The Miami Hurricanes took to the Greentree Practice Fields Monday for their sixth day of fall camp and a couple of not-so-great nuggets were disseminated.
UM head coach Mark Richt confirmed Monday that senior offensive lineman Nick Linder plans to sit out the 2017 season and transfer from the school. Linder is set to graduate from Miami soon and will be able to go another school this coming spring as a graduate transfer with one year of eligibility remaining.
“Nick is going to sit out this season. He’s going to go home, I think, and train for one semester and then he’s going to transfer somewhere else,” Richt explained. “He’s a graduate transfer. He graduates in a couple of days. He’s going to graduate, he’s going to work out, from what he told me, and he’s going to go somewhere else to finish his career.”
Linder, a former Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas High standout, started 26 games for the Hurricanes over the course of his career but saw the prospects of his job as the team’s starting center dwindle down and essentially evaporate as junior Tyler Gauthier has emerged as the team’s No. 1 snapper through the spring and into fall camp.
Shoulder injuries hampered Linder in 2016 and into 2017. Two separate surgeries kept the 6-foot-3, 300-pound lineman out of the final four games of this past season and out of 2017’s spring sessions.
The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Gauthier stepped in to replace Linder during both absences and has impressed coaches enough to earn the starting spot outright.
“Tyler has done very well,” Richt said about Gauthier Monday.
But Richt didn’t offer much explanation about Linder’s rationale.
“You have to ask him,” Richt said when asked directly about Linder leaving. “He’s a really good player and he really knows what he is doing. Certainly I am disappointed because I’d rather he be here than not be here.”
With Linder out, true freshman Corey Gaynor gets bumped up to the No. 2 center spot on the depth chart. Gaynor, a former three-star recruit from Parkland Stoneman Douglas High, has loads of potential but is still raw and will require more time before he should be counted on for large contributions.
Redshirt sophomore Hayden Mahoney is said to be taking some reps at center, even though he’s majorly played left guard.
“Corey [Gaynor] will be our number two center, he’ll get all the reps – between him and Hayden Mahoney,” Richt said. “Mahoney, Corey Gaynor and Tyler Gauthier will do the center duties. I think that’s it getting reps right now.”
Linder’s older brother Brandon Linder played at Miami from 2010 to 2013 before being drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The older Linder, who also went to St. Thomas Aquinas, recently inked a 5-year, $51.7 million contract extension with Jacksonville – making him the highest paid center in the NFL.
Njoku Injures Knee
Speaking of players who had older brothers play at Miami before going on to the pros, freshman wide receiver Evidence Njoku did not participate in practice Monday.
The younger brother of former Canes tight end and Cleveland Browns first round pick David Njoku, reportedly walked around on crutches and was seen riding a stationary bike Monday before Coach Richt said that the younger Njoku hyperextended his knee.
Richt said that Njoku is “day-to-day” and that he will not require surgery.
Besides Njoku, the Canes had a couple of other players still being nagged by injuries.
Sophomore linebacker Michael Pinckney was still on the sidelines as of Monday’s practice with a hamstring injury.
Richt said he hopes Pickney’s return comes sooner rather than later.
“Pinckney is like a lot of pulled muscle-type things. It is day by day. You just never know. We’re hoping sooner than later on him. We think it’s sooner rather than later, but who knows…here’s what I worry about – I worry about the other guys having to have too many reps because a guy is out. We’re going three units right now and we’re trying to go fast. It puts pressure on the rest of the guys. I think Pinckney will be fine, but he needs to be sharp. He’s not a guy who’s this wily veteran that doesn’t need to get better. He needs to get better too.”
Pinckney dealt with hamstring ailments during fall camp of his freshman season, too.
Sophomore tight end Michael Irvin II held out of practice again Monday. Irvin has missed every practice since Tuesday’s opening day after Richt said he was dealing with symptoms of dehydration.
“It should be very soon for him,” Richt said