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Canes eyeing JUCOs for linemen

With the recruiting search for offensive linemen intensifying, UM officially entered the JUCO (junior college) ranks this week. Canesport.com reported Monday Miami offered Nassau Community College's Andrew Tiller, a 6-5, 350-pounder who also has offers from N.C. State and Rutgers. Rivals.com rates Tiller, nicknamed Baby Huey, as the nation's 57th-best overall junior college recruit.

Miami certainly could use a few quick fixes considering offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland likes to have a solid seven to nine man rotation and because the current rotation will take a big hit with losses to graduation after Jeff_stoutlandthis season. Miami needs to fill a starting center spot (likely AJ Trump or Tyler Horn) and at least two tackle spots next season. While the interior of the line looks to be in decent shape with sophomores Orlando Franklin, Joel Figueroa, Trump and current scout team redshirt freshman Harland Gunn available, it's the outside of UM's line which looks thin. Jason Fox will likely be back at left tackle, but who moves in at right tackle remains a mystery. Franklin has the size and talent to move outside. After that, there is seldom used junior Matt Pipho, who will be given a chance, 6-5, 345-pound junior Chris Barney (who was excelling before he suffered an injury in fall camp), big 6-9 sophomore Ian Symonnette (who has not played a down) and true freshman Ben Jones.

Of UM's 16 current commitments, four are counted as tight ends or linemen. Recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt has said Miami wants to go after as many six to eight tight ends/lineman in this class (the thought is UM could convert a few tight ends into linemen, ala Jason Fox and Eric Winston). Only two of those commitments, though, appear to be legit linemen. Fleming Island's 6-4, 240-pound Cory White, who plays left tackle in high school and January prep school arrival and former Northwestern Bulls star Brandon Washington (the most likely newcomer out of the 2009 signees other than a JUCO player to be an instant impact player). Billy Sanders (6-4, 235) is playing tight end and defensive end at his Idaho high school. Fort Myers High's Stephen Plein, suspended by the FHSAA a few weeks ago for an altercation with a referee, has only been playing defensive end.

Miami has gone after plenty of high school targets including some of the nation's best available non-Malcolm_bunche
commitments: North Carolina's Xavier Nixon (6-6, 263), Utah's Xavier Su'a Filo (6-4, 285), Arizona's Taylor Lewan (6-7, 272) and Washington D.C.'s Peter White (6-4, 340) to name a few. But the guys UM has the best shot of landing are likely Delaware native Malcolm Bunche (6-6, 315), who recently decommitted from Rutgers and local product, Plantation American Heritage's Jared Wheeler (6-5, 310). UM is supposed to get an official visit from Alabama's Brandon Moore (6-3, 315) in January, but its looking more and more like he'll stay at home to play for the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide. Miami also recently entered the chase for Henry Conway, an under the radar 6-6, 300-pound lineman from Ohio.

> For those of you who like recruiting rankings, Randy Shannon's 2009 recruiting class currently ranks 10th overall according to ESPN.com, which updates its rankings on a monthly basis. Last year, Miami landed ESPN's No. 1 class. With 8 different freshman having scored touchdowns this year, it's quite obvious ESPN picked the right team. By the way, Rivals.com has UM 10th. Scout.com has UM ranked 17th.

> While UM could hear something soon on highly-touted New York City guard Durand Scott (who is said to be choosing between the Canes and UConn), the nation's No. 1 player, North Carolina point guard John Wall told Scout.com's Dave Telep Tuesday night he's interested in officially visiting the Canes before making a decision. Wall also wants to visit Baylor (where he has an AAU connection). Wall is supposed to be visiting Memphis this weekend and stopping by Duke next week.

John_wallTelep said in a recent article he thinks local standout Kenny Boynton, who recently committed to the Gators, will be the best college basketball player of the 2009 class. He pegged Wall as the best pro player. Scout.com's Evan Daniels picked Scott as the most improved player in the '09 class. As far as 2010 is concerned, UM is already involved with Pine Crest guard Brandon Knight, who could emerge as the nation's top overall recruit. UM is also in the running for Atlanta 6-6 swingman Jelan Kendrick and 6-7, 210-pound Long Island power forward Tobias Harris and three other highly-touted instate players.

> Could former Canes coach Butch Davis be leaving North Carolina for Tennessee after this season? Davis has been a hot target for Tennessee fans, who are looking for a star to fill the shoes of the soon-to-be departed Phillip Fullmer. But in Wednesday's ACC teleconference, Davis said he doesn't plan on leaving North Carolina. He said his agent hasn't been contacted -- as far as he knows -- either.

Butch"I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in the University of Tennessee job. It's a great job, but I have no interest in it. Like I've said for the last couple of weeks I love being here, my family loves being at Carolina, we're building it with the administration. We're doing everything we can every single day to build a championship football program here."

Of course, Davis sure sounded a lot like that before he left UM for the Cleveland Browns too.

> Here's an official reminder to check out our audio page for interviews with players from this week as Miami prepares to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies Thursday night.