The Miami Hurricanes have grown accustomed to their tight ends taking a couple of seasons to develop. Before David Njoku was groomed into the position and then unleashed on the college football landscape, he came to Miami as a three-star 247 Sports composite athlete from Cedar Grove New Jersey. Chris Herndon stepped up after Njoku was selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, after starting his career on special teams and working as an H-back. With Herndon now graduated and off to the NFL, it’s time for another upperclassmen to take the reigns atop the TE depth chart.
A sizeable portion of the fanbase can remember the original Michael Irvin who helped blaze the trail that became the standard for all University of Miami football players—even after he went to the NFL, where you can ultimately find memorabilia and a bust of his face in Canton, Ohio, at the NFL Hall of Fame.
Michael Irvin II carries both the blessing and the curse that comes with being a legacy player for the Miami Hurricanes. Not only does Irvin II’s name bring connotations of the greatness that preceded him, but he is also firmly in limbo between the past and future of the TE position for the ’Canes, with plenty wondering whether he will take advantage of the opportunity to start at TE for the Hurricanes in the fall.
Irvin II was suspended indefinitely during the 2017 season. Mark Richt stated,
“Irvin just hasn’t done what he’s supposed to do off the field and until he does, we won’t let him play”, after Irvin was not in uniform for Miami’s 27-19 win at home. From the start last season, there was a lack of trust for any TE not named Chris Herndon. For his part, Irvin could have wallowed in the coach’s doghouse, hung his head and went the transfer route. Instead, Irvin turned his season around, graciting himself to TE coach Todd Hartley, eventually earning the honor to put on a Hurricane uniform on gameday. After Herndon suffered a left knee injury that required surgery, Irvin was pushed into a starting role in the ACC Championship game against Clemson. Hauling in a season-high three receptions in a game that got out of hand quickly, it’s Irvin’s blocking ability that’s underappreciated when reviewing his impact on the field.
With two phenomenal freshman set to arrive on campus months from now, Irvin sounds composed when questioned about the incoming competition that he’ll face from Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory. “I don’t have anything to prove cause of it, you know, uh, competition makes everyone better. And me and Brevin and Will we’re are all good friends. Will was out here the other day, you know, we all know we’re going to push each other, Brain too, even the walk-on Ducheine, we all know we gotta push each other if we want to be great. If any of us want to be great.”
5 Months from today I’ll be playing my first collegiate football game against LSU at the Dallas Cowboys stadium.... #TrueFreshmanU— B r e v i n J o r d a n (@Brevinjordan) April 4, 2018
Come training camp, barring an unforeseen transfer, Irvin II will be the Hurricanes’ most experienced player at the tight end position. No. 87 should be a consistent feature for Miami’s offense in 2018 after fighting adversity off the field and behind the scenes to be able to dress for games. For Irvin II, the season is not just about putting himself in the best position to succeed, but he’ll be looked to as a leader as the lone upperclassmen in a TE room full of underclassmen.
Irvin II stated this spring that he realized last season when he missed practices that it was the turning point for him where he finally understood that his team counted on him to be a contributor. With the gift of incredible hands at his disposal, it’s reasonable to expect Irvin II to be a legitimate receiving threat as well as a capable inline blocker. It should be just as interesting to see how Irvin II aids his younger position mates as the Hurricanes look to add two more tight end formations this upcoming season. Son of a legend, blessed with potential and with the opportunity to increase his production, Irvin II will have to balance blocking and going out on routes with being a student and a mentor this season.
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!