It feels like just yesterday when former Miami Hurricanes running back Travis Homer put the ‘Canes on the board with a touchdown in the 2017 Orange Bowl.
2017 was Homer’s best season statistically in his three-year college career under ex-head coach Mark Richt. The West Palm Beach, Fla., native totaled 1185 yards and nine touchdowns that season as a sophomore.
And yet in the blink of an eye, the 2019 NFL Draft had rolled around for Homer after Miami had ended 2018 in a skid. He and the program had lost to Wisconsin for the second straight year in a bowl game, except it was the Pinstripe Bowl where frustration reigned.
“Travis is an outstanding representative of our program,” Miami athletic director Blake James said after his decision to declare for the draft. “He has always done nothing but the very best for our program, and if right now is the time for him to venture into the professional football world, he’ll have nothing but continued support from us on that front.”
As if the timing could not have been stranger, Homer had made his decision to head for the pros the same day Richt had abruptly stepped down as head coach. But the former No. 10 running back in the nation’s 2016 recruiting class was ready to take the next step, as the Seattle Seahawks had selected Homer in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Even Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, both a Super Bowl champion and a national champion with USC, was ecstatic to welcome on Homer.
“There’s a lot of guys here that have been tracking you for a long time,” Carrol said over the phone after Seattle had selected the two-time All-ACC honoree. “You should see [this], I’m seeing the “U” signs right now. We’re really excited to get you for all of the reasons you have become a fantastic football player and such a big factor.”
2019 had not gotten off to the most promising start for a running back like Homer, however. Carroll’s special teams was where he had initially settled, until he had taken the reigns from running backs Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson who had suffered season-ending injuries.
The former ‘Cane had risen to the occasion towards the tail end of the regular season. Rushing for 62 yards in the NFC West title game against the 49ers was an indicator that more was possibly on the horizon for Homer.
Not to mention that the revered Marshawn Lynch had his back every step of the way, and it was a sensational moment for Homer who had started his first NFL game.
Marshawn Lynch hyping up Travis Homer: "I'm feeding off of you...You're inspiring me right now." pic.twitter.com/waQBaDgxrF— Parker Lewis (@ParkerLewisJR) December 31, 2019
“It was definitely a cool moment for me,” Homer said. “To have one of the greatest come up to me and say what he said, I took that to the heart.”
Carroll could not have admired the relationship more for someone like Homer who had finally earned his time on the gridiron and had begun producing. “It’s kind of a classic mentoring moment when the guy that you look up to, and Homer does look up to him for years and years when he was growing up,” Carroll said. “I can’t say it enough how he has been so consistent since the day he stepped on the field for us. This is all we’ve ever seen of the guy.”
The team had narrowly lost their NFC West title crown in Week 17, but the four-time Rose Bowl winner of a coach had realized the young potential he has to work with for 2020 and beyond.
Though Seattle will have their hands full with running backs in Carlos Hyde (acquired from the Texans) and Chris Carson among others, Homer has proven his ability to swim with the big fish in an NFL backfield. Breakout games under the brighter lights of the season only leave the door open for more, as Homer will likely compete with former Miami teammate DeeJay Dallas for a backup role.
Regardless of which Hurricane the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer goes with, Homer brings a tad more speed, experience, and pass-blocking than the newcomer Dallas.
Or perhaps both can eventually start if injuries arise again, and make Mark Richt prouder than ever.