In an another move in what I like to call Randy Shannon's attempt at Unifying The U, UM's new coach told our Susan Miller Degnan on Monday his team's uniforms this coming season will not include last names.
While this probably will be portrayed as a bit of a shock in other places because the school known for having too much swagger is going old school, it should not come as a surprise to Canes fans considering the moves Shannon has made since becoming coach. Let's recap. In the spring, he instituted a new policy in the lockerroom where offensive players and defensive players -- once split apart by groups -- began sitting side by side. That was followed by new off the field rules including no firearms, no cell phones in meetings and classrooms as well as having all freshmen and sophomores living on campus.
For a guy who has only been on the job seven months, Shannon has certainly made huge statements and strides in short time. And they all seem to be the right buttons. Monday, UM picked up its 15th oral commitment since the spring when Miami Northwestern receiver Aldarius Johnson drove down to UM's campus in person to tell Shannon's assistants he wants a scholarship saved for him. Last year at this time, Miami had just two -- receiver Kayne Farquharson and center Harland Gunn.
Johnson (6-3, 195) is one of the nation's top 50 recruits and one of the game-changing weapons the Hurricanes have sorely needed the past several seasons. He became the ninth South Florida player to pick Miami and said he made the decision because he wanted to continuing playing with his high school quarterback, UM recruit Jacory Harris. In a lot of ways, Johnson, like most of Miami's early commitments, are a direct result of that same type of message Shannon began spreading the day he replaced Larry Coker and made once again Monday. And that is, Miami's football program is once again united and that it will feel like a family again.
"The thing I really like about Miami is that it feels like a family, just like we got here at the 'West," Miami Northwestern High defensive tackle Marcus Forston told me Monday. "Over there, all 11 guys feel like the superstars. Just like we do here. That's the type of place I want to be at. Where all 11 guys are the superstars."
Forston, one of the nation's top two defensive tackles on the nation's No. 1-ranked high school football team, hasn't committed to Miami yet. And he won't commit anywhere until January. He told me he says he will try to make his announcement on national television during the U.S. Army All-American game then. But his tone Monday in our conversation should provide you some insight as to why the Hurricanes have had such as successful time recruiting again under Shannon's reign. And why what seems like little things like taking the name off his team's jerseys, sitting offensive players and defensive players side by side in the lockerroom means so much.
So, how do you feel about the names being scratched off of UM's jerseys? And better yet, how impressed are you by the fact Canes have 15 oral commitments this early in the game?