Miami’s tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Todd Hartley is one of college football’s brightest up and coming coaching stars. In only two years, Hartley helped catapult a dynamic group of tight ends into the NFL, solidified the Canes special teams, and entrenched himself as an ace recruiter. However, 2018 could be a career defining year for Hartley if he can successfully manage two blue-chip freshmen tight ends and a true freshman kicker primed for starting roles as well as help Miami deliver another top-quality recruiting class.
When Todd Hartley came to coach at Tight End U, the expectations were high to maintain a tradition and standard of greatness recently embodied by players like Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham, and Clive Walford. Hartley was fortunate to have two world class athletes fall under his tutelage with David Njoku and Christopher Herndon IV. Pushed by Hartley’s incessant energy and motivation, both Njoku and Herndon earned all-conference recognition and were drafted in the first and fourth rounds of the NFL draft respectively. Throughout the past two years, Hartley’s perhaps most overlooked accomplishment showed that he could flat out coach no matter who he had to work with on the depth chart. Heading into the 2017 ACC Championship game against #1 Clemson, starting TE Chris Herndon was lost to injury, and Hartley had one week to prepare reserve Michael Irvin II for Miami’s biggest game in over a decade. All in all, Irvin had 3 receptions for 18 yards against the Tigers while playing a majority of snaps, a respectable stat line considering his limited experience.
On the special teams front, Hartley has also fared well. His three stars have been kicker Michael Badgley, punter Justin Vogel, and punt returner Braxton Berrios. Badgley finished his Canes career as the all-time leader in field goals made and points scored. Vogel has since played for the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns, and Berrios was drafted by the New England Patriots where he will likely have a shot to earn punt return duties. It hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows though. In 2017, freshman punter Zach Feagles was erratic and sometimes disappointing for Miami. Hartley will have his work cut out for him getting Feagles ready for the fall as well as Michael Badgley’s replacement, freshman Bubba Baxa, the nation’s top ranked incoming placekicker.
As a recruiter, Hartley has been the primary reason for landing not only Bubba Baxa, but also two of the top ten tight ends from the class of 2018, Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory. This two headed monster is working to be the next wave of tight end greats in Coral Gables and will have to immediately lead a previously depleted position group. If Hartley can quickly convert Jordan and Mallory into All-ACC Freshmen, his stock could rise to one of the most notable assistant coaches in the nation. Apart from the aforementioned signees, Hartley was also involved with the recruitment of DT Jordan Miller and WR Marquez Ezzard in 2018. He has also earned commitments from 2020 top ranked TE Dominic Mammarelli and 2019 four-star WR Jeremiah Payton. Hartley’s fire and passion for football as well as his commitment to the development of his players is what has quickly made him one of the best recruiters in the country. Miami’s course correction back to the elite is largely determined by the talent level of its players. Hartley will continue to be a pivotal resource as Miami builds its championship caliber roster.
Mark Richt has formed a staff of young, driven, and hardworking assistants with Todd Hartley as an exemplar. As he continues to pad his resume, Miami fans can only hope to retain him as long as possible because he is assuredly due for bigger and better things. But for now, Canes nation can be confident that the legacy of Tight End U is in good hands.