Canes' Beard On The Mend

The University of Miami Hurricanes need Kevin Beard in the worse way - especially these days. Roscoe Parrish, expected to bring quality depth to the flanker position, had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Monday and could be sidelined until Sept. 6 when the Hurricanes host Florida.

Freshman Ryan Moore has been nursing a hamstring injury, limiting his practice time since the start of camp last week. Senior Jason Geathers, a frontrunner to start at one of the receiver positions, has also been setback while dealing with a hamstring injury.

The current state of the Hurricanes' receiving unit leaves one sophomore (Aikeem Jolla) and two freshmen (Devin Hester, Darnell Jenkins) as potential key reserves to fall back on if the Hurricanes are faced with the same problems when they kick-off the season at Louisiana Tech Aug. 28th.

Only the young pups should have a seasoned veteran within close vicinity if they encounter any problems.

Beard, who has been guarded during the fall after having reconstructive right knee surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered last November, nonetheless has shown improvement so far that coach Larry Coker would start him if the season began today and the senior receiver has deemed himself ready to go.

Beard missed the final three games of the 2002 season after injuring his knee in a November night game against Pittsburgh at the Orange Bowl. So after being shelved for over six months, Beard doesn't have a problem with working overtime on the practice field in hopes of making up for lost time and providing a boost to the Hurricanes ailing receivers core. Already this fall, Beard has little difficulty running the deep pattern and making sharp cuts on the knee- a sight the team gladly welcomes.

"I think the physical part of it is kind of the toughest hurdle to overcome," says Beard, who had 23 receptions for 262 yards and four touchdowns before the injury last season. "Its not like a forgot how to do all this overnight. There's always the factor of trying to get back into football shape and being able to take the contact but I never thought – not even once- that I wouldn't be out here again."

Coker is overjoyed to see Beard back on the field and moving around the way he did before the injury.

"From what I've been able to see with Kevin it appears to me that he hasn't lost anything in his legs," said Coker. "The thing I'm really excited with is that he hasn't been tentative with his knee and is making plays. I like the way he's playing."

Coker and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski agree that having a healthy Beard on the field at this point is crucial for the Hurricanes considering the uncertainty of several players and the inexperience of others like Hester, Jolla and Jenkins.

And Beard has shown the staff he means business with an above-and-beyond worth ethic. Despite being injured, Beard thought he would accompany the rest of the team to the Fiesta Bowl last January and assist them in anyway possible.

"I needed to be part of it and take my mind of the injury," said Beard.

During the off-season, Beard teamed up with UM junior quarterback Brock Berlin with the idea of developing a chemistry level that would be difficult for future opponents to disrupt. And he has also made it a priority to assist the younger receivers on and off the field - mimicking the traits of a seasoned veteran in search of the best interest for his team.

"I want to take it upon myself to make things happen," Beard said. "I feel rejuvenated right now."

Beard's return probably has the Hurricanes feeling the same way.

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