Video: Emily Brustoski
The parking lot outside of the Dauch Indoor Sports Center was filled with RVs and cars, as hundreds came to watch the Miami football team show off in its final spring practice. Inside the DISC, there were bouncy castles and games for the younger RedHawk fans, but the majority of people filled the stands and were riddled up and down the sidelines.
The RedHawks ended their Spring Showcase with words from head coach Chuck Martin.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” Martin said about the upcoming season. He couldn’t contain his smile, as he talked about the growth of his team throughout spring training.
Martin was signed to a contract extension earlier this year, keeping him in Oxford until January 2021. This upcoming year will be his fifth season as head coach.
Also returning this year is redshirt senior quarterback Gus Ragland with his record as a starter at 10-6. Led by Ragland, the RedHawks looked solid on the offensive side of the ball.
“We had an awesome spring,” Ragland said. “It felt right to end on a good note at the spring showcase.”
There was some uneasiness moving into spring because the RedHawks were short on receivers, as Ragland and the ’Hawks lost three of their primary targets. Tight end Ryan Smith, receiver Jared Murphy and receiver Sam Martin will graduate in the spring and Miami looked for replacements to bolster its offense.
“There is plenty of skilled players on offense,” Martin said.
The Showcase proved Martin’s confidence was justified. Receivers sophomore Dominique Robinson and redshirt sophomore Jack Sorenson and tight ends sophomore Quentin Hardy and redshirt junior Nate Becker did a great job working as replacements. Hardy capped his day off with an impressive route that led to a touchdown.
The offensive line looked strong, Ragland looked confident in the pocket and the running backs sophomore Jaylon Bester, senior Alonzo Smith and senior Kenny Young look to build off of their 2017 campaign. They combined for 1,552 yards rushing and 370 yards receiving.
“The pace of play is what excites me,” Martin said. “When you have guys that get it, they go – they play fast.”
On the defensive side of things, Miami looked strong despite losing a lot of stars, especially in their secondary. The RedHawks look for replacements for graduating defensive backs Heath Harding and Tony Reid.
Redshirt junior Cedric Asseh looked superb the whole day when covering who seemed to be Miami’s No. 1 outside receiver, Robinson. Asseh looks to take over as the primary cornerback for the RedHawks’ defense this year.
Standout defensive backs consisted of sophomore safety De’Andre Montgomery, junior cornerback Zedrick Raymond and sophomore safety Mike Brown. The group showed off their athleticism with an interception a piece throughout the day.
Last year, the linebackers were led by soon-to-be seniors Brad Koenig and Junior McMullen, who both had a fantastic year and look to follow it up with another. Other notable linebackers on Saturday were redshirt sophomore Nigel Adams and junior Myles Reid.
The RedHawks’ defensive line did a great job containing everything between the tackles. Junior defensive lineman Doug Costin, senior defensive lineman Nate Trawick and senior defensive end Pasquale Calcagno didn’t let anything get by them on the inside. They’ll likely be a nightmare for any offensive line that has to face them.
Amidst the excitement of the Spring Showcase, Martin was careful to note there are still four months until Miami’s first kick-off – four months until the team that went 5-7 last season has a chance at redemption.
“We’ve got a long summer and a long fall camp before we even get to Marshall,” Martin said.
The ’Hawks start their season on September 1 at Yager Stadium, time TBD.