Miami Hurricanes large receiver Xavier Restrepo (7) runs throughout follow drills at Greentree Practice Field on the University of Miami in Coral Gables on Friday, August 5, 2022.
Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke calls Miami Hurricanes large receiver Xavier Restrepo his “security blanket.’’
Hurricanes cornerback Tyrique Stevenson calls him “a pure-out dog.”
Restrepo, an intense, emotional, fast-moving third-year sophomore, possible doesn’t care what you name him, so long as he’s catching passes and serving to the Hurricanes win.
“It looks like it’s going to be a really fun year,’’ said Restrepo, who adores new offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Josh Gattis and is expected to start in the slot. He finished last season with 373 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 24 catches, the second most productive returning wideout after Key’Shawn Smith’s 405 yards and three touchdowns on 33 catches.
Listed as 5-10 and 195 pounds, Restrepo’s compact body with bulging hamstrings and quads puts every ounce into every opportunity, whether it’s catapulting off the ground or diving into it.
“I’ve been like that my whole life,’’ he said Saturday after the second day of fall camp. “I think it’s a good thing.”
Rambo, Harley gone
Compensating for the lack of star receivers Charleston Rambo (79 catches for a single-season faculty report 1,172 yards and 7 touchdowns) and Mike Harley (57 for 543 and 5 touchdowns) might be an enormous problem for the whole group. But Restrepo stated Gattis, the reigning Broyles Award winner as the highest assistant in faculty soccer, is a pleasure to be taught from.
“Coach Gattis is one of those player-coaches,’’ Restrepo said of his mentor, who came to Miami from Michigan. “He really cares for his players. It’ll be fun playing for a coach that cares so much.
“He taught me so much more than I could ever have thought, from starting at the line of scrimmage pre-play to post-play. I’ve just really worked on my entire game this offseason. I’m ready to step on the field and perform.’’
Restrepo, a Deerfield Beach High graduate, knows he’s intense. Asked how he handles the sometimes frustrating situations — on Friday, for example, a pass from Van Dyke bounced off his hands and other receivers had some drops — he spoke about “short-term memory” and added, ‘’you clearly do additional work on the jugs and stuff like that after follow.”
He stated second-year wideout Jacolby George (seven catches for 183 yards and a landing in 2021), Brashard Smith (14 for 199 yards and two touchdowns) and Romello Brinson (seven for 90 and a landing) “are ball hogs when the ball is in the air,’’ and he expects substantial production from them as well.
As for Van Dyke, Restrepo used his fingers to demonstrate their closeness. “we’ve been roommates ever since freshman year, so me and his relationship is like this. He keeps the receivers in check. He’ll step in our meeting one day and check the entire receiving corps. We obviously take it as motivation that the quarterback is coming in the room and addressing us.
‘”Let’s go! Next day. New alternative. Perform,’’’ Restrepo stated Van Dyke says. “We take that and run with it.’’
Stevenson, a Miamian who played two seasons at Georgia before transferring last year to UM, said the receivers this season are more motivated.
“Them boys just a little bit more hungry,’’ Stevenson said. “They know they got a big slot to fill and they got a lot of questions to ask of themselves. But just this past year [we’re] seeing the quarterbacks and receivers coming out on their own, and they’re beating us out here.
“So they’re really locked in, just ready to prove a lot of people wrong.’’
A big, almost mysterious trailer-type structure now sits just outside UM’s Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility. It has four, darkened windows and a door and looks somewhat ominous.
The “cold room,’’ as many are calling it, is a place where the Hurricanes can go for recovery after practices or whenever it is necessary. The Hurricanes “go hard,’’ as Cristobal has made clear, and is obvious to anyone who witnesses practices.
“That has nothing to do with anything but recovery,’’ Cristobal said. “The way we practice is a different level. There are times after practice you want to bring your core temperature down.
“I’d love to explain all the science that goes with it. I’m sure I would bore you guys to death. So I’m not going to do that. But it’s something we use at a couple different spots. The way we practice and the way we’re going to practice, every ounce of recovery and every advantage we can we’re going to do.”
UM offensive lineman Jalen Rivers, 6-6 and 330 kilos, can work up fairly a sweat. He stated Saturday that he’s actually trying ahead to moving into the chilly room.
“There are different position groups in there each day,’’ Rivers said. “We haven’t done that but it’s open to everybody. It’s like a deep freezer they compare it to — sitting in that cold area just cooling down the body temperature.”
Said Cristobal: “We have a saying because we go really hard: ‘It’s easy to be tough with somebody else’s body.’ Go hard, practice hard, go lights out. And when it’s time to shut down the engines and cool ‘em down and recover them, do that as well.’’
Well over a thousand fans packed the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility on Saturday afternoon for the CanesFest fan festival. Players sat together at long tables and signed autographs, with coach Mario Cristobal signing autographs near the huge neon U on the wall.
“It’s great,’’ Stevenson said. “I was once in their shoes. Just coming up here and seeing the guys who were here and having them sign something for me meant a whole lot. I kind of embraced that and it made my day a little better. So, yes, I enjoy it. I’m always responding back to fans on Instagram and Twitter. It will go a long way.”
Miami Herald sports activities author Susan Miller Degnan has been the Miami Hurricanes soccer beat author since 2000, the season earlier than the Canes received all of it. She has received a number of APSE nationwide writing awards and has coated every thing from Canes baseball to the College Football Playoff to main marathons to the Olympics.
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