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Tough love worked for Ojomo

Randy Shannon's tough love approach isn't for everybody. We learned that last season with quarterback Robert Marve. You remember: Marve's dad said Shannon didn't have a good relationship with his son, didn't coddle him enough and was apparently too hard (suspending him twice for going late to class).

Maybe, Robert Marve is the anomoly. Maybe, Randy Shannon's tough love approach works more than we think. Third-year sophomore defensive end Adewale Ojomo, who was suspended twice last year for the same reasons as Marve, might be the perfect example of why it works. Friday, we got a chance to catch up with Ojomo, who was surprisingly candid and mature about the mistakes he made last season. He sounded like someone who learned the hard way and got better from it.

“I had a lot of off the field distractions last year and I’m controlling them much better now,” said Ojomo, who said his suspenions were the product of being late for class and team meetings. “If you don’t get them right, you’ll be here five or six years. If you don’t get it right in the classroom, you won’t have a degree, you won't get an NFL contract. So, you got to get it right.”

Ojomo didn't get it right last year and was passed up on the depth chart. So far this spring, he's been practicing behind two younger players -- Marcus Robinson and Andrew Smith. While Ojomo said Shannon can be patient in teaching players lessons for their mistakes, the number of strikes are diminishing because of the level competition.

"When you make the mistake, they correct the issue at hand. You have a certain amount of chances when you mess up before they give the next guy a chance," Ojomo said. "It’s a motivating factor. Once you lose your spot, that’s it."

> UM will hold its first scrimmage of the spring Saturday at 10 a.m. It is only open to the media. I'll be there to watch the first hour before going to the final regular season basketball game.

Friday, I didn't get a chance to watch all of practice, but the defense certainly played pretty well toward the end, denying the offense touchdowns except twice during the two minute drill. Among the days' highlights: safety Vaughn Telemaque had an interception he returned for a score, Tommy Streeter caught two long TD passes and a nice tough run by Javarris James also produced a score. Kendal Thompkins had the best catch of the day, soaring in the back of the end zone to yank down a 30-yard TD pass from Jacory Harris during a two-minute drill.

> There were more than 100 high school coaches and several recruits in attendance for Friday's practice as UM held its annual coaching convention. I caught up with several of my old buddies from when I covered high schools. One told me it was a huge difference this year hearing what new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple had to talk about versus former coordinator Patrick Nix.

"You could just see this guy knows what he's talking about, he's a real expert," Braddock coach Frank Rojas told me. "He could run circles around most guys. Nix was way to conservative. Whipple knows his stuff and is aggressive. He has some real interesting formations. I liked [new defensive coordinator John] Lovett. He knows his stuff, too."

> Redshirt freshman Ben Jones has been seeing some playing time with the first team at right tackle while competing with senior Matt Pipho. Jones, the starting right tackle for Miami Northwestern’s 2007 national championship team, said he has been playing with the first team on goal-line situations.

Friday, he shed a little light on the injury that cost him freshman season. According to Jones, he had arthroscopic surgery last year to remove loose cartilage in his left knee from an injury he suffered in the 11th grade. Throughout his rehabilitation and training process, he’s lost 15 pounds and is now weighing around 305.

“My biggest challenge has been getting past my injury, bouncing back and showing people I can play,” said Jones whose roommate is fellow redshirt freshman defensive tackle Jeremy Lewis. “Coach tells me I can improve everywhere. All I’m trying to do is compete.”