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Diaz talks beginning of spring ball, points to early standouts

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Stefan Adams

Managing Editor
Feb 9, 2018
The Miami Hurricanes are two days into spring practice thus far; while drills have only been held in helmets and shorts, and pads have yet to go on, head coach Manny Diaz has been encouraged by what he’s seen on Greentree, pointing to some early standouts.

“Corey Flagg has had two really good first days at linebacker, is in better shape than the fall, it’s helping,” Diaz said. “Keyshawn Smith is really making strides at wide receiver. Jahfari Harvey and Chantz Williams at defensive end, Cam Williams had a good first two days.”

Smith is looking to challenge some of the more veteran WR’s on the roster for more playing time in his second year, and Diaz is excited about what Smith could bring to UM’s offense in 2021.

“Like with any wide receiver, your first year on campus you’re learning what to do,” Diaz said of Smith. “He can run really fast and he has a knack for coming up with the football when it’s thrown to him. Made a really nice play deep down the field today - it was helmets, defense wasn’t finishing with the same tenacity. But in the bowl game, he made a very difficult catch out of bounds - he’s got that confidence in him that when the ball is in the air, it’s his.”

One player that has not had an impact in the receiver rotation yet this spring is Jeremiah Payton, who is being held out with injury.

“He is still a guy we think can progress back to some sort of participation in spring ball, dealing with an injury from last season,” Diaz said.

Diaz was also asked what he’s seen from the DB group in Miami’s back four on defense, and specifically about UGA transfer corner Tyrique Stevenson and safety Avantae Williams.

“Tyrique obviously long body, big, strong individual. Has good movement skills. With him it was the competitive excellence. He has great self-confidence. What’s been fun to me watching him the first couple of days is teaching the younger corners, giving back. That’s being a team guy.

“Avantae, it’s funny. You think about him being two practices in, I was thinking about Jaelan Phililps this time a year ago, barely saw anything in four practices, then he had the year he had. Not saying Avantae will do what Jaelan did, but he plays 100 miles an hour. The pedal when Avantae is on the field is pushed down through the floorboard and that’s encouraging. Now he might not be going the right direction, but we’ll get him turned the right way. He’s looking forward to putting on shoulder pads on Thursday.”

OL Adam ElGammal left the team over the offseason, but Diaz did not rule out him returning to the team at some point in the future.

“When Adam feels comfortable to rejoin the program, we’ll have him back with us,” Diaz said.

Defensive analyst Bob Shoop joined the program over the offseason after multiple stints as a Power 5 defensive coordinator, and Diaz spoke about the impact Shoop has had in the building thus far.

“Bob is great to have in our program,” Diaz said. “It’s basically an analyst/quality control coach. He’s limited in his ability to instruct the players from a football standpoint, but helping us in terms of our gameplanning, our self-scouts. He and I have always had, philosophically, a lot of similarities. Really, to take this whole offseason - not just with Bob, but with all the additions to our defensive staff - and open the heart of this defense and take it apart, rebuild it. With Bob it might be a phrase, a different way of saying the same thing. He has been a great addition to our program.”

Diaz mentioned the turnover on the defensive side of the ball – including Shoop, Miami added 5 new defensive coaches this offseason. While there may be many new faces running the stop unit at UM, and there will certainly be an adjustment period, Diaz has liked energy he’s seen from his new additions.

“There’s a renewed spirit on the defensive side of the ball,” Diaz said. “Everybody regained the chip on their shoulder. They have been great additions to have. You can see the attention to detail, they drive our guys hard to compete and not settle for good when great is available.”

Along with the new coaches, UM also replaced former DC Blake Baker with Diaz himself, and he will be officially calling the plays on defense again for the first time since 2018.

“It’s fun,” Diaz said. “How you call the plays doesn’t have as much to do with how the players execute the plays. It’s certainly different in practice being in a different role. But having done it so long, there’s a naturalness to it.”

Diaz also briefly touched on the QB situation with D’Eriq King out this spring; although he did not go into the rep distribution behind center, he did answer a question about presumed favorite Tyler Van Dyke.

“Day 2, he’s getting the amount of reps he’s getting,” Diaz said of Van Dyke. “We want to follow a leader who does things the right way, and that’s what Tyler does.”


Mahoney 7
Mar 9, 2017
Expecting the D to look A LOT better this year. Think Diaz running it again combined with the new additions (and we know what Jess can do), plus the maturity at many positions will make for one of Manny's best yet. I think (hope) Nesta is ready to take that big leap and excited about JHH. Think the Safeties will figure it out between who we got plus real coaching. Tyrique, Blades and a more experienced Couch looks like a solid CB room to me.

Manny has shown a spectacular ability to reload at DE on a consistent basis. It's been the best position on D since he's been here.

Really liking the notion mentioned on another board of putting Keontra at the second LB spot and hoping Brooks can take over in the middle. Frierson is gonna ball this season.

Then you got a freak like J. Williams who you can use all over the field situationally. Things are looking on the up big time IMO.

Would feel a lot better with proven WR's and Van Dyke having had some game experience last season. And the OL shows a ton of potential on experience. Having Jarrid Williams back plus Isaiah Walker hasn't received the attention it deserves.

On paper this is the best team in a very long time if players are used right and a few people step up here and there.


Jun 21, 2018
The best thing coach diaz said and the most important in my opinion was saying "they opened the heart of the defense". One things for certain, jess simpson consistently teaches fundamentally sound techniques, coach rumph and coach banda taught fundamentally sound techniques, once blake baker took over, all 3 phases regressed on defense. Sounds to me like coach shoops main focus is going to be and has been fixing the fundamental flaws/pre-snap coverage alignment dis-advantages we have consistently been in since coach diaz got here. At minimum the d-co had to go!



Jan 29, 2012


All-ACC (#1 most reproted porster on CIS)
Feb 7, 2013
I think if Miami can get legit maulers and people movers at both guard positions and at the center position, the offense can be elite and one of the best in the country.

This is an underappreciated point. With our stable of backs, and even with a mobile quarterback, imagine the threat of an inside running game, we all know how those can pop for occasional chunk gains as well as 5 yard pops.

It would add a dimension that we weren’t seeing in the past and cause defenses to be more tentative towards us, which is exactly what you want in the Lashlee type offense


No More Excuses / Flush ALL the 🤡 Lawyers
Oct 11, 2017
Manny's words and deeds during the offseason are GOLD..... so we should listen......but like Cinderella....

It's only after the real season starts that his words and deeds turn into :poop: