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Gore: A real Rags to Riches story

How you doing these days Eye on The U crew? Just wanted to check in during my three-week break -- Is it really vacation if I'm still working? -- to give you a place to pour your thoughts in regarding your beloved Canes. Among the topics of this entry: My visit to Frank Gore's mother's house, Denis Clemente's transfer to Kansas State, a Devin Ebanks update and a quick football recruiting update.

Gore_frank2_2First, Gore. After signing his big contract extention in March, I spent months trying to hunt him down for an interview and finally did at the end of last week (a feature on him should be running in the paper soon). Anyway, he invited me to his mother's brand new four bedroom home in West Kendall to shoot a photo of him and his mother together. Frank never showed up (he was doing an autograph session with kids), but I got a chance to speak with him later on. I spent nearly an hour with his mother, who you all remember has to take weekly dialysis treatments for her diabetes and struggles simply to get out of bed.

Although as a journalist I'm not supposed to get emotionally attached to the people I write about -- it is unprofessional. But I couldn't help but feel genuine happiness for Gore and his family. The house Frank bought his 46-year old mother, 22-year old brother Travis and 21-year old sister Shemika, was four times the size of the tiny, two-bedroom place he once shared with eight people growing up in Coconut Grove. I was there the day before Frank got drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round two years ago. Gore was so happy that day because he knew he was finally going to be able to get his family out of the hood, off of welfare and live a dream. But he was also disappointed. He knew he was better than the five running backs -- Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, Cadillac Williams, J.J. Arrington, and Eric Shelton -- taken ahead of him in the same draft. And he knew his potential was never reached at UM because of the two major knee injuries he suffered.

Gore finally reached it last season in San Francisco. All the open field running, the big moves, the shake and bake, was back in his step. He looked like the guy who tore up tP1_gore_presswirehe Miami-Dade County rushing record book with more than 2,900 yards in 11 games his senior season at Coral Gables High. In all, Gore ran for 1,695 yards to not only set a single-season 49ers record, but lead the NFC and finish 3rd in the NFL overall. All that by the way after having two shoulder surgeries as a rookie. The 49ers could have chosen to pay him the $450,000 he was due in his third season under his third round rookie contract. They upped the ante and rewarded him with a $28 million extention, a $6.5 million signing bonus and $14 in guarantees. They wanted Gore not just because he ran the ball well, but because he began changing the losing attitudes in the lockerroom. Frank reportedly got in the face of teammates last season who were still smiling after losses. The Niners went 7-9, but could be a playoff team next season with Gore the frontman.

I couldn't be happier for him. The truth is, aside from football, Gore has never really had much going for him. At Gables, he was classified with a learning disorder. With his mother sick and the rest of his family dirt poor, he was basically their only hope of having a better life. When he went down with those two major knee injuries, I thought he was headed toward a sad story. I didn't think he'd be the same running back he was once appeared he was headed toward becoming at Gables. But now, he is the Frank of old again. And not only is his mother benefitting so are his two children.

Frank Jr., 5, is just like his daddy. He's playing football at Suniland Park, wears No. 3 just like his dad did at Gables, and is tearing up the league with his running and hitting skills according to the family. Demeterius, 1, already lines up opposite Dad with his hand on the floor and runs forward toward him looking for a collision.

"They love to play just like me," Gore told me. "If they keep watching me they'll be alright."

Truth is, we should all be watching Gore and admiring his story. He could have folded plenty of times -- with his academic issues, the rough neighborhood he grew up in and the knee injuries. He never gave up. His run to third place in the rushing standings last season (Ronnie Brown by the way was the only other rookie '05 to eclipse 1,000 yards last season) continued a tradition for the Canes most of you probably are not aware of. Since Edgerrin James left UM and became the NFL rushing leader his rookie season in 1999, the Hurricanes have had a top five rusher in the NFL every season except once (2001 when James suffered his major knee injury).

With Gore, UM now has four legitimate star running backs in the league Jamestdbetween him, James (Arizona Cardinals), Clinton Portis (Washington Redskins) and Willis McGahee (Baltimore Ravens). That's absolutely amazing and I'm sure somewhere Don Soldinger is patting himself on the back. While Tyrone Moss (cut by the Browns) and the next senior to leave Charlie Jones will likely not continue that running tradition, Gore told me he expects Baby James, Javarris James, to be the next great one to make something of themselves in the league.

"He's real good. Strong, makes people miss. He's got that special quality," Gore said of James. "Just like Edge."

I hope you guys enjoy the Gore story when it runs in the paper. But for now, here's a good a poll question for you.

Now to Clemente, the Canes former point guard, who found a school willing to give him a chance in Kansas State last week. Can't say I'm surprised he found a place to go. Clemente, when he wasn't playing out of control, was as fast a guard as there was in the country. He will sit out next season at Kansas State per NCAA transfer rules. But when he returns in 2008-09, he could be playing for one of the best teams in the country.

Former Miami High coach Frank Martin (whom I wrote about getting the Kansas State job last month) is close friends with Clemente's AAU coach Art Alvarez (check out his website here www.miamitropicslive.com). Martin loves Miami area guys and has recruited plenty local players during his stints at Northeastern and Cincinnati. If Clemente, who was averaged 9.8 points and 3.3 assists, can keep himself out of trouble (he was suspended for violating team rules and ultimately kicked off the team for the same reason), he could be a star for the Wildcats and one of those guys Canes fans shake their heads at come tourney time.

As for the Canes, they chose Edwin Rios as their point guard of the future long ago. But they could have also decided to get him some competition. This past season, N.C. State came in and swooped up the Player of the Year in Miami-Dade County in Krop High's Javi Gonzalez, who also played AAU ball on Alvarez's team. I know while Haith and company liked Gonzalez, they felt they were going to be just fine with Rios and Clemente. Obviously, UM didn't figure Clemente wouldn't be on the team anymore.

Devinebanks2As for the Canes' current hoops recruiting efforts, I spoke with highly-touted small forward Devin Ebanks again just minutes ago. He told me nothing has changed between UM and Indiana and both are still his leaders. The biggest news, though, appears that he likely won't be making a trip to Texas. He told me he'll still likely visit UM again on an official trip before he makes his college choice at the end of this summer. He told me he last spoke to Frank Haith about two weeks ago and said the conversation went well. "He's real cool and down to earth," Ebanks said of Haith. "We talk about everything. The coaching staff, the whole program is what I really like about Miami."

Ebanks said he also spoke to Indiana coach Kalvin Sampson last about two weeks ago and reaffirmed that while although his mother may like Indiana more, "The decision is going to be mine." This weekend Ebanks will be playing at the Rumble in the Bronx at Fordham University. He told me he is averaging well over 30 points a game for his AAU team.

QUICK FOOTBALL RECRUITING UPDATE: It appears the Canes are loading up in South Florida some more. After having the UM Summer Camp this past weekend, former Auburn commitment Thearon Collier has changed his mind and chosen his hometown Canes instead. Collier, a 5-9, 165-pound receiver at Booker T. Washington, was one of a handful of Tornadoes to star at the camp. Teammate Brandon Harris, a 5-10, 185-pound cornerback, was named overall MVP according to Matt Shodell from Canesport. Collier was the offensive MVP. Davon Johnson, also of Booker T., was the outstanding receiver and Rennie Carty was the outstanding DB.

Not that this should be a surpise, but don't be surprised if all four end up Hurricanes. Miami by the way now has eight commitments for the Class of 2008. None is better than Ely's Patrick Johnson, the No. 3 player in the state accoridng to Rivals.com.

Comments

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That was a tough poll for me. I picked Edge because of all he's accomplished to date.

But I honestly think McGahee has the most talent and potential of all of them if put in the right situation.

I picked McGhee,and now that he is with the Ravens will see him explode. Ebanks you can be the man in Miami, and at the end, you can say that you were the one that helped Miami become a power house in Basketball.

I picked McGhee,and now that he is with the Ravens will see him explode. Ebanks you can be the man in Miami, and at the end, you can say that you were the one that helped Miami become a power house in Basketball.

3 years ago after the Perry Clark debacle, we had an opportunity to grab a young energetic coach with local ties and there were 2 great choices, Anthony Grant and Frank Martin. Neither had a chance. No disrespect to Frank Haith, but at this time he is no even close. Grant not only was the mastermind behind all those Florida recruits, (Heck he took Tito Horford's kid from UM), but he proved that he can coach as he was rewarded Coach Of The Year. He was the ONLY choice considered by Florida to replace Billy Donovan. On the other hand your boy Frank Martin as chief recruiter for KS got the 6th best freshman class in 2006 (Remember how Colon ended up in KS) and this year he collected the Best class in the nation. To top it all Clemente is headed his way and as you mentioned, in a couple of years you'll see a great point guard in action. More pain is coming our way, the best player in Dade County and probably the best in Florida, Ray Shipman will sign early with KS. See Ya

Great stuff on Gore there, Manny. He's just one of those guys (like Jarrett Payton) that you can't help but root for, no matter who he's like playing for. A true class act, and a true Cane.

Hopefully we pull in Ebanks. After seeing more and more video of this kid, I just can't help but think how well he'd fit in at Miami and would really help to put us towards the top of the ACC and get us into the tourney. If Haith can get him, who knows who else might be interested in coming here -- the floodgates could open for star recruits looking to play at a school in the best basketball conference in the country.

As for Clemente... I wish him the best of luck at KSU. I know we didn't go after Gonzalez because we thought we'd be set at PG with Clemente and Rios, but could his ties to Art Alvarez have impacted that as well? We don't seem to be doing too well with his recruits, with the exception of Diaz, and even there, he should have returned for his senior year. Not saying there's anything up there, just wondering.

Mr. Ebanks-

Please come help to continue the great tradition of Indiana University basketball. We, as basketball fans will appreciate you and your awesome talents, at a basketball school.

much love and respect
The Hoosier Nation

Frank Gore is the man and while all of these former Cane backs are exceptional I think Gore has the edge. McGahee would have been by far had it not been for that knee injury. He lost two steps after that and has never been the same.

What a great story and up-date on Frank Gore. I believe he will be at the top when it's all said and done. He sounds like a young man with great character and despite set backs, persevered without blaming or self pity, and has overcome with great class. He is someone the "U" should stay close with and bring in to speak with the players at the beginnig of the season. He clearly would be an encouragement and would motivate the players to play with class and be players the comunity and Nation can be proud of. It's a new era in "Cane Land" and Shannon and company are on the right track. To the "Team", put back the fear into the hearts of our opponents more than ever before with class and dignity. Let your play do the talking and walk humbly without the arrogance. You are "The U"

i got to give my vote to the edge, how can you not, he's done so much and every other back that has come out of the U started out by looking up to him. i think the edge was the original and that would make him the best

I know this has nothing to do with Gore, basketball, or football. I just have to say that Miami baseball team better think where is heading. Jim Morris is having a hard time adjusting to the ACC as we can see he has done nothing in the conference. The last three times he has gone to the ACC conference he has done nothing. He is what 6-2 in ACC conference championships. One of those wins was against the Seminoles, which he plays every year and knows excatly the style of baseball they play. I'm not calling for Jim Morris' head because I recognize the things he has done for Miami, but when he says that it was a nice streak, and he doesn't know if anybody is ever going to do it again. It doesn't sound like he has high hopes for the baseball team. After all, isn't the goal to make it to Omaha every year? I hope the coach can turn things around, and can do the same things he was doing when he was in the Big East.
Go Canes!!!

Willis. In a good team is possible he can get close to 1800 yds even though all 4 could.

Frank is a geat role model for all current and former Hurricanes. On the subject of great Miami Running Backs, I think Craig Cooper will be the feature back for the Canes this year if healthy.

Edge, he started it all and if he doesn't hurt his knee in Indy he would be the top RB in the NFL right now.

It's awsome to read Gore's story, a Cane and a guy to root for!

I give my vote to Portis...not only was he a great back...but he also had that old school cane brashness about him....imagine what he would have done if he wouldnt have split time with James Jackson...but you can say that about a lot of miami backs if they hadnt split time with others...

Got to go w/ Edge so far, and I think he still has a couple good years left because that Arizona O can only get better.

Devin come be a part of the resurgence of UM sports at Miami. Once Randy turns the football ship around I'm positive Frank can ride that momentum. I know they are completely different sports but back in 2000,2001,2002 UM b-ball had its best seasons when the football team was doing great also.

This is a no brainer, Frank Gore is by far the most talented, gifted, and hardest working back of the four. Grant it, I like the other three alot; but Frank has the total package that a running back must posses. Frank has the vision, quickness, speed, durability, power, strength, hands, blocking, and most of all HEART. Lets look back, as a freshmen Frank Gore came in and pushed Davenport to fullback and became the third team running back; which he made a name for his self by out rushing both Willis and Clinton in some games with fewer carries (six per game). The true deciding factor is that Frank has a real passion for the game of Football, I think he was born to play this game. This is why I think, no why I know that Frank will have the greatest career out of the four running backs.

Couldn't have happened to a more deserving person. Give them hell next year frank. Nice to see a fellow Coral Gables Cavalier succeed in life.

Since my fins still suck, I can at least turn the DirectTV dish over to the niners games when the phins start to stink up the joint.

Go Canes, phins, heat, and marlins. screw the Panthers, who needs hockey in Florida anyway, lol.

Without a doubt, this young man FRANK GORE have what it take to have the best career this season. I like Portis too, but if read the stories on Frank during the time when Portis, Mcghee & Frank was playing together, before Frank got hurt, it was dangerous at the "U". and the comment mention before about this young was born to play this game. I wishess him all the best for this season. Go Gore you deserve it!

All of this is a blessing for Frank Gore. It is good when you see a young man out of the Ghetto doing great things. Also when you see them giving back to the community. He needs to be honored more often. As long as he stays focused. He will reach his goal.Keep ya head up and keep GOD first in all you do.

Gore has gone from the Ghetto to the Ghet-mo' ...

When Gore was a true freshman, I said that he was at a level comparable to the top RBs in the NFL, but I didn't think he'd return to the same form after the knee injuries. However, watching him last year reminded me of his freshman year, when I expected him to be the best thing to ever come out of the U. If he can stay healthy and play on a half-way decent team, he'll likely have the best career.

Gore by far has the most talent out of all 4 and will end up having the best nfl career. As a freshman none of the other RB's matched his vision, production and quicknesss. I remember in a pregame interview larry coker said if clinton portis wasnt a junior Frank Gore would be the starter because hes the best back they have. Why do you think portis left early? if he wouldve stayed he was going to have to split alot of time with Gore. if gore doesnt get hurt his sophomore year he has without a doubt the best year for a RB in UM history and they win there second straight national championship. He possibly couldve ended up as the best running back in the history of UM if not for his injuries but that will always be a what if. As of right now he'll always be the best running back to ever come out of Dade County.

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