This past weekend "Paradise" was the theme at Miami’s largest recruiting event in school history, as Mark Richt looked to rid Miami of it’s chaotic image created by his predecessors such as Randy Shannon and Al Golden.
But while recruits were in awe of Miami’s facilities at the school’s first "Paradise Camp", each alumnus’ presence brought forth an underlying theme that was once central to the University of Miami, but had been lost in past regimes; Unity.
"It really does try and bring back what we had before," Alumnus and Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin said when speaking to the media at the camp. "When you look around kids are getting instructions from Ray Lewis and guys like that, you start building that bond."
And although the camp was one of Miami’s largest victories of the offseason, it was just one example of how Mark Richt plans to have a unified front in 2016. Not only has Richt become a motivating factor for the team, but Miami’s past adversity has brought them closer together.
"What we all went through together last year brought us closer as a team." Brad Kaaya said to the reporters at the Atlantic Coast Conference’s annual media kickoff event. "All that stuff kind of banded us together, and it has carried over into the season. When Coach Richt first got here there was not a huge buy-in time, because guys were ready to go and still feeling last season."
Richt has shown that one specific player or position is not bigger than the team, which is evident in his selection of punter Justin Vogel as a team representative at "ACC Kickoff". It is usually a custom for teams to bring one offensive player and one defensive player, but Richt’s unorthodox decision proved to be yet another precedent he is setting forth within his program.
This type of belief system should be key for Miami this season, as they battle against injuries and the lack of depth recruited by former head coach Al Golden. Under Golden, Miami’s football team was disconnected down the stretch of each year, which resulted in turmoil and a winless bowl record. Last year’s team stated on multiple occasions that they were more united than ever, but countless distractions off the field tested the team towards the point of no repair.
Under Mark Richt; however, the ‘Canes struggles finally begin to feel like a thing of the past. For the first time this decade, the Hurricanes’ fan base and coaching staff seem to be on the same page, and the team is uniting as a result of it.
Miami has had a stellar offseason thus far, but Mark Richt knows it’s time to get down to business.
"There has been a great positive buzz," Richt said. "But now we’ve got to get ready to win some games."