J.R. Mounts Interview

J.R. Mounts knows he has a mountain to climb if he is going to make a dent in the line-up as a Miami Hurricane. With Frank Gore leading the way, the Hurricanes offensive backfield is currently very crowded. But the situation isn't discouraging in his attempt to contribute and make an impact on the defending national champions, who lost last year's leading rusher Clinton Portis to the pros.

"I feel I'm getting the hang of it out here and can compete with these guys," said Mounts, the 23-year-old tailback who returns to the football field after a five-year career playing Minor League Baseball. "I think I've performed well, but I know I'll have to impress the coaches a lot more because of the competition out here."

Mounts, a 1997 graduate of Key West High, turned down several football scholarships, instead playing for the White Sox and Angels. After five seasons of Single A baseball, Mounts figured it was time to give football another chance, a chance he's really looking forward to this time.

"It's like a new beginning for me and I think I can handle the pressure because I'm a little bit older and can deal with the expectations," said Mounts. "I'm just ciming out here and trying to earn a spot. I'm not worried about anything else."

Despite the age difference between Mounts and the rest of the tailbacks, the 6-0, 195-pounder is encouraged by how supportive his teammates have been. Already Mounts has developed a good relationship with sophmore Willis McGahee, who is expected to play ahead of Mounts.

"Willis is my dog. He's been a lot of help and kind of taken me under his wing."

UM head coach Larry Coker likes the early returns on Mounts, but admitted on Tuesday that the ex-ball player would have to produce an exceptional spring and training camp to move up the depth chart. Aside from Gore and McGahee, Mounts has junior Jarrett Payton to worry about as well.

"It's a good problem to have, but we have Frank, Willis and Jarrett back there," Coker said. "He'll have to be extremly good to get a shot."

Mounts wants to remain in the offensive backfield even with the logjam.

"I know I have to open a lot of eyes. I'm ready for the challenge," Mounts said.

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