Worth Waiting For

When Devin Hester finally arrived at the University of Miami he didn't waste anytime in divulging his future plans. Among the many things he hopes to accomplish, Hester envisioned himself running the back the first kickoff he receives in a game for a touchdown.

That will have to wait. But by the looks of things the highly touted recruit is well on his way.

Hester, who received a qualifying SAT score and entrance to Miami this spring after originally signing with the school in 2002, ran back the second kickoff return he got his hands on for a touchdown towards the end of practice Monday and continues to win over the coaching staff with dynamic speed and excellent pass-catching ability.

"Like I said the other day I'm just taking it as it comes," says Hester, widely regarded as one of the best prospects in the nation when he graduated from Suncoast High in Riviera Beach in 2002. "I'm just coming out here (practice) and trying to show the coaches what I can do. Hopefully, they think enough of me to give me a shot."

With the Hurricanes' receivers unit being viewed as one of the team's early-season liabilities because of the loss of NFL first-rounder Andre Johnson, the return of senior Kevin Beard from knee surgery and the inconsistency of projected starter Jason Geathers, who is currently out with a hamstring pull, Hester shouldn't have to worry about getting every opportunity to compete.

Hester is certain to see playing time as one of the team's kickoff returners and could eventually spell sophomore Roscoe Parrish on occasion at punt returner. And there is little doubt Hester will also be thrown into the mix at receiver.

Second-year players Aikeem Jolla and Ryan Moore are behind Geathers on the depth chart, but both players are playing catch up after missing valuable time in the spring. Parrish, believed to ready for a break out year after a standout freshman season, is likely to back-up Beard.

"Wherever they want me, I'll play," said Hester, who selected UM over Georgia, Florida State and North Carolina State, among other schools.

UM Coach Larry Coker isn't so quick to discount Hester, who was rated as the No. 1 prospect in Florida by a handful of services and publications.

"If he proves he can't play then he won't but I really believe that Devin is going to contribute a lot," said Coker. "I thought he was the best (high school) player in Florida two years ago so I truly believe we have ourselves a very talented player."

A player that wasn't sure if he would end up at UM and that Coker wasn't sure he would get. Hester was supposed to report with last year's freshman class but failed to after not earning the required SAT score to be accepted at UM. At the outset, the former USA Today first-team All-American was crushed to the point of seclusion. But through relentless tutoring and his mother's encouragement, Hester gained the score after a handful of tries.

"I know if I would have to wait five years, I would have waited," said Hester, who rushed for 1,014 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior, while adding 1,028 receiving yards on 38 catches and nine touchdowns as a senior in high school. Hester also had 156 tackles and three quarterback sacks on defense as a senior. "It's all going to work out here. This is where I belong."

WORK IN PROGRESS: Eric Winston (left tackle), Joe McGrath (left guard), Joel Rodriguez (center), Chris Myers (right guard) and Vernon Carey (right tackle) are currently penciled in as the Hurricanes' first-team offensive line although position coach Art Kehoe said that he has ‘six players' that could start and will end up getting sufficient playing no matter who starts where.

Kehoe said that all the players will compete for jobs on the line and will continue to practice at two different spots, although Winston is likely to get the nod at left tackle. Carlos Joseph, whom Winston beat out in the spring, is the top reserve at both tackle spots after coming into camp nearly 30 pounds lighter. Joseph was a second-team All Big East selection last season.

SHARP: Freshman quarterback Kyle Wright and red-shirt freshman Marc Guillon have looked sharp so far in drills. Both reserve passers have shown good arm strength. Guillon, listed behind starter Brock Berlin and back-up Derrick Crudup, is going about his business because an opportunity could arise at any minute.

"You have to come out here with a positive outlook on things and just looking to get better," said Guillon, who was 3-for-5 for 53 yards and a touchdown in two games last season. "You never know in this game with injuries and all so you have to do everything possible to stay ready in case your number is called. I understand that."

The Hurricanes will practice in pads at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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