"Swag 16" QB Jack Allison, star linebacker Shaquille Quarterman & lb Michael Pinckney sign grant-in-aid agreements with Hurricanes

   The Miami Hurricanes moved a step closer Saturday to what they hope will be the securing of their “Swag 16’’ recruiting-class quarterback – as well as two standout linebackers.

     Four-star quarterback Jack Allison, four-star linebacker Shaquille Quarterman and three-star linebacker Michael Pinckney signed grant-in-aid agreements for the spring 2016 semester.

     Under-Armour All-American Allison, 6-5 and 195 pounds, is from Palmetto High in Palmetto, Florida. He is rated the nation’s No. 6 pro-style quarterback by ESPN, Rivals.com and 247Sports.

   Orange Park Oakleaf linebacker Quarterman, 6-1 and 230 pounds, is rated the No. 2 inside linebacker by ESPN Recruiting. He had 137 tackles, eight tackles-for-loss, 3.5 sacks, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble last season.

   Jacksonville Raines linebacker Pinckney, 6-0 and 213 pounds, is ranked the No. 15 inside linebacker by 247 Sports and No. 17 by Rivals. He had 75 tackles, three sacks and two fumble recoveries this past season.

       The agreement is not binding for any athlete, meaning Allison, Quarterman and Pinckney can change their minds anytime before National Signing Day. However, UM would have to follow through with the scholarship offers. The grant-in-aid agreements also enable coaches to virtually have unlimited contact with the prospects.

    A hitch: athletes can sign grant-in-aid agreements with other schools. Last year, running back Dalvin Cook, now suspended by FloridaState, signed grant-in-aid agreements with UM, FSU and Florida.

   Allison, like most of the highly rated “Swag 16” recruits, has offers from several programs, but has been all about the U since he committed to Miami last year.

   Allison was the MVP at the 2015 Al Golden Football Camp and told Canesport.com on Wednesday that his arm has “gotten stronger’’ and he feels he’s “gotten a lot better.

   “I’m talking to Miami coaches all the time,’’ he said, noting that graduating early will help him get “a huge jump’’ for the 2016 season.

   After he signed, Allison posted on Twitter: “It’s official and I’m feeling great about it! Can’t wait to finally be a Miami Hurricane! #GoCanes.

  Quarterman has been especially wooed by Alabama, and told Rivals he was considering visiting the school.

   Pinckney recently visited a South Carolina Gamecock camp, and toured the campus.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

July 30, 2015

If you haven't seen it, the Amway Coaches preseason football Poll is out

How does 37th sound to Hurricanes fans?

Not too good, right?

Few could have expected anything that reflected a great deal of optimism.

The Canes, who finished 6-7 in 2014 and begin fall camp next Thursday, nonetheless were not entirely ignored in the 2015 preseason Amway Coaches Poll.

UM was among the "Others Receiving Votes'' in the coaches poll that was released Thursday. The Canes got 16 points for what would be No. 37 of 56 schools that garnered at least one point in the poll.

The Florida State Seminoles are ranked eighth, the Clemson Tigers are 12th and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 17th, all three of whom the Hurricanes will face this season.

Virginia Tech received 70 points, putting the Hokies 29th overall. Duke got 6 points for 40th. North Carolina State got 3 points for 46th, and North Carolina got 2 for 50th.

 The Coaches Poll is conducted weekly throughout the regular season using a panel of head coaches at FBS schools. The panel of voters comes from a pool of coaches who have indicated their willingness to participate. Each coach submits a Top 25 with a first-place worth 25 points, second place 24 and down to one point for 25th.

 Al Golden votes in this poll, as do ACC coaches Frank Beamer (VT), North Carolina coach Larry Fedora, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

1 Ohio State
Record: 14-1
PV Rank
5
Points
1,475
2 Oregon
Record: 13-2
3
1,402
3 TCU
Record: 12-1
6
1,349
4 Alabama
Record: 12-2
1
1,297
5 Michigan State
Record: 11-2
7
1,212
5 Florida State
Record: 13-1
2
1,212
7 Baylor
Record: 11-2
4
1,098
8 Georgia Tech
Record: 11-3
10
1,071
9 Georgia
Record: 10-3
13
925
10 UCLA
Record: 10-3
14
908
11 Mississippi State
Record: 10-3
8
767
12 Arizona State
Record: 10-3
15
756
13 Wisconsin
Record: 11-3
17
724
14 Missouri
Record: 11-3
16
710
15 Clemson
Record: 10-3
18
683
16 Boise State
Record: 12-2
21
653
17 Mississippi
Record: 9-4
9
543
18 Kansas State
Record: 9-4
11
509
19 Arizona
Record: 10-4
12
499
20 USC
Record: 9-4
24
315
21 Utah
Record: 9-4
23
302
22 Auburn
Record: 8-5
19
216
23 Marshall
Record: 13-1
28
161
24 Louisville
Record: 9-4
20
116
25 Memphis
Record: 10-3
29
94

 

July 28, 2015

Cue the music! "At the car wash... At the car wash, yeah..."

IMG_7721 (1)
Al Golden
went through the ESPN Car Wash on Tuesday in Bristol, Connecticut, making a live appearance on SportsCenter late in the morning.

The Car Wash gives guests the opportunity to appear on a variety of shows on TV, radio and digital media platforms throughout the day.

Anchors Chris McKendry and Jay Crawford did the asking.

ESPN: "When you were named head coach you said, 'Look, this thing is coming back to being a national power,' and that’s obviously still a goal. But it’s been a tough road for you so far. You’ve got to go all the way [back] to 2006 for your last bowl game. Why will this year be different for you?"

Golden: "We’re excited. No. 1 we’ve had great focus going into this season. Very few distractions, very quiet, very workmanlike. That’s nice for coaches and that’s nice for coaches in Miami. We have a veteran quarterback, as juxtaposed with a year ago when we were going into the season with a rookie. And we have a very veteran defense coming back for the first time in quite some time – 25 of our top 30 coming back and we’re excited about that."

ESPN: "What more can you expect from Brad Kaaya?"

Golden: "Clearly, there are a couple of things he’s doing better than he did a year ago. No. 1 his command presence, his leadership and his command presence at the line of scrimmage. We could only ask him to be a great teammate a year ago. We couldn’t really ask him to lead because he was just trying to learn everything. His leadership now, you can tell it’s his team.  No. 2 he’s in dramatically better condition than he was a year ago and he’s playing with a more quiet mind right now than he did a year ago."

ESPN, on an "explosive offense'' losing Duke Johnson and Phillip Dorsett, among several others. "How do you make up for those losses?"

Golden: "It's a great challenge. At running back Gus Edwards is certainly a big back. …Joe Yearby, Trayone Gray, Mark Walton. We don’t want to go backwards in that department in terms of our production. It may not be one guy but we’ll let the competition play out.

 "At wide receiver I’m excited about that group. I wouldn’t trade that receiver group for anybody. Rashawn Scott is coming back, Herb Waters had a really good off-season, Malcolm Lewis is as lean and quick as he’s been since his ankle injury, Stacy Coley has had a really good off-season and he looks strong, Braxton Berrios... It’s a nice group and I feel the same way about the tight end group. We’ll see who emerges. The competition is going to be fun, be we certainly don’t want to lose any production there."

ESPN: "Do you think personally this is a must win year for you and your program?"

Golden: "I don’t get into all that. From our standpoint we want to win and we want to win right now. Our team has done everything we’ve asked them to do. We’ve got great leadership right now. Our unity is at an all-time high. Guys are spending more time with each other in and out of the building and we’re ready to put that to the test right now. It’s not going to be easy, we know that. But nothing is going to challenge us or give us that test of who we are and the kind of brotherhood we formed than that schedule and the adversity we face."

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

July 21, 2015

ACC media picks Hurricanes to finish third in Coastal Division - but sixth of seventh in ACC championship votes

Bradkaaya

Good morning.

Barry Jackson is at the ACC Football Kickoff in Pinehurst, N.C. -- and here's some news to start your day. 

The Hurricanes, coming off a 6-7 season, were chosen by a poll of 158 media members at the ACC media days to finish third in the Atlantic Conference Coastal Division and sixth of seventh in the "ACC Championship Votes'' poll.

UM quarterback and 2014 ACC Rookie of the Year Brad Kaaya was voted fourth -- tied with FSU cornerback Jalen Ramsey, in ACC preseason Player of the Year voting. 

Quarterback Deshaun Watson of Clemson, whom Miami will face at home Oct. 24, led all Player of the Year voting by a landslide. Second was running back James Conner of Pitt. Third was quarterback Justin Thomas of Georgia Tech.

 After Kaaya and Ramsey, voters went with quarterback Marquise Williams of UNC and Virginia Tech corner Kendall Fuller for a sixth-place tie, followed by receiver Tyler Boyd of Pitt and quarterback Jacoby Brissett of NC State.

Clemson was voted easily to win the ACC title (84 votes), followed by Florida State (41), Georgia Tech (20), Virginia Tech (7), North Carolina (3), Miami (2) and NC State (1).

In Atlantic Division voting, Clemson was followed by FSU, Louisville, NC State, Boston College, Syracuse and Wake Forest.

In Coastal Division voting, the projected order of finish was Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Miami, Duke, North Carolina, Pitt and Virginia. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech finished with 991 and 841 points, respectively. Miami had 632 points, followed by Duke (615), UNC (590), Pitt (535) and UVA (220).

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

July 20, 2015

Brad Kaaya and Raphael Kirby divulge UM's behind-the-scenes issues coming to a head -- and Joe Yearby status

This just in from Barry Jackson, in Pinehurst, N.C. to cover the ACC Football Kickoff. Barry also posted this on his Florida Sports Buzz blog. Good stuff!

PINEHURST, N.C. --- The seminal moment for the University of Miami football team this offseason happened on the Greentree practice field before sunrise on a March morning, at an hour when not a single Hurricane wanted to be there, at a time when fed-up players turned to each other and said, essentially, that they had run out of patience with irresponsible teammates.

As quarterback Brad Kaaya explained it to reporters at Atlantic Coast Conference media day on Monday, the players were there that morning doing “pretty rough, physical” workouts, under the supervision of coaches, as punishment because a teammate – whose identify he did not disclose – had committed four rules violations.

For the first violation, a player has to run at 5 in the morning. For his second violation, his whole position unit has to run and do other physically grueling activities at 5 a.m. For a third, that player’s whole unit (offense or defense) must face that same discipline.

A fourth? The entire team must do it. Before that day, Al Golden’s punishment scale had never reached that stage during Kaaya’s time here.

But Kaaya and other players had seen enough violations that they stood there on the field that morning, talking among themselves and making clear this would no longer be tolerated.

“The last straw is when the whole team got out there,” Kaaya said. “It clicked and we said, ‘We’ve had enough. When is it going to stop? We can’t keep having this happen.’ That morning we came together, right before spring break.

“Ever since, it’s been different. It has been cut down tremendously. This summer, we had no major issues. That’s huge for our team. Coach Golden is not having any more nonsense any more. It’s all about business. Team leaders are holding guys accountable. We didn’t want to focus on all the distractions holding Miami back. This team is clean.”

Kaaya said the rules violations involved said “guys skipping class” and tardiness: “guys sleeping late; a lot of it was off field classes, academic meetings. We’ve cut all that out.”

Linebacker Raphael Kirby, who accompanied Kaaya to the ACC event, cited something else that has prompted several of the program’s rules-violators to get their act together.

As part of military-style training that the team participated in last month, six players were charged with selecting teammates to join them on “boat” teams, which entailed a bunch of physically and mentally challenging activities, many of them in Biscayne Bay.

Kirby said players who were selected initially had strong reputations for trustworthiness and work ethic. Those that there were picked last? Not so much.

“They know who they are, and they know why they were picked last,” Kirby said. “I’ve seen drastic changes in those guys” since then.

Kirby also said Golden, for the first time, has authorized players to punish teammates who aren’t following the program.

“There were locker-room issues that had to be dealt with,” Kirby said. “Right now, it’s great. This is the most unified I’ve seen since I’ve been here. The mindset of everybody on our team is great.”

Kirby said a few players have been punished by teammates --- the discipline usually is running at 5 a.m. --- but the violators “haven’t fought back or argued,” Kaaya said. “At this point, there are not any guys who are against what we’re tying to accomplish.”

Kirby said it was the players who suggested to Golden that something had to change regarding accountability among teammates.

“Coach had a meeting with all the leaders and that was one thing we brought up,” Kirby said. “And he supported us. He’s done a great job of letting us lead. We’ve done a lot of things to improve our locker-room, our accountability, our attention to detail.”

UM enters this season with expectations lower than at any time in recent history. Regarding one magazine that picked UM to finish seventh, Kirby said: “They don’t really know. Nobody knows…. Our team is going to be a surprise.

“We know how talented we are. But talent is not enough. It takes great teams to win championships. Talent only wins a couple games.”

Kaaya said it’s “fine” if people are underestimating Miami.

“Usually they have us winning something crazy,” Kaaya said. “It’s fine, because once in a while, the target is on everyone else.”

Asked how UM can improve from 6-7 after losing more than a half dozen of its best players, Kaaya said: “It’s not the NFL. At one point, people didn’t know who Philip Dorsett was and Duke Johnson was. No one really knew they would be NFL players….

“We have good young guys. Our coaches know how to recruit. It’s not like we’re recruiting duds. We are recruiting world class athletes. [And] they have gotten better. “

YEARBY UPDATE

Running back Joe Yearby hasn’t participated in voluntary workouts over the past month while dealing with an undisclosed personal issue, but a UM spokesperson said his status has not changed (he’s not suspended) and he’s expected to participate when practice starts Aug. 6.

UM people briefed on the situation are optimistic that he will not be suspended, though nothing is definite on that front and Yearby must be on his best behavior to avoid discipline.

Check back for a lot more later, from Pinehurst... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

Posted by Barry Jackson 07/20/2015 at 04:34 PM | Permalink

 

July 18, 2015

Adidas teases you before bash Saturday at Liv nightclub in Miami Beach -- by invitation only

Adidaslongerimage
 

Went to sleep before midnight Friday.

SURPRISE!

I woke up to a sneak peek of the new University of Miami adidas uniforms that will be unveiled at 9:20 tonight. I like what I see, even the "miami" part.

How about U? 

Have my invitation for tonight's unveiling firmly in hand.

  "The Brand With Three Stripes,'' the media invitation says, "is the official athletics apparel provider of #TheU, beginning this fall.''

 Adidas will be throwing quite a bash -- up to 500 strong --  at LIV nightclub in the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. The event runs from 7 to 10 p.m., signaling "the beginning of a new era in Hurricane Athletics and will be THE PLACE TO BE ON SOUTH BEACH,'' the media invitation states.

Adidasunisneak

 

 Before the formal event, an "Orange Carpet Arrival'' event will "welcome past Miami football legends and gain their perspective on UM's new apparel deal.'' 

  The deal begins Sept. 1 and runs for 12 years, through June 30, 2027. UM is a private institution and does not have to reveal the details of the deal, which will include annual cash payouts in addition to the equipment and apparel, and other, yet-to-be revealed marketing-related benefits. It's  one of the top deals in college football, worth more than $90 million, according to a knowledgeable source.

 Michigan's 11-year, $122.3 million deal with Nike was announced Wednesday (note that there's a four-year extension option that would make it worth $169 million over 15 years)-- by far the richest deal yet.  Michigan has been an adidas school.

  As for those Canes' uniforms, at least one white jersey, one green jersey and one orange jersey -- as well as pants -- will be unveiled.

  I was told by a source that "blackout'' and "whiteout'' uniforms are the mix, though they won't be unveiled Saturday.  

  The latter two uniforms would each be for one specified game. They could be used again if the Canes deemed them worthy (translation: if they win in them).

Throwback uniforms are not expected to be included.

 Keep an eye on my twitter feed.  

    SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

July 17, 2015

Quarterback Brad Kaaya, ignored by Walter Camp Award, talks football to WQAM's Joe Rose

I Listened to Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya on 560 WQAM during an interview with Joe Rose this morning. Before I put a few of the highlights, I wanted to say that I think it's strange that Kaaya was not included on the  Walter Camp Football Foundation's 2015 Player of the Year Preseason Watch List.

Kaaya had some of the best numbers in the nation last year as a quarterback, and he was a true freshman at that. He's already been nominated for the Maxwell Award that goes to the top player in college football and the Davey O'Brien Award that goes to the top quarterback.

There are 50 players on the Walter Camp list. The list was published after the Rose interview, but I have a hunch Kaaya doesn't concern himself with preseason accolades. 

A few Kaaya comments during Joe Rose's interview this morning:

***On junior receiver Stacy Coley: "Stacy is a hard worker. Last year just wasn't his year. The defense keys on him a lot more and we have to figure out different ways to give him the ball...''

***What did you work on most this offseason? "Red zone throws, working in tight windows and anticipation, timing... in the red zone.''

***On losing a lot of standout offensive players: "I said it before. I'll say it again. It's college football, it's not the NFL. Guys are growing each year. Guys are redshirting, guys are getting stronger. It's not like we're the New England Patriots and lose Tom Brady for four games or lose a defensive end for half a season and say, 'Oh, crap. What can we do here?' For us, not everyone was fully mature last year. There are guys working hard in the weight room, guys studying, guys who are 19 turning 20, 20 turning 21...''

Note: Kaaya named receiver Herb Waters, safety Jamal Carter and safety Dallas Crawford as players who have made significant improvements since last season.

***On high school football in South Florida compared to California: "I'd say Southern California, it's a lot more technical ability, a lot more complex schemes and guys out there [inaudible] and west coast offenses --receivers are going to all these 7 on 7 camps. Whereas down here it's a lot more just pure athleticism..."

***On outside criticism of last year's 6-7 season: "Last year is last year. It's July, 2016. That was seven months ago. Since then we've had a complete culture change. Guys are speaking different. Guys are playing different. It's a different team than last year. We don't even talk about last year really aside from watching film.''

 Here's the entire interview if you're up for listening.

 Download 18ZDH_3

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

 

 

July 16, 2015

Signing deadline 5 p.m. Friday. Every Miami Hurricane who was drafted has signed with MLB -- but one first-round talent is coming to Coral Gables

I remember talking by phone to left-handed Miami Hurricanes ace Andy Suarez one day in the late summer last year at exactly 5 p.m. -- the signing deadline for those in the MLB First-Year Player Draft.

Miami coach Jim Morris kept trying to reach Suarez while we were talking, as Suarez joked to me about it while we talked and Morris reminded me as such more than once this past season.

No worries. Morris was ecstatic that Andy and I were chatting, keeping members of the Washington Nationals from trying to convince him to sign a major-league contract rather than return to the Hurricanes. But Suarez returned, achieved his dream of making it to the College World Series (although it was a disappointing ending), and was drafted again in the second round only a few spots behind 2014 for a slotted value of just over a cool $1 million. 

But this year, as Friday's 5 p.m. signing deadline approaches, there will be no such surprises.

Not only did Suarez sign with the San Francisco Giants, the other four Hurricanes who were drafted last month also signed and will not be returning to Coral Gables.

In addition to Suarez, third baseman David Thompson, who had an amazing season and should have been voted the ACC Player of the Year, signed with the New York Mets (fourth round, 119th overall); second baseman George Iskenderian, who also had a spectacular season, signed with the Milwaukee Brewers (seventh round, 211th overall); catcher Garrett Kennedy signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers (14th round, 432nd overall); and outfielder Ricky Eusebio signed with the Seattle Mariners (16th round, 485th overall).

And not that you ever want to see anyone hurt, but the Hurricanes got a huge break when power-hitting right-handed outfielder Kep Brown, 6-5 and 195 pounds, tore his Achilles' tendon early in his senior season at Wando High School. He is from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

KepBrown

Brown, projected to go as high as the first round, was hitting about .500 when he went down. He slipped to the 10th round (Cardinals) because of the injury, and as a result chose the Hurricanes instead of St. Louis. If he can get himself healthy by the season, just think of what a player like that could do to help compensate for the loss of some great UM talent.

Of the 10 or so Canes expected to join the team for fall camp, the two others who were drafted were Coral Gables High right-handed pitcher Andrew Cabezas (34th round by Cleveland) and shortsop Kevin Santiago (39th round by Cincinnati) of Patillas, Puerto Rico.

Football hasn't even started, and I'm already looking forward to baseball.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN    

 

 

 

Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya nominated for another major award

Kaayaflagfb
The Miami Hurricanes have not had a whole lot of players nominated on watch lists this preseason. But the one who stands out is the one who plays the most important position.

   Quarterback Brad Kaaya, already named as a candidate for the Maxwell Award that goes to the top player in college at the end of the season, was one of 24 standouts named to the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award watch list on Thursday.

   Kaaya is the only quarterback to be nominated from a Florida school. 

   “This year’s list, which was compiled by a subset of the Davey O’Brien National Selection Committee’’ according to the release sent out by the Davey O’Brien Foundation, “was selected based on player performance during the previous year and expectations heading into the 2015 college football season. All nominees were required to have started at least one game at their current institution previously.’’

    Kaaya, entering his sophomore year, garnered accolades last season as one of the finest quaterbacks in the nation – ACC Rookie of the Year among them after throwing for 3,198 yards and 26 touchdowns.

   Kaaya finished the season by throwing for 13 touchdowns and three picks in the final seven weeks of the season. He was one of 15 quarterbacks in the nation to throw for more than 3,000 yards, 26-or-more touchdowns and 12-or-fewer interceptions – and the only true freshman quarterback in the nation to do so.

    His final 2014 numbers: 221 completions in 378 attempts for 3,198 yards and the 26 touchdowns. He threw 12 interceptions.

    Kaaya averaged 248 yards a game.

   The Canes, who start the 2015 season at home Sept. 5 against Bethune-Cookman, are looking to improve on a disappointing 6-7 record last year.

 2015 Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award® Watch List

 

Trevone Boykin (TCU, Senior)

 

Connor Cook (Michigan State, Senior)

 

Joshua Dobbs (Tennessee, Junior)

 

Brandon Doughty (Western Kentucky, Senior)

 

Blake Frohnapfel (UMass, Senior)

 

Jared Goff (California, Junior)

 

Christian Hackenberg (Penn State, Junior)

 

Taysom Hill (BYU, Senior)

 

Kevin Hogan (Stanford, Senior)

 

Jeremy Johnson (Auburn, Sophomore)

 

Cardale Jones* (Ohio State, Junior)

 

Brad Kaaya (Miami, Sophomore)

 

Chuckie Keeton (Utah State, Senior)

 

Cody Kessler (USC, Senior)

 

Gunner Kiel (Cincinnati, Junior)

 

Fredi Knighten (Arkansas State, Junior)

 

Paxton Lynch (Memphis, Sophomore)

 

Dak Prescott (Mississippi State, Senior)

 

Keenan Reynolds (Navy, Senior)

 

Anu Solomon (Arizona, Sophomore)

 

Zach Terrell (Western Michigan, Junior)

 

Justin Thomas (Georgia Tech, Junior)

 

Deshaun Watson (Clemson, Sophomore)

 

Marquise Williams (North Carolina, Senior)

 

 * Finished last year as Ohio State's starting quarterback. The school has not yet named a starter for the 2015 season.

 

 By Conference: Pac-12 (4), ACC (4), AAC (3), Big Ten (3), SEC (3), MAC (2), Big 12 (1), C-USA (1), Mountain West (1), Sun Belt (1), Independents (1).

 

 By Class: Senior (11), Junior (8), Sophomore (5).

  The other Hurricanes named to watch lists this preseason are linebacker Raphael Kirby (Butkus Award), punter Justin Vogel (Ray Guy Award) and safety Dallas Crawford (Wuerffel Trophy for community service).

     SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

July 15, 2015

News: So, what do you think about this new, generic UM retail-jersey No. policy?

    University of Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya fans are in luck this season – that is, the ones who traditionally wear the jerseys of their favorite players to football games.

    Next season? Not so much, unless punter Justin Vogel or new quarterback Evan Shirreffs – each No. 16 – is their man.

   (Vogel had a great season in 2014 and is on the Ray Guy Award preseason watch list; Shirreffs, of Jefferson High in Georgia, was the last Hurricane to sign a letter of intent and will be a freshman this season)

    Miami Hurricanes athletic director Blake James confirmed to the Miami Herald on Wednesday that UM’s new retail-jersey number policy will be to only produce one jersey with the current year and another with No. 1 – as in “We’re No. 1,’’ James said.

   Thus, in 2015, the Hurricanes’ new adidas football jerseys – UM’s 12-year contract with adidas begins Sept. 1 – will offer No. 1 and No. 15, the latter of which happens to be Kaaya’s number, as well as kicker Michael Badgley's.

   No. 1 is junior cornerback Artie Burns, another possible standout in 2015.

   “This year is odd in that Brad Kaaya, obviously one of our most recognized names and players, is No. 15,’’ James said. “But it’s 15 for 2015 and No. 1 because we’re No. 1. Next year will be 16 and 1, the year after will be 17 and 1. The progression will continue for as far out in the future as you can see.’’

   James said he implemented the change “because it makes sense.

To me the right thing to do is not to pick particular numbers of your stars.’’ He went on to say that using certain numbers worn by current players as well as former stars would “complicate the situation.’’

    James said UM, which has historically used jersey numbers of higher profile players, such as Duke Johnson’s No. 8 last season, did not change to generic jerseys because of last summer’s landmark antitrust court decision that would allow athletes to be paid for using their likenesses or images.

    Known as the Ed O’Bannon case, it was appealed by the NCAA, which made its oral arguments in March. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals still has not issued a ruling on the appeal.

   “The NCAA continues to believe that Division I amateurism rules contested in the O’Bannon case are legal and that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will overturn the district court’s order to the contrary,’’ NCAA Board of Governors chair and Kansas State University president Kirk Schulz said June 1.

   The Florida Gators have been using the generic No.1 for years, though you can still order Tim Tebow’s No. 15, said UF senior associate athletic director for communications Steve McClain. He said the other UF Nike jersey staples are No. 96, 06 and 08, the years UF won the national title. Over the years, McClain said UF has released other jersey numbers of former stars or some who won national titles and gave permission.

   As for UM, retailer Harry Rothwell, general manager of the popular AllCanes near campus, said vendors are happy this year, but likely not so much in 2016.

    “I doubt we’ll be selling too many 16s,’’ he said. 

  The new UM jerseys are expected to go on sale sometime in mid-to-late August, with the new adidas uniforms to be unveiled Saturday night in an invitation-only bash at Club Liv in Miami Beach.

  So, what do you think of the new policy? 

  Just in case you're wondering, No. 17 will not belong to anyone we know of now in 2017, as it is worn by wide receiver D'Mauri Jones, a redshirt junior; and linebacker Tyriq McCord, a senior.

  No. 18, though, brings images of a potential star in 6-5, 200-pound freshman wide receiver Lawrence Cager -- that is if he stays all four years.

   And that No. 16 you might not be looking forward to, on the positive side, just imagine if the heralded "Swag 16" recruiting class actually stays together. The No. 16 would be pretty cool.

    SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

July 14, 2015

Hurricanes LB Raphael Kirby (not Kierby) just named to Butkus Award Watch List

I can see it now. Raphael Kirby, one of two players (along with quarterback Brad Kaaya) scheduled to represent the Hurricanes at the ACC Football Kickoff early next week, will be asked about the Butkus folks spelling his name wrong on the preseason watch list just released.

The Butkus Award goes to the top linebacker in college football at season's end, and the initial press release has his name as Raphael Kierby.

It's just a spelling error, and we all do it occasionally. But suffice it to say that Raphael Kirby is not a household name. Not yet, anyway.

Kirby is set to replace 2014 Butkus Award finalist Denzel Perryman in the middle of the field.

I was there when UM great Dan Morgan won his Butkus Award -- a memorable moment.

Kirby was fifth on the team in tackles last season with 54.

No matter how his name is spelled, the Canes need Kirby to step up in 2015.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

July 10, 2015

New Oakland Raider Jon Feliciano knocking them down -- and enjoying every minute

 Former UM offensive lineman and Oakland Raiders rookie Jon Feliciano participated in the Duke Johnson Foundation’s charity bowling event on Tuesday at Strike 10 in Gulfstream Park.

Here’s what he had to say in an exclusive interview with the Miami Herald.

“It’s great to be out in Cali, in Oakland, be in such a great atmosphere and a good position. Our O-line group is great – a good mix between veterans, rookies and guys that are in the middle of their careers,” Feliciano told The Miami Herald.

Feliciano added that he’s just looking to compete with the Raiders.

“I’ve got great guys in front of me that have helped me out so far. They’ve done everything I could’ve asked of them and more,” Feliciano said. “I just want to go in there, compete and make the 53-man roster.”

Feliciano is thrilled to remain teammates with fellow Raider Clive Walford. He said he thought the Raiders were actually going to take him in the third round, but when Walford’s name was called, he was happy for his friend.

I was like ‘well, I can’t be mad at that.’ And then to have my name called their next pick was awesome,” Feliciano said.

Feliciano swung by the event, he says, first, to give back, but second, to beat Duke.

 “Me and Duke always compete in bowling pretty heavily,” said Feliciano , whose all-time best was a 236.

Duke’s a good bowler, but I’ve got his number.”

Added Feliciano: “Duke’s always been big about doing stuff in the community, and to set this up and have this go down is amazing.” 

DAVID FURONES

July 09, 2015

Hurricanes punter Justin Vogel on preseason watch list for Ray Guy Award

University of Miami punter Justin Vogel was selected to the preseason watch list for the 2015 Ray Guy Award on Thursday

The award was created in 2000 and honors the nation’s top collegiate punter.

Vogel was named to the preseason watch list after he posted a breakout sophomore season in 2014. Joining the team as a walk-on, Vogel made his presence felt by dropping an incredible 42.9 percent of his punts inside the 20-yard line, which ranked among the nation’s best.

The Tampa, Fla. native also averaged 42.8 yards per punt and 62.1 yards on kickoff duty. Following his sophomore season, Vogel was selected as All-ACC Third Team honoree and was tabbed as a Ray Guy Award Semifinalist.

The number of eligible candidates for this season will grow when the award opens for nominations in September. The complete list of candidates will be released on October 30. In early November, the Ray Guy Award committee will meet to select the ten semi-finalists, who will be announced on November 13.

A national body of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) sports information directors, coaches, media representatives, and previous Ray Guy Award winners will then vote for the top three finalists, to be announced on November 23. After the finalists are named, the voting body will cast ballots again to select the nation’s top punter. The winner will be announced live during The Home Depot College Football Awards airing on ESPN on Thursday, December 10, 2015.

July 07, 2015

Canes all-time leading rusher Duke Johnson hosting charity bowling event

Fans of former Miami Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson know he loves to bowl.

So, at 7 p.m. tonight – Tuesday, July 7 – Johnson will do what he loves while raising money to provide equipment and uniforms for underprivileged schoolchildren through the Duke Johnson Foundation, as well as for his mother’s charity “Young Women Facing their Future.”

The Young Women Facing their Future mentoring program helps empower Miami-Dade youth ages 7 to 18.

The Bowling for Kids event is at Strike 10 Bowling & Sports Lounge at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, and will run until about1 a.m., Johnson’s mother, Cassandra Mitchell, said.

Tonight’s program is the foundation’s inaugural event. People who attend can hang out with Johnson, the Canes’ all-time rushing leader who was drafted in the third round by the Cleveland Browns.

Johnson will sign autographs and pose for photos with event-goers, who can also participate in a separate event tournament that allows bowlers to donate extra to Johnson’s foundation.

Cost is $20 a person for unlimited bowling.

Call 305-699-3837 for more information.

Kaaya named to Maxwell watch list

University of Miami sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya was named to the watch list for the 79th annual Maxwell Award on Tuesday by the Maxwell Football Club.

The Maxwell Award, named in honor of Robert W. "Tiny" Maxwell, has been given to America's College Player of the Year since 1937. Maxwell's contributions to the game of football were extensive, including time as a player, a sportswriter and an official.

Kaaya received the preseason honor after he authored one of the finest first-year campaign’s in school history, while guiding the Hurricanes to their second-consecutive bowl appearance.

During his rookie campaign, Kaaya was the only true freshman quarterback in the country to throw for over 3,000 yards, 26-or-more touchdowns and 12-or-fewer interceptions.

In addition, Kaaya rewrote the Hurricanes’ freshman record book as he set the single season freshman standard for passing yards and touchdowns. He finished the year with 3,198 passing yards and 26 touchdown passes. His 26 touchdown passes from a year ago tied him with Heisman Trophy winning signal-caller Vinny Testaverde for third all-time.

This is the third preseason honor Kaaya has received this summer. In the month of June, he was named to both the Phil Steele and Athlon Sports Preseason All-Conference Team.

Kaaya is one of 20 sophomores that were named to the Maxwell Watch List and was one of just eight sophomore quarterbacks that were recognized nationally.

June 30, 2015

Donor gives UM $1 million to help fund football scholarship

University of Miami alumnus Scott C. Mueller, BBA ’85 and CEO of Dealer Tire, has made a gift of $1 million to establish The Scott C. Mueller Endowed Football Scholarship at the University of Miami.

The gift will help fund a scholarship in perpetuity for a student on the football team.

Mueller, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, attended the University of Miami on an academic scholarship and never forgot the opportunity the University gave him.

“I was fortunate enough to earn a scholarship while attending the University of Miami,” Mueller said. “I always thought it was a great honor and a tremendous break in my life and I want to make sure that I pay back that generosity by helping another student. The hard work and commitment of Miami’s students- athletes is very inspiring to me and I want to ensure the University is positioned for future success.”

Mueller, who lives in the Cleveland area, co-founded Dealer Tire in 2001 with his brother, Dean, and father, Walter, after selling the 84 year-old family business, Mueller Tire & Brake. Dealer Tire supplies tires and accessories to car dealers and manufacturers and is one of the largest distributors of tires in the nation.

Mueller has been a fan of Miami football since his days as an undergraduate student in the early 1980s, when the Hurricanes captured their first National Championship under head coach Howard Schnellenberger.

“On behalf of the University of Miami, I would like to thank Scott for his unwavering support and generosity to our Athletics Program,” said Miami Athletic Director Blake James. “This leadership gift will provide an academic and athletic opportunity to a deserving young man who will proudly represent UM on the football field while working toward a degree. Scott truly defines what it means to be a Miami Hurricane and we can’t thank him enough for his passion and support of our student-athletes.”

The University of Miami Department of Athletics fields 17 varsity sports with over 400 plus student-athletes and has won 21 national championships. Almost 260 student-athletes receive athletic scholarship dollars.

June 25, 2015

Gadbois announces he's no longer part of Hurricanes football team; UM says they dismissed him

Taylor Gadbois' days as a Miami Hurricane are over.

The 6-8, 321-pound junior offensive tackle, who started five games at right tackle last season before going down with a season-ending knee injury versus Duke, was dismissed from the football team on Thursday.

Before UM announced the news, Gadbois posted it on Twitter.

Coach Al Golden released the following statement via a press release: “Taylor is a bright young man and we wish him the best in his future academic and athletic endeavors."

Gadbois was expected to start the season on suspension for unspecified reasons.

His departure leaves an already young and inexperienced UM offensive line a little more depleted.

The Canes lost three starters on the line: Ereck Flowers left early for the NFL Draft and was taken in the first round by the Giants, and seniors Jon Feliciano and Shane McDermott.

The only returning starter with plenty of experience is right guard Danny Isidora.

Sophomore Trevor Darling started the final five games of the season at right tackle. Darling and sophomore Kc McDermott are expected to be the first team offensive tackles.

Gadbois was very confident he was going to be the starting left tackle this coming season. He spoke with Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post during a local youth football event last week. Here's a link to what Gadbois told Porter.  

June 12, 2015

CANES-GATORS: Getting it started in Omaha

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

OMAHA, Neb. -- The Miami baseball team plays its first game in the College World Series since 2008 on Saturday night.
Much has changed in the capital of college baseball since -- most notably the venue.
The previous time Jim Morris' squad was here, the CWS was played a few miles away at Rosenblatt Stadium.
On Friday, Miami took the field at TD Ameritrade Park (which opened in 2011) for the first time but saw some familiar faces in orange-and-blue jerseys.
The Hurricanes (49-15) square off against longtime rival Florida (46-19) in the marquee game of Saturday's opening day in Omaha.
Florida and Miami have been playing each other in baseball since 1940, a span of 240 games but Saturday (8 p.m., ESPN) is not only the first between the two in Omaha, but the first-ever meeting outside of the state of Florida.
"This is the World Series and you're excited to be here so it doesn't matter who you are playing,'' said Morris, who is making his 12th trip to the CWS in 22 seasons with the Hurricanes.
"It does add an interesting twist to it, playing Florida. But we've played Florida State out here, too, so it's not something where in-state rivals haven't played out here before.''
Both teams come to Omaha on quite a roll with the Hurricanes earning a No. 5 national seed as they have won 19 of their past 21 games.
Fourth-seeded Florida is considered the tournament favorite -- the Gators are aiming for their first national championship in the sport -- after winning nine straight and 13 of its past 15 including a two-game rout of Florida State in the Gainesville Super Regional.
Miami has won four national championships and is in Omaha for the 24th time. This marks Florida's ninth trip to the CWS and fourth since 2010.


"Walking out of that tunnel, it's pretty special,'' said Florida starter Logan Shore (9-6), who only threw nine pitches against Miami on Feb. 20 before leaving with a hip flexor injury.
"I'm pumped for this. We haven't played a team from outside Florida since the SEC Tournament. Go figure, we play Miami in the first game in Omaha. It's always special to play an in-state rival, there's always added hype to it. But Omaha does enough on its own. We're not just here to beat Miami, we're here to win the whole thing. Miami is just that first stepping stone for that.''
The Hurricanes counter with ace Andy Suarez (9-1) who was scheduled to face Shore in February but missed his start against the Gators after suffering a oblique strain during warmups in the visiting bullpen at McKethan Stadium.
"Just looking around this place, this is a big deal,'' Suarez said.
Natural postseason foes, the Hurricanes and Gators have done a nice job of keeping one another away from Omaha over the years.
Most recently, it has been Florida putting the brakes on Miami's annual run to Nebraska.
Since the Hurricanes last trip here in 2008, Florida ended Miami's season in the regional or super regional round three times (2009-11) as the Gators won 11 of 15 meetings between the two during that span.
Over the past seven seasons, Florida has won 19 of 27 against Miami.
Most recently, the two have split six games with each winning two of three at home (Miami won the series in 2014, Florida in 2015).
"Both programs are very good, very competitive,'' Morris said. "I expect a good baseball game like we played the first three this season. Those were great games to watch although it was freezing.''
Sophomore outfielder Willie Abreu said it is odd to play Florida in Nebraska but that the hard-hitting Hurricanes are ready for the challenge.
"It seems kind of crazy. We could have played them just up the road,'' Abreu said.
"This is the place to be. This is a great team and we're excited to play them. Miami-Florida is a big rivalry and we're excited to play it out on the biggest stage in college baseball.''
-- It was overcast and a bit chilly on Friday (Florida and Miami practiced with the threat of rain and temps in the mid-60s). Saturday's forecast: More rain. Hopefully the two games (Virginia plays Arkansas in the opener at 2 p.m.) get in without a hitch.

 

 

June 09, 2015

Hurricanes top baseball recruit Kep Brown looks like he's headed to Coral Gables, not the minor leagues

If the Major League Baseball Draft is a nervous time for players consider it twice as hard on college coaches.

That's because as much as Jim Morris wants to see his juniors and seniors make a splash and get paid, he also wants to hold onto the one he's recruited. Barring some huge surprises, that should happen with Miami's next recruiting class.

Of the six players in the 2015 class, only one, Wando, S.C. power-hitting outfielder Kep Brown, was taken during the first two days of the draft. The Cardinals took Brown in the 10th round Tuesday with the 311th overall pick, meaning Brown will sign for the $149,700 he's slotted for according to Baseball America (the Cardinals can offer him more, but it's unlikely) or head to Coral Gables.

Brown, who went down with a season-ending achilles injury in April, hinted to a few news outlets Tuesday he's already decided what he's going to do and it sounds like he'll be wearing orange and green.

“It was a stressful, emotional couple of days,” Brown told the South Carolina Post and Courier. “It didn't go how we had planned, really, but to hear my name called did give me chills. It was awesome.

“We've got a pretty good idea of what I'm going to do,” he said. “But I probably won't let that go public for a bit longer, just out of respect for the Cardinals.”

UM's other five recruits are all local players who have yet to get drafted: Coral Gables right-hander Andrew Cabezas (6-3, 0.39 ERA, 81 Ks), American third baseman Roman Gonzalez (.410, 4 HR, 26 RBI), Westminster Christian right-hander Isaiah Musa, Florida Christian right-hander Alex Valverde and Terra Research Institute right-hander Frank Bartow

On the flip side, UM has already had three of its best players taken. 

Pitcher Andrew Suarez was taken with the 61st overall pick Monday. Third baseman David Thompson was taken by the Mets in the fourth round with the 119th overall pick and second baseman George Iskenderian was taken by the Brewers in the seventh round with the 211th overall pick. Suarez is slotted at $1,010,100 (slightly more than he would have made if he signed last year), Thompson at $474,800, and Iskenderian at $195,700. 

By the way, before Tuesday, the Hurricanes hadn't had three players taken within the first 211 picks of the draft since 2009 when Jason Hagerty (144th overall), Ryan Jackson (159th), Kyle Bellamy (163rd) and Chris Herrmann (192nd) were taken within the first 192 picks. 

June 08, 2015

Canes' Andrew Suarez gets taken 61st overall by Giants

Hurricanes ace Andrew Suarez was taken with the 61st overall pick in Monday's MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants.

It's four spots lower than where Suarez (9-1, 2.96 ERA) was taken a year ago by the Washington Nationals. Suarez turned down nearly a $1 million signing bonus to head back to school and get his degree. But odds are he's not going to pass on the money he's due now to come back for his redshirt senior season.

Suarez is starting for the Hurricanes Saturday in Omaha against the Florida Gators.

Suarez said Monday he was going to sit at home and watch the draft.

June 07, 2015

Play it again Sam! In other words: SAM-MY! SAM-MY! SAM-MY!

If you went to sleep by 3:30 Saturday afternoon and just woke up, the indomitable Miami Hurricanes are going to the College World Series -- by virtue of their 10-3 victory over Virginia Commonwealth University, fueled by a most unlikely hero named Sam Abrams.

That was the third time I've seen the Hurricanes in a joyous pileup in a victorious super regional deciding game, and the two previous times the Canes (49-15) won the national championship at the College World Series.

The third time could also be the charm, if No. 5 national seed UM can get past some equally talented competition. Eight teams get the chance, and UM was the first to qualify.

 On Saturday, UM will meet Florida (49-16) in the opening game of the College World Series. The Gators beat the Canes with one-run victories in 2 of 3 in Gainesville at the season's opening road series Feb. 20-22. Miami beat Florida 7-2 in the middle game.

Keep in mind that it was absolutely freezing that weekend, and UM's left-handed ace Andy Suarez pulled a muscle and couldn't pitch. Suarez will be ready to go at the College World Series.

  Back to the walk-on Abrams, a 23-year-old gem of a young man who barely pitched in his three previous seasons at Miami and earned his master's degree in accounting while basically sitting on the bench.

Call him what you like: "KAbrams,'' as AP writer Tim Reynolds coined, or the "Hebrew Hammer,'' as my son-in-law texted, or "Get-out-of-a-Jam Sam,'' as Abrams' dad, Chris told Miami Herald correspondent David Furones.

But just make sure you add "winner'' to the bunch.

The right-handed, walk-on Abrams replaced struggling left-handed starter Thomas Woodrey with bases loaded, no outs and a 3-3 score in the third inning Saturday.

Keep in mind that Abrams pitched a total of 2 2/3 innings in 2014 and 1 2/3 innings in 2013, and was cut during tryouts before his 2012 sophomore season (He tried out again and obviously made it).

So, back to bases loaded: Abrams, a sidewinder with a ball that has plenty of movement and very little speed, struck out the first batter.

Crowd of 3,680 roars.

Abrams struck out the second batter.

Crowd roars.

Abrams got the final batter that inning to fly out to a pumped right fielder Willie Abreu, the Hialeah kid who smacked a home run in the ninth inning to punctuate the victory.

In all, Abrams gave up a measly single in a career-high four innings pitched. He struck out four and didn't walk anyone. He got the win in the biggest game of his life. 

Absolutely amazing if you consider the atmosphere and what was at stake.

I don't know if Sam, who will forever be in the hearts of Hurricanes fans, will pitch again. But I do know Saturday will be one of his life's highlights. How could it not be?

Sam told us he couldn't believe that "what happened my sophomore year ended up working out perfectly. It's a dream come true honestly.

"I had already applied to other schools. I was planning on where I was going to live and I was actually working at an accounting firm,'' he said. "I decided that this isn't what I want to do anymore. I didn't want to keep [working at the accounting firm] until I got done with college, so I decided to come back and it worked out perfectly.''

Sam's family -- his dad, his 25-year-old sister Alexa, his mom Lisa Goldstein, and his bubbly, chatterbox little brother Dylan, 12 -- were all there cheering him on. They've been coming to games for many, many years. 

"Me and my sister used to come to the games with my dad,'' said Abrams, a Miami native. "In '99, when they won the championship, that was the first year we came. [Alexa], she's crying, freaking out because she can't believe I'm actually in this moment. It's amazing for all of them to be here.

   "My little brother has told me every single tweet that has been tweeted about me already. My little brother is kind of crazy. A lot of people see him running around here, so he probably has all of [the tweets] favorited and will show them to me later.''

I talked to Dylan, who couldn't have been more excited, as the crazed crowd repeatedly chanted "YOU'RE NOT ABRAMS!!!"  to the unfortunate VCU relief pitcher.

"I'm SO proud,'' Dylan told me. "Sam's dream was always to play here. I'm shocked. I had to sit somewhere else because my mom freaks out and makes me nervous.

"I was thinking, 'Is Sam going to break Omaha or is he going to make Omaha?"

Now Dylan -- and the rest of the college baseball world -- knows the answer.

"He's going to make it!'' Dylan told me.

That, he did.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN