I know you guys are mad. And you have every right to be. This blog has been pathetic for the past two weeks. No entries. No thoughts. No news. Not even a fresh opinion. So, go ahead and rip me. I deserve it.
But I got to at least explain myself. I've been busy. I haven't had a day off since Jan. 28. Super Bowl week, my UM trip to North Carolina (talk about a blowout) and national signing day are to blame. I know. I know. (WHY WAS THE GUY AT THE SUN-SENTINEL ABLE TO BLOG AND NOT ME?) There are several reasons. As you can already tell, I'm the only writer who blogs Eye On The U even though there are two photos attached to this site. My only explanation: She doesn't like to blog. The other excuse, while being a beat writer is a tough enough job, I have a few more responsibilities than the guys who only cover UM. The guys who cover UM at the competition do a great job. But unlike them, I'm also in charge of gathering video and audio for our website, helping out on high schools (my previous beat) and playing the role of "recruiting expert" for all the other writers who do not spend nearly as much time on the computer as I do. So there. I know its not going to make you feel any better, but it made me feel like I at least explained myself. (The pictures, are of my interviews last week for our Super Bowl coverage. Yes, they do let fat people speak to the famous. Anyway, that's Michael Strahan, John Salley, Leanne Tweeden and Gabrielle Union from top left clockwise. So there is your proof. I really was working).
Anyway, now that I've hopefully replied to the haters about how Eye On The U sucks, I will proceed with something much more fun to read and the purpose of this blog: How about them Canes?
Today's signing class in my opinion was spectacular. The last time I blogged, I told you I thought UM would end up with QB Robert Marve and S Joseph Nicholas and likely lose out on LB Allen Bailey and LB Brandon Hicks. I was wrong. UM got three of the four -- including Bailey who I thought was better than Hicks. Overall, I really liked what Coach Randy Shannon was able to pull off with the entire class. RB Lee Chambers was another surprise. Overall, I'd give it an 8 out of 10 rating.
But back to Bailey. I spoke to his high school coach for a while Tuesday when I found out he had chosen UM. You can hear the interview here AUDIO. If you don't want to hear it, here's a basic summary. Bailey is a stud. 6-3, 265 pounds of pure muscle. Bailey's high school coach Robbie Robinson said Bailey really wants to play linebacker, where coach Randy Shannon recruited him at. But Bailey, whom Robinson runs a 4.7, will have to show some speed to stay there. Tom Lemming, like most experts, said when Bailey eventually puts on weight -- which every player does when they get to workout in a real gym with a strength coach and eat college food -- he'll be forced to move inside. While some internet reports say Bailey only wants to play linebacker, Robinson said Bailey told UM coaches he doesn't mind if he eventually has to move there because "he wants to do what is best for the team." Having Bailey anywhere on the field will be best for the team. The kid is a freak of nature, extremely strong. I'd love to see him in the middle linebacker spot, ala Brian Urlacher, who is big, strong and fast and made the Bears what they were this season.
Aside from Allen, I asked a few experts to give me their opinions on where they thought UM did best on this class. Rivals.com analyst Mike Farrell, who covers the ACC and is one of two national recruiting analysts, said the Canes hit a home run in the secondary. I couldn't agree more. Farrell said cornerback Doug Wiggins (who is already enrolled, shaved his head and is already undergoing intense training) is one of the most physical, lock down corners he has seen. I saw Wiggins play safety at North Miami Beach first hand for two years. He's special. I can remember one high school game against Carol City in the rain in which he ran do a running back, stripped the ball from him and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown.
Of the five DBs UM got this year -- Wiggins, cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, safety Joseph Nicholas, safety Damien Berry and cornerback Jared Campbell (Calais' little bro) -- Wiggins will by far be the most prepared to make an immediate impact next year . Which is good because like Shannon said today (HEAR THE AUDIO) every position will be open for battle. Which in the long run will make Randy Phillips and Glen Sharpe, two guys who I thought struggled, better players. Don't be surprised if Wiggins is good enough -- along with Chavez Grant -- to steal starting spots from both. I think they are both that good.
As for the rest of the class... before I ask you for your thoughts, I'll make a few quick hits and then ask you for your thoughts on the same subjects.
Best signee: QB Robert Marve. Miami needed a quarterback and somehow was able to trade Alabama for the better one.
Position most served: Wide Receiver. Miami didn't get Deonte Thompson. But Jermaine McKenzie and Leonard Hankerson alone could come in and be No. 4 and 5 on the depth chart in a heartbeat behind Sam Shields, Lance Leggett and Darnell Jenkins. Daniel Adderley is a project, but a solid one at 6-6, 215 pounds. Kayne Farquharson, who is taking two JUCO classes, isn't officially part of the class yet. Strange. But our investigative work only turned out that UM didn't want to talk specifics because he is not officially there's yet. Either way, when he does get in -- assuming there are no unforseen problems -- he is also an instant contributor. Taurus McKinley, whom UM was recruiting and expected to sign, wasn't going to qualify anyway and is now expected to end up at West Virginia. Better off he doesn't come. UM really wants the two best receivers in the state anyway next year -- Northwestern High's Aldarius Johnson and Tommy Streeter. And they'll need to have scholarships.
Position least served: Defensive line. Canes may have a ton of young players on its current roster. But I'm still not sure how many of them are really good. Calais Campbell will be gone after next season (NFL), and the cupboard -- aside from Richard Gordon, Eric Moncur and Antonio Dixon -- may be bare thereafter. This is definitely an area UM would have liked to have gotten at least one or two more quality guys. Of note, tackle Chris Perry (Keller, Tex.) apparently had some trouble with his paperwork. But from what I hear that will be all taken care of, allowing him to join Adewale Ojomo as part of the d-line class.
Biggest fish that got away: No doubt it was Thompson, who apparently grew up a UM fan. He would have made this class even more spectacular. But like I said before, if UM can get the two kids from Northwestern next year, they'll be fine.
Biggest surprise: No doubt it was Bailey. I was sure he was going to the SEC -- hometown Georgia, Alabama or Florida. But he apparently is a different breed of kid. Someone who follows his heart. I like that. All the special Canes have always seemed to have that trait.
OK, I'm done. Now fill out your blank form (BEST SIGNEE, POSITION MOST SERVED, POSITION LEAST SERVED, BIGGEST FISH THAT GOT AWAY AND BIGGEST SURPRISE).
P.S. - And don't forget to include your hate mail.