Takeaways: The first few days of fall football practice

Head strength coach Aaron Feld yells at players at Miami’s spring practice on March 9, 2022 at the Greentree practice fields.
Head strength coach Aaron Feld yells at players at Miami’s spring practice on March 9, 2022 at the Greentree practice fields. Photo credit: Alexandra Carnochan

University of Miami’s Fall football camp has officially begun. The Hurricanes rushed the Greentree practice fields on Friday to start the first of 25 scheduled practices before Miami opens the season against Bethune-Cookman at Hard Rock Stadium on Sept. 3.

As of Monday afternoon, the ‘Canes have finished their third day of fall training. Here are some highlights and takeaways from the first few days:

1. Tons of energy and excitement surrounding fall camp

After the hiring of head coach Mario Cristobal — a UM alumni and former Hurricanes offensive lineman — in December, fans rejoiced. Cristobal’s 10-year, $80 million contract showed that Miami was ready to prioritize football once again. This was reinforced in the ensuing months, with the additions of Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich, Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis and Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.

Now, after years of disappointment, there’s a newfound sense of excitement brewing in Coral Gables.

The morning of Friday’s practice, Cristobal tweeted, “#CanesAreBackToWork” at 4:15 a.m. Strength coach Aaron Feld, with his 19th century style strong man mustache ever-present, began his media availability with a scream. He kept this energy throughout the rest of his press conference. Former Louisiana State University coach Ed Orgeron, whose son is currently an offensive analyst for the Canes, was seen encouraging the players countless times during the weekend.

Something is different about Miami football this season, and everyone at ‘The U’ feels it.

2. Canes shaking off rust

Receivers, like Xavier Restrepo, dropped some passes, and freshman quarterback Jacurri Brown sailed a few balls over receivers’ heads on Friday, but it was only the first day.

“Our tempo, the way we do things, will get better,” Cristobal said after practice on Friday. “Of course, [on] Day 1, it’s just not where it needs to be, but all in all, some positive results. I liked the type of attitude that we displayed.”

3. Miami upgrading its practice facilities

The Hurricanes installed cooling stations in their practice facilities this summer to help athletes recover from the scorching South Florida heat. They were set at 19° Fahrenheit during Friday’s practice.

“There are times after practice when you want to bring your core temperature down … it’s something that we use at a couple different spots that’s really good in helping our guys recover,” Cristobal said.

Sixth-Year redshirt senior Dante Johnson runs a passing drill at the Greentree practice fields on March 9, 2022.
Sixth-Year redshirt senior Dante Johnson runs a passing drill at the Greentree practice fields on March 9, 2022. Photo credit: Alexandra Carnochan

4. Miami’s stars are back in action, along with young talent

Starting quarterback Tyler Van Dyke was seen throwing passes to running back Jaylan Knighton on Monday, while Xavier Restrepo led wide receivers in drills to start the second week of fall practice.

Colbie Young, a freshman receiver who committed to the Hurricanes in June, had a solid Monday. He had one standout catch where he readjusted his body to snag an underthrown ball.

“Colbie’s getting adjusted to the way we do things … we got to continue bringing him along [given] when he came in.”

The running backs, which include Ole Miss transfer Henry Parrish Jr. and four-star freshman TreVonte’ Citizen, appear to have incredible depth.

“The running back room is extremely stacked,” linebacker Corey Flagg said on Monday. “[We] compete with those guys every day.”

Knighton, Miami’s leading rusher last season, complemented his fellow backs, simply saying, “We have guys that can play.”

5. Cristobal thinks jersey numbers should be ‘honored’, not retired

Cristobal made headlines on Friday after he was asked if Miami legend Sean Taylor’s No. 26 should be retired.

“I don’t know if numbers should be retired, in general,” Cristobal said. “They should be honored. I do believe that. Because if you start retiring numbers at the University of Miami, you can retire 40-plus numbers in a hurry.”

Cristobal was also asked about the absence of a No. 1 on the roster, to which he said, “Number one [jersey], you’ve gotta earn it … if you’re gonna wear that you better be the baddest son of a gun on the planet.”