UM recruits 'arrive' -- but work's long under way
By Omar Kelly
Aug 10, 2004

CORAL GABLES ( - A day after he graduated, South Dade standout Charlie Jones was on Miami's campus practicing and studying film with new teammates.

St. Thomas Aquinas safety Anthony Reddick wasn't far behind, moving in with his Raiders teammate, Tavares Gooden, in summer so he could train six days a week.

More than a dozen of Miami's 2004 signees spent at least two weeks -- some all summer -- working out with the Hurricanes before Monday, when 19 incoming freshmen reported to the campus.

There's good reason for the summer short-courses these freshmen put themselves through.

The earlier they start learning from teammates, getting adjusted to the speed and the nuances of the college game, the more likely they are to contribute immediately as backups, role players or special-teamers in the same way Tyrone Moss, Bryan Pata and Devin Hester had last season.

"The game is much faster than it looks on TV. If you think a second, the play is gone," said Lovon Ponder, who also took part in the summer workouts.

"In high school I was able to look at the quarterback, and he'd throw it right to me. Now if I'm looking at the quarterback, he's throwing it deep to Roscoe [Parrish]."

Coaches aren't allowed to participate in the summer's practices, so the freshmen are instructed by upperclassmen, who often use 7-on-7 practices to provide the coaching staff reports to help determine whether a newcomer is ready to contribute.

Reddick was one of the few who got the green light from his new teammates. He was so advanced that he was invited to lift weights and practice with the underclassmen, leaving the freshmen.

"Sometimes you get feedback from the players. When Santana Moss was running around catching balls as a true freshman, the quarterbacks would say, `This guy's good,'" coach Larry Coker said. "The players have had some exciting things to say about Reddick, and I know from what I've seen on video from high school I think he can be a special player."

To play immediately, a freshman must break into UM's two-deep roster, filling in at a graduation-depleted position (like linebacker) or passing an upperclassman on the depth chart.

Most freshmen redshirt to get stronger or learn technique.

Some knew coming in that chances of playing immediately were remote. But "to be the best you can be you've got to go up against the best," said Tyrone Byrd, an offensive lineman from Sugarland, Texas.

Not all of UM's 28 signees reported Monday.

Josh Kerr and Cedric Hill deferred their enrollment until next spring.

Tailback Bobby Washington was granted his release when denied admission and is enrolled at North Carolina State.

Another, Booker T. Washington lineman Antonio Dixon, is going to prep school for a year.

And defensive tackles Kellen Heard and Joe Joseph await approval from the NCAA Clearinghouse to report to UM.

Coker said Heard and Joseph are academically qualified and he is optimistic that they will be cleared soon.

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