What Miami legends are saying about the Hurricanes as the Manny Diaz era gets underway

UM and UF football fans at Camping World Stadium

The scene around Camping World Stadium before the start of the University of Miami and University of Florida football game Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Orlando.
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The scene around Camping World Stadium before the start of the University of Miami and University of Florida football game Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Orlando.

College football is back with a vengeance.

And dozens of former greats made it even hotter Saturday at the Camping World Kickoff season opener between the University of Miami and University of Florida.

“I saw the way Manny Diaz has prepared this team,’’ 6-8, 300-pound former Canes defensive end and current Jacksonville Jaguar Calais Campbell, 32, said before the game. “Win, lose or draw, just knowing that the guys are going to fight makes me feel good.”

Former Miami Butkus Award winner Dan Morgan was cheering on the Hurricanes and also scouting for the Buffalo Bills as their director of player personnel.

“I’m here to support Manny’s new era and his new culture,’’ Morgan said. “But it takes time to build a culture. The longer everybody is in the program and Manny is able to recruit who he wants, the guys will get better and better. We’re a young team. You go through adversity while you’re growing, but you end up coming out the other side.’’

The former Canes expected included Pro Football Hall of Fame members Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Warren Sapp and Michael Irvin; former Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta; and fellow greats Devin Hester, Reggie Wayne, Eddie Brown, Bryant McKinnie, Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, Jon Vilma and honorary UM captain Vince Wilfork.

The Gators former greats expected were NFL first-round draft picks Brandon Spikes, Gerard Warren, Jevon Kearse, Lawrence Wright, Fred Taylor, Reidel Anthony and honorary captain Lito Sheppard.

Irvin, whose son Michael Irvin II is a redshirt junior for the Canes, was the guest picker Saturday on ESPN CollegeGameDay and said Diaz reminds him a lot of his former coach Jimmy Johnson.

“He used to always tell us, ‘You guys go and play, and have fun. I’ll worry about the backlash,’” Irvin said. “As long as you’re winning, it’s all good—as long as you’re winning...’’

Irvin, however, added that “you just cannot walk up and take the pride. You’ve got to earn the pride.’’

Former Canes offensive lineman Kc McDermott, whose last UM season was in 2017, was on the Jaguars practice squad last year and is awaiting word if he makes the team this season.

“I wish I could have played the Gators,’’ McDermott said. “But I got to see my brother play in one and win it. Just being here and thinking about it gives me chills.’’

Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow, who won national championships with the Gators in the 2006 and 2008 seasons, said he only got to play in a UM-UF game one time, “but it was probably the most trash talk in any game I’ve ever played in.’’

Tebow, who works for ESPN and the SEC Network, said “Coach [Spurrier] did it with the ‘Fun ‘n’ Gun’ at Florida with Danny Wuerffel and everything that he was doing.’’ He then looked at Irvin during College GameDay, adding, “Y’all did it with your swag and you didn’t care what people thought, you didn’t care what people said. You did what you were going to do.”

Miami suspends potential starting cornerback

Miami played without a key player in the secondary Saturday. Shortly before kickoff in Orlando, the Hurricanes announced that DJ Ivey, who was fighting for one of the starting cornerback jobs, was suspended for the first game of the regular season.

Ivey, a former four-star prospect from South Dade on track to potentially make his first career start, was suspended for an undisclosed violation of team rules. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound defensive back played in 11 games in 2018, primarily on special teams, and recorded three tackles.

Diaz said Wednesday he expected everyone to travel to Central Florida for the opener.

With Ivey out, Miami turned to fellow sophomore cornerback Al Blades Jr. to make his first career start opposite junior cornerback Trajan Bandy. The suspension left the Hurricanes with only four scholarship cornerbacks.

The Hurricanes also played without safety Bubba Bolden, who has not yet been cleared to play by the NCAA despite being listed on the two-deep depth chart as Gurvan Hall’s backup at one safety spot.

“The University of Miami is working with the NCAA on Bubba Bolden’s behalf to clear his transfer requirements as soon as possible,” a Hurricanes spokesperson said in a statement.

Tate Martell warms up at two positions

The Miami Hurricanes still haven’t officially announced a backup quarterback, but it looks more and more like they have a new option at wide receiver.

Tate Martell, who arrived in Miami as a highly touted transfer quarterback from the Ohio State Buckeyes, warmed up at both quarterback and wide receiver ahead of the Hurricanes’ season opener against the Florida Gators in Orlando. It seemingly keeps Martell’s options open after he spent the last two weeks of practice working at both quarterback and receiver in Coral Gables.

Before warm-ups began, Martell came out to the field with Jarren Williams, playing catch with the new starting quarterback while wearing a pair of receiver gloves. Martell put his arm around the redshirt freshman’s shoulder as they walked off the field and into the locker room before Williams’ first career start.

When Miami came back on the field for warm-ups, Martell began the period with the quarterbacks, taking snaps under center and handing off to running backs. He finished the individual period, however, running routes and catching passes thrown by Williams, N’Kosi Perry and the rest of the Hurricanes’ quarterbacks.

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