The above image? Happier times for Jermaine Barton, who according to associate athletic director Chris Freet, “chose to leave” UM. Freet also stated that Barton’s departure is unrelated to the suspensions of offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson, linebacker Kelvin Cain and cornerback Keion Payne, who all missed the start of spring ball this weekend, but were back with the team today for meetings and will see action at Tuesday’s practice.
The 6-foot-7, 305-pound alum of St. Thomas Aquinas High in Fort Lauderdale, signed with Miami in 2010 but has yet to see action in game at the collegiate level.
Barton would’ve been a redshirt-sophomore this coming season and he played on the scout team in 2011. He was a star basketball player at St. Thomas and a late bloomer in football, coming in as a three-star recruit two years back.
If there’s a backstory here, no one’s saying anything. On the surface it looks like a kid from the old regime (signed by Randy Shannon and staff two years back) and for some reason hasn’t gained any traction under the new coaching staff.
Al Golden and his crew brought in Ereck Flowers, Taylor Gadbois and Daniel Isidora with this latest recruiting haul weeks back and both Flowers and Gadbois have impressed coaches from the get-go as early enrollees willing to put in the work, having completed their first U-Tough workout and getting geared up for spring ball.
Did Barton squander his opportunity? Is he the type of kid that bought into Shannon but isn’t sold on Golden? Are Miami coaches cutting “dead weight” and “suggesting” that kids not on board continue their education and football careers elsewhere, in effort to free up another scholarship for the right kind of kid who goes all-in with the program?
A few weeks ago it was running back Darion Hall who was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. Hall was set to enter his redshirt-sophomore season, after redshirting in 2010 and only seeing action in one game (Bethune-Cookman) last year.
Hall hasn’t been listed on Miami’s roster for almost a month now and his high school coach, Steve Pricer of Lely High in Naples, didn’t seem surprised.
“Darion had a great junior year for us — ran for more than 1,700 yards,” said Pricer. “But he had discipline issues. We tried to get him in line, but he was always getting into trouble.”
Pricer, who admitted he was “saddened to hear the news” about Hall, went on to say, “Frankly I was surprised Miami took a chance on him. I’m sad for him because he had a lot of talent. But how many times have we heard of a talented kid blowing his opportunity?”
Well put, Coach. Also makes the average Canes fan wonder why UM took a chance, as well. Especially considering Shannon was oft praised for recruiting and coaching up quality kids of character. Hall doesn’t seem to fit that mold, based on his former coach’s comments and based on his dismissal, he didn’t fit into Golden’s game plan either.
The loss of Lamar Miller to the NFL Draft and Hall to the violation of team rules forced Golden to move former cornerback Dallas Crawford to running back, joining Mike James, Eduardo Clements and fullback Maurice Hagans as the other scholarship running backs. UM also signed five-star Randy “Duke” Johnson in February.
As for Barton, a big-bodied kid from a quality high school that you hoped would’ve helped out on the offensive line this year, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t meant to be.
All the best to both Barton and Hall regarding wherever their respective paths take them. – C.B.