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Spring football underway

CORAL GABLES -- The 2009 season officially got underway moments ago with the start of 15 spring practices at Greentree Field.

The media is getting a rare opportunity to watch the first four practices of the spring -- normally we only get to watch the first 15 minutes. I'll have a full report once this one is over  But I do have a few quick notes to pass along...

> Several veteran players are wearing new numbers. Sam Shields, who has been moved from receiver to cornerback, is now sporting No. 9. He's worn No. 83 his entire career here.

> Sophomore receiver Travis Benjamin is now wearing No. 3 instead of No. 81, which he wore last season.

> All six of the new incoming recruits are here and were practicing, cornerback Brandon McGee (No. 21), defensive end Olivier Vernon (No. 35), defensive tackle Curtis Porter (No. 96), offensive tackle Jermaine Johnson (No. 78), offensive guard Brandon Washington (No. 72) and running back Mike James (No. 22).

> FYI, several players we thought would miss the spring are out here participating in some capacity. Linebacker Colin McCarthy, sporting a new mohawk, is running and participating in drills. So, too are track standouts Brandon Harris, Travis Benjamin and Davon Johnson.

Before practice began, Randy Shannon met with reporters earlier Tuesday to discuss several topics before the start of the spring. 

> On the new role of former linebackers coach Micheal Barrow: "Coach Barrow is more of our special assistant on defense and offense, special teams. His role is assisting everyone on defense. Most people think it's a demotion. It's not a demotion. It's giving him more responsibilities to keep going and further his career. It's a big change for us."

> On why sophomore Arthur Brown was moved from outside linebacker to middle linebacker heading into the spring: "For four years we had Tavares Gooden at outside, he wasn't productive. We put him in the middle his senior year, he was. You have to move guys around and eventually they'll show what they can do. I think by moving him in the middle he seems more comfortable, quicker reacting, can diagnose plays faster than before.

> On what excites him about new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple: "Coach Whipple brings a lot to our offense, developing quarterbacks. We have young quarterbacks, and he's proven he can develop young quarterbacks. When he was at UMass and Brown, the offense scored points. Sometimes you have to outscore people. That's something coach Whipple has always been able to do."

> On what he's told tight end Richard Gordon about his opportunity to steal the tight end job with other players out: "I told Richard it's his time now. We have guys out that are out, are going to come back in the fall. This is his opportunity to put his stamp on the tight end position – you're big, fast, can run, now it's up to you to get it done. He's been fine catching the football. How many balls are thrown to him?"

> On the seniors he's expecting to step up: "Darryl Sharpton, Javarris James. You go back to Javarris' first year, and I told Javarris this, he was hungry. He came in as a true freshman, wanted to play. He had 800 yards. Then the next two years null and void. Did he slack off his work habits, doing the little things? I told him if you want to be the great running back here this is what has to happen. Now if you don't, we always bring in guys to have competition. He knows I care for him, but he understands the big picture is if you want to be a great football player what did you do as a freshman and what do you need to be doing now? If you go back to those ways, we're going to be a great football team. Darryl, it's time for him to be the Jon Vilma, DJ, Ray Lewis. It's Darryl's time, and that's the reason we recruited him."

> On what he likes about backup quarterback Taylor Cook: "He really does have a strong arm. He's 6-7, gets back, good rhythm, and when he releases it now it has a lot of velocity on it. His short throw are nice touch passes. When he wants to throw it downfield he can throw it downfield."


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Good stuff, Manny. Can't wait to hear what this new offense looks like.

Travis Benjamin wore 80 last year, Davon Johnson was 81. But im glad he has him a single digit number now, #3 is tight.

Is Mike James really 215....nice size for a rb his age, and heard is has good feet and can blaze......nice

Solid Manny......give us a total recap when done...

I love it manny

Thanks Manny!!!!

Manny, do ya' thang! Thanks for the heads up!

Thanks Manny, can't wait til the full report.

Is Mike James really 215....nice size for a rb his age, and heard is has good feet and can blaze......nice

Posted by: DA U N Houston | February 24, 2009 at 04:37 PM

Mike James is AT LEAST 215. I'm from where he's from (Davenport) and I watched him play HS ball and seem him numerous time's in public(mainly @ Sonnys BBQ) the kid is HUGE to only be 17/18 years old, just wait until Swasey gets ahold of him, Mike will be a monster

Shields might actually catch more balls now than when he was a receiver. Lovett has been known to get good production out of the secondary.


Mike James is gonna put the hurt on people baby!!!

Nice, it's like Christmas in February, and it's FAT TUESDAY!

It's good to hear that Taylor Cook is doing well- like to see a good back up to the string bean... and in case he gets hurt. Also, the comp will make BOTH better!

I don't know what our record will be, but I'm getting excited about the possibilities for this team in '09... Go Canes!

The storm is brewing, the return is inevitable for the Canes to rise again.

benjamin wore 80. Davon Johnson wore 81

Hopefully Benjamin can bring respect back to the #3 after what Wright and Cook did to it.


Cook tackled a guy once.

he he

Thanks Manny, I can't wait for next season to begin. Go Canes!!


Randy Shannon on UM fans....``I don't worry about them.''

Nice. Why don't you take a look at the empty seats in the stadium and try working on your people skills.

ray ray talked about how he wants to rep S.Taylor and step up like him too...BEASTMODE!! Our secondary NEEDS to be ferocious!!

Ok, good chance for some guys to get reps.

I feel a storm brewing!!!!! IT's coming!!!!! Alright I'll say it Canes, finish top five this year.

Take it easy there windycityCane. This team has a BRUTAL start of the season. They will lose at least one of those first 4 games, maybe even two. Ya gotta be realistic. 2010 is the time to predict top 5, that's when we get the big boys at home instead of on the road.

I love that quote: "sometimes you've got to outscore people."
Pure Yogi Berra.

I don't have the stat, but the Canes basically never lose when they score 21 points. Once I saw that stat last year, I could never get it out of my head - it was all about crossing that mark. If we scored 20 points we'd lose, and if we'd score 24 points, we'd win. It *is* that simple.

Randy Shannon on UM fans....``I don't worry about them.''

Nice. Why don't you take a look at the empty seats in the stadium and try working on your people skills.

Posted by: Canesjunkie | February 24, 2009 at 08:54 PM

His job is to win, not worry about the feelings of fickle Canes fans.

Randy Shannon on UM fans....``I don't worry about them.''

Nice. Why don't you take a look at the empty seats in the stadium and try working on your people skills.

Posted by: Canesjunkie | February 24, 2009 at 08:54 PM


I rather have a Randy Shannon, of whom is focus on trying to get Da U back on top - behind the scenes, over a tell-you-what-you-want-to-hear kind of coach -aka- Herm Edwards...

If Da U wins games, then the fans will come; understand that demographic dude!

Big Sonny....

Fair enough.....It's really Kirby Holcutt's problem, not Randy Shannon's. You do understand Kirby is in charge of a business here.

Manny---Why do you reckon practices are closed to the "public", at least those of us in the S.M./Gables/S. Dade end of the 3-0-5? Weren't spring practices open when U.M. won Championships? Is there fear that Ann Bowden will be videotaping from the sidelines for Bobby to look at in the office? Can any game-winning info be gained from spies by watching the boys learn new plays?
Maybe I'm just another clueless fan, and not one of Wake Forest's intelligence operatives....

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