'Canes WR Allen Hurns within reach of 1,000-yard season
NOV 26, 2013 9:55a ET
"It almost looked like he was torturing himself," offensive coordinator James Coley said. "He was doing it for this moment, for this type of season. He deserves it. He's deserved everything he's got and the opportunities he's got."
If the adage "hard work pays off" ever needed a spokesman, look no further than Hurns.
Entering Friday afternoon's matchup at Pittsburgh, Hurns is just 35 yards shy of becoming the program's fourth wideout to accumulate 1,000 yards in a season.
The 6-3, 195-pounder would join Eddie Brown (1,114 in 1984), Andre Johnson (1,092 in 2002) and Leonard Hankerson (1,156 in 2010). He would achieve something not even NFL greats Michael Irvin, Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne did during their collegiate careers.
"It means a lot," Hurns said. "At the University of Miami there's been a lot of great receivers that came through here."
In Saturday's 45-26 victory over Virginia on Senior Day, Hurns collected 126 yards and a touchdown on six catches.
It marked his fifth 100-yard receiving game of the year and third in a row during the thick of the Atlantic Coast Conference race. He is now 10th on UM's all-time reception list with 110.
On an offense that has scored 45 points or more in four games, the most since 2002, Hurns has set the bar with a team-high 51 catches, 965 yards and six touchdowns. He averages 18.9 yards per catch and 87.7 per game. Those are all career highs.
Senior corner Kacy Rodgers II said what makes Hurns so tough to defend is his technical prowess.
"He's a technician," Rodgers said. "He's one of the hardest workers on the team and it shows on the field. A lot of people don't realize he does that every day in practice. He's a technician even when we're not practicing doing extra work. That's Hurns. We all count on him. We know he's going to do exactly what he needs to do."
His success can also be attributed to the rapport he shares with senior quarterback Stephen Morris.
Both Hurns and Morris were early enrollees for the 2010 spring semester. During Saturday's postgame press conference, Morris called his go-to target "his main man."
Morris credits great communication the pair has worked toward both on and off the field, dating back to its early days on campus.
"He's a smart player," Morris said. "He's always in the film room asking me questions, and he tries to see it from the quarterback's perspective. He's not just one of those guys who's going to run his route. He understands coverages and what he needs to do as well."
But things didn't come so easy for Hurns, who earned his playing time through hard work and dedication.
During his freshman season, Hurns played nine games -- mostly on special teams -- and didn't record a reception. The following year, Hurns caught four passes for 69 yards in the season opener against Maryland. He would finish the season third on the team with 31 receptions and 415 yards.
When he finally got on the field, Hurns sustained several injuries. There was the shoulder surgery in spring 2012, a concussion in the early part of last season and a broken bone in his left thumb last November. While at Miami Carol City, Hurns partially tore the meniscus in his left knee in the second game of his senior season.
For the first time in years, Hurns has not had to worry about competing at full strength. Instead of visiting the training room every day, Hurns can focus on plays and preparation rather than "just feeling good."
"Since I've been here I've always had injuries that set me back, so that mostly humbled me because at the end of the day when you go through things it opens you up and makes you think about a lot of other things," Hurns said.
What his teammates and coaches say differentiates him from others is his work ethic. It's easy to use Hurns as an example for the younger guys, holding them to a high standard.
One of those players would be freshman Stacy Coley, who is second on the team with 27 catches for 486 yards and five touchdowns. Coley has said he hopes to follow in Hurns' footsteps.
"Obviously that's how you build your program around guys like that," coach Al Golden said of Hurns. "A picture's worth a thousand words. I could sit up here and say this is about process, this is about preparation, about having a great attitude. It's about studying film.
"Or I could say, 'Just watch him.' It's as simple as that. That young man works his tail off. Whatever talent God gave him he honors it with the way he prepares and executes, by the way he practices. He's cultivated it. He's a very skilled, young man.
"He's done a great job with his hands, he's unselfish. He's a great leader for us. Can't say enough about Allen Hurns."
You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.