WESTON — Former Miami Hurricanes and Dolphins offensive lineman Vernon Carey likes the direction of his college and pro football teams.
At his Carey Family Foundation 11th annual golf tournament on Friday, Carey said No. 8 UM is headed in the right direction at 3-0 and is optimistic about the Dolphins' future.
Of his Hurricanes, Carey said, “They whooped up on Florida State, and they just got to keep grinding. They got a good quarterback, a lot of great skill position players and the O-line’s doing better. They just keep building on the little things and keep recruiting South Florida, they’ll bring it back.”
That’s the biggest key to Carey — recruiting locally. Miami appears to be doing a good job of that with a 2021 recruiting class, comprised mostly of Miami-Dade and Broward products, ranked in the top 10 by 247 Sports and Rivals.
“The last two times UM was really good: In the 80s and [the seasons following] ’99 — that was my class' year — when we kept seven, eight top recruits in South Florida here,” said Carey, who was the No. 19 pick of the 2004 NFL draft and played all eight of his pro seasons with the Dolphins. "That’s what it’s all about, keeping your guys in South Florida and you can build something.
“You think of Alabama, LSU and Florida, they all come to South Florida to try to get guys. If we keep hometown guys from American Heritage, Northwestern and St. Thomas, you got a good chance to be successful in college.”
Carey feels offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee’s up-tempo spread scheme is a great fit for Miami’s offensive playmakers, but the presence of quarterback D’Eriq King behind center really has them playing with confidence.
“When you have a leader, man — I just remember me being at UM, having a good quarterback like Ken Dorsey — once you have a leader, it’s easy to be successful,” Carey said. “We had that quarterback who knew how to get you in the right situation.”
After UM’s offensive line struggled in 2019, giving up 51 sacks, Carey attributes its improved play to two factors.
“Maturity and quarterback,” he said. “A guy who can get out of a tackle, a sack and scramble, get out the pocket, make a pass. His ability to get out the pocket and still make a pass, like Tua [Tagovailoa], that’s big, and it’s showing.”
Carey feels the rookies the Dolphins drafted this offseason lost a lot of development due to the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They got a lot of young guys that were drafted this year and they had no offseason,” he said. “They had one month of training. That’s not enough. Usually, you start in May, you get two or three months of the playbook. I don’t know when they got the playbook, but they didn’t get to be with the coaches until [late in the process]. They didn’t really get that much time.”
But once the rookies get a full year under them and the Dolphins continue to stack picks with the Houston Texans' first- and second-round selections in the 2021 draft, Carey likes where the organization is headed.
“I just think they’re about a year or two behind, but I hope they do better sooner,” Carey said. “You want them to keep getting draft picks, keep building that culture and build the team through draft picks.”
Carey’s son, Vernon Carey Jr., is an NBA draft prospect after one season at Duke that followed a stellar high school career at University School. Carey Jr. is juggling Zoom interviews with NBA teams while training for his combine testing and workouts that will take place at AmericanAirlines Arena ahead of the Nov. 18 draft.
This year, Carey Sr. changed the name of his foundation to Carey Family Foundation (from Vernon Carey Foundation) as his son turns pro. The foundation creates programs and provides support to encourage the improvement of the lives of South Florida’s youth by enhancing educational and recreational development and economic opportunities within the community.
Money raised from Friday’s tournament will fund programs, including “One-Step to a Brighter Future” scholarships for Miami-Dade County high school seniors at Miami Carol City, Miami Northwestern and Miami Central, food distributions and Thanksgiving meal giveaways, along with additional charitable contributions and programs for local non-profits, youth athletics and education.