Recruits, UM stars emerge encouraged from Canes’ Legends Camp. Cristobal, Irvin weigh in

·5 min read
Al Diaz/adiaz@miamiherald.com

The Miami Hurricanes’ signature offseason recruiting event, now called Legends Camp, looked very much like past incarnations of this annual affair.

There was a long list of very good high school prospects, including a dozen Class of 2023 players on official visits.

There was the usual star-studded list of distinguished UM alums, including Michael Irvin, Jeremy Shockey, Bryant McKinnie, Greg Rousseau, Jalean Phillips, Jon Beason, Reggie Wayne, Lamar Thomas, Bennie Blades, Antrel Rolle, Duke Johnson, Brett Romberg and others.

But Mario Cristobal wanted to make one thing very clear about an event that had been called Paradise Camp until his hiring in December.

“This is Legends Camp because it’s not the time for paradise yet,” Cristobal told the recruits in attendance inside UM’s indoor facility on Saturday.

“It’s time to go to work. It’s an instructional camp. These guys sweat and work. We’re going to work and we’re going to get better. This is not a fluff camp. There is only one Miami. Hall of Famers, first round picks, they’re all here. They live Miami.”

One of those Hall of Famers, Jason Taylor - an Akron alum - offered instruction to recruits in his role as a UM defensive analyst.

Another of those Hall of Famers, former Hurricanes and Dallas Cowboys star receiver Michael Irvin, began the proceedings with one of his patented uber-intense, rousing and animated speeches.

“It’s so great to have coach Cristobal lead this place,” Irvin said. “There’s nothing like winning championships here. It’s in your hands now. In this building, it’s not just about skill. It’s about your will.

“We didn’t have Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat [in the 1980s and 1990s]. All we did was grind. Who’s going to make the commitment to one day come back and wear these black [legends] shirts?”

Attendees emerged impressed after two hours of intense drills, performed at a high tempo and with the precision that was evident during UM’s spring practices this year.

Cristobal “has to be doing something right. He has changed everything around; I love him. My family loves him,” four-star wide receiver Robby Washington, one of the two highest-rated of UM’s seven nonbinding 2023 commitments, said afterward.

“I talked to Reggie Wayne and Roscoe Parrish today. They said to stay focused, keep working and stay home. It’s a great atmosphere. [Everyone] talked about how we get to the next level.”

Washington, incidentally, said he’s lobbying several uncommitted 2023 recruits to join UM, including four-star California based quarterback Jaden Rashada, who visited UM this past week and plans on Sunday to announce his choice among Miami and six other finalists.

Former UM stars also emerged encouraged with the program’s direction. In a meeting, Cristobal encouraged the former players to spend time around the team.

“I like how he’s running the program,” McKinnie said. “It’s competitive. He welcomed us back. He said he needs us to be here and be more supportive. We want our program to be good. We’re willing to come out here and put in the time, offer advice or whatever is needed.”

Phillips, now with the Dolphins, said: “You can definitely tell with Mario there’s a high standard he’s setting for everybody, which is awesome to see. You can see the passion and energy he has for the school; it radiates from him.”

Former UM coach Don Soldinger said Cristobal’s first six months have been “outstanding. You can’t even compare the other [previous] staffs to this staff. There’s no comparison. Just organization and the quality of coaches he brought in. Brings [Alonzo Highsmith back in a key front office role]. I don’t know if he can get back what we had but he’s certainly trying to give the kids an idea of what it was like to win [big].”

Cristobal said Saturday’s Legends Camp “reaffirms that the University of Miami is on the right track.”

Attending this event for the first time as UM’s coach was particularly meaningful to him.

“You can’t describe it,” Cristobal said. “It’s exactly what we felt Miami should be doing and progressing at a certain rate to get where we want to go. We all know what Miami is. Let’s not kid ourselves. We just have to get back to work to get where we want to get to, and people realize that. There’s no fluff. Look who we hired, the investment in the university, the work our players are doing right now. .

“That’s why I’m here. You know I live for the University of Miami. Having the legends back and all these guys, had a good meeting upstairs to make sure we bring this in tight. It means the world to us.”

Meanwhile, the entire 2022 freshman class is enrolled and camp will begin in early August.

“This is month seven; there is work to be done,” Crisotbal said. “We feel the gap is closing, that once people step foot [on campus], they realize how special the University of Miami is.

“A lot of [UM alums in attendance on Saturday] are the best guys in college football, pro football. It’s very real. … That alumni bond, that brotherhood that’s there for the world to see, is real. The alumni are always going to be a huge part.”

UM NEWS NOTE

Former Canes basketball player Kameron McGusty will join former UM teammate Charlie Moore with the Detroit Pistons during NBA Summer League play in Las Vegas. Both went undrafted on Thursday after helping lead Miami to the Elite Eight in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

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