Last night, the Hurricanes held their annual awards show, rewarding several of the top players for Miami during the 2018 season.
HARD HITTER AWARD: Navaugn Donaldson, Zach McCloud
Donaldson, a former guard, moved to right tackle prior to the season, and the sophomore was one of the most reliable for Miami’s offensive line. Donaldson’s bone-crushing blocks paved the way for Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas to rush for over 500 yards each.
McCloud has been starting all three years since arriving at UM, and has been handing out punishing hits ever since. 2018 saw McCloud tie a career high with 4.5 TFLs and helped Miami establish one of the elite defenses in the nation.
This Run Fit by Miami LB Zach McCloud is Teach Tape— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) May 25, 2018
When LB’s and safeties are the unblocked bonus player in the run game, this is how they should pursue the football! pic.twitter.com/8UKse7M1En
Jim Kelly U Tough Award: Tyler Gauthier, Joe Jackson
As a senior center, Gauthier has been a constant on the UM offensive-line since late in the 2016 season, and has defined leadership throughout his time as a Hurricane. It wasn’t just his mullet that exemplified toughness, but his hard-nosed attitude for Miami.
Jackson is a junior defensive end, and had his finest season as a Hurricane in 2018. Jackson racked up a career-high with 8.5 sacks and also 14.5 TFLs, also adding a pick-six against UNC.
Mariutto Family Scholar-Athlete Award: Elias Lugo-Fagundo
Community Service Man of the Year Award: Jaquan Johnson, Demetrius Jackson
This senior safety, Johnson has had an amazing career during his time at UM, becoming a fan-favorite in Coral Gables. Not only was he a Jim Thorpe finalist in 2018, but was always seen at community outreach events for Miami.
Another senior, Jackson’s story is about much more than just football. Jackson started the Young Men of Tomorrow foundation, and has helped hand out turkeys on Thanksgiving in his native Miami neighborhood of Overtown the past two years.
Miami DE Demetrius Jackson on why it’s been important for him to hand out Thanksgiving dinners in Overtown. pic.twitter.com/vtlFoe0PTC— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) November 19, 2018
Strength Training Athletes of the Year: Trayone Gray, Gerald Willis III, Pat Bethel
Fighting through injuries throughout his five-year Miami career, Gray transitioned from a running-back to a fullback, and became a force in short-yard situations, turning into a “Mack truck,” as described by teammate DeeJay Dallas.
This duo at defensive tackle, Willis and Bethel anchored one of the best defensive lines Miami has had in years.
Albert Bentley Most Valuable Walk-On Award: Jimmy Murphy/Jack Spicer
Nick Chickillo Most Improved Player Award: Jhavonte Dean, Romeo Finley, N’Kosi Perry
Dean was a JUCO transfer in 2017, and bounced back this season, tying for the team-lead with three interceptions.
Romeo Finley moved into the striker position on defense, and the junior from Niceville burst onto the scene with his best season at UM. Finley had two interceptions and 4.5 TFLs.
Perry, the redshirt freshman took over at quarterback midseason and then came back later in the year, and showed Canes fans why he was so highly recruited. Perry threw for 13 touchdowns, led a comeback win against Florida State, and was Miami’s most consistent player under-center.
ICYMI: One out of every 7.5 times N'Kosi Perry passes the ball, it results in a touchdown. pic.twitter.com/jU9XMpVCPX— GO ‘CANES! (@83_87_89_91_01) October 13, 2018
Walt Kichefski Hurricane Award (for displaying continued commitment, consistency, work ethic): Dee Wiggins, Pat Bethel
Wiggins, a freshman receiver, is a player that Canes fans are very excited about going forward in the future. Wiggins found his way into the starting rotation, and will be a playmaker for the next several years for Miami’s offense.
2018 was the season that Bethel also found his way to become a constant starter. The junior defensive tackle had his best year as a Hurricane, and is expected to improve even more next season.
UM Sports Hall of Fame Unsung Hero Award: Jordan Butler, Mike Harley Jr, Sheldrick Redwine
Butler was the Hurricanes long-snapper for the fourth consecutive season.
Harley enjoyed his finest season in the orange-and-green, with 21 receptions for nearly 300 yards, Harley became a go-to target for new quarterback N’Kosi Perry.
At safety, Sheldrick Redwine became one of the nation’s finest at the position, leading the Hurricane elite defense with three interceptions, becoming a Miami legend for his post-turnover messages on the whiteboard.
Training Room Comeback Player of the Year: Demetrius Jackson
Not only did Jackson make strides off-the-field, but the senior also came-back from an injury that forced him to miss most of the 2017 season.
Plumer Award for Leadership, Motivation & Spirit: DeeJay Dallas, Michael Pinckney
As a sophomore, Dallas has turned into one of the emotional leaders for Miami, and is known as “the ambassador” for the UM program. Dallas rushed for over 600 yards and six touchdowns.
If there’s one player on the Hurricanes defense that exemplifies leadership and motivation, it's linebacker Michael Pinckney. The junior had a career-best 69 tackles in 2018, and had a crucial interception during Miami’s comeback win against FSU.
R. Dale Melching Leadership Award: Zach McCloud, Shaq Quarterman, Travis Homer
McCloud and Quarterman have been starting together since their freshman year of 2016, and have formed one of the most ferocious linebacking units in Miami history. Quarterman was recognized as a first-team All-ACC player.
Homer had himself his second-consecutive 900-yard-plus rushing season, leading Miami in the ground game. He also established himself as a grueling blocker and powerful runner.
Scout Team Players of the Year: Marshall Few, Colvin Alford, Jimmy Murphy
Newcomer of the Year Award: Brevin Jordan, DJ Scaife Jr, Tito Odenigbo, Al Blades Jr
Out of Las Vegas, the freshman tight-end Jordan lived up to the hype that surrounded him coming out of high school. Jordan finished the 2018 regular-season second in the ACC for catches (30), second for touchdowns (4) and third in receiving yards (275).
Scaife, another freshman, is an offensive lineman that has seen the field several times during his first year for the Canes, and is expected to carry the load for the lineman moving forward.
Odenigbo was a grad-transfer that came over from Illinois, and quickly fit Miami like a glove. The defensive tackle’s strength and pure enthusiasm was well-received by Manny Diaz’s defense.
Blades, freshman, came to Miami as a part of Hurricane royalty, with his father and uncles being UM legends. Blades was named a team-captain early in the season, and will undoubtedly be a leader for the Canes defense in the future.
Newcomer of the Year Award - Special Teams: Al Blades Jr pic.twitter.com/Bvp1x3bCC9— undertoe19 (@LloydCreech1) December 16, 2018
Defensive Most Valuable Player: Jaquan Johnson
A stalwart in Miami’s defense, the safety senior led Miami with 79 tackles, as he maintained his role as one of the Hurricanes main playmakers.
Offensive Most Valuable Player: Travis Homer
Leading Miami in rushing for two-straight seasons, Homer is the Hurricanes most deadly weapon on offense. Whether it was providing a punishing block for DeeJay Dallas, or running in a monsoon against Duke, Homer is all-about the team, and 2018 proved that.
Season-high 1️⃣3️⃣3️⃣ rushing yards for Travis Homer pic.twitter.com/pID9T6kbub— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) November 6, 2018
Special Teams Most Valuable Player: DeeJay Dallas
Dallas has proven his worth on offense as a running-back, but 2018 allowed him to also strut his stuff on special teams as well as a returner. Never was that more obvious than his return against Pitt in a 24-3 win for Miami.
Jack Harding Team Most Valuable Player: Gerald Willis III
Though it wasn’t a shock to most people, nevertheless Willis was very deserving of this award. After taking a year off from football in 2017, he returned this season and had one of the finest years ever produced by a Miami defensive lineman. A second-team All-American, Willis had 59 tackles, 18 TFLs and four sacks.
Congratulations to all these Canes!