Who said leftovers weren't good? Well, it's going to be a busy weekend at the University of Miami. The men's hoops team hosts Virginia Saturday in the first of two virtual must-win home games. Spring football practice moves forward with a Friday morning special of NFL Timing Day for the guys headed to the pros. And the undefeated Canes baseball team will host the hated Gators.
Before we turn our attention to all that, I wanted to feed you the last bit of leftover notes and thoughts I had from the week. I also wanted to remind you to check out Tuesday's and Wednesday's practice reports as well as the collection of audio interviews I recorded for your listening pleasure. But first, some quick hits...
* Miami's loss at Clemson Wednesday night could be blamed on the 21-point hole the Hurricanes dug for themselves early on against the Tigers. And, it could also be blamed on the nearly 10 hours it took for the Hurricanes to get from South Florida to South Carolina the night before the game. According to my buddy Brian London from WQAM, the Canes left campus at 9 a.m. Tuesday. But because of delays at the airport and having luggage lost in Atlanta, UM's buses didn't pull up to the team hotel until 6:30 p.m. Maybe that should have been one of the few flights the Canes' penny-pinching athletic department should have considered chartering?
* Football coach Randy Shannon officially announced last week his desire to put the names of players on the back of jerseys again. Then, we learned this week that players that did not see the field last year would have to earn their "U'' decals on their helmets. I know some of you have gotten bent out of shape about Randy's tactics. But I kind of like what he's done here. The funny thing would be if one of the new guys didn't do enough from now until the start of the season to earn one. Would Randy send them out on the field without a U?
* There's no doubt the four new Northwestern kids are not only talented, but they're loaded with personality too. In two practices, I've already collected better quotes from Marcus Forston, Jacory Harris and Aldarius Johnson than I did from any other trio on the team a year ago. They're refreshing. And trust me, they got that old-school Cane attitude. Harris laughed at Nix when he asked this week if he was nervous. Johnson said what we were all thinking when he said Cannon Smith "was a bit short." Forston made his own funny when he exaggeratted how close he and his fellow Bulls were, saying "we all take showers together and go to the bathroom together." I'm all for being serious at the right time. But college football is supposed to have a little fun in it too, right?
MR. QUOTE MACHINE: When I first met Kayne Farquharson last season and drove down to his home in Homestead and met his mother, I knew the Canes were getting a throwback, trash-talking wide receiver. Farquharson, though, made it a point last season to keep his mouth shut for the most part and let the veterans do the talking. So far this spring, though, Kayne has done a pretty good job raising his voice and the level of his play.
Through the first two practices, he and sophomore Leonard Hankerson are considered the first team receivers, ahead of freshman Aldarius Johnson and junior Sam Shields. Farquharson said "It’s been a glorious few days." But that wasn't the only thing the Mouth of the Canes was talking 'bout. I asked him to give us the Kayne Farquharson assesment of UM's trio of young quarterbacks, his thoughts on new receivers coach Aubrey Hill and more.
"We’re going to start with Cannon Smith, the money man -- shout out to Fed Ex," Farquharson said Wednesday. "Cannon has been doing a good job of throwing the ball very accurate. Jacory Harris. I helped recruit him myself. I see a lot of things with Jacory. He’s a smart guy. He goes through his progressions. For a high school kid, you don’t see that a lot. And then we got Robert Marve, last but not least, the son of an NFL linebacker. Great genetics. Strong arm. All three of the quarterbacks are very accurate. It’s been a good two days for all three of them."
So, what about Hill? "So far, so good," Farquharson said. "He leads with an iron fist. He lets us know if we do good he’ll give us a compliment. But I also know he's got a doghouse. Nobody has been in the dog house yer. I hope everybody stays out of the dog house."
Redshirt freshman Daniel Adderly has been seen making plays during practice. Farquharson's take: "6-6 got some hands. I call him 6-6. I call him Plaxico sometimes," K-Far. "He’s a raw guy. Once he gets his game downpack, I think he’ll be a very good receiver."
Farquharson once told me he was interested in asking Cane great Michael Irvin for his No. 47 jersey. Wednesday, he told me he gave up on the idea and decided to stick with the number they gave him -- 82. Why? "Because there’s 82 ways to the end zone."
WORKING HIS WAY BACK: Few players have had to endure the hardships junior Anthony Reddick has had to endure during his time at UM. After making six starts as a freshman in 2004, he tore his right ACL 22 plays into his sophomore season. The following year, he was limited by injury before being suspended for the fracas with FIU. Last April, he tore his left ACL in a pickup basketball game and never got on the field. Surprisingly, the 6-foot, 208-pound senior seemed pretty chipper this week, sporting a smile when reporters talked to him Wednesday."You appreciate it a lot," Reddick said of getting a chance to return and play this season. "While I’ve been out I’ve been thinking about a lot of things."
Reddick said he's turned to two former Canes who have suffered his same pain -- cornerback Glenn Sharpe and running back Frank Gore. He said he's spoken to them frequently for support. "They said once you work hard everything will work out, [the knees] will be perfect. The first one [his right ACL] is feeling 110 percent. The other knee, yeah, I'm still not there. But It just takes some hard work. Frank is a prime example, he had both knees. It’s something you got to fight through."
He admits his timing is still not back. He said the same explosion he once felt in his left knee has not returned yet. But he's optimistic it will. "It's just about reacting a little faster, just doing it and not thinking about it," Reddick said. "It will come."
SPECIAL TEAMS TALK: I got a chance to speak with special teams coach Joe Pannunzio and kickers Matt Bosher and newcomer Jake Wieclaw this week and came away with the idea that not only will the return game remain unanswered until the fall, but also who ends up handling the kicking duties. Pannunzio basically blew me off when I asked him if he had some sort of idea of who he might want to use in the return game. "It’s way to early for that," Pannunzio said. "The one thing that’s good is that probably for the first time since I’ve been here there is a true list of about 15 guys we can choose from. We’ll work through the spring and have a guy that will surface." When asked who those 15 guys were, Pannunzio said "It's the same list of guys you have in your head."
If I'm right, then the best return guys probably won't surface until they arrive at UM in the fall. Chavez Grant, Damien Berry, Ryan Hill, Shawnbrey Hill and Lee Chambers have all been seen this week working on punt and kickoff returns along with freshmen Aldarius Johnson and Jermaine McKenzie. But the truth is the vets all had chances to compete in the return game last year and didn't do enough to impress. Most experts have told me they expect true freshmen receivers Thearon Collier, Kendall Thompkins and Travis Benjamin to make a strong push for the duties in the fall. One thing is for sure, Pannunzio is tired of the: Can UM find another Devin Hester talk? "Everybody wants to compare Devin Hester," Pannunzio said. "I don’t know if there’s another one of those guys here or coming here. Devin is Devin. That’s unfair to compare them to that."
As for the kickers, most expect Matt Bosher to retain the punting duties considering Wieclaw's specialty is kicking. But Bosher told us this week he believes he could end up handling all three duties -- punts, kickoffs and field goals. So far, Bosher said the team hasn't done any live field goal kicks during practice and that the kickers "are working from 40-45 yards in." Pannunzio said Bosher has the stronger leg of the three competitors, including former Miami Gulliver Prep standout and walkon Alex Uribe. "Right now we’re just working on keeping it close because you don’t want to be missing anything within 40, 45 yards," Bosher said. "We’re keeping it close and making sure we’re consistent and accurate."
CAN'T WAIT FOR BRANDON: Defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff said Wednesday he's spent most of his time early on in the spring preparing guys for "emergency situations" in case of injuries. He's had two safeties -- Anthony Reddick and Randy Phillips -- working at corner while expected starters DeMarcus Van Dyke and Bruce Johnson have been out with the track team this week. Truth is, McGriff can't wait for another corner to join the team soon -- highly-touted recruit Brandon Harris of Miami Booker T. Washington. McGriff said he was impressed with the way Harris was used in high school -- rotating from corner to safety and even playing receiver and quarterback. But when he gets to UM, McGriff said he believed Harris will be "a solid corner."
"He’s got a tremendous football background," McGriff said of Harris Wednesday. "We can’t wait until he gets in here and learns the scheme. He’ll have an opportunity to play early basically because of our depth chart. Unfortunately because it’s collegiate sports, we could have some injuries. But we’re excited about him, his athleticism, his speed, his maturity. We’re excited to have him and have him be on campus."
OJOMO 'LOVING IT': Redshirt freshman Adewale Ojomo earned himself the Defensive MVP on the scout team last season and although he isn't on the first team depth chart this spring, he says he's enthusiastic and hungry. "I’m loving it. I’m enjoying it. I’m going to savor every moment of it," Ojomo said Wendesday. "I’m with the second team rotation. I’m behind Eric Moncur. We’re the right side soldiers."
Ojomo, who stands 6-3 said he's gained three to four pounds since the end of last season to hit the 250-pound mark, said he doesn't care if he's starting because he said he knows he will be in UM's four-man rotation. "It's exciting to be out here because you’re competing for a job. You have to learn plays. It’s not just showing you were a card tells you to go anymore," Ojomo siad. "You got to learn plays and go hard every play."
Ojomo said defensive line coach Clint Hurtt, who was shorthanded most of last season by injuries, is "serious about our health." "He makes sure we all get tape on our hands," Ojomo said. "He doesn’t want no jammed fingers or no injuries. He's serious about that."