Thomas, Pope, George break down spring so far

Thomas, Pope, George break down spring so far

Stefan Adams
After Tuesday’s drills, junior WR Jeff Thomas explained how he ended up coming back to the Hurricanes this spring after his dismissal last November.

“Just to finish what I started,” Thomas said. “I made a commitment that I was going to come here and I want things to be great again. I wanted to play football again with everybody - everybody missed me, they were blowing up my phone, my DM’s, saying, `Come back, come back.’ So I wanted to take advantage of that.”

According to Thomas, new head coach Manny Diaz played a big role in smoothing over the issues between Miami and the Illinois wideout.

“He said I still had spot here, and I wanted to take that like when they offered me in the first place,” Thomas said. "He said just come and play how I play, don't change anything, just be who I am. He told me to handle my business like a grown man should."

What was the team’s reaction to his return?

“It was great, everyone showed me love like I never left. It felt good,” Thomas said. “Now, I’m taking coaching every day, fixing my mistakes on and off the field so I can be a great player.”

Thomas left the first scrimmage for precautionary reasons after suffering a slight hamstring strain, but he was a full participant in Tuesday’s practice.

“Everybody is having fun, everybody is coming together as a team again,” Thomas said. “It’s really great.”

**Sophomore WR Mark Pope has mainly worked with the second team offense this spring, but the receiver group has been mixed and matched often so that each receiver gets a look with each QB. In Saturday’s scrimmage, Pope caught a 52 yard TD pass, and feels his spring has been productive overall.

“It’s going well,” Pope said. “I’m just coming in, competing every day. The new offense… it’s just learning everything, a lot of motions. But everything is going well.”

Coming in as a highly-regarded recruit, Pope didn’t earn as much playing time as he would have liked as a freshman in 2018 and was often times relegated to the bench or mop up duty.

“It’s something I learned from just coming in,” Pope said. “The stars don’t mean anything. It’s just coming in and competing. Last year was last year, I’m just focusing on this year.”

Despite his struggles as a freshman, Pope said he never really considered transferring from the program.

“I was just frustrated. I wasn’t transferring or wanting to transfer.”

Pope has watched and learned from Jeff Thomas, and the sophomore is attempting to use Thomas as a blueprint for how to model his style of play.

“The thing I learned from him is his releases, that’s what I need to work on,” Pope said. “I take Jeff Thomas’ game and I try to base it on my game.”

**From the looks of it, redshirt freshman fullback Realus George is going to play a key role in offensive coordinator Dan Enos’ newly established offensive scheme at Miami.

“From what we’ve been doing so far every practice, every install has been a lot of new fullback stuff compared to last year,” George said. “Coach Enos tries to use everyone he can, you know, get as much out of everyone he can so other guys don’t get tired. We do a lot of fullback/tight end.”

George took a redshirt year as a true freshman in 2018, sitting back and bidding his time behind senior fullback Trayone Gray. With Gray now off and graduated, though, George is preparing everyday for a giant increase in his role in 2019.

“We watch film and I see fullback on a lot of plays that come up and it motivates me to come out and play a lot harder than I did last year, honestly,” George said. “This spring has been about proving to myself and the coaches that I’m a guy they can depend on. I want to show coaches and my teammates that I’m the best fullback for what they ask me to do, whether it’s block somebody or a dive or go out on a flat route.”

Over the off-season, George has cut nearly 30 pounds, going from 280 in 2018 to 251 this spring.

“It’s helping me move a lot quicker, be more explosive,” George said. “Doing a lot of stuff in the weight room helped me get my strength, my quickness. I’ve become a lot better athlete.”

One of the areas of his game that George is trying to improve this spring is his pass blocking.

“I have room to work, a lot of room for improvement,” George said. “Pass blocking is a big part of our offense - if we can’t do it, coaches expressed we won’t be playing.”

Comments (9)

Good stuff. Really glad to see that Pope seems to have done some introspection. Him coming in as a 5 star worked against him bigtime last year, IMO. The stars go out the door when you step foot on campus at college. After that, everyone has to EARN their spot, no matter how good you were in high school. I hope he stays focused and has a huge season.

Cant wait to see what Realus can do out there. I want to see the old man steamroll some dudes this year!
Good early morning news to my ears. Thanks for the report.
Grandpa Realus was up to 280? Wow!

Over the off-season, George has cut nearly 30 pounds, going from 280 in 2018 to 251 this spring.

Good Lord, that’s HUGE especially at the FB position. He looks much more cut and lean this year thus far, let’s hope it translates to the field. Ain’t no DB or even a LB that wants part of a 250+lb grown **** man coming in the hole with bad intentions. That’s what we need George to be, that, and catching the ball in the flats plus pass protection. If he can get all that down this offense truly hums this season.
Great to hear about Pope, especially his attitude regarding last year. What’s in the past stays there, it’s how you move forward in to the future is how best to serve the team. I think the light bulb has turned on for him, and that he will contribute well this season.