For those of you wondering where I've been -- read the paper. Between UM hoops, Chris Rainey, Antwain Easterling, Randy Shannon, video, sound bytes and recruiting analysts I really haven't had a free minute. Which is not good!
Anyway, enough about my sleep deprived self. There's obviously a lot that's gone on at The U this week. First off, congratulations to Randy Shannon. Today's good news couldn't have come to a harder worker or more deserving person. I know some Hurricanes fans may be disappointed the search didn't net a bigger name with more head coaching experience, but being around the team this season I couldn't agree more with the decision to give Shannon a shot. He is exactly what this team needs. An injection of what the Hurricanes used to be -- a local product with fire, energy and driving desire to win. Obviously, the decision of who steps in to be offensive coordinator will be the other big part of this scenario.
But if you listen to UM players, the community of high school players and coaches (READ MY STORY), there isn't a more perfect fit for the Hurricanes. Randy is the epitome of the hometown hero. He's survived so much in his life (READ MICHELLE'S STORY). It's a life he shares so much in common with the kids that play for him, the kids in this community. Randy wants to win. And kids want to win for Randy. Aside from the fact he's a defensive genious, Shannon will eventually surround himself around the right people: Hurricane people who know what it takes to take this program back to the top. Whether that's Bernie Kosar, some of his former players now out of the NFL, or maybe even some of the former assistants here before, you've got to figure this will all begin happening soon.
But perhaps the best part of his hiring is what it will do locally. Last year, Susan and I wrote a story about how the University of Miami football program had begun making local recruits and teams feel unappreciated. Some laughed. Truth was the story was no fib. Coaches and local athletes were feeling a bit blue toward The U. Friday alone, I spoke with about a dozen local high school kids and coaches. All of them were ecstatic Shannon was named coach. Why? He's a 305 guy. Norland High. UM. Homestead receiver A'Jami Guyton told me he felt UM and Shannon were finally going to give him a serious look. Same for North Miami Beach do-it-all star Doug Wiggins. Same with Glades Central running back Damien Berry (a UM commitment who by the way has played nearly half the season with a torn ACL). Same with Hialeah defensive end Adewale Ojomo (who commited Friday). Same with Northwestern coach Roland Smith, who by the way has the sickest junior class in the nation and is likely to send his pal most if not all of that talent next year.
The bottomline: the Hurricanes have lost out on some major local recruits of late. Some were just flat out passed over or somehow got out of town for reasons to this day I have no idea why. Guys like Elvis Dumervil. Guys like Dwayne Bowe. Guys like Max Jean-Gilles. Check Ohio State, Tennessee, LSU, Auburn, N.C. State and plenty of other team's rosters. I could go on and on. Now with Shannon at the helm, the emphasis will be South Florida -- 561, 954, 305 (the three area codes UM has always done most of its winning with) and every other place south of Orlando.
Shannon shared one of his best recruiting stories with us Friday. He told us about how he found Santana Moss, stashed away at Carol City. Moss, who only caught 7 passes (6 for TDs), was deciding between a UM track scholarship and a football scholarship from Eastern Kentucky. Shannon went out and spoke to Carol City coach Walt Frazier. Trust me, Frazier told him, you want him. It's those type of recruiting success stories that made UM what it was. It's what is going to make UM great again. Check out the COMPLETE VIDEO Q&A SESSION WITH THE MEDIA.
Speaking of great. Friday night's finish between St. Thomas Aquinas and Lakeland was amazing. Aquinas was down 21-0, scored 35 points in the fourth quarter and ended up losing by 2 inches, 45-42 in double overtime. I think FSN will be rebroadcasting it on Christmas Day. Tune into the last 6 minutes of the fourth quarter. Chris Rainey is sick. 276 yards, 3 TDs, amazing speed and quickness. Talk about a great recruit for UF.
Since I've been back on the old beat a bit this week with the high school championships in town, I've got a few players I've heard UM could soon be looking into. Tampa Plant QB Robert Marve is one of them. Marve (6-2, 195) is the real deal Holyfield. A former Alabama commitment, I ran into one of his assistants in the hallway at UM and asked him if UM was going to be checking Marve out. He told me yes. Marve plays at 1 p.m. today against St. Augustine Nease. He's got 45 TD passes and more than 4,000 yards passing this season. The kid can play and would be a great steal for UM if they can get him. The assistant told me the kid has been getting looks from Florida State and LSU since Mike Shula got fired. He says Marve likes UM and is probably only a few phone calls away from giving UM some serious consideration. Might be worth it.
Other guys UM needs to land: How about St. Thomas safety Major Wright? Stud! Kid hits like a freight train. Even though he's likely to end up playing linebacker in the pros and maybe college, Shannon and company have to make sure Major doesn't skip town for Ohio State, USC or Michigan like he's rumored to be doing.
Oops. Before I forget. Not sure if this made the paper anywhere, but I spoke with linebacker Jon Beason about his future. Basically, Beason expects to hear back from the NFL next week. If it looks like he's going to get paid, he's out. If not, he's back in a heartbeat. Thing is he won't announce it until after the bowl game. Listen to the interview.
Anyway, I'm done. Time to go to sleep. Here's what I want to hear from you:
1. What are your thoughts on Shannon being named coach?
2. Is there a high school player you would like to UM chase after?
3. Of UM's current 11 commitments, who do you like best and why?