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

February 26, 2015

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

 

February 19, 2015

February 18, 2015

No. 8 Miami (4-0) at FAU (3-0) 6:30 tonight in Boca

The No. 8 MIami Hurricanes (4-0) take on unranked and undefeated FAU (3-0) tonight at 6:30 in Boca Raton.

These games always get a great draw, including lots of avid -- and refreshingly loyal -- UM baseball fans.

If you live in Broward or Palm Beach County, this would be a fun game to attend. UM-FAU rarely seems to be boring, whether there's a ton of hitting or some in-game wackiness.

Miami is 55-12 all-time against FAU. 

The Canes just completed their first four-game sweep (against Rutgers) since 2003, winning the finale 25-4, the most runs scored by Miami since May 2003.

Needless to say, there are some hefty batting averages for Miami: Ricky Eusebio's .583, George Iskenderian's and Jacob Heyward's .500, Garrett Kennedy's .455.

 David Thompson is hitting .375 and has the fifth highest batting average. Freshman All-American Zack Collins, now a sophomore, is hitting .333. 

For the Owls, who swept UCONN, Kyle Miller (Fort Myers, Fla.) was named the Conference USA Pitcher of the Week after dominating  on opening night. But he won't pitch tonight. The Owls will have left-hander Brandon Rhodes on the mound. He gave up one hit and struck out two in two innings of relief this past weekend.

From Conference USA:

"FAU won game one against UCONN 16-5. Stephen Kerr was 3-5 with 2 RBI and scored 4 runs. Esteban Puerta was 4-4 with 2 RBI and 2 runs. Kyle Miller pitched 6 innings, only allowing 1 hit, while striking out 10.

"Game two was a bit more difficult, but the Owls won 2-1 in 11 innings with a walkoff home run by Christian Dicks. Drew Jackson went 6.1 innings giving up 2 hits and 1 walk, while striking out nine.

"FAU completed the sweep with another walkoff. The Owls scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth, the second coming on a walkoff single by Ricky Santiago. Brett Lashley was 2-2 with 2 RBI in this one."

The Canes will have Derik Beauprez (1-0, 2.45), who got the win in relief Friday, pitching tonight.

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

February 17, 2015

It's contagious. Another Class of 2016 football player from PB County chooses the Miami Hurricanes.

Another "Welcome to the U'' from offensive coordinator James Coley.

And another Palm Beach County prospect commits to the Hurricanes.

This time it was McArthur Burnett, according to Rivals.com.

Burnett, from Pahokee High, is the second player from PB County on Monday to say "Yes'' to the U.

He's a defensive back and running back rated three stars by Rivals.

Earlier in the day, Palm Beach Dwyer wideout Isaiah Johnson changed his commitment from Louisville  to the Canes.

The two commits are the 16th and 17th for UM's recruiting class of '16, ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Rivals reported that Burnett had 17 touchdowns on offense and close to 1,000 yards -- in addition to a punt return for a touchdown and two interceptions on defense.

"They said they liked his athleticism, his intensity and his enjoyment of playing ball,''  Pahokee coach Blaze Thompson told Rivals of Burnett.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

February 16, 2015

Here it is, folks: Miami Hurricanes' spring football schedule (starts Tuesday) with spring game info

 

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – For 15 days during the months of February and March, the Miami Hurricanes football team will return to Greentree for spring practice.

The Canes will begin their spring schedule with practice on Feb. 17 (9 a.m.). The first media availability will held on Saturday, Feb. 21. 

Miami will practice nine times before Spring Break and a total of eight times before its first spring scrimmage on March 5 at Greentree. The second scrimmage of spring practice will be held on Saturday, March 21. 

Practice on Feb. 17 and Feb. 19 along with the Canes' two scrimmages are not open to the media. All other practices are open to members of the media.

Miami’s spring schedule will culminate on March 28 with its annual Spring Game (Noon) at Lockhart Stadium. The Spring Game festivities will begin at 10:30 a.m.with a pregame autograph session.

 

2015 Spring Practice Dates

Tuesday, February 17 – No Media Availability

Thursday, February 19 – No Media Availability

Saturday, February 21

Sunday, February 22

Tuesday, February 24 

Thursday, February 26

Saturday, February 28

Tuesday, March 3

Thursday, March 5 Scrimmage #1 – No Media Availability

Tuesday, March 17

Thursday, March 19

Saturday, March 21 Scrimmage #2 – No Media Availability

Tuesday, March 24

Thursday, March 26

Saturday, March 28 – Spring Game Noon

 

 

Canes get yet another 2016 commit: wide receiver Isaiah Johnson of PB Dwyer

That distinctive Welcome to the U saying formerly tweeted by recently departed receivers coach/national recruiting coordinator Brennan Carroll popped up on Twitter in this form an hour ago: #Welcome2TheU, authored this time by University of Miami offensive coordinator James Coley.

The recruit, according to recruiting website InsidetheU: Palm Beach Dwyer wideout Isaiah Johnson, who switched his allegiance from Louisville to the Hurricanes.

"I had been talking to Miami since I went to the Junior day a few weeks ago,'' Johnson told the recruiting website. "I had a good feeling about them and I thought it was going in a good direction. I called Coach [Kevin] Beard and he started out by giving me the offer. He talked about his past, how he played with Andre Johnson, and how much he could teach me. I had dreamed about Miami since I was maybe 10 years old so that made me happy."

Johnson is the fourth wide receiver and 16th player committed to UM's 2016 class that is ranked No. 1 in the country. 247Sports.com has him as a three-star prospect with 791 receiving yards and eight touchdowns this past season.

Call me a skeptic, but I just can't help wondering how many of those 16 young men will still be committed to the Hurricanes down the road. 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

Calling all bowlers: Who wants to roll with Clinton Portis and other Miami Hurricanes Hall of Famers?

This sounds fun -- and potentially funny. 
 
The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame will hold its 4th Annual Celebrity Bowling Tournament, Hosted by Hurricanes football great Clinton Portis, on Monday, February 23rd,  
from 6-9 PM, at Splitsville in the Shops at Sunset Place in South Miami.
 
Portisbowling
 
Canes fans can bowl with some of their favorite former Canes stars in a relaxing evening of family fun, food and Hurricanes camaraderie. (Hint: get on a team with one of those former O-linemen. They must just kill those pins -- if they can aim right)
 
This year, 2014 UM Sports Hall of Fame inductee Portis will join other Hurricane sports stars who have attended past bowling tournaments, including former football players Reggie Wayne, Bubba Franks, Brett Romberg, KC Jones, Randal Hill and Darrin Smith.  Proceeds from the event will benefit the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, as well as UM's Sports Hall of Fame.
 
 
Bowling_2014
 
 
Teams start at $400 for four bowlers, Regular Sponsor Lanes are $1000 and Premium Sponsor Lanes are $1500.  Individual bowlers pay $125 each, while social tickets can be purchased for $50 for adults and $25 for children under 12. For more information on teams and sponsorships, call UM Sports Hall of Fame executive director John Routh at 305-284-2775.  
 

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

February 12, 2015

New Canes assistant Randy Melvin explains how he got reunited with his old boss Al Golden

New Hurricanes defensive line coach Randy Melvin has been coaching football since 1982 -- right around the time personal computers like the Commodore 64 started to become mainstream. 

So how did the 55-year-old, former Temple, FIU assistant and Super Bowl-winning coach with the Patriots end up reuniting with his old boss Al Golden again earlier this week? Naturally, the internet.

“The beauty of social media," Melvin said Thursday during a 15-minute talk with local Hurricanes beat writers. "Looking online, seeing movement [is how I found out UM was looking for a new defensive line coach]. I actually was on my phone and I saw that Jethro [Franklin] was leaving [for the Oakland Raiders]. So I tried to make contact and go through the proper channels. We visited on a couple of occasions and went forward from there.”

Melvin, who started his coaching career the same year Canes offensive line coach Art Kehoe did (they are the elder statesmen on the staff), has been around the block a few times. He started off as a high school assistant in Ohio, worked his way into a head coach in Illinois and then made the jump to college at Eastern Illinois in 1988. He spend time at Wyoming (1995-96), Purdue (1997-99), Rutgers (2002-04, 2010), Temple (2009) and most recently FIU (2014).

Along the way he hit the pros too coaching alongside Bill Belichick in New England in 2000 and 2001 and winning the Super Bowl his last year there before Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel took him to Cleveland for four years from 2005 to 2008. Melvin spent a year coaching the British Columbia Lions in the CFL in 2011 and then two more with the Tampa Bay Bucs in 2012 and 2013 before FIU coach Ron Turner took him with to South Florida.

Now, Melvin is rejoining Golden. In 2009, Temple's staff was being treated like superstars in Philadelphia following a 9-4 season. Now, Melvin is rejoining Golden as he's on the hot seat and coming off a 6-7 season. Why would he want to do that? Melvin likes Golden and believes in him.

“I guess really in reality I’m immune to that," Melvin said of the critics. "Because I’ve been let go before. That’s part of the game. The greatest pressure that anybody has is what they place on themselves. I can’t speak for him. I can speak for myself coming into this situation -- I put more pressure on myself than anybody else can. The whole thing is to get your team to play well and do what they’re supposed to do and allow the fans to celebrate with you.”

Melvin said Golden is "very, very detailed" and said he's a pleasure to work for "because he lets me coach."

"He has a unique creativity along with the ability to be detailed," Melvin said. "That’s the thing that really attracts me. Getting the pieces, coaching them up, that’s how you get things done properly. Sometimes it doesn’t build as fast people want. But when it’s done right, it’s built to last.”

Melvin, hired on Wednesday, said he's met with his future defensive linemen briefly but still can't put names to faces. He said he didn't recruit a single player at UM. But he said he will study plenty of tape in the nine days leading up to the starting of spring practice on Feb. 21 to see where certain guys have talent and others have flaws so he can help them. He said he likes the size of the guys he's been tasked to work with in UM's 3-4 scheme.

"I always kind of let guys know No. 1 you have to be physically able to handle it," Melvin said of what he preaches as a coach. "No. 2, be able to execute the defense. I’ve got to teach and you got to learn it. Everybody learns it a little differently. So we have to find ways to make sure you’re on point there. The final thing is they have to play with some effort, play with hustle. Defensive football in its simplest form is tackling the football. So you start the game there and then as a coach you work on consistency, technique and development to help them master some skills.”

> New receivers coach Kevin Beard, who we've covered plenty in the blog in the past week, said Thursday he's not taking over the recruiting coordinator duties held by previous receivers coach Brennan Carroll.

"I’ll be heavy into Broward County and a couple of other places," said Beard, a graduate of Plantation High in Broward. "But it will just be like every other coach. Just about building relationships. I’m just the wide receiver coach. I don’t know the full scale of the whole process. I’m learning on the go. Just happy to learn and grow.”

A former assistant on the successful South Florida Express 7-on-7 team, Beard said he believes his relationships on the 7-on-7 circuit will be a boon for him as a recruiter.

“It kind of gives you a lot eyes outside the university," Beard said. “I look at it like as when I was in the 7-on-7 world, I was friends with everyone. A lot of guys have made it into a rivalry or something like that. I just look it as an opportunity to help kids get better. So I feel like I have a lot of friends out there, places I can’t be – especially with guys I’m looking to recruit. [My friends] can be another ear or another voice that these guys can hear and they’ll say he’ll get you right and you can trust that guy.”

February 11, 2015

Former UM football player part of intriguing, sad saga - in death penalty case against his own brother

By DAVID OVALLE

dovalle@MiamiHerald.com

 Omar Andres, a former University of Miami offensive lineman who quit the team in 1995, was briefly listed this week as a state witness – in the death penalty case against his own brother.

 Here’s the background:

 His older brother, Rafael Andres, was convicted last year for the 2005 robbery and vicious stabbing and strangling of a West Miami-Dade waitress. He also has a conviction for murdering a Miami woman in similar fashion in 1987.

 In December, jurors recommended the death penalty. This week in court, defense lawyers were trying to convince a Miami-Dade judge to nevertheless spare Rafael's life.

 The defense wants to show that Rafael, 50, grew up heavily influenced by a dope-peddling father, Angel Andres, who died in federal prison while serving a life sentence for cocaine trafficking.

 (The only-in-Miami twist: Angel, a Santeria follower and former political prisoner in Cuba, insisted he only dealt in dope to fund anti-Castro plots).

 Another of Rafael’s brothers, Oscar Andres, took the stand Wednesday via Internet from a federal prison in North Carolina. “He wanted Rafael to follow in his footsteps,” Oscar testified.

 Federal authorities in 1998 arrested Oscar, Angel and Omar – the ex-UM player – for cocaine trafficking.

 Oscar and Angel all got prison time. Omar, however, was acquitted at trial.

 At the time of his arrest, Omar was just a few years removed from being part of the University of Miami program.

 A 6-foot-3, 265-pound defense end, Omar played at Southwest High and signed to UM in 1991 – he was part of the team that won the program’s fourth national title.

 But Omar, who switched to offensive guard, had an unremarkable career at UM.

 In 1993, he was one of seven Canes ejected from a game against Colorado. One year later, he tore cartilage in his knee and missed most of the season, according to news accounts at the time.

 Finally in 1995, Omar quit the team after he was arrested for cocaine possession, a charge dropped when he entered a rehab program.

 Prosecutors hoped to call Omar to counter Oscar’s testimony about their life in the family business. The reason: After his legal troubles ended, Omar stayed clean, got a real-estate license and started a successful jewelry business -- in stark contrast to Rafael.

 “He became a productive member of society,” prosecutor Gail Levine told the judge on Wednesday.

 Omar and Oscar are twin brothers.

 The former football player been subpoenaed, but defense lawyers objected. They noted Omar had always been “uncooperative” and “unfriendly” with Rafael’s defense team.

 The judge was set to allow his testimony, but after fierce legal arguments, the State Attorney’s Office dropped Omar as a witness. “A big time waster,” Levine said of the defense objections; the state elected to prove its points through cross-examining Oscar.

Hurricanes hire away DL coach Randy Melvin from FIU -- Melvin is Al Golden's former Temple assistant

The Miami Hurricanes have their defensive line coach -- and he's not former Hurricane All-American Kevin Patrick or current D-line grad assistant Kareem Brown, another former UM D-lineman.

 The Hurricanes have gone in their own backyard to hire Randy Melvin, FIU's current defensive line coach. He replaces Jethro Franklin, who left UM to go to the Oakland Raiders in the same capacity.

 Melvin, whose hiring at FIU was announced Feb. 20, 2014, came to FIU after serving on Greg Schiano's Tampa Bay Buccaneers' staff for two seasons. He coached alongside FIU head coach Ron Turner in 2012, when Turner coached quarterbacks for the Buccaneers.

 Melvin has a connection to Hurricanes coach Al Golden. He was Golden's defensive line coach at Temple in 2009.  FIU noted last year that Melvin "played part in helping tutor future NFL talent Muhammad Wilkerson'' of the New York Jets.

  FIU is ranked 32nd in the nation in sacks, 54th in rush defense and 28th in third-down defense. The Panthers' secondary (notably cornerback Richard Leonard) contributed to some of the team's defensive success. Michael Wakefield and Denzell Perine were integral in FIU's pass rush.

  Inside, FIU got a big season from Imarjaye Albury, a Northwestern graduate who transferred to FIU from West Virginia.

   Melvin's 31 years of coaching experience includes seven years in the NFL. 

  He's a 1982 graduate of Eastern Illinois, where he was an AP Division II All-American in 1979 and 1980.

    Not sure what that means for FIU, or if Kareem would be a candidate for that job. I know that he wants very much to get a coaching job, and that he had the support of UM players.

  Patrick currently coaches the defensive line at North Texas.

   “Would love to see @hood305star [Brown] or @DLineKP [Patrick] become the next defensive line coach,’’ outgoing defensive end Anthony Chickillo tweeted Sunday. 

    Melvin's hiring comes two days after the Hurricanes announced the hiring of new wide receivers coach Kevin Beard -- on the same day it was announced that former WR coach Brennan Carroll had left to join his father with the Seattle Seahawks.

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN (and DAVID J. NEAL)

 

February 10, 2015

New Canes receivers coach Kevin Beard could be "the glue" that connects UM with elite local recruits again

New University of Miami receivers coach Kevin Beard went on the Joe Rose Show Tuesday morning and Hurricane Hotline Monday night and made it pretty clear he's excited about his new job.

The Hurricanes could definitely use a spark. 

Beard, 34, was promoted Monday from assistant director of football operations to coaching the position he once played for the Hurricanes from 1999 to 2003. For the past year, Beard said he served as "the bridge between the players and coaches" at UM. When someone would have a bad day, Beard said, he would be the guy coach Al Golden would send down to talk and mediate the situation, get the player to understand the reason he was being coached hard "was to make them better."

Now, Golden is looking to Beard to do the same as an assistant -- and as someone who could help mend relationships on the recruiting trail in South Florida.

Beard, a Plantation High graduate and former All-Broward star, definitely knows what it's like being on the other side of the fence from UM having served as an assistant coach at University School in Fort Lauderdale for four years and as a coach for the South Florida Express 7-on-7 team for six-plus years. For nearly a decade, Beard has worked with some of the most elite skill players to come out of the South Florida area.

He's respected.

Brett Goetz, the coach and founder of the South Florida Express, said adding Beard is a huge addition to the UM staff especially since he has great relationships with most of the star recruits in the area for 2016 and 2017.

UM has been criticized hard for missing out on local star receivers like Alabama's Amari Cooper (Miami Northwestern) and Florida State's Ermon Lane (Homestead High). Goetz said having Beard on staff might swing things in the Canes' favor now. 

"They all know KB," Goetz said of the top recruits, high school coaches and 7-on-7 coaches. "He has great relationships that are going to help them be in the mix for a lot of kids like [2017 receiver recruit] Emmanuel Green, [2016 St. Thomas Aquinas receiver] Sam Bruce. If KB was hired prior to last year’s signing class they probably would have had a good shot with Ermon Lane, Chris Lammons [South Carolina] and Travis Rudolph [now at Florida State] because Beard had great relationships with those kids.

"It’s also different recruiting down here than anywhere else in the country. There’s middle men. I think that makes it a lot more difficult to recruit here. Kevin knows what he wants to do here. He wants to go directly to the kid and the parents and avoid talking to people you don’t need to talk to. Kevin knows who to go to."

UM has landed several South Florida Express stars over the years. The list includes Duke Johnson, Deon Bush, Malcolm Lewis, Herb Waters, Tyree Brady, Tracy Howard and most recently Jaquan Johnson. They've had a harder time landing commitments from other 7-on-7 teams. 

Beard said Monday night he feels like he can be "a glue guy" between the community and the Canes. 

"I know what the community is missing, lacking, wants to see, wants to hear [from UM]," Beard said. "That’s what I want to bring to the table. I want the community, I want them to be heard. Once that happens things will definitely start changing a whole lot faster. The community will start getting back to being for us and not so much against us because of what the record is. They’ll see we’re making moves in the right direction and Coach Golden is the right guy for the job.”

Beard said recruiting in South Florida has become "the hardest place in America to recruit for the simple fact that everybody else in the country is trying to come in your backyard and take what’s yours."

"They’re throwing offers out to all kind of kids from the time they’re in the 10th grade, and then a lot of kids are saying, ‘Well, I got 15 offers from everybody in America but UM.’ If you offer a kid and then you back out on it, you’re going to get ridiculed, you’re going to get ripped for it," Beard said. "We try to do things the right way. Pretty much right now no matter what you do, you’re doing it wrong. I’m trying to bring [the right] mindset to the table.”

Goetz said he expects Beard to have a profound effect on Coley, who slumped during his sophomore year, and to get the most out of other top players at Miami like Herb Waters who have been up and down most of their careers.

“I really am going to dive into the technique of this position," Beard told Rose of what he will teach UM's receivers. "A lot of people don’t understand. They feel like if a receiver is fast, explosive and they can catch, they’re good. And the thing that makes the difference in good receivers and great receivers are the ones those that pay attention to detail, that are technicians. You can be a 4.5, 4.6 and beat a 4.3 defensive back based off technique. Technique makes the game easier. You play smarter and not harder. I think that’s the game changer for us right now. We’re really going to dive into the technique, the art of the position.”

Of Coley, Beard said: “I just feel like he needs a better understanding of who he is and who he wants to be. I think he came in – you know how high school guys are, he’s the No. 3 receiver in the country coming out of high school, Under Armour All-American. You feel like you’re that guy. He had all the success he had his freshman year, he kind of felt like I can be this same guy and still have the same success and it never turned to the next level. I think he stagnant, where he was. And I think it kind of caught him by surprise. So I think he’s disappointed in the way the season went. So, he’s excited to get out there and have a great junior season.”

SPRING BALL SET TO BEGIN FEB. 21

> UM will begin its spring practice schedule two weeks earlier than last year when drills get underway on Feb. 21. All of the practices will be closed to the public except for the spring game, which is scheduled for March 28th (the site has yet to be locked down). The team will also scrimmage March 5th and March 21st. 

February 09, 2015

No more "Welcome to the U'' from Brennan Carroll, who is leaving UM. Kevin Beard is new WR coach.

The recent trademark "Welcome to the U'' tweet for all University of Miami newcomers, commits, you name it, will no longer be authored by wide receivers coach/national recruiting coordinator Brennan Carroll.

But maybe it will be tweeted out by former Canes wide receiver Kevin Beard, the new UM receivers coach to replace the departing Carroll.

Carroll, who just completed his fourth season at UM, is leaving Miami to join his father, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, for his first NFL stint, UM announced Monday afternoon.

Carroll's departure is the second in a week among UM assistant coaches. Defensive line coach Jethro Franklin's departure was announced by UM on Friday. Franklin will take the same job with the Oakland Raiders.

Also leaving UM in the past week was UM director of player personnel Matt Doherty, who will work in recruiting at Michigan for new head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Carroll was UM's tight ends coach his first two seasons in Coral Gables. He came to UM after spending eight years with Southern Cal's football program, including six as a full-time assistant. He is expected to work in some capacity with the Seattle offense.

Beard played with the 2001 national championship team and has been serving as UM's assistant director of football operations. Beard came to UM in August when former linebackers coach Micheal Barrow left. Barrow's departure resulted in two-time national champion Cane Hurlie Brown being moved from running backs coach to linebackers coach and Beard being named the assistant director of football operations when Tim Harris was promoted to running backs coach.

  On Monday evening, 247Sports reported that Barrow has taken a job with the Seahawks as their new linebackers coach, joining Carroll. 

Now UM has three assistants -- Brown, Beard and O-line coach Art Kehoe -- who have won eight Canes' national titles among them (two for Brown, one for Beard and five for Kehoe).

"We are thrilled to promote former Cane and national champion Kevin Beard to wide receivers coach,'' Al Golden said in a prepared statement. "This is something that Kevin has pursued for more than a decade now, so it's truly awesome to see his dream become a reality.''

Said Beard in the UM release: "To coach at my alma mater is a dream come true. The opportunity takes me back to my playing days, where you were always playing for the man next to you. I want my players to know that you're not just playing for the person next to you, but also our alumni and diehard fans, who expect excellence.

"I can't thank Coach Golden enough for giving me this opportunity. I truly feel in my heart that I am the right guy at the right time to lead these young men to greatness both on and off the field.''

Fellow Canes lauded the hire.

"I believe they have found the right guy in Kevin Beard to finally get us back to Receiver U,'' said former UM receiver Reggie Wayne, per UM.

"I am just excited to hear that he got the job,'' added Andre Johnson. "Kevin played there and won a national championship there, so he knows everything about the program and what we want the program to get back to in the future. I just think it's great to have a guy who knows how to do things right.''

And this from Sinorice Moss: "This is the right move at the right time for our program. He truly knows what it means to be a Hurricane.''

 The UM DL coach has not yet been named, with former UM All-American defensive end Kevin Patrick, DL coach for North Texas, a likely candidate, as well as UM DL grad assistant Kareem Brown -- a former UM DT -- also a likely candidate.

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

Baton Rouge wide receiver Terrell Chatman NOT expected to choose Miami Hurricanes today

From what I know now, Baton Rouge Central High wide receiver Terrell Chatman has eliminated the Miami Hurricanes from his decision-making on where to sign to play football in 2015.

A source close to the situation just told me that Chatman, who was torn last week on National Signing Day and is set to announce his decision at 2:15-2:30 p.m. Eastern time today, will not be attending UM.

It's a shame, because if his ability is anything like what was reflected in the video I just saw of him making a spectacular one-handed grab, the Canes could use him.

Terrellchatman

The other contenders are Arizona State and TCU.

My gut is Arizona State (well, maybe more than just my gut). But remember, until he actually announces, you never know, I guess.

On to the next one.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

February 06, 2015

Miami Hurricanes defensive line coach Jethro Franklin leaving for the NFL's Oakland Raiders

   University of Miami football coach Al Golden has yet to fire an assistant coach since he came to the Hurricanes in 2011.

   On Friday, however, the Canes lost their defensive line coach to the NFL.

   Jethro Franklin, who just completed his fourth season with Miami, has been hired as the Oakland Raiders defensive line coach, UM confirmed Friday night.

   Franklin will join first-year head coach Jack Del Rio.

   "Coaching in the NFL has always been a dream, but coaching in the NFL in my hometown is the opportunity of a lifetime,'' Franklin said in a statement released by UM. "I'm extremely excited about the progress that we've made at Miami. The players that we've brought in on the defensive line are extremely talented and are going to move this program forward.''

   Miami's lack of a pass rush has been one of the most criticized aspect of its defense the past few years. The Hurricanes finished 61st nationally with 27 sacks last season, two fewer than in 2013.

   In 2012, the Canes ranked 115th with only 13 sacks.

  Franklin, who grew up in San Jose, Calif., spent 20 years coaching defensive lines at the NFL and collegiate levels before coming to Coral Gables. His past coaching stints included jobs with the Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Bucs and Houston Texans.

   "I could not be happier for Jethro and his family,'' Golden said. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to work where he grew up and to join his father and family in Oakland. We can't thank Jethro enough for everything he has done for our program.''

  Franklin's replacement, if known, has not been revealed. Former UM great defensive end Kevin Patrick, a first-team All-American in 1993, comes to mind immediately. Patrick, who formerly was the D-line coach at USF, is now the defensive line coach at the University of North Texas.

Patrick played at West Palm Beach Forest Hill High School and ended his UM career with 23 sacks, good for fifth all-time in school history. He will be inducted in the UM Sports Hall of Fame this year.  

   Another obvious candidate would be defensive line grad assistant and former UM defensive end Kareem Brown, who played at UM from 2003-2006 and is popular with the players. He had 11 sacks his final season.

    Former Hurricane Matt Patchan, the father of new signee Scott Patchan, an early enrollee who is a defensive end out of Brandenton IMG Academy, said he was disappointed Franklin was leaving.

   "I wish him well,'' Matt Patchan told the Miami Herald on Friday night. "I'm disappointed he won't get a chance to coach Scott, but I'm confident they'll hire someone else who will do a good job.''

   UM finished 6-7 this past season.

  In other UM news, director of player personnel Matt Doherty is leaving the Hurricanes to work in recruiting at Michigan for new coach Jim Harbaugh.

    SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

    

February 05, 2015

Still no Terrell Chatman decision, but as of tonight, the Miami Hurricanes have a new quarterback

National Signing Day came a day late for one high school quarterback. But according to multiple recruiting websites, he is every bit as jubilant as the other players across the nation who pledged yesterday. 

The Miami Hurricanes have offered Jefferson (Georgia) High School quarterback Evan Shirreffs a scholarship, and he has accepted, reported 247Sports and Rivals.com on Thursday night.

The news was confirmed to the Miami Herald by the University of Miami.

Shirreffs told Canesport.com that he faxed in his Letter of Intent at 6:15 p.m. Thursday.

"It's definitely surreal,'' Shirreffs told Canesport. "I was not expecting it to happen. Then I got the call from coach Coley and the rest is history.''

According to the recruiting sites, Shirreffs threw for 2,784 yards and 23 touchdowns this past season, with four interceptions. He connected on 69 percent of his passes. Those are impressive numbers.

He also is a stellar student -- straight-A, according to Rivals -- and was offered from some Ivy League schools and from Eastern Michigan on Wednesday.

More from CaneSport on what Shirreffs sees for the future of UM football: "It's on the rise. They played really well last year, just had a couple of tight losses. The future is limitless. There's a lot of talent there even though some may complain about it -- the guys I met on my official visit, I watched their film and they're the real deal.''

Going into spring practice, UM has scholarship quarterbacks in starter Brad Kaaya and rising redshirt freshman Malik Rosier, who is a center fielder for the UM baseball team and will be starting the season this month. There's also reserve quarterback Gray Crow. Vincent Testaverde, the son of UM Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde, just transferred from Texas Tech.

As for wide receiver Terrell Chatman, the young man from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who has been committed to the Hurricanes but had trouble deciding between UM, Arizona State and TCU on Wednesday, he still hadn't committed anywhere as of Thursday night.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

Coach says Hurricanes still in play for unsigned wideout: "In his mind, Miami is definitely not out.''

The frenzy of National Signing Day is over.

Well, at least it's over for 99 percent of the high school football players who have inked their pledges to compete for their new favorite college teams.

But National Signing Day is only the first day of an NCAA signing period that runs through April 1.

And for one young man from Central High in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he needs at least another day to decide.

Wide receiver Terrell Chatman (three stars Rivals and 247Sports, four stars ESPN), a 6-3, 185-pound senior at Central, was committed to the Hurricanes -- still is, actually -- but was torn between two other contenders, TCU and Arizona State, when it was time to sign his LOI on Wednesday during a ceremony at his school.

Instead of signing when he was unsure, he opted to take more time to think it over.

"I'll be making my decision tomorrow, I've just been torn between my choices and just needed a little more time to make a really big decision,'' Chatman tweeted Wednesday night. 

Terrell spoke to his head coach, Central athletic director Sid Edwards, this morning. I spoke to Edwards afterward.

"In his mind, MIami is definitely not out,'' said Edwards of Chatman. "At first there were four schools in the running, but Terrell eliminated Georgia. Arizona State, TCU and Miami were the three, but he's all over the place. And he's certainly not doing it for the attention. Yesterday was the big attention day.

"My advice was, 'Take your time, but don't let it bleed past another week.'

"The feeling I got is it could be any of the three. He's not letting Miami out of the picture. I would have bet the house on Miami Monday and bet the house on TCU yesterday,'' Edwards said. "This morning the inflection in his voice seemed like Arizona State -- but he didn't say he was leaning toward Arizona State.

"I told him, 'Once you sign with a school you become part of that family, and you're set and can get to work. You'll have peace of mind.'"

Edwards said Chatman "has as much Miami clothes as some people down in MIami have. The TCU pull is because there's an uncle who lives in the Fort Worth Area and his family could drive there from here -- a 6 1/2 to 7-hour drive.

"Arizona State is a curious one to me, but very much alive in the deal. He really enjoyed the trip and the people.

"I've been a Hurricanes fan for a long, long time. But Terrell has a strong family and I don't get in their business like that.''

Edwards said that during the school's signing ceremony Wednesday, Chatman "thought his bet was TCU or Arizona State. I asked him, 'Are you eliminating Miami?' He said, 'I just can't.'

' I think it's because of the relationship he built with Coach [Brennan] Carroll and those guys. He couldn't let it go. We had 1,000 people in the gym and I told him to leave campus with his mother and go eat.'''

Edwards called Chatman "a charming young man,'' and said he was an "under the radar freak of a player.'' The coach said his team didn't have a dominant quarterback and had to use a combination of players to fill the position. Central went 4-6 this season, "our worst season in nine years.''

 Edwards said Chatman excels at "high-pointing the ball. He can jump out of the gym -- and he has speed with him. And for a tall, rangy guy he has lateral movement and can make people miss.''

 This morning, after their talk, Edwards said he told Chatman to go to class because he missed school yesterday, and then to go to basketball practice. After that, who knows?

 I was told by a UM source that the Hurricanes will welcome Chatman if he opts for the Canes, but by the sound of it, that doesn't seem likely.

 The Hurricanes added only one receiver to their class yesterday, the talented Lawrence Cager of Towson, Maryland.

 Brad Kaaya deserves some top targets, which coach Al Golden said the Canes should get next signing class. If they don't start winning next season, however, I wouldn't count on it.

MORE NEWS

  ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay came out with his first Mock Draft today, and guess which Canes he's projecting to be first rounders?

  McShay has linebacker Denzel Perryman going No.24 to the Arizona Cardinals and offensive tackle Ereck Flowers No. 25 to the Carolina Panthers.

  McShay also listed his "top five prospects still available,'' which means, basically, No. 33 through 37 in the draft -- the top five spots in the second round.

  A Cane was also included in that list, with McShay listing wide receiver Phillip Dorsett as the No. 2 among those five -- or the No. 34 overall draft pick.

  McShay has FSU's Jameis Winston as the No. 1 overall pick.

  

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 04, 2015

Hurricanes reach financial aid agreement with former Gators 5-star DT Gerald Willis III

AUDIO: Al Golden National Signing Day Press Conference

The Hurricanes lost three-star receiver and commitment Terrell Chatman, but they picked up a trio of talented recruits on National Signing Day and a very intriguing former five-star prospect too.

Coach Al Golden, speaking during his annual Signing Day Press Conference, said Miami agreed to a financial agreement with former Florida Gators defensive lineman Gerald Willis III, who was dismissed on Jan. 6. Willis got himself into a fight with UF's third-string quarterback over cleats back in October and had other issues on the team.

Listed at 6-2, 255 pounds, Willis was a teammate of Hurricanes tight end Standish Dobard at Edna Karr High School in New Orleans. Golden said part of the reason UM was willing to take Willis III was because of their relationship.

"He's technically not part of this class, but he's part of our plans for this class," Golden said of Willis III who won't be eligible to play until 2016. "He will have to sit out a year, but that's part of the equation as we start to lose [Ufomba] Kamalu and some of those guys. We have other guys in place to pick them up. He's a great football player, a great motor and a guy we coveted a year ago. We did not get him. We're glad to get this time around."

Asked why UM was willing to take a player with a bit of a troubled past, Golden said Miami did it's research.

"It was things we didn't think were to the point it would discourage us," Golden said. "I think that's one of the things we tried to do, a good background check really on everybody -- all the players. We're not perfect. But in his case it was stuff that was a lot of immaturity, things of that nature. But nothing that without the right group, right mentor [can't be addressed] and Stan has offered to do that for us.

"I don't know that we would be sitting here without the connection with Stan and obviously the testimony of Stan in terms of the environment, the enjoyment he's having in this program and what that represents. I know Gerald was excited about becoming a Miami Hurricane. When he's finished up with classes, he'll enroll this summer."

WHAT ELSE DID GOLDEN DISCUSS?

> Golden said former walk-on punter Justin Vogel paid his own way on to the team last, but will count as one of the scholarship player this season.

> Golden told ESPN The Ticket Wednesday Miami will be between 78 and 79 scholarships next season with the hope they will be done with the nine scholarships they need forfeit before 2016.

> Golden said he likes the defensive tackles UM now has in the program.

"All three nose guards we had last year were inexperienced a year ago -- Courtel Jenkins, Michael Wyche and Calvin Heurtelou. They all played. Plus we redshirted Earl Moore. So I'm pleased with that position," he said. "Obviously defensive tackle we got Ufomba Kamalu, AJ Moten, Jelani Hamilton. You mention Kendrick Norton. He's a young man we're really excited about. He brings us strength, brings us power. He's a big man. He's got to be 315, 320 pounds in that range. So we're excited about that and obviously we added Gerald Willis to that mix."

> Golden said he's fine with the numbers Miami has at running back (five with incoming four-star freshman Mark Walton), receiver (nine with incoming four-star freshman Lawrence Cager) and tight end (five with incoming No. 1-ranked JUCO tight end Jerome Washington). Quarterback (UM didn't see any, but picked up Texas Tech transfer Vincent Testaverde) is an area Golden said the team will continue to monitor.

"The one position we had to overcompensate for was offensive line," he said. "I prefer not to do that in any single year. I think if you can take four offensive lineman a year you would be really happy. That would give you 14 or 15 over a four-year period. When you have to take six in a year it shows you how we're not really where we needed to be a year ago on the offensive line. It takes away from you getting a skill guy or somebody that can do something with the ball in your hands.

"We're good [at running back]. We got Joe [Yearby], Gus [Edwards], Trayone Gray, Mark Walton and then Tucker will do what he has continued to do for us. He'll be a fullback when we need him. But Tuck is a really good one back and he's doing a great job with track. He's lean. So he'll do a dual role. Because if he doesn't he sits around a lot. If we use the fullback 12 times a game that's probably on the high side."

> Of UM's 20 signees, only seven are from South Florida. Golden said those numbers are skewed by the high number of offensive linemen UM had to take.

"I don't think we would drive past any kid in South Florida to go somewhere else," Golden said. "You guys may no better than me how many power-five offensive linemen were offered in the three counties. But for us, we had to go to Venice, Bradenton and we were lucky with Milo from Kaaya's school. Obviously, Loftus was a young man from Tallahassee Godby we liked who came down from camp. Those six and then the tight end wasn't from down here either. That's seven guys from one-third of the class that were not from South Florida for sure."

> How would Golden evaluate the way UM recruited skill talent in South Florida?

"Well, again, it wasn’t a big skill year," he said. "We needed two corners and two safeties, we probably would’ve taken one more wide receiver, but we only lost one wide receiver, so it’s just the way it shaped out," he said. "We played 34 first and second-year players a year ago and redshirted 17 guys, so those 51 are all guys that are coming back on our roster. You can’t lose one, Phillip Dorsett, and replace him with three. It doesn’t work that way in terms of the roster. That’s not where we are right now. Hopefully we’ll get to 78, 79 this year and get to 85 by ’16, so we’re still at a cap deal. Again, Justin Vogel did a great job. We’re appreciative of him and his family paying for this year. He ended up being an all-conference candidate or he might have made one of the all-conference teams, which is great for him moving forward. So it counts, it counts as part of this class. The offensive line obviously was one of the positions that we were hoping to stay healthy, ‘cause we were? There, so we had to compensate there as well."

> In general, how would Golden say he's done recruiting South Florida these four, five years? 

"Obviously last year, again, I don’t know overall, but last year was clearly our best year and not just, it’s really not about numbers, but it’s about performance and production," he said. "Chad Thomas and Joe Yearby, KC McDermott, Nick Linder, Trevor Darling, all of those guys were either starters or big contributors and there’s so many other guys like Demetrius Jackson who we think is going to be a really good player. TJ McCray, we had so many kids from South Florida a year ago.

"Again, this number’s a little bit skewed because of the number of offensive linemen and none of them were local, but we just gotta keep doing it. I think we have 13 commitments in next year’s class and all of them are from Florida. Again, sometimes that’s just the way it breaks down. There’s obviously a great number of skill players here, so if you’re not taking three or four wideouts, next year we’re going to probably take five wideouts. We should have a good year in South Florida, I think five wideouts. That’s just the way it shakes out. I think every one of our players in next year’s class is already from Florida, so I think when you couple that with the overall body of work in the last three years, I think that’s when you’ll find our commitment to South Florida."

> Golden said freshman defensive end Scott Patchan "is doing great" in his recovery from a torn ACL which cost him his senior year. "He's already 245 pounds," Golden said. "The biggest thing is [trainer Vinny Scavo] is trying to slow him down. He's already wanting to go full speed. So we're going to be careful with him early in spring ball. He will participate in spring ball, but from a preventive measure standpoint we're going to hold him out probably until spring break. That's something I have to check. All the reports are he's doing good. He's got work ethic and he's long. So he's going to be really big."

> As for the high-number of decommitments for UM this year, Golden said reasons are "all the above." "Maybe it's that just the direction we're going," he meant in terms of the way college football is trending. "We don't want to get into that business. At the end of the day we're happy with our class and the needs we met in our class. It's a variety reasons and really they are individually based. It's tough to just sit up here and paint a brush as to why it happened. But obviously moving forward, we’re excited about this group and anxious to get started on the 2016 group tomorrow."

“Again, just keep moving the program forward. Infrastructure is improving. Do a great job on the field, move the program forward there. And just continue to show them the impact that they can have and obviously we’re excited because it’s going to be a skill-laden group. I don’t think we’re going to take many offensive linemen. So there’s going to be a lot of wide recievers in the group, probably two tight ends, I’m still going through it. Two running backs. Multiple corners. Multiple safeties. From that standpoint, we’re ecited about it. Keep moving forward.”

Q: A couple of the defensive backs you got in on late, [Sheldrick] Redwine and [Robert] Knowles in particular: Big year for DBs in South Florida, a lot of them went to different places. How did these two compare in your evaluations to some of the other kids that maybe were more highly regarded by the outside world?

“Yeah. I think, so, to answer your question, for all the kids – and again, it was what we needed this year, in terms of – Michael Jackson came to camp, had South Florida ties, he was 6-1, had length, at corner. I think there were two guys, three including Sheldrick, maybe I’m wrong, in South Florida in terms of length. We got one of the three. It’s really not a function of when you get them, it’s can they do the things you need them to do--

Q: But when you guys evaluated them, did you see them as a comparable-level player to some of the other [higher-ranked players]?

“I think you’re splitting hairs. It’s like that scene in Moneyball, when he sits across from him and says, ‘You think you know. You don’t know.’ We think we know. Everybody thinks they know. All around the country, everybody thinks they know. And then when the kid comes and all of a sudden he’s great, everybody says, man, we’re awesome evaluators. We’re awesome. But the reality is, you’re splitting hairs. There’s a lot of corners down here, a lot of corners down here this year. The guys that were not 6-1, we just needed length at that spot. In terms of Robert Knowles, when his film came in, and we had a chance to meet him in person and see his size, see his stature, you’re talking about 6-1 and a half, and gonna be big. Gonna be a 215-pound safety. When you turn on his film, his physicalness … again, why do guys like Khalil Mack go to Buffalo and end up being first-rounders? It’s because a lot of guys are filled up in the recruiting cycle and not really looking. We got fortunate there with Robert Knowles and I feel the same way about Sheldrick. But you’re splitting hairs in terms of who’s really – it’s going to come down to character, it’s going to come down to makeup, it’s going to come down to who’s consistent off the field. If they’re consistent, they’re going to keep learning, keep growing, keep improving, all of those things. Those guys wanted to be Miami Hurricanes, and I think that’s important here too. I don’t want to lose that. Those guys wanted to come. Robert Knowles wanted to be here and he’ll go to work and fight his ass off for us.

Q: You talk a lot about size, and not recruiting some kids because you’re looking for a 6-1 corner for example. Is part of the reason because some South Florida kids are fast and don’t have the size?

I hate painting with a broad brush. There’s so many different players and so many different varieties. I don’t know; do you guys have a count of how many guys are going Division I? There’s so many. There’s so many. You can’t get them all. Just make sure the ones you get can do what you need them to do and fit your system. But because our skill numbers will be high, I expect our South Florida numbers to be really high next year, as is already evident by every single one of them – 100 percent of the 13 committed for next year – are from Florida. We are gaining a little bit of traction in Jacksonville, we’ve done well in Tampa obviously and now we’re kind of moving down the west coast a little bit which is great. It’s great for us to do that. We’re getting a little bit more Bradenton, a little bit more Venice, got somebody committed from Naples the other day. We should be in that whole area and if we don’t have to leave there, we’re not going to.