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UM’s TreVonte’ Citizen has ‘best day’ of practice while working back from devastating knee injury

TreVonte’ Citizen has been at Miami for nearly two years but has not yet taken the field in a Hurricanes uniform.

The four-star running back from Lake Charles, Louisiana, suffered a devastating knee injury during an early fall practice in 2022, tearing his ACL, LCL and hamstring.

The injury has kept him relegated to the sidelines for his first two seasons with UM. But the touted prospect has returned to the practice field this spring, and Miami coach Mario Cristobal said something “clicked” for Citizen on Thursday.

“We’ve been seeing a guy that’s been a little bit tentative and then kind of a flash, but today, there was a legitimate … guy running behind his pads, running at 230 (pounds), accelerating, running through contact, putting his feet through contact, catch the ball really well out of the backfield,” Cristobal said. “Today was his best day. Today is something that really gives us hope that he can return to form.”

A healthy and productive Citizen would be a boon for Miami’s running back room. Leading rusher Henry Parrish Jr. is set to enter the transfer portal, and Don Chaney Jr. already departed for ACC rival Louisville. Key running backs Mark Fletcher Jr. and Ajay Allen are missing spring practice due to injury.

Citizen is one of three healthy scholarship running backs in practice now, along with redshirt freshman Chris Johnson Jr. and freshman Chris Wheatley-Humphrey. Allen and Fletcher are expected back for fall, and signee Jordan Lyle will join the team in the summer.

Freshman Elija Lofton turning heads

Freshman tight end Elija Lofton was a big-time prospect coming out of Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman High, but he has “exceeded expectations” in his first few weeks of college practice, Cristobal said.

The new tight end has made impressive catches during media viewing portions of practice, and the staff has quickly taken note.

“You wish you had a bunch of (freshmen like him) because the truth of the matter is I personally think If he was a linebacker, he could go over there right now and give everybody a run for their money,” Cristobal said. “That’s how much faith we have in him as a freshman. And the fact that he comes from Bishop Gorman, where it’s very high standards, like a lot of the program guys that are here, and he’s exceeded expectations, and we’ve thrown a lot at him. A lot. Pretty fired up about the guy.”

Miami veteran tight end Elijah Arroyo has also been impressed by the freshman’s work ethic.

“He’s a great kid. I see a lot of myself in him,” Arroyo said. “He comes in, he’s ready to work, ready to learn. He treats himself as a professional already. Anything I’m doing, he’s on my hip. … He’s a big guy, but just to be that young and that explosive and powerful, that’s a good thing.”

Cristobal said he gets a similar feeling watching Lofton that he did seeing Rueben Bain Jr. and Francis Maugioa last spring. The two young stars were named freshmen All-Americans by multiple outlets last season, and Bain won ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year.

“We talked a lot about Rueben Bain last year, early on, and Francis, and when you start talking about Elija, you feel a little bit the same way,” Cristobal said.