They were three of the best college tight ends ever, not to mention the last three UM starters at the position, who have all gone on to NFL fame and fortune.
What do Kevin Everett, Greg Olsen and Buck Ortega have in common with the aforementioned trio? Not much - yet. But coach Larry Coker is convinced the three can do great things as a group. "This is the best group of tight ends I've ever been around," Coker said. "They're outstanding. (Kevin) Everett and (Greg) Olsen are tough, tremendously hard workers and they're productive."
Everett may best be known for a play he didn't make, dropping a sure touchdown early in last year's loss at Virginia Tech, but he has impressed coaches with his mix of speed, agility and strength.
New tight ends coach Mario Cristobal says Everett "looks explosive, he looks fast, he looks ready."
Ortega has bounced around at Miami after quarterbacking Gulliver Prep to the Class 2A championship in 2000. He has moved from quarterback to linebacker to wide receiver before finding a home. He was the favorite target of quarterbacks Brock Berlin, Derrick Crudup and Kyle Wright in spring practice. He hasn't had a great summer but still figures prominently in offensive plans.
"Whoever needs to be on the field will be on the field," Cristobal said. "They're all doing extremely well."
Punter Brian Monroe had a mostly forgettable season last year. One punt he'd boom for 50-plus yards, but the next one would be shanked off the side of his foot. The freshman's confidence sank as he averaged 35.7 yards on 49 attempts.
But after working with former NFL punter Mike McCabe, who also tutored former 'Canes punter Freddie Capshaw, Monroe's confidence and his punts are soaring. He's even given his kicking leg a nickname - Thunder.
"He's been outstanding. I've been very encouraged from what I've seen this fall," Coker said. "The thing I was disappointed in, he didn't punt as well as we hoped he would (last year) as a true freshman. He's got a year's experience now and he knows he's good. His technique and his drop (have improved). He's a phenomenal athlete."
"I'm just trying to forget last year," Monroe said.
It's not like he can afford to start slowly either, with the season opener against Florida State instead of the traditional patsy.
"What an improvement," special teams coach Don Soldinger said. "Every once in a while he'll still have a bad drop, but the kid's super talented. He's just got to mature a bit more and understand he's super talented and if he's detailed on and off the field he's going to be real special."
NEW FACES IN NEW PLACES
Cristobal, a former Miami offensive lineman, was just one of the changes on the revamped coaching staff. Tim Walton came over from national champion LSU to coach the secondary. And Dan Werner was elevated to offensive coordinator after Rob Chudzinski opted to coach tight ends for former UM coach Butch Davis and the Cleveland Browns.
"The expectations here are always high. We won a BCS bowl, beat Florida State twice. But our offense slipped off a lot. We lost two games we shouldn't have lost. But you lost. That's not the expectation around this place." - Assistant head coach Art Kehoe on the state of the program