Sorry I haven't posted in a few days, but I've been busy working on stuff for the ACC hoops tournament.
It's halftime of the Florida State game and after seeing forward Al Thornton twice I just have to say the kid is flat out sick. He can really do it all. It's a wonder the Noles are in the must-win situation they are in with a talent like Thornton. I've watched him for a game and half now and have to say if Devin Ebanks, a potential 2008 recruit for the Canes, is as good as Thornton, UM is going to be a much better team in a few years.
Anyway, I hit UM football practice on Tuesday and have some audio interview clips to share with you with freshmen Graig Cooper and Doug Wiggins. Susan Miller Degnan will be writing a story on Super Cooper that will be in tomorrow's paper and both audio clips will be available then.
I know Wiggins pretty well from his playing days at North Miami Beach High, so getting him to open up was pretty easy. So, we started with his new haircut. Doug had dreadlocks, but decided to cut them when he arrived on campus. "I want to grow new roots," Wiggins told me. Tradition at UM has required freshman to cut their hair when they arrive on campus in the fall. Wiggins did it before even being told. That speaks volumes of the type of kid he is. He loves tradition, setting the example. He loves UM and his family (Wiggins is the first cousin of Heat forward Udonis Haslem) does too. Doug's father Doug Wiggins Sr. actually bought a huge UM flag and covered the roof of his house with it. He also covered his car with UM bumper stickers.
Doug is very, very smart, too. He has tremendous leadership instincts. I think of all the players UM signed in this last class, Wiggins is going to be the most influential this coming season and for years to come. Right now, he told me he's working in at nickelback and hopes to land the starting spot there the way Chavez Grant, another bright local kid, did last year. You can also expect to see him some on special teams, returning punts and kicks and possibly on offense. "I want to do what [safety] Lovon Ponder did last year," Wiggins told me when asked if he might play some offense. "I want to be 1-for-1 with a long touchdown pass. I'd love to play offense and help out wherever I can."
Cooper is pretty much the same type of kid as far as being versatile. He told me he's currently working on the second team behind Javarris James and said he was told he was going to be used in a "Reggie Bush type fashion." He told me he's been working in the return game too. Apparently he's made quite an impression in the early going with coaches. He is now wearing Jon Beason's old No. 2. Getting single digit numbers at The U is tough. He said the coaches told him when he arrived on campus, the only way he'd get a single-digit number was if he exhibited the type of character great Canes do. He found the number in his locker a week before spring drills began. As for his hair, SuperCoop, a kid who grew up in Tennessee, has dreads too (kind of like Brandon Meriweather had this past season). But Coop told me he's trying to escape having to cut it. It's not that Coop is a bad kid and doesn't want to follow tradition. He just likes his doo.
Anyway, that's what I learned from the first practice on Tuesday. As we all know, Commander Shannon doesn't like to share a lot of information. Don't expect much as this spring progesses. When we asked him how the quarterbacks looked, he said "I don't know." Sure coach, whatever you say.
That's it for my reporting on football. I won't bore you with basketball unless something interesting comes up. But here's something to pick your brain with...
With all the talk about the Canes moving to Dolphins Stadium, how would you feel if the Hurricanes do end up there? Would you be happy with them leaving the famed Orange Bowl? Or will playing at Dolphins Stadium, a midway point between Dade and Broward, be better for fans?
With that, all other thoughts on the ACC tourney and the first few UM football practices are welcome. Holler back.