Springing into high gear with fresh talent

During the 2010 Miami Hurricanes Football Spring Game, Wide Receiver Travis Benjamin rushes for yardage. Courtesy JC Ridley/UM Sports Media Relations

In front of more than 100 former players and coaches and a capacity crowd of 10,000 at Traz Powell Stadium, the Miami Hurricanes held their annual spring game.

With eight touchdowns and four turnovers between the two teams, the Hurricanes’ first team defense, second and third team offense defeated the first team offense, second and third team defense, 58-53.

“It was a good spring scrimmage, a lot of good things on both sides of the ball,” head coach Randy Shannon said. “The competition was unbelievable. Both sides of the football had big games. It was what the spring game is supposed to be about, how much fun you can go out and have.”

With starting quarterback Jacory Harris still recovering from thumb surgery, Hurricane nation had an opportunity to look at the players competing from the No. 2 quarterback spot.

Leading the first team offense, sophomore AJ Highsmith finished on 11 of 20 attempts for 131 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Early enrollee Stephen Morris was quite impressive, hitting on 12 of 21 passes for 209 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also engineered the game winning drive in the final 2:01.

Redshirt junior Spencer Whipple threw for 112 yards on seven of 16 completions with one touchdown and no interceptions.

“They did a nice job,” said Shannon, who hasn’t decided on the No. 2 quarterback yet. “All three quarterbacks did a nice job of running the offense. We were basic and simple on defense, but they executed.”

Other players have noticed how hard the quarterbacks have competed.

“Throughout the spring they improved a lot,” said junior linebacker Sean Spence, who finished with a team-high eight tackles. “I’m proud of those guys.”

Wide receiver Travis Benjamin had the best day on the offensive end. Benjamin had six catches for 171 yards and one touchdown and hauled in the longest play when he caught a 75-yard touchdown from Morris.

Shannon praised Benjamin for stepping up throughout the spring game.

“It was a big day for him, a really big day for him,” Shannon said. “He didn’t have anything at the Lockhart scrimmage. Then he came out here and made some big plays. The one thing I will say about the offense is that if someone has an off day someone else will step up.”

Sophomore running back Mike James led all rushers with 10 carries for 64 yards including a 48-yard run. Senior running back Damien Berry rushed for 42 yards on 15 carries and had one touchdown. Redshirt freshman Lamar Miller left with a shoulder injury in the second half.

To go along with Spence on the defensive end, sophomore Ray Ray Armstrong was highly impressive; he had two interceptions, including a diving pick off Morris. Armstrong has been one of the top players this spring.

The other starting safety, redshirt sophomore Vaughn Telemaque who also had two interceptions in the scrimmage at Lockhart Stadium, had six tackles. Telemaque felt it was a fitting end to the spring season.

“It was a good finale,” Telemaque said. “Overall the defense and offense showed some excitement. Everyone was out in great support. It was like a real game for me at Traz Powell.

Lelan Ledoux may be contacted at lledoux@themiamihurricane.com.