UM Freshmen: "The Gray Shirts"

The Gray Shirts are fully equipped and ready to make an impact. Just give them playing time and they will make plays.

When the freshmen arrived at the University of Miami in the summer they were handed a plain gray workout shirt, light gray shorts, some socks, and black shoes.

The gray shirts didn't have any UM emblem on them, just a plain Russell gray shirt.

The players even had to write their own numbers on the back of the shirt.

But there was a bond. With this bond, they became...

The Gray Shirts.

United by age and bonded by talent, The Gray Shirts have generated plenty of buzz at UM in their first year as Hurricanes.

Their goal--to be the best signing class to ever come through the University of Miami.

Team Member #83, Sam

Sam Shields is a dynamic playmaker at wide receiver and was the biggest talk around the team throughout August fall practices scoring touchdown after touchdown making big play after big play.

Who was this kid?

Shields, nicknamed "Sticky" because he catches everything, is a 6-foot, 180-pound receiver from Sarasota Booker High.

So why has the Gray Shirts had so much success?

"We all had to stick together when we first came in and pick each other up," Shields said. "As you can see it paid off and we are doing our thing. We just have to keep working."

Immediate Impact: Starting wide receiver for the past three games. Caught his first touchdown last week against North Carolina and don't forget about his 49-yard reception against Louisville.

Team Member #5 - Baby J

Yeah, you know his story. Javarris James--younger cousin of Edgerrin James, starting running back at UM, back-to-back 100-yard games, longest touchdown run since 2002.

"I want to be listed as one of the great running backs to have came through here and be in the same list with McGahee, Portis, Najeh, my cousin, James Jackson--all of those guys," James said. "I want people to say that boy gave everything he could, worked hard, and always made sure that he did everything right."

His goals are real and Edgerrin has already said he thinks he will be the best back to ever have came through UM.

With the success Baby J has had in the early going, he is the face of the Gray Shirts right now.

Immediate Impact: 361 rushing yards, 6.9 yards per carry, 93 yards receiving, 4 total touchdowns.

Team Member #24 - Chavez

"I didn't think as many of us would be making the impact that we are making," cornerback Chavez Grant said. "I feel good that a lot of us are making an impact and if this program is going to continue to go up, then we have to play a big role."

Chavez got plenty of playing time last week as he was in on nickel and dime situations. He was just glad he could contribute and keep things quiet a bit.

"I was just trying to make an impact on my side of the ball because I saw those guys making an impact on offense and sometimes they would pick on me and say, 'We need someone on the defense to hold it down for the Gray Shirts'," Grant said.

Grant's definitely holding it down for the Gray Shirts, but being picked on is just part of it. Don't worry, they're all still supportive of one another.

"Every time Javarris makes a play I'm on the sideline yelling 'Gray Shirts'," said Grant.

Team Member #12 - Ryan

Ryan Hill just made a sick catch against North Carolina, 22-yard gain on 1st-and-19 as he got hit by the safety on the play. Head coach Larry Coker called it an NFL-caliber catch.

Ryan, a vocal player, remembers when he first got to UM and received the gray shirts from the athletic staff.

"Everyone was just pumped up about being here during summer workouts and the first thing we said was that we finally get some of that UM gear and we didn't have to go to the store to buy it," Hill said. "But we got plain gray shirts without any UM emblems on them so we'd just start calling each other gray shirts. We'd be like 'hey gray shirt' or if someone needed to pick it up, I would be like 'come on gray shirt, pick it up.'

Five games into their first year, the Gray Shirts are making an impact.

"It's more than I could have ever imagined," Hill said. "We talk about it all of the time about how this is going to be great for the future that we playing this much early and we this good already. We can't wait to see what is going to happen this year and the year after that."

Immediate Impact: Hill is fourth amongst UM receivers with 6 catches and 62 yards and is currently one of two returners on kickoff returns.

Team Member #64 - Jason

While Baby J and Sam get all of the glory for the offense for the Gray Shirts, and even Ryan, Jason Fox has been doing his thing since day one.

Fox has started all five games as an offensive tackle and is one of the top two linemen who have graded out the highest this season.

Jason is expected to lock it down for the rest of his career at UM. All-American Eric Winston was impressed with Fox in the UNC game.

Immediate Impact: Started all five games this season.

Team Member #44 - Colin

They call him 'Thunder Dan' and will always be compared to Dan Morgan, but Colin McCarthy is beginning to make his own name for himself at UM.

On kickoff coverage, you always see Gray Shirt Team Member #44 running down the field and popping someone, it doesn't matter who. And he'll let you know about it too. Don't mess with this 6-foot-3, 225-pound linebacker from Clearwater, Fla.

His thoughts on the Gray Shirts:

"We are just trying to go out there, whether it is on special teams with me, defense with Chavez, or offense with Baby J and Sam, we are all just trying to go out there and make plays."

Immediate Impact: Currently the back-up weakside linebacker and has played in all five games this season.

Other Team Members

#18 Dedrick Epps, tight end; #23 Tervaris Johnson, defensive back; #25 Matt Bosher, kicker; #36 Kylan Robinson, running back; #61 Joel Figueroa, offensive lineman; #68 Ian Symonette, offensive lineman; #75 Chaz Washington, defensive tackle; #80 George Robinson, wide receiver; #90 Steven Wesley, defensive end; #92 Josh Holmes, defensive tackle

Christopher Stock can be reached at

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