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DVD looking to rebound; Baby J hurt again

CORAL GABLES -- Part of what makes spring football exciting for college football players across the country is that it is an opportunity to put what could have been a bad regular season behind you. It's a chance to show coaches you are going into the fall -- when it matters -- with something positive to build off of.

DeMarcus Van Dyke Consider Hurricanes cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke on that list. After a freshman season in which he started eight games, Van Dyke took a step back as a sophomore. He started only twice and often found himself lost in former defensive coordinator Bill Young's coverage schemes. When he had chances to make plays, he didn't make them. He dropped at least two interceptions and got beat for the winning touchdown catch in a loss to North Carolina. At one point during the season, he was relegated to playing only in dime coverage situations.

"The one thing I think did well my freshman year was that I played with confidence," said Van Dyke, who has yet to record an interception "People thought my freshman year I was going to go out there and play scared. But I did what my coaches wanted me to do. My second year, it really didn't go that way, but I'm not worried about it, that's last year. I'm moving forward."

Consider Van Dyke ready to rebound. 

He says likes the new coverage schemes in new coordinator John Lovett's defense because "we're doing a lot more technique stuff and playing from top down instead of bottom up." 

Whatever new things the defense is doing, consider Van Dyke in dire need of doing them well. UM needs him to. The cornerback position is wide open -- and thin. Aside from Van Dyke, the only veteran corners are senior Chavez Grant (whose played nickel his entire UM career) and sophomore Brandon Harris. There are other veterans. But seniors Sam Shields (converted wide receiver) and Ryan Hill (safety last season) played other positions before this spring. The other guy in the rotation is freshman Brandon McGee (who is still practicing by the way despite reports of his broken finger). 

The good news for Van Dyke (who missed the first week of spring with a knee strain injury he suffered during a track meet in January) is he's facing one heck of a receiving corps day in and day out. 

"They can become the top receiving crew to ever come through Miami," Van Dyke said. "They have so many different styles. Laron Byrd can go deep and be physical. Aldarius [Johnson] too. Leonard Hankerson, he's big and fast. Tommy Streeter is tough. Kendal Thompkins, I call him the Roscoe Parrish of the group. Going up against them definitely makes you better. They're probably the best receiving group in the nation."

Van Dyke didn't make any interceptions at Tuesday's practice (the first since the team's second scrimmage of the spring on March 12). But he did bat a few passes away during the light workouts at Greentree Practice Field (which took place in shorts and helmets). Here are some more notes/observations...

Javarrisjames > THE NEWS OF THE DAY: Running back Javarris James will not be participating in the Spring Game this Saturday. James was working off to the side with trainers and appeared to be focusing on his left shoulder. The injury might have happened in the team's last scrimmage. UM Sports Information office didn't tell us what the injury was. It's definitely bad news for Baby J considering injuries have ruined his previous two seasons. A bum shoulder would be a new place for him. A neck injury slowed him as a sophomore. A high ankle sprain and sore groin slowed him even more last year. 

> TOP PLAYS: Freshman running back Mike James continues to impress. He made a great catch on a pass over the middle deflected by safety Jojo Nicholas. James kept his eye on the ball and caught it in stride before racing into the end zone during 11 on 11 work; cornerback Ryan Hill made a nice interception reaching out with his back facing the quarterback to steal a pass away from receiver Davon Johnson; Johnson made up for it a few plays later when he broke free for about a 30-yard touchdown catch when both Chavez Grant and Sam Shields followed Laron Byrd over the middle, leaving Johnson wide open.

> Yes, I'm back on the beat. For those of you wondering where I was I had a double whammy when I got back from Providence Thursday. My best friend got married (I'm not making it up) and I moved into my new home. The Herald was nice enough to give me five days off in a row. I had to take advantage of every minute to get through both of those hurdles. I'll have my interview with athletic director Kirby Hocutt tomorrow. 


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Thanks Manny! Great report!!

welcome back



Too bad about Baby J. He seems to be made of papier mache. How is it that he gets hurt so easily? I mean that is bad news for his NFL prospects. JJ- what do you think you'll see with the likes of ray lewis or other 240+ lb linebackers?

Hopefully he will be ready for Sept 1st. We have to beat the noles. Then we face Oklahoma.

Van Dyke didn't make any interceptions at Tuesday's practice -- the first since the team's second scrimmage of the spring on March 12. But he did bat a few passes away during Tuesday's light workouts at Greentree Practice Field, which took place in shorts and helmets.

Ask yourself what is wrong with this?

Man of U is back and it is all good!

dang tough break for baby j....im glad the other james is showing he will be a capable runningback even if just for the spring

Hey Manny,

Hope you enjoyed your time off. Be honest: you were on Spring Break with the team werent you? You heading to the Spring Game? Also, I'm gathering that Jon Lovitz's defense is easier for the players to pick up, but after watching it, do you think it will be better than last year's atrocity? Also, you may want to look into using the word relegated instead of regulated. Just a suggestion. And yes I know his real name is John Lovett.

Welcome Back Manny! You were missed. Great post, and I will be interested in seeing how DVD and the other DBs and WRs develop. MJ continues to impress (are you sure MJ is only a frosh?). The Canes definitely have the talent to be great next year

Sam Shields is going to have a tough time learning to play D. Good luck to him, hopefully he can contribute there.

Mike James....who...Mike James!!!

Where is trivis Benjamin; I have not heard much about him this spring. He must be a instumental part of our offensive game plan; if we expect to win.This kid is a real baller that must touch the football at least 7 times a game. Go UM>>>prove to the nation that we are back.

Manny..are you going to cover Canes 4 Life event and when are you planning on interviewing LB Jeff Luc ??? He is going to be my # 1 Recruit of Interest for 2010 !!!


Great report as always!! Congrats on the new house, any available rooms for the spring game?


Convert Van Dyke to a receiver...he is a liability just like Randy Phillips. Why is it that players that have bad seasons always blame it on the scheme? DVD seems to believe that he'll play better under Lovett's scheme than he did under Young's? We're going to have to rely on our offense outscoring the other team.

Congrats on the new home, Manny! Thanks for the updates! How was the Bachelor Party?!?! LOL

Manny, good to see you back. Was beginning to get worried something bad happened.

DVD wasn't the only guy who couldn't learn Young's defense last year. Just ask...all the LB's and the rest of the DB's. Actually, I'm amazed at how good the defense did last year compared to the rest of the nation considering how awful they looked. In my opinion, which may be moot, it can't get much worse for UM on defense than last year.

With the improvement on offense, hopefully the defense will get some extra rest on the sidelines. That should definitely help some, as well.

I'm disappointed to hear about Baby J. I mean, it's not the end for him or anything, but some guys just can't stay healthy. I really think he's a better back than Coop too. He's got better patience and is a far better blocker. Bottom line, though, the Canes need healthy backs and depth in the back field. That's always been true and will always remain true.

great work manny, thanks!

Breaking news:

Javaris James sprained his wrist while buttering his toast, he is expected to miss 2-3 months with the injury.

word is that holton is moving from S to LB. that speaks well about our secondary (and Ray Ray hasn't even arrived), but not that well about our LBs. Manny, can you get more info. on what is really going on with this?

Also, is Holton big enough to play LB? We don't need another under-sized LB out there...

" At one point during the season, he was regulated to playing only in Dime coverage situations."

That is so far beyond a typo that it defies description. It says that you have a poor vocabulary.

It's the same as an accountant who can't add. You are a journalist and you wrote that? Words are the building blocks of your craft. Master them or go sell real estate.

oh the spring! hope springs eternal. come december the canes will be accepting a bid to a lower tier bowl and fans will be puzzled because of all the talent on the team.

I like Baby J, I wish him luck. I think the offense will be fine this year. Coach Shanon has hired some good assistants this year. We cant get any worse then last year.

Recusitastes!!! Thanks Manny!

Maybe DVD would make more INTs if he would only secure that strap on his GLOVE.

Great job Manny. Welcome back. I am a little disappointed to hear about JJ and another injury and also about Holtons position switch. I was looking forward to seeing him as a big safety, I know it sounds cliche, but as "another Sean Taylor". Yeah, I know their will never be another Sean Taylor (RIP), just imitations of the real thing. I know Ray Ray is in that mold, but he is a true Freshman, at least C.J. had a redshirt year under his belt. Well, all the best to him at LB, but do we really need another 215-225 pond LB? I understand Spence (freak of nature), but I would like for us to have some guys in the 230-247 pound range, for that added bulk. Well, I'll leave that up to the coaches. Hopefully DVD can turn his season around and play up to his potential. Hopefully a lot of you guys will be at the scrimmage on Saturday. Lets hope for no rain, little breeze and no injuries. Go Canes!!!

LOL! Okay. There is nothing any Canes fans can say or do right now until Shannon shows us something. So, we have to take our lumps from THE lumps. I see your lumps and I reserve the right to raise you a lump or two when my team starts providing lumps to it's opponents on Saturdays. I relish that. So dig in and stick around for the season or better yet, join me for a couple of games and we can sit together and enjoy the whole ambiance of it all. If there is ANYONE on here that doesn't think that UM will start the season 4-0 then you really should consider posting on YOUR teams website. I don't know what site that is and I don't care. You obviously don't feel the same way but when your team is the king of the hill for so long it does get a lot more attention. That would explain your appearance here and it is understandable. Do let me know about attending the games though!

Manny : yeah whats up with Travis Benjamin and also Lee Chambers?

canes4life: great point with our undersized L/B. someone posted the same situation about marcus robinson and oliver vernon. i guess they are setting a trend and getting these hybrib L/B on the field. they know something we don't, but i guess if you look at marcus robnison stats he is a good pass rusher i beileve he had 20 sacks his senior season.they could just be using these switches to stop running qb and these new offense( the spread or triple option ).as long as they can play at the same level with spence there is nothing wrong with the move with me.

Maybe I've been sleeping, but what's happened to Matt Bosher. I though he was only a sophomore but I haven't heard any talk of him during Spring Practice, only Wieclaw?

Does the depth chart say Graig Cooper, Mike James? If not, it should for now. Baby J isn't durable enough to be in the rotation. Lamar Miller will be included at some point.

Hankerson has to come out if he can't catch the ball this year. There are too many talented receivers on this team to keep giving this kid reps. I understand he's got ability, but it doesn't mean anything if he can't make catches.

i think bosher was supposed to work lightly this spring in order to save his leg for the season, in case he has to do double duty again. in other words, wieclaw is being given the reps and an opportunity to do something; ideally taking some of the burden off bosher's shoulders.

Thanks Manny... I was starting to think that you where going all shandel on us

its too bad they didnt recruit Killians Keith Reaser at cb. First team All-Dade, 2nd team All State. Stop trying to compare every kid that has the size of Sean Taylor to Sean Talyor. Let him rest. He is one of a kind period.

Hey Manny, I think you do a great job on here, and I don't ever write in... but I have a question (or two) that's been lingering in my head since last season. We got a lot of excitement from Travis Benjamin and Aldarius Johnson, but rarely at the same time and with the same QB. Benjamin and Marve had one connection while AJ and JH had another.

Firstly, am I just remembering that wrong? And secondly, how has the Harris to Benjamin connection been looking so far?


Benjamin wasn't a polished reciever (as far as I seen)....he has all the qualities, but you could tell he wasn't as polished as the other guys.....his speed and agility carried him, but he will be even better once coach Hill gets him running routes.....

Good stuff Manny...

As mentioned, Keep your radar tuned for Devon Johnson... He's every bit as explosive as Benji, in a big way and has a knack to get lost in a crowd... Teams will have a tendency to over look him until his stats starts yelling... watch out for this guy.

FSU, GT, VT and Oklahoma will here his name real soon!!!

Harris and "The Blurr" had some good times together last year. They hooked up a few times (including a TD)vs. Duke. Travis made a good play out of a broken one vs. Virginia with Harris throwing out of trouble. JH is just better at checking down to other recievers and spreading the ball around to everyone. Too bad about Baby J, looks like he's gonna have a Frank Gore type career at the U. Good thing that Mike J isn't looking like a freshman TB so far, and Lamar Miller is supposed to be better when he gets in? If the new coaches have the same talent level calling plays as the raw talent on the field, we are looking at a real breakout season this year.

Go Canes!!

We lost to Ohio State in baseball!!! God I hate them. When do we play them in football again, 2011??? If I am Hocutt, Shanon, hell Shalala, I focus 100% of the school's recources to winning that game. Even if it costs us 20 years probabtion. I am so tired of losing to those punks. I guess I still have a lot bad memories of Tempe in 2003, of just how g...y their fans were. We must win that game.

We didn't lose that game agains OSU. It was taken by the zebras.

An update on a earlier story....

Javarris James is expected to miss the 2009 football season with what can be called, a haircut that was too short.

Said James from his hospital bed, "I went in for a fade, when they were touching up the back, I got cut and everything went downhill from there."

The barber, who asked to remain annonymous said, "I was just touching him up and he bled like a stuck pig, I don't get it. I wasn't expecting this."

I took surgeons one butterfly band-aid to close the wound, floor nurses reported seeing James in a neck imobilization device.

This is devasting news for James who earlier in the day sprained his wrist putting butter on his toast.

I agree with post by CaliCanesFan, "If the new coaches have the same talent level calling plays as the raw talent on the field, we are looking at a real breakout season this year. Go Canes!!"

As for Holton and Buchanon switching to LB, its common to switch high school DBs to LBs and high school LBs to DLs. Some of the best defensive players have made the switch after entering college and growing into men. I think you also end up with more speedy LBs and DLs after that switch.

UM has liked smaller, speedier LBs (such as Vilma and Shannon himself around 225-240 lbs) for their 4-3 defense. I recall reading an ESPN article a few months ago mentioning that the NFL has also followed that trend often favoring smaller, speedier LBs for 4-3 defenses. 205-215 lbs may be too small, but 225 lbs might be ok.

UM has stocked its cupboard with talent, and it has made the right choices regarding who to recruit over the last thee years. Even with the tough schedule, I expect a lot of success on the field this year

You're funny mjcane..................not!!

mjcane : c'mon dude thats harsh! its not the kids fault he keeps getting injured


Ray Lewis was recuited as a saftey. By the U and 2 Div-II schools no less. Talk about scouting the right talent, Miami (with Coker as the exception) has always done that.

CaliCanesFan : of course, that has always been the 'Canes MO to take LB's and make DL's out of them,turn SS's to LB's ect ect

Let me start by saying again folks thanks for the laughs.. MJCane you are a hoot try some stand up and let yourt real talent shine on. As for the fan that hates loosing to OSU. their baseball team is right up there with the best... Wait till the CWS we may see them again... As for the FB game you spoke of... one litener was right the REF's took that game and gave it to the biggest crook that ever put on a football helmet. WE DID NOT LOOSE THAT GAME.....It's only spring fans do not worry... There is alot of time left before the first real kick off. If Baby J is hurt now there is time... Our kicking game is fine Mr. B is probably kust laying low... We all know what he can do he proved it last year...Go to the spring game enjoy yourself... take pictures get an autograph or 2 I did when I lived there in Miami... I have an 8 x 10 of Mr. "T" that I will never sell or part with. It is autographed 4 times awaiting the firth when he gets into the hall of fame. Manny THANKS for LETTING US ALL get on here and venting our thoughts you are the BEST....

People we lost the Fiesta Bowl against OSU. The ref in the end zone blew the call, but that's only one play. What about our inability to block their D-line all game long? How about the fact that we could only get the ball to Kellen Winslow? What about 4th & 15 on OT and we let OSU convert?

This game demonstrated how a team that can control the line of scrimmage can neutralize of their opponent's advantages.

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