College Sports

Miami Hurricanes hire O-line coach with NFL experience and RB coach with local ties

UM introduces their 25th football coach, Manny Diaz

The University of Miami had its news conference to announce new head football coach Manny Diaz on Wednesday.
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The University of Miami had its news conference to announce new head football coach Manny Diaz on Wednesday.

A day after naming former Alabama assistant Dan Enos the new University of Miami offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Hurricanes head football coach Manny Diaz announced the addition of running backs coach Eric Hickson and offensive line coach Butch Barry to the staff.

We’re excited to welcome Eric and Butch to the Miami family,” Diaz said. “Both men are outstanding teachers with diverse coaching backgrounds, and I’m confident they will be tremendous assets to our offensive staff.”

Hickson, 44, is from Fort Lauderdale and coached running backs with the Kansas State Wildcats last season. Previously, Hickson spent three years as the Akron Zips’ running backs coach. He also worked as Plantation American Heritage’s running backs coach and special teams coordinator from 2007-2011, and was the coach at Coral Springs Charter earlier in the decade.

“I’ve known Eric and his whole family since he was in youth football,’’ said South Florida recruiting analyst Larry Blustein. “He was an outstanding football player at Dillard. Judging by all the contacts he’s made, all the players and coaches he knows and by his demeanor— just an outgoing, positive person all-around — he will be one of their best recruiters.

“And he’s a tremendous teacher and knows the position as well as anybody. Everybody gravitates toward him. He’s a well-respected person on and off the field.’’

Added fellow recruiting analyst Charles Fisbein of Elite Scouting Services: “Hickson is definitely a guy who knows the area. Kansas State has never had a ton of presence down here but Hickson came here last year and was able to get a commitment from St. Thomas Aquinas running back Daniel Carter before he flipped to PIttsburgh because the Kansas State coaching staff was dismissed.

“He’s a local guy and I think he’ll do well. The guy’s a good coach.’’

Barry brings an NFL pedigree to Coral Gables. For the last four seasons, UM’s new offensive line coach was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ assistant offensive line coach. He previously spent five seasons as an assistant coach for the Central Michigan Chippewas when Enos was the coach in Mount Pleasant.

Under Hickson’s tutelage, Kansas State running back Alex Barnes became one of the Big 12 Conference’s most productive tailbacks. The junior led the Big 12 with 1,355 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, helping the Wildcats average 182.6 yards per game. The Dillard alumnus also played at Kansas State and finished his career as the Wildcats’ all-time leading rusher.

With Barry in the fold, the Buccaneers had one of the NFL’s most productive offenses this season. Despite missing the postseason, Tampa Bay finished the regular season third in the NFL in total offense with 415.5 yards per game. The Buccaneers also led the NFL in passing offense at 320.3 yards per game despite rotating quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston under center.

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Miami Herald sports writer Susan Miller Degnan has been the Miami Hurricanes football beat writer since 2000, the season before the Canes won it all. She has won several APSE national writing awards and has covered everything from Canes baseball to the College Football Playoff to major marathons to the Olympics.