Miami Hurricanes true freshman receiver Brashard Smith received a forceful thrust on Saturday against Central Connecticut State.
Smith kept his balance, and that shove was just what he needed to score his first career touchdown, completing a thrilling 75-yard catch and run. Smith rumbled the final 25 yards of that bubble-screen TD after being hit in the back by CCSU’s Toddreis Baltimore.
As expected, the CCSU Blue Devils were pushovers in a 69-0 Miami win.
But — just like Smith used that shove — the Blue Devils may have provided the push the Hurricanes (2-2) needed to cure themselves of an early season malaise.
Smith finished with 126 all-purpose yards, including five catches for 91 yards and that one touchdown.
But he wasn’t alone.
Miami got tremendous contributions from all three of its true freshmen receivers, including Romello Brinson (two catches for 25 yards and one TD) and Jacolby George (one catch for a 44-yard score).
“Three amigos,” Smith said. “That’s what we call ourselves.”
On a day when Miami was without a couple of its 20-somethings — sixth-year quarterback D’Eriq King (injured) and fifth-year center Corey Gaynor (benched) — it was all about the team’s teenagers.
Brinson, for example, made a spectacular one-handed catch in the left corner of the end zone. He caught the ball with his right hand as he was under heavy defensive pressure, and he landed with his left arm.
The play was initially called out of bounds before it was correctly reversed on video review.
Not that the person who threw him the ball — yep, another true freshman, Jake Garcia — had any doubts.
“That may be the play of the year,” Garcia said. “I knew we had it before I even threw the ball. I mean, it’s one on one with ‘Mello. It’s a touchdown.”
Miami’s fab freshmen weren’t only on offense.
Five-star defenders Leonard Taylor (tackle) and James Williams (safety) both saw extensive action.
In fact, Williams got his first start and his first interception … and also his first encounter with Miami’s famed turnover chain.
“I was surprised [the chain] was that heavy. My neck hurt,” Williams joked. “That chain hurt.”
Williams wears number 0 because that was his digit as a youth-league player. He was thrilled when it was available to wear at Miami after he couldn’t have it in high school.
“Lock me in,” he told Miami’s coaches. “That’s me. I want to put some history behind it.”
Meanwhile, Smith’s high school coach — Miami Palmetto’s Mike Manasco — said he watched Saturday’s game from home and was thrilled.
“My wife was putting our 1-year-old [Emma] down for a nap,” Manasco said. “When I saw Brashard turn the score, I woke [Emma] up for a second because I started screaming.
“I knew Brashard was gone. All he needs is an opportunity.”
Williams, who started in place of the suspended Gurvan Hall, has a golden opportunity now.
And he may never give it back.
Asked about playing as a freshman, Williams said:
“It ain’t hard. It ain’t easy. It’s just a process.
“This is a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to play for Miami’s defense. I was dying to play, dying to start. I’m going to let my actions speak for themselves.”
Williams was then asked about the pressure. on him and Taylor as five-star players.
“There are expectations because it’s Miami,” he said. “But we’re built for this. We’re made for this. We were born for this.”