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Freshman TE Cleveland turning heads early

University of Miami coach Randy Shannon said Saturday he won't really begin zeroing on position battles or worry about who is running with the first team until after his team's first scrimmage Wednesday night.

Asante Cleveland But based on what he did Saturday, Asante Cleveland can feel good about at least being on Shannon's radar. In the first and only practice open to season ticket-holders and media this fall, the freshman tight end made a spectacular play that impressed a crowd of about 3,000 -- and Shannon -- when he yanked a Spencer Whipple pass out of the air between three defenders, rolled off contact and sprinted down the middle of the field for a touchdown.

"Unbelievable," Shannon said of the play afterward. "I'm very excited about Asante Cleveland's performance today. He's learning a lot of things and improving every day."

Cleveland (6-5, 250) is one of four tight ends the Hurricanes signed in their 2010 recruiting class. Junior Chase Ford (6-6, 245) also looked impressive Saturday, making a handful of catches over the middle of the field in traffic. Shannon said with only two returning veterans -- fifth-year senior Richard Gordon (6-4, 265) and redshirt freshman Billy Sanders (6-4, 248) -- there is no doubt in his mind at least two newcomers will have to play this coming season. So far, Cleveland looks like the most advanced freshman with Andrew Tallman (6-5, 245) and Clive Walford (6-5, 235) a little further behind.

Shannon said whichever two of his four newcomers emerge from camp and earn spots in the rotation will likely be in for roughly 15 to 30 plays a game. "You can't go through the season with only two tight ends," Shannon said. "Maybe the [new guys will] come in and be like Jimmy Graham last year. That's why you go out and recruit guys like that, get numbers and see what they can do after that."

A track, hoops and football star at Sacramento Christian Brothers High in California, Cleveland said he didn't begin playing football until his freshman year of high school. Walford, a standout at Glades Central High in Florida, didn't begin playing football until his senior year of high school. Tallman played both tight end and left tackle at Boston College High.

"Right now I'm just trying to do my best at blocking, making a play on a ball when they throw it my way," Cleveland said. "It's a lot faster than high school. You just have to realize that and adapt to it. You have to work on blocking these defensive ends. They get off quick."

Cleveland, who said he was timed at 4.8 seconds in the 40-yard dash by UM strength coach Andrew Swasey upon arrival, said he thinks his basketball background has helped him in making the transition to college already. His big catch Saturday was just one of those examples.

"Basketball definitely helps," Cleveland said. "I use a lot of basketball techniques out on the football field. If I'm in a route and a linebacker is inside of me, I'll try to spin past him like I do against a defender in the paint. It worked today."

> QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Back in '86, '87, the biggest offensive linemen we had out here was Matt Patchan. He was about 270 pounds. 270 pounds now is small. That's why we go out and recruit offensive tackles. You go out and recruit centers, they can play nothing but center. The linemen we have now are big athletic, very competitive. The good thing: this is probably the first time in awhile we haven't had to use [intravenous therapy] on guys early. That shows you how much conditioning those guys did in the offseason, really showed where this team is going and where they've come from."
-- UM coach Randy Shannon on the size and conditioning of his offensive linemen

> Shannon said redshirt freshman cornerback Jamal Reid and sophomore offensive tackle Ben Jones, who haven't participated in camp yet, should be back Monday. 

"One thing about me fellas, it's not lip service, we really preach academics," Shannon said. "Those guys are working to finish up stuff. They have finals and stuff. Finals was the last couple days. I can't put those guys in situations where they're out here practicing and they need to be studying for finals. I can't do that as a coach. Monday, no more finals, its straight ball time. So, you'll probably see those guys Monday."

> Shannon said offensive coordinator Mark Whipple missed Saturday's practice to hang out with former Brown University roommate Chris Berman, who received the Pete Rozelle Award at the Hall of Fame this weekend. Shannon said Whipple should be back Sunday.

> Fifth-year senior cornerback Ryan Hill returned home to Tallahassee to attend his grandmother's funeral according to Shannon. Hill missed Saturday's practice but is expected to attend Sunday's. 

> Quarterback Jacory Harris wore a black wrap over the top of his left thigh Saturday. Shannon said Harris and other players wear wraps "for comfort." 

"It's a precautionary deal," Shannon said. "Like any injuries, you'll see guys with shoulder harnesses, certain things on their body. Those guys are fully healed, we just put it on them because sometimes its a comfort zone for guys. You'll see Orlando Franklin, Figueroa, wearing something. It just makes them feel better."

> One observation from practice: Senior Jojo Nicholas is running with the first team at safety withVaughn Telemaque. It's likely a method Shannon is using to light a fire under Ray Ray Armstrong's rear end. 

Comments

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Is it me, or Shannon often tries to light a fire under Armstrongs end as you said? Reid in spring and jojo now, what's the issue manny?

Btw manny thanks for everything you do, best reporting on the canes out there (allcanes is close though)

uno....good write-up manny...keep up the good work
GO CANES

I just got my 2 tix to the Ohio State game on Stub Hub. They are out there. If i am going to drive 10 hours to get there, there are no excuses for you guys in the midwest...get your tix and GO!

Great report and great interviews - Thanks!

The emphasis on The Team, pushing your teammates and being the best unit possible are signs that RS now has his team and they are invested in his approach, and that's great.

The CANES and all of us fans have a lot to look forward to, this year and beyond.

Evercane

THE TIGHT END POSITION IS ONE OF MY MAIN CONCERNS, THAT AND THE OFFENSIVE LINE. THE UN IQUE THING ABOUT A GREAT T.E. IS THAT HE CAN BE UTILIZED IN ORDER TO GIVE THE QUARTERBACK MORE TIME THROWING THE BALL. IT'S IMPORTANT THAT HE CAN BLOCK AS WELL AS CATCH THE BALL. SIZE IS GOOD, BUT IT DOES NO GOOD IF YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO USE IT. I THINK WITH THE COACHES THE UM HAS. THESE T.E.'S WILL BE WELL COACHED. PSALMS 20

Thanks Manny!

It's funny alot of us put down Asante Cleveland and a lot of 3 star recruits. He was recruited by Washington St, Nevada, and some other small schools. I would guess he didn't go to many football camps. I am sure Randy and staff know what they are doing. A couple years ago this team had no depth at many positions. It's starting to changed quickly. I will not say a national championship team but we should be a top 15 team moving forward.

Navarro, more fire please...........

this is surprising.when i saw film of cleveland, my first thought was that he was slow as a tight end. I guess its a good surprise

it seems like these guys are wating to put a show on college football this year and i can't wait to watch. brandon harris looks like he's ready to take the next step and become a great corner. can't wait for the season to start.

Lovin the video links Manny. Superb work.

I have a quick question for you Manny, did Cleveland look that good or did the DBs look that bad covering the middle? LORD knows I love the Canes and what Shannon is doing, but I can't help remembering the issues our guys had covering TE's in the Champs bowl. I'm just looking for your honest opinion. Thanks.

Wow! Randy has recruited quality young men. The grades show it and their success in the future will show it.

Congratulations Randy!

How did kylan robinson do?

1st

1st

I was there! It only took me 13 hrs. round trip, but , I was there. The team looked good. Henderson IS HUGE! Can't wait to see the A&M game to see what these guy's really have. Shannon still needs to find the swagger he lost! I think that would go a long way with the team performance.

its all about the u looks like a promoising season the blame will finally be on the players, these men are grown and should put it together i live up in the panhandle and the seminole and gators fans are sweating in there pants up here cause they see the storm is a coming

Hey Manny, thanks for all you do. Any chance you can get more news on this:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/06/miami-recruiting-violatio_n_674074.html

Are we in trouble here? How serious is this???

Hey billynpc, I also live in the panhandle. I work with all seminole and gator fans. Rest assured they aren't talking much trash. I think what the U is doing right now is gonna go a very long way this season. Shannon and company has done a very good job recruiting not only athletes' but character also.

LET'S GO CANES

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