Suddenly, the tight end competition at the U has narrowed — at least until fall camp
First, junior Brevin Jordan, the charismatic 2019 Mackey Award finalist projected by some to be a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, was sidelined for University of Miami’s entire spring practice after hurting his left foot/ankle toward the end of last season.
Next, fifth-year senior Michael Irvin II, the son of the the former UM great and Pro Football Hall of Famer who bears his name, announced in “an uneasy decision’’ Thursday to enter the transfer portal after playing sparingly (11 catches for 111 yards in 31 games) since he arrived at UM.
“This hurts my heart to the core but I believe it will be what’s best for my family and for myself,’’ Irvin posted on Twitter... “I will never forget my brothers and what I have been through at this place. ...THANK YOU MIAMI.’’
‘That’s my brother’
Will Mallory, known for his soft hands, graceful gait and 6-5, 240-pound physique (up 10 pounds since last season), misses them both on the playing field, where his own elite talent is getting utilized as the Hurricanes adjust to UM’s new speedy, no-huddle spread offense.
“No matter what, he’s family to us,’’ Mallory said of Irvin, who has a career 11 catches for 111 yards in 31 games, including two catches in 2019 for 33 yards. ”That’s my brother. I wish nothing but the best for him. No matter where he goes, he’s gonna be great.’’
On Thursday after practice, Mallory, thrust into the No. 1 tight end role since Jordan’s injury, indicated he’s enamored of offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee’s new scheme.
“This offense is great for us,’’ Mallory said. “We’ve got athletic guys in our room. We’ve got playmakers. This offense really opens it up for us to make plays and be the athletes they recruited us to be...It’s a dream for us when we get those matchups and [the defense] is not necessarily ready for it. ‘You’re like, ‘OK, this is it. This is it right here.’’’
Mallory was asked if Lashlee’s playbook is similar in size to what the Canes had last year with former offensive coordinator Dan Enos. “As thick?’’ he was asked.
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“No, not even close,’’ Mallory replied. “I could learn all the formations in 15 minutes if I really wanted to, which is good. You don’t want to have to think about it. You play fast and that’s what we want, to get our athletes just not thinking, just playing.”
Dad is NFL assistant
Mallory, a consensus four-star prospect out of Jacksonville Providence School and the son of former Michigan football star and current Jacksonville Jaguars’ assistant special teams coordinator Mike Mallory, played in all 13 games last season. He amassed 293 yards and two touchdowns on 16 catches — highlighted by a career-high 93 yards receiving on four catches, all in the first half during the regular-season finale at Duke.
But Mallory rarely talks about himself, deflecting individual talk to the team, unless he’s gushing about his good buddy and roommate Jordan, who had 495 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 35 catches last season in 11 games (actually, 10, because he only played in a couple series at Duke).
“He’s great,’’ Mallory said of Jordan. “You guys know him. He’s always positive, always happy, just a goofball. But when it comes to football he’s very serious.
“He’s recovering well and excited to get back, because he sees the type of offense we have and he’s ready to come back and play.”
The two youngest tight ends this spring are 6-2, 225-pound redshirt freshman Larry Hodges out of Tampa Jesuit and 6-4, 231-pound early enrollee Dominic Mammarelli out of Naples High. Both could have promising careers, with both of Hodges’ catches last season going for touchdowns.
Mammarelli, a four-star prospect by ESPN and Rivals, was rated the No. 2 tight end in the nation by ESPN, No. 11 tight end by Rivals and No. 13 in the 247Sports Composite.
Mallory’s goal for 2020, after a disheartening 6-7 2019, is pretty simple, though to achieve it last season proved frighteningly difficult.
“We’ve got to win,’’ he said “That’s really it. Whatever I can do to help this team win is what the biggest goal for me is. Last year is unacceptable. We can’t ever have that happen again.’’
Jaelan Phillips ‘special’
▪ Defensive coordinator Blake Baker raved Thursday about defensive end Jaelan Phillips, the former UCLA five-star recruit who transferred to Miami last season but didn’t play. He got back in shape while recovering from “multiple injuries,’’ some of them from a severe scooter accident when he was hit by a car in January 2018.
“He’s a special dude,’’ Baker said. “He is all of 6-6, probably 260-plus pounds. But the thing that’s very impressive about him is how well he hits. He understands leverage. He does a great job getting into the offensive tackle’s pads... especially when you consider he hasn’t played football in so long. That’s one thing that usually takes a little bit of time, is the leverage and pad level. He’s done a great job with it all.”
Baker, who praised strength and conditioning director David Feeley and his staff for getting Phillips in tip-top shape at 264 pounds from his previous 225, said he expects Phillips will be back to full form “probably by the end of spring.
This story was originally published March 5, 2020 5:43 PM.