Gore Aims for Fall Return

Frank Gore was hiding behind a helmet on Wednesday afternoon, but the University of Miami junior running back hopes to be on full display by the time two-a-day practices begin in August. Gore, who is being held out of contact drills while he recovers from a torn ACL in his left knee, is being brought along slowly. However he is making cuts just five months after having reconstructive surgery.

"My goal is to be ready for two-a-days and be able to help my team," said a soft-spoken Gore, who finished with 468 rushing yards on 89 carries (5.3 avg.) after suffering the season-ending injury in October against West Virginia. "I just want to get back on the field so I can get back to where I was before."

Gore has been down this road before. After making an immediate impact with 562 yards on just 62 carries as a freshman, the second-best per-carry average in school history, Gore was ready to challenge former UM running back Willis McGahee for the starter's role in the spring of 2002. But Gore never got the chance after tearing the ACL in his right knee on a Sean Taylor tackle during team drills. Last season, Gore had three consecutive 100-yard rushing games before going down with the injury.

But don't think Gore is feeling sorry for himself.

"If I think that way it won't help me mentally," said Gore. "I have to keep a positive attitude and just keep working as hard as I can. I'm taking small steps, hopefully I can be ready."

Gore will no doubt have to work himself back into shape. Gore, who played at around 210 pounds last year, said he currently about seven or eight pounds overweight. Currently at 218, Gore hopes to shed the weight once he is cleared to begin more intense workouts.

"He's working out but not at the intensity he should be," said UM coach Larry Coker. "But we don't feel Frank is ready to do everything yet. He'll be out there when he's ready to go."

Gore was sporting a No. 3 jersey - the number he wore in high school - in place of his No. 32 on Wednesday. Gore said that he could now wear the number after the departure of Jason Geathers. But more importantly, Gore wants everybody to know where he's on the field when he returns from the injury.

"I want to be the Frank Gore of old," said Gore.

LB ON TRACK

Coker is encouraged with the Hurricanes situation at linebacker where Tavares Gooden and Leon Williams are being called on to replace D.J. Williams and Jon Vilma, respectively. Junior Roger McIntosh will start at strong-side linebacker. Coker noted the overall speed the unit has shown.

"You just like the athleticism and the way they move around the ball," said Coker. "We have to replace some outstanding football players there, but these guys are doing an excellent job."

Williams, a junior, had 23 tackles in 13 games behind Vilma, while Gooden, a sophomore, played almost entirely on special teams and kick coverage.

IMPRESSIVE

Coker was impressed with the effort during Wednesday's practice.

"The big thing about (Wednesday) was our effort. We have an excellent chance of being a good football team if we keep this kind of effort," Coker said. "The running back situation looks good. Moss looked pretty good today. The defense is going to be pretty good, but I think offensively we're gong to be better than we were a year ago."

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