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Recruits a result of Shannon's work & deeper bond

For the last two weeks, I've spent the better part of my time picking the brains of the Canes' local football recruits about what I consider the biggest story this offseason at The U: the magical transformation of the Canes' image in the eyes of recruits and the giant success its produced in early commitments.

This week, I delved deeper as I spent time working on our high school football section (I'm going to be an integral part of The Herald's improved local coverage). From Monday through this afternoon, I spent more than 40 hours filming video interviews during The Herald's High School Football Media Days with players from every team in Dade and Broward. It was a lot of fun. And before I delve into the point of this blog, I want to share some of my personal highlights with some of the top guys in Dade and Broward including several Canes recruits:

Marcusforston--> Playing catch with Northwestern defensive tackle Marcus Forston and later seeing him outleap receiver Aldarius Johnson for a jump ball on a pass 20 yards down field. Yes, true story. Forston not only leaped as high as Aldarius, he tipped it to himself for a catch. Then did the same against 6-5 teammate and fellow receiver Tommy Streeter. "I'm not just big boned," Forston told me. "I got a 30-inch vertical. I'm more than a big boy."

Brandonwashington--> Watching Northwestern quarterback Jacory Harris connect with left tackle Brandon Washington on a 40-yard seam route down the field for a touchdown. Then, seeing Washington fire the ball right back at him on a perfect strike. Harris by the way told Streeter jokingly that if he didn't commit to Miami he wasn't going to pass him any more balls this season.

--> Finding out from Forston that the day coach Roland Smith and his staff were fired, he and Harris held a team meeting, told players to come back in two days. Then, when the team returned on Monday for workouts, how Forston and Harris led a full Bulls practice with no coaches.

--> Getting a thank you from linebacker Sean Spence Wednesday morning for not ruining his moment and announcing his commitment on a blog last week. "I'm going to do it Friday by the way. I'll call you as soon as I leave coach's office."

--> Talking to Columbus offensive tackle Mike Goodman, who has over 30 offers, and finding out just how serious is about education and how he really values picking a good character school. Goodman, whose father once played on Nebraska's offensive line in the 1970s, said he wants to pick a place that really goes after character commitments and doesn't just say it will. I think its Wake Forest, BC or maybe any Ivy League school for him.

There is a lot more. An hour interview with Chaminade LB Jordan Futch (he was great and really is very smart); a conversation with Homestead LB Marcus Robinson (who sounded anything but like a Hurricane commitment); a chat with Pace offensive lineman Greg Shaw (who said how much he admires his brother Willie Williams); and a talk with a Coral Springs LB who looked like a clone of Dan Morgan.

I'll get back to all that in the coming days, but for now I want to get back to the point of this blog, which is how Miami has managed to rally in the recruiting world. As many of you know, a few recent commits in the past week have cited Randy Shannon and his assistants as the primary reason as to why the Canes are the team to beat again even on the heels of a Gators national championship.

They've all pointed to the same reasons: the new disiciplines instilled by Shannon (his no gun rule, the team's GPA rule to live off campus and the swiping of names off jerseys), the honesty of Miami's coaches during recruiting, and the strong focus on South Florida. Futch echoed those sentiments and really broke down the message that has won recruits over better than I think anyone else has. (CHECK OUT HIS FULL AUDIO INTERVIEW).

"I think discipline, it's been a big thing. Coach Shannon, he's always been a big recruiter. And now he has a great team behind him. He understands that the best talent is the local talent. For years, he's been going after local talent. And when Coker got there, they weren't able to do that. They were going all over the state and places lJordanfutch_2ike Utah for talent when we were right here at home. So, now, coach Shannon has said he's going to get the talent down here. And even with all that negativity, everybody talking about The U fell, The U fell, coach Shannon understood he had some problems and he could fix it. So, that's what he's been doing. He's been disciplining the guys at The U right now. He's just really cracking down. He's taking the guns back. He's taking the names off the jerseys. So, his regime should be a nice one because he's not playing any games. He's in there to win. He's in there to teach the kids and be their father figure away from home. He's changing everything around, back to the way things have used to be."

But as much credit as Randy deserves, and he deserves plenty, I believe there's more to Miami's success than just Shannon and company talking a good game. Never in all the years I've been covering high school sports or followed the Canes have I seen so many kids commit to Miami this early in the game. Not ever after a national championship season. The 16 commitments are 14 more than there were last year at time. Almost as eye-opening, a dandy dozen are from the South Florida area, a place where signing day drama and suspense is as important to recruits as winning a state title.

Somehow, some way, Randy and his guys have managed to easily weed through the ego boost the recruiting process can be for these kids and convince guys like Forston (a kid with over 40 scholarship offers) to pick the Canes before even taking an official visit somewhere else. And while things can always change and likely will (I'm sure one or two guys will end up switching at the last second and many more will still take their trips) the battle in my opinion has already been won. This next recruiting class at Miami is going to be insanely special. And it can't all be because of the message Randy and his coaches have been delivering.

At the FSWA Media Days, Shannon pointed out how he believed his relationship with many of the recruits' parents -- from his old playing days in high school -- has played a big role in Miami being very successful this early in the recruiting game. And to a point, I agree. But I also believe the bigger bond that paid off was the connection between these recruits. How else can you explain this perfect recruiting storm for this Canes coming out of nowhere? So early?

Many of these recruits have known each other for years, played against each other in Pop Warner and admired each others talents. Futch told me Monday how he and Harris' father used to work together and how they grew up playing together. Harris' dad played against Shannon in high school. FuturecanesNorthwestern receiver Aldarius Johnson played with Futch at Miami Lakes Optimist. Brandon Harris, who is not a commitment (yet), told me he always wondered in Pop Warner what it would be like to play with the boys at The West (who he played against in Pop Warner). Same with Patrick Johnson, who did his thing up in Broward. It's like little by little, all of these guys who grew up dominating local Pop Warner leagues and rooting for Miami as boys during the Canes' last few great seasons (in 2000, 2001 and 2002) had this future coming and have embraced it.

Harris and Futch told me how they've spent a lot of time together at UM, even since before commiting. They've gone down to watch 7-on-7 practices, hung out in the dorm rooms of current players and stayed up all night playing video games with each other in Demarcus Van Dyke's dorm room. Patrick Johnson told me how he and Kenny Phillips talk on the phone all the time. There's plenty more stories I've come across in the past few weeks about these bonds. All of them prove to me the bond between Canes and future Canes may be deeper and stronger than its ever been. And it couldn't have come at a better time for the program.

Comments

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thanks Manny, seems the kids trust you and open up, great!
peace

that was great manny...

It sounds like all The West Boys will stay committed to Miami. All the Canes got to do is Win.

When does two-a-days start?

Excellent work Manny!
Are you going to be at the open practices?

Manny, once again great job. U are doing something special with the interviews with the high school kids. Also U are right on, about how all the kids connect. By the way, all of the connecting DOTS are leading straight to the U.

peace

Excellent blog Manny, keep it up....

Nice job Manny... thanks... (although the title of this blog kind of has me puzzled... )

Also, who's the Coral Springs Dan Morgan clone, and is he a "possible" Cane recruit?

Manny...now that is the best blog I have ever read, anywhere, anytime. You are going deep, and doing it often. The content you provide is incredible and seems to get better every day.

You are on your way to BIG things here. And we are behind you all the way!

Great post. This may be the best I have ever read on a blog. Just packed full of info. Anybody know what happened with Tatum?

The interesting thing, to me, is what it is about South Florida. There are other supposed bastions of high school football, but not even the High School Footballest state in the union, Texas, can compare with the pound-per-pound talent output.

Great job. Manny, when you go to Media day, can you ask Kyle W. what he did in the offseason to improve, and what he plans to improve from last year?
Thank you

Manny, you're doing a great job getting us a variety of information. Keep up the great work - we all really appreciate it!

Manny, this is the best blog EVER WRITTEN BY A MAJOR MEDIA OUTLET! PERIOD! END OF STORY!

U have now set the standard, officially. TO ALL OTHER REPORTERS WHO CALL THEMSELVES SPORTS-JOURNALISTS, THIS IS HOW IT IS DONE.

U dig deeper and deeper. U use your connections and relationships built over years of trust and goodwill. Then U ask question after question until the golden nuggets start to rise to the top.

Manny, this is proof positive that there's so much Canes information out there that fans can never get too much. U probably have four or five more blogs from this one series.

From the comments that Fortson and AJ made, there must be some serious, palpable differences between Team Shannon and the U as a whole, and the other big schools. I think that's the key.

This is great stuff. A thousand thanks.

Manny, can you also ask Kyle if he learned anything from Freeman while he was on the bench last year.

Manny, all my questions will be answered against Marshall.

Actually, I take that back.

Here's one for U.

WHY THE F%@K DID MEDIOKER NOT MAKE SO-FL THE 1ST AND LAST PRIORITY FOR RECRUITING????

Answer me that....

great job. keep up the good work

how is the Oline prospects looking, we really need more quality and depth.

Manny This has to be one of ur best blog's ever. Ok i got a ? this might sound stupid but i dunno I heard Sam shields ran a 4.26 this spring I think the "U" should time guys after practice and weight training to simulate how fast someone is in the 4th. I wonder what he runs in the 4th qtr? I think we can get in great shape and our times are better then most teams on a fast track with spikes. VT always has exaggerated times with many of their players but The "U" guys always do as good or better at the combine

how are the OLINE prospects, we need more quality and depth

what is the possibility of landing greg shaw

Great post, Manny!

Great info on the eve of the new season. RS is in the progress of a stellar recruiting class. He needs to work the same magic with the offense and the Canes will take the ACC

NO CHANCE AT SHAW WE ARE NOT EVEN ON THE RADAR ANYMORE. if you read between the lines of mannys blog it says that shaw has great respect for willie. and do u think willie has anything positive to say about miami?

Shaw's going to Second Chance University with Da Predator

if shaw is like wacky willie we dont need him

Awesome blog Manny! Reading all this is getting me excited not just for this year, but for years to come.

Manny...have you heard about the "Orange Revolution" against Marshall?

Are you a Kyle or Kirby guy?

Who do you think will be the starting OLs and LBs in 2007?

Do you like XBOX or PS3?

Hi Manny,

this is coach from the Miami-Dade/Broward exposure camp, you are doing a great job. But, you are missing probably the best athlete in Miami (Corey Lugiet, Hialeah) look at his film.

Wow! very impressed by the depth of information. Can't wait to read the rest of it.

Are you going to cover the UM/OU game in Norman?

Manny you are doing outstanding work covering all aspects of the U. I look forward eagerly to each of your articles as well as your blog.Thank you!

Damn Manny

You are destroying all other blogs (except Canespace which I am beginning to think of as the sister blog to yours).

Keep up the strong info and insight. I'm checking this blog EVERYDAY!

Manny,

Great Job. Good Info. I'm ready for some U-Ball, Mystique, & Swagger!!!

How about reporting your experience/opinion on how the U recruiting seemed to have gotten derailed the last few years.

i.e. "For years, he's been going after local talent. And when Coker got there, they weren't able to do that. They were going all over the state and places like Utah for talent when we were right here at home."

I looked up some U recruiting class rankings, and why didn't they correlate to equal success on the field?

YEAR UM Recruit Ranking
2007 … #19
2006 … #14
2005 … # 7
2004 … # 4
2003 … # 5
2002 … # 8

I believe that not having a QB develop into a dominating game force is one of the reasons.

Go Canes!!! Cheers, JerryD

Solid job
Solid info
My compliments

This is where a Canez Fan gets the scope!!!
Keep feeding us>>>>>>>>>>>

I think four years from now, when these high school seniors hit their stride at the U, not one of them will ever regret their decision to become part of the U mystque. Thanks Manny

good stuff

Great post! Manny you are setting the standard for blog reporting. You're a true Cane! These kids trust U and Shannon.

Great work, Manny.

Manny you doing a great job. Your reporting and your alligence to canesport.com are all a part of the revitalization taking place at the U. There are going to be a few growing pains throughout this season because of the changes in coaches but I am confident the program is heading in the right direction. The ACC has not feared the Canes but that is about to change!

Manny,

I Really enjoyed reading the stuff on Forston and big Wash. The interview with Futch is interesting, he wants UM to go after Sabino. Keep up the good work!

Manny, good work. I love this working together with Canespace - the more the merrier and bringing mroe info to the U fans is what it is all about!

GO CANES

Hell of an entry Manny. Great, great insight. Keep it coming.

Good stuff Manny-looking forward to camp reports. But can you do us a favor? Keep Greg Cote off the UM section of the site.

I'm amazed that a guy can write as much as he does, but virtually say nothing. He slams the Onion for not being a mouthpiece for the OB. We all love the OB. Maybe RS has a couple things on his plate that are more important than a stadium decision that he little or no influence over. Cote is barely qualified to create his "page 6" calibur musings. Letting him try to opine on sports issues just embarrasses the rest of the reporters at this paper.

Hey Cote-leave UM alone and focus on your next in-depth investigation whether Smush Parker prefers Twinkies or Devil Dogs.

Obviously, I prefer the dogs.

Manny you and this blog are about to blow up!! Keep up the good work

This is a fantastic blog entry. Manny you are the man! These juicy tid bits are the kind of information the Legion wants.

Thanks.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/sports/content/sports/epaper/2007/07/29/a1b_recruit_0729.html like texas, our regional popularity outmuscles the competition. SECRET OF SUCCESS

Best Miami Athlete is Brandon Harris...(Hint Hint)

Dade County Athlete Of The Year as a junior

(MLB.com) Due to conflicts with the Miami Dolphins and University of Miami football, eight Marlins games will air on 940 AM WINZ. The Marlins' flagship radio station, 560 WQAM, also carries the Dolphins and UM football. After the season, the Marlins are expected to be looking for a new flagship radio station.

Keep up the great Manny!

Looks like the Canes got a bright future. I'm excited

Keep up the good work Manny.

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