CB TRACY HOWARD
Howard says he's "putting in extra work to be great on the football field." That means studying his playbook after the team returns from the day's work at around 10 p.m. each night.
"I'm learning the playbook, getting the plays down pat - you have to put in extra work to get to know it," Howard said. "I have Denzel Perryman as my roommate, and he helps me a lot at night. And sometimes I come in in the morning (before the 6:30 a.m. breakfast) and watch film, just go over the playbook."
Howard got a black jersey early-on as a team leader and starter, and he says getting it didn't come as a surprise. "It was good, but it was something that I expected," Howard said. "It wasn't like I was too surprised about it because I always set high expectations for myself."
Howard hopes to bring the Canes back to their former glory. "Me and all the freshmen, (everyone else) want to set our mark this year, be known for the guys that bring the U back," Howard said.
* Howard got into a scuffle with WR Jontavious Carter in this morning's practice, with both players shoving and grabbing each other even after coaches blew whistles several times.
"We compete hard - that's just what goes on in football, teammates battling, just competing, that's all," Howard said.
RB DUKE JOHNSON
Of what he wants to accomplish in Year 1, Johnson said, "Year 1? Play hard, go out every game and give it all I've got, do what coaches tell me to do." Does he expect to make an immediate impact? A simple answer: "Yes."
Of what fall camp's been like for him, Johnson said, "It's been great. I'm enjoying it, learning new things, am picking up the playbook pretty well. The coaches and upperclassmen are doing a great job introducing us to the playbook and helping us out."
Johnson has big-play ability he's showed off this fall, and that's pumped up his teammates at times. "We just go out there day in and day out and try to find something to get us going, and I just have my day to get the team going, up-tempo, get us hyped, excited to practice," Johnson said.
Johnson has the hands to line up in the slot if needed, but he says coaches haven't given him a set role yet. "It all depends on what coach (Jedd) Fisch wants on a specific play," Johnson said.
* Johnson is also working as a returner, but says he has work to do taking back punts.
"I'm not used to the sky punts, the college game - I'm used to the one-bouncers in high school," Johnson said. "Coach (George) McDonald is teaching me how to return punts and kickoffs."
* Johnson provides levity in the meeting room.
"Duke does this thing where when coach asks him something instead of saying `Yes,' he says `Yes' in Spanish, so he says `Si,'" RB Mike James said. "That's funny to me."
WR ROBERT LOCKHART
Fisch said Lockhart will play right away as a true freshman, and after a year at prep school he's shown tremendous athletic ability. At 6-foot-2, Lockhart currently weighs 180 pounds (up five pounds from when he arrived). He tested at 4.49 seconds in the 40 this summer. "I just try to work my hardest and I know I'll get on the field," Lockhart said.
Lockhart originally committed to Virginia Tech before decommitting to Miami, and he said today he didn't make up his mind for sure until just a week before signing. "I just really wanted to stay close to home," he said. "My family could come to every game. It's a great coaching staff, a great opportunity to be here, to play right away."
- Lockhart says the toughest cornerbacks he goes up against are "either Brandon McGee or Tracy Howard."
He says Howard is tough because "he's fast, has good cuts, reacts really well."
WR MALCOLM LEWIS
Fisch said today that Lewis will play as a true freshman, and he's gotten first team reps. So what did he do to get in that position? "Hard work, being on top of my game and making the least mistakes I can," Lewis said. "I'm working hard, finishing on every play."
Asked how much he expects to play this year, Lewis said "A lot. I'm still learning, but I have the basics down right now."
Of the freshman wideout group, Lewis said, "We don't want to mess up because there's another guy behind you waiting for you to mess up. You have to stay on top of your game, work the hardest. "(Coaches) are putting us in the fire, expecting us to adjust to the system. We're doing that, are just trying to work hard."
What has he learned from the older players? "The plays, the ins and outs, what coverage they're in, how to adjust to different things they're doing," Lewis said.
What will it be like when he runs out of the smoke for the first time? "It's going to be amazing, a tremendous feeling," Lewis said. "I can't wait."
DE DWAYNE HOILETT
Hoilett, who arrived in January, earned praise from coaches and he's shown a tremendous work ethic. "Since January I've gained about 30 pounds - I'm 245 right now," Hoilett said. "I worked hard in the spring and summer on staying low, my conditioning, my technique, be more aggressive off the ball and learn the playbook." He tested at 4.6 seconds in the 40, and he increased his reps of 225 pounds from six when he arrived to 14 now.
What does he see ahead for this defensive line? "If we all do our jobs we can be a really good line," he says.
Of the freshman class, Hoilett said, "All the freshmen are coming together well, and the whole team is looking good."
S DEON BUSH
Bush played mostly safety in high school but expected to play cornerback at Miami. That expectation changed after he arrived. "At first I thought corner, but when I got here I was moved to safety at the start of the summer," Bush said. "I'm just adjusting to it right now. "Right now I'm putting everything in the coaches' hands. Right now I'm playing safety, so that's what I'm playing." He says the toughest adjustment to college ball is "the playbook, knowing all the checks and different things of that nature. Everything else is just basically second nature."
Bush ran a 4.4 in 40-yard dash testing and he did 14 reps of 225 pounds. Last season he played at 177 pounds; he's now a 192-pounder. "That's a big jump - I'm just focused right now," Bush said.
Bush says the summer workouts and fall practices are tough, but that no one complains. "Coach (Al) Golden has the `No Excuses 24/7' policy - we're not allowed to complain about anything," Bush said. "And that's a good thing." Does he ever want to complain? "I feel the heat sometimes," Bush says with a laugh.
Bush says playing safety at Miami "is a big transition from high school, where you just call the coverage and that's that. But now you have to learn the checks, all the formations. That's the big difference from high school to college."
How many true freshmen does Bush expect will play? "It's hard to say, but I think a lot of freshmen are going to play," Bush said. "A lot of guys are stepping up and not playing like underclassmen."
Does Bush expect to fill a role right away? "I'm just working hard, learning from the older guys like Kacy (Rodgers) and Vaughn (Telemaque)," Bush said. "I'm just going to help the team as best I can."
Bush says he's working on "a lot" of special teams units, so he could find his way onto the field in that capacity as well. "Everybody is competing right now to see who is going to get the spots," Bush said.
- Bush says he's studied film of Eric Berry.
"He kind of has that same body frame of me - that's been helping me a little, trying to learn from his tendencies, what he does," Bush said. Bush says he watches Berry's film on YouTube.
- Bush says the team's day starts at "six something" and that "we get back to the dorm around 10 (at night)." Players are asked to get in 1,500 calories for breakfast. While there are no coaches making sure players eat that much, Bush says players take it upon themselves to eat the way they're supposed to. "We have eggs, pancakes, things of that nature," Bush said. "At UM we have a policy that everyone holds themselves accountable. If you don't do what you're supposed to do then you're hurting yourself and your team."
LB RAPHAEL KIRBY
Kirby has earned praise from coaches for his solid play - he arrived at Miami in the spring. "I've gotten stronger and my weight has gone up since then," Kirby said. He currently weighs 218 pounds (up from 210 in the spring), and he did 27 reps of 225 pounds (he arrived doing just nine reps). "A lot of work goes into it," Kirby said.
Asked if he sees himself playing right away, Kirby said, "That's what I plan on doing. Whenever my name is called I'll just go in and handle my business." Kirby says he hasn't gotten an indication from coaches if he'll play as a freshman. "Time will tell," he said. "They say keep working hard and you have a good chance of playing."
Kirby is working at middle linebacker behind Denzel Perryman. "You have to study it a lot," Kirby said. "Even when you think you've got it, you have to study because there's always that one little thing that can mess it up. And at Mike everything revolves around you. When you mess up a lot of things go wrong."
* Kirby says he got a welcome to Miami moment during spring practice: "My helmet came off, I kept going and my nose got messed up. It was a drill, so after my helmet came off I still engaged."