Takeaways from day three of Miami spring football practice

Fourth-year junior wide receiver Frank Ladson, Jr. sheds defending third-year sophomore wide receiver Xavier Restrepo during drills at the Greentree Practice Fields on March 11, 2022.
Fourth-year junior wide receiver Frank Ladson, Jr. sheds defending third-year sophomore wide receiver Xavier Restrepo during drills at the Greentree Practice Fields on March 11, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

The first week of Miami football’s spring practices wrapped up Friday morning and was followed by a media availability with Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, fifth-year cornerbacks Al Blades Jr. and DJ Ivey and sophomore safety James Williams.

Here are some takeaways and highlights from UM’s third day of spring practice.

1. Wide receivers had their best day of spring practice

A unit plagued by drops throughout much of the first two days of spring practice showed much improvement in Friday’s session.

Third-year wide receiver Xavier Restrepo was Miami’s most consistent wideout through the first week of spring practices, routinely breaking off his route stem with efficiency and coming down with difficult receptions.

Third-year sophomore wide receiver Xavier Restrepo runs after catching a ball during drills at the Greentree Practice Fields on March 11, 2022.
Third-year sophomore wide receiver Xavier Restrepo runs after catching a ball during drills at the Greentree Practice Fields on March 11, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

2. Brashard Smith set for breakout season

The sophomore wide receiver showcased his elusiveness on Friday, juking out defenders and turning upfield for significant gains. His ability to explode after the catch is also worth mentioning.

Sophomore wide receiver Brashard Smith runs after catching a ball during drills at the Greentree Practice Fields on March 11, 2022.
Sophomore wide receiver Brashard Smith runs after catching a ball during drills at the Greentree Practice Fields on March 11, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Smith, who attended Miami Palmetto High School, recorded 199 receiving yards and two touchdowns last season for the Canes.

3. James Williams emerging as leader of Miami’s defense

Williams, who had 20 tackles and two interceptions at safety last season as a freshman, enters his second year in a new role within the Hurricanes’ defense.

“I came in last year as a young guy, not knowing what college football is, not knowing the terms or the scheme of football,” Williams said. “I come back in the spring [and] I’m the top dog. I run the pack, I lead the defense, I make calls, I make adjustments. It’s just been an eye-opener for me.”

4. Gilbert Frierson playing at numerous spots on the field

The fifth-year linebacker, who’s changed positions multiple times at Miami, was used in numerous roles throughout Miami’s first week of spring practice.

“Frierson has been playing nickel … He’s getting some snaps at SAM,” Steele said. “He’s a very bright guy and has picked up on things fast.”

5. Tight ends more involved on day three

Miami’s tight-end unit made their presence felt in Friday’s session, with senior Will Mallory and freshman Jaleel Skinner each attacking the middle of the field and catching passes in the controlled scrimmage portion of practice.

Second-year tight end Elijah Arroyo also made a punishing block at one point on Friday.