Seantrel Henderson was the No. 1 high school recruit in the country last season. But if he wants some respect from his new teammates, he's going to have to earn it for being more than some blue-chip talent.
Henderson made his Canes debut Thursday morning as fall camp opened, turning heads with his Paul Bunyan-like 6-8, 350-pound frame. After practice, UM coach Randy Shannon praised Henderson for his footwork and for looking "physically fit." But that's where the compliments, it seemed, came to a halt for the big new arrival from St. Paul, Minn.
As center Tyler Horn put it, No. 77, is just another guy right now.
"There have been a lot of good players at this school," Horn said. "Nobody just comes in and gets all the hype. You've had players like Bryant McKinnie, Vernon Carey.
"It's hard for us to give [Henderson] his props if he hasn't earned them yet. The great thing about football is you have a chance to earn them -- especially during camp. That's what we are really looking forward to. He got rated that high for a reason. It will be fun to see how good he really turns out to be."
Right tackle Joel Figueroa said he met Henderson when he arrived Wednesday night, but didn't really get a chance to talk to him. Henderson, who was released from USC after the school was hit hard for NCAA violations this summer, could go a long way toward helping the Canes offensive line this season. But it is likely that it will take him some time to get adjusted to the weather before he really gets into the rotation at tackle.
"He seems like a nice guy," Figueroa said. "But around here, we don't worry about [player] rankings. Some guys have been ranked high and haven't done anything here. And some guys that haven't been highly ranked, have. I'm sure he's a great player. But he has to get used to the weather. It was a little hot out there today. Plus, he has to learn the playbook."
> QUOTE OF THE DAY: "When you have the wires on your mouth, you pass a McDonalds, you pass all these different restaurants. Every corner you turn there is a restaurant and it's `Man, I wish I could eat that food.' So when those wires get clipped out of your mouth you're going straight to Red Lobster, you're going straight to these nice restaurants to eat. I was eating by myself, lunch at Tony Roma's. Randomly."
-- Defensive end Adewale Ojomo, who had his mouth wired after he suffered a broken jaw last season. VIDEO LINK
> CLEANING UP THE SOCIAL NETWORK: Shannon has never been a fan of Facebook or Twitter. He's become even less of a fan after finding out what his players have been posting online. Shannon said he had a team meeting Wednesday night where pulled players Facebook and Twitter accounts and showed them examples of things he wanted cleaned up.
"It could be slang words, words toward a certain race or female or male," Shannon said. "You have to continue to educate these guys all the time. We're constantly stressing those things to represent the University of Miami.
"Four, five, six, eight years down the road you may have a Facebook page that in college it may be you with a couple of bottles of beer, money over the table. When you go interview for a job and somebody pulls your Facebook page up, that's what they remember. I told guys `You do that now, it can haunt you five, six, eight years down the road."
> LIMITED EXPERIENCE: As grown up as the Canes are now in Shannon's fourth season as coach, there are still a few areas where the lack of experience is eye-opening.
I thought the fact senior middle linebacker Kylan Robinson had only four tackles in his career was amazing. But he blew me away Thursday when he said he's actually only gotten in for two plays at linebacker in a game. Shannon admitted Robinson surprised him with what he did in the spring, but added he'll have to see what Robinson does in the scrimmages. "That's when the bullets start flying," Shannon said.
Figueroa, who was moved to right tackle this summer, said he's played the spot some in the past. When pressed on how many plays, Figueroa said "probably 10 to 12." "I can sit here and tell you [the switch is going to be] easy, but I have to be more technically sound."
> HILL READY TO HELP AT CORNER: Fifth-year senior Ryan Hill, once considered the fifth best cornerback in the country by Rivals coming out of high school, is excited about finally get a chance to play the position he was recruited to after two years at receiver and one at safety.
"It's been a long road," said Hill, who is still rehabbing from a torn labrum in his left shoulder that cost him the entire 2009 season. "God works in mysterious ways. But I'm happy. I feel good and my mind's right. I feel stronger than before the surgery."
Where Hill plays in UM's secondary remains a bit of a mystery. He said Thursday he's never played nickel back and prefers to be on the outside at boundary corner. That's where preseason All-American Brandon Harris is currently locked in. Senior Demarcus Van Dyke, meanwhile, is expected to win the job at field corner. Hill said Harris and former walk-on Corey Nelms have been working at nickel over the summer.
As for his comeback from injury, Hill said he spent the summer working out with former Canes Willis McGahee and Phillip Buchanon.
Of the freshman defensive backs new to campus, Hill said he thinks all three -- Keion Payne, Devont'a Davis and Kacy Rodgers -- have the raw talent to play this year. "What I like is that all of them listen," Hill said. "I think they can all help us right away."
> A LITTLE FUN NAME CALLING: Quarterback Jacory Harris made reporters laugh Thursday when he said he lovingly refers to UM's offensive linemen as his "Fat boys." Figueroa and Horn, the only offensive linemen we were able to talk to on Thursday, laughed when they heard what Harris had said.
"It doesn't bother me," Figueroa said. "We've been called many things. It's more of a metaphor really. It's just like when they call us Big Uglies. I don't think I'm ugly."
Said Horn: "Jacory is funny. We clown him all the time for being skinny. I call him Bones. There's only so many skinny jokes you can make."
> THE NEXT SHOCKEY? Shannon said junior tight end Chase Ford (6-6, 245) reminds him a lot of Jeremy Shockey. Ford, who speaks with a Texas twang, said he'd love to leave UM having accomplished as much as Shockey did. But he knows he has a long way to go. While he said the offense he ran at Kilgore Junior College is similar to what UM runs, the routes aren't necessarily the same.
"It's a process," Ford said of the Canes' playbook. "You have to learn it day by day. By the end of camp, I should have it all, well packed in. But as of right now, it's day one."