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Two key contributors for the Miami Hurricanes who missed spring camp expect to be practicing with the team next week.
Second-year running back Donald Chaney Jr. and fourth-year defensive lineman Nesta Jade Silvera both told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that they’ve recovered from their respective shoulder injuries and will be able to practice with the team when fall camp opens on Aug. 6.
Both spoke to the Sun Sentinel Saturday afternoon during a meet-and-greet hosted by First Round Management at Cool J’s in Miami.
Miami fourth-year striker, the safety-linebacker hybrid position for UM, Gilbert Frierson also took part in the name, image and likeness (NIL) event, as well as FIU running back D’vonte Price and FIU wide receiver Shemar Thornton.
“I will be back for the first game,” Chaney Jr. added, referencing UM’s season opener against Alabama on Sept. 4 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. “The offseason’s been good. It’s hard work and I’ve just been sticking by this since spring.”
Added Silvera: “Back and better”
Chaney is expected to compete with fourth-year running back Cam’Ron Harris and fellow second-year tailback Jaylan Knighton for the lead back spot in 2021.
Chaney had 68 carries, the third-most on the team, for 322 yards (4.7 yards per attempt) during his first college season out of Miami’s Belen Jesuit in 2020 while also adding 143 receiving yards on 11 receptions.
“The approach is competition,” Chaney said of the expected running back battle. “Compete. That’s my motto going into fall camp.”
Silvera recorded 35 tackles, eight for loss, a sack and a forced fumble across 11 games in 2020 en route to being an All-ACC honorable mention selection.
“I just want to be the best I can be,” he said of his goals for the 2021 season. “I ain’t really in competition with nobody but me.
“I’d love to have double-digit [tackles for losses].”
Frierson is coming off a breakout 2020 season, which was his first year as a full-time starter, recording 53 total tackles including 9.0 tackles for loss across all 11 games last year.
He’s been impressed with fellow striker and Palm Bay Bayside alum Chase Smith ahead of Smith’s first collegiate season.
“Chase is good,” Frierson said. “He’s learning. He’s getting better day by day. He’s worked hard and he’s a great listener. In the next couple of years he’s going to be trouble.”
After the Hurricanes lost their last two games of the 2020 season after starting the year 8-1, Silvera said Miami has “a chip on our shoulder” heading into camp.
“We are what we last put on tape,” he added. “You can’t argue that. You’re as good as your last showing. We have nothing to hang out hats on or be so proud of right now. We got something to prove.”
The Hurricanes trio spent a couple of hours taking pictures, signing autographs and memorabilia for fans during their name, image and likeness appearance at Cool J’s.
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One fan brought a drawing of Chaney to sign.
“It’s a blessing just to do this,” Frierson said. “You’ve got years and years before us that wish they could’ve done the NIL deal, but we’re fortunate it opened up during our time. We’re blessed to take full advantage of the chance to get our names out there and do these events.”
Chaney added that the NIL deals Miami players are making won’t be a distraction for them.
“Coach Manny [Diaz] has taught us whatever happens, school will always come first. And then practice. And then the NIL,” he said. “Because the NIL stuff really comes off your name, image and likeness. It makes you want to work harder in classroom. It’s all about what you do in your life that dictates how this goes.”
With the football and men’s basketball programs being offered team-wide NIL deals, Silvera sees endless opportunities for the Hurricanes across all sports.
“Being at Miami, we’re in a hotbed for the NIL stuff,” he said. “I definitely feel like if you come to Miami, you’ll be set with that.”