For the second straight season, the University of Miami had a player named a freshman All-American this week with freshman offensive lineman Navaughn Donaldson receiving the honor from ESPN.
The 6-foot-6, 350-pound Miami Central alum started 10 games at right guard for the Hurricanes this season – missing two games due to ankle injury – quickly living up to the hype that surrounded his early arrival in Coral Gables this past January.
Receiver Ahmmon Richards was named a freshman All-American in 2016.
Donaldson, who was one of six total players from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) to be named 2017 freshman All-Americans, helped Miami’s offense rush for 1,912 yards in 2017 while only allowing 26 sacks.
According to ESPN Stats, UM ball carriers averaged 4.4 yards per carry when running the ball behind Donaldson’s right guard spot.
From the time Donaldson joined the team in the spring, coaches and teammates raved about his rare combination of brute strength and athleticism.
“It kind of helps when you are 350 pounds…he is pretty advanced for his age. [Donaldson] is a student of the game and studies everything…he is always here, putting in extra time, studying stuff – he is studying NFL players, he is studying us, looking at what he can do to get better and that is what I love about this kid,” Miami senior offensive lineman Kc McDermott said during spring practice.
“He’s tough, he doesn’t back down from anyone,” 6-foot-4, 293-pound Miami junior defensive tackle RJ McIntosh said back in April. “He has good footwork and he’s heavy…so it’s hard to move him out the way.”
Badgley Named First Team All-ACC
In spite of having its best season in the past five years, the University of Miami only had one player – senior kicker Michael Badgley – named to the Atlantic Coast Conference First-Team as it was announced earlier this week.
Miami’s mullet-wearing placekicker made 16 of his 20 fields goals in 2017 while knocking in 42 of 43 extra points – leading the Hurricanes in total scoring – to earn his spot on the conference’s postseason superlative team.
Surprisingly, the Hurricanes defense did not have any players voted on to the first team. Miami’s defense was among the national leaders in tackles for loss and turnovers forced – driven by its “Turnover Chain” – while giving up just under 20 points per game in 2017.
Considering the season that junior safety Jaquan Johnson, who led the team in total tackles (85), interceptions (4), forced fumbles (2) and fumble recoveries (2), put together or the 8.5 sacks performance from senior defensive lineman Trent Harris – it was conceivable to think at least one UM defender would earn first team honors.
Instead, four Canes were named All-ACC second team.
Johnson, McIntosh, junior defensive back Michael Jackson and sophomore linebacker Shaquille Quarterman were second teamers.
Jackson had the best season of his career in 2017, tied with Johnson for the team-lead in interceptions while Quarterman finished as the team’s second-leading tackler.
Senior tight end Christopher Herndon, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in the regular season finale at Pittsburgh, was named All-ACC second team offense as was sophomore running back Travis Homer – who became Miami’s No. 1 ball carrier after Mark Walton went down with a season-ending ankle injury earlier in the season.
Seniors Braxton Berrios and McDermott were named to the All-ACC third team offense as was sack-leader Harris.
Offensive linemen Trevor Darling, Tyler Gauthier and Donaldson were All-ACC Honorable Mentions; as were defensive tackle Kendrick Norton, linebacker Michael Pinckney and Malek Young.