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First practice impressions

Football season has officially started at the University of Miami. I just got back home from Saturday morning's first practice of the fall and have plenty of thoughts and notes to share with you.

I took my new video camera out there and filmed plenty of practice, stuff I'll post as the year progresses (Note: Today's practice was the only one open to the press or public this season). In case you missed it, I posted a few video interviews yesterday with Jason Fox, Marcus Forston and Glenn Cook. There was also another video done on the quarterbacks by Emily Michot. I'll have more video up later today from practice including interviews with freshmen Brandon Harris, Laron Byrd, Jordan Futch and center Xavier Shannon.

To the highlights...

> The first noticeable difference in my eyes with this team -- there are playmakers at the wide receiver position. Even though the guys were just wearing helmets and shorts, the new arrivals made quite the impression. No one bigger than 6-4, 211-pound, No. 47-wearing LaRon Byrd. He was the first player Randy Shannon mentioned in his post practice meeting with the press.

Laron_byrdByrd, who comes from a little town called Boutte, La., can certainly be entertaining like the last famous No. 47 at The U. Byrd is a fast talker and you can see he loves being in the spotlight.

"We're very excited about him, the way he's progressing and things like that," Shannon said. "He stood out. We threw a tight end option route where Laron ran over the corner and that as a big play for us. He has great size, he's blocking, he's doing those things. You don't come in and teach a freshman to do that. It's just natural."

Consider it a big deal to hear Randy say what he said. Shannon rarely singles out players for what they do in practice. (CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO WHAT SHANNON SAID AFTER PRACTICE)

> Byrd (whom Herald recruiting guru Larry Blustein insisted to me months ago would make an instant impact this year at UM) wasn't the only freshmen to make me say 'Wow.' Freshman Davon Johnson of Booker T. Washington had a nice catch down the sideline, then stopped to avoid a cornerback before scoring a touchdown. Former Northwestern receiver Kendall Thompkins also scored a TD on a long pass from Taylor Cook during 11 on 11 drills. I also liked what I saw from Travis Benjamin and Thearon Collier, who look like they will be battling it out with Johnson in the slot.

> After dodging the question Friday, Shannon finally told us exactly which freshmen are still waiting to get into UM: Defensive back Joe Wylie, defensive tackle Jeremy Lewis, safety C.J. Holton, linebacker Gavin Hardin and Brandon Marti. None, obviously, were at practice Saturday. But they could be as soon as Monday. Ultimately, the wait could be a bit linger longer. As long as they report before the third day of school, they can play this season.

> For those of you worried about the depth of the defensive line, I saw something Saturday that might make you even more queasy. Defensive end Eric Moncur was unexpectedly held out of practice and was busy working out on the sideline with a trainer (he was tossing one of those weight balls while running side to side). Allen Bailey and Josh Holmes (also out with injuries) were also participating in the drills.

It might be good news that they're working out, but it wasn't good to see a few other guys leave. During practice, Dwayne Hendricks eventually made his way to the sideline (not sure if it was cramps or not) and defensive tackle Joe Joseph was carried off the field with cramps late. The good news, a leaner Antonio Dixon once nicknamed "2 Play Dix" was able to complete practice. As you know, Miami is already without Courtney Harris for the season and Holmes could miss significant time. Shannon insisted Saturday Moncur (who he says missed 5-6 weeks of workouts this summer) will be back for the start of the season. But to me, these are obviously not the kind of signs you want to see from a defensive line that lost so much and has been riddled with injuries. Also of note, freshman Marcus Robinson, who was recruited as a linebacker, was playing defensive end Saturday (call it out of necessity).

> As far as the quarterbacks are concerned, I thought both Robert Marve and Jacory Harris looked exceptionally well. Both did a great job during seven on seven drills, rollouts and connecting on deep passes. I still say both are better than Kyle or Kirby right now even though they still haven't thrown a pass in college.

> Cannon Smith, who I spoke to one-on-one Friday at Media Day, looked better than he did in the spring. Shannon told us his arm is stronger and I found out why. According to Smith, he was still recovering this spring from a separated shoulder. He said he couldn't throw the ball as hard as he wanted to. "I don't know what percentage I was at, but I know when I was throwing the ball, it wasn't all there," Smith said. "But now I'm back and after working hard with coach Swasey during the conditioning drills I feel I'm back to where I want to be." We'll see if that means in the race for the starting job with Marve and Harris.

> Shannon told reporters Friday that the team's fourth quarterback, Taylor Cook, was too far behind to compete for the starting job this fall. You saw why Saturday. Although, he showed some good arm strength and did connect with Thompkins for a touchdown, Cook looks like he'll need some coaching from Patrick Nix on his mechanics. He throws the ball sidearm and at times doesn't appear to be really stepping into his passes.

> Several player said they couldn't sleep last night before the start of practice -- including Byrd and Xavier Shannon. Shannon said he woke up early and was at UM early enough to still see the moon, "It was strange coming out here and still seeing the moon." Shannon, who has some great stories to tell about his father, said Randy recently called him at 6 a.m. on his day off a few weeks ago to ask him if the movie National Treasure 2 had been released yet. "He didn't ask me how I was doing or anything," Shannon said. "Just, 'Did it come out yet?"

> There were a few visiting recruits among the spectators and fans in attendance. I saw highly touted tight end Orson Charles from Tampa Plant, Northwestern safety Tevin McCaskill and Pace defensive back Kayvon Webster. I was told Cane commitment Stephen Plein of Fort Myers was there. Highly touted Plantation High defensive back Brandon McGee (who will announce his decision Aug. 11) was also reportedly there. I also spotted Booker T. Washington running back Eduardo Clements (Class of 2010) on the way out.

> The following is by no means an official depth chart, but it was where I filmed guys practicing at Saturday. Consider just a starting point for discussion as the fall progresses.

Offense (first team | second team | third team)
QB: Robert Marve or Jacory Harris | Cannon Smith
RB: Javarris James or Graig Cooper | Derron Thomas or Shawnbrey McNeal
FB: Patrick Hill | John Calhoun | Eric Houston
WR: K. Jones and K. Farquharson | A. Johnson, L. Hankerson or J. McKenzie | L. Byrd
Slot: Sam Shields | T. Benjamin, D. Johnson and K. Thompkins
TE: Dedrick Epps | Chris Zellner or Richard Gordon | Daniel Adderley, Tervaris Johnson
LT: Jason Fox | Tyrone Byrd | Ian Symonette
LG: Chris Barney | Orlando Franklin
C: Xavier Shannon | Tyler Horn
RG: Joel Figueroa | Harland Gunn
RT: Reggie Youngblood or Chris Rutledge | Ben Jones

Defense (first team | second team | third team)
DE: Steven Wesley (since Bailey was out) and Adewale Ojomo (since Moncur as out) | Marcus Robinson
DT: Joe Joseph and Antonio Dixon and Marcus Forston | Dwayne Hendricks, Micanor Regis
SLB: Darryl Sharpton | Arthur Brown | Jordan Futch
MLB: Glenn Cook | Spencer Adkins | Romeo Davis
WLB: Colin McCarthy | Sean Spence | Kylan Robinson
CB: Bruce Johnson and Chavez Grant | DeMarcus Van Dyke, Carlos Armour and Ryan Hill | B. Harris
S: Lovon Ponder, Anthony Reddick, Randy Phillips | Jojo Nicholas, Jared Campbell | V. Telemaque

Comments

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JORTS

jeremy lewis not in? wtf?

Good to hear that we might have some sort of aerial game this year.

Not so good to hear that the off season conditioning hasn't been up to par for some of the guys.

How did Jordan Futch look?

marti was there, i got his autograph.

Q: marti was there, i got his autograph. Posted by: andrewbecker | August 02, 2008 at 02:35 PM

A: Not practicing.

Thanks Manny. Good beginnings with a few nicks. Moncur being out just gives more reps to Wesley and Ojomo and maybe a few freshmen like Smith, Robinson and Hardin.

Great stuff Manny, as always...
Hope the family is well.

Q: How did Jordan Futch look? Posted by: DZ8 | August 02, 2008 at 02:34 PM

A: Bigger, stronger, faster than he did in high school. Told me he's up to 220 pounds now. He can move. Made a few nice plays -- although there was no real hitting. He got his hands a couple of passes.

Manny...U are the man once again! Great blog and interesting observations.

Q: What was yout overall impression of the speed and size of the team?

Q: Can U imagine what this team will look like in a year or two with the WR combinations we have?

AJ, Byrd and Streeter split out wide?

Throw in Davon, Travis and Kendal in the slot?

We can go spread with five wides and just KILL it!

What up with Streeter - was he at practice??

Q: What up with Streeter - was he at practice?? Posted by: THE DUDE | August 02, 2008 at 02:51 PM

A: He was there in the mix. Slot guys looked the best though.

Manny...Wuz good family! Yo, how did Micanor Regis look? Also Cookie Buchanan and Telemaque?

Thanks Manny -

Out of those players waiting to hear from the Clearing House which ones in your mind are key for success for this year? If any..??

Manny, were Weiclaw and Bosher practicing? If so, how did they look?

HEY MANNY, WHAT'S HAPPENIN' KINFOLK! I SEE YOU STEPPIN' UP YOUR BLOG GAME UP BABY...NOW THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' BOUT, STEP YOUR BLOG GAME UP BAAAAABY, YEAH! BUT I SEE YOU STILL AIN'T GOT THAT PLAYLIST LIKE I RECOMMENDED, BUT ALL IN DUE TIME BABY,ALL IN DUE TIME. BUT ANYWAY, I JUST WANTED TO ASK YOU DID YOU SEE ONE OF THE ALL TIME GREATS OUT THERE, YOOOOOU KNOW, THE ONE, THE ONLY.........LUTHER CAMPBELL, MR.MIAMI HIMSELF. HUH MANNY, DID YOU SEE HIM?

Hey Manny, after the conclusion of practice did you sense the brotherhood and unity vibe from the team.

AS I review the 2008 schedule I see the following:

WINS:
Charleston Southern (we ain't that bad; right, Michigan...tee-hee)
UNC (not this year Butch)
UCF (no way these guys let UCF beat them)
Duke (close call last year was it fo about the next 20 years)
UVA (no one left on that team who can play)
NC State (2 in a row ain't happening)

LOSSES:
UF (too good for us this year)

TOSS-UPS:
Texas A&M (I'm calling it a good early road win)
FSU (I think we pull it out)
Wake (could cath us napping)
VTech (I'm calling a win at home - plus, who's left there like at UVA?)
GTech (call it a loss - there's always at least one "upset" plus they've had our number lately)

So, FINAL RECORD: 9 - 3

"Your clock is running Randy!" - jaime duhhhh sports genius

The big hand is on the 5 and the little hand is on the 7.

BOWL INELIGIBLE

Posted by: canesrule

THAT'S JUST GOOD COMEDY.

For the sake of semantics though, I would put the big hand on the 7 and the small hand on the 5.

Laron Byrd is the reincarnate Michael Irvin!!! Kudos to the sage of Florida Football Mr Blustein. He couldn't stop saying enough good things about Laron Byrd that I beogan to wonder about his crystal ball..LOL

He looks like he knew what he was talking about this kid. What about Laron Byrd and Aldarius Johnson on either wing, slot and even TE positions. Throw in Streeter, Davon, Shields etc, etc, etc.... Man!!! We are loaded with the receiver core and with the QBs to get them the ball.

As for Cannon Smith -- love his attitude and he is just one (minor) injury away from being a QB for the Canes -- or team violation,

Manny, did Marve still wear that glove for his non throwing hand?

Way to break down the schedule CanedAgain. Great analysis. Phrases like,"aint happening" and "not this year", and "no way" show your intimate knowledge of players, schemes and coaches. Do you have a blog I could subscribe to?

Q. How did our DB's look? Last year we gave up too many big plays downfield.

"He has two things going against him, cleaning up Coker's mess and trying to learn how to make the transition from great Defensive coordinator to a Head coach!" - cj

And playing in the mildly competitive ACC instead of the Big Easy.

MAKE IT THREE

"the u does not need media (all they do is hate)" - cougar305

or fans to show up to games for that matter.

HALF-FILLED

"Man I hope this isn;t a sin of things to come this fall. That lack of fire and intensity from the coaches will indirectly have an affect on our team." - cj

You must have slept through the past two seasons.

TOO MUCH NYQUIL

"Dude if you cannot get fired up for this season and being the HC of the Miami Hurricanes you can't have a pulse." - cj

4TH CHOICE, PROMOTE WITHIN

Manny, we're still waitin on those videos, bro. We love ya, we know you need to eat, but-c'mon man, enough-is-enough. LOL

MH....I didn't notice any kickers practicing, but I left 15 early. It was just too hot out there.

Marve still wears a glove on his non-throwing hand...he'll probably always wear it since its the hand that got scarred in the car accident.

Manny...what did you think of the intensity at practice? I thought it they were pretty flat, except for DBs and LBs. Is that status quo?

Finally some football!

Couple questions if you're still answering them Manny. I understand that the focus in practice today was on a lot of the shorter passing routes and not so much on the longer ones. Obviuosly any team is going to need to be able to incorporate both as game situtations dictate. That being said though, do you feel that the short slant route passing game is going to be the trademark of P. Nix's offense? It seems that way to me just judging by the types of players they have recruited to play WR. It seems like they are envisioning something reminicient of say Jon Gruden's passing game when he was in Oakland, where they used a lot of those shorter and intermediate routes and even used them to set teams up for the occasional deep route.

Second question, with some of the recruits that were present e.g. O. Charles, do you thin that the coaches wanted to gear their practice towards those recruits. In other words, did they try to highlight some of the packages that might favor a guy like Charles or defensively McKaskill and/or did they make it a point to just simply run those routes that they are most effective with in order to show a guy like Charles that the offense can be prolific? I wouldn't be surprised if the answer is no to this questions b/c I get the impression that Shannon does what he does for himself and for his team and not for anyone else. Honestly I think that I prefer that appraoch, but I wanted to get your take on it.

Thanks again for the write up, looking forward to getting the season underway.

Barney in front of Franklin ???? Please...

Manny,

Appreciate all the work you do but pleae stop bringing up the past in Kyle and Kirby. Time to move on.

Lets thank them for their time and be on with it.

What's the story on kicking and kick returning? Is there a Devin Hester around? Can we get 35 yard field goals when we need them?

CW

did brandon McGee drop us from the list i heard he is down to fsu tenn and ole miss

With national championships by LSU in 2007 and Florida in 2006, the SEC is the first conference to win consecutive BCS titles.

SEC = TOUGHEST CONFERENCE IN THE NATION

LSU and Georgia finished 1-2 in last year's AP poll, the first time a conference doubled up on top since the Big Eight did it in 1971.

SEC = TOUGHEST CONFERENCE IN THE NATION

Five SEC teams were ranked in the top 15 of last year's final AP poll.

SEC = TOUGHEST CONFERENCE IN THE NATION

The SEC is 11-4 all time in BCS bowl games, and last year's seven postseason victories are the most by a conference in NCAA history.

SEC = TOUGHEST CONFERENCE IN THE NATION

Six SEC players were drafted in the first round of this season's NFL draft, and 263 were on 2007 NFL opening-day active rosters, the most of any conference.

SEC = TOUGHEST CONFERENCE IN THE NATION

Five league coaches - Florida's Urban Meyer, South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, LSU's Les Miles, Tennessee's Phil Fulmer and Alabama's Nick Saban - have coached national championship teams. Two, Arkansas' Bobby Petrino and Alabama's Saban, left the NFL on their own accord to take jobs in the league.

SEC = TOUGHEST CONFERENCE IN THE NATION

I would have posted the ACC stats, but there were none!

SEC = TOUGHEST CONFERENCE IN THE NATION

Last season was the 27th consecutive season the SEC recorded the largest total attendance figures of any conference in the nation.

SEC = TOUGHEST CONFERENCE IN THE NATION

Averaging 75,139 per game, the league's 6.68-plus million well outdistanced its closest competitor, the Big Ten with 71,158 per game and 5.4 million total. The Big 12 was third in fan support, averaging 60,419, and the Pac-10 followed with 57,910.

SEC = TOUGHEST CONFERENCE IN THE NATION

Great stuff Manny, keep it coming and many thanks..............

canesrule, seriously, you need to find a girlfriend really really really badly.

I heard that Kylan Robinson dropped a pass during drills today. I know he started out/was recruited as a RB a few years ago and was switched to LB. Has he switched back?

Also, I wanted to confirm is the Memphis Melrose HS coach the Hubbard Alexander who was an asst. (?TE) coach under Schnellenberger back from the good old days? If so, it explains the possibly developing pipeline from this Tennessee school.

Thanks.

SEC = TOUGHEST CONFERENCE IN THE NATION

Posted by: canesrule | August 02, 2008 at 08:58 PM

Then why don't you go post on an SEC site you f ucking loser?

canesrule, seriously, you need to find a girlfriend really really really badly.

Posted by: Mike | August 02, 2008 at 09:59 PM

Actually, what this dumb @ss needs to do is learn about what happened in college football before the year 2006, so he can see how much the gators s uck d ick compared to the Miami Hurricanes. But, he refuses to talk about that and just says the same crap over and over.

That or someone to beat his @ss. I guarantee he wouldn't open his f aggot mouth again.

Lets not annoint Laron Byrd just yet, it was shorts and helmets.

UHHHHHH, THAT R WOULDN'T HAPPEN TO STAND FOOOOOOR...LET'S SEE...ROBERT...WOULD IT? IF SO, I HOPE YOU'RE NOT TRYING TO STIR THINGS UP AGAIN MR. ROBERT.

SEC also has has most arrests in nation

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