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31 posts from January 2014

January 21, 2014

Determined Dion Jordan formulates plan; Dolphins, Heat, Canes, Marlins chatter


Dion Jordan’s name has come up a lot early this offseason because he was the poster child for disagreement between the Dolphins front office (which thought the third overall pick should play more) and the coaching staff (which didn’t).

As it turned out, only three non-injured rookie first-round picks logged fewer snaps than Jordan, and all three (Bjoern Werner, Datone Jones and Sylvester Williams) were selected between 24th and 28th. But Jordan blames nobody; instead, he points the finger at himself.

“I need to get stronger, and I’ve got to add to my repertoire,” he said in a private moment recently. “I’m a speed rusher. I have to find a way to get around the edge. This offseason, I need to get much better. And I’ve got to get better with my understanding of the game.”

After producing just two sacks, Jordan has devised a multi-pronged offseason plan to try to become the player the Dolphins expect. That includes:

### Adding a third pass rush move. He already has a speed move and an up-and-under move, according to defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers. But Rodgers said he needs a “long arm move. Jason Taylor had that.”

Jordan agrees. He plans to meet with Taylor and add elements from JT's game. “I want to pick his brain,” Jordan said. “Watching his film is a project for me this offseason. I’ve got to continue to develop moves.”

He also plans to work with Cameron Wake on pass rush mechanics and will study tape of “Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Jared Allen, guys with my body type and speed.”

Jordan, who had 26 tackles, had a sack in the opener but just one after that, in Week 12 against Carolina. And in five December games, he had no sacks and just three hurries in 61 snaps when he rushed the quarterback.

Overall as a rookie, he had four hits and 18 hurries on the 205 occasions he rushed the passer, and his ratio of one sack per 102.5 pass-rush chances was well below Wake (1 every 49) and Olivier Vernon (1 every 46).

### He will hit the weight room hard to “put on more muscle mass. But I want to do it while keeping my speed.” Jordan came out of Oregon at 244 pounds, played at 260 this past season and believes 265 “would be legit for me. Getting stronger will help me push the pocket and play the run.”

### He will do sprint work to improve his speed (already a strength) and will spend a few weeks training in martial arts at MMA Athletics, the Los Angeles-based facility run by Fox NFL insider Jay Glazer.

“The martial arts helps with hand-eye coordination, leverage, teaches you how to be aggressive with your hands,” said Jordan, who worked with MMA Athletics last spring.

Jordan ended up playing 338 snaps. He logged 87 against the run --- though it’s not his strength, it’s “better than you think,” Rodgers said --- and he graded out 31st of 52 defensive ends in a 4-3 defense against the run, according to Pro Football Focus.

He played 46 snaps in pass coverage, allowing two of three passes thrown against him to be completed, for 19 yards, but bottled up New England’s Rob Gronkowski on one play.

Though some evaluators believe he is best suited for outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, the Dolphins appear likely to leave him at defensive end in their 4-3 instead of having him compete with Koa Misi at outside linebacker, because they value Misi against the run. The challenge will be figuring out how to create more playing time for him, barring injuries to Wake or Vernon.

“I’d like to be part of the group playing the run,” he said. “But I will be out there more eventually. There’s no need to feel I need so much so soon. Everything takes time.”

His teammates remain bullish. “The sky is the limit for him --– his speed and size are pretty phenomenal,” tackle Tyson Clabo said.


### Dolphins owner Stephen Ross already has said that the new GM, whenever hired, will report to him. But an unnamed candidate for the job told The National Football Post: "Maybe they’re waiting for the second interview to lay it all out, but they were completely non-committal about how it was going to work. I honestly don’t know if you answer to the owner or to (vice president of football administration) Dawn Aponte. It’s all really unclear.”

The GM, Aponte and Joe Philbin might all report to Ross. 

"If you have three people all at the same level, you’re going to have one taking sides and that’s going to create problems,” a candidate told The National Football Post. “You just don’t know what you’re walking into at this point.

"If you’re going to take that job, you’re going to want some protection because if they fire Philbin after next season, they could bring in some experienced head coach or a guy from college and they’re going to want a lot of control."

### Besides being open to possibly adding another big man (perhaps Andrew Bynum), the Heat also has interest in potentially adding a skilled perimeter defender if a cheap, good one shakes free, according to a team that has spoken to the Heat.

### In a year, the Heat has gone from historically good in the clutch to below average. Last season, Miami outscored teams by 131 points in 176 minutes in the last five minutes of games with a margin of five points or fewer, and went 32-8 in those games.

This season, the Heat entered Tuesday having been outscored by nine points during those clutch minutes (12th-worst), with a record of 13-9 in those games. But Miami outscored Boston, 11-4, in clutch time in Tuesday's win.

LeBron James generally has been very good late in those tight games this season (53 percent clutch shooting) and he scored nine in clutch time Tuesday. But Ray Allen, who hit the most meaningful clutch shot in Heat history in the Finals, is shooting 4 for 14 in the clutch this season, and Mario Chalmers 4 for 16.

### Please see the last post for a lot more Heat notes from Tuesday night.

### UM coach Jim Larranaga tells us that an NBA team that changed coaches within the past year reached out to him last year to gauge his interest in their coaching job, but he said he told that team he loves Miami and has no intention of leaving. With Duke visiting Wednesday (Dick Vitale will be on the call for ESPN2), Larranaga and his staff so far have extracted the most anyone could expect from a team that lost its top six scorers, has very little depth and is limited offensively.

“This year has been tremendous fun for me,” he said Tuesday, with UM ninth in the country in scoring defense at 59.6 per game. “Every player [on this team] has challenges to overcome” –-- from freshman Davon Reed learning point guard to Belgian freshman Manu Lecomte “crossing the Atlantic…. All of them have pleasantly surprised me…. We’re fighting for survival, trying to figure out ways to overcome our limitations, mostly from… lack of experience.”

### Booker T. Washington defensive end Chad Thomas, UM's only five-star oral commitment, told our Safid Deen that he will visit FSU and Alabama" because he's "making sure I'm picking the right school" but remains "100 percent committed to Miami."

### UM, which continues to explore adding a big-bodied running back, on Tuesday visited 6-3, 212-pound Solomon Hunter, according to Hunter. He's a two-star prospect who, according to rivals.com, has offers only from Sam Houston State and Houston Baptist but has drawn interest from several major schools.... UM also started recruiting another two-star prospect this week: Mississippi-based defensive end Darrius Liggins, a former Mississippi State oral commitment who had eight sacks last season. He told canesport.com that Miami asked him to visit late this month but Liggins isn't sure; he first wants to see how his visit to Louisiana-Lafeyette goes.

### Looking for a right-handed hitting backup outfielder, the Marlins have interest in free agent Jeff Baker, 32, who also can play three infield positions and hit .279 with 11 homers and 21 RBI for Texas last season. They also have discussed Vernon Wells, 35, who batted .233 with 11 homers and 50 RBI for the Yankees in 2013 and was designated for assignment last week.

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

LeBron says dealing with uncertainty of Wade's status has been tough; Heat notes

Some Tuesday Heat notes:

### With Dwyane Wade missing his third consecutive game to rest his knees (against Boston Tuesday), LeBron James said Tuesday that it has been difficult establishing a collective rhythm amid the uncertainty about whether Wade would be available from game to game.

“It’s tough,” James said. “Guys think it’s easy, but it’s tough. We have a team built on chemistry, built on rhythm. With so many of the guys being in and out, and the concern with D-Wade, it’s been tough on all of us. We’ve got to go in with the mindset sometimes that he’s not playing, as opposed to: Is he playing?”

Wade has missed 12 games, but this marked the first time he has skipped three in a row. He admitted feeling “a little soreness” in the knees on Monday but wasn’t available to speak before Tuesday’s game. One of the games Wade missed earlier in the season was because of flu, with “rest” listed as the reason for the 11 other absences.

“What we try to do is not predetermine and have expectations about it,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You can’t predict it. You’re going to have some good days and some days where you don’t feel great. We know as long as we stick to the routine, he should get better, quicker and stronger. Now that we’re at home we can get back on the routine of strength training and conditioning.”

Ray Allen said “there’s no concern” about Wade’s knees because “he’s not injured. Nothing has happened where it’s sidelined him for a long period of time. It’s management of his body.”

But the Heat has played worse without Wade than it has in previous years since James joined the team. Miami entered Tuesday with a 5-6 record without Wade, compared with 11-2 last season and 14-3 in 2011-12.

“We’ve had a little more guys out than just Dwyane this year,” James said. “From a rhythm standpoint, it’s kind of hurt us. We’re a team that is built on rhythm and chemistry, and we’ve had so many guys out with injuries that it’s kind of hurt our performance.

“Me watching the film, some of the things we’ve been able to cover in the past is off. Last year, when D-Wade went out, we had Mike Miller to step in. Mike Miller was in the system for a while, so we could automatically fill that void. Now, with D-Wade out, it’s given more opportunities to guys that haven’t been in the system as many years or as many situations as Mike Miller.”


### New Heat combo guard Toney Douglas, who had been training in Miami for several days since last Wednesday’s trade with Golden State and Boston, joined his teammates for Tuesday afternoon’s walkthrough and said he was pleased with the deal because “it’s rare to come to a championship team.”

Douglas, who was on the inactive list Tuesday, said he has spoken with Heat president Pat Riley twice since the trade and “he told me they liked me, been on their radar for a long time and to do what I do best.”

Douglas, who averaged 3.7 points for Golden State, said the priority is picking up the Heat’s defensive schemes. “I pick up things well,” he said. “My mentality when I step on the floor is defensive-minded. I love to disrupt an opponent…. I’m here to get better and make an impact.”

### Michael Beasley entered Tuesday have playing just seven, two, six and three minutes over the previous four games, but Spoelstra did not answer directly when asked if there has been slippage in his game.

“That’s not an indictment on Michael,” Spoelstra said. “We’ve given up 120 points. I think we’re all at fault, including the staff.”

### Celtics coach Brad Stevens said before the game that the fact Joel Anthony, acquired from the Heat last week, knows the Heat’s play calls is “a benefit” but shouldn’t be overstated.

### Mario Chalmers received a warning, but not a fine, for violating the NBA’s anti-flopping rule against Atlanta.

### As an example of how Spoelstra trusts his players more than he did early in the Big Three era, James noted: “We’ve had two games this year where he’s allowed guys to change a play late in the game. I was one of them. [Bosh] was the other.”

January 20, 2014

10 p.m. update: Heat growing frustrated; Kaaya "all set" with UM; Canes notes

Notes on a Monday, updated after the Heat game and with additional info, at 10 p.m., on UM oral commitment Brad Kaaya:

### Frustration is growing after another unacceptable Heat defensive effort in Monday's 121-114 loss at Atlanta. Miami allowed 71 points in the first half and gave up at least 120 points for the second time this season.

"A through Z, there wasn't a lot of pride on that side of the court," Erik Spoelstra said. "It's about the habits and commitment on that side of the court. We have to decide where we want to go defensively. We have to defend the way we're capable of, where it's five guys committed."

The Heat went 2-4 on this road trip (with a detour home after two games) and allowed 64 points, on average, in the past four first halves.

"I can't just pinpoint what it is," LeBron James said of the defense. "It's a little bit of everything. At some point, we have to figure it out. It's not good basketball right now. We didn't have the effort for 48 minutes."

Troubling: The Hawks shot 52 percent against a Heat team that ranks 20th in field goal percentage against.

"We have to stop talking about it and get it done," Chris Bosh said. "You're not going to have the necessary intensity it takes every game every season. But you want to have it as much as possible. We have to correct our mistakes and be men.... Defensively, we're not ready to play."

So the Heat --- which played without Dwyane Wade tonight --- reaches the halfway point at 29-12. Miami was 28-13 at the midway point last season, then enjoyed a second half that featured a 27-game winning streak.

An Atlanta reporter asked Bosh if it's time for the Heat to panic. "Why would we be panicked?" he  said. "We're second place in the East. If you're panicked, you're an idiot."

Is the team tired? "It's January - everybody's exhausted," Bosh said. "It's not an excuse. You have to bring the energy necessary."

### The Heat, which went 11-2 without Wade last season, is 5-6 without him this season.

### This was only the second game in Heat history in which both teams scored at least 70 points in the first half. (The other was in 1990 against Boston.) Miami trailed 71-70 at intermission on Monday.

### The Heat is winning fewer blowouts this season, and this illustrates it: Last year, the Heat had four players in the top nine in the NBA in plus/minus, with James ranking No. 1. The Heat outscored teams by 720 with James in the game.

This season, the Heat has nobody in the top 10. Bosh is 15th (plus 242), James 30th and Dwyane Wade 41st.

Every Heat player has a positive plus/minus except Udonis Haslem, who’s a dreadful -114. In the second half Monday, Spoelstra again opted for Haslem over Michael Beasley, who played just three minutes overall.

Toney Douglas, acquired from Golden State last week, remains back in South Florida working out. Douglas, by the way, had a minus-80 plus/minus with the Warriors this season.

###  UM helped itself this past weekend with key oral commitment Brad Kaaya, who’s such a priority that Al Golden visited with him last Thursday in California, even though he knew he would see him over the weekend in Coral Gables.

“Miami official visit went great,” Kaaya tweeted today. “Got to meet president Shalala. Very compassionate individual.”

Later in the day, he told CaneInsight.com: “I’m all set. I’m still visiting Boise State just because I feel like I’ve earned the right to do that and take these free trips that they give you, but I’m set with Miami. The coaches and everything about this team are the perfect fit. There’s not a better setup for myself than Miami....

“For me, there couldn’t be more of a perfect picture set for me. They will give me the chance to compete for a national title and go into a situation where everything isn’t biscuits and gravy like Alabama or these SEC schools that are winning championship after championship. Just going into it with this staff is a great opportunity for me and there’s no other place I’d rather work for it at than Miami.”

Georgia-based tight end Christopher Herndon, a UM oral commitment, told Canesport.com that Kaaya “said he’s fully committed, isn’t thinking about anywhere else.”

Meanwhile, Kaaya’s high-school teammate, 6-5 receiver Brayden Lenius, will visit UM Jan. 31 and also is considering Washington State and Minnesota. He told Rivals.com that the three schools are “pretty even” but then said that having Kaaya committed gives UM a “little bit of an edge.”

Kaaya told Caneinsight.com: "He tells me all the time that he wants to play with me at the next level and that’s the biggest thing for him. He said if I’m at Miami then he wants to be at Miami.”

### Four-star safety Arrion Springs reportedly was the only player who wasn’t a UM oral commitment that visited UM's campus over the weekend. He’s considered a solid Oregon commitment.

### We mentioned last week that UM sees South Dade three-star receiver Tyre Brady as a faster version of Allen Hurns. He told Canesport.com today that UM coaches “are going to use me on kick returns, as a deep threat, like Allen Hurns.”

### It’s a big week for departing UM quarterback Stephen Morris, who’s trying to raise his draft stock at the Senior Bowl. Here’s how ESPN.com’s Scouts Inc. (Todd McShay and others) rated him:

Positives: Quick release. NFL arm. Can squeeze ball into tight windows down the field. Can drive ball vertically. When healthy, shows escapability in pocket and above-average mobility. Resilient. Mentally and physically tough. Can throw accurately on the run to both sides. Hard worker. 

Negatives: Lean frame. Durability issues. Inconsistent accuracy. Doesn't always sense backside pressure. Takes too many chances downfield. Too many turnovers.

ESPN says “Morris needs to show more consistency with footwork and ball placement as a passer.”

January 18, 2014

Concerns raised about Philbin, Dolphins' coaching staff; Fins, Heat, UM, Marlins chatter


So why is Dolphins owner Stephen Ross keeping Joe Philbin after ditching Jeff Ireland and Mike Sherman, rather than letting the new general manager pick the coach? Ross respects Philbin’s integrity, his organizational skills, the way he carries himself.

And some of Ross’ closest associates, including Carl Peterson, have told him that Philbin is not the problem. And there’s this: Ireland had the larger body of underwhelming work; Philbin --- who has multiple years left on his contract --- has had four fewer years to fail.

But if Ross polled a wide range of players and others for feedback about Philbin and this coaching staff, he would get mixed reviews. He also would be confronted with this question: What special skill does Philbin bring to the job?

“There’s not great respect for the coaching staff there,” said a close associate of several Dolphins players.

“Criticism of the coaches is consistent with everyone I talk to on the team,” said another associate. “You have some assistants who weren’t experienced or comfortable in their jobs. Some players said they didn’t learn much. It’s pretty disconcerting.”

And… “There’s not a lot of great teaching there,” said another close associate who speaks regularly with several Dolphins.

Let’s be clear: There are some coaches on this staff who do good work and are deserving of their jobs, including Kacy Rodgers (defensive line) and Darren Rizzi (special teams). Tight ends coach Dan Campbell has done a commendable job with Charles Clay.

Dolphins players generally like defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, but some believe Rodgers should be the coordinator, and the front office was unhappy Coyle didn’t find more ways to use Dion Jordan.

But this is troubling: One offensive player said he hasn’t learned a single thing from his position coach. Another who has been on the team during Philbin’s tenure said the assistant receiver’s coach, Phil McGeoghan, does a much better job than receivers coach Ken O’Keefe, and questioned O’Keefe’s acumen for the job. (O’Keefe previously was the offensive coordinator at Iowa and worked three years with Philbin there.)

O’Keefe, like several of Philbin’s hires, had a personal connection to Philbin, which made him appealing despite not having any NFL experience. Aside from coordinators, nine of the 12 coaches that Philbin has hired had never worked in the NFL.

One of the three who did, linebackers coach George Edwards, left for the Vikings last week and didn’t exactly get the most from his players here. And now Philbin has subtracted his most experienced coach in Sherman, whose work also drew criticism from players.

As for Philbin, a lot of players like him personally. What you don’t hear are words such as "innovative" or "dynamic leader."

One player complained that teams take on the personality of their coach and said because Philbin is flat and unemotional, the team too often plays like that. That has become a serious concern, but it goes beyond Philbin’s lack of motivational skills. Another said his personality better fits a coordinator.

“Players don’t see him as a really good X’s and O’s guy,” said one of the players’ close associates. “He’s just an organizational guy who’s on top of the scheduling and planning.”

A prominent network analyst who asked not to be named said Ross was fooled if he thought he was getting an offensive savant in Philbin. “His background is offensive line,” the analyst said, adding that Philbin wasn’t the coach primarily developing Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. (And we all know how this offensive line turned out.)

When asked last year what he likes about a particular player (Chris Clemons), Philbin said: “He keeps his mouth [shut].”

That philosophy is why Philbin either wanted to dump or was perfectly fine with losing productive players who spoke out, from Brandon Marshall to Reggie Bush to Karlos Dansby – all of whom were highly productive elsewhere. Ireland, of course, also had a major part in this.

There are some people in the Dolphins front office who see the deficiencies in Philbin and this staff, but Ross believes Philbin is part of the solution.

Regardless of whether Philbin survives beyond 2014, the GM and the coaching staff must have more of a common vision of players and how to use them.

“There was a huge disconnect between the coaches and management,” said one person who spoke several times to Ireland. “Jeff was frustrated. He thought his rookies should be on the field more.”

Instead, they played less than any rookie class in the league, because the coaches didn’t quite see in them what Ireland did.

Perhaps new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor will infuse some creative ideas. He has been an offensive coordinator only in college (Buffalo and Virginia), but he’s highly-regarded.

Lazor’s offenses at Virginia (2010-12) used a lot of motions, shifts and formations and tried to disguise plays.  

“It’s an offense that takes a lot of time and a lot of work on trying to solve the puzzle,” former Auburn coach Gene Chizik said during Lazor’s tenure at Virginia. “It’s very problematic in a lot of ways because you have to limit what you can do [defensively].”

Iowa assistant Jim Reid, Virginia’s defensive coordinator during Lazor’s tenure there, said the offshoot of Lazor’s disguises and formations is “it’s hard to get a beat on how you would like to blitz them.”

At Virginia, Lazor said: “Teams know we’re going to run the power play. We just don’t want to make it look like the power play.” (Or, presumably, say "go-go" before running plays.)

Lazor ran a pro-style offense at Virginia but has considerable experience in the West Coast offense with Chip Kelly and earlier with Mike Holmgren.

By the way, Philbin hasn't completely ruled out additional staff changes, according to an associate. Offensive line coach Jim Turner's status could be impacted by Ted Wells' report on the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito scandal.


### CBS' Jason LaCanfora reported Saturday night that candidates for the Dolphins general manager job have been kept in the dark and that Ross is now headed to London for a week and then China. He said some teams who have candidates up for the job aren't happy how slowly the process is going.

### Though Philbin had interest in former Texans coach Gary Kubiak for the Dolphins' offensive coordinator job before hiring Lazor, an associate said Kubiak has told people he doesn’t plan to coach next season.

### Browns receiver Davone Bess’ peculiar behavior in his final months as a Dolphin, as detailed in Saturday’s Herald, also included firing and re-hiring his agent, and asking for a trade than then retracting that request, according to an associate.

### There are mixed views inside the Heat about whether to pursue center Andrew Bynum. Miami has considered it, and it hasn’t been ruled out. But one Heat official said there are be concerns about how it would affect Greg Oden, who has done everything the Heat has asked, because Miami wants to give him minutes.

This is not the same Bynum who played for the Lakers. Before being released, Bynum had the second-lowest shooting percentage among 60 NBA center (41.9), was in the bottom third in rebounds-per-48 minutes, and the Cavaliers were outscored by 127 with Bynum on the court.

### Bynum would make sense only if Oden has a setback or struggles, or if the Heat decides to play a lot of the game with a true center (Oden, Chris Andersen or Bynum) and Chris Bosh at power forward. Heading into the weekend, a lineup with Bosh and Andersen had outscored teams by 43 in 89 minutes and was shooting five percentage points better and rebounding much better than the Heat does overall.

Conversely, before playing well in Philadelphia Friday, the regular starting lineup (featuring Shane Battier at power forward) has been outscored since the start of December when playing together.

“But if you go big, you really lack the offensive flow Battier gives them,” TNT’s Steve Kerr said off the air.

Small-ball, which leaves Miami vulnerable on the boards, works only if the Heat is defending effectively (it hadn’t been, entering the weekend) and shooting well. And Battier (40.9) and Ray Allen (42.1) each have shot three percentage points below their career averages.

### Mario Cristobal, who angered a bunch of people at UM when he bolted after less than two months on Al Golden's staff to take a job with Alabama, continues to spend time and energy trying to flip UM oral commitments. The latest: Chad Thomas, UM's highest-rated prospect. Thomas, rated the nation's No. 1 defensive end, said he's mulling whether to visit Alabama and also has been considering a visit to FSU. But he remains orally commited to Miami..

Three-star defensive tackle Lamont Galliard, a Georgia oral commitment, reportedly will visit Miami.... Three-star Tampa-based receiver/cornerback Deiondre Porter decommitted from USF and is considering UM, Rutgers, Georgia, UF and UCF. He's scheduled to visit UM on Jan. 31... Running back Kameron McKnight, a 6-2, 220-pound three-star prospect from Jackson, La., told rivals.com he's considering a UM offer. UM has been looking for a big back in this class, to complement the smaller, quicker four-star prospect, Joseph Yearby.

### Barring further moves, the Marlins' payroll will end up around $45 million, including $7 million still due the Diamondbacks in the Heath Bell trade. The Marlins began last season with a payroll of $48.6 million, but $12.5 million of that was for players who weren't on the team. So this year's on-field payroll will be slightly higher, but still among the lowest in baseball. 

### Twitter: flasportsbuzz      

January 17, 2014

Luke Campbell NCAA violation/UM fallout; Dolphins GM, Heat and broadcast notes

A six-pack of notes on a Friday night:

### UM said it might need to self-report a secondary NCAA violation committed when the mother of quarterback/UM oral commitment Brad Kaaya on Friday asked former rapper Luther Campbell to take pictures with them during Kaaya’s campus visit. But it wouldn’t jeopardize Kaaya’s eligibility if he ends up enrolling at UM.

It’s a violation because only school staff members and faculty are allowed to have contact with a recruit during an official visit.

A staffer witnessed the exchange and told UM associate athletic director Craig Anderson, who asked Campbell to leave. But UM said contrary to Campbell’s tweet, he wasn’t permanently banned from campus.

Campbell, who took the pictures with Kaaya and his mother, said on WINZ-940 that Kaaya told him he will visit UCLA and that he was “thinking about coming to Miami."

Campbell told Kaaya that offensive coordinator James Coley “is a great guy” and also mentioned Michael Irvin to Kaaya, hoping that would help Miami’s chances of landing him.

“I had a great conversation with the people there [at Miami],” Campbell tweeted tonight. “Time to move on.”

He also said “everything is cool with me [and] Miami.”

Campbell, who has criticized Al Golden in the past, has an unresolved defamation suit against Nevin Shapiro. Campbell previously was an assistant coach at Miami Northwestern High.

### Louisville, which has done as well recruiting South Florida as any school outside the state, is adding two familiar faces to new coach Bobby Petrino’s coaching staff: former Canes receiver Lamar Thomas (according to Thomas) and former Dolphins and FSU defensive back Terrell Buckley.

### Erik Spoelstra opted not to play Michael Beasley until the final 2:28 of tonight's win in Philadelphia and didn't play Greg Oden at all, even though he was available. Beasley entered having made only 6 of his last 22 shots over four games. Oden could be helpful Saturday against Charlotte's Al Jefferson…. Dwyane Wade said he won't play Saturday... Even as the Heat got back on track, Ray Allen’s slump continued. With a 1 for 7 night, he’s 9 for his last 52. "That's the least of our worries," Spoelstra said... Please see the last post for a comprehensive look at major looming issues for the Heat.

### Having interviewed seven candidates for their general manager job, the Dolphins are now in the process of cutting that list to two or three. Browns assistant general manager Ray Farmer will be one of the finalists, NFL Network reported tonight. Farmer impressed the Dolphins during his interview and Carl Peterson, who is advising Stephen Ross on the search, is a big fan of Farmer’s work, having worked with him in Kansas City.

CBS' Jason LaCanfora says Farmer "will probably be the guy hired." But Tampa Bay's Dennis Hickey also impressed the Dolphins during his interview Friday, as our Armando Salguero noted.

### The NFL has invited the major over-the-air networks, ESPN and Turner to bid on a partial or full Thursday night package for next season. The games reportedly would likely be simulcast on NFL Network, which has carried the Thursday night package the past several years.

ABC (out of the NFL business for several years), CBS, NBC, Fox and Turner reportedly are all expected to bid. Turner is considered a long shot, because the NFL is said to prefer a non-cable partner.

### Tim Brando, CBS’ long-time college football studio host, is leaving the network to pursue other opportunities. Brando’s exit follows CBS Sports Network’s decision to no longer simulcast his radio show. 

January 16, 2014

Exploring looming challenges of keeping Heat together; Fins, Marlins, Canes chatter


This week's trade of Joel Anthony somewhat eases the Heat’s luxury-tax hit, but serious financial constraints await this summer, especially if the Big Three doesn’t wish to again play at a discount.

Even in unloading the $3.8 million that Anthony was due next season, the Heat likely will need to surround LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh mostly with minimum salary players next season to avoid an overwhelming tax hit, unless Wade and Bosh take significant pay cuts. And a pay cut is difficult to envision in Bosh’s case and questionable in Wade’s case, considering he already has sacrificed significantly and has pocketed less than James and Bosh each of the past three seasons, as well as this one.

Some points to consider:

### James and Bosh would make $20.59 million next season if they don’t exercise opt-out clauses in July. If they opt out, the most they could earn next season likely would be slightly less --- $20.56 million, NBA salary cap expert Larry Coon tells us. The point of opting out, in that case, would be to sign a multiyear contract or consider other teams.

By opting out, all three would be eligible to receive five years and 7.5 percent annual raises from the Heat, compared with four years and 4.5 percent raises from another team. So James could earn more by staying here.

Wade, who turns 32 on Friday, would make $20.04 million if he doesn’t opt out. He could theoretically make slightly more if he opts out. But if he chooses free agency, it’s safe to assume he wouldn’t be getting a raise. Instead, he likely would be taking less money in exchange for more years.

Remember that the original contracts signed by the Big Three were six-year deals, with opt-out clauses after the fourth and fifth years, meaning the next two summers. None has definitively said if they will opt out.

### Next season’s projected cap is $62.1 million and projected tax threshold is $75.7 million. So let’s say the Big Three stays in Miami at the salaries they are due to earn next season in their current contracts. That would add up to $61 million.

Throw in the $2.15 million due Norris Cole, $4.6 million for Udonis Haslem (who assuredly won’t opt out) and $1.6 million for Chris Andersen (who probably won’t opt out, either), and that’s $69.57 million.

And Miami would still have nine roster spots to fill, which would put it over the tax threshold. (Pat Riley said Wednesday he doesn’t want to discuss next season’s luxury tax issues with the media, at least not now.)

But let’s say Wade and Bosh each settle for $18 million next season. That would bring the payroll down to $65 million. Finding a team to take the last year of Haslem’s contract (difficult) would drop it close to $60 million if Miami doesn't take back anything but an expiring contract.

That would make it easier for Miami to re-sign Mario Chalmers and/or use its taxpayer mid-level exception (which will be $3.27 million) and/or use its $2.2 million trade exception without sustaining a crushing tax hit.

### If Wade and Bosh don’t agree to take less, then the nine remaining roster spots likely would be filled with mostly or all minimum contracts, with the Heat likely hoping to persuade Greg Oden (if healthy and productive) and perhaps Michael Beasley to sign minimum deals again.

Shane Battier and Ray Allen said they haven’t decided whether they will play next season. Re-signing Chalmers --- who’s earning $4 million now and might command a raise this summer --- would be very painful financially in this scenario.

Young players could fill a couple spots, perhaps forward James Ennis (who's playing in Australia) and the Heat’s first-round pick this June.

And the Heat again would try to find veteran free agents who have earned a lot in their careers and ask them to take the minimum here.

Impending free agents who could fall into that category include Paul Pierce (hard to envision him playing here at the minimum, but then again, Ray Allen did), Kris Humphries, Shawn Marion, Antawn Jamison, Chris Kaman, Caron Butler, Kirk Hinrich, Marvin Williams, Boris Diaw and Al Harrington, among others.

By the way, the tax hit on signing a 10-year veteran at the $1.4 million minimum is $500,000 below the $1.4 million, but only if it’s a one-year contract. That makes signing players to the minimum even more appealing for teams hoping to avoid a tax hit.

### The tax is a big deal to the Heat because it becomes a lot more punitive next season. Because the Heat was a tax-paying team the past two seasons and this one, Miami will have to pay a repeater tax next season, combined with the regular tax.

Bottom line: If the Heat is $4 million over the tax threshold next season, its tax bill would be $10 million. If the Heat is $10 million over, the tax bill would top $26 million.


### How badly has the Heat's defense fallen off? This is pretty alarming: The Heat has dropped to 23rd in field-goal percentage against (46.1) after finishing second, fifth and sixth in the first three years of the Big Three Era.

What's more, Miami has been in the top 10 in this category all but twice in the past 14 years, and only once below 13th: The 15-67 team in 2007-08 was 25th.

Who’s to blame? Synergysports.com, which analyzes every play, rates two Heat players as poor defensively this season: Allen and Haslem, who has allowed opponents to shoot an incredible 37 of 59 against him. Three rotation players were rated average, based on points allowed per possession: Wade and Battier (who were both graded as “very good” last season) and Rashard Lewis.

### Among uncommitted players, the most highly-regarded prospects being pursued by UM are the nation’s No. 1 receiver, Louisiana-based Malachi Dupre (ESPN's Jeremy Crabtree told me he will visit UM this weekend but “most believe he’s LSU bound”) and Hialeah Champagnat defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (LSU is his leader, but Miami is very much in it).

### Three-star Jacksonville receiver Isaiah Ford, who wants to play both football and basketball, reportedly plans to visit Miami after attracting recent interest. Louisville, South Carolina and Virginia Tech are among others under consideration... UM needs all the quality linebackers it can get, so the Hurricanes have some reason for concern that Pompano Beach Ely prospect/UM oral commitment Terry McCray plans to visit Alabama and LSU. McCray can play inside linebacker (a big need area for UM) as well as outside linebacker.... Several UM coaches on Thursday visited four-star Imokalee cornerback JC Jackson, a soft UF oral commitment who also is considering Miami and FSU.

### Please see the last post for more UM recruiting news from Thursday.

### Expect more balance from new Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor than what we saw from predecessor Mike Sherman. The Dolphins ran on just 35 percent of their offensive snaps in 2013. In his most recent coordinator job, at Virginia from 2010 to 2012, Lazor’s teams ran 49 percent, 53 percent and 47 percent of the time.

Virginia’s offense improved after Lazor arrived but still finished only 73rd, 86th and 95th (of 120 to 124 schools) in scoring in his three years there, averaging between 23 and 25 points each season.

### Minnesota Vikings assistant general manager George Paton, who previously worked in the Dolphins' front office, reportedly became the fourth person to decline an opportunity to interview for Miami's GM job.

### Three Marlins have filed for arbitration but are trying to avoid going, ideally: Giancarlo Stanton, Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn, with a 1 p.m. Friday deadline looming. (The Marlins stop negotiations after that deadline.)

Cishek ended the season with an MLB-high 29 consecutive save conversions, and his agent said there’s a “wide gap with where we and the Marlins see Steve’s value.” He could end up making more than $3 million in arbitration.

Stanton could make $5 million or so if he goes to arbitration. He won't be a free agent until after the 2016 season. [Update: Stanton settled with Marlins for $6.5 million, Cishek for $3.8 million].


January 15, 2014

1 p.m. UM update; Kiper mock draft; Lazor philosophy; Oden reax; LeBron on state of team; New UM offers

1 p.m. update: Today was the first day coaches could speak with recruits in several weeks, and UM coach Al Golden and recruiting coordinator/receivers coach Brennan Carroll traveled across country to Chaminade High in West Hills, Cal., the school of quarterback Brad Kaaya, a UM oral commitment. UM is trying to stave off UCLA and Boise and hold on to Kaaya, rated the 10th-best quarterback in the country.

Chaminade coach Ed Croson said he expects Kaaya will sign with Miami but also said UCLA and Boise "have a shot at him." Kaaya met with Golden and Carroll for breakfast, and Kaaya reportedly is expected to visit Miami this weekend.

Also, Croson said Golden was scheduled to meet today with senior receiver Brayden Lenius, who's very close with Kaaya. Though he's rated only a two-star prospect by rivals.com, Croson said Lenius is much better than that.

"He's 6-5, has great hands, faster than you can imagine," Croson said. "He went up against the No. 1 rated cornerback in the country, Adoree' Jackson, and beat him deep and drew two holding penalties."

Would luring Croson help Miami's chances with Kaaya? Croson said yes. "That would be a good ploy," he said. "Make sure his buddy is happy."

But Croson emphasized that Lenius can "stand on his own" as a prospect. Lenius has drawn interest from UCLA, Minnesota, Washington State and others.

UM also is recruiting two other Chaminade players --- sophomore receiver Diamond Lee and junior defensive tackle Bar Milo.


Dolphins, Heat and Canes items late on a Wednesday night:

### Mock drafts this early should be taken with a grain of salt (or pepper). As Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith noted today, the player who was No. 2 in Mel Kiper’s mock draft last January (Damontre Moore) ended up being drafted 81st last April.

That said, for those curious, Kiper’s first mock draft has Miami using the 19th overall pick to select Alabama left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, who struggled in the Sugar Bowl. “While he had inconsistencies at the position, he also has the physical tools of a potentially dominant NFL starter at left tackle,” Kiper said.

### The five players Kiper slotted before Kouandjio: FSU defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix, North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton Dix and USC receiver Marqise Lee.

The five players Kiper has going after Kouandjio: Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin, Louisville safety Calvin Pryor, FSU receiver Kelvin Benjamin, Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt and Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard.... By the way, Kiper has Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel going first to Houston, and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater eighth to Minnesota.... For a lot more on the draft, please see our post from Saturday night.

### Some insight on the new Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s approach as a coach, as shared with Philadelphia media in November:

“We really don’t focus on the stats. Ever,” said Lazor, a former standout quarterback at Cornell who earned praise for his work with Nick Foles as the Eagles’ quarterback coach this past season.

“We just focus on, ‘How did you play?’ We grade on accuracy, not on if it was a completion but if it was in exactly in the right spot. And when the guys in the room are doing it with you and they buy into it – ‘Yeah coach, I should do better than that’ -- you have a chance to keep getting better.

“We focus on: ‘Was the ball one foot in front of the numbers on a crossing route so we can catch it on the move? On a screen pass, was it right on the running back’s front shoulder pad, so he can catch it and turn it right up?”

Lazor, who said today he's excited to work with Ryan Tannehill, said in November: "What you want out of your quarterback is a guy who takes that [bad play], internalizes it, understands it, and that's a part of his
library on that play, and if it comes up again, [he's] not going to make that mistake again."

### NFL Network reported late tonight that the Dolphins have reached out to Vikings GM George Paton about their GM opening, but it's unclear if he will interview. (Pro Football Talk reported something similar earlier.) Paton previously worked for the Dolphins. Miami interviewed Detroit executive and former Broncos GM Brian Xanders on Wednesday.

###  Good to see Greg Oden have success in his first regular season game in four years, one month and a week. He finished with six points (including two dunks) and two rebounds in eight minutes of the Heat’s 114-97 loss at Washington. Miami outscored the Wizards by three points with Oden in the game.

Oden said his surgically repaired knees “felt good.”

Though he would loved to have played sooner, he said he was on board with the Heat’s approach of holding him out the first 2 1/2 months “This is the plan and it’s gotten me this far,” he said. "The big thing now is to have that connection with my teammates."

Erik Spoelstra wasn’t sure he would play Oden tonight, but “as soon as we went down 30, we might as well try to reward him for the work he’s put in. You see the size and activity. He’s a skilled player for somebody that big… We’ll have to see how he feels and responds. He’s been very studious. The next step in the plan is see how he feels [Thursday].”

Spoelstra said he started Oden in the second half so he wouldn’t get stiff.

### LeBron James’ take on Oden: “How do you keep getting a dunk in your first attempt? It happened in New Orleans in the preseason and it happened again tonight. He was very good for us. He has no pressure. Whatever he can give us, with his time on the floor, is a plus. He can block shots. He can clog the paint. He can catch and finish.”

### James, on the state of the Heat after Miami’s third straight loss: “Defensively, we’re just not very good right now. There’s no way we can give up 43 points in the first quarter. It just can’t happen. It’s more mental than anything. Don’t know if it’s mental fatigue or lack of focus. We have to figure this out. It’s a good test for us. We love adversity more than anything. The connection defensively is not there right now. I’m a little bit concerned but not that concerned.

“It looks like we’re mentally fatigued when we hit the floor. I don’t know why we love to do this,… where we’re not that good [for a stretch] and we just click. The say it’s the dog days, but you can’t let that seep into your locker-room. You can have these type of moments, but you have to stop it at some point. It seems like we’re just tired.”

### The Heat hadn’t lost three straight since January 2012, a span of 173 games…. Ray Allen remains in a prolonged slump, having missed 38 of his past 45 shots over the last seven games… Also disturbing: The Heat has nine losses against sub-.500 teams, compared with four all of last season…. The Heat felt one short of equaling the 1961 Celtics’ record for most consecutive division wins (23).

### Even with 28 oral commitments (seven of whom are early enrollees), UM has offered scholarships to a few players in recent days, including Cochran, Ga.-based two-star safety Tavon Ross (a soft Missouri oral commitment who also drew an offer from Georgia) and Tampa Jefferson High athlete Deiondre Porter, a USF oral commitment. Porter played quarterback this season and had a state-best 4683 yards and 53 touchdowns combined passing and rushing.

Ross is planning a visit here in two weeks. UM is trying to get Porter to visit.

UM also is making another push for Louisiana-based Malachi Dupre, the nation’s No. 1 ranked receiver, but luring him will be very difficult; dozens of school are after him.

Please check out the last post, if you haven't already, for an in-depth look at UM's oral commitments and early enrollees on offense.

### UM's offense unraveled down the stretch in a 63-53 loss to Florida State, which went on a 13-0 late run before Miami scored the game's final two points. Donnavan Kirk and Rion Brown each scored 21, but the rest of the team shot 4 for 31, with no other Canes player scoring more than four. UM falls to 9-7, 1-3... UM said 1706 students attended, which is a a Bank United Center record. Overall attendance was 7413.

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz  

January 14, 2014

6 p.m. update: Oden in uniform; Heat trade and ramifications; Fins' new OC; Analysis on UM's recruits on offense

6 p.m. update: Center Greg Oden --- who hasn't played in a regular-season game in four years and one month --- will be uniform for the Heat tonight for the first time during the regular season, Pat Riley announced tonight. The Heat plays the Wizards at 7 p.m., and it's unclear if Oden will actually play tonight.

Oden appeared in one preseason game but hadn't play since, as the Heat continued to try to build the strength in his surgically-repaired knees, while also working on his conditioning.

Joel Anthony, traded by the Heat today, said Oden has looked good in 2-on-2 workouts against him. (The Heat hasn't done much 5-on-5 work in recent weeks.)

Oden's agent, Mike Conley Sr., told me last week that Oden was "antsy" to play and thought he could get the go-ahead "at any time."

"At some point, we need to find out," Riley said of Oden.

Riley, speaking to reporters at Verizon Center, said nothing is going on, at the moment, regarding free agent Andrew Bynum, per Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick. But Bynum would be an option if the Heat doesn't like what it sees from Oden, or if he has a setback.

"We've got six weeks until the trade deadline to try to figure this thing out," Riley said of the flexibility created by today's trade of Joel Anthony for Toney Douglas.

### Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen are out for tonight's game. Shane Battier is back.


Noon update: As Yahoo! just reported, that Heat is sending center Joel Anthony to Boston, with veteran point guard Toney Douglas coming to the Heat and Miami relinquishing a lottery-protected first-round pick that it previously acquired from Philadelphia. (That first-rounder becomes two second rounders if the 76ers miss the playoffs this season and next season.)

It's a big win for the Heat from a salary cap/luxury tax standpoint because Miami is purging Anthony's $3.8 million from its books next season. Douglas, the player being acquired, is making $1.6 million this season but will be a free agent after this season.

Anthony's $3.8 million salary next year could have translated into a tax penalty of more than $10 million, potentially more, for the Heat next year under the league's punitive tax system. And that's in addition to Anthony's salary! By eliminating that tax burden, the Heat could feel more comfortable giving a new contract to Mario Chalmers (see our note on that toward the bottom of the column.)

Miami also saves more than $8 million in tax payments this season. 

The deal likely will not open salary cap space for the Heat next summer, presuming Miami can keep the Big Three, but will lower the tax burden, making Miami more willing to use its salary cap exception and perhaps re-sign Chalmers.

Anthony's departure leaves Norris Cole as the only player who has a 2014-15 contract WITHOUT any opt-out clause (at $2.15 million). But realistically, Udonis Haslem likely will exercise the $4.6 million player option on his contract for 2014-15, and Chris Andersen also has a player option for $1.448 million for next season.

Additionally, the Heat's Big Three all have opt out clauses after this season. LeBron James and Chris Bosh would make $20.59 million if they decide not to become free agents next summer, and Dwyane Wade would make $20.04 million.

Douglas, 27, is averaging 3.7 points on 37.2 percent shooting while playing 11 minutes per game for Golden State. In his 4 1/2 NBA seasons, Douglas, 6-2, has averaged 8.1 points and drained 339 three-pointers (on 35.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc). He would figure to become the Heat's third point guard and provide more depth at shooting guard unless Miami releases him to open up a roster spot.

If Miami releases Douglas, free agent center Andrew Bynum would become an option. His agent said last week that the Heat had shown no interest in Bynum. He declined to say today whether that has changed.

A Heat official last week said Miami wasn't pursuing Bynum at the time but would not rule it out. And now, with one big man purged from the roster, it's an issue that could be re-addressed.

By the way, Golden State gets Boston's Marshon Brooks and Jordan Crawford in the three-team trade with the Heat and Celtics.


11 a.m. update: The Dolphins have hired Eagles quarterback coach Bill Lazor as offensive coordinator. The story was first reported by ESPN's Chris Mortensen, a day after ESPN's Ed Werder reported he would be named the Lions' offensive coordinator.

Lazor, 41, has served as an offensive coordinator only twice before, and both times in college: at Buffalo in 2001-02 and at Virginia in 2010-12. The Cavaliers were last in the ACC in offense the year before he arrived and rose to third in his first season on the job.

Last season was his only one in Philadelphia, and Lazor was praised for his work with Nick Foles, who blossomed under his tutelage. 

Lazor's first NFL job was an offensive quality control coach for the Falcons in 2003. He worked four years for the Redsksins, including two as quarterback coach (2006-07). He was Seattle's quarterback coach in 2008 and 2009 before taking the Virginia job.

Lazor -- who likes running the West Coast offense -- played quarterback for Cornell, where he began his coaching career, and was a three-year starter. He's a native of Scranton, Penn.



The Hurricanes’ offensive recruiting class includes a 10-top quarterback, a top-10 running back, an offensive line class that ranks among the best in the country, pretty good receivers –-- but none considered on the level of Stacy Coley --- and no elite tight end.

Chatter on UM’s 12-member offensive class, three weeks from National Signing Day Feb. 5:

### Quarterback: It’s critical that UM hold on to Brad Kaaya, the West Hills (Cal.) prospect who is rated the No. 10 quarterback by Rivals.com and the No. 128 overall prospect by ESPN.

Ed Croson, his coach at Chaminade High, told me Tuesday that he spoke to Kaaya this week “and I think he’s coming to Miami. I think he’s really excited about the coaches there.” But he said UCLA and Boise State still “have a shot at him. It will heat up at the end.”

Will he be surprised if Kaaya doesn't come to UM? "I don't know," Croson said. "Not much surprises me."

Kaaya, who has a very good relationship with UM offensive coordinator James Coley, did not respond to text messages this week about whether he definitely will attend UM and wouldn’t rule out the Bruins in a late December interview with Canesport.com, saying: “I don’t know… Right now, I’m committed to Miami.”

But around the same time, he told another Rivals.com reporter that he plans to stick with Miami, and it was encouraging that he flew from Los Angeles to Orlando merely to watch a UM bowl practice.

Kaaya --- who threw for 3113 yards, 22 touchdowns and five interceptions and completed 62.5 percent of his passes --- said Coley told him that he “has a chance to start right way” if he beats out front-runner Ryan Williams and Kevin Olsen.

ESPN’s Tom Luginbill said Kaaya is similar in some ways to Stephen Morris but “has been blessed with better size [6-4 to 6-2] for the position and has a higher ceiling.”

UM loves his physical tools, decision making and intelligence. Coley --– speaking in general, not about anyone in particular --– has said in the past that he likes tall quarterbacks.

Local recruiting analyst Charles Fishbein, who has watched Kaaya, said he’s “the most talented of any quarterback they’ve brought there since Kyle Wright. He's the NFL style-type quarterback they haven’t had in a while. Big, strong arm. James Coley got on him before anybody else did.”

CBS Sports’ Tom Lemming said “Kaaya wasn’t heavily recruited a few months ago but had a great year. Best quarterback in California.”

UM’s other oral pledge at the position, Mobile (Ala.) Faith Baptist’s Malik Rosier, told Canesport.com that he is 100 percent committed to UM. He completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,798 yards with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions and ran for 1275 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Rosier, who runs a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash but needs to shorten his release, told Canesport.com’s Matt Shodell that he expects to have an immediate role because “I can run. That’s what I bring to the table. Even if I don’t win [the job], I can play on third-and-short in a zone read package to get four or five yards. Coach Coley’s talked to me about that.”

Rosier is ranked the No. 24 dual-threat quarterback by Rivals.com. UM recently offered Booker T. Washington’s four-star Treon Harris, rated the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback, and his father, Booker T. coach Tim Harris, told me this week that Treon will visit UM and “the interest is there” from both parties. But… “FSU has the [leg] up on everything because they’ve been through the process the longest.”

UM had offered Harris a scholarship as "an athlete" in the past, but the difference in the new offer is that UM would be willing to allow him to play quarterback, which is his preference. He also would be a quarterback at FSU.

Harris threw for 2159 yards and 28 touchdowns, and ran for 575 yards and nine more scores, in leading Booker T. to a state championship and the No. 1 ranking in USA Today's national high-school football poll.

### Running back: Only one committed, but he's a very good one and he's already enrolled. Miami Central’s Joseph Yearby ran for 1700 yards on 9.6 per carry this past season and “he’s right there with Duke Johnson as a prospect,” recruiting analyst Larry Blustein said. “Speedy, quick, tough to bring down.” Yearby is rated by Rivals.com as the nation's seventh-best running back and 54th best player overall.

Lemming said Yearby isn’t as good as his teammate, FSU-bound Dalvin Cook: “Not as physical, not as good vision as Cook.”

UM lost Brandon Powell to UF, but UM coaches this week “said they were through [recruiting] at that position,” said All Saints Episcopal (Tx.) coach Aaron Beck, whose three-star back, Daniel Gresham, has interest in Miami after Louisville parted ways with him Sunday.

Still, there are mixed messages on that front; earlier this week, Salinas (Cal.) JC running back Deandre Mann, who backed up Lamar Miller at Killian, was led to believe Miami would offer him.

### Offensive line: Lemming said the quartet of Palm Beach Central tackle K.C. McDermott (rated 44th among all prospects by ESPN), Central tackle Trevor Darling (No. 115), St. Petersburg tackle Reilly Gibbons (No. 246) and St. Thomas Aquinas’ Nick Linder (rated the 14th-best center by Rivals.com) is the best 2014 offensive line class in the country: “McDermott dominates almost every play, and Darling might have as much potential.” Linder, a center, can also play guard.

Blustein said Darling “is not on Ereck Flowers’ level yet but has a chance to be.” Darling and McDermott are enrolling this month. Darling and McDermott are already enrolled.

### Tight end: Only one in the group, Norcross (Ga.’s) Christopher Herndon, who is rated the nation’s No. 19 tight end by Rivals. UM projects him as an H-back but Herndon expects to be a receiver (which he played last season) or tight end here. Herndon, 6-4, helped lead his team to the Georgia 6A title with 33 receptions for 543 yards and six touchdowns.

### Receivers: UM has one four-star prospect (Raleigh, N.C.’s Braxton Berrios, rated No. 43 among receivers by Rivals.com) and three three-star prospects: South Dade’s Tyre Brady, Lantana Salaluces’ Darrell Langham and Carol City’s Trayone Gray).

But Miami couldn’t land any of the top-20 receivers it targeted: Homestead’s Ermon Lane, West Palm Beach Dwyer’s Johnnie Dixon or Palm Beach Cardinal Newman’s Travis Rudolph.

Berrios --- a quick, shifty slot receiver who’s already enrolled --- will miss spring ball with a torn ACL. UM sees similarities between Berrios and former Miami Gulliver and ex-Duke standout Conner Vernon, who had 85 catches as a senior in 2012 and is now on Cleveland’s practice squad.

“Braxton reminds me of Wes Welker,” Lemming said. “He runs a legit 4.48, was a straight-A student, all-state as a senior.”

UM loves Brady (38 catches, 575 yards, nine touchdowns this past season) and believes he can become a faster version of Allen Hurns.

Gray, who played quarterback this past season, was a receiver in 2012 and can beat opponents deep. But Blustein said: “I predict he will be in the Super Bowl someday as a running back. He’s Chris Johnson all over again.”

Gray ran for 1221 yards and averaged 9.0 per carry in 2013. But Carol City coach and former UM assistant Aubrey Hill said Tuesday that "every indication I have is they want him at receiver. He can be very good" as a college receiver.

UM believes Langham, 6-5, can become a red zone target, a role that UM hoped D’Mauri Jones would fill but hasn’t. He had 35 catches for 458 yards and seven touchdowns this past season. “Has good, not great, speed --– a possession-type receiver,” Blustein said.

Four-star receiver Derrick Griffin, who had hoped to enroll at UM this past August and play both football and basketball, again failed to qualify and tweeted that he will enroll at junior college, before deleting the tweet.

New Jersey’s three-star David Njoku, ranked the nation’s No. 100 receiver by Rivals, liked his UM visit and Miami has a decent chance to get him. Alabama and Ohio State reportedly want to make him a tight end. 


### Though Dolphins owner Stephen Ross really likes Eagles personnel executive Tom Gamble and wants to interview him for the general manager job, some associates will be surprised if he leaves Philadelphia, where he likes his job, to come to Miami.… Though Jonathan Martin hasn't requested a trade yet, a close associate said despite some of the changes with the Dolphins, it would still be impossible "for him to go back in that locker-room."

### The Heat ideally would like to keep both Norris Cole and impending free agent Mario Chalmers next season, but it might be difficult –-- from a luxury tax standpoint --- to re-sign Chalmers if he expects more than his current $4 million salary next season.

Cole has played well the past three games as a starter, ranks fourth among all point guards in field goal percentage (47.7) and seventh in three-point percentage (42.1) but is 38th of 47 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.90-to-1), whereas Chalmers is 27th. ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy said, off the air, that Cole can be a starter on a good team “with the right backup.”

### Andrew Heaney, who has a decent chance to win the No. 5 spot in the Marlins rotation, was named MLB.com’s top left-handed pitching prospect. The ninth overall pick in 2012, Heaney went 9-3 with a 1.60 ERA, and a .211 batting average against, in Single A and Double A in 2013. Heaney has a fastball that hits 95, a great slider and an improved change-up.

### Quick broadcast note: Dolphins preseason TV announcer and WINZ-940 radio host Jesse Agler is leaving for a job with the San Diego Padres, where he will reunite with Padres and former Dolphins president Mike Dee, who's a big fan of his work.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

January 13, 2014

9 a.m. Tuesday update: UM loses player, new Fins candidate and radio news; Heat/White House

9 a.m. Tuesday update: Guard/tackle Malcolm Bunche, who had a decent chance to win a starting job next season, has decided to transfer. Bunche has been given permission to contact other schools, according to UM.

It's a peculiar decision because Bunche will be a senior next season, and because Al Golden recently named him as a potential starter in 2014. UM did not offer a reason for Bunche's departure, and Bunche was not immediately available for comment.

Bunche started only one game in 2013 (the opener, at left guard) but played in all but one. He figured to earn substantial playing time next season, because two starters on the line --- Brandon Linder and Seantrel Henderson --- are moving on to the NFL. Jared Wheeler also is graduating.

But Jon Feliciano, who started the final six games at left guard, is returning. So is left tackle Ereck Flowers, who has become a very good player, and center Shane McDermott. UM has high hopes for 6-8 freshman tackle Sunny Odogwu as well as guard Danny Isidora. And Hunter Wells, Hunter Knighton, Alex Gall and Taylor Gadbois also return. 

What's more, UM's recruiting class has three highly-regarded four-star tackles: KC McDermott (Shane's brother), Trevor Darling and Reilly Gibbons. Guard/center Nick Linder, Brandon's brother, is also orally committed.

### Lions senior personnel director Brian Xanders, the Broncos' former general manager, is the latest person added to the list of candidates who will speak to the Dolphins about their general manager job, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen. Xanders is the eighth confirmed person that the Dolphins either have spoken to, or plan to speak to. Five already have interviewed.

Xanders, who played linebacker on Bobby Bowden-coached teams at FSU, was Denver's GM from 2009 through 2012 and previously worked in the Falcons' personnel department. This was his first season with Detroit.

### Joy Taylor, Jason's sister, has decided to stay at 790/104.3 The Ticket instead of joining former colleague Marc Hochman on his new WQAM show that debuts April 1, according to Ticket general manager Maureen LeSourd. 

LeSourd said Taylor has been "underutilized" and will have an expanded role on the morning show, alongside Jonathan Zaslow. She declined to say if a third permanent member of the cast will be added.

### Outfielder Delmon Young, who had drawn interest from the Marlins, signed with Baltimore.


Some Monday Heat and Canes items:

###  If there’s anything that can interrupt the monotony of a regular season that doesn’t carry all that much weight for the Heat, it’s a White House visit.

For the second consecutive year, the Heat will enter the President’s residence on Tuesday, a commemoration of its 2013 championship.

“It’s a very special day,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You get to be a kid again. When you have an opportunity to visit the White House and spend some time with the President, when our families are so excited to go, you realize that most people never have this opportunity in their lifetime. It's a continued celebration for what we accomplished last year."

Norris Cole captured the sentiment of teammates when he noted: “It’s never going to get old for me.”

Or, as Chris Bosh said: “It’s a fortress. To be in the most powerful building in the world is pretty cool.”

Tuesday’s visit will be the highlight of an unusual six-game road stretch that began with losses in New York and Brooklyn, included a three-day detour back in South Florida, and resumes Wednesday in Washington before games in Philadelphia, Charlotte and Atlanta.

"Whenever you go to the White House, it's special. I don't care how many times," Dwyane Wade said. "Our president is a very personable guy. He loves the sport that we play.”

For some Heat players, one of the most meaningful moments during last year’s visit was the 30 minutes spent alone with the President, away from the cameras, before the public ceremony.

“He spent 30 seconds to a minute with every one of us, which I thought was an incredible touch,” Spoelstra said. “He has an incredible feel with people. He mentioned one of his favorite players was [Heat assistant coach Bob] McAdoo.”

Wade said that private time with Obama is “a cool moment and you really get to relax and be yourself."

Unlike some of his teammates, Wade was able to poke his head in the Oval Office during last year’s visit.

"The Oval Office is one of those things that on TV looks huge," Wade said, "and then when you get in there, you're like, 'This is where all that magic goes down?' "

Bosh said during those few private moments with the President, “you never really get to talk about what you want to talk about. He’s going to ask you something, you [answer] and that’s it. He asked me about my kids [last year] and that was it.”

A White House visit comes with many decisions. For Cole, it’s mulling whether to muster the courage to ask for a picture of himself and the President – just the two of them.

For Beasley, it’s what to wear, a decision he was still considering late last week. “I don’t want to be too over the top,” he said. “But I don’t want to be too down. Whenever you get a chance to shake hands with one of the coolest people in the world, it’s definitely exciting.”

Several have had personal exchanges with the President, even before last year’s visit.

“We have that Chicago connection, and all the times I have been able to talk to him, that connection comes out,” Wade said. “First time meeting him was one of the coolest things ever. He came right in and said, ‘Where’s D-Wade?’”

Obama spoke at Cleveland State when Cole was a student: “He said something about my high top, said, ‘That kid can play.’”

Beasley met Obama at a campaign event before Beasley’s rookie season. “He shouted out my college stats,” Beasley said. “That was pretty cool.”

Bosh’s goal for this trip? “Go in the Oval Office, see some top secret stuff or something.”

### The Heat said team president Pat Riley, who missed last year’s White House visit because of flu symptoms, is planning to attend Tuesday.

### Ray Allen has arranged for Heat players to visit the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington.

“It’s important; it’s a matter of humanity,” he said. “Anytime I’ve had time in D.C., I’ve taken my teams to the museum. When you see that, it gives you more compassion.”

### Shane Battier, who has missed five games with a quadriceps injury, returned to practice and expects to play Wednesday. But Mario Chalmers remains limited by a strained Achilles that has sidelined him for three games.

### Having already met President Obama, James was asked if there’s anyone else he would like to meet. “Jennifer Lawrence and Jennifer Aniston – my two Jennifers,” he said of the actresses. “My wife knows about it, too,” he said, smiling. “It’s not a secret.”

### The Heat’s defensive numbers are all down from last season. Miami is allowing 98.2 points, which is ninth-best, compared with 95 (fifth-best) last season.

Teams are shooting 45.9 percent against Miami, which ranks 20th, compared with 44 percent (sixth) last season.

And Miami’s three-point field goal defense has plunged from 11th to 26th.

“We’ve had some slippage the last 10 games,” Spoelstra said. “We need to get back on it. It’s a myriad of things. We were humbled [against the Knicks and Nets].”


This is what good coaching looks like: Because Jim Larranaga’s team was struggling playing man to man defense, he decided in the past couple of weeks to switch to a matchup zone, an approach he hadn’t used much in his coaching career.

So he asked former Pittsburgh coach Ralph Willard and former Syracuse assistant Bernie Fine to come to South Florida to visit with his staff about the nuances of playing that defense.

Larranaga implemented it, and the change has had immediate results. Miami held No. 2 Syracuse to 44 points and 36.2 percent shooting in a five-point loss, then held North Carolina to 30.8 percent shooting in a 63-57 win.

The UNC game marked the first time Larranaga had been part of a game when a matchup zone was used the entire game. Overall, UM ranks 28th in the country in points allowed per possession.

Despite a very limited roster without much depth, UM (9-6, 1-2) has been very competitive in three ACC games, with FloridaState visiting Wednesday.

Larranaga also credits Garrius Adams overcoming rust and a big contribution from forward Erik Swoope.

### Fort Worth-based Daniel Gresham, rated the nation’s 38th-best running back by rivals.com, was told by Louisville’s new coaching staff on Sunday night that he’s not in their plans.  Gresham has visited UM and was interested in the Canes before committing to Louisville.

His coach said Monday that he would again be interested in UM (along with Arkansas and Texas) if Miami reaches out.

Meanwhile, Canesport.com reported that the coach at Salinas (Cal.) Hartwell Community College was told that running back Deandre Mann can expect a Miami offer. Mann, who backed up Lamar Miller at Killian, ran for 1706 yards and 30 touchdowns last season and has nine offers, including Kansas and Purdue.

With Brandon Powell flipping to UF, Miami Central High’s four-star prospect Joseph Yearby is the only running back in UM’s class.

January 12, 2014

Death threats and more allegations in A-Rod case; Dolphins NFL draft options; UM, Heat

Please see the last post for the Sunday buzz column, with lots of Fins, Canes, Heat and Marlins news, including an early look at Dolphins draft possibilities.


Anthony Bosch, who said previously that he provided performance enhancing drugs to Alex Rodriguez, said in a televised interview Sunday that he injected Rodriguez with some of those drugs, that Rodriguez’s associates tried to intimidate him to keep him from cooperating with Major League Baseball’s investigation and that Rodriguez would take banned substances during games and shortly before them.

“Alex is scared of needles so at times he would ask me to inject,” Bosch, who ran the Miami-based anti-aging clinic Biogenesis, said on CBS’ 60 Minutes.

The interview aired a day after an arbitrator reduced Rodriguez’s suspension from 211 games to 162 – a full season – plus any playoff games.

Bosch said the Yankees third baseman paid him $12,000 a month in cash and took six banned substances including testosterone, insulin growth factor 1, human growth hormone and some different forms of peptides.

“Alex knew they were [banned],” Bosch said, adding that he personally delivered the substances to him at least a dozen times.

Bosch said when Rodriguez became a client in 2010, “the first words out of his mouth were, ‘What did Manny Ramirez take in 2008 and 2009? What were you giving Manny Ramirez?’

“Alex wanted to know. He would study the product, study the substance, would study the dosage. The most important was the 800 home run club, which was only going to have one member, Alex Rodriguez.”

Rodriguez, 38, has 654 homers in 20 seasons.

Bosch said he would draw blood from Rodriguez at different times to see how quickly the drugs dissipated, which enabled Rodriguez to pass 12 random drug tests.

He also advised Rodriguez he would greatly decrease his chance of testing positive if he submitted urine “from the middle of the stream” because “most of the metabolites are in the beginning of the stream or the end of the stream.”   

Bosch said Rodriguez would put testosterone “troches in his mouth 10 minutes before game time… By the time they get back into the locker-room and there was any possibility of testing, they would test clean. They’re so small, you could literally take it while sitting in the dugout, and people would think it’s either sunflower seeds or a piece of candy or gum.”

That drug helped Rodriguez, Bosch said, because “it gives him more energy, more strength, more focus. In combination with the growth hormone, that combination would make playing the game of baseball a lot easier.”

Bosch said he feared for his life because his ex-girlfriend received a text message in Spanish saying Bosch “would not live to see the end of the year.”

MLB --- which is paying Bosch’s legal fees and provided him with a personal security detail --- told CBS that the most worrisome threat to Bosch came from someone associated with Rodriguez.

Bosch said before he received death threats, associates of Rodriguez asked him to sign an affidavit saying that he never offered performance enhancing drugs to Rodriguez. Bosch said he declined.

“One of his associates said he felt I should leave town,” Bosch said. “[He said], ‘We’ll get you a plane ticket to Colombia, stay there until this blows over.’”

He said Rodriguez’s associates offered to pay him $20,000 or $25,000 a month and told him “when you come back, we’ll pay up another $150,000.” Bosch said he also declined that offer.

Bosch was asked why he provided performance enhancing drugs to players when he knew the drugs were banned by baseball.

“I did it because I had a responsibility to do it,” he said. “My approach was you’re going to do this, let me show you how to do this, let me educate you, let’s do it the right way, and sure, let’s not get caught while we’re doing it.

“Unfortunately, this is part of baseball. When you ask these guys to play [so many] games, back-to-back, their bodies break down. This has always been part of the game.

Bosch provided CBS with 500 text messages that he exchanged with Rodriguez. CBS said the names of no performance enhancing drugs appeared in those messages, but Bosch said they used code words.

Rodriguez has denied all of the charges and is expected to file a lawsuit against Major League Baseball in an attempt to reverse his suspension, which would cost him $25 million in salary.