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Tuesday update: UM in mix for top RBs; Ranking top local stories of 2012

UM coach Al Golden said the Hurricanes “need [to add] a big-time running back,” and they remain in hot pursuit of at least two of the nation’s top 11.

UM has been pushing for the nation’s No. 1 rated running back, Richmond, Va.-based Derrick Green, but Green has acknowledged to national recruiting analysts that Michigan is his front-runner.

    UM nationally has been perceived as something of a longshot for Green, but publicly, he speaks very highly of the Canes. “Miami is still firmly in it,” he told rivals.com the other day. “They want me bad. Miami is definitely high on my list. It would be like thunder and lightning with Duke Johnson.”

    Besides Michigan and UM, he’s also reportedly considering Tennessee, Auburn, FSU and USC.

    Meanwhile, Alex Collins – the nation’s No. 11 rated running back – said he’s considering UM, UF, FSU, Wisconsin, Arkansas (a new addition) and Tennessee.

Collins, from South Plantation High, is a former UM oral commitment. Running back Adrian Lane, who spent time with Collins on his visit to Gainesville, said he believes UF is the leader. But Miami is still hopeful.

Also this week, UM was eliminated from consideration from Philadelphia-based running back David Williams, rated No. 18 among running backs by rivals.com. He will choose this week from among Penn State, South Carolina and Arizona State.


Here's the third of our four part series looking back at 2012. I'll post the final installment -- the year in local media -- as part of my Friday media column. 



1) Heat championship and LeBron’s incredible year. The two go hand-in-hand and appropriately, share the top spot on our list. Both James and the Heat silenced their critics with a marvelous May and jubilant June, ending in a 4-1 Finals vanquishing of Oklahoma City. James, who averaged 28.6 points and 10.2 rebounds in the championship series, won the Finals MVP a month after winning the regular season MVP.

2) Marlins open stadium, trash the place. Could the first year of a new ballpark have gone any worse? The Marlins bombed, finishing 69-93, and drawing the fewest fans for any new stadium in the 21st century. At least the air conditioning worked.

3) LeBron leads Heat back from 3-2 deficit against Boston. Facing elimination in the Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron served up back-to-back performances for the ages: a 45-point, 15-rebound epic in Game 6 in Boston, and a 29-point, 12-rebound masterpiece in Game 7 in Miami.

4) Dolphins draft a quarterback in the first round. Miami hadn’t done that since plucking Dan Marino 27th in 1983. Ryan Tannehill, selected eighth, surprisingly won the job in training camp – aided by David Garrard’s knee injury – and flashed enough potential to leave fans and pundits encouraged.

5) Dolphins hire Joe Philbin. Miami’s coaching merry-go-round of the past decade continued, with the former Green Bay offensive coordinator beating out Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy for the job after Jeff Fisher spurned the Dolphins for the St. Louis Rams.

6) Dolphins go a fourth straight season without a winning record. That’s the first time that happened since the franchise’s first four seasons. The Dolphins raised hopes with a 4-3 start, then lost 5 of 6, including an inexplicable 37-3 home drubbing by the Tennessee Titans.

7) Ozzie Guillen’s nightmare. The Marlins’ loquacious manager enraged South Florida – and earned a five-game team suspension – for saying he admired Cuban dictator Fidel Castro; steered a 93-loss team that badly underachieved; and was fired just one season into a four-year contract. At least he walked away with a $7.5 million parting gift.

8) Marlins dump payroll. The Marlins went retro, but not the way anyone wanted, returning to the days of a payroll in the $40 million range, lowest in baseball. Their $60 million-plus salary dump – achieved with trades of Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Heath Bell – infuriated fans.

9) UM wins ACC Coastal division but self-imposes a bowl ban. Despite a porous defense, UM closed 7-5 and won its division for the first time, but eschewed an ACC title game appearance against Florida State and a bowl berth in hopes that a second consecutive postseason ban would mitigate future NCAA punishment.

10)  Panthers return to playoffs. Florida snapped out of a decade-long malaise by making the playoffs for the first time since 2000 and winning a playoff game for the first time since 1997. The scrappy Panthers led 3-2 in their first-round series against New Jersey before being ousted in seven games. 

11) Heat signs Ray Allen. Less than a month after winning a championship, the rich got even richer by signing the NBA’s all-time leader in three-point baskets.

12) Dolphins lose out on Manning, strike out in free agency. The Dolphins never even made Peyton’s final three, then achieved little in free agency beyond Marcus Thigpen and injured Richard Marshall. At least the draft yielded better results.

13) Dwyane Wade’s Indiana comeback. Bothered by knee soreness, Wade delivered a clunker in a Game 3 Eastern Conference semifinals blowout loss in Indiana: 2 for 13 shooting, five points. But Wade rebounded splendidly with 30 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists in Game 4 to help Miami even the series and overcome the Heat’s first serious adversity of the 2012 playoffs.

14)  FIU dumps Cristobal. After taking the Golden Panthers to bowl games in 2010 and ’11 and spurning overtures from Pittsburgh and Rutgers last winter, Cristobal was rewarded with a pink slip in the wake of a 3-9 season.

15)  FIU dumps Isiah. Athletic director Pete Garcia also lost patience with NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas after three abysmal seasons (26-65). Rick Pitino’s son, Richard, replaces him.

16)  Reality TV hits South Florida. The Dolphins and Marlins both agreed to be the focus of cable television reality series. HBO’s Hard Knocks proved far more compelling viewing than MLB’s The Franchise on Showtime.

17)  UM lands top-10 recruiting class, led by electrifying running back Duke Johnson. Al Golden’s 33-player class made an immediate impact, with Johnson setting a UM freshman rushing record. Johnson and safety Deon Bush were named second-team freshman All-Americans.

18)  Chad Johnson’s two-month Dolphins odyssey. After signing in June, the Miami Beach alum predicted a “monster year.” Instead, he was underwhelming in training camp, was arrested for allegedly head-butting his wife of six weeks, then was dumped by both his bride and the Dolphins.

19)  UM baseball team’s shocking exit. A Hurricanes baseball season had never before ended in such embarrassing fashion: a 10-2 loss to Stony Brook and a 12-2 drubbing by Missouri State, at home, no less. UM failed to win an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 1993. 

20)  UM basketball team makes NIT. In his first season as Frank Haith’s successor, Jim Larranaga guided the Hurricanes to a 20-13 record and a berth in the NIT, where Miami was annihilated by visiting Minnesota, 78-60, in a second-round game.