Miami secured arguably its biggest win in over a half decade this past weekend when it defeated rival Florida State, 24-21 while ending the Seminoles’ seven-game streak in the series.
Unfortunately, it came at a cost. Star running back Mark Walton suffered a right ankle injury during the game, requiring season-ending surgery and effectively putting his junior campaign to an abrupt close after four games. Coach Mark Richt now must find a way to replace an absolutely dynamic player who averaged 5.82 yards per touch over a three-year career — someone who can also make an impact in more than just one facet of the game.
Insert Travis Homer, who seems ready to embrace the tall task.
“Travis is a very serious young man,” Richt said, via HurricaneSports.com. “He takes practices very serious. He takes his assignments very serious. He’s very business-like. He knows what to do, he knows how to do it. He’s in unbelievable condition. He loves playing the game. He loves playing special teams. Even this last game, we’re trying to give him a break and [said], ‘Hey, you don’t need to cover this kick.’ He [said], ‘No, I’m covering this kick.’ There are a lot of guys like that. Even like [Christopher] Herndon, Coach Hartley is getting ready looking for a time to sub and give him a break, and [Christopher] Herndon [said], ‘I’m not coming out. I’m playing every snap.’ Herndon played 67 snaps on offense and I don’t know how many on special teams. The guy played 80 or 90 plays. A lot of guys are like, ‘no, I’m not coming out’ and Homer is one of those kind of guys.”
Homer, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound sophomore from West Palm Beach, Fla., has made the most of his limited playing time to this point. In four appearances this season, the former 4-star prospect has rushed for 212 yards off 25 carries (8.48 ypc) with three touchdowns, adding an additional 71 yards on five catches.
Homer was an unstoppable force in high school, totaling 3,758 yards (7.98 yards per touch) and 49 touchdowns in three years at the varsity level. And there’s nothing to indicate that he isn’t capable of stepping in and producing big numbers for the No. 11 Hurricanes, who are averaging 198.3 yards per game on the ground heading into Week 7 — 46.5 more than 2016’s final product.
“I am very sad that this happened to Mark,” Homer said. “I hope he has a speedy recovery, my best wishes are with him. I haven’t seen him face-to-face yet, but I sent him some texts. We both agree that I need to step up and that we are going to keep holding it down for him.
“I just know that I have to come out here and work as hard as I can,” he added. “I hope I have showed the coaches that I am ready to come out here and do what he did.”
All signs point to Homer receiving his first career start when Miami travels to face Georgia Tech this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
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