Replacing a handful of NFL draft picks no easy task, but here's where UM made strides this spring

The Miami Hurricanes have to replace 11 starters and potentially five players who look like they will get taken within the first three rounds of the NFL Draft next month: running back Duke Johnson, receiver Phillip Dorsett, offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, tight end Clive Walford and linebacker Denzel Perryman.

So is there enough talent in Coral Gables to improve upon a 6-7 season and contend for the Atlantic Coast Conference title?

That was a hard question to answer at Saturday's spring game especially with a trio of key players out with injuries (cornerback Tracy Howard, defensive tackle Calvin Heurtelou, safety Rayshawn Jenkins), another held out because he broke curfew (running back Joe Yearby) and 17 of the 22 recruits in the signing class still yet to arrive on campus.

But here's what offensive coordinator James Coley and defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said they saw this spring in terms of growth: 

> Even though he split time this spring between baseball and football, redshirt freshman Malik Rosier (6-1, 212) has impressed all camp and was sound again Saturday. He engineered a 12-play, 84-yard scoring drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown pass to receiver Braxton Berrios and it's clear coaches feel better about its backup quarterback situation.

"He's juggling two different calendars right now," Coley said. "When he goes full time in the fall it's going to be fun -- because he can play man, he can run. He's a really good athlete."

Although he struggled Saturday and was picked off three times, starter Brad Kaaya "got better every week as well," Coley said. "His passing percentage was sick all spring long, 78-80 percent."

> Gus Edwards left Saturday's scrimmage with a left shoulder injury, but running backs coach Ice Harris said the junior has clearly taken the next step in terms of development.

Coley said Edwards will enter the fall as the No. 1-back ahead of Yearby. Coley said Edwards has some of the fastest "GPS numbers" on the team, which measures speed, effort and distance traveled and he isn't worried about him being too big for the position.

"You see consistency with the reads, the decision making, when he's running routes, his protections," Coley said. "With his overall consistency you can feel comfortable calling the base offense with him starting the game. Either way, they're both going to play."

> Replacing the speedy Dorsett, who helped stretch the field won't be easy, but Coley believes he has two receivers capable of it. 

"Stacy [Coley] and Herb [Waters]," he said. "Herb's got to come down with a couple of those catches, but he was open. He's just go to finish the play. Stacy, we just need to get him the ball. He's wide open. There was a couple times [Saturday] there where we missed a guy up front and Brad's got to scramble. He's got Stacy breaking open and can't get him."

> Who is the most improved offensive weapon? "I would say Malcolm Lewis because of the strides he hit with getting his weight down," Coley said. "He made so many plays this spring. I would say it's hard to say Malcolm Lewis isn't back to his speed."

> Replacing Walford at tight end, who led the team in catches (44), appears to be a tougher task. Junior Standish Dobard had another drop Saturday and Coley admitted he's been inconsistent in camp. Newcomer Jerome Washington also still needs to make a lot of strides. 

> UM's offensive line, which must replace four starters (right guard Danny Isidora is the only full-timer back), gave up six sacks Saturday and clearly has to make the biggest improvement of any unit. A healthy Kc McDermott (he was around for only four spring practices), Taylor Gadbois and the addition of five recruits will help, Coley said.

> Does UM have a linebacker that can remotely fill the shoes of Denzel Perryman at linebacker?

"One guy? Not one guy," D'Onofrio said. "He had physical gifts and the ability to time those [big hits] up and see them happen, annihilate the ball carrier. That's a skill that he had and he brought and not everybody has that level of explosiveness to them, but that doesn't mean they can't be great players. 

"Everybody has their own skill set and I'm pleased with the group. We have to build some depth, get guys in a position where they can impact the game. But I like the direction we went in."

D'Onofrio said senior Raphael Kirby is the leader of the group "that sets the standard in meetings, on the field, how he prepares."

"Obviously Jermaine [Grace] has a unique skill set in that he can run," he continued. "Darrion Owens is different. He's 6-3 and he can do a lot of things for us. They're all kind of different in their own way and they're all improving."

> Although the defensive line must replace two starters who logged a lot of playing time in Anthony Chickillo and Olsen Pierre, D'Onofrio said he's pleased he has six former first year players who garnered plenty of experience last season. 

Who is the best pass rusher?

"I'd rather talk about most improved," D'Onofrio said with a chuckle. "I think [Ufomba] Kamalu made some really big strides. Chad [Thomas] is gifted, so he's got an opportunity where he can just beat guys easily at times. I think Trent Harris has made really big strides. For a young player, he's really a technician both in the run game and the pass game. He knows how to use his hands to beat guys, knows how to setup moves and do all that kind of stuff."

> D'Onofrio said new defensive line coach Randy Melvin has been stressing a different technique when it comes to pass rushing that he prefers. 

"If you meet a point of resistance we can't stop and try to bat down balls," D'Onofrio said. "We want to keep collapsing the pocket, keep making progress on the quarterback. That was a big goal and I think we did that. I see the guys doing that right now, working their countermoves. Randy has done a great job."

> As for the secondary, which lost only senior Ladarius Gunter to graduation and junior Antonio Crawford (he quit the team), D'Onofrio feels like the safeties made tremendous growth.

"The No. 1 thing back there that they have to be able to do, they have to be able to communicate, get us in the right call," D'Onofrio said. "[Jamal Carter] and Dallas [Crawford] made huge strides in that area. Very proud of what they've done there."

The Hurricanes have three corners and one safety coming in the fall. If needed, D'Onofrio said, Deon Bush would be his first choice to switch from safety to corner in a pinch. Gunter did that the other way, moving from corner to safety, last season.

"Deon played some corner today," he said. "He'd been doing it throughout the spring. That's something we always try to do, look ahead and down the line, move guys around a little bit."

March 28, 2015

Miami Hurricanes running back Joe Yearby suspended for spring game

I learned earlier today from a source close to UM football that running back Joe Yearby, who so badly wanted to show what he could do on the field in the spring game, has been suspended for the spring game for violation of team rules. Also suspended: walk-on quarterback Isaac Hoza.

UM confirmed the news.

I was told by two sources, but not by UM, that Yearby was suspended for breaking curfew last night. Curfew was around 1030 p.m.

Yearby apparently said he was with his baby daughter, who I found out after the scrimmage was born sometime this winter -- not within the past few days. 

I feel for him, because he's a hard-working kid and really loves being a Hurricane. Coaches are now cracking down on players who miss curfew or are late. 

Yearby, who will be a sophomore next season, played in 12 games in 2014, gaining 509 yards and one touchdown on 86 carries. He also caught eight passes for 118 yards and a touchdown.

The Hurricanes could have used him today.

HERE'S FULL TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WE HAD WITH JOE LAST WEEK:

Excited about Spring Game?

 Very excited. Looking forward to it because everybody is really going to be paying attention to me because I didn’t do as much as I was supposed to do last year. So I’ve got a point to prove this year so that’s what my motivation is.

 What do you think the bearing of this game is on fall?

 It means a lot to me because if I do good in the spring game  people look at me as I can be a big contributor to the team. I could be able to take on the responsibility that Duke had left. I’m really looking forward to it.

 Do you think you had a quiet spring or do you think you performed like you can?

 I performed like I can but I still have room for improvement. I feel like I have a lot more to do.

 How do you think the RBs in general did this spring trying to replace Duke in his production?

 The running backs in the running backs room, we’re like a brotherhood. We work everyday. No matter what we’re doing on our off days we come in and watch film with each other. We do anything to that can make us better and possibly fill in the role for Duke.

 How do you think you did in scrimmage last week? Do you think you can make an impact in passing game in this offense?

 I’m looking to do anything to help the team to win, whether it’s passing or rushing or even blocking, I’m willing to do it so my team can be on top. 

Miami Hurricanes football spring game today at noon. Here's your info! See you there.

The Hurricanes conclude spring practice with the annual spring game at noon Saturday.

 Location: Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

 Lockhart is very, very close to I-95.

 The exit off I-95 is Commercial Boulevard. Take Commercial west and Lockhart will be on your right side in less than half a mile. 

 Current players will sign autographs on the field beginning at 10 a.m. A few former players will sign autographs afterward. There also will be interactive stations for kids.

Another great addition: The UM Sports Hall of Fame will Gino Torretta's Heisman Trophy and other memorabilia on display. 

Refreshments and merchandise will be sold.

Don't forget your sunscreen!

For you avid fans keeping score, this will be a simple offense vs. defense game.

There will be 12-minute quarters and a 10-minute halftime period. Here's the scoring format:

OFFENSE SCORING:


First down = 1 point

Field goal = 3 points

Touchdown = 6 points

PAT/2-point conversion = 1/2 points

DEFENSE

Defensive stop = 1 point

Fourth-down stop = 2 points

Three-and-out = 3 points

Turnover = 6 points 

 Everything should end by about 2 p.m.

SEE YOU THERE!

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

March 26, 2015

'Head crack,' heavy lifting and getting hyped for the spring game

    After the Hurricanes chanted, “Head crack, the U is back!’’ and “Coastal!’’ as they gathered en masse at the end of their final spring practice session Thursday before the spring game Saturday, they did some heavy lifting – as in 320-something-pounders reverently carrying other 320-something-pounders off the field.

    Photo (3)

   “I know that was tough,’’ said linebacker Jermaine Grace of 6-8, 322-pound redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Sunny Odogwu hoisting 6-4, 325-pound senior defensive tackle Mike Wyche. “Nobody wanted to carry him.’’

   Grace, who will be a junior next season, has some time to go before he gets carried off the field by underclassmen – a tradition during the final spring and fall practices. Until then, he said he’ll be doing his best to ensure that the Hurricanes get their swagger back – beginning with the spring game.

   “Basically, this spring game we’ve got to show everybody that the U is back, that we’re smart, fast and physical and we’re ready to play this season,’’ Grace said. “We’re going to come out hard, fast and just be able to put the U back on the map.’’

   The spring game kicks off at noon at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, with pregame festivities – including team autographs and interactive stations – beginning at 10 a.m. The event is free and open to the public.

********************************************************

 *** Receiver Braxton Berrios was back participating fully at practice Thursday.

*** Cornerback Tracy Howard (shoulder) did not take part in practice Thursday.

*** After practice, Grace explained that "Head crack, the U is back'' is "kind of our little speech and our little breakup that we do. We do it in the meetings, and we do it everytime we get a break. We say, 'Head Crack, the U is back.' So then everybody knows, even us, that Miami is going to be back on the map.

"Oh yeah, Coastal also. [Winning the] Coastal [Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference] is everybody's goal and dream right about now. That's our dream as a team, as a unit. The Coastal is our first thing that we're going to work on. Then it's the championships.''

What did Grace get out of spring practice?

"You know, really just the hard work it's going to take to be a dominant team this year. This year we're trying to go in, we're trying to basically bring the U back. We're trying to bring the swagger and everything back to the University of Miami. It's going to take hard work and dedication to, you know, bring it back because then everybody worked hard and paid the price to be the best. So that's what we want this year.''

**************************************************************************

Lockhart Stadium is off Commercial Boulevard, just west of I-95. Don't forget your sunscreen, and make sure you're well hydrated before you show up! It's going to be hot out there. Refreshments (and UM merchandise) will be on sale.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

March 24, 2015

Tyriq the Freak returns to practice after knee injury. One more practice before spring game.

Hurricanes linebacker Tyriq McCord participated fully at spring football practice -- and was jubilant about it -- Tuesday after injuring a knee March 6 in the first scrimmage.

McCord did not take part in last Saturday's second scrimmage because of what coach Al Golden described as an injury related to the bursa sac, but will compete in the spring game at noon Saturday at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

Photo 1 (1)

When asked if he felt strange knowing that spring practice is almost over, and it's still so early in the season, the 6-3, 242-pound soon-to-be senior pined about his time spent at UM as if he only had a few days left.

"My last spring game, that's crazy,'' he said. "It went by real quick. I was just 209 [pounds] walking in here yesterday. These four years go by so quick. I let them know that, too. Cause, you know, like J-Lew [Jeremy Lewis], a lot of the older guys, [Allen] Hurns, all of them boys, they told us that it's going to go by quick. I didn't listen to them either and look at me now.''

McCord was then told, 'But you have a whole 'nother season.'

"True, but look,'' he replied, pointing to clumps of facial hair. "I'm growing a little peach fuzz now. I had nothin' when I came in.''

McCord said his knee is "doing great. Just had a little stinger, had a little banger. It happened the first scrimmage and it was the beginning of the scrimmage on a little cut right there on the goal line. I kind of banged it up. ...Started to swell up real bad, so I got [the swelling] down and I'm feeling great now.''

McCord wore "a heavy sleeve'' on the knee. Just going to ice it down... right quick. But there's nothing wrong with it right now, so I'm feeling good.''

TRENT HARRIS BIGGER, STRONGER

*** Rush end Trent Harris said he has been with the first team all spring and that he and Al-Quadin Muhammad and Demetrius Jackson have been "pushing each other" to their limits. 

 Harris said strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey has helped him put on muscle and add weight.

   "I've been trying to eat healthy and cut down all the fats and of course get stronger and faster,'' said Harris, who noted he was 6-2 and weighs about 242 after coming in as a freshman at 220 and playing at 225.

    Photo (2)

   Last season, Harris played in 12 games and had 15 tackles, his most playing time on the defense and only tackle for loss coming against Florida A&M.  

  Finally, Harris was asked if he was looking forward to the post-practice barbecue set up on Greentree Field for recruits and players.

  "Oh yeah,'' he said with a grin. "I'm hungry. I probably lost a lot of weight today anyway, so I've got to get a few plates.''

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

Breathtaking week for nation's RBI-leader David Thompson: 2 doubles, triple, 4 HRs (2 grand slams), 13 RBI, 23 total bases.

What a refreshing, feel-good story for an outstanding young man. 

For the second straight week, University of Miami junior inielder David Thompson has been honored by the Atlantic Coast Conference as Player of the Week for his extraordinary hitting.

 Thompson, who plays third base and first base, sat out 32 games last season because of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, defined by the Mayo Clinic as "a group of disorders that occur when the blood vessels or nerves in the space between your collarbone and first rib (thoracic outlet) become compressed. This can cause pain in your shoulders and neck and numbness in your fingers."

A Miami Westminster Christian graduate, Thompson had to have a rib removed, which is obviously very painful. He still ended up hitting .278 with six doubles and 15 RBI for the season after hitting .286 with 46 RBI as a freshman.

Thompson shared his most recent ACC Player of the Week honors with FSU outfielder DJ Stewart.

Talk about an amazing four-game week. Thompson ripped four home runs over that span, including grand slams against Army and Wake Forest. He set a career high with seven RBI in Friday's victory over Wake Forest.

In doing so, Thompson helped lead Miami to an 18-7 record (6-3 ACC) and No. 13 national ranking by Baseball America.

Thompson extended his hitting streak to a career-best 14 games. He leads the nation with 39 RBI and ranks second in the ACC in home runs with eight, and has the second-highest league slugging percentage (.732) and second-most total bases (71).

The Hurricanes return to Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field at 6 p.m. Wednesday for a game against Florida Gulf Coast.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

March 21, 2015

Second Hurricanes' spring scrimmage in the books. Thanks to Al Golden for letting media watch.

Coach Al Golden surprised us all by letting us watch what was originally supposed to be a closed scrimmage Saturday.

It was the second scrimmage of spring, with the final one -- the spring game -- free and open to the public at noon next Saturday, March 28, at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

On a super hot and sunny day (surprise!) at Greentree Field, the Canes' offense and defense had their good and sometimes not-so-good moments.

Like Golden told us after the scrimmage, "There's no way to win as the head coach. It's just a question of watching guys getting great matchups.'' 

Thus, for every great play on someone's part, someone else on the other side missed making one.

Starting quarterback Brad Kaaya had an admirable effort considering he has been pretty sick with the flu all week, and still sounded kind of lousy and sickish when he spoke to us this afternoon.

Second-team quarterback Malik Rosier continues to look better and better. He runs an offense that is quicker-paced and takes advantage of his mobility and elusiveness. He can use his feet or his hands, and he throws a nice ball. He's very easy to like, as is Kaaya. Both guys are reflective and direct in answering our questions. Both are nice guys and have a nice touch on the field. Please keep in mind that UM's second-team defense is not nearly as good as its first-team defense. 

Kaaya completed 12 of 19 passes for 140 yards -- a 71-yard chunk of that going to tailback Joe Yearby on a screen play.

Rosier, who stayed behind in Coral Gables instead of traveling with the baseball team to Wake Forest for an ACC road trip, took advantage of his opportunities. Rosier completed 5 of 10 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns. Rosier's last two passes were TD passes to Malcolm Lewis. The first was for 26 yards and the last, for 45 yards.

"I'm kind of missing baseball,'' Rosier said, "but at the same time I'm keeping up. I heard DT [David Thompson] hit a two-run homer or a home run last night, which was great (actually, two home runs, including a grand slam), so I'm keeping up with the guys, but yeah, kind of a blessing in disguise being here and getting more time in with the ones.''

 Rosier said he knew he needed to stay behind because of Kaaya's flu this past week. "When Coach [James] Coley called me and said that Brad was out, it was clear that he needed me here to run the offense 'cause it's nothing against Vinny, but he just transferred from Texas Tech so the playbook's still difficult. Vinny's getting there, but yeah, Coach Coley needed me here, which actually paid off for me in the long run.''

Together, the QBs completed 17 of 29 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns.

Lewis had a nice day, catching four passes for 89 yards and the two scores -- 15 yards, 3 yards and the two TDs.

Gus Edwards got the first carry of the scrimmage and ended with 16 carries for 85 yards.

Yearby is looking really good these days, though we expect him to put on more meat as the months pass. He ran seven times for 34 yards and a 16-yard touchdown on the scrimmage's second series, led by Rosier. His touchdown was the 71-yarder, with the defense trying its best to catch him, but to no avail. 

Newcomer Vincent Testaverde, a walk-on transfer from Texas Tech, took part in two series. He threw two passes, both incompletions. But just before the scrimmage began, in 9-on-9 drills, threw a beauty of a deep pass to D'Mauri Jones near the left sideline.

Also of note: rising sophomore wide receiver Braxton Berrios made two great plays in this scrimmage before getting hurt in his midsection, apparently his ribs. Berrios' first catch was on a 56-yard screen pass from Rosier. He gracefully zigged and zagged around defenders on that one. Two plays later, Yearby rushed for his touchdown.

Berrios was at it again with a rugged catch in heavy traffic for 20 yards. He clutched the ball as if his life depended on it. He also went down on the play, injuring what appeared to be his midsection/ribs. He didn't play after that, standing the whole time on the sideline with a thick wrap or some type of padding over his midsection.

"He got the wind knocked out of him,'' Golden said. "Whether or not it turned into something with his ribs to be careful with, that's it. We're just being real cautious right now. I blew a couple of drives dead just because the play count was getting high. We've got to be careful this time of year. We're very grateful we came out of it good.''

Here's what Rosier had to say about Berrios' catch in traffic: "Yeah, it was kind of a scramble. We call it 'basic concept.' The line wasn't supposed to cut, so when they cut, the D-line got up really fast, so I tried to make a move. When I did, he turned the out route up and I threw it to him. It was a good catch. yeah, it was a great catch and I kinda feel bad I got him hurt. He was like, 'Naw, it's fine. It's part of football.'

 Defensively, the Canes registered four sacks, courtesy of tackle Anthony Moten, defensive end Trent Harris, safety Deon Bush and middle linebacker Juwon Young.

There were eight tackles for loss.

The leading tackler was strong-side linebacker Darrion Owens.

"I think we improved,'' Owens said, "but there's a lot of improvement to go to be a better team.''

Owens admitted he "should have'' caught Yearby on the touchdown reception. "I had him on that play,'' Owens said. "He's kind of fast. He just got outside me. It's something I've got to fix.''

Starting middle linebacker Raphael Kirby said the defense "started fast'' with "great energy'' and "finished well. We are a lot more comfortable, guys doing their job, just the accountability has really picked up over the last couple weeks. No mishaps, guys in their gaps and that's what's going to make us great.''

Kirby insisted that the first-team defense outplayed the first-team offense.

"We won,'' he said. "I know the ones beat the ones on the offense.''

Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said he didn't "want to sound like a broken record -- this is spring No. 5 -- but I always talk about spring being for the individual improvement, and summer and training camp being when the unit develops together. You're really focusing on individuals. You're trying to work different guys. The depth chart is being flipped back and forth. Certain guys are getting looks with the twos and ones, or the threes. We're focused on indivudals.''

So, which individuals looked good to D'Onofrio?

"You know what's hard?'' he said. "The one thing people may not realize, when we scrimmage against one another, when we go ones, twos, ones, twos, I don't get a break between the series. I'm just calling defense. There's no time to digest the previous series. So, for two hours straight I'm just calling defenses. Overall, I thought the first unit, just to the naked eye, did a really nice job. I thought they were locked in and played well. I thought the second unit started a little slow and finished a little better.''

 The ugly: a lot of penalties. We don't have official numbers, but we do know there were six penalties during the first two drives and eight penalties during the first three drives. 

 "It was just a little sloppy today,'' Kaaya said. "I made a few good throws. We just had too many penalties, too many [self-inflicted] penalties. A few offsides, a few holdings. The first-team offense would get in there and we'd make a 30-yard run and it gets called 15 yards back. That's tough when it's first-and-15. Pretty much every drive, every third down it would go from third-and-1 to third-and-9, or third-and-10, so it was hard -- or even third-and-15. It's hard to stay on schedule when it's like that.''  

 ** Sitting out of the scrimmage with injuries or recuperating from injuries were cornerback Tracy Howard (shoulder), defensive tackle Calvin Heurtelou (knee), linebacker Tyriq McCord (knee), offensive lineman Taylor Gadbois (knee), safety Rayshawn Jenkins (back) and defensive end Scott Patchan (knee) and offensive lineman Hunter Knighton

*** In the kicking game, Michael Badgely kicked a 42-yard field-goal attempt short, but on the mark; He then was given another chance, and kicked it wide right.

*** The only turnover of the scrimmage was a fumble by tight end Stan Dobard. Cornerback Artie Burns recovered the fumble.

*** The offensive line, as is usually the case, had some players rotate in and out at various positions. "For instance,'' Golden said, [Alex] Gall after two series went to center. [Hunter] Wells came in at left guard. Kc [McDermott] I know played right tackle and left tackle today. Danny Isidora played right guard and right tackle. Joe Brown some at right guard with the ones.

The starters, from left to right, were Trevor Darling, Hunter Wells, Nick Linder, Danny Isidora and Sunny Odogwu.

"We're not ready to settle in. But I thought it was a good effort. Those guys want to please, man. They want to work and that's going to be good for us.''

The Canes meet again on Tuesday for practice.

***  Jaquwan Nelson, a 6-4, 230-pound defensive end out of Fort Lauderdale high, on Saturday committed to UM’s Class of 2016. He is not rated by recruiting sites rivals.com and 247sports.com.

 

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

March 20, 2015

Ron Fraser to be immortalized by statue outside of ballpark he loved. Dedication 4/24 before FSU opener.

As the No. 17 Hurricanes (16-6, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) prepare to open an ACC weekend series at Wake Forest (first pitch set for 6 p.m. Friday), the good news has come down that the man who built the program will be immortalized April 24 outside the ballpark he loved.

Gives me goosebumps.

Ron Fraser, who led the Canes for 30 years from 1963-92 and died in 2013, will have his statue dedicated and unveiled before the series opener against Florida State. The ceremony will be free and open to the public on the DiMare Family Champions Plaza outside of Mark Light Field at Alex Rodriguez Park, with no tickets required to gain entrance.

The statue was primarily funded by friends and fans of Fraser, who never posted a losing season and won national titles in 1982 and 1985.

"The entire Fraser family is very excited about the dedication and unveiling of the statue on April 24,'' said Fraser's daughter, Cynthia, on behalf of the Fraser family, in a prepared statement issued by UM. "We are so grateful to the donors and the University for this wonderful tribute, and can't wait to see Ron Fraser back at Mark Light."

Added UM athletic director Blake James: "Ron Fraser touched the lives of thousands through his passion for baseball and for people. It is fitting that his immeasurable love for this community will forever be present at the entrance of our ballpark.''

Current UM coach Jim Morris, who won national titles at UM in 1999 and 2001, said Fraser "was not only the most influential person in college baseball history, but also the most influential in my own professional career. Having a statue in front of our park, honoring all that he did both on the field and off, is going to be something special for his family, our program and for our fans."

Tickets are expected to sell out for the FSU opener at 7 p.m. the night of the dedication. Go to CanesTix.com to purchase tickets.

This is one of those feel-good occasions you likely won't want to miss if you're a Hurricanes fan.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

Download

March 19, 2015

Brad Kaaya misses practice with the flu, opens door (in practice) for Malik Rosier

Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya has the flu, which allowed backup Malik Rosier to take most of the snaps in Thursday's spring practice session.

According to coach Al Golden and offensive coordinator James Coley, Rosier and Vincent Testaverde rose to the challenge.

"Yeah, it was really great -- I mean they really responded,'' Golden said. "Malik I thought ran it today with a lot of poise and precision. We didn't miss a beat there. Great opportunity for him to do what he did... Brad had a little case of the flu Sunday, Monday. We're holding him out and hopefully he'll be back by Saturday.''

Coley of Kaaya: "I think it hit the baseball team, knocked a couple of those guys out and definitely got on a couple of our guys and Brad's one of them. So right now he's on Pedialyte, resting and all that stuff.

"I thought Malik went in there and really looked good. I mean, he really did and he made, you know, there's errors that go on in practice that everybody makes, but he bounced back. He took charge. He made some real big plays with his legs and a couple real good throws. He's [got] a strong arm. He's a gifted athlete. He cares about the game.''

Rosier didn't speak to the media Thursday but did let a couple of us know that instead of traveling with the baseball team today for the ACC weekend series at Wake Forest, he would instead stay back in Coral Gables to participate in the scrimmage -- a wise move. Rosier has been used sparingly as a freshman center fielder in baseball, but he has impressive statistics. He's hitting .600 -- 3 for 5 -- with a home run and 3 RBI in four games.

Coley was asked if having the No. 1 quarterback out can sometimes be a blessing in disguise.

"Of course,'' Coley said, "because you get reps in doing things that really tailors to the next guy. A lot of the stuff that we have in tailors to whoever's the starter or whoever's in that starting role, or a group of guys in that starting role. Brad and Malik are two different guys, so Malik can do a lot of things that Brad can do, but he also brings another element to the game that Brad doesn't bring and you get to work on that a little bit at practice.''

Coley described Rosier as being "not just mobile but being explosive while being mobile. There's a big difference.''

When asked about Testaverde, the soon-to-be-sophomore walk-on who transferred from Texas Tech, Coley said he "took a bunch'' of reps Thursday. "I thought he played well. I still think he's learning the system. There are a lot of things that go into our spring setup. I think sometimes it hurts him a little bit just because there's a lot of extra work going on with other stuff. But I thought he threw some real nice passes there today.''

*** Here's what Coley said he's looking for in Saturday's second scrimmage (again close to the media and the public): "I thought execution was good in the last one. I want to see great execution. I don't want to see self-inflicting penalties or plays. You drive 90 yards and the ball bounces off a guy's helmet that doesn't turn around and it's an interception in the end zone. Or the ball slightly thrown backwards on a receiver just because your'e protecting him from a safety and he kind of closes his eyes and the ball bounces off his shoulders and it's an interception in the end zone.

"We don't want that, right? We don't want turnovers in the red zone. That's kind of what I'm looking at. I'm looking at, 'Hey, now finish the drive.' You know, great job converting third downs along the way. Maybe it was a screen or a big play that got you down there. Now finish the drive. I'm looking for more finish.''

 *** Quick Hits

***LB Tyriq McCord (knee) is getting closer to being cleared for practice, Golden said. "It's the bursa sac,'' Golden said. "It ruptured [and] put some fluid in the knee. Our guys have done a great job getting it out of there. They didn't want to put a needle in there, so they're working it out of there and icing it down. His mobility's coming back and his flexibility. So, hopefully, Monday.'' 

*** DE Al-Quadin Muhammad "is getting better,'' Golden said. "I think the biggest thing with him is he's really studying the game and he's not making the mental errors that he did as a freshman. He's playing faster because of it, so you're seeing that it's because he's got a quiet mind and he's playing with a lot of energy.''

*** Safety Deon Bush will continue to also practice at cornerback, Golden said. "I thought Deon practiced really well today,'' the coach said. "A lot more energy. Communicating well. Had a purpose about him. And he's mature enough to do both.''

*** Left tackle Jahair Jones, a 6-4, 335-pound junior-college transfer, was flattened in a one-on-one drill by defensive end Demetrius Jackson, a rising redshirt freshman who is a 6-5, 250-pounder out of Miami Booker T. Washington High.

   Golden said Jackson has "gotta keep coming. Quan [Muhammad] is a guy who hasn't made many mental errors and Trent [Harris] has really not been a mental error guys since he got here. He's gotta challenge them off the field in terms of study, film study and learning the defense and then just keep coming on the field. He's going to be fine. I really like Demetrius.''

 *** Former UM center Tyler Horn, whose last season was Golden's first in 2011, was among the former players who visited practice Thursday. Horn is a sales rep for Shadowman, a "moving tackling dummy so you can practice on the open field year round with or without pads,'' said Horn, who grew up in Memphis and now lives with his wife in Cape Coral. 

Photo (1)

   Horn said 29 FBS schools, including Oregon, Oklahama, Notre Dame and Clemson, use the Shadowman dummies, which each weigh 40 pounds. The bottom, inner-tube-like portion is filled with air and attached to a harness that fits around the player. The tall, dummy portion fits inside the inner-tube device and moves upon getting smacked, preventing concussions and other injuries.

  Cost: $950 for one and $2,400 for three.

*** Tailback Joe Yearby is still soft-spoken off the field, but he has become louder, "tougher,'' he said, and more aggressive on it. Yearby, who will be a sophomore in 2015, demonstrated his leadership Thursday by smacking an offensive guard "to get him going.

  "Just to let him know that we've got to go. I don't remember who it was,'' Yearby said while laughing. "I think he missed a block or made a wrong block or something."

  Yearby said he's "a little louder'' and "tougher'' because of former Hurricane Duke Johnson's absence. "I talk aggressive just to get everybody [going] so they can know what they're doing and what they've got to do.

  "Duke was the voice of the offense. I feel like I have to be the voice of the offense now that he's gone.''

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

March 17, 2015

News and notes from Tuesday as the Canes resumed spring practice; plus new depth chart

After enjoying a stretch of more than 11 days off for spring break, the Miami Hurricanes resumed spring practice Tuesday with a couple players fully healed from injuries (offensive tackle Kc McDermott and cornerback Tracy Howard), a new face in a red, non-contact jersey (linebacker Tyriq McCord) and a new depth chart.

Here's what was noteworthy from the first of five remaining practices before the March 28 spring game at Fort Lauderdale's Lockhart Stadium:

> No one on the team, it appears, got themselves into trouble over the break. "Did you hear anything," coach Al Golden responded when asked if the break ended without any surprises. "It was awesome."

Golden said he was pleased with the team's attitude and communication during the break. He said players were really mature in Monday's meetings and there was good tempo in Tuesday's practice. "Sometimes you have this transition and it’s a little slow," Golden said. "It wasn’t that. It was a good, tough practice."

> Golden said the injury to McCord, who is listed as the second team strong side linebacker behind sophomore Darrion Owens, isn't "anything significant, but it's something we're being careful with."

> McDermott, who will compete for the starting left tackle job after missing all but the first four games of the 2014 season with a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee, was a full participant for the first time this spring as expected.

"It was great -- definitely, a high adrenaline pump," the 6-6, 315-pound sophomore-to-be said. It wasn’t the best day I’ve ever had, but it was something to build off. I just want to keep it going, get back in the rhythm of things. No problems with my knee at all.”

He ran with the second team at right tackle behind Sunny Odogwu, who had been on the left side before the break. UM has been rotating lineman at different positions all spring. Sophomore Trevor Darling is the first team left tackle and newcomer Jahair Jones, who had been working at guard, is now backing him up.

McDermott said his goal is to be a starter by the spring game.

> Freshman defensive lineman Scott Patchan went through practice in a yellow, limited contact jersey -- an upgrade. He had been in a red, non-contact jersey for the first part of the spring.

> Golden said Odogwu, a liability all of last season, has to stop thinking and play fast. "His punch is better over the course of the spring, but we’ve got to get him to stop shutting down his feet," Golden said. "Sometimes he shuts down his feet on his pass protection. If we can get that figured out in the next five [practices], we’re going to be very happy."

> Senior Deon Bush was passed up on the depth chart at safety by Dallas Crawford, but Golden said part of that had to do with the hamstring injuries that caused him to miss some practices. Golden said the latest depth chart was based on "everything, but weighted" toward what happened in the first scrimmage. UM's second scrimmage is on Saturday.

> Golden said he's pleased with the way junior Gus Edwards, listed as the first teamer at running back, is asserting himself. But he wouldn't say he's the main back ahead of sophomore Joe Yearby just yet.

"There’s no question he’s not shying away from trying to be the guy, which is great," Golden said. "Because Gus is big sometimes people think he’s slow. He’s not slow. He might be a little bit longer strider down the field and not as agile, but he is fast. He can catch a screen and go, catch it out of the backfield and go. We’ve got to work on that part of his game."

> Sophomore Trayone Gray, who played mostly quarterback and receiver at Carol City High, fumbled Tuesday and admitted making the adjustment to running back hasn't been easy.

"I never had to run through the hole, try to break tackles because in high school I was an open field release, ran a read offense," he said. "It's been tough trying to keep my pad level down, getting my footwork down at running back."

Gray said he's been studying Steelers Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell. "We're the same size, same weight," Gray said. "I like to see how he runs, try to urn similar to him."

> Part of the changes the Hurricanes are implementing offensively (aside from more plays picked up from the Dallas Cowboys) is changing the pace to throw opponents off.

"We change up our pace a lot more now," said sophomore Alex Gall, listed as a co-starter at left guard. "We’ll go from a fast pace to a slow pace. We’re getting in the huddle more, just trying to move from the huddle to the ball real quick, just changing the pace is a real big thing for us right now.

Gray said the offense is "speeding it up a little bit, trying to catch the defense off guard, get more [explosive] plays."

"It's a little more tiring," Gray said. "But you catch the defense off guard you have less to worry about."

> Former Weston Cypress Bay kicker Jonathan Semerene is back with the team this spring. Semerene is the kicker who was seen on YouTube booting field goals from 70 yards out.

Golden said Semerene "was going through a lot in the fall and decided to step away" before returning.

"He’s a really good kid and we wanted to give him an opportunity to come back and we’re glad he is back," Golden said. "He’s got a strong leg. We’ve got to get him in shape so he’s more explosive and quicker with his leg. A lot of that is body composition and getting leaner and doing all those things. The strength staff will do a great job with him. He just joined us here."

March 16, 2015

Canes slugger David Thompson named ACC Player of the Week; Football announces staff promotions, additions

It was a big week at the plate for Hurricanes third baseman David Thompson and it paid off Monday when he was honored as the ACC's Player of the Week.

Thompson hit .524 (11-for-21) with two doubles, three home runs and a team-high 13 RBI as the Hurricanes went 5-0. Thompson’s walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning Friday keyed a three-game sweep of NC State over the weekend.

In a 15-4 win over FGCU last Tuesday, Thompson set career marks with four hits and six RBI and came just a triple shy of the cycle. His slugging percentage was 1.048 for the week. For the season, he is hitting .354 with team-high totals of four home runs and 26 RBI, and his .608 slugging percentage leads all players.

UM has a 12-1 record at Mark Light Field this season, and is ranked in the top 25 of every national poll. The Hurricanes return to the diamond Tuesday for a midweek matchup with Army before traveling to Wake Forest for a weekend series.

FOOTBALL STAFF NEWS

The Miami Hurricanes on Monday formally announced the promotion of current staff members Larry Scott, Kareem Brown, Eric Josephs and Jorge Baez, and the addition of Josh Darrow, Evan Cooper and Jake Flaherty to the staff.

Scott, the tight ends coach, will add the title of run game coordinator. Brown, a former graduate assistant who has spent time coaching the defensive line, will serve as the outside linebackers coach and direct the team’s nickel package defense. Josephs, who spent the last two years in the football operations department, is now director of player personnel. Baez will serve as the coordinator of on-campus recruiting/offensive personnel.

The three additions to the Hurricanes’ staff will feature Darrow moving into the role of assistant director of football operations (high school relations and community affairs), Cooper as the assistant director of player personnel, and Flaherty serving as the team’s offensive graduate assistant.

Scott is no stranger to working with running backs as he served as the running backs coach at USF in 2012. For Brown, a former Hurricane, this will be the first time he serves as an assistant coach.

Prior to his arrival at UM, Josephs had three different intern stints in the NFL, working with the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles. In his new capacity, Josephs will be responsible for the identification, selection, organization and flow charts of perspective recruits. In addition, the 2008 Miami alum will be responsible for the recruiting travel logistics of coach Al Golden.

Baez, a Miami native, came to UM after spending the 2013 season as Gulliver Prep’s offensive coordinator and two seasons at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La. where he worked as the team’s wide receivers coach and co-passing game coordinator. Baez will now coordinate all unofficial visits, independent junior days and continue with his role as the team’s offensive player personnel director.

Darrow has been a sideline reporter for UM football since 1999 and covered South Florida high school, college and professional sports for nearly 15 years at WQAM and SFHSSports.com. He will coordinate the Hurricanes’ 7-on-7 Clinic, oversee the program’s in-house social media messaging, manage high school coaching visits to spring practice, direct gameday experiences for youth coaches, oversee instructional clinics in South Florida, supervise the Deserve Victory Tour and coordinate team community events.

Flaherty arrives in Coral Gables after serving as an offensive quality control assistant at Montana State University. Under Flaherty’s assistance, the Bobcats offensive unit averaged nearly 500 yards per game (488.3). MSU finished the year with an 8-4 record and just missed out on a bid to the NCAA playoffs. In addition, Flaherty spent the summer of 2013 working as a Dallas Cowboys training camp intern. During the summer of 2013, Flaherty worked closely with the Cowboys wide receivers under assistant coach Derek Dooley. As student-athlete, Flaherty played four years at wide receiver at Bucknell University.

Cooper joins the staff after spending the past two seasons serving as a defensive graduate assistant at Temple University where he played. Cooper spent two seasons as the defensive backs coach at Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy prior to that. At Temple, Cooper played for Golden and had 44 tackles during his senior season en route to earning the 2008 Carlos Diaz Award as the most improved player following his final season.

March 12, 2015

Pre-game scene @ACC Tourney

About 40 minutes 'til tipoff for the ACC Tournament quarterfinal between UM and No. 11 Notre Dame. Canes are the sixth seed, Irish the third.

A few pre-game scenes...

Ran across this super fan in the parking lot!

ACCBJ

Her name is B.J. Abolt, a retired auto tag agency owner who drove up with a friend from LaBelle, Fla., near Fort Myers.

They came up in a motor coach for the women’s basketball tournament and stayed for the men’s. Her brother and sister-in-law went to UM, and she adopted their team. She travels all over the country for UM sporting events. The license tag on her car back home is “CANES,’’ and the tag on her motor coach and Jeep is “2 4 U.’’

Why does she love the basketball teams so much?

“I grew up in Indiana with a basketball in my hand,’’ said Abolt. “I’m a big football fan, but now we have such terrific coaches that we’re involved with the basketball programs and it’s fun. This team, if they’re on, they can beat anybody here. Anybody.’’

She went on to rave about UM women's coach Katie Meier and men's coach Jim Larranaga, saying both are great teachers who make their players better.

A little while later, in the arena hallway, the Canes took over the hallway for some pre-game calisthenics.

ACCWARMUP

Good news for us reporters writing on tight deadline tonight...Duke is crushing NC State 77-51 with 2 minutes to go, which means the UM game should start earlier than last night's 9:43 p.m. tipoff.

Enjoy the game -- Michelle Kaufman

March 05, 2015

Multiple touchdowns, diving interceptions and a 57-yard field goal highlight Miami Hurricanes' first spring scrimmage

There were touchdowns. There were interceptions. There was at least one fumble. And there was a whopper of a field goal – “57 or 58 yards,’’ according to University of Miami football coach Al Golden.

   The first spring scrimmage of 2015, closed to the media and most of the public, apparently had some good, some bad and some wow moments.

     Defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, linebackers Juwon Young and Jermaine Grace, cornerback Artie Burns, running back Gus Edwards, receivers Stacy Coley, Rashawn Scott and Braxton Berrios, tight end Stan Dobard and kicker Mike Badgley were among the players who stood out in the Hurricanes’ first spring scrimmage Thursday at Greentree Field, according to the players who spoke afterward.

    “It went pretty well,’’ said quarterback Brad Kaaya, who threw multiple touchdowns and two interceptions that were diving, acrobatic plays by Grace and safety Dallas Crawford. “A lot of guys making plays on both sides of the ball.

   “It feels like we just ended the season. Almost feels like a fall scrimmage, to be honest.’’

    Kaaya said Scott, who returns for his final season after sitting out in 2014 with a clavicle injury, and Coley, who will be a junior after a disappointing season, were especially impressive.

   “Rashawn had a lot of grabs,’’ Kaaya said. “He was a grown man out there.

   “Stan had a nice 80-yard catch.

    “Stacy had a really good day. He killed it today. He was making all kinds of grabs, so he was killing the DBs today.’’

   Kaaya said Muhammad “was in there a lot. He was all over the place. He was covering and getting in, beating our O-line, moving, all kinds of stuff.”

   Joining Kaaya in the scrimmage were backup Malik Rosier and No. 3 quarterback Vincent Testaverde.

   "Even Malik is being a leader with the 2's,'' Dobard said. "He's leading them, making sure they're doing the right things and helping with the other guys.''

   Golden refrained from compliments, saying he needed to look at film and ‘grade ‘em up and see where we’re at and go from there.”

   The coach did reiterate that the team needs to “get rid of the selfish penalties and the operational penalties. We had a couple too many of those.

   “And we’ve got to protect the ball. There’s going to be a deflection, that’s part of the game. But in terms of just putting the ball on the ground at tailback, we can’t do that. We did that today in a bad situation.’’

   Soon-to-be sophomore Juwon Young, now up to 245 pounds, was brought to talk to the media as a defensive player who excelled.

   “I had some pass breakups, some tackles for loss. You know, minor stuff,’’ said Young, who had one of the deflections that turned into an interception. “Now I’m kind of getting more of an understanding. I know what I’m doing. I guess it just took a good year for me to adjust to the system.’’

   Dobard said he scored a touchdown from the “2- or 3-yard-line” on the first play of the scrimmage in goal-line practice.

  “We came out with a pass play,’’ he said. “I think we caught them off guard with that one.’’

   Coley said he caught two touchdowns Thursday, both on corner routes.

   “I just attacked the corner after leveraging and made a play on it,’’ said Coley, who noted he wants at least 14 touchdowns in 2015. “I feel like I’m having fun again.’’

   After Friday classes, the players part for spring break and return by next weekend. Practice resumes March 17.

   Badgley, who is from New Jersey and will accompany good friend Kaaya to his home in Los Angeles on Friday night, kicked what UM said was a 57-yard field goal. Had it been a real game, it would have tied the Hurricanes’ record of 57 yards by Danny Miller at Florida State in 1981.

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN   

   

March 03, 2015

A little science, a little scuffle -- and a spring scrimmage on tap for the Hurricanes

 Hurricanes football has brought science to the football field – and the players are having fun with it, not to mention revealing some strengths and weaknesses.

  More than two dozen players are wearing Catapult GPS devices that track their heart rates, speed, distance traveled  and overall performance during practice.

   Each player wears a lightweight device, fastened to a harness and lying between their shoulder blades, that monitors the information and records how they’ve done. Sometimes that can be very motivating.

   Take 6-2, 235-pound Gus “the Bus” Edwards, a mighty powerful bus at that.

   “I’ve seen a large change in Gus’ work ethic,’’ quarterback Brad Kaaya said Tuesday. “He’s working a lot harder. We have these tracking devices under our pads which kind of calculate how hard we’re working in practice, and everyday Gus has the highest workload registered.

   “He’s working his tail off.’’

   “The feedback I’ve been getting is that one day, a couple of the first practices, I got up to 20 miles per hour,’’ Edwards confirmed Tuesday after practice. “My workload, they think I’m getting a good workload in.’’

   How cool is that?

   “When you get your numbers in, it may tell you how you’re doing and it makes you want to go harder and have a better day. …They tell you about your workload, too. Like during walkthroughs, coaches will say, ‘I think you should slow it down a little bit. You’re going too fast.’

    “And telling you [during] team periods, ‘Try to go as hard as you can.’’’

   Edwards conceded that receiver Rashawn Scott was once monitored at moving 21 miles an hour. “So far, that’s the highest I’ve heard. Hopefully I’ll get higher than that during [Thursday’s] scrimmage. I’ve really got a chance.’’

   Edwards said his 20-mile-an-hour result came on a play when he “broke out.’’

   “For Scott,’’ he said, “I think he ran a fade route. So guys are just trying to get high on that. They kind of come to you after practice and tell you, ‘Artie [Burns] got 19, I got 20. So guys are just competing.’’

   UM coach Al Golden on Tuesday called the Catapult “really, really interesting technology.’’ Golden noted that UM is using 25 to 28 units “on guys just to learn how we’re practicing and their output and what we need to do better and how we want to devise our practices.

   “It’s like anything else, right? So my kids, they listen to the woman on the car tell you where to drive and I try to explain to them that we used to have to stop and got to a gas station and stuff. You didn’t know how you lived without it. So this is the same kind of deal. It’s an amazing system in terms of just best practices and how to improve.’’

 ***In injury news, cornerback Tracy Howard sat out again Thursday with a shoulder injury and is not expected to compete in the scrimmage Thursday, Golden said.

 ***The coach said safety Deon Bush was sick but “hopefully’’ will be back for the scrimmage. Raphael Kirby also was sick Saturday.

 ***Thursday’s scrimmage at Greentree Field will be closed to the media and public. It will be a controlled scrimmage “so we can teach off it and get it on film and then carry it into preseason camp,’’ Golden said.

Backup quarterback Malik Rosier is expected to compete in the scrimmage and then travel with the baseball team the same day to Louisville for a weekend series.

 ***The offensive linemen got into an intense scuffle with some defenders, including defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, during Tuesday’s practice. It took quite a few seconds to separate the bunch.

“I don’t like when it gets personal and I don’t like when it gets cheap,’’ Golden said. “If it’s natural and it’s heated and it’s not orchestrated, again, I have no idea what happened over there. I’ll talk to the staff when we go in. We’ve got to do a better job with our penalties. Obviously, I don’t want to reinforce just everybody hauling off and doing something stupid every time they’re upset. I’ve got to get the context from my coaches and then I’ll address it from there.

   “But we have to be more disciplined. There’s no way around that.’’

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

  

 

       

Willie Abreu is "dying'' of excitement "just to meet Giancarlo." However...

  The Hurricanes' baseball team, which maintained its No. 11 Baseball America ranking Monday after winning two of three from Wright State this past weekend, is on its way to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter to play the Miami Marlins in an exhibition game at 1:05 p.m. Tuesday.

 Right fielder Willie Abreu, who had four hits in five at-bats Sunday and won the game for Miami with a walk-off hit Saturday night, is especially pumped to face the Marlins.

  "I'm dying!'' Abreu said when asked after Sunday's game if he was excited about playing the Marlins. "I'm super excited to be able to go out there and just meet Giancarlo [Stanton]. Last year as a freshman I saw him in the outfield and he's kind of who I idolize as a player and who I hope to one day become. Obviously, I'm me and I'm myself, but i like to see the way he plays the ball game. I like him a lot so I'm hoping to be able to meet him, shake his hand and wish him luck."  

Unfortunately, Abreu might not be afforded that opportunity. Stanton will be on the back fields today instead of in the Marlins lineup to give him more time to practice before playing in his first Grapefruit League game against the Cardinals on Thursday.

 He might come and watch some of the UM game, however, so you never know.

 Daniel Briggi, a senior walk-on pitcher who tried out twice to make the UM team but was cut both times before this season, said he, too, can't wait.

 In his only two career appearances in relief, Briggi has struck out six in five innings and has not given up a hit or run.

   "Very excited to play against those guys,'' Briggi said. "You watch them on TV, you grow up aspiring to be one of those players. Having the opportunity to be that close, to be able to play against them is special.

   Perhaps going against a major leaguer will be the charm for sophomore Zack Collins, who is hitting a team low .190 among regular starters. Collins, the 2014 ACC Rookie of the Year and home-run hitting member of Team USA this past summer, hit a solo home run in last year's UM-Marlins game -- a 5-2 Marlins victory.

HERE ARE SOME BASEBALL NOTES PROVIDED BY THE HURRICANES 

• The Miami Hurricanes will face off against the Miami Marlins in the annual exhibition between the two teams at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. First pitch for Tuesday’s exhibition is set for 1:05 p.m.

• UM fell to the Marlins in last season’s matchup, dropping a 5-2 decision at Roger Dean Stadium. Zack Collins connected on a solo home run in the defeat.

• The Hurricanes were the first team to face the Marlins at Marlins Park, when the two teams met in a stadium-opening exhibition on March 6, 2012.

• Miami’s last victory over the Marlins came on Feb. 27, 2011 in Jupiter, when the Hurricanes pulled away with a 9-8 win. The Marlins have an all-time series lead of 10-2-1.

 Heating Up

• Miami captured its sixth straight home series victory dating back to 2014, taking two of three from reigning Horizon League regular season champions Wright State to improve its record to 8-4.

• Among Miami’s top performers against the Raiders: Ricky Eusebio (5-for-10 at the plate), Carl Chester (.429, six hits, solo home run) and Willie Abreu (.429, six hits, walk-off single in game two).

• George Iskenderian is hitting .333 (6-for-18) over the last five games, including three steals and a team-high five runs scored.

• Freshman lefthander Michael Mediavilla has allowed just one run in his six appearances this season (1.69 ERA), with seven strikeouts compared to just one walk.

 


One-Two Punch

• Despite the graduation of leadoff hitter Dale Carey and two-hole Tyler Palmer - who combined in those roles in 62 of 63 games in 2014 - freshman Carl Chester and junior Ricky Eusebio have delivered in their places.

• Chester opened his career on a seven-game hitting streak, has a team-leading two home runs & 26 total bases, six RBI and a .491 slugging percentage - third-best among regulars.

• Eusebio is reaching base at a .582 clip to open the season, with a .405 AVG (15-for-37) and 13 walks compared to just 4 strikeouts.

• Chester & Eusebio give UM a speedy duo at the top of the order - Eusebio is a perfect 6-for-6 on steals, while Chester has five extra-base hits - tied for the team lead.

    SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

February 27, 2015

Late addition to 2015 signing class CB Terrance Henley will replace Antonio Crawford

Sometimes a scholarship spot just opens up.

HenleyIn the case of Pompano Ely cornerback Terrance Henley, a senior who didn't get the qualifying ACT test score he needed until National Signing Day, one finally did this week down at the University of Miami. Friday afternoon, the 6-foot, 170-pound senior became the latest addition to the Hurricanes 2015 signing class when he faxed over his signed national letter of intent to the UM offices.

Although UM has yet to officially announce his signing, it's expected Henley will take the spot of senior cornerback Antonio Crawford, whose mother told Canesport Friday her son had been granted his release. UM's sports information department said Friday at 3:30 p.m. it had no official news regarding Henley or Crawford as of yet. 

As for Henley, he was happy.

"It's been a very emotional time of late," Henley said. "When I found out I passed my ACT on Signing Day I was extremely happy, tears of joy. But when me and [assistant principal Malcolm] Spence called schools and they told me they were full I felt like giving up. Mr. Spence just told me to be patient, my time will come. And it came. Miami said they had an opening because one of their seniors left."

Henley was an unranked, no-star recruit according to 247Sports. But he said he was always on UM's radar, having shined at their camp with one of the fastest 40-times (4.5 seconds). A two-year starter at Ely, Henley said he intercepted three passes as a senior and six as a junior.

"I had about five or six other offers," Henley explained. "All the colleges asked me for my scores and I didn't have the scores. So basically my offer was just sitting there and other players kept filling that spot. James Madison, UAB, FIU, Temple, Tennessee State, Miami and Southwest Baptist were the schools who recruited me and told me I had offers."

Henley, who runs track (he said his fastest time in the 100 meters was 10.7 seconds), said he will be enrolled at UM this summer.

"Like I told the defensive coordinator [Mark D'Onofrio], I'll play wherever they can put me to try and get us a championship," he said. "I've always worn orange and green -- from high school to pop warner with the Pompano Chiefs. Miami was always my favorite school growing up."

Henley's younger cousin is one of the area's top 2017 recruits -- Cardinal Gibbons receiver Leroy Henley, an All-Broward First Team selection with 52 catches for 730 yards and eight touchdowns in 2014. Miami is hot on his trail. 

"The thing with me and my little cousin is we always wanted to play together," Terrance said. "By me going to Miami most likely, like 99 percent likely, my little cousin is going to end up coming to Miami too."

As for Crawford, he ends his career with 58 career tackles and two starts. He was in the rotation at cornerback and played a lot, but apparently unhappy with his role.

"I wanted him to stay, told him to stay, but it's his decision," Crawford's mother Shawanda Rogers told Canesport. "He said he wants to play somewhere else, wants to be a starter, doesn't want to be second [string]. He just feels that he's going to try to play somewhere else."

Here's what Crawford tweeted out this afternoon.

> Meanwhile, UM picked up its fifth Class of 2017 commitment Friday when Miami Norland offensive tackle Kadeem Telfort (6-6, 310) announced on Twitter he was committing to the Canes.

Telfort wants to follow in the footsteps of former Norland grad Ereck Flowers, who is expected to be UM's first first round pick since 2007.

February 26, 2015

Miami Hurricanes' baseball ace Andy Suarez scratched again with pulled oblique muscle

   University of Miami left-handed ace pitcher Andy Suarez will miss at least one more week of baseball as the Hurricanes (6-3) prepare to play Wright State (4-2) in a three-game series that begins at 7 p.m. Friday at Mark Light Field.

   Miami coach Jim Morris told the Miami Herald on Thursday that Suarez, who pulled an oblique muscle during warmups last Friday at Gainesville, was still recuperating and will be replaced by lefty Thomas Woodrey (2-0, 2.13 ERA) in the Wright State opener.

   Redshirt junior Suarez chose to return to the Hurricanes this season after being drafted last June in the second round – 57th overall – by the Washington Nationals and giving up what would have been nearly $1 million in slot money. He was the highest drafted player to return to college this season.

   Suarez’s only appearance of 2015 was on opening night against Rutgers. He gave up two earned runs in five innings on eight hits and two walks, but did not earn a decision in UM’s victory.

   “He’ll be fine,’’ Morris said. “Whether it takes two weeks or three weeks, when his body tells him he’s ready he’ll be back.

   “…The good news is it’s not an arm injury – it’s not huge. He’ll be fine. But we’re not going to rush him, at all, under any condition.’’

   If pulled, oblique muscles -- they run up and down the sides of the abdomen -- can take several weeks to heal.

   "The last time we had that type of injury [Ryan] Braun was out for a month,'' Morris said. "He had the same oblique injury. He pulled it swinging, but in this case it was throwing. It took a while to get loose.''

   Wright State is coached by former UM catcher Greg Lovelady, who won two national championships under Morris in 1999 and 2001.

   After Woodrey’s start on Friday, UM will go with right-handed junior Enrique Sosa (1-1, 1.54) at 7 p.m. Saturday and right-handed sophomore Derik Beauprez (1-0, 4.50) at 1 p.m. Sunday.

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

Berrios on Canes '#Swag16' recruiting class: "From what I've seen, every commitment is real."

They've gotten so popular they have their own hash tag. They call themselves the #Swag16.

The Miami Hurricanes 2016 recruiting class is currently 18 commitments strong and tabbed No. 1 in the country in both sheer size of commitments and overall ranking.

And yet, as UM fans learned through a bevy of de-commitments last recruiting season, it all means absolutely nothing until those commitments sign on the dotted line and make it official on National Signing Day 2016.

So why should we care about commitments? Why should we believe this class will remain intact 12 months from now? There really is no reason. Really, it's just another barometer to measure the job Golden is doing. If he wins, the commits probably stick. If the Canes stink, they'll likely flee.

It's pretty simple really: 12 months is a really long time for a lot of things to happen. 

"They committed early and that's a great thing. I just hope that it's a strong commitment and not for publicity or whatever," said receiver Braxton Berrios, who was part of a 2014 UM class (Brad Kaaya, Joe Yearby, Chad Thomas were other leaders) who bought into Golden's long term vision. 

"With this whole social media, Twitter, Instagram, type era -- that's the big thing publicity, followers. From what I've seen, every commitment that we have is real. They're serious about it. They're diehard Canes or they want to be. So we love it. We love getting commitments and we want them to be here.

"They seem to be together kind of like we were [in 2014]. We want to know as the senior class leaves the next class is coming in. If we can get the snowball rolling now imagine what it can be going into summer and into winter."

UM, set to host another Junior Day this coming Saturday, is still dealing with NCAA sanctions from the Nevin Shapiro scandal.

We learned recently the Canes will still be three scholarships short in 2016. Football recruits also can still only attend one free game (football, basketball, whatever) while the program is on probation. Golden said this weekend's junior day will be "a little tricky because we have some guys coming that have been to a football game so they can't go to the [North] Carolina basketball game."

Still, the Hurricanes -- despite going 6-7 in 2014 -- have found a way to thrive in recruiting (the 2015 class aside). Although UM lost a 2016 commitment from Lakeland defensive tackle Keyshon Camp Wednesday, they've picked up a dozen other commitments between the classes of 2017 and even 2018 since their first Junior Day back on Jan. 25.

How in the world has that happened?

"I just think we've had a lot of guys that identified with what we're doing and who we are and are matches for us," said Golden, who said the fact UM has poured millions into upgrading its facilities -- practice fields ($7M), training tables ($3M), student center ($56M) -- has helped out tremendously.

"I don't look at it like it's a philosophy," Golden continued. "A lot of them wanted to do it and be a part of it. I think it's great. But it's a long way to go as you guys know. We'll just keep moving forward. We have a lot of work to do."

And nearly all of that work is on the field. Going from 6-3 to 6-7 last season certainly hurt the Canes down the recruiting stretch. The Canes have to prove in 2015 they can win from start to finish and really contend for the ACC title, not just flirt with it. Or, Golden, and most of his recruits, could be gone. At the end of the 2014 season, it was the top recruits who bolted.

"I don't think the Class of '16 having [18] commitments right now [can be] bad," Berrios said when asked how potential decommitments in the 2016 class could be more damaging in the long run. "Obviously that means people want to be here. When they go on Yahoo and see the class rankings they see we're ahead [that helps]. Obviously we want them to come here if they're committed here. If they don't, they don't.

"I think [how we play on the field ultimately] always plays a factor. You look at the last few years, not even with us, just other teams. I think how you close out the year [on the field] and how close it is to signing day -- that little sway -can influence kids. So I think it's always relative and it always matters."

A LOOK AT UM'S 2016, 2017 and 2018 COMMITMENTS
2016-Jack Allison, QB, Palmetto, Fla., 6-5, 181, 3-stars (Committed since 6/23/14)
2016-Mike Pinckney, LB, Jacksonville Raines, 6-0, 213, 3-stars (6/24/14)
2016-Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Orange Park Oakleaf, 6-0, 239, 4-stars (6/25/14)
2016-Dionte Mullins, WR, Gulliver Prep, 5-10, 175, 4-stars (7/4/14)
2016-Sam Bruce, WR, St. Thomas Aquinas, 5-8, 178, 4-stars (7/8/14)
2016-Ahmmon Richards, WR, Wellington, 6-3, 175, 3-stars (7/22/14)
2016-Zach McCloud, LB, Lantana Santaluces, 6-2, 215, 3-stars (11/17/14)
2016-Isaiah Johnson, WR, West Palm Beach Dwyer, 6-3, 190, 3-stars (12/15/14)
2017-Todd Centeio, QB, West Palm Beach Dwyer, 6-0, 190, NR (12/16/14)
2016-Cedrick Wright, ATH, Gulliver Prep, 5-10, 180, 3-stars (1/25/15)
2016-Joseph Jackson, DE, Gulliver Prep, 6-6, 245, 4-stars (1/25/15)
2016-Amir Rasul, RB, Coral Gables, 5-10, 188, 3-stars (1/25/15)
2016-Devin Gil, DB, Flanagan, 6-1, 195, 3-stars (1/26/15)
2016-Tyler Byrd, ATH, Naples, 5-11, 160, 4-stars (2/3/15)
2016-James Wiggins, DB, South Dade, 5-10, 185, 3-stars (2/13/15)
2016-Evan Hinson, DE, Deltona, 6-5, 210, 0-stars (2/13/15)
2016-McArthur Burnett, RB, Pahokee, 6-1, 180, 3-stars (2/17/15)
2016-Greg Simmons, LB, Fort Pierce Central, 6-2, 225, 3-stars (2/18/15)
2017-Bentavious Thompson, RB, Killian, 6-0, 183, NR (2/22/15)
2018-A.J. Blades, DB, University School, 6-1, 147 NR (2/22/15)
2016-Deion Jackson, DB, Hallandale, 6-1, 170, 3-stars (2/24/15)

***********************

THURSDAY'S PRACTICE NOTES

> Thursday's practice featured the return of linebackers Terry McCray and Jermaine Grace, who missed Tuesday's practice because of academic issues.

"His teammates are irate," Golden said of Grace, a projected starter, missing practice Tuesday. "Puts a stress on a lot of different components, whether it’s special teams or their position or the defense, it puts stress. Some guys have to learn two positions, some guys have to take more reps, nobody wants to, nobody should have to do that. You gotta handle your business.

> Running back Trayone Gray still hasn't returned from dealing with his academic issues. Cornerback Antonio Crawford, who has expressed his dismay on social media with the way he's being used at Miami, missed his second straight practice.

"I’m not pleased where that is and he knows what he needs to do," Golden said of Gray. "There’s no resolution [as far as Crawford]. When we have resolution I’ll share that with you. Again, we just always, we don’t live in the world that you guys live in. I’m sorry. But when they’re our student-athletes and it’s sensitive and everything, we’ve got to give them they’re time and space and their privacy."

> Offensive tackle Kc McDermott, who had knee surgery in late October, said Thursday he will be back on the practice field as a full participant starting March 17.

> With three NFL-bound skill players in Duke Johnson, Clive Walford and Phillip Dorsett already out the door I asked Mark D'Onofrio Thursday who on UM's offense he thinks will keep defensive coordinators on their toes in 2015.

“Obviously, our tailbacks that can carry the ball," he said. "They come in different shapes and sizes. Gus [Edwards] being really big and also fast. He’s going to be a guy, 235-plus pounds, really runs well, I think everybody’s going to have to deal with. Obviously, Joe [Yearby] has his skill set too to break big ones and make people miss. There are a few other guys over there doing that. On the perimeter, [Stacy] Coley, we all know what he’s capable of doing. We’ve seen that. Rashawn Scott has been really, really impressive. That’s not surprising to me because last year, he redshirted. He was able to come back, we saw him do some things. He’s been very competitive and going for the ball. We’re playing with multiple tight ends so, those guys are starting to get chances. Standish [Dobard] is a guy that’s improved every year. You’re starting to see Chris Herndon over there. These are the guys that you feel. Across the board, we still have that size and athleticism at the tight end position."

> D'Onofrio said rush-end Al-Quadin Muhammad has "to be a first and second-down player" for the Hurricanes in 2015.

"When he played for us as a freshman, what I tried to do with those guys is really -- like we did last year with Chad [Thomas], we give them that [third down] role first," he said. "Where can they impact the team, easiest, without having to learn everything and where they can just get their skill in the game and that’s usually where we’ve added those guys on third down. But in the case of both guys, Quan not being here last year and this being his second year, and Chad, they’re really going to have to be every-down players for us and we’ll feel their impact on the field because they’re both guys that can do a lot of good things.”

February 24, 2015

News from Hurricanes' Tuesday football practice: still no Crawford; academic woes for 3 others.

By David Furones
Special to the Miami Herald

Another day of spring drills in the books on Tuesday, and for the second practice in a row, cornerback Antonio Crawford was not present.

He remains on the roster and on the team, according to a UM spokesperson, but has now missed two consecutive practices after taking frustration over the way he’s treated to Twitter, even going as far as saying, “I’m out.”

Coach Al Golden was still mum about the issue after Tuesday’s practice.

“We have a lot of kids that have different things going on and when it’s internal and it’s personal in nature, I just try to protect the kids until it’s resolved one way or the other,” he said. “When we get resolution, we’ll let [the media] know.”

Golden added that Crawford is currently “excused.”

Crawford wasn’t the only one that missed practice.

Linebackers Jermaine Grace and Terry McCray and running back Trayone Gray were held out by Golden for academic reasons.

“If they don’t take care of their stuff academically, they’re of no use to anybody,” Golden said. “Maturity’s a big part of that.”

-Corn Elder (hamstring), one of the corners working in Crawford’s nickel position, was upgraded from a red (no contact) jersey to a yellow (limited) jersey.

-Some positive news on the recruiting front Tuesday as 6-1, 170-pound Hallandale cornerback Deion Jackson committed to the Hurricanes. Jackson is rated three stars by Rivals, 247Sports and Scout.

He is the 19th commitment UM has received for the 2016 class and joins Homestead South Dade’s James Wiggins and Pembroke Pines Flanagan’s Devin Gil as defensive backs in the class.

-Several former Canes swung by for practice on Tuesday.

Phillip Dorsett was draped in Adidas gear after the new apparel brand of UM athletics made him $100,000 richer after his endorsement deal accompanied with his 4.33-second running of the 40-yard dash being good enough for second at the NFL combine.

Among other football alumni present were Olivier Vernon, Lamar Miller, Sean Spence, Jonathan Feliciano and Richard Gordon.

-Big offensive lineman Sunny Odogwu informed reporters that his bicycle that he famously rode around campus was stolen from him in the fall.

“Whoever stole it, God knows if I see them, I’m going to kill them,” the 6-8, 322-pound left tackle said jokingly – at least we hope jokingly.

-The Canes head back out to the practice field Thursday morning.

February 22, 2015

Here's what we know and don't know about Miami Hurricanes CB Antonio Crawford's situation.

     University of Miami coach Al Golden announced Sunday that senior kicker Matt Goudis, who missed most of the season with a back injury, has “retired’’ from the Hurricanes.

   On Saturday, Golden said senior walk-on-turned-scholarship receiver Garrett Kidd “retired’’ from the Canes.

   Cornerback Antonio Crawford?

   That’s another story.

    Crawford, a 5-11, 190-pound soon-to-be senior out of Tampa Plant High School, generated some buzz Saturday night when he posted on Twitter: “All I wanna do is play ball the way I know how and be happy,’’ and then, five minutes later tweeted, “I’m a piece of gold that gets treated like a piece of silver, therefore I’m out!!’’

   Crawford was not at practice Sunday, and was expected there, according to Golden

   One source close to the program said Crawford talked about leaving after last season. Another UM source said Sunday after practice that Crawford was frustrated and “wants to leave,’’ but wouldn’t elaborate on reasons, and said coaches want him to stay.

   Later Sunday afternoon, Crawford had removed the tweet about being “out!!’’

   When Golden was told Antonio had “put it out there that he’s gone,’’ Golden said, “I did not know that.

   “Anytime there’s an internal issue, we don’t communicate that publicly. If that is the case, if that’s what his decision is, then we’ll make that clear to you guys. But in terms of anything from a personal matter, I can’t even tell you, how many, with 114 kids, we go through a lot of this and it’s just a different era. A lot of it is played out publicly, so if that’s his case, we’ll release it.

   “We hope it’s not the case.’’

   Crawford has made two starts in his 38 games over three seasons. He has 58 tackles, a sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one interception.’’

    When asked if Crawford was frustrated, Golden said of the nickelback: “Everybody’s frustrated. It’s the only sport in the world where 80 percent of the team is not starters. It’s the only sport where everybody is fighting for a starting job and there’s 100-something players and there’s 22 spots. It’s a difficult process.

   “He’s played a lot of football for us. He means a lot to our team, so it would be disappointing if that was, in fact, the case. I don’t want to go any further with it.’’

    The other corners on the recently released spring depth chart are  first-teamers Artie Burns and Tracy Howard, with Crawford and redshirt freshman Ryan Mayes listed behind Burns, and Corn Elder behind Howard. Elder has been sitting out of practice with a hamstring injury.

   On Sunday, safety Deon Bush was working at cornerback, something Golden does as an insurance precaution.

   “Just like we did with [LadariusGunter,’’ the coach said, adding that Burns will double-train at safety.

    Incoming freshmen Michael Jackson of Birmingham, Alabama and Sheldrick Redwine of Miami Killian are slotted at cornerback, with Robert Knowles of Miami Edison a safety.

   Early enrollee Jaquan Johnson is a safety who “maybe can play corner,’’ Golden said. “But he’s so encouraging right now at safety.’’

   As for Goudis, Golden said that after surgery, the kicker “wasn’t coming back the way he wanted to” and had an “unbelievable’’ job opportunity “for someone his age and we’re excited for him.

  “…Can’t say enough good things about Matt Goudis as a person, as a student-athlete.’’

   Goudis played in 18 games and connected on 17 of 23 field goals (73.9 percent). He made all 114 extra points.

   Current kicker Michael Badgley, a sophomore-to-be, is 14 of 18 on field goals (77.8 percent), making all five attempts between 40 and 49 yards. He is 34 of 38 on extra points

   Kidd ended his career with two catches for 13 yards in 13 games.

   * The Canes are off on Monday and resume practice Tuesday. 

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

   

February 21, 2015

Quan's back! (and he's large -- see here) Miami Hurricanes first spring practice in pads (and first open to media) in the books

The Hurricanes practiced for nearly three hours Saturday -- their third spring session, first in pads and first open to the media.

Rush end Al-Quadin "Quan" Muhammad is back after missing last season and being suspended by the university -- and man, is he ever large. Now he's wearing No. 8, his same number in high school, and up to 260 pounds. Story to come.

Here's a couple quotes from today's talk with Quan, before I write my story: "It was awesome,'' he said. "I was happy to be out there. I was just ready to work. Most importantly I'm excited to be back with my friends, the guys on the team, and help get this thing where it needs to be."

Photo

QB transfer Vincent Testaverde, out of Texas Tech and eligible to play immediately because he's a walk-on at UM, was out there throwing crisp spirals (but not knowing the playbook very well, obviously). His dad, former UM Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde, was there, too.

"He's a good player,'' QB Brad Kaaya said of young Testaverde. "He needs to just learn more of the plays. It's his [first big] practice so I wouldn't expect him to know the whole playbook yet. Just got to keep working with him. He throws a good ball, nice spiral. And of course his dad, it's good to have him around here too. I just met him after practice, so that's always good to have.''

**************************************************************

Sidelined with a heavy-duty brace on his right knee was DT Calvin Heurtelou, out for the spring. Also out for the spring, coach Al Golden said, is offensive tackle Taylor Gadbois. But he was out there today.

Additionally, in red, no contact, jerseys: OL Hunter Knighton and S Rayshawn Jenkins.

CB Corn Elder was wearing red, but Golden said "Corn got a hamstring [injury] the other day. he should be fine.

"Knighton we're hoping to get back. Rayshawn Jenkins should be back (before spring ends)."

 Offensive tackle Kc McDermott is back in yellow (limited) and "will be back after the [spring] break,'' Golden said.

Golden added that early enrollee Scott Patchan, a defensive end rehabbing from knee surgery, will also  be back "after the break.''

Tyriq McCord is now a linebacker in the same role he had when he was a freshman.

**********************************

In this practice, EVERY defensive player was wearing what we all have grown to know as "first-team'' black. Yup, they're ALL first-teamers. :)

And EVERY offensive player was wearing what we all have grown to know as "first-team'' orange. Same thing here. They ALL must be first-teamers.

Or maybe they've done away with the usual green for defense and usual white for offense.

***********************************

 Here are photos of depth chart we got, all based on the offseason "UTough'' weight-lifting and conditioning program:

Photo 1

 

  Photo 2 (1)

 

 **********************

Golden said senior WR Garrett Kidd, who had earned a scholarship later in his career, "has retired.'' OK.

**********************

Al Golden being asked about the defense on depth chart being listed as 4-3 (same as usual).

Golden: "How is it listed? Cause I don't... Yeah, I don't know. That's probably a story somewhere, but not here.''

Indeed. Linebacker Tyriq McCord assured us that the defense is the same as last year. McCord indicated it was up to the players to make it work as well as it should.

********************************************

On the offensive line, Sunny Odogwu was at left tackle today.

"Stronger in the lower body,'' Golden said. "He's very big. He's athletic. He's got length. He's got to continue to work. His feet, keeping his feet live when he's pass protecting. I mean those are things, if he can do that I think he'll turn the corner for us.''

******************************************

 Al Golden on why he started practice so early this year: 

“Oh, an earlier start date…I just think so much of our game has changed. It really has, it’s year-round now. You can line up and run plays and get in all your formations and all your defenses in January. The guys are so engaged year-round. Didn’t want to wait, wanted to have five months on the back end in case someone got injured and also to really take advantage of the strength and conditioning aspects of it. Coaches are allowed to be with the players in June now, late May, early June…if you’re ending practice April 17th, then you’ve got exams and you turn around and the coaches are back with you, I don’t think that’s good for the kids either. There’s a lot of things that went into it. I’m glad we did what we did. We’re ahead of the schedule and just keep going.”

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN