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10 p.m. update: UM recruiting; Evaluators on Marlins newcomers; Dolphins, UM, Heat

Please see the last post for thoughts on Fox's Super Bowl TV coverage, which ended a minute ago.

A quick 5 p.m. UM recruiting update with National Signing Day closing in on Wednesday:

### Booker T. Washington defensive end Chad Thomas, UM's only five-star oral commitment, has consistently told The Herald that he is 1000 percent committed to UM. His coach (Tim Harris) has told us that he expects Thomas will sign with Miami on Wednesday. But sometimes recruits tell school websites what they want to hear, and it's left to readers to make their own conclusions.

After completing his visit to Alabama on Sunday, Thomas told the Crimson Tide's rivals.com web site: "I am giving [Alabama] a good look. They gave me a lot to think about this weekend. Alabama is just different from Miami. Everything is different... It's different in a good way." He said he probably won't make a decision until a few hours before he signs.

Crimson Tide assistant coach Mario Cristobal, who was a UM assistant last winter for what seemed like a half hour, spent part of the weekend trying to get Thomas to flip.

### Tim Harris Jr. told Canesport.com's Matt Shodell that "there's definitely a chance" Booker T. quarterback Treon Harris could sign with UM (where he visited this weekend), but he remains an FSU oral commitment. Harris also wouldn't rule out UF or Auburn.

### North Carolina-based defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard, a Georgia oral commitment, told Shodell that his UM visit "was a good trip," a 7 or 8 on a scale of 10 and "it gave me a whole lot of stuff to think about." But he said he doesn't know that the visit pulled UM even with Georgia.

### An associate of four-star defensive tackle Travonte Valentine told us Valentine spent the weekend with family instead of visiting UM. But his mother told Canesport.com this afternoon that UM and LSU "are tied. It's 50/50." He will make a decision over the next two days and announce at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

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SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

The Marlins’ offense was so abysmal last season that their 513 runs scored not only were 162 behind the big-league average, but 85 fewer than the next-lowest scoring teams (the White Sox).

They’re counting on that changing because of an expected resurgence from Giancarlo Stanton, hoped-for improvement from Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna and the arrival of four new starting position players.

With spring training two weeks away, what can the Marlins expect from those four newcomers? Feedback from two scouts and Marlins president/baseball operations Michael Hill:

### First baseman Garrett Jones:

The good: Hit between 15 and 27 home runs each of the past five seasons….

The concern: Average slipped to .233 in 2013. Jones, 32, has struggled against left-handers (.160 over the past three seasons), compared with .264 against right-handers…

The outside view: An American League scout said Logan Morrison, traded to Seattle, “has more upside, but you’re buying low on Jones [two years, $7.8 million] and he’s been the more productive player.”… A National League scout: “Fell off last year, but he didn’t play as much, either. I would platoon him, maybe with Ed Lucas,” who hit .330 against left-handers….

Hill's view: “We like the power and consistency. We wanted to go with a more proven record [at first base]. Even in a platoon, he gave you 15 homers last year, and in every-day situations, you saw home run totals up into the mid-20s. We’re aware he had occasional issues versus left-handers, but when he has had regular at-bats, he has been productive. He’s our everyday first baseman until he shows us otherwise.”

### Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia:

The good: Ranked eighth among all catchers in average (.273), ninth in RBI (65) and 12th in homers (14). Only 28 and seemingly improving….

The concern: Threw out 21.2 percent of base-stealers, second-worst in baseball…. A switch hitter, he struggled against left-handers last season (.218) and the past three years (.206)….

The outside view: AL scout: “I don’t think the [.273] average last season was a fluke; he’s got above average power and a lot of his outs were productive last year. He’s average defensively but guys like throwing to him. Money was a little high [five years, $28 million].”…

Hill's view: “He’s a very good offensive upgrade. Did a great job working with Boston’s pitching staff. With he and Jeff Mathis, we will have two of the best to navigate [opposing] lineups.”

### Second baseman Rafael Furcal:

The good: Three-time All-Star (but at shortstop), skilled defender and a .281 career hitter…. The concern: Missed last season after Tommy John surgery and is adjusting to a new position, at age 36….

Outside view: AL scout: “It’s a gamble, but a good one because you’re buying low [one year, $3.5 million]. You worry about him losing quickness at that age, but I think he can play second. Remember, he was an All-Star two years ago.”… NL scout: “He can steal bases, hits for average, always plays hard, athletic guy, solid defensively. Nice move if he’s healthy.”…

Hill's view: “His year out didn’t concern us. He’s a true leadoff man, injects speed, a true professional, a winning player. We heard nothing but great things about him. Once we knew the arm was good, we were full steam ahead.”

### Third baseman Casey McGehee:

The good: Hit .292 with 28 homers in Japan last season and was once a very good big-league player in Milwaukee….

The concern: Hit .217 in his last MLB season (2012) and at 31, is four years removed from a career years with the Brewers (.285, 23 homers, 104-RBI)…

Outside view: AL scout: “He was a swing-and-miss guy and was really scuffling his last year here. But we had good reports on him from Japan; maybe the success translates.”…

Hill's view: “He was a big-bodied player in Milwaukee. In Japan, he really got his nutrition and diet under control and had a dedicated physical regimen. That’s a big reason why he was so productive abroad and why we’re excited he can regain the form he had here. If he can give us 28 [homers] and 90 [RBI], we would be tickled.”

CHATTER

### ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported today that Tony Dungy received a somewhat confrontational call this week from Joe Philbin, who thought Dungy blamed him for the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin scandal. Dungy never said any such thing during his interview but did correctly ask Martin why he didn't feel comfortable talking to Philbin about it. (Please see the last post for more thoughts on Dungy's interview)....

It looked odd to see Philbin leave his new GM's press conference last week after his and Stephen Ross' opening statements, before any questions were asked. Dawn Aponte accompanied him in the mid-press conference walk-out. Perhaps they had a meeting or simply had no interest in hearing reporters' questions.

### Expect new Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey to prioritize the offensive line and finding ways to improve the run defense. “You’ve got to win up front,” he said. “That’s where it starts. Teams that play physical and tough – those are the ones that go far.”

### Hickey wants a “think-tank environment” where his scouts and coaches push “each other to greatness.” When I asked him if he would draft a player that coach Joe Philbin doesn’t want, Hickey suggested he would not.

"You're never going to agree on everything," Hickey said. "If you have time, go back to the tape and work through decisions collectively."

When I asked Hickey if he likes to pick the best available player or the best available player at a need position, he said strictly best available. (But it would be very, very, very difficult to envision him drafting a quarterback or receiver in the first round.) 

### One respected NFL agent said Hickey has never been stumped when the agent mentioned obscure players to him, but that happened several times with Tennessee’s Lake Dawson, who rejected the Dolphins job. “Hickey is very knowledgeable and thorough, way better than Dawson,” the agent said. “I always felt he was the brains behind Tampa’s organization.”

### Ryan Tannehill will have some big supporters on Fox’s Super Bowl set today. “Tannehill has shown me he can be an outstanding quarterback in this league,” Jimmy Johnson said.

Said Terry Bradshaw: “I am pretty impressed with what’s he’s done the first two years. Put some more players around him, and you’ve got yourself a pretty good quarterback.”

### What’s UM getting in Brad Kaaya, rated the nation’s No. 8 quarterback prospect?

“The whole package,” said Ed Croson, his coach at Chaminade High in West Hills, Cal. “Big arm. Good size [6-4]. We ran a no-huddle the whole game and he’s quick making pre-snap reads, figuring out where to throw. He’s not a runner but he moves around and gets rid of it. Best quarterback in California.”

What he's not, Croson said, is "a rah-rah leader," choosing instead to lead with his actions. Croson said in some ways, Kaaya reminds him of former NFL quarterback Erik Kramer, who Croson also coached.

Ryan Williams remains the front-runner to start in 2014, but the Kaaya/Kevin Olsen battle in 2015 and 2016 should be fascinating.

### Five-star prospect Bo Scarbrough, an Alabama oral commitment, reportedly was talked out of visiting Miami by Nick Saban. UM had coveted him as a running back... Booker T. Washington quarterback Treon Harris, an FSU oral commitment, tweeted that he is "thinking hard" after his visit to UM Saturday, which following visits to UF and Auburn earlier.... Please see the last post for recruiting news from Saturday.

### In passing on Andrew Bynum, who signed with Indiana on Saturday, the Heat is gambling Greg Oden will stay healthy and also conceding that it wants to continue playing large doses of smallball, even though a couple of key smallball pieces (Shane Battier, Ray Allen) haven't consistently been at their best. (Battier was very good against the Knicks Saturday.)

What about that theory that the Pacers signed him to keep him away from the Heat? "I don't know who came up with that, but that's about the dumbest thing I've ever heard," Pacers executive Larry Bird said.

Pacers coach Frank Vogel told the Indianapolis Star that it likely will be weeks before Bynum plays. So the Pacers are paying him $1 million essentially for about 1 1/2 months of regular season work, plus the playoffs.

### The Heat presumably would love for Dwyane Wade to opt out of the final two years and $42 million of his contract and agree to less money and more years in July, which would free up space under the tax threshold to re-sign Mario Chalmers or add others.

But Wade, 32, said last week he’s not sure he will opt out: “I haven’t thought about it a lot. I know what’s out there. Right now, my main focus is on my health. I’m in a win/win situation, to have an option.”

### Troubling: The Heat entered Saturday allowing opponents to shoot an absurd 45 percent on corner three-pointers, by far the highest in the league. Erik Spoelstra blamed it on “teams moving the ball, attacking against our schemes.” The Heat hasn’t consistently been quick enough in its close-outs and defensive rotations. Knicks guard Pablo Prigioni was so alone on one of those corner threes Saturday night that he practically had time to make a sandwich.

### Because the Heat plays host to Detroit Monday, Spoelstra never broached the idea of staying in New York for the Super Bowl after the team's game there Saturday. And Chris Bosh said it's preferable to watch the game from warm South Florida than freezing New York, anyway. At least some Heat players will get together for the game later.

### Quick preps note: The Florida High School Athletic Association, which is exploring moving the state basketball championship from Lakeland in 2015 and beyond, said it is very impressed with the Panthers’ arena (the BB&T Center), and it’s under consideration.

### Please see the last post for media notes and a comprehensive look at Fox's plans for the Super Bowl... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

Comments

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UMike

THIS PAPER SUCKS...didn't UM's men's basketball team paly at home yesterday? YES, we did! Not one word printed....but, let UM not draw well, and the skank sports writers for the Herald will be all over it...it would help attendance if the fans KNEW, from our local paper, that UM EVEN HAD A GAME (however, UM still drew over 5,000 for yesterday's game)....HERALD, you suck!!!

MIAMI WON, 64-49 over Norfolk State.

But, let there be a STINKIN' SOCCER MATCH, and WALLAH, it's time to cover the pages with it...makes me want to vomit = welcome to Miami, South America!!!

Barry Jackson

UMike, we have a full story on the game from Michelle Kaufman on our website and a preview box in the paper the day before. Look on the UM page for the game story. Has been there since last night.

Eddie

Marlins should win at least 75

said tim tebow


DT,Wyche returning is just absolutely fantastic news.All I ve heard,read about the kid is that he s a very good defensive player and will be a leader there next year .....without question.GO CANES.

Posted by: dennis erickson | 02/02/2014 at 08:50 AM

God, Ur more gay than me

Stevie Wonder

Posted by: UMike | 02/02/2014 at 11:33 AM

learn to read ...

Sky Walker


### Immokalee four-star cornerback JC Jackson, a UM priority, made an unexpected visit to UF today before returning home at night to meet with Golden. He's deciding between the Hurricanes and Gators.

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.

think he saw a pretty good Basketball team play yesterday ?

Alllllllllllllllllllll Gator

Get What You Give

Majority of people in Miami are from a Caribbean Island not known for soccer, UMike.

Third base scares me. I hope Collin is ready sooner rather than later.

Penguin

Philbin always seems kind of frozen and eerily without affect, so it's actually reassuring to think of his being confrontational with a reporter. Provided, you know, that he doesn't imitate Congressman Grimm!

Jeff

Your analysis of Dennis Hickey's draft philosophy is exactly opposite of what he said in his press conference. Hickey maintained that he does not draft based on need, but rather drafts the best player available. In other words, if Philbin wants to draft an offensive lineman, Hickey might very well select a different positional player if he ranks that player higher on his draft board. I don't like that philosophy because there are so many differing opinions when it comes to ranking players that if you draft an offensive lineman at #19 in the first round you're going to get a quality player who can help the team immediately. Why draft a player at a position that is not a major priority. It's just wasting a pick. Jeff Ireland made that mistake when he drafted Dion Jordan instead of an offensive lineman.

Harleyray

Philbin,do all Dolphin fans a real big favor,go back to Green Bay and take Coyle and Turner with you. Good bye and good riddance!

Jeff

Philbin was upset at Tony Dungy because the truth hurts. The Dolphin locker room lacked leadership and that resulted in the Martin-Incognito fiasco. If you recall, Philbin got rid of all the team leaders like Reggie Bush, Karlos Dansby, and Jake Long because he didn't want any leaders, just followers.

Barry Jackson

Jeff: I'm the one who asked Hickey, after the press conference, if he drafts the best available player regardless of need, unlike Ireland. He said yes. There's nothing written above that contradicts that. And I did not read Hickey's mind. I reported what he said. When I asked if he would draft a player Philbin didn't want, he suggested he would not.

Jeff

What?

Ed

Philbin is a weasel.

Cane4Life

Barry,
Great work as always. You keep us informed with great, accurate information. That is a hard combination to muster up in today's media, especially the accurate part.

Cane4Life

By the way, I propose a trade with NBC Sports. The Dolphins get Tony Dungy and NBC takes the card board stiff known as Joe Philbin. Even though Dungy did not show much emotion when he coached also, the man built the Buc's into a winning organization and got Peyton Manning his first Super Bowl ring. He is a great motivator and leader of men. He also has worked with Hickey in the past.

Anyhow, I was just saying that tongue in cheek, we know Dungy does not want to coach again, but Philbin needs to stop worrying about Dungy interviewing Martin and worry about his team and lossing his last 2 games against teams that had nothing to play for while we had the playoffs right in fornt of us. Lastly, I know that Dungy never read a post game locker room speech off of Q cards, how uninspiring and pathetic is that!!!

Barry Jackson

Thanks, Cane4Life. Good trade suggestion!

Dom

Canes have a top 10 class going into the last 3 days, and we have probably 7-9 spots open with the 3 decommits and 9 early enrollees....... GOldie finishes top 5. book it

AtlantaCane

Barry...thanks for all Ur insight and gr8 info.

Speaking of UM men's basketball coverage, yes, U all did post a story on the Norfolk St. win but I don't see anything posted on the UM page about the previous game: the 3-point loss at Maryland. Why is that?

Thanks!

AnonymousCane

Outside of Barry, Blue, Mando and Fernandez the rest of the Herald's sports coverage staff is average at best and Deen's tweets about the Fire Tryouts and lack of talent prove the Herald's deficit at evaluation of players outside of Blue. BTW what happened to that tweet, thought twice about it?
No way the Fire staff set up the announcements of Monarch players just to lure sports journalists to the tryouts today. That kind of reporting also on the Sentinel( Dieter what's his name) and Canesport(Deens boy Furones) is right down there with MSNBC reporting. Making speculation without any evidence into news but hey sites like Canesport (Al Golden story)(Chucky to the U) do that regularly and call it reporting, lol!

AnonymousCane

If the Herald and Mr. Deen and other's who think they are journalists would do a little digging they would see that Coach Maroquin of the Fire never once in his tweets or his Facebook page hyped the announcements of these kids in an attempt to get reporters to the tryouts. That is just plain poor reporting and trying to make pure speculation into a news story, conjuring up facts and making them up. That is very poor jpurnalism from people who are supposed to be professional.

And Canesport Ferman's comments that it was wasting reporters time on SuperBowl Sunday is laughable! Make a note Deen, Kurtenbach, Furones, Ferman et al...these kids are your money ticket, they pay the bills. It is your job to cover their activities, not the other way around!

Caneport as a Hurricane site is getting to be nothing but vicious hating on Golden and his staff and the U would be smart to cut them out of the loop.

Do you idiots not realize the damage you have done to your credibility with these kids you are supposed to be covering? I understand some attempts at an apology are being made. Well they need to be public since their tweets were public. What kind of idiots do we have reporting for the Herald, The Sentinel and Canesport?

Barry Jackson

Thanks, AtlantaCane. That Maryland-UM game story should have been on the Internet site. Not sure why it didn't happen, since that's not my area of responsibility. Next time that happens (hopefully it won't), please drop me a line that day so I can point it out to supervisors.

Cane11

The only reason Cristobal was bought away from UM is because he can recruit S Fla. and with his leaving the UM staff the way he did, he is no longer a member of the Cane Family.I used to think of him as a good guy, when him when he played here, now I think of him as a money grabbing SOB who would do anything to get ahead. I don't think his brother even likes him.
The Canes will have a good recruiting class and will have a better 2014 season, and no, I am not looking through rose colored glasses.

Reality Bites

"I am giving [Alabama] a good look. They gave me a lot to think about this weekend. Alabama is just different from Miami. Everything is different... It's different in a good way."


Translation: Alabama is a winning program
Alabama has competent coaches
Alabama has passionate fans that support the team
Alabama is serious about football
Alabama knows how to play defense

Not our rival

Hush nerd, no one here cares about your fake internet rivalry. Go find a chatroom if you want to troll people on the internet, UF has only beaten Miami one time in the past quarter century and we don't play in football anymore.

You have no reason beyond internet nerd BS to be trolling Miami every blog post.

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