, he cut it. He’s in better shape. I see a difference just looking at his body type and his conditioning now compared to spring. He’s showing me he really wants to play ball and he will. He will.”
Michael Irvin Jr., who hopes to get snaps at tight end as a freshman, also has impressed.
"[Brad Kaaya] talks about his catch radius," Richt said. "He does have really good hands and he’s got good agility and mobility, good route-running. He was a little heavy, but he cut weight in the beginning. Now he’s starting to build good weight. He had a little baby fat on him. He’s trimming up and getting strong and getting lean. He’s a smart kid too. He’ll throw his hat in that competition.”
• Richt isn't sure who will back up Brad Kaaya. My sense is Evan Schirreffs is a slight front runner over Malik Rosier, but this absolutely could go either way.
"Don’t know the answer," Richt said. "I want to see if they’re on it as far as assignments and they can take the assignments from the meeting room to the field, just see what kind of accuracy and decision-making they have, get us in the right run game. Can they function and help these other skill guys do their jobs?”
• Richt, so far, has been far more successful drawing alumni back to campus than Al Golden ever was, made clear this week they will be invited to campus whenever they want.
“It’s been great," he said. "I’m one of them. I’m a former alum as well and I think that’s helped. They feel like one of their own has come home. Our football alumni have been great. I have also reached out to them. I want them to be a part of this program. I
want them to feel welcome. I want them to drop by. I want them to pop in and say hello to our players…
"If they want to come to practice, I want them to come to practice. Spring game, bunch of them the sideline, I want them there. I don’t want them there trying to coach our guys but I want them there. So far the relationship has been really good. They’re hungry for success. The one thing about them is they love the University of Miami. They love that school, man. They love that team and want to see it succeed. They want to do anything they can to help. I had what I called Paradise Camp a couple days ago.
"I don’t know many came, 15 or whatever it was. We asked a few guys to come. I bet you we could have had 50. Once the word got out we were doing it, they were texting and calling, ‘I’d love to come.’ They all got there on their own. They didn’t get paid. They did it because they love the place and they want us to be great. It’s been great.”
• Richt, on what he’s learned in recruiting in 15 years at Georgia: “The bottom line in recruiting is you’ve got to be diligent, you’ve got to have relationships, cultivate coaches and players, maybe their mother, brother, cousin, uncle. You’ve got to know everything about that kid whether they’re nearby or not.
“There’s a lot of great talent in that tri-county area. A lot of that talent is not as developed as some other places around the country. Some players aren’t used to eating the way we begin to feed them when they get to campus. They start eating and lifting a certain way, start learning how to take care of their bodies. All of a sudden, this skinny kid 175 pounds turns into 215-pound gazelle of a wide receiver. What happened to this guy?
"How many great three star players come out of South Florida? A bunch. Ray Lewis was a three-star. There are a bunch of guys who were these three-star. If that kid was in another area of the country, he would be a 5 star. There are so many great players down there, in some ways they cancel each themselves out in front of standing out…. You take some of these guys and put them in
other spots around the country, they would be the best players in the league. Four and five star guys. There are a bunch of gems in there that may not have the ratings, which I’ve never been too concerned about anyway. Fans like it.”
• Richt, on calling plays again: "On a personal level, if I am going to really enjoy it and have an energy level I think it takes to be great, calling plays and game-planning and scheming has really energized me. It’s important for the staff to see me compete. I think it’s important for the players to see me compete. Every day in practice, it’s offense vs. defense. I want the defense to make big plays. But for that moment, when I call a play, I want execution on offense.
"The players see that, my competitive juices may be different than if you are on the side watching, offense does good or defense does good, it’s good but you don’t have any emotion toward it. It’s been good for me and good for the players.”