Depth issues prompt Hurricanes to modify spring game format
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Perhaps the most-anticipated element of Miami’s spring game came an hour before play started, when the Hurricanes unveiled four new uniform designs.
Hunter Knighton plans to be in them.
The offensive lineman released a statement Saturday detailing the severity of his illness this fall, and insisting he plans continue playing at Miami. Knighton revealed he suffered heatstroke after a workout on Feb. 24, plus experienced brain swelling, multiple seizures, kidney failure and liver failure — while fighting the flu and double pneumonia.
It all forced him to spend nearly two weeks in intensive care.
"I fought one of the greatest battles of my life. … I am so close to achieving my childhood goal of playing Division I football and I am determined to make it happen," Knighton said.
As a private school, Miami was forced to remain tight-lipped throughout Knighton’s illness, releasing very little information at the family’s behest. Miami coach Al Golden said Saturday that Knighton was emerging into a leader and one of Miami’s top linemen when he was stricken.
"Since he first began the recovery process, Hunter has been nothing short of amazing and has been an inspiration to us all, approaching his rehab program with courage and fortitude," Golden said. "I have absolutely no doubt that Hunter will continue to persevere, make a full recovery, rejoin his teammates and realize all of his goals at ‘The U.’ "
The game itself wasn’t a real game per se; the Hurricanes used 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 sessions at times during the unusual format partly because of a lack of depth in certain areas this spring.
It also was a chance for Kevin Olsen — the presumed starter at quarterback entering the season — to get some simulated game work.
Ryan Williams, who backed up Stephen Morris last season, was lost during a scrimmage on April 4 with an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament. That vaulted Olsen, a redshirt freshman, to the top spot on the depth chart. Several quarterbacks got at least a brief look on Saturday, but barring some seismic change, the job will be Olsen’s to lose when camp begins this summer.
The Hurricanes were 9-4 in 2013, a year when the NCAA investigation into the actions of a former booster — a probe that overshadowed Golden’s first three seasons with the Hurricanes — finally ended.
That’s part of the lure of the new uniforms. While Miami still cherishes tradition, it’s time for some new beginnings.
"The uniform comes at the right time for the right team," Golden said. "These young men, who unselfishly guided us through some very dark days, now display a renewed attitude and spirit. These new uniforms capture that outlook."