It’s senior day for the Miami Hurricanes. And, as we’ve been preparing for the day and game against the Louisville Cardinals, I can’t help but feel like there’s something missing. And after a quick moment of thought, it’s clear what and who the missing elements are to today’s celebration:
WR Ahmmon Richards and CB Malek Young
It’s been a while since we’ve seen them on the field, which is a shame in itself. Both Richards and Young were starters at their respective positions and on a fast track to the NFL. But, unfortunately for both, that path was cut short.
Malek Young came to Miami after being a U.S. Army All-American at Coconut Creek (FL) HS. At 5’9” 182lbs, Young had a combination of decent size and blazing speed and he used them well for the Canes. After starting his career on the bench due to his age, Young quickly worked his way into the lineup.
As a freshman, Young played in 7 games and recorded 22 tackles, 0.5 TFL, and 1 interception. That was just the beginning. Young came back as a sophomore and stepped into a full-time starting role for a Miami team that started the year 10-0. In that season, Young earned honorable mention All-ACC honors, and had 43 tackles, 3 TFLs, 8 PBUs, and 2 Interceptions. And, on his first interception of the year, Miami’s first forced turnover of the 2017 season, Malek Young made history as the first player to ever wear the now-iconic Turnover Chain.
Unfortunately, Young’s career came to an end during the most successful season in recent Miami Hurricanes history. On a seemingly innocuous play during the 2018 Orange Bowl against the Wisconsin Badgers, Young went to make a tackle on a kickoff return. Then he laid on the ground for a while. Then the game went to commercial. Then he laid on the ground some more. Then he was finally helped off the field and into the locker room. Young would never play football again.
On the play, Young suffered a career-ending neck injury. The surgery to repair the injury was successful, but the situation is such that Young could no longer play football due to the injury itself. It was a shocking event, and the entire Canes family reached out to support Young. Through it all, Young has maintained a positive attitude and continues to work on growing his Humble Child clothing brand. But his absence is definitely felt on today’s Senior Day.
While Malek Young was a solid player in the 2016 recruiting class, Ahmmon Richards was a STAR. The 6’2” 180lb Wellington (FL) HS standout was among the most highly coveted players in the country. In his final 2 years of HS, Richards put up video-game statistical numbers: 126 catches for 2,461 yards and 35 touchdowns. Again, at the HS level. That’s ridiculous.
Like Young, Richards was a U.S. Army All-American for his prep performance. And, in a shocking twist, Miami beat Alabama (and everybody else in America) head-up for this talented player. This was a massive recruiting win, and it paid immediate dividends for the Canes.
Richards wasted no time moving his way up the depth chart and becoming the Canes’ best receiver. Richards had 49 catches for 934 yards and 3 TDs in his freshman season. His receiving yardage total broke Michael Irvin’s freshman receiving record. So yeah, things got off to a pretty solid start for Richards.
His numbers fell off as a sophomore, however, as Richards battled a nagging Hamstring injury he sustained in fall camp that never really went away. Still, he had 24 catches for 439 yards and 3 TDs in just 7 games in the 2017 season. Even hobbled, Richards was still able to run faster and jump higher than nearly any player tasked with covering him. And still, his NFL future was bright.
In 2018, however, that story ended. After catching 1 pass for 9 yards in the season opener against LSU, Richards was held out of a game. Then rumors started swirling. Then, unfortunately, we got confirmation that Richards had sustained a neck injury and due to that injury would follow doctor’s orders and retire from football. Our John Camera wrote this piece recounting Richards’ injury-shortened career.
While their careers at Miami really only spanned 2 years each, both Richards and Young were big time players with bright futures in the game. It is an unusual and cruel coincidence that their careers were both cut short due to neck injuries. Yeah, it really sucks.
Both Ahmmon and Malek are Canes for life. I just wish they’d have been able to finish their careers and on the field with their classmates for Senior Day today.
So as you celebrate all the seniors at Hard Rock Stadium today, take a moment to remember the impressive, but short, careers of Ahmmon Richards and Malek Young. They deserve it.