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UM commit gets go-ahead to play two sports; Golden addresses signing; Braman, Dolphins battle

The Wednesday buzz column is below, but a quick Wednesday news item, updated with an Al Golden quote and a quote from the coach of UM's newest two-sport player:

UM made a surprise addition in two sports on Wednesday, landing four-star running back Cornelius Elder, who was ranked the No. 17 running back and 203rd-best player in the Class of 2013 by ESPN.

UM said he also will be permitted to join the basketball team, which was his desire. As a basketball player, he's ranked 35th among all point guards in the 2013 Class.

"It's a great marriage for us," UM coach Al Golden said on 790 The Ticket, after Elder signed his letter of intent. "We have a need at that position [running back]. Excellent speed, lateral quickness, change of direction.

"Corn was having trouble trying to decide between going Division 1 in football or playing Division I basketball. He will have an opportunity to walk on [in basketball] and play basketball for a Top 5 program. We're excited to get him in the fold."

The UM football team showed limited interest in Elder for months before making an offer Wednesday morning. He committed a few hours later, choosing UM over Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Mississippi, Auburn and Vanderbilt. 

Elder, the 18th player in this UM football recruiting class, tweeted that he has always been a Hurricanes fan. So he was thrilled when the Hurricanes finally made an offer a week after National Signing Day.

Though he can also play slot receiver and cornerback, Elder will play running back for UM - a position of need because of the graduation of Mike James and the precarious health situation of Eduardo Clements. Clements has been wearing a neck brace and his status is uncertain, Golden said last week.

Elder, listed at 5-10 and 170 pounds, will join Duke Johnson, Danny Dillard, Dallas Crawford, Clements and another newcomer (Augustus Edwards) as the top backs on UM's roster, and newcomer Ray Lewis III can play running back or defensive back. Maurice Hagens returns at fullback.

During his high school career in Tennessee, Elder produced 6351 yards and 84 touchdowns. He helped lead his team to three consecutive state titles and ran for 217 yards and three touchdowns in this past season's championship game. He was Tennessee's Mr. Football in 2011 and 2012.

He also led his basketball team to state titles as a sophomore and junior and is averaging 21 points per game this season.

Though UM hadn't been recruiting Elder in basketball, UM coaches like his game and he had several major basketball offers, including from Purdue.

"If anyone can do both sports, it's him," said Ricky Bowers, his football and basketball coach at Ensworth High in Nashville. "That's because of his skill level, speed, and competitive spirit. As a running back, he's fantastic in space, rare feet, great anticipation. As a basketball player, he has great explosion."

The UM basketball team has been searching for a point guard to back up Shane Larkin next season, and Elder likely will compete for that job.

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WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN 

Add this to the list of obstacles the Dolphins face in procuring public money to upgrade Sun Life Stadium: Norman Braman told me Tuesday he “will have a vigorous campaign” to try to defeat the Dolphins’ proposal that Miami-Dade residents will vote on, likely in early May.

“I’m going to do whatever I possibly can,” Braman, the former Philadelphia Eagles owner, said. “I will be spending my own money.”

Despite his efforts, Braman could not derail the Marlins’ ballpark --- which never went to a public vote at the ballot box –-- but successfully led a push to recall then-Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez after he supported both the Marlins’ stadium and increased property taxes.

Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said “we believe a decision by the voters will go our way.”

Meanwhile, Braman said Dee and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross came to his office last year and unsuccessfully tried to persuade him to change his position.

“I respect Steve. He’s a good person,” Braman said. “But the man is worth over $4 billion. He can afford to do it himself. It’s welfare for billionaires. The [proposed] roof [over the stands] has nothing to do with attracting Super Bowls; they’re playing outdoors in [New Jersey] next year. The vote is a gimmick.”

The Dolphins and NFL in tandem will pay for just over half of the $400 million cost --- with the NFL potentially matching Ross' contribution --- and the Dolphins might increase their offer, according to a team source who said the Dolphins will “get their message out” by running their own aggressive ad campaign. (And you thought political ads were over for a while after last November's election.)

Even before the referendum, the Dolphins must convince the tax-averse Florida Legislature to approve changing laws so they can get a state sales tax rebate and money from an increased hotel bed tax. And some legislators from Dade remain on the fence.

The referendum might help the Dolphins’ chances in Tallahassee, but the Legislature might not know the results of the referendum before it addresses the issue.

That’s because the county needs 60 days notice for a referendum, and it can’t be scheduled yet because the Dolphins and county must hammer out language of what’s precisely on the ballot. So the vote likely will happen in early May, after or around the time the Legislative session ends May 3.

CHATTER

### For those wondering whether UM sophomore point guard Shane Larkin might turn pro, Larkin told me Monday that “it’s pretty definite I’ll be back” next season. Larkin, who patterns his game “as close to Chris Paul’s as I can can,” said North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski sought him out to tell him he’s a “great player.”

### With five roster openings to fill for next basketball season, UM is recruiting players in Europe and is a finalist (with USF and South Carolina) for Demetrius Henry (the nation’s No. 14 center) and a finalist (with USF) for high-scoring three-star guard Niem Stevenson, Henry’s teammate at Faith Baptist Christian in Brandon, Fl. They're also a top contender for Virginia-based Junior Etou, the nation's No. 14 power forward.

But former Lakers coach Mike Brown’s son, point guard Elijah, chose Butler over UM and others. Recruits keep asking UM coaches about whether the Canes will face NCAA sanctions. But Jim Larranaga believes the team's exceptional play is going to help recruiting by the time April's signing period rolls around.

### Two prominent high school coaches – Central’s Telly Lockette and Oakland Park Northeast’s Donnell Bennett – appreciated that Al Golden interviewed them for the running back coach’s job and say there are no hard feelings after Golden instead promoted Hurlie Brown to the position.

“I wished it would have worked out – it’s my goal to coach in college,” Lockette said. "Al Golden said I have a bright future," Bennett said.

Both said they haven’t talked to Golden about replacing Brown as football operations coordinator.

### While UM struck out on defensive tackles in this recruiting class, analyst Larry Blustein said they have a good chance to land the top local one in next year's class: Hollywood Chaminade Madonna's Khari Clark.

### Cleveland has emerged as somewhat of a front-runner for former Ohio State and Portland center Greg Oden, who wants to resume his career at the start of next season after recovering from last year's fifth knee surgery. But his agent said contrary to a Monday report, the Heat is still very much in it and Oden will visit with Heat officials after the All-Star break.

### One subtle change helping the Heat’s offense: Erik Spoelstra is allowing Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole to get Miami into offense a lot more – instead of having LeBron James or Dwyane Wade do it.

Chalmers said that “gets LeBron is better positions to score,” and James appreciates it, too: “You don’t want to go into a game where you handle a lot. The minutes our point guards give us when we don’t have to handle as much helps us a lot.”

No joke: the Heat outscored Portland by 41 points with Chalmers in the game Tuesday but was outscored by 28 with Cole in the game. Both both struggled defending Portland's Damian Lillard (33 points).

### The headline stat from Tuesday's win was, of course, LeBron becoming the first player in NBA history to score at least 30 points and shoot at least 60 percent in six straight games. In fact, LeBron has shot 72 percent over that stretch, while averaging 30.8 points.

This isn't as impressive as that, but it's still pretty darn amazing: By outscoring Portland 18-5 after the game was tied at 99 with five minutes left, the Heat has now outscored opponents by an absurd 94 points in the final five minutes of games with a margin of five points or less (over 124 minutes).

### The Marlins haven’t pursued a trade for a center fielder because they’re comfortable with Justin Ruggiano as a stopgap and believe ace prospect Christian Yelich (.329, 12 homers, 48 RBI in Class A) could be in the majors by late 2013.

“It’s fun to watch him hit – he’s always in favorable counts,” Marlins executive Larry Beinfest said, calling Yelich and elite pitching prospect Jose Fernandez “spectacular.”

### When Fox’s Ken Rosenthal tweeted this winter that the Marlins “need a center fielder,” Ruggiano tweeted: “No we don’t. I got this.” Ruggiano explained: “I woke up at 7 and that’s the first thing I read! It seems people are forgetting what I did. I did a good job.”

### Beinfest, on Marlins fans’ pain: “I hear the frustration. It’s justified…. Fans don’t need to be patient. This is Major League Baseball. I know this guy and that guy are gone, but wait until you see this guy.”

  

Comments

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Miami Penguin

I thought that Ross, himself was going to pay 51% of the cost of stadium improvements. But now, it turns out, the NFL will pay half of his share.

Wouldn't it be better if Ross paid 51%, the NF paid 25.5%, and local taxes covered the rest?

Alex

I'm opening a coffee shop. I am going to ask the county to pay to build the roof and the state to refund me the sales tax. Absurd.

boe

If the NFL is gonna help pay Ross needs to open the check book up.

Marios

Go Stormin Norman!! Absurd is right.
How about Ross pays 51% and he NFL 49?
Fins will build a roof regardless whether we pay for it or not.
Our hotels in Miami are full in february anyways, this will help Broward more than Dade.
How about updating the convention center first? That will help bring in tourists year round.
If this passes then we deserve Jeffrey Loria for another 10 years.

Ed

Can't braman find something else to do? shuffleboard perhaps?

Miami Penguin

Marios, Doesn't it seem like Broward must be laughing all the way to the bank?

Ed, I agree with you about Braman. And what does he know about running a team? The verb "bramanized" was coined to describe his unnecessary financial roughness with the Eagles.

Omaximus

Well said Marios if they can't get a handout from the taxpayers the Dolphins and the NFL will pay for the renovations themselves. Good luck to Braman.

The NFL has refused to award any future Super Bowls to Miami to try to blackmail South Florida into paying for this. Its a joke. When the Super Bowl kicked off this year it was 23 degrees with the windchill in NJ where they are playing next year. No roof there.

harleyray

The folks attending the Superbowl in NJ will be all too happy to come to Miami in Feb. This is a real dumb idea having the game in an open stadiuum in the dead of winter. People have short memories. When the Silverdome was built in Michigan many years ago,Pete Rozell agreed to a Superbowl to be played in the new hi-tech dome. They had a snow storm the night before and most fans did not get to the game until half time,lol! Our stadium has needed these upgrades for far too many years,so vote yes and shut Braman up,finally!

Jo jo

Ross wants to have Miami taxpayers foot the bill for half of the total cost for Dolphin Stadium upgrades.He rakes in the profits(short and long-term) but Dade taxpayers do not become "shareholders".Now he definitely must have got A s in math while attending school because he was the leader in comprehending ....."the new math".Too funny.Where are you Joe Robbie???Though you died broke.....YOU loved the South Florida fans and used all of YOUR own money for the original Joe Robbie Stadium.RIP my friend.The world has really changed as you once knew it.

Sean

Never spend another penny on the marlins as long as that scum is still owner

peter

I was 100% opposed to the Marlins Stadium, but I am 100% for the Dolphins Stadium. The Dolphins Stadium upgrade will directly affect our ability to host Super Bowls, World Cup Soccer, and NCAA National Championship games. These events bring tourists and money into the local economy. The Marlins stadium will never host anything but Marlins games, 99% of which are attended by locals which is why it was a complete waste of money and why the taxpayers got screwed.
Like it or not, Miami is already competing with more big cities for Super Bowls, including cities with lesser climates, but indoor stadiums. We need to keep the stadium up to date. It has been said that if we get just one more Super Bowl because of the stadium upgrade, it will have paid for itself.

Lets face it, the Miami-Dade taxpayers are already invested in the stadium business and we lost big with the marlins Stadium. Lets try to recoup some of that money with the Dolphins Stadium.

UCheat

$400 million for a roof???

playthefreshmen

The NFL will pay 200 MILLI0N??, and what will Ross put up??Nada!!!GTF0H!!NFL 40%, Ross 40% and MAYBE 20% the City..

Barry Jackson

To answer a couple questions: At the moment, Ross is putting in a bit over $100 million. The NFL is putting in as much as $100 million. But Ross is looking at increasing his contribution.... Besides the roof, they're also installing lights, moving seats closer and a few other things. But the roof is by far the biggest cost.

marva Lightbourne

..60 days notice for THE election dept., to put this out for the voters (..around the week of april 29th.??. ) is the language for this on the ballot going FIRST to the commissioners / mayor to be tweaked up or down & for public input?, when is that BCC MTG. FOR THAT TO BE DONE ??.the last date state legisature sesssion is may 3rd (..falls within that narrow window of the mia-dade voting process for the stadium.. ) this rush job is gonna be a MESS !!..I PERSONALLY WANT TO BE @ THAT COUNTY COMMISSIONERS MEETING WHEN THEY GO OVER THE BALLOT & THE LANGUAGE FOR we, the voters !!..marlin mess coming back to " haunt" us ( citizens / voters. ) again !!..but, with this we, the citizens / voters WILL HAVE OUR INPUT.. YEA OR NAY !!..chairwomen concerned citizens committee, inc. liberty city.

Jo jo

Saw Corn Elder on tape and he runs for lots of TD s...got 4.5 speed.He is a slasher/speedy smooth runner.Rated a 4 star player and is 1 more fast athlete Miami can decide on utilizing.Currently the thinking is to keep him at RB for additional depth at that spot.Hope Golden finda a decent DT somewhere....under a rock...er boulder I mean.GO CANES.

Marvin Sanchez

This Braman guy is scum. He killed the Orange Bowl when we tried to fix that up, and what are we left with now? Marlins Park. Braman killed the Orange Bowl, do not let him kill Marlins Park He used public money in Philadelphia and is trying to be the voice of the "people" I do not want him being my voice.

Chris Meiser

Hey Norman! Instead of spending your personal fortune to fight the use of taxpayer monies for stadiums, why don't you just invest in the new stadium roof yourself? We'll call it the "Braman Ceiling" in honor of your longtime efforts to cap wasteful government spending. A win-win for everyone.

Neil'sGhost

If I have to pay for it than I want a commission for every ticket sold for every event. Fair is fair.

ChampCane

Keep the roster filled with out of staters, Golden. There should never be a majority this great to out of staters, ever. This kid may be great, but this coach is losing Florida badly.

Joe

Not sure which is worse Stephen Ross or Jeff Loria??

There is NO WAY on earth a BILLIONAIRE gets any taxpayer money he can pay for it himself if he wants just like Joe Robbie. Of course the Florida Republican pro business controlled legislature just as bad for even considering it.

Go sell more condos Ross with your cuban buddy
Jorge M Perez of the Related Companies.

John Yonko

Sorry, but I gotta disagree, Champ. This kid is a Cane at heart, and he wants to be a Cane. That's points one and two.

Next, he took all of two minutes to choose the Canes over a lot of other big name schools.

Given a choice, I would take an out-of-state kid who really wants to be a Cane over a guy who only wants to play with hats on ESPN and says UM is among my top three choices...!!!

Canesfan

JOHN

i agree with you ,the kid wants to be a CANE !!!!!.....welcome to the U!!

JohnYonko

Thanks Canesfan - It makes my night when someone of distinction agrees with me.

JO JO

Hey Johnny ...I agree with you too buddy.Only wish we got at least 1 decent DT.THAT has been breaking my heart and the pain never goes away.THAT and knowing we did not get a new DC.I d love and look so forward to the NEW season but knowing "THAT" guy is still coaching the defense keeps me very depressed constantly.....24/7.Just can t seem to get over it.

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