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FAMU's 'Vann-tastic' return man poses threat

Anytime Florida A&M comes to town, they bring the best soundtrack in the country with them. The school's band, known as the Marching 100, will get hips to sway, butts to jiggle and people like me who were born without rhythm the brief hallucination that even I can dance.

LeRoy Vann is the man for FAMU Rattlers fans love their band. But they aren't just standing for the halftime and postgame musical performances anymore. Nowadays, fans are standing and chanting for another "Vanntastic Voyage" when return man LeRoy Vann steps on the field.

"When he gets back there for a kickoff return or punt return, our fans and our entire sideline will stand up and start swaying their arms and hands side to side and scream 'Leeeeee - Roy!, Leeeee - Roy!'," said cornerback Curtis Holcolmb, a 5-10, 170-pound junior from Miami Southridge High.

"The funny part is he used to joke about how one day he'd get the crowd to do that for him. If you knew this guy two years ago like I did you would have laughed about it. But he's no joke. He's kind of like a rags to riches story to me."

If you haven't heard of Vann by now, you've probably been missing ESPN's College Game Day. The 5-9, 185-pounder from Tampa Blake High has run back four punts for touchdowns this season and earned national player of the week honors twice. He's also averaged 25.4 yards on kickoff returns and nearly broke one for a touchdown earlier this year.

He has 10 career returns for scores since his junior year, and holds the Division I-AA career record for kickoff return yardage (1,583). Holcolmb, who grew up a Hurricanes fan, said Vann runs a 4.36 in the 40-yard dash and reminds him of former Canes greats -- Roscoe Parrish and Devin Hester -- who now earn a living for what they do on returns.

"His first two years he was a gunner, he'd get down the field and hit guys on punt returns or kick returns," Holcolmb said. "When coach Taylor got here, he said 'This guy needs the ball in his hands.' Every time he gets back there, he does something exciting. He's so fast and quick. To me, he's just like Devin Hester."

The Rattlers, ranked as high as 23rd among the three FCS polls, shouldn't be able to play with the 11th-ranked Hurricanes (3-1) on Saturday. But it doesn't mean the Rattlers don't think they can. Two ACC teams have already lost to FCS schools this year. Duke lost to FCS No. 1 ranked Richmond and top-10 ranked William and Mary beat Virginia.

FAMU quarterback Chris Pulley, a transfer from Kentucky, has put up good numbers completing 67 percent of his passes for 846 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception. He also leads the team in rushing with 291 yards and can be an elusive threat. FAMU's defense, meanwhile, hasn't given up more than 12 points in a game.

"Miami's a great football," said senior defensive end Joe Wims, who played alongside former Hurricane Kenny Phillips at Carol City High. "Their offense is good. When I look at them on film, they run a lot of pro sets and their offensive linemen do a lot of pro moves. But we aren't scared of them. We know if we take care of our keys, we'll defeat them."

> The FAMU band will perform for seven minutes at halftime Saturday and then will put on a 15-minute show after the game. According to Rattlers players, the performance will likely include a tribute to Michael Jackson.

> The Canes have steadily improved in their kickoff coverage this season under walk-on Alex Uribe. But the punt return coverage has had a few breakdowns. Opponents are averaging 17.2 yards a punt return. The last time UM gave up a punt return for a score was Nov. 13, 1999 when Ricky Hall took one back 64 yards for Virginia Tech. The Canes, by the way, rank dead last among the 119 FBS schools with a 1.1 average on punt returns. 

... RECRUITING NUGGETS: Spoke to a few potential UM recruits on the phone last night. Here's a quick version of what I learned...

- Miramar receiver Ivan McCartney said his desire to play for UM has grown from 50 percent in the preseason to 75 percent after the team's 3-1 start.

- Jacksonville Raines receiver Sean Tapley, a wavering South Carolina commitment, said he enjoyed his weekend visit to South Florida and UM's win over Oklahoma. "I could definitely see myself playing there a lot more," Tapley said. "The Canes are weighing on me and I like the fact Louis [Nix] and Tavadis [Glenn] are going there."

- Jacksonville Raines coach Deran Wiley said Florida is coming hard after UM commitment defensive tackle Louis Nix and trying to convince Tapley to join him. "They think Urban's magic is going to sweep the kid off his feet," Wiley said. "But I'm not so sure that's going to happen after what happened with Tavadis at their camp. Those guys are close."

- St. Thomas Aquinas cornerback Keion Payne said he's really close to committing to Miami -- especially after Gainesville High's Devont'a Davis took one of the two remaining spots for a corner. But he doesn't want to "make any mistakes" with Florida State, Ohio State, Tennessee and West Virginia coming hard after him.


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Look I know we can't take anyone lightly or let our guard down. Too many times in the past few years we've lost games that we should have won. We need to keep the pedal to the metal until the end of the season.

That being said, FAMU's confidence is not impressive. They may be 4-0 but they have beaten:

Delaware State
Tennessee State

None of which are even in the FCS top 25...

True FAMU has no shot but beware of a Joe Taylor coached team. I've seen it first hand when he was the coach at Hampton while I was there. They won't win the game but if u play with chumps they"ll play like champs every time and a close call would definately cause a drop in the polls.

Damm, we are having are best season yet recruits are still wavering. Just shows the depth we have.


Miami vs OU 5 minute remixx

Randy has a plan.. dont worry about recruiting the chips will fall and if the team keeps winning we will end up with a top 10 class..

Amen Canes in 09

Manny your recruiting news is the BOMB!!! Two 4 star tackles out of Jacksonville?

Dare I say that's Gator Country!! GREAT work UM!!

Go 'canes!

great job, Manny--thanks for those Nuggets!

I-Mac: come on down playboy!!

Payne: this is your new home!

Tapley: You and I-Mac? On the same field at the same time? (Aint Nuttin but a Gangsta Party!!)

Urban: get off our nutz!

Urban is not going to get those Jax players. His coaches screwed up royally throwing Tavadis out of that camp, and he and Nix have been working on Tapley to come to UM. Sorry Urban...too little too late.

Joe, recruits always waver a bit. The news for us is great so far! Almost everyone we've targeted is either a commit or still on the board. And that's the goal...get who you want, not who others think you should get. I'm very excited about this class. They seem like a stand up, hard working, dedicated group.

I'll be really nervous if we're not up 2 touchdowns at the end of the first quarter. It means they've stopped us or kept the ball for long periods of time, and that means we're not playing strong. Dual threat QB's always give me the willies. But we should handle things pretty easily.

My internet provider at home doesn't give ESPN360 so I'm headed back to the office at 6 pm Saturday (7 ET) for the first time in a long time. I'm buying pizza, bringing a 6-pack and keeping the office door closed while I watch the Canes online. Should be fun. Definitely a new experience.

Go Canes!

Oh, and they have their special teams standout, and we have ours. I hope Cory Nelms lays the wood on Vann this weekend. Our walk-ons are still track stars. We should be able to catch this guy.


lets not got this twisted but, we need a dominaating performance saturday for many reasons

anyone seen Tapley play or know much about him?

How good is tapley if I was Shannon I would be tring to pull dunkley with I mac and Willis wright. Payne is close well he should hurry cause those scollys is moving what happen to cook and smith scollys do they count as 2010 scollys now? Nix and Glenn is solid urban shouldn't have kicked him out of that camp. I hope dunkley and joyner slide in this class.


you can access ESPN360 if you enable remote access.....i do it all the time at work.

FAMU stream theire games live at this site http://www.famurattlersports.com/

how can u watch the u live on the internet? its all about the u.

Whow what a differnce in this blog today. It's all about Miami winning the game and recruiting. This is one person thats kinda happy to see this. Manny great work on digging up the info. Now it is time for all fans of college football to get to the stadium and fill the seats. the entertainment might just be worth the price of admission. I remember back in the 60-70's the rattler band was a tuff act to follow. Nice to see somethings in the area have not changed. Go Miami play 4 qtrs lets get a score in every qtr, even if its just a FG. My wish if I could have one, Harris throws for 400 yards, Cooper runs for 100 & James gets 101. I'd like to see 2 interceptions for our defense 1 each for Shields and Harris. It's going to be hard to get any sacks because he's a runner first then a thrower. but 1 or 2 would be a plus. Finally I'd like to be way ahead by the first offense series in the 3rd Qtr so that AJ will be able to put his mitts on the ball. A real plus if he could get a TD pass. One last request. #80 catch another one on Sat. Your hometown in NC is really pleased with your results so far keep it up. Thanks

Hey Chicago Cane, no need to go back to work, watch it on http://www.famurattlersports.com/, justintv, or ustream!


Thanks all. I will definitely try those ideas. Better than the office, though my computer screen is bigger there.

How do you enable remote access on ESPN 360?

Chicago cane,

if u have an HDtv or LCD flatscreen, chances are u can connect your tower to the tv using your VGA cable. Check it out.

One more thing:

does anyone know where I can see the Hurricanes entrance video that was played last Saturday vs. Oklahoma? The one that referee to the strength of a hurricane? The damn thing have me goosebumps and I want to see it again.

Anyone watch the Central vs. Northwestern game? Northwestern's QB and number 1 WR are considering the U. I hope we get them both...they look pretty good. The QB looks a lot like Jacory...6'3", 185, and athletic.

The hit by Cory Nelms not only changed the game it changed the season...As an alumni I almost felt that hit here in california...That hit got everybody in the stadium fired up...I know I was there....Keep it going canes

Based on what I am hearing from the U I think if the U allows FAMU to make a game of it they should just cancel the remaining games. Shut down the football program and maybe take up Rugby.

people calm down we played some good teams this year I know for a fact the U gon come to play They will breeze by FAMU. The talent wont really match even though some of the FAMU boys probally from here but The U has tooooo much talent on they hands to even play with FAMU. Miami Run game going to look good if Jarvis James did 100+ on OU defense what u think he gon do against Famu,Let cooper sit and rest lets unleash some of the younger backs along with Baby J. Also if highsmith play then we got famu blew out of the water

does FAMU charge for the game??

really Manny...that's your assessment of Vann. of course he's running back 2-3 returns agame. he's playing against Division 1-AA. he aint returning nothing back against Miami. come on now!

People dont doubt FAMU, thats how FBS teams loose against FCS teams. UM should win, but they have to play like they play anyone else.

just wanted to ask the question... who would everyone prefer? this wr tapley over a chance to maybe get michael lee harris/ivan mccartney/willis wright/chris dunkley. all of those guys rate higher. same situation with our last cb spot. do we want keion payne or dior mathis/tony grimes who rate higher? not trying to knock tapley or payne, but they are 3 star guys and the other players mentioned are 4 star guys. i don't live in florida, so i really can't make my own judgments, have to go by scouting reports. just read that jeff luc is favoring florida. this guy is a beast and would be a huge blow to lose since he is from the miami area and grew up a Canes fan.

I love LeRoy Vann, he's going to represent our school very well in this game and in the NFL. I believe with Vann's return success, he is a bonafide NFL Draft pick. GO RATTLERS!!!

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