I find it funny how we were made to believe this UM team was void of talent the past several seasons (I even bought it). Yet, Saturday, two players from a 7-6 team -- tight end Greg Olsen and linebacker Jon Beason -- are expected by most to find their way into the first round. I rarely like to take shots at coaches because I don't fully believe they deserve all the blame, especially since they are not on the field. But the fact UM's record the past several seasons has not matched what it has produced at the next level is further proof that the guys running the show the past 3 seasons were at least partially responsible for not getting the most out of what it had.
Let's review what exactly has come out of The U since the struggles first really began in 2004 and stopped playing in the BCS and what has come out in the draft following. The highlights: RB Frank Gore (one of the top rushers in the NFL last season), CB Antrel Rolle (starting corner), CB Kelly Jennings (another starting corner), and Devin Hester (who only broke the NFL return record for TDs last season). Those are only four names of the 10 guys taken on the first day of the draft -- the first three rounds -- in the 2005 and 2006 draft. This year, three more -- including safety Brandon Meriweather -- are expected to go in the first three rounds, giving Miami what should be a total of 13 players chosen on Day 1 since 2005.
I'm no draft expert, but after this weekend there will be only two other college football programs who will have had at least 13 players taken during the first day of the draft following the past three seasons. And that tells me one thing: of all of college football's talent rich programs, UM has the least to show for what it has produced on the field over the past several seasons. Don't believe me? I did the research.
--> Mighty USC? That's the only program appears headed to having more players selected on the first day than Miami the past three years. The Trojans had 7 players taken last year on Day 1, 4 in 2005 and expect to have 3 this year. That's a total of 14 -- just one more than Miami. The Trojans were national champs in '05, runner-up in '06 and were a bad day away against UCLA from playing for another title this year.
--> Then, there is Oklahoma. The Sooners appear as though they are headed to matching UM's First Day total of 13 (5 in '06, 6 in '05 and now 2, RB Adrian Peterson and LB Rufus Alexander expected to go on Day 1). Yes, Oklahoma has lost some, too. But the Sooners played in the Fiesta Bowl this past season. Miami was in Boise.
--> 2006 national champion Texas? They actually have had less First Day talent than UM. The Longhorns had 5 players taken on Day 1 in '06, 2 in '05, and are expected to have 5 players go on Day 1 this year. That's a dozen.
--> Ohio State? The national runner-up last season is expected to have one player fewer than the 'Canes taken on the last three Day 1s combined. Buckeye nation had 7 last year, 3 in '05 and only 2 are expected to go on Day 1 this year. That's a total of 12.
--> How about talented LSU? Only a total of 9 are expected to be taken on Day 1 after Saturday. Shockingly, only three players were chosen on Day 1 last year and two in '05. Four, including expected top pick JaMarcus Russell are expected to go on Day 1 this year. The Tigers have finished the past three seasons ranked no lower than 16th and were No. 3 last season.
--> What about the Seminoles? Florida State had 5 in '06, 3 in '05 and three are expected to go Day 1 this year. That's a total of 11. FSU, if you forgot, won the ACC title in 2005 and played in the Orange Bowl.
--> How about the hated Gators, who are fresh off of winning the national title? Only three are projected to get in the First Day this year. That gives Florida a grand total of 5 after you include their only other first day selections from the previous two drafts: linebacker Channing Crowder (3rd round to the Dolphins in 2005) and receiver Chad Jackson (2nd round to New England in 2006).
There are a couple ways to look at what I've just presented. One, Miami's reputation led a lot of NFL experts to take average-at-best UM talent way too early in the draft. Or two, UM's coaches really dropped the ball and the team should have been a lot better than its three-year combined record of 25-12 turned out to be. The fact guys like Gore and Hester (a pair of third round picks) are currently thriving makes me believe the latter.
On the positive side, though, I will say this: Being able to brag you can still produce more first day talent than all but one college football program even during your worst struggles is something that definitely scores points with recruits. And I believe that's the real reason the Canes continue to net big-time talent. Earlier this week, the son of former basketball Cane Joe Wylie became the sixth UM commitment for its Class of 2008. I don't know much about the kid other than the fact he's a 6-2, 191-pound hard-hitting safety from Boyd Anderson High in Fort Lauderdale. When I find a highlight video, I'll post it.
Anyway, I'll be working the Heat-Bulls Series this weekend and the NFL Draft on Saturday and won't be out there for the Canes' big showdown with FSU on the diamond. I was hoping to get a chance to see more of the baseball team this season, but I've been relegated to doing other things. Hopefully that will change in the coming weeks. If not, I'm calling out baseball junkies to let me know what's going on out there and generate some baseball discussion. How did the Canes look this weekend? I'm sure we'll find out soon enough if this team has any real Omaha aspirations.
Before I forget: I saw an interesting rumor on Canestime.com about the basketball team and Jimmy Graham possibly transferring if Anthony King returns this season. Truth be told, I find it hard to believe Graham would be willing to sit out a season to play one year somewhere else. He doesn't strike me as a selfish player or someone who would leave The U for more playing time. He's going to get loads of it anyway. Stay tuned, though. I'll try to get an update on the situation.
And finally: For those of you interested in doing your own football scouting, I recently received the prep schedule for spring jamborees in Miami-Dade. And the two biggest games with potential Canes recruits are: Brandon Harris and Booker T. Washington take on Dillard, Thursday, May 24 at Lockhart Stadium; and Glades Central visit Traz Powell Stadium for a showdown with nationally-ranked Northwestern Saturday, May 26. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m. kickoffs. The Classic with most bang for your buck, though, is the Thursday night Jamboree at Traz on May 24, which begins at 5 p.m. with Carol City vs. American and is followed by Norland vs. Central, Jackson vs. Krop and linebacker Etienne Sabino and North Miami Beach vs. Edison.
And finally, for real this time: I found this link on a UM message board for the new Madden '08 commercial starring former Cane Devin Hester. It's pretty phat. Check it out below.