I don't know about you, but I was completely blown away last night watching Texas' Josh Hamilton belt 28 home runs in the first round of the All-Star Game home run derby. It's probably one of the most amazing athletic feats I've seen in sports -- right up there with those amazing rounds Tiger Woods puts together or those nights when Michael Jordan just seemed unstoppable. It was total domination not for a brief moment or a run, but for an extended period of time. It's only a shame Hamilton didn't finish the job and win the crown (the New England Patriots come to mind).
Our Miami Hurricanes -- the football Canes you care most about -- are nowhere near that kind of excellence yet. They're about as far off as Hamilton's eye-opening 519-foot blast was from home plate when it landed in center field. As I make my return from vacation this week, the only reason I bring up Hamilton is because one of the guys he overshadowed last night was former Canes standout Ryan Braun (one of the few Canes currently in action during this college offseason break). As impressive as Hamilton was last night, you have to throw Braun (the 2007 NL Rookie of The Year) in the argument when it comes to the best young players in baseball today. Braun finished tied for third in last night's contest with 14 homers and he's currently hitting .286 with 23 homers and 66 RBI on the season and will start for the NL tonight in left field. And the bottomline is he's not getting enough love! So, here's to you Brauny, the first official winner of the new Eye On The U Bad-Ass Award, which will be given out once weekly this coming year here at Eye On The U. Nominees of course are always welcome for Canes past and present.
--> A DATE WITH THE GOLDEN DOMERS? If there was a runner-up award, new Hurricanes athletic director Kirby Hocutt would be the recipient. After hearing the complaints last week from Canes fans angry about possibly not having The U at midfield, Miami's new, young athletic director stepped up to the challenge and gave Canes fans what they wanted. Now, as our Barry Jackson reports, Hocutt is interested in approaching Notre Dame about scheduling a game in the future once it hires an athletic director. It's probably not going to happen, but if Hocutt can some how pull that one off Canes fans are at least in the early stages going to love this guy. I don't know about you, but I grew up loving every second watching the Canes destroy the Irish. And that would be the No. 1 game on my wish list... here's one for all you that remember those old Convicts vs. Cathlolic days.
--> TWO FORMER CANES IN ARENABOWL CHAMPIONSHIP: Baseball isn't the only sport going on during these boring sports months of summer. For those of you in need of a football fix and Canes action, two former Canes from the 2001 national championship team will meet this weekend in ArenaBowl XXII Sunday at 3 p.m. Receiver/linebacker Jason Geathers will represent the defending champion San Jose Sabercats and lineman Martin Bibla will start for the Philadelphia Soul. Geathers had two TD catches, a touchdown run and returned an INT for a score in last weekend's playoff game.
--> ANOTHER DEQUAN FAN: University of Miami coach Frank Haith told reporters on numerous occassions last year he's predicting big things for incoming 6-6 freshman swingman DeQuan Jones. After catching up with Julian Gamble last week for a story I'm doing on his trip with Athletes in Action to Africa, all reports say Jones has been tearing it up against his new teammates during the team's offseason pickup games twice a week. Gamble told me Jones knows how to get to the basket and score and was a bit surprised by how advanced Jones was. My question is if Jones is as good as everyone says he is, who goes to the bench for UM -- Lance Hurdle or James Dews? It's not a big deal and it's actually a nice problem to have... also according to Gamble, redshirt sophomore Adrian Thomas is showing great signs after coming back from his second season-ending injury in a row. He said Thomas has shown better shooting touch than he's ever seen from him and demonstrating consistency hitting three-pointers.... Jack McClinton, meanwhile, shined yet again at another basketball camp -- this time LeBron James' camp in Ohio. The All-ACC First Team selection was supposedly praised so much by All-Star Chris Paul earlier this summer at Paul's camp that Paul insisted on calling Haith afterward to tell him how impressed he was with McClinton's work ethic.
--> RECRUITING UPDATE: Among the many phone calls I fielded during my "vacation" last week was one from one of my buddies over at The U, who breathlessly told me to expect the news that the Canes had landed a commitment from Columbus defensive tackle Antwan Lowery (ranked fourth by the Herald among Dade recruits). The call never came and when I tried to reach Lowery later that night, his high school coach told me Lowery was going to wait until August 1st to decide between either UM or Rutgers. Lowery's older brother Antonio is a linebacker at Rutgers. But after interviewing Lowery last month, I got the sense he's going to be a Cane in the end. Miami, desperate for talented linemen (on offense or defense), could definitely use him... if Lowery commits, he'll likely be one of the few local players from Dade or Broward who end up at UM this year. Miami is no longer interested in Dade's No. 1 recruit, running back Lamar Miller and has only one Dade or Broward commitment in American defensive end Olivier Vernon (who is visiting other schools). The only other players who say UM is genuinely recruiting them are Pace defensive back Kayvon Webster, Plantation cornerback Brandon McGee and American Heritage offensive lineman Jared Wheeler. McGee has told our reporters he will announce August 11th and has the Canes in his top five.
* Alright, that's enough from me for now. I'll be back periodically this week as we in the media wait for football access. Coach Randy Shannon will speak this Thursday morning at the Florida Sports Writers Association meetings in Tampa. I'm still not sure if The Herald will be sending me or not, but Jeff Shain will be there to report for us.