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Memories to Last a Lifetime

by Christy Cabrera Chirinos

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Some of them have been Hurricanes for years, some for months.

Whether they arrived in Coral Gables as wide-eyed freshmen or as experienced transfers with a deep understanding of what it takes to succeed in college football, in this most unusual season, Miami’s seniors have been the backbone of the Hurricanes program, on and off the field.

Many of them have been instrumental in helping make Miami a top-10 team again, whether they engineered a thrilling comeback at NC State, helped preserve the Hurricanes’ first shutout in ACC play or dazzled in a big win over a longtime rival.

But as the Hurricanes have navigated playing during a global pandemic, these seniors have tried to lead in different ways, whether they’ve worn masks in team meetings and helped enforce social distancing or have delivered meals to the doorsteps of quarantined teammates.

And while the door is open for all of them to return to Coral Gables next fall if they so choose, on Saturday, some will take the field at Hard Rock Stadium, possibly, for one of their final home games in orange and green.

So, ahead of Senior Day, we asked Miami’s seniors to share their favorite Hurricanes memories with us.

Here, in their own words, some of what they’ll remember most and the moments they won’t forget any time soon…

“It’s been great. It’s been a great year. It’s been my best year so far, in college. Coming in here with the guys, I didn’t know how I was going to connect with everybody and they just brought me in. It felt like a home right away. I guess my favorite memory would be the 57-yard [field goal against Louisville] just ‘cause it didn’t feel like one, special-teams wise. It felt like we just went out there and did our jobs. That’s the best memory I have so far here.”

– Kicker Jose Borregales

“This season, I had the opportunity to walk on to the football team and I’d say my favorite moment this entire season, so far, is probably the first practice when I got to join the squad, go out there with full pads. My little brother [Connor] is actually on the team too, so it was really awesome to be out on the field with my brother and the rest of the Canes family. … I actually had never gotten the chance to play on a football team with my brother, not in high school or college up until now. So it’s been a really special experience, just going out there, every day, after practice with Connor. It’s been awesome.”

– Wide receiver Mark Byrne

“None of my most memorable times came on the field, actually. We had so many memorable times just hanging out and doing regular things. Going over to somebody’s apartment and playing a game, going on rides listening to music and cracking jokes. But there was something on the field – the 2017 Notre Dame game. I feel like that atmosphere from the fan base and everything, to the sideline and the entire city, it was completely on another level that I hadn’t seen before. Being a freshman in that game, it was crazy. Being on the field, not being able to hear your teammate who was 10 yards away from you, that’s something that was very memorable to me. The Virginia Tech game in 2017, too, those games…that was a very exciting time, similar to the games that we’ve had this season. But the most memorable thing, I’d most definitely say, was just the time I spent with my brothers off the field.”

– Safety Amari Carter

“It’s hard to pick out just one memory. It’s been a lot of good things, a lot of good teammates, a lot of fun times. But probably that Virginia game I had last year was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. It was awesome.”

– Kicker Turner Davidson

“I would definitely say some of my favorite moments were in that Florida State game, the whole week in general. ... That was fun."

--Quarterback D'Eriq King

“My favorite thing about being here is all the relationships I’ve formed with all the people that I have been around. I love all my teammates and all the different personalities that we’ve just been around. Just sharing the moments like going out to eat with the offensive line or going to somebody’s house and the whole O-line will go and play Madden, or even just us talking, chilling together and texting each other, those moments with my brothers [are what] I cherish the most.”

– Offensive lineman Navaughn Donaldson

“My favorite memory as a Cane is probably beating Florida State after seven years. That was pretty cool. That was pretty special because it just hasn’t happened in so long. And just the way that it happened and being part of that team was pretty awesome.”

– Wide receiver Marshall Few

“One of my favorite memories is just the d-line period, being in the locker room with those boys, goofing off, having fun. Those moments, in the meeting room, in the locker room have been the best thing since I’ve been at Miami. Everybody on the d-line – we got [Quincy Roche] in and [Jaelan Phillips] in and they all clicked like fam, real fast. Our relationships, throughout the years, since I was a freshman, it’s always been tight. We’ve always been funny. Everyone’s already known how to joke. It’s always been a fun time with the guys.”

– Defensive tackle Jon Ford

“Off the field [my favorite memory], I would say freshman year, staying in the dorms and walking around with the buddies you came in with, having fun. On the field, my freshman year, beating Notre Dame, getting the opportunity to play as a true freshman in that game. And then going back home to your dorm and seeing the University of Miami ranked No. 2 in the country, stuff like that is what I cherish the most. And obviously, scoring your first touchdown. I scored my first touchdown my junior year against Bethune-Cookman. There’s been a lot of fun here.”

– Wide Receiver Mike Harley

“I would definitely say some of my favorite moments were in that Florida State game, the whole week in general. It’s a rivalry week. The guys were excited to play. They knew a bunch of guys on Florida State’s team, so that whole week…and then, just how well we played that game, I feel like everybody played well, offense, defense, special teams. That was fun.”

– Quarterback D’Eriq King

“Coming in as a freshman, I was 17. I came from IMG and my family was back home in Puerto Rico. It was obviously a very impactful change, especially since I never imagined I was going to end up playing Division I football, let alone [playing] here, at the greatest program in the history of college football. … As the years went along, I made such good friends. My teammates, my coaches, they made me feel at home every single minute and I made such amazing relationships along the way. … Now, I sit down and think about how next year, things are going to be so different now that I’m not going to be on the team … It’s weird to think about because everyone here has become part of my family…Everyone here is so close together and it’s such a family environment for me. It’s definitely been a great journey.”

– Wide receiver Elias Lugo-Fagundo

“I’d say the opening play of the Notre Dame game [was one of my favorite memories as a Hurricane]. It’s not that anything crazy happened on that play. I don’t think it was a TFL or a huge hit by anyone. It was just the first play of the game. There were a lot of bright moments in that game – Trajan Bandy had the pick-six, all these other great moments in that game. I believe [Jonathan Garvin] had a strip-sack  – but for me, just that opening play, all this hype built up to that moment, all the trash-talking back and forth between the two teams, and it was like, ‘We’re in it now.’ It was a big set-the-tone type of play, let them know that the ball wasn’t going to be run on us.”

– Linebacker Zach McCloud

"The most memorable thing, I’d most definitely say, was just the time I spent with my brothers off the field.”

Safety Amari Carter

“One or two favorite moments? I’d say in the meeting room with the d-line, that’s always a blast. We always have a blast when we’re all together. … I think this is really a tight-knit group both on and off the field. And I’m really a big believer in that, that if you want to have good chemistry on the field, you have to be with the guys off the field as well. I think everybody on this d-line cares for each other, has genuine love for each other and I think that’s why we’ve been able to excel really well on the field.”

– Defensive end Quincy Roche

“[My favorite memory is] probably playing FSU, I’ve never been a part of a big rivalry like that. I’ve been a part of rivalry games, but FSU-Miami, that’s a different type of rivalry.”

– Offensive lineman Jarrid Williams