I still haven't gotten around to that interview with Derrick Crudup because the last 48 hours for me have been a whirlwind around Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. I've watched portions of five high school spring football games and checked out some of the top recruits in South Florida on 12 different teams to supplement my Spring Tour Diaries.
The good news for Canes fans is that I haven't been alone. Nestled among the 20 scouts at Wednesday night's spring game at Hallandale High that featured faces like FSU's Chuck Amato were three representatives wearing green and orange -- defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff, offensive coordinator Patrick Nix and the newest Canes' hire Tim "Ice" Harris. I'm sure UM's trio were there to watch highly touted Hallandale cornerback Ricardo Dixon, who made four pass breakups, a few other impressive plays and was dying for a Canes offer when I spoke to him last week. I'm pretty sure Dixon will be getting one soon if he hasn't already.
I left Hallandale right before halftime and stopped for gas before heading off to South Broward High. Apparently that gave Nix and McGriff too large of a head start. They were already standing on the sidelines checking out big Bulldogs offensive tackle Steven Jacques (6-5, 280). I spoke to South Broward coach Allen Held this afternoon who told me Miami coaches told him they were extremely impressed with Jacques and Held expects the Canes to be offering him soon. Jacques, a state qualifier in wrestling, is probably the best lineman I've seen during my tour of 24 teams in the last two-plus weeks. Held said Jacques benches 405 pounds and squats over 600 and has offers from 12 to 15 schools, most from the SEC. He said Jacques had been waiting on UM to stop by and likes them.
Wednesday night, though, wasn't the only night I saw Canes coaches on the prowl. I spotted more assistants at Tropical Park for Monsingor Pace's showdown with highly-touted running back Jamaal Berry and Palmetto High. Berry was impressive and every bit as good as the combine reports made him out to be. He flashed speed, strength and moves. But I still kind of like Killian's Lamar Miller a little better. Miller, Miami-Dade's No. 1 recruit, will be on display Friday night at Tropical at 8 p.m. against American High and UM soft commitment and star defensive end Olivier Vernon.
By the way, I had conversations with both Plantation American Heritage offensive lineman Jared Wheeler (6-6, 305) and Plantation defensive back Brandon McGee (6-0, 180). Although both of Broward's two most highly-coveted recruits have made unofficial visits to UM in the last month, I get the sense Miami will have to overcome a lot to get either. Wheeler's older sister just finished her freshman year at Florida and helps visiting football recruits on tours at the school. McGee idolizes Deion Sanders and grew up a Florida State fan. Both would be huge gets for Miami in their '09 class -- especially since they would help fill the team's most glaring needs, corner and offensive line. What's could help the Canes in their battle? McGee is looking to play right away. Wheeler is looking for a school with a strong engineering program and small classes.
I'll have my two newest installments of my spring diaries up by this weekend. But if you want to check out my impressions and some of the photos I've shot at other schools (as well as mentions of some of the Canes' potential targets in 2010 and 2011) click on the link to my diaries above.
UM BASEBALL 2-0 IN ACC TOURNEY: Ok, so I'm not in Jacksonville for the ACC Tournament. But 86Cane and the Canespace crew are. And they've gotten to enjoy two impressive Miami wins in person over the last few days.
On Wednesday, Miami got a pitching gem from freshman phenom Chris Hernandez (check out my Q&A with him from earlier this month) and then put their bats to work in a stellar come-from-behind win on Thursday over Georgia Tech. (86 sent me several photos from his afternoon and it would be a shame not to share some of his work).
SUGGESTED READING: For those of you wondering what Miami's head coach is up to these days be sure to check out Ivan Maisel's tour of the Middle East with a handful of college coaches that include Notre Dame's Charlie Weis, Georgia's Mark Richt and The U's very own Randy Shannon. Among the best stories Maisel has shared was Shannon meeting a soldier he supposedly recruited.