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Spring Game festivities underway

CORAL GABLES -- There's more to the Spring Game at the University of Miami than just a scrimmage. This year, It's become more like a party/reunion for former Hurricanes. Friday afternoon, the festivities kicked off unofficially as dozens of former Canes took from different generations stood and watched the final practice of the spring from the sidelines at Greentree Practice Field.

It was almost like the Who's Who of Canes nation. Former coach Jimmy Johnson, assistants Don Soldinger and Art Kehoe were there. Andre Johnson, Jon Beason, Darrin Smith and a boatland of other former current and NFL players were there too. There's a private dinner Friday night where most of these guys will sit down and chow down together. Most are expected back Saturday at Fort Lauderdale's Lockhart Stadium for the spring game, which begins at 10:30 a.m. and is preceded by an autograph session with current players at 9 a.m.

If you want to continue to rub elbows with a long list of former Canes greats, you can head on over to Miami Prime Grill, a sportsbar located at 16395 Biscayne Blvd in North Miami Beach once the scrimmage is over. Kehoe, who has had a part in all five national championships won by the Hurricanes, will be honored by his peers and presented with the Canes 4 Life Lifetime Dedication Award, which is being sponsored by CaneSport.com. I'm planning to be there too.

> Not a ton to report from Friday's practice except more big plays by the offense. The first one belonged to running back Damien Berry, who scooted past the first team defense for a 54-yard run before being pushed out of bounds (strength coach Andreu Swasey tried selling it as a touchdown). Leonard Hankerson hauled in a 60-yard touchdown pass from Jacory Harris, beating Brandon Harris on a deep post route. Graig Cooper scored on a 60-yard run, proving to us once and for all he's not going to get chased down every time. Receiver Thearon Collier had a nice run on a reverse handoff that netted about 30 yards once he was done running through the defense.

> There were several 2009 signees in attendance including quarterback A.J. Highsmith and Sanford Seminole standouts Ray Ray Armstrong and Dyron Dye, who made their first apperances at UM since signing with the Canes in February. Tight end Stephen Plein, who has been to nearly every spring practice, was also in attendance. 

> I'll have more for you later including an interview with redshirt freshman receiver Kendal Thompkins. 

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Billy D just stepped down from UF to take the UK job. Dare i say the start of floridas down fall is here. your not a BASEBALL school and now without Billy D you are no longer a BASKETBALL school and after tebow and meyer leave( tebow to be a third round draft pick and meyer to ND) you wont be a FOOTBALL school. Looks like the mini dynasty has all but come to an end.

Top tier program u SAY?

Your are all yours kehoe!!

I just heard on the radio that Billy D. is staying in G-ville. Who knows?

Per rivals,

The Hurricanes ran 40 plays in full pads today as over 100 former Canes watched on from the sidelines at Greentree Practice Field.

Those on the sidelines included former coaches Jimmy Johnson, Art Kehoe and Don Soldinger along with former Canes Andre Johnson, Jon Beason, Steve Walsh, Jessie Armstead, Twan Russell, Yatil Green, C.J. Richardson, Don Bosseler, Brian Monroe, Don Bailey, Eric Schnupp and Richard Mercier.

And they saw several big plays from the offense. Among them:

* Damien Berry ripped off a 59-yard scoring run on which he went up the middle before breaking outside and out-running the defense. Berry later had an 11-yard run as well.

"We did a lot of stuff we went over last week, are just trying to perfect our game," Berry said.

* Graig Cooper ran in a 61-yard touchdown untouched around the right corner, and he earlier had a 20-yard run.

* The biggest passing play came when Leonard Hankerson beat his man by two steps running down the left sideline. Jacory Harris found him for a 66-yard score.

* Mike James had a 26-yard catch and run, adding runs of 25 and 10 yards later on. On the 10-yard run he bowled over a defender at the end for additional yardage.

* Aldarius Johnson had a 19-yard reception.

* Thearon Collier took an end around for 34 yards.

* A defensive highlight: Brandon Harris sacked Cannon Smith, forcing a fumble and recovering it. On the next play Harris dropped a Smith pass thrown right into his arms.

* Sam Shields did a great job sticking right with Davon Johnson streaking up the right sideline. Shields broke up a long throw to Johnson from Taylor Cook. Johnson had a 17-yard catch toward the end of the day's work.

Berry said of the offense's performance today that "Coach (Mark) Whipple is doing a great job getting us prepared for the season. I hope we keep it up."

DE Olivier Vernon said of the defense's performance today that "We did well, but not as well as we normally do. We're probably just thinking about tomorrow [the Spring Game]. That's probably what it is.

"We can't stop them sometimes - the offense is pretty good."

Unofficial statistics from the day's work:

Quarterbacks: Jacory Harris 3-7, 111 yards, 1 TD; Taylor Cook 2-5, 29 yards; Cannon Smith 2-4, 18 yards.

Running backs: Graig Cooper 8 carries, 87 yards, 1 TD; Mike James 6 carries, 39 yards; Damien Berry 6 carries, 78 yards, 1 TD.

Of big runs on the day, Berry said, "I give all (the credit) to the offensive line and the receivers blocking downfield."

* Also, in 7-on-7 work, Brandon Harris broke up a pass with a dive, and Sean Spence returned a short Taylor Cook throw for a touchdown. Daniel Adderley also had a nice 30-yard grab.

* Lee Chambers was on the sidelines with his arm in a sling. There was no immediate update on the severity of his injury.

* Cane signees AJ Highsmith and Stephen Plein attended practice.

* True freshman Olivier Vernon started opposite Marcus Robinson at end with Adewale Ojomo out with a wrist injury.

"I'm getting used to the speed of the game," Vernon said. "I'm going to be ready for tomorrow."

* Players spoke about their expectations for the Spring Game tomorrow:

"I'm looking forward to the big crowd," Vernon said. "I just (want) to shine out there. That's what I'm looking for."

DT Micanor Regis adds, "We just want to get better from today. I want to prove I can make plays."

CB Chavez Grant says, "The defense won the scrimmage last year (and) it'll be just like last year. I think we'll win it again. I feel the offense will do a good job, but not as good as we'll do. Our offense is great. They made some great plays today. It's going to go back and forth. It's going to be a boxing match.

"After this spring we will have learned a lot."

WR Davon Johnson says of the Spring Game that "We're looking forward to coming out and putting on a show for the Hurricane fans, make them come to the games this year, get everybody cranked up for the 2009 season."

* Grant spoke about all the former Canes that came back to watch practice today.

"It's an honor," Grant said. "The great thing about it is you're seeing these, for lack of a better term, old guys. They're just walking around. They've been here, paved the road for us and have been through the up and down seasons. For them to come here and show their support when we're going through our ups and downs, to know our names, that's a great thing to see that. They have their own families and they still follow the U football."

WR Davon Johnson added, "We showed alumni that the offense is productive this year. The receivers have more opportunities to make big plays this year. Our whole goal is to make big plays. We want to be better than we were last year. Last year we did okay, but we want to do better. We want to go to the national championship, and the only way to do that is make big plays."

Johnson also said that a hip injury has slowed him down this spring.

* WR Kendal Thompkins says he's getting work at all the receiver positions but that he expects to play mostly in the slot this fall with Thearon Collier.

"I'm a lot more comfortable - it's all coming along," he said.

Thompkins says he would also like to have a chance to return kicks next season.

I'm staying at Florida .

thanks jr reed, I don't have a rivals membership. That was some good info

Nice of Kehoe to join us! The sideline sounds like a Hall of Fame induction ceremony!

I would love to hear what JJ's thoughts are concerning our development.

Once a 'cane, always a 'cane...you just don't understand!

Can't wait for tomorrow! Show us something good Whip!

http://antonazucar.com/


Word is that bryce will be there tommorow.

Good post Manny.

When I watched the scrimmage at Traz Powell, I was surpised how often Hankerson gets open (separation from the defender), but his problem always has been drops. If he eliminates drops(and I realize that is a big if), he can be special.

Speaking of special, what happened to Travis Benjamin? I hear no mention of him in the WR rotation.

Also, there is a common thread of big plays from the offense this spring. Big plays were almost completely absent from the offense last year. Are we looking at a high-scoring offense? What do the old canes think?

Is anyone else concerned about the D?

Can anyone help me? I live in Canada and wanna watch tomorrow's spring game. Anyone know a website who will be streaming it?

Thanks.

yes, the number of big plays we're hearing about has me concerned about the defense. it just doesn't sound like they're that tough! maybe the real defense will step up tomorrow morning. i personally wouldn't mind if the "score" tomorrow is very close.

stream of the game would be great, but there's no way I'm getting up that early if there is one (730am). i look forward to reading about the results.

manny, any chance of getting some direct quotes from former players/coaches and their comments during the game tomorrow? they will probably have the best insight.

If Brown shows up I will make sure to talk trash all day!

Go Canes!

The way that the runnig game has been making big runs all spring I am very concerned about the GT game. I still have flashbakcs of GT backs breaking tackles and then streaking through the quad 8-) But if the D plays a little better than they did last year and the O is capavble of breaking these types f plays against that type of D then look out here comes a catagory 5 right at U.

On Canespace, Kehoe and Soldinger have both been portrayed as traitors to the football program. Do you share this view?

does any know if there will be a possible shuttle for the spring scrimmage tomorrow?

Can anyone help me? I live in Canada and wanna watch tomorrow's spring game. Anyone know a website who will be streaming it?

Thanks.

Posted by: Ronny | March 27, 2009 at 10:50 PM

For those that can't see the game tommorow, just go to this site before it starts

http://www.justin.tv/fauskiecanes

Where's Travis Benjamin in all this? Through the first half of last season I thought he was the best player on the offense. Maybe I've missed it but I haven't seen his name mentioned.

Can Benjamin can crack the rotation? You've got Aldarius, Tommy Streeter, Theron Collier, Hankerson, Byrd, and Kendall Tompkins.

"It smells like...victory!

Go 'canes!

benjamin never seemed like a "rotational" reciever to me. i think he was amazing on kick returns and awesome for special plays and end arounds. i think they'll use him like that again.

Benjamin is going to play with the first team. travis got hurt when he was running track but he should be ok when the season starts.

Who is going to sit so that Benjamin can play?

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