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The Hot Stove: The Series, The Streak, The Draft and The Switch

All eyes will be on Tallahassee this weekend when the Canes and Noles get to square off in a battle of No. 1 versus No. 2. The matchup of course pits two of the best hitting ball clubs in the nation.

FSU ranks second in batting average (.352), third in scoring, third in runs, sixth in Buster_poseyhits, fifth in doubles, third in slugging percentage and 11th in home runs in the nation and has Buster Posey (.482, 10 HRs, 42 RBI) behind the plate. UM ranks sixth nationally in batting average (.344) and fourth nationally in slugging percentage (.573) and has big Yonder Alonso (.366, 9 HRs, 35 RBI) and Jemile Weeks (.403, 7 HRs, 39 RBI) on the right side of its infield.

But if you're looking for a key to this game, look no further than defense. The Hurricanes lead the Yonder_alonso_pose ACC and rank second nationally in fielding percentage (.977) and have committed an ACC-low 30 errors. Florida State has committed 62 errors and is fielding .955 as a team, which ranks second to last in the ACC. FSU has a slight edge in pitching (3.53 team ERA) to UM's 3.78 ERA. But I say glovework makes the difference this weekend.

"Our defense has just been phenomenal," UM centerfielder Blake Tekotte said earlier this week. "It's kind of good we have all these five game stretches in a week because we get to be in a rhythm. Practice wears you out more than games, so we're all fresh. And games are a lot more fun."

WILL THE STREAK CONTINUE?: The NFL Draft is now almost a week away, which means its almost time for Canes fans to start worrying if this is the year THE STREAK ends. Yes, we know its been 13 years in a row now that UM has managed to have at least one player find his way into the first round. The closest call came two years ago when cornerback Kelly Jennings slipped in at No. 31.

Calais_campbellNow, the question being raised is if defensive end Calais Campbell or safety Kenny Phillips will break into the first 31 picks. It's shakey right now at best. Draft experts have been sliding both players in and out of their first round projects for months. While Susan Miller Degnan will have a nice Sunday feature on the topic (and I'll have my own story focusing on the other guys) I wanted to gauge how important it is to you THE STREAK stays intact.

I know one of the selling points UM has long had is the fact it is an NFL factory for stars. Are you afraid if the streak ends and Miami continues to struggle on the field, it could have a dangerous domino effect? Or are do you share my opinion and not really sweating it? Feel free to partake in the poll and to share your thoughts below.

THE DRAFT: I caught up with a few agents and former Canes this week for my Sunday sidebar. From the people I spoke with in and outside the program, it sounds to me like UM will be lucky to have more than four players taken in this year's draft. That would end the streak UM has enjoyed of having at least five players taken in each draft since 2000. So, who are NFL teams looking to draft after Calais, Kenny and linebacker Tavares Gooden are gone?

Vegas_franklinUM officials are privately saying it will likely be defensive end Vegas Franklin, who at 6-3, 255, has done well enough in workouts to impress scouts. One agent told me he thought Franklin would end up being better than Campbell in the long run. I caught up with Franklin Thursday and he told me he's been working out hard on UM's campus with trainer Andrew Swasey and teammate Teraz McCray. Franklin said he flew to Houston for a private workout with the Texans earlier this month and worked out with the majority of his UM teammates at the Dolphins facility last week. "I'm hearing second day to free agent," Franklin told me when I asked him what he's heard about his draft stock. "I just want a chance to show people what I can do."

*Receiver Darnell Jenkins' agent told me regardless of what has been said or written about his  clients slow times in 40-yard dash testing, he believes an NFL team will invest a Darnell_jenkinspick in UM's MVP from last season. Agent Daniel Rose told me Thursday Jenkins has been doing really well in private workouts for teams. "Swasey has clocked him at 4.26 and I know at Dolphins day he ran under a 4.4. It's just when he's been timed on bigger stages he's run slower times. The bottomline is Darnell is faster on the field than in the 40. The best way to describe his speed is that North Carolina game when he had the 97-yard touchdown. He's just a guy who is much faster in games than when there's a stopwatch."

* Mel Kiper said quarterback Kyle Wright, who quarterbacked the combine in Indianpolis, is likely headed to the free agent route but said he wouldn't be surprised if Wright is drafted late.

* Offensive lineman Derrick Morse, who returned home to workout at his high school in Bonita Springs, Fla. after UM's Pro Day in late February, told me Thursday he's been encouraged by the emails of support he's been receiving from Canes fans here in Miami. He said he won't get discouraged even if he isn't picked Sunday as Kiper expects.

Derrick_morse"There is only 250 guys who get picked," Morse said. "And there is only a 52-man roster. I know if I don't make it, I'm just going to continue to work at my dream. I've seen lots of guys make it in other places like the CFL and the All-American football league. [Anthony Wollschlager] is still trying. He didn't make it last year, but he's still busting his butt. I've got a degree in Criminology and Liberal Arts. I want to at least try for a couple years to make it. It's the only time I'll get to do it because once your done you'll never get a chance to do it again in your life."

POSITION SWITCHES: Canesport.com and InsideTheU.com reported this week position switches for three Hurricane players following the spring. They were defensive lineman Luqman Abdullah (he was buried on the depth chart) moving to offensive line, junior Ryan Hill switching from receiver to cornerback (he was recruited as a corner) and the real eye-opener of sophomore Damien Berry getting moved from safety to running back.

In my conversations with UM officials Thursday, I was told the move to switch Damien_berryBerry was made to "create more competition in the backfield." Another UM official said, "we're loaded with safeties, but last year injuries killed us at running back. Coach made the move to make us more secure there. It wasn't because Damien was upset. He was asked and he accepted it."Reading between the lines, I get the sense a few things could have led to it. One, perhaps coaches were disappointed with the play of freshmen Shawnbrey McNeal and Lee Chambers -- the slotted No. 4 and No. 5 running backs. Or, the injury to No. 3 running back Derron Thomas was serious enough to get coaches worried they'd be short at running back this coming season.

Either way, Berry has plenty of experience with the football in his hands. At Glades Central, he was the team's star running back before suffering a knee injury. What I'm interested to see is how long this experiment lasts or if Berry becomes the next Cane to be lost in translation, ala Devin Hester, James Bryant and a cast of other former Canes. After all, Bryce Brown is supposed to come in '09 and Javarris James and Graig Cooper aren't going anywhere right now.

Comments

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First? Thanks for the updates Manny. Is it September yet?

Thanks for the updates Manny! I'm surprised about Damien Berry as well, but don't mind Shannon creating competition. That's what makes everyone bettter and not settle into that "comfort zone." Also, when are we getting our next commit? Any inside news? Any big offers or visits? Keep it coming.

Also, does anyone know who the recruits are that are retaking their tests to qualify?? Who's in and who's out? What happens if everyone qualifies? I thought there wouldnt be enough scholarships in that case.

My prediction. We'll have at least 5 guys drafted.

1) Phillips
2) Campbell
3) Gooden
4) Jenkins
5) Wright (too much physical ability, he'll be taken by someone who thinks they can coach it up)
6) Leggett (read Wright's explanation)
7) Sharpe (someone will take a flyer in the 7th)

free agents being McCray (could be selected late by a Tampa 2 team), Franklin, Bain, Morse.

What I'm interested to see is how long this experiment lasts or if Berry becomes the next Cane to be lost in translation, ala Devin Hester, James Bryant and a cast of other former Canes. After all, Bryce Brown is supposed to come in '09 and Javarris James and Graig Cooper aren't going anywhere right now.

Posted by Manny Navarro at 06:20 AM on April 18, 2008 | Permalink

I hope Berry can bring something especial to the RB position. JJ and GC are ok, but we don't have an all around RB, one who can do it all.

Hey Manny

No way Kenny Phillps slips past San Diego.

I think the streak is a big deal. Other recruiters cant touch that legacy.

Why does it seem "some" UM players work harder to prepare for the draft than for their UM careers?

I had high hopes for Berry at Safety, but the staff must really like what we have with Phillips, Jojo, Reddick, etc., plus the guys set to arrive in the fall - Holton, VT, and Cookie.

I will say this, when BGC played that team from SC on ESPN a couple years back, D-Berry was the best player on that field (better than Deonte Thompson). Kid looked electric in the open field, reminded me of Ed Reed with the ball in his hands - smooth and explosive.

Let's just hope this doesnt turn into another Jason Geathers situation.

Key to the series will be the Hurricanes bullpen.

Jenkins would make a great slot receiver for the phins, he is exactly what they need.

Hey Manny wheres PART 111 of the interview with Frank???

I was thinking the same about preparing for the NFL harder than their college careers. But we lack mature strenght and conditioning compared to other top college program and some high school programs. LOL!
.........been in college five years playing linebacker and can barely bench 300lbs-(G. Cook)without any major injuries now that is sorry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hill at corner, exactly where he needs to be..

Thanks Manny.

I agree with you about the possibility of Berry being another great potential player who gets moved around and never comfortable at one spot. He moved from safety were we have extreme depth to rb were we have good depth. At least at RB you can use a few backs during the game and one play can make a difference. But what do I know. The coaches are right there and have a better feel for it. In Shannon I trust.

Manny...does Erickson pitch Sunday? Are U going to Tally?

Berry to RB is VERY intersting. I do think that it signals discontent of the coaching staff with Chambers and McNeal. McNeal is my sleeper for big contributions in 2008 and beyond. Let's hope Berry can get on the field and contribute in '08 as a runner, blocker and pass catcher.

anxious to see Hill @ corner. Myabe the coaches see great things for Coop and Baby J, moving Berry to push them even more. Hope Berry can contribute next year.

Any word on Thomas' knee?

First round of NFL draft is Miami's turf -

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spt/stories/041908dnspodraftmiami.775a6f68.html

Philips will definitely go in the first round, there is no other safety other there with his athletic ability, plus he had a good workout. I'm worried about next years streak, I'm not sure who has the talent to keep in going in the 09 draft. Someone might have to leave early again.

Jenkins would make a great slot receiver for the phins, he is exactly what they need.

Posted by: TX Cane | April 18, 2008 at 10:12 AM

Jenkins will not make a great slot receiver for anybody. He will do nothing in the NFL. This exactly what the phins DON'T need.

"Are you afraid if the streak ends and Miami continues to struggle on the field, it could have a dangerous domino effect?"

No because the dangerous domino effect started when DuhU hired their fourth choice coach.

Yo......i hope this was Berry's decision to be moved to RB.....we have a tradition of moving guys and having them disappear into "bolivian" . Goes back almost as long as the first round streak...i wouldn't want his career to turn into another Geathers

UM 11 FSU 4 GO CANES!!!!

So why not a blog from Tallahassee for the baseball series?

Manny. Is it possible that writers of Herald articles regarding upcoming UM games can research the radio-television schedule-listing for that game and conclude each article w/ a "This game can be viewed on....TV or ....Radio". Many of us outside the "UM Universe" spend countless hours before games searching TV, Radio, or internet live broadcast game info. Someone at UM knows that info. I recommend that your writers make it a policy to put it in their articles. Thanks for the excellent coverage!

some vintage Bill Young for you....
http://www.hulu.com/watch/6432/fed-ex-orange-bowl-game-2008-fed-ex-orange-bowl-game-2008-kansas-vs-virginia-tech

some vintage Randy Shannon for you....
answering the important questions like what's your favorite color?

It's not ESPN coverage but DuhU has to start somewhere.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV2x2zXEV4Y

Shawnbrey isn't a bad RB, don't know why anyone would speculate there is a RB issue. Cooper and James are coming along nicely and Shawnbrey looks like a cross between the 2. If Byrce Borwn comes here we'll be in great shape.

I think Kyle Wright gets drafted...he might even have a good NFL career, depending on the team/offense he is drafted to.

Campbell sucks, any team that drafts him is a team that doesn't do their homework.

GatorBait...why don't you go spoon one of your siblings or something....isn't that what you guys do up there in Gainsville when your team isn't losing.

"isn't that what you guys do up there in Gainsville when your team isn't losing."...... I am not sure as I can't recall the last time the Gators had a losing season.

I'm sure some of DuhU's bandwagon fans that refuse to join the home game crowds of 30,000+ can tell you what goes on during a losing season though.

Look at the bright side. If DuhCanes don't break 500 this regular season, Randy should be fired and your new AD can play another round of which of our top five coaching choices can fake interest and draw the shortest straw.

Yeah, I can't recall the last time you beat us either. Beating the trailer park infested SEC doesn't really count. What are you doing on our blog anyway, should you go join a Percy Harvin vigil or a clan chapter meeting.

"What are you doing on our blog anyway"?

Telling it like it is.

Harvin doesn't need a vigil, he'll be fine. It will be blantantly obvious on the first Saturday in September when he and Rainey blow up DuhU's high school defense.

No comment on the chapter meeting. I'll leave the racist and sexist remarks to DuhU. Without fail every single one of your fans resort to such childish comments when they've been schooled.

"Beating the trailer park infested SEC doesn't really count"?

By your reasoning, I guess that means the SEC needs to concede the past two BCS titles? When was the last time an ACC team even reached the title game anyway?

Manny,

Is da "U" still in the running for Kenny Boynton? He's already tearing it up on the AAU, at the real deal in Fayettesville AR. Scout says he's interested, rivals ain't even got us having a chance. Holla back when you can. Preciate it...

Yo Manny,

Why does your paper report that a fight ensued after the UM-FSU baseball game?

What kind of reckless irresponsible journalism is this?

Gatorbait,

When you guys accomplish what we have in college football then come talking your nonsense. Actually, beat us first then come talking. By the way I love your statement about all these coaches turning us down when it was only one & speculation of another.

Also, do your research about why public schools like UF are always going to have bigger attendance then a private school like Miami. Even when Miami ruled college football. UM alumni is majority from out of state...unlike schools like UF whose alumni stays w/in driving distance of school. Plus, we're talking about Gainesville compared 2 Miami. A lot of differences & not just that there Is more to do.

Now go back 2 UF blogs & stop coming over here believing that you are "telling us how it is." Enjoy your recent success because college football is one big cycle, so don't let your teams success go rushing past you & you not enjoying it because your on here making the other decent Gator fans look like idiots! Get a life!

Chump Gators posting on Da "U" blog. Get a life. Great post Savitza.

For UM baseball fans:

http://canespace.typepad.com/canespace/2008/04/whos-your-daddy.html

PARASITE

I love you too GREEN! Missed U man...

Hey, maybe just once, instead of attacking other people, U could post something Canes related on this CANES blog.

Whadda Ya' think? Is it in ya'?

can't stand you ... OBJECTIONABLE

I knew U couldn't do it, I just knew it! U hate me? U don't even know me? Why can't you make this blog about Hurricane sports?

Anyway...how about them Canes! Huge wins at FSU this weekend. Having Erickson back on the mound is going to be important. Let's hope he came out of yesterday's game in good shape after about 60 pitches.

GO CANES!

can't stand thieves, parasites, megalomaniacs ...
RING A BELL

Green...if U spent as much time posting about the Canes as U do about me this blog would ROCK! But U still can't muster anything Canes related can U?

Here try this, it's not hard:

Canes are ranked #1 in all three baseball polls. Two other ACC teams are #2 and #3. Who are they?

where'd you get your blog?

Duh U you are a redneck cracker a$$ in bred form canesville.

You are too stupid to realize the canes have owned your stupid a$$ gayturds since 1985. Miami has a winning record against the stupid a$$ SEC in the last 30 years, and thats that.

When Um won its NC in 1987-?89, it beat Socarolina, Arkansas and the gayturds so dont talk to me about the stupid redneck sec.

besides, What the heck is the fascination of SEC school fans with the SEC? I could give a crap about the ACC. I only give a crap about DaU. And I could give a rats a$$ if all of the ACC teams lost as long as UM won an NC. The SEC tries to validate itself by rooting for itself, yet for many years none of the SEC mattered and now they are talikng SEC SEC. Well, do you think a loser like Steve Spurrier gives a rats ass abou the "sec" if he doesnt win? what about alabamy? who the f cares abiout the sec. really is there a college called sec-U?

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