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Forget Stars, Count 'Ships

How do we measure talent and success? Better yet, how do we project talent and success?

The one thing I've enjoyed most in my 10 years in this business, covering recruiting and National Signing Day,isn't that we geeky sports fans and reporters sit on edge waiting for a pimple-faced teenager to finish this sentence: So, after yanking your chain for six months, having schools spend thousands to wine and dine me and after putting these five hats on the table I've decided I'm going to...

Nope, the thing I love most about National Signing Day is how we all end up getting bent out of Randy_shannonshape on the number of tiny, shiny little stars Joe Blow Jr. has next to his name. I love the way we  believe how Joe Blow Jr. is going to be the next Ray Lewis or Michael Irvin because Joe Blow expert who watches Joe Blow Jr. films for a living says Joe Blow Jr. is going to be "special." Aren't they all, every year? The funny thing we often forget is what exactly all those stars really mean: an expert's opinion. Yet, every first Wednesday in February, we collectively beat our chests about how good or bad the collection of Joe Blow Jr.'s our schools signed to scholarships. We believe whole-heartedly, NSD, is the day the future is made or broken. Then, when the team goes 6-6, then 5-7 under a new coach named Randy Shannon we like to kick and scream. And then we say... "but the stars... they said we were supposed to be good."

The truth is judging high school football talent and projecting what it will be like at the next level is practically impossible. Simple mathematics will tell you that. How is it humanly possible for an expert to fairly judge talent in a country with hundreds of thousands of high schools and millions of football players? And how do recruiters honestly know what they're getting? How do they know players will come through the way they hoped they would when they get here? How will they know they'll behave themselves, grow into the players they are supposed to be? Sure, there are hot-beds for talent. And it's pretty easy to figure out a 6-foot, 5-inch, 300-pound lineman with 10 percent body fat is going to have a better chance of being a better football player than a 6-1, 250-pounder with 25 percent body fat. But after those first 300 "blue-chip," "can't miss" prospects, isn't recruiting pretty much a best guess?

Recruiting talent is one thing. But the real secret to college football success isn't just collecting gold stars like your in the fourth grade. It's building a team with depth and then making sure that talent grows the right way once its in your home. And then, its making sure you adjust when things don't work out.

A look at the last five years in recruiting at Miami could tell you all you need to know about the value of star-ratings. It also should tell you how poorly the guys on this staff adjusted to recruiting  mistakes and how they might not have gotten enough out of Devin_hester2the talent they did have here. In the 2003, Rivals.com rated Devin Hester, Greg Olsen and Kyle Wright as Miami's only five-star recruits. Defensive tackle Teraz McCray was the lowest-rated recruited player for UM at two-stars. McCray as it turned out sure seemed to have a better career than nearly all of the guys rated ahead of him in his class (4-stars: CB Terrell Walden, RB Tyrone Moss, S Willie Cooper and 3-star: OL Cyrim Wimbs). And Hester, Olsen and Wright sure didn't play at a consistent 5-star level while they were here. But Hester (everyone knows what he's doing) and Olsen (a first round pick last season) are sure doing pretty well now aren't they? How about 4-star linebacker Jon Beason (another first round pick)?

Tyrone_mossSo what does that all tell us? That somewhere between those Joe Blows getting to UM and then leaving not enough good happened. There are so many factors, so many places to lay blame. Like the players. Why couldn't Willie Williams get his act together? Why did Tyrone Moss, Broward's all-time leading rusher, get beat out by a freshman by his senior year? Why couldn't Greg Olsen hang onto the ball on third downs in college? Why is Jon Beason such a stud now and why couldn't he do more at UM?

But to me, the blame goes to the inconsistency and leadership at the top. I'm sure Wright didn't imagine he'd go through as many coordinators (4) as he did when he signed at Miami. I'm also sure Wright had no idea that after Darnell Jenkins, UM wouldn't sign a receiver in 2005 and the rest of his receiving corps would include five-star bust Lance Leggett, troubled Sam Shields, converted cornerback Ryan Hill, Khalil Jones and George Robinson.

- If you're a fan, ask yourself how Miami couldn't sign a quarterback for three years after Kirby Freeman walked through the door in 2004?
- Ask yourself why the Canes have signed one linebacker in 2006 (Colin McCarthy) and one in 2007 (Allen Bailey who is likely going to be a defensive end), after signing four in 2005 (Spencer Adkins, Eric Houston, Demetri Stewart and Daryl Sharpton) who have rarely seen the field? And how they never really replaced two big ones they lost in 2004 (Willie Williams) and 2003 (Arlington Highsmith)?
- Ask yourself how four highly-rated players in the last five classes still haven't or never really did end up sticking to a position -- Kylan Robinson (2006), Richard Gordon (2006), James Bryant (2004), Hester (2003)?
- Now that you're done assessing just part of the mess, ask yourself how Miami had classes ranked by Rivals to be 5th (2003), 4th (2004), 7th (2005), 14th (2006), 19th (2007)? Then wonder why UM ended up with seven fewer wins than Kansas this past season when the Jayhawks' classes were rated 50th (2007), 38th (2006), 48th (2005), 51st (2004) and 39th (2003)?

Yes, Randy Shannon was a part of all these decisions and part of the previous coaching staff. And yes, he shouldn't be let off the hook completly. But last I checked, wasn't UM's defense before this past season the only good thing about this team for about three seasons? And how about the fact coordinators aren't nearly as involved in recruiting as assistants are? Does his burden lessen al ittle now? And how could I forget the Hurricanes, until Shannon assumed control, didn't have a recruiting coordinator in place for at least two seasons.

Whether or not ESPN, Rivals or Scout.com decides to rank UM's Class two Wednesdays from now No. 1 when it comes to those little gold stars shouldn't mean as much to you as what the Hurricanes have already accomplished in the year leading up to this class. Miami's staff has not gotten nine early entrants into school -- saving scholarship spaces for others and getting a head start on the future and spring drills -- they've addressed long-standing needs this program has had with only not only guys who have a lot of stars next to their names, but well, depth.

* Since last February, Shannon and his staff have brought in more quarterbacks (4) than the two the previous leadership of this team inked in five years from 2002 to 2006.
* This class already has five receivers -- Aldarius Johnson, Davon Johnson, Thearon Collier, Travis Benjamin and Kendal Thompson -- who could run circles around the majority of the receivers still on this team. That's my opinion anyway.
Arthur_brown* The collection of linebackers -- Sean Spence, Arthur Brown, Jordan Futch, Marcus Robinson, Antonio Harper, Brandon Marti and Zach Kane -- not only adds serious depth to a position that was lacking, but it gives you, I believe, two major studs (Spence and Brown) who should be on the field quickly.
* Defensive tackle, a position the Hurricanes have been hurting at, has potentially three studs in Marcus Forston, Micanor Regis and Jeremy Lewis who are likely more talented than anyone UM has at the position now.

Is it a perfectly constructed class? Does it fill all the needs right now? No. The Hurricanes sorely Brandon_harrisneed to get a few cornerbacks (Brandon Harris would be really nice) and need another offensive lineman (Ben Jones, anyone?). Do I think all the guys going to pan out as superstars? History would tell you no. Somebody is going to be a bust. But whether or not the stars align, the one thing Hurricanes fan can't deny is that Shannon and this staff have raised the level of intensity in recruiting. They've addressed the majority of the serious needs. And whether or not UM gets five stars or just one for that, in the end that's all you can ask this staff to do. The hole left behind is a huge one to dig out of. Hopefully, we don't need stars to help us see that.

** PROGRAMMING NOTES: Susan Miller Degnan is going to have a very good Sunday feature on Taylor Cook and the rest of UM's incoming quarterbacks. Be sure to check it out. Also, if you haven't already been over to our new recruiting site, do so. I've been busy this week doing interviews and writing stories for our new recruiting page, which The Herald is apparently planning on keeping past National Signing Day. I've done audio interviews with Florida-bound receiver Frankie Hammond, Ohio State-bound linebacker Etienne Sabino, Pahokee receiver Martavious Odoms and a feature story on Micanor Regis, who Larry Blustein keeps telling me is going to be a force with Marcus Forston. Speaking of Blustein, he and I did another podcast. We covered FIU's class and what's happening with UM at the cornerback spot. Check it out.


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Great blog! It really hits home as to some of the reasons why this team was 5-7 last year. BC.

Manny, have you heard anything about the meeting that took place in Atlanta between Randy and PJ ? About PJ wanting to return to us because Les Myles lied to him about getting him early and then Florida outing him to the NCAA about his test scores. I hope it's a true story and a lesson learned for all how in the end honesty and integrity always wins. Randy Shannon is a class act.

Manny you are by far the best of the bloggers. Keep up the good work, try not to kick dirt in Shandell's face. hahaha

We will see if this class pan out, but I rather go into the season with all these recruits than the ones Coker had. Don't praise them, and compare them to the old Hurricanes till they actually do something.

great prospective Manny. good saturday morning read.

great stuff manny, i bet u would still do all of this even if they didnt pay u the big buck$$$$$.

Stars dont win Championships. Hard work, Dedication, Heart and great coaching do. Miami has lacked these quality the last 4 years. It will be up to Shannon to turn this around. I beleive in Shannon, but I also beleive its going to take 2 more years. If we can get another Class like this one in 09 and 10 and our first rounders dont leave after 3 years, we should be sizing a new ring for our other hand in Jan of 2011.(Again, since the last one was taken from us)

Go Canes!

I hope Shannon told PJ to kiss his ass. Harris is the truth, PJ is a bitch Period point Blank

Manny, What can I say? Brilliant work. You continue to amaze. Your recruiting site is a great foundation for all you other work and will be the new centerpiece. Your Eye on the U blog, Q&A (already planned I see) with Blustein, listings of recruits (South Fl of course), Podcasts, etc will have the synergy that will take it to another level.

Live broadcast with a local radio contract? You have chewed on this, you have touched on it in your blog and podcast, and I can see that as a winner specially on home games game day -- do it as a tailgate broadcast with guests on site. Don't forget to invite Soup and the legion...LOL

I can go on and on but all I can see is up for you guy. Just stay the course of being Manny. One thing. Don't ever pretend to be nothing but a Cane's Fan -- even if pressured otherwise because of the paper's wish to reach a wider audience. Please.

This is a laudatory unsolicited opinion from a Canes fan --- everything expressed is my very HUMBLE Opinion.


Manny you have outdone yourself with this blog. Anyone with common sense can read this article and see why Miami went from being the #1 program in the country to what it is now. Every Hurricane fan should read this and see the uphill battle we face. Without a shadow of a doubt this program is headed in the right direction. What I love about Randy is that he is a bottom line guy. If your not getting the job done then I'll find someone who can. If you don't believe me, just ask Tim Walton and Marquis Mosley.

Great read Manny. I think that when you sign four LB's in one class (2005) it is going to be extra hard to recruit at that position in the following years. Just like next year I'll bet we dont get a single LB. Four (including Marve) new QB's this year will make it hard to get any QBs next year. We need a couple of offensive tackle, cornerback, tight end, defensive end prospects and then I think we can get back to getting a couple of prospects at each position each year.

Manny U da man brother. Please keep Up the good work.

Amen Manny, that's why I am so disinterested in the overkill on this blog about recruiting. I would rather read about the upcoming Baseball season. I can't talk football until July...ALSO, CBSsportsline, front page this morning, not for CBB, but the whole site, has a feature article on the Hurricane's potential fold after a 12-0 start.

phenomenal post Manny!!!

Great job Manny YOU ARE THE BEST Keep up the good work. Keep us posted.

Also don't forget about info on the last BB scholli.

one of your best posts, history, perspective past and present with analysis.

Great post Manny! keep up the great work U do.

Manny, Just finished listening to the podcast which was great as usual.

Can you put Larry Blustein's pic in the box with the timer for the podcast? IT just would make the show a little more personal.

Also, sorry for being a pest, can U post the subject on the side and names of the kids you are talking about on the side of the podcast box? Reasoning is that I could keep up and be better prepared cause I try to look up the pics during the podcast -- right now I pause it and then look up the kids data.

It is astounding how you guys are able to store all that information and just ablib and change subjects along the way.

Again, love that recruit page.

"Forget Stars, Count 'Ships"

YES and NO. Yes, you're partially right; but no, you're partially wrong.

YES: Sometimes quantity has a quality all its own. In recruiting, numbers DO count. And, yes, Miami has suffered from both a lack of (recruiting) depth at key positions, such as QB, and an inablility (in recent years) to develop certain top recruits into top-tier players. However, a sudden burst of 4 freshmen QBs is not necessarily a good plan either. How many quality QBs do we successfully recruit next year? Or the year after? Moreover, a big class does not ensure big-time players.

NO: Stars counts too! Lets face facts, the top-rated programs are stacked with top-rated recruits. Occasionally, teams with lessor talent (such as Kansas, Oregon and Kentucky this year, Rutgers, Boise State and Wake F last year) emerge from the depths and make some noise. But the elite college FB programs - like UF (under Coach UB), LSU, OSU, USC (under Coach PC), and (dare I say) FSU - are well stocked with 4- and 5-stars every year! Over the long-term, you can't compete with the best teams in the nation on the FB field, unless you can successfully compete for the best (top-rated) recruits in the nation.

Wow, long article Manny!

I'm definitely excited about this year's incoming class...stars or not. 9 guys are already attending class, which means that there are still 8 spots open for commitments. I'm not necessarily concerned about how good those recruits are rated, I'm concerned about how much they want to play for Miami. What has me most excited is that it seems like this year's incoming class is more enthusiastic about being at the U, and that's an unmeasurable intangible. We hear it all the time, but the "experts" never include it in their rating: HEART. Coker never recruited heart, he recruited based on the stars. Any 1 or 2 start recruit can have the same potential as a 4 or 5 star recruit if they want it bad enough.

I looked through the Scouts Inc. top 100 back to 2003 and it seemed to me like each class had about 15-20 real hits in that top 100. All considering what these experts call "can't miss" prospects, that's a really low number. It's pretty clear that these top rated players got big heads about their game, and never listened to the coaches (or the coaches didn't do their jobs right). The conclusion to all this is that it is imperative that the coaching staff find the guys who want to play and then develop properly. After seeing what happened last year with some of the trouble makers and slackers, I have a lot of confidence that RS will properly discipline this team, but it has yet to be seen whether or not he can really develop these guys into the players that the successful U teams have seen over the past 25 years.

B harris to UF - I doubt it
B harris to OSU - maybe
B harris to Miami - hopefully
we really do need him.

i think the greater need is to get Brandon Washington w a qualifying score and his partner on OL Jones.
it would also be great to add a another DT if Luiget doesnt reconsider and come to the U.

its funny to see the Myth exposed for the used car salesman that he is.
he is such a disgrace.
hopefully the NCAA will step up and rub his face in it.

In the words of "Dark Visor" Steve Spurrier, "you gotta coach 'em up" No matter how many stars these guys have, RS and staff have got to push and pull this group to get the most out of them while at The U. When you see what Devin Hester is doing in the NFL, you wonder what the hell the Miami coordinators were thinking when they didn't find ways to get the ball in his hands more often. See UF and one Percy Harvin.

We don't have to wait 2 or 3 years to turn this around. We have always had the talent at UM. This coaching staff has stepped up on the recruiting side, now it's time to step up in practice and execution. RS is the right man for the job! Let's support 100%. Go Canes!!

Manny...great work! Your extensive research, insider knowledge of the individual players and passion for all things Canes is what sets U apart from the rest.

Looking forward to the LIVE chat here this Tuesday at 8PM. I saw on your recruiting page that you are planning a LIVE Q&A on Friday at 7 PM also? Is that going to happen next week? I posted a question there yesterday.

We need to lock up two CBs (Harris, Bryant)this weekend and we are good to go!

Kudos Manny!!

This is by far one of you top 3 Blogs..very thought provoking. The question I have is whether or not Randy and staff realizes that talent, both offensive and defensive, has not developed over the last few years? I'm sure they do, however other than intoducing more depth/competition, how do they plan on reversing this alarming trend.

How does Shannon's staff differ from Coker's


Coach Shannon's doing what he can with what he's got - hopefully he'll have a team that can be at least a worthy contender this upcoming season. Hopefully the head honcho's that run U of M will give Coach Randy some time - from what I've seen, it takes AT LEAST 5 years to have a program/system that can really be implemented to upcoming freshman/transfer players. The best thing about Coach Shannon, in my opinion, is the way he absolutely set high standards for these STUDENT-athletes to meet, such as GPA, and other personal code of conduct for to set. He also has been there - he can relate to when young, African-American men face temptation, are going through hell, or other issues that they can't talk about with their mothers/sisters/girfriends/etc. That's the best part about Coach Shannon - he treats them with a mixture of toughness, demands respect and gets respect, as well as instills in every player, that no matter where they come from - from the roughest housing project in Overtown or other areas of the U.S.A., or the rich areas; that they are somebody, and that with hard work, faith, trust in God, and respect both for themselves and in others, that there's nothing they can't do in this life that they want to achieve! Hats off Coach Shannon, for doing what you can! Keep on looking to God and He will see you through!

Great post. I think I would add something in the sense that whatever talent you recruit, they have to be coached up too. In 1983, Howard Snellenberger had Gary stevens, Tom Olivadotti, Hubbard Alexander, Mark Trestman, Earl Morrall and Mike Archer. In 1987, Jimmy Johnson was a great coach because not only could he find talented players, he motivated those players and surrounded himself with outstanding assistant coaches, Gary Stevens, Dave Wannstedt, Alexander, Butch Davis, Tony Wise, Dave Campo and others. In 1989 and 1991, Dennis Erickson had Bob Bratkowski, Sonny Lubick, Tommy Tuberville, Ed Orgeron, and Dave Arnold. In 2001, Coker had Chud, Shannon, Mark Stoops and Curtis Johnson. To all of these staffs, you add Art Kehoe and Don Soldinger.

So yes, you need talent but you also need special coaches. And even with the combination of talent and coaching staffs, each year we won the national championship, we had a good bounce here or there, a wide right or a wide left. Being a national champion involves talent, coaching and a little luck on the way.

In 2008, we start with a coaching staff of Patrick Nix, Aubrey Hill, Bill Young, Clint Hurtt, Joe Pannuzio, Michael Barrow, Wes McGriff, Tommy Robinson and Jeff Stoutland. Notably absent is a quarterback coach although I assume Nix is doing that duty. However, he is in the booth during games as coordinator, and rightfully so, but it would be nice to have a QB coach on the field.

I think the potential is here with this staff. But don't underestimate the importance of coaching along with talent.

My hope is that Randy keeps recruiting kids right up until the last minute. We should probably quit talking about NEEDING a particular player (even though we may indeed need him). The Rattlesnake in Gainesville will be just that more determined to take him from us. Heck, if the kid has a girlfriend who needs a scholly, he'll get her one and no one in the NCAA office will say a word. In fact, he'll give schollies to everyone in the kid's family and you'll hear only silence from the talking heads.

Great blog. Keep up the good work.

I'm concerned with our offensive line. I'd like to see us recruit more high school TE's for the offensive line like Eric Winston. 6'6 250-260lbs when they come in and then Swasey gets a hold of them and puts on 30-40 lbs.

Manny You are truly one of those three star reporters that Hard work, Dedication, and willingness to go above and beyond what any other five star reporter in the area is willing to do makes you a beast at what you have acomplished here.
Just want to say thanks for what you do and GO CANES.


Manny... Outstanding and kudos to all. A definite major piece of work and can be used as a quickie chart.

Loved the top 25 broken down by area, state and national rankings... very informative and it removes the confusion of who's on first!

The best so far!

Nice work Manny. YOU deserve five stars for this blog.

Manny - I think Rivals just bumped you up to five stars!!!

Great article. Thanks as always.

Great job Manny. I don't really post here, but I read most of your stuff. You really hit the nail on the head with this one. People need to really chill out with some of the recruiting talk. We're in a good position and we're bringing depth to some much needed positions. We have to keep things in perspective. We're not gonna get every 5 star recruit available. The most important thing we have to do is fill up holes in our roster. Some kids will work out, and some won't and the stars these guys are given won't mean anything. If they don't work out, you go and recruit other guys at that position.

Thanks NORM4. With respect to Norv Turner, he was a Rams assistant before Jimmy Johnson hired him as offensive coordinator for Dallas in 1991. He never served on the UM staff. But Jimmy did see something in him to make him a coordinator, and they won the 2 super bowls together.

hey manny awesome work. its sad that coker didnt even have the true eye 4 talent. RS now is trying his best 2 get this program back 2 what we know as the "U". wuth the crowd at wr manyy of us r 4getting da fact that ryan hill was a top 5 cb coming out of hs. he 2 has the skill 2 lock down a wr. kids nickname was "BLANKET". we seem 2 b turning the corner inspitee the fact urban cryer is trying 2 steal our recruits.

This site sucks! This site consist of a bunch of Manny ass-kissing wussies who do nothing but attack fellow Canes fans, but let opposing fans like Suge white post and say whatever the hell he likes! Canespace is where it's at! They usually have vital info 3 days before Manny, not to mention faggots like Suge would get eaten alive on that site, which is why he never post there! GREEN, IF YOU ARE READING THIS, STOP WASTING YOUR TIME OVER HERE AND HEAD TO CANESPACE WHERE YOUR INFO WOULD BE GLADLY APPRECIATED!

urban meyer = scumbag

Canespace is a joke where a community of 86 ass kissers hang out... "Don't ban me.... pleeeease" hahaha That site is a joke!!!

Wait a second both of you. I think this blog is superb but I also think Canespace is pretty cool too. There is NO reason to bash the one in favor of the other. We are all Canes fans and we should not stoop to such pettiness. When I come here, I get more of a sense of what the city of Miami thinks about things, which is great. Over there, maybe they have more alumni, and some long time fans.

We are all fans. Both sites are free, and both are supportable. Let's not denigrate either site.

Thank You!

VCF, I am with you. I usually ignore post like what you commented on but just be aware that it is so easy to post under so many different names and hint that posters from another site did it... unless you have access to their "computer ID numbers" (terminology challenged).

I think Manny's post today may have been his very best and one of the best I have ever read about UM football. None of the posted comments which followed it warranted that response. I don't know but I really appreciate Manny's comments, and the time he takes for us. He really hit on some themes that I think are relevant right now. I hate to see anyone here not pay attention to the post, cause it was superb writing...

Here is a little test that I would like for everyone to try. The object is to take one person from each position you would have love to have on your college roster. Base your selection on their college production.

Xavier Lee – FSU
Chad Henne – MICH
Matt Ryan – BC
Kyle Wright – DaU
Mike Hart – MICH
Lorenzo Booker – FSU
Ciatrick Fason - UF
Walter Menenhall – ILL
Santonio Holmes - OSU
Dallas Baker - UF
Lance Legget - DaU
Ryan Moore – DaU
Nathan Rhodes – WASH
D’Brickashaw Ferguson – VA
Johnathan Luigs – ARK
Thomas Herring – USC
Auston English – OLK
Callahan Bright – FSU
George Selvie – USF
Walter Fisher – TENN
Patrick Willis – Ole MISS
Ahmad Brooks – VA
Willie Williams – DaU
Ali Highsmith – LSU
Mike Jenkins – USF
Zackary Bowman – NEB
Dee Webb – UF
Aqib Talib – KAN

Did anybody go to the OB event? What a disorganized piece of crap and waste of money that was.

Anyways does anybody know if the canes will play with their names on the back of their jerseys next season?????

4-REAL...don't know who you are but you certainly don't speak for Canespace. We have nothing but love for this site and for Manny, the best UM beat reporter going today.

242...yeah I love U too. Instead of being a Cane4Life U are Banned4Life! See ya...


any news on the weekend

no one has a crystal ball, but the star system does have some meaning.

a loser of a player rarely gets 5 stars.

In the words of the former great "Canes" nobody works harder than Miami!!! It is this time of year that next years results are being formed. Are the present playmakers pushing everyone to work out harder to push beyond and farther? Is the coaching staff challenging these guys to make football year round? not just work outs but film study also? You reap what you sow.

Furthermore, When recuits were coming in they even commented on how even the offenive linemen were even cut. No fat kids just pure muscle. No laziness just hard work. Read the article on Micanor Regis, Now thats what a True Cane does! Climb them hills.

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