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2021 Fall Camp Summary - Day 1

2021 Fall Camp Summary - Day 1

Stefan Adams
The first day of Canes’ fall camp kicked off tonight in preparation for the opener against the Alabama Crimson Tide that’s just under a month away. It was nice to be back on Greentree, as this was the first practice the media has had access to since March of 2020 because of COVID concerns. Media was allowed to view the entire 2-hour practice, so I was able to form some decent impressions from Day 1. Disclaimer that there was no pads today, just shirts and shorts, but here were my takeaways and notes from camp.


**The biggest question going into the day was how QB D’Eriq King would look coming off his knee injury. Simply put, King did not disappoint and pretty much looked like his normal self out there. Of course, there was no hitting, but King did not look limited in any way today and also seems to have avoided the confidence issues that some players have when they come back from a major injury. He was very sure of himself moving within the pocket, did not look skittish or rushed, fired mostly accurate balls to all levels of the field, and looked to have the same level of speed he had last year when running.

In particular, he had a nice sequence late in 11v11 play that really showed his mobility. With the pocket closing in, he demonstrated great footwork by stepping up and sliding away from a Deandre Johnson sack, rolled out to his left, and threw a strike across his body to find Key’Shawn Smith for a nice 15+ yard pickup. On the next play, King showed off the wheels for a 10+ yard gain on the ground off the right tackle. Manny Diaz and the rest of the staff have to feel good with what they saw from King today.


**I felt like another big storyline was the amount of rotation on defense. Yes, it was the first practice and I expect many changes along the way regardless, but that was probably the most shuffling on the first unit of any one practice that I can remember. You can take a look at the two-deep depth chart the team opened up with at the end of this article, but, aside from CB Te’Cory Couch, S Bubba Bolden, and S Gurvan Hall, nobody was safe today. It’s not altogether surprising considering how much UM lost on the DL and the lack of production from the LB’s last season, but the coaches definitely made clear that starting jobs are wide open for the taking all across the defense.


**Of the backup QB’s, I thought it was a wash and wouldn’t put QB Tyler Van Dyke or QB Jake Garcia over one or the other after the first day. Van Dyke started with the second team and Garcia started with the third team, and both had their moments, including a sequence mid-way through practice when Van Dyke marched the second unit down the field for back-to-back TD drives (both to WR Mark Pope) in 7v7 play. Van Dyke has a cannon and is looking fairly athletic and mobile for his size (6’4” 224) as well.

Garcia went through his progressions well today and demonstrated he had a favorite target in WR Jacolby George, as the two hooked up many times. Garcia did have a hiccup towards the end of practice, missing a lurking S Kamren Kinchens across the middle, who jumped the route for an easy pick. Garcia made up for it a few plays later and ended the last play of practice on a high note, spinning away from what looked to be a sure sack, rolling left, and finding RB Thad Franklin in the flats for a nice pickup.


**Consistent from where we left off in spring, WR Key’Shawn Smith was the receiver working most consistently on the first team in addition to assumed starters WR Mike Harley and WR Charleston Rambo. While I wouldn’t quite call him a top performer, Smith looked to fit right in with the ones, making multiple catches on the day and being a sure-handed target for King. Smith showed good awareness coming back to the ball and working himself open on the aforementioned King play where he had to scramble away from pressure. Although he started with the twos, I noticed WR Xavier Restrepo also working in with the first unit at times and he got free for a nice gain across the middle on one rep. He stood out more on the second team, though, as there was a concerted effort to get him the ball in space on screens and on short routes.


**Overall, I thought WR Mark Pope working on the second and third team was the receiver that was most consistently getting open, and his route running looks to be improved. Although he did have one drop, Pope made plays in all three phases (1v1, 7v7, 11v11) today, with his best coming on a 20-yard post where he split both S Keshawn Washington and S Brian Balom and made a leaping grab in the back of the endzone on a pass from Van Dyke.


**I absolutely loved what I saw from the freshmen receivers. Each of them made highlight plays today and mainly shined in 1-on-1 drills. WR Brashard Smith probably had the play of the day, hauling in a sick one-handed catch near the sidelines over Kam Kinchens on a corner route. Jacolby George got behind Jalen Harrell and rotated his body in the air to make the grab in 1-on-1’s, and also made a ton of grabs from Garcia in the short and intermediate game in both 7v7 and 11v11. WR Romello Brinson toasted a walk-on by 15+ yards on a streak in 1-on-1’s.

Of all those guys though, I was most impressed by TE Elijah Arroyo. He was fluid in his movements, had little wasted motion, and was very quick getting in and out of his breaks, just looks like a natural receiver out there. He still needs a little more size, but definitely has the look of a player. Arroyo got a few steps on Washington across the middle and made an easy grab in 1-on-1’s, and was a beast over the middle with multiple grabs in 7v7 and 11v11 too.


**At RB, Cam’Ron Harris started with the first team, but the RB’s really did not have much room to run today. However, I did like what I saw from RB Jaylan Knighton as a receiver out of the backfield. He made multiple plays in the screen game today, something he excelled at last season when given the opportunity, but I could definitely see this becoming more of a staple of the offense this year heading into Knighton’s second season.


**The offensive line was difficult to see as they mainly worked on the far end of the field from where the media was stationed and often had the players that were watching on encircling the drill, obstructing the view.
The offense was also driving towards our endzone much of the time and the DL was obstructing our view of the OL and their numbers. So, aside from how they opened 11v11 with first and second teamers, I didn’t have much to gather on an individual basis. As a group, I would say the unit struggled today, with the run game unable to get on track and too many sacks/pressures given up. One individual note would be how the new freshmen lined up, with Laurence Seymore working at C, and Ryan Rodriguez at LG.


**On the D-Line, my standouts were DE Deandre Johnson mainly working with the first team and DT Leonard Taylor mainly working on the second/third team.
After being listed at 6’3” 245 in spring, Johnson is now listed at 260 pounds and absolutely looks it, as he showed off a beefed up frame today. He also didn’t seem to lose much if any speed, as he got up the field with great burst in making at least 2 sacks in 11v11 play and had multiple pressures as well. Johnson also made a nice play when he blew up a screen from King to RB Don Chaney, displaying great recognition to stay home and make the stop.

Taylor looks massive from where he was as a senior at Palmetto, looking every bit his listed 6’3” 305 pounds; it is mostly good weight and he was moving well with it today. Although it was against the backup OL, Taylor had multiple dominant snaps where you got to see a glimpse of his enormous potential, toying with Zalon’tae Hillery and Ousman Traore in particular. While the coaches may want to see him develop more consistency and ease him into things early on, I would be surprised if Taylor isn’t starting by the end of the season. He’s as advertised.


Notes

**
Returning kicks today were Harley, B. Smith, Pope, and Dee Wiggins. Returning punts today were Tyrique Stevenson and Restrepo.

**In injury news, OL John Campbell and LB Sam Brooks were out today, while OL Jakai Clark was limited.

**In roster news, DE Cameron Williams and DT Jalar Holley are off the team for academic issues, per Diaz. WR Jeremiah Payton was also not listed on the roster; according to Diaz, he is away from the team because “football is not something he can dedicate himself to right now” and it is unknown if he will return.

**Camp resumes tomorrow (Saturday 8/7) at 6 PM. Media will also have full access to that practice as well, so I’ll try and pay more attention to positions I didn’t focus on as much today, mainly LB.

**The below two-deep depth chart reflects how the team opened up in the first 11v11 drill of camp. Note that there was a ton of rotation, especially on the defensive side of the ball.


DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE (1st Team/2nd Team)

QB
: D'Eriq King/Tyler Van Dyke

RB: Cam’Ron Harris/Jaylan Knighton

WR: Charleston Rambo/Dee Wiggins

WR: Key’Shawn Smith/Michael Redding

Slot: Mike Harley/Xavier Restrepo

TE: Will Mallory/Larry Hodges

LT: Zion Nelson/DJ Scaife

LG: Jalen Rivers/Zalon’tae Hillery

C: Corey Gaynor/Ousman Traore

RG: Navaughn Donaldson/Cleveland Reed

RT: Jarrid Williams/Justice Oluwaseun


DEFENSE (1st Team/2nd Team)

DE
: Zach McCloud/Chantz Williams

DT: Jordan Miller/Nesta Silvera

DT: Jon Ford/Jared Harrison-Hunte

DE: Deandre Johnson/Jahfari Harvey

WILL: Waynmon Steed/Keontra Smith

MIKE: BJ Jennings/Corey Flagg

STRK: Gilbert Frierson/Amari Carter

CB: Te'Cory Couch/Tyrique Stevenson

S: Gurvan Hall/Brian Balom

S: Bubba Bolden/Keshawn Washington

CB: DJ Ivey/Isaiah Dunson
 

Comments (36)

Thank you for the write up. Was Campbell on the sidelines? His injury was news to me this week. Would be interested to know if he is going to be available at all this season.
 
Thank you for the write up. Was Campbell on the sidelines? His injury was news to me this week. Would be interested to know if he is going to be available at all this season.
Possible he was, I just didn’t see him personally
 
I really want to like this team but some things just make me nervous as ****. LBers… Christ. I’d like to Stevenson opposite couch, but they’ll all play (Ivey, blades, Stevenson, couch).

mostly, why can’t we run block? It’s been an issue for like, what, 20 years? I know it’s one practice but that has to be a priority
 
Nice write up. Appreciate ya! One question, how is Arroyo looking? Is he out there? I’m not surprised to see Hodges behind Mallory, but I thought I’d hear Arroyo name throughout the practice as well.
 

2022 Commits

WR
6'2"
185
Nashville, TN
CB
6'0"
160
Lexington, MS
QB
6'4"
205
Valdosta, GA
CB
6'1"
175
Fort Myers, FL
CB
6'2"
180
Alabaster, AL
S
6'1"
170
Orlando, FL
WR
6'1"
185
Mandeville, LA
MLB
6'1"
210
Manvel, TX
OT
6'7"
275
Sandersville, GA

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