South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday)

Decisions loom for draft-eligible standouts

- ByDavid Furones

Miami Hurricanes grad transfers such as quarterbac­k D’Eriq King, defensive end Quincy Roche, kicker Jose B or regales and offensive lineman Jar rid Williams came to the programthi­s offseason with the idea they had one final college season to showcase their talents before heading off to the NFL.

But the COVID-19 pandemic, while presenting­many challenges this season, has affordedth­emthe opportunit­y to return to Miami for an extra season. The NCAA decided before it began that the

2020 season would not count against player eligibilit­y.

If King wants to return for a second season teamed up with offensive coordinato­r Rhett Lashlee, it could make the Hurricanes contenders in 2021.

“I haven’t really sat down on it with my family and coaches and talked about it, but it’s always in thebackofm­ymind,” Kingsaid this week. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NFL, but playing at the University of Miami is great aswell. Living in the city of Miami, it’s probablyon­eof the bestuniver­sities in the country, so you can’t beat it. But I’m focused on these nexttwogam­es.”

Lashlee believes King, who already held himself back in the

2019 season atHoustonb­y playing just four games to remain eligible to redshirt, can play at the next level with his dual-threat abilities, deep ball and accuracy — despite his size (listed at a generous5-foot


“I know D’Eriq is held in high regard and very well-respected among everybody that is involved in going to the next level,” Lashlee said. “That definitely is a goal of his. He’s done a really good job for us this year.

“[We] have not really gotten too in depth in those talks with him just because we’re still in the middle of our season. In fairness to him and our team, that’s really our focus.”

Along with Roche, fellow starting defensive end Jaelan Phillips could be an intriguing draft prospect as a redshirt junior. Through eight games, he has led Miami in sacks (five), standing out after redshirtin­g in 2019 after his transfer fromUCLA.

The way Phillips, once the nation’s top-rated recruit out of high school, transforme­d his body from 225 pounds when he momentaril­y decided to retire due to multiple injuries while with the Bruins to 270 in a year-and-a-half has to be something NFL scouts like in evaluating hiswork ethic to go with the evident talent.

Roche, listed at245pound­s, may beviewedas anoutside linebacker in the pros instead of a defensive end. A fierce pass rusher who can also rack up tackles for a loss in rundefense, hehas minimal experience dropping back into coverage at Miami but did it some in his previous stop atTemple.

“The NFL sometimes labels linebacker­s or outside linebacker­s who are really just defensive ends in a 4-3 scheme compared to a 3-4 scheme,” defensive coordinato­r Blake Baker said .“Those two positions overlap a lot, I would say, and

I could definitely seeQuincyg­oing to a 3-4 and being a super-productive outside linebacker.

“He’s aguythat really flourishes, and when he drops into zone — we don’t utilize him that much in that department — but I know at Temple he did drop more often.”

Roche and Phillips could be NFL-bound after Greg Rousseau already declared for the 2021 draft, opting out of the 2020 college football season after a stellar 2019 campaign. Junior tight end Brevin Jordan also is considered a top prospect.

Jordan has dealt with injuries over the past two seasons, but coach Manny Diaz noted “a renewed spirit” fromhim inUM’s return to practice this week from a two-week pause. A strong finish to the season could remind scouts why Jordan is so highly touted.

Like King, offensive tackle Williams, who made the same

move from Houston to Miami in the off season, and linebacker Zach McCloud shut themselves down in 2019 to remain eligible for this season. The one extra year could turn into two for them, if they so choose.

McCloud has had an uneven fifth season and could benefit from rebuilding­his stock. Williams, who hasmanned the right tackle position for theHurrica­nes, is alreadya sixth-year senior as it is, whichhas offensive line coach Garin Justice leaning toward thinking he’ll test the NFL.

“That’s Jarrid’s call,” Justice said. “I would probably think he would try and go, but we haven’t sat down and had those discussion­s one-on-one.

“Jarrid’s a guy who came here with a purpose. He came here to play, and Jarrid was an old senior as it was. He’s been playing quite a while.”

On special teams, punter Lou Hedley, a redshirt junior, has stated previously he’d like to return to UM next season, even though he has the potential to punt in the NFL. Borregales has similarly shown pro potential with his kicks, going 15 of 16 on field goals, with his one miss blocked, and a long of 57 yards.

“With the year he’s having right now, we tell our guys if they go get drafted and make a career in the NFL, go do it,” special teams coordinato­r Jonathan Patke said. “We just have to sit and wait and kind of see where his mind’s at at the endof this season. I’ve been a little bit reluctant to really reach at him and see where he’s at because I’m just concentrat­ing on him having a great year. He’s doing that and I don’t want to mess up his mojo. ... Whichever he decides, I think it’s the right decision for him, his family and his future.”

 ?? MATTGENTRY/AP ?? Miami quarterbac­kD’EriqKing passes against VirginiaTe­ch onNov. 14 inBlacksbu­rg, Va.
MATTGENTRY/AP Miami quarterbac­kD’EriqKing passes against VirginiaTe­ch onNov. 14 inBlacksbu­rg, Va.

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