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Canes having fun in Orlando

ORLANDO -- Javarris James took off his sweatshirt, adjusted his white Florida Marlins baseball cap and leaned into Jacory Harris to deliver a message: "Prepare to get rocked."

Javarris James (left), Travis Benjamin and Jacory Harris play Guitar Hero Sunday at DisneyQuest.  For the next 20 minutes inside the Guitar Hero room at DisneyQuest, that's exactly what the Hurricanes' senior running back and his quarterback did. They rocked out to Foghat's Slow Ride. Then, they laughed and laughed some more. 

Not far away from them and spread out throughout the five floor video game haven in Downtown Disney were the rest of the Canes, mixed in among a group of players from Tuesday night Champs Sports Bowl opponent Wisconsin and Capital One Bowl foes Penn State and LSU (who play on New Year's Day at the Citrus Bowl). And all of the kids were being kids. 

"Man, I'm going to miss this," said James, who after a stellar freshman season (802 yards) is hoping to end his injury-riddled career by leading UM to its first 10-win season since 2003. "I've just enjoyed being with the guys, cracking jokes, doing the little things we do. I'm not really too much sad. But I'm going to miss them."

Canes players pose with a poster outside of DisneyQuest  The four-hour ride up the turnpike from Coral Gables to Orlando has been done plenty of times before for most of the Canes. So, there's not much most of them haven't seen before. But that doesn't mean this bowl experience hasn't been as fun as last year's trip to San Francisco for the Emerald Bowl where they got to visit Alcatraz or even the MPC Computers Bowl in frigid Boise, Idaho where they went sledding and got into snowball fights in 2006. 

In the last 48 hours, UM players have been treated to a $420 shopping spree at Best Buy, a fun-filled three hours at Universal Studios and a morning chalk full of video games. For UM's seniors, this trip to Orlando have really been about cherishing their final days as Canes. 

Harland Gunn takes on a Wisconsin player in Madden 2010  "In terms of gifts and events, you can't beat all the things we've been able to do this week," senior center A.J. Trump said. "[Saturday] at Universal, we had [injured left tackle Jason] Fox with us. A lot of the o-line just got together and with Fox still a little nicked up [from his surgery] we took it a little easier. We went on the Men In Black and Terminator ride. We have a great picture of me, Orlando [Franklin], [Matt] Pipho, [Joel] Figueroa, [Tyler] Horner and Fox on the Men In Black Ride. It's a pretty funny."

James said he and a group of 25 teammates spent most of their team at Islands of Adventure. Players said they weren't given speed passes. But they got "hooked up" by ride operators. "We went on Hulk twice, [Deuling] Dragons twice, Spiderman and that ride that shoots you up [Dr. Doom]. That last one caught me by surprise. We were just talking and that thing shot up. I closed my eyes. I was scared boy."

Trump said the team's shopping spree at Best Buy Saturday resembled "a bunch kids let loose at a Toys 'R Us."

Running back Graig Cooper spends a moment with a young Canes fan.  "Everyone went straight to the laptops. I think we cleaned them out," Trump said. "I got a $600 laptop -- Toshiba -- for like $200. I used the gift card they gave us and just spent some of my own money on top. It was cool."

James said he grabbed a charger for his iPhone and a video game controller, but ran out of ideas. He said he tried calling his parents to ask them what they wanted. "But I couldn't reach them," James said. "So, I just started grabbing stuff, getting late Christmas presents." 

Linebacker Colin McCarthy and cornerback Brandon Harris said they both bought plasma TVs. McCarthy also got his father a TV stand. Receiver Leonard Hankerson said he bought his son a set of walkie-talkies, a camera and a CD player. "He can't have a cell phone yet. He's only 3," Hankerson said. "So, the walkie-talkie was the next best thing."

The biggest spender -- according to teammates -- turned out to be sophomore defensive tackle Marcus Forston. He used his gift card and put up some serious cash to get himself a 52-inch plasma TV. On his way out of DisneyQuest, Forston was asked about his purchase. "I had to get one, have my own theater at home," Forston said. "That way, instead of spending 12 bucks when I want to go to the movies, I can just be like 'Baby, let's stay home. We can cuddle up on the sofa."


> James said UM coach Randy Shannon gave his players a midnight curfew after going to Universal Saturday night. He said he and several teammates spent time at his cousin's house in Orlando where he met up with Wisconsin sophomore cornerback Aaron Henry, a high school teammate and childhood friend of his from Immokalee.

Defensive end Adewale Ojomo (right) plays DinosaurHunter with teammate Richard Gordon (left)  > Linebacker Sean Spence might be a terror on the football field, but on a roller-coaster he has the reputation for the most terrorized. "Before we took off on the Hulk, he had this thing in his head that his safety belt wasn't strapped in right," Brandon Harris said. "He was trying to get off before [the ride] took off. He must have seen Final Destination before we got to the park or something. He was screaming, almost made me go deaf."

> UM might be having plenty of fun in Orlando, but they're still working hard. Strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey gave UM players "The Swasey Workout" Saturday. According to James, the workout at Jones High was a little rougher than usual. "Their weight room is kind of like my old weight room at Immokalee," James said. "It was metal weights. Incline bench was old school, heavy."

> Receiver Leonard Hankerson said he's pretty much made his mind up (80 percent) about going pro or returning after this season. He said he'll wait a few days until after the bowl game to tell UM what he decides. Our Susan Miller Degnan has more on it.

> Defensive end Adewale Ojomo said he dropped all the way down to 215 pounds when his mouth was wired shut. He said he's back up to 260 pounds. "I can't wait for spring ball," Ojomo said.