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44 posts from January 2011

January 31, 2011

Signing Day may extend past Wednesday for UM

Al Golden and his staff are scheduled to talk to reporters about their 2011 signing class at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. But Golden may not be able to talk about all of the players who end up inking with Miami.

In addition to several west coast recruits who will be announcing later in the day/night, Palm Beach Dwyer quarterback Jacoby Brissett could end up waiting a few days to make his decision known to the public. The 6-4, 200-pound U.S. Army All-American, who trimmed his list down to UM, Florida and Wisconsin on Monday, could wait until his basketball game on Senior Night Friday to announce where he's going.

"Right now, his mother and I are both trying to convince him to do it on Wednesday at school," Dwyer coach Jack Daniels said. "But I think he wants to wait until Friday. We'll see what happens."

National Signing Day is just the beginning of the signing period for football recruits. They have from Wednesday until April 1st to pick a school. UM could still end up hosting a few other potential recruits in the coming weeks.

> As it stands, the Hurricanes have 15 commitments. Junior college cornerback Byron Moore of Los Angeles Harbor Community College will announce at 11 p.m. tonight if he's going to UM or Tennessee. Moore finished his season with 42 tackles and seven interceptions and will head to his next school with three remaining seasons of eligibility left.

Moore will make his announcement on an internet radio show called The All-Star Approach.

> According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Rutgers has given former quarterback Tom Savage permission to transfer to either UM or Florida.

Savage, a freshman All-American in 2009, announced three weeks ago he was transferring after losing his starting job last season. He threw for 2,211 yards and 14 TDs and 7 INTs as a freshman. He played in only two games because of injuries and ended up on the bench last season.

> As I told you guys last week, former UM coach Randy Shannon will be on ESPNU on Wednesday as a special guest. Shannon, who was a candidate for the devensive coordinator position at UCLA, could end up looking for a job in TV in 2011 according to the Associated Press.

> Booker T. Washington defensive tackle Elkino Watson, who visited UM two weekends ago, said he will announce at 9 a.m. on Wednesday his choice between UM, USF, Florida and Louisville. He grew up a Canes fan, but didn't receive an offer from UM until a few weeks ago when Golden took over as coach.

I spoke to him at school for about 10 minutes Monday. Here is his interview:

ELKINO WATSON INTERVIEW 1-31-11

Art Kehoe press conference (audio/transcript)

Here is the audio and transcript from today's press conference with offensive line coach Art Kehoe. 

ART KEHOE PRESS CONFERENCE

Opening statement: "I can't tell you how great it is to be back. It's unbelievable. My wife Diona and Madison and Jake, they’re so jacked up about being back. Coming home, and coming back to Miami, it’s a great thing. I'm just pumped up. My friend told me, a good friend of mine said, `Just tell them that you had a long haggling contract dispute with coach (Al) Golden and we finally agreed to another 27-year contract.' All right? How does that sound?

"This whole deal came through, and I started talking to Coach Golden and we kept it quiet for a while. Miami is a wonderful thing. And he just kept talking about his vision, and he kept talking about his plan for the University of Miami. It didn’t matter whether it was off season, recruiting, the way they practice, the way they go about their business. He got me so pumped up. That’s the whole deal. Coach Golden is a leader and the staff, I kept reading about them, and kept looking them up on the website, is a bunch of terrific guys. They have what it takes and we're going to win. I love Miami, I love the University of Miami and I wanted to come back, but Al Golden's vision, Al Golden’s plan for what we’re going to do here at Miami has got me over the top. And I want to thank Kirby Hocutt and Paul DiMare and Bernie Kosar – the people that picked this guy -- because you’ve got a winner. It all starts at the top, and he has a great plan.

"And I was born and raised in Philadelphia and I saw Temple football. Temple is a great school. But to say it mildly, they’ve struggled in football. And what he accomplished there, is just amazing. You’re going to find out, I think the best way to put it, is to say that the only variable between the University of Miami going back to the top is time. I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but it is going to get done under Al Golden.

"I’m excited. Jed Fisch, and our whole offensive staff, I love these guys. I love what we’re going to do. I love the organization. Before we’ve even completed our recruiting for this year, we’re already, and I just got in so I couldn’t help very much. Coach Golden told me not to screw any of the guys up. Just don’t try to mess up any recruiting. I think it’s great what’s going on in every facet for next year, for recruiting over the long haul. We’ll already on a bunch of projects, the plan he has is great.

"That’s all we talked about. I kept telling Diona – I said, Dee, I gotta get back on board. And I didn’t know really whether I was going to get the job. So I kind of unleashed Hurricane nation. I went out and called every coach I worked for, every coach I coached with, every player I played with, every player that I coached. I called every alumni, board of trustee, every person that was close to me in this whole environment at the University of Miami. And I think he got the message because the next day he called me and said, `Whoa, Art, stop it. It's a blitzkrieg,'

"So we have a good relationship and like I said, I don’t know how else to explain it if you’re not involved with what we’re doing, whether it concerns recruiting, off the field weightlifting, our classroom, the competitive atmosphere we’re going to have. I don’t know what our schedule is for next year, but someone was saying it could be early on a little slice of Virginia Tech and Florida State and Ohio State and Kansas State. And I say let’s get it on baby, because we’ve got to get ready.

"Other than that, I just want to tell you from my heart and soul, to be back in Miami is a wonderful thing. My family, my son is now 6-year-old Jake, and he asked Diona the other day, ‘Mom, could he play basketball and football for the first time. He says, ‘Do they have football and basketball down there in Miami.’ And she said, ‘no jake, they don’t have it.’

"He’s all gunned up, Madison is all gunned up. and the Kehoe family is very, very grateful to a lot of people. I am so grateful to a lot of people I have to talk to. I have to write a lot of letters as soon as I can catch a breath here, gotta make a lot of phone calls. They’re switching me over from my old cell phone to my new cell phone, computer to another computer. Nowadays you get a new job and you’ve got to be ITT involved and I’m way, way behind right now.

"It’s been kind of interesting because I think I had 85 text messages and 69 voicemails and I’m trying to get to them but it’s hard. The Cane Nation came forward for for Art Kehoe and I appreciate it."

Q: Anybody remotely associated with this place knows what this place meant to you for 27 years. Does this place mean as much to you know. Did the five years away wither that feeling at all?

"I always consider myself like a soldier, like a sergeant, a guy that’s in the trenches. But then I always considered myself very lucky to be under the coaches and the players we had. So many good teams and players and coaches. You get spoiled. But it never left me and it will never leave me. It was tough to deal with but coming back – I see Bobby Revilla in the equipment room and Andreu Swasey in the weightroom and Scott in the training room, and you know there's still remnants of what was [left behind]. But Coach Golden has brought in a nice staff, whether it’s operations or the coaches themselves and I know we have good academic support.

"These guys that just.. we were talking about it. I’m playing catch-up; I just got in this week and we have the National Signing Day on Wednesday and a lot of these guys, I’m looking at quick shots of film on them and trying to play catch-up and put it together and make calls so.. if you haven’t met their parents; if you haven’t been with their coaches, you know, you’re a little bit behind. And they’ve done a good job of playing catch-up. And for me, I’m just listening and learning about some of their theories. They have some great ideas on recruiting, too. I just like what’s going on. We’re actively going to seek out, whether it’s having junior days, having walk-on days, it’s things that, Miami being such a good private school and it’s so expensive, you wouldn’t think that would be a good approach for walk-ons, but until you put it in front of them you never know what kind of package can be worked on financially or whether they can handle it themselves.

"And there’s people out there and he was doing this because he was at Temple and he fought like crazy to get it over the top and now you put it at a place like this, and he knows.. you know this guy is fiercely competitive. I read that both him and Mark D’Onofrio were captains of their team at Penn State and they talked about a couple games we played against each other and man, they were great those Penn State games, and just to know what that’s about. I was captain here with jim burt helped me out with this job, and clem barbarino and don bailey helped me out. There are so many people that helped me. you talk about what it meant to me. I don’t know how 27 years playing and coaching and being a graduate assistant, and winning as much as we did, that you could possibly ever get it out of your system. And trust me it never left."

Talk about the process of how this job came about?

“As soon as coach Stoutland – and he’s done a good job. Everybody I’ve talked to around here talks about what a great job Jeff has done acquiring talent and coaching these kids. Everybody, in all areas. Because I’m trying to find out about my O-linemen. Ana gave me like playing cards so I write notes on the back because we’re limited with our meeting time and stuff. I’m getting to meet everybody but anyway, I met him because I heard that coach Stoutland was leaving. We got in touch with each other early and we kept it a secret which is hard to do nowadays and I was glad. I check that Footballscoop and everything. Nowadays with the social networking, it’s hard to keep any secrets.

"The first time I met him, I talked to him on the phone for 45 minutes the first time and I just hung the phone up and I look at Deiona (wife) and I said, ‘Wow. This guy, he’s got it.’ He wanted to grasp the tradition. That’s what his big thing was, ‘Art, man, oh my goodness. Five national titles. You guys played for about 11 of them and you guys had so many good players and so many good coaches come through here.’ He said, I’m so jacked about it. We have to get this and this and this. He just kept talking. I just said, ‘D, I have to get back on board that thing. We got to do whatever it takes.’ And that’s what we did.

"It’s funny. I got this little gash on my face here the night before we met in Greenwood, Miss. Paul Williams was recruiting a kid out there. I’m sorry I’m not allowed to…I’m sorry. Anyway, there was a guy in Greenwood that we were recruiting and he went and met with me there. The night before, I was playing some tag with my son Jake and he picked up like a heavy bottle and threw it at me and the bottle hit my cheek here. So I spent about nine hours in the emergency ward. Then I had to drive about 2 1/2 hours and I had this big band-aid gash on my face. I said, ‘C’mon coach, let’s get in on.’ He looked at me right in the eyes and said, ‘You know, I remember playing against you up in Charlottesville when I was the D-coordinator and he said we had a bunch of good players, guys that went to the NFL and he said my guys told me that you’re O-line got after them. It was by far the most physical line they had.' And I said, well that’s a good thing. And then we started talking. It was relentless.

"We were having lunch and it was just constant talking about Miami. What they’ve done, what they’ve accomplished, what we can do. What’s the plan. How we’re going to get this done. Boom. He has it and he’s going to get it done. I believe this is going to happen. It’s just a matter of time. I don’t even know what’s out there on the practice field. It doesn’t matter. We’ve got a leader and he’s got the goods and we’re going to win. And we have a heckuva staff and we’re going to find a way to win. I know what’s out there is probably Florida tough and ready. The combination of what he’s going to do and what his plan is and the people he has behind him is going to get this done.”

Have you seen Seantrel Henderson yet?

"Yes."

Do you have a sense of how physical this line can be?

“I’ve talked to the strength coaches because they have such a tight relationship. Victor and Andreu and they think the world of this bunch. Coach Golden said when I first met him that the offensive line was the strength of the team. And I said, well that’s good. It’s nice to come into a cupboard. I haven’t met them all individually. We had a little sit-down and I tried to tell them how we’re going to go about our business. I don’t know that they know yet. Not just me, but there’s a new sheriff in town and you better get on board because I know this guy is going to put it down and they better be ready to bite the apple. And if you’re not, you’re going to be left behind. I just believe that and I know that. That’s why I’m here. I’m so pumped up about it. Guys I’m working with, this whole offensive staff is terrific, man. They have great resumes.

"One thing he kept talking about was the continuity of the staff and I said, ‘Look, I’ve read about all these guys on the Internet. I went on a website and I brought them all up and they’re such a talented array of guys. I said the beautiful thing about football is it’s a constant learning environment. I don’t want to think of myself as old because I think I’m young. I might be the oldest guy on this staff but I want to learn from all these guys because they have so much to bring to the table. Jedd’s been around Dom Capers and Billick and Shanahan and, of course, Pete Carroll. And Brennan, man, he’s a young guy he has a wealthy of knowledge and experience and how can you do anything but learn. George McDonald and Terry Richardson, they’re unbelievable. They have unbelievable ties here. They worked for good people all over. It’s a good situation and we’re having a lot of fun already so I can tell we’re going to grind and it’s going to be a lot of hours but we’re going to have fun and we’re going to find a way to win and we’re going to get it across to our kids.”

Did you watch Miami play much over the last few years?

“Every chance I got but it’s hard sometimes to see them. Like those Thursday night games on ESPN. Sometimes you’re at the end of you’re work week and usually you’re working on tip sheets and scouting reports and reminders and stuff. But I couldn’t help it. I had to get a little touch of the ‘Canes.”

How much has the game changed on the o-line since you were here or is everything the same?

“For me, I got really confused. I don’t want to sound like a dummy or anything. In five months I went from Ole Miss to Lambeth University, an NAIA school, and then a guy got sick at Louisiana Tech, Petey Perot, and I went to Lousiana Tech. And then I was in the UFL. Every system is different. It’s like going from French to Italian to Spanish. The verbage is different for formations, for motions, for shifts, for fronts, for blitzes. I would be confused and going, ‘No, that’s that other system.’ Heck, when I went to Lousiana Tech I was already at Lambeth, helping out there line coach for Hugh Freeze. When I got to Louisiana Tech they handed me a picture of all their O-linemen and thank god I had a good graduate assistant that did a great job for me because they’re all sitting right there and they just handed me a playbook and in the middle of two-a-days you got to start coaching them. It’s a great experience. It’s good.

"But that part of it causes you a some confusion getting in different systems. All these guys are from different systems. We’re going to use Jedd’s system I’m sure and coach Golden’s with their mix. I’m anxious to find out. As soon as this recruiting breaks, we’re going to go into deep, hard think tanks and try to get this all resolved. It only matters what you can teach your players. We’re all teachers. So no matter how involved you get with formations and personnel groupings, you want to be able to teach each other the system and learn from each other and incorporate that into your system of teaching. Heck when I got to the UFL with coach Green under Mike Kryzcek that was a tough, West Coast…we didn’t have the resources and we were putting together a nice playbook…you just have to find a way to simplify constantly, condense and reduce and get it across to them so they can play aggressively.

"When we were talking, Jedd and I, I think that might have gotten this thing over the hump when I talked to Jedd. People that helped me were like Rob Chudzinski, who knew Jedd, and Mike McDaniel, whose like a young guru. He was a running backs coach with me. He was with the Houston Texans and the Denver Broncos as a quality control guy. He graduated from Yale and we were in the same system together. Those guys all called Jedd and Jedd had working relationships. Tony Wise, who was my mentor, also had a good working relationship with Jedd. When they called him up, they said…Here’s what I know. I might not know all about football and recruiting or be the best at either one of those, but to me it’s all about trust. And someway in this short time with coach Golden and coach Fisch, we had to develop some trust. And it helps with a guy like Rob Chudzinski and McDaniel and Tony Wise call Jedd. We just hit it off right away. He said, you know Art I have been in some systems too. And I have a lot of knowledge but what I’ve learned as a young coordinator is that throwing it all in their ain’t the way to do it. The way to do it is get your staff working together and put in a concise gameplan in their and eliminate as you go down so you can focus against a bunch of different looks on a few plays rather than a lot of plays. I like the way he’s going to package it with formations and motions. Like tony Wise said, blocking is blocking and tackling is tackling. Some of the drills I learned from him I still use. A lot of the teaching methods I use to.”

Did you say you talked to Jeff Stoutland?

"I have talked to Jeff. He's super busy. Coach Saban is probably a little bit busy. He called me back. I called him and I've known Jeff for a long time and wanted to talk to him about you know. It's going to come down to me working with my own players and developing my own ideas. But I want to have as much input as I can have going into that and learn about these guys. Evidently, from what I'm listening to, he's done a terrific job recruiting and acquiring talent and they're young. They're kind of fun. Vic and Andrew are saying they're awesome to work with in the weight room. And that's a big part of it. We're trying to change the mentality. It's going to be Al Golden's mentality. It's going to be his vision and his plan. All of us have to be on board. Some of the players I know that were here before or that were here, but some that I know through recruiting or whatever, touched base with them during different meals during recruiting I kind of pulled them off to the side and I go 'Hey, get everybody in on this. Don't miss the boat, don't try and rock the boat. Just get on board, understand the schedule, be early, work hard, do all the Cane kingdom was about.' It's about team, competing, whether its the classroom, whether its the weight room, whether its the film room. I want to create that same type of environment that Coach Golden is talking about in my room. That offensive line better know it's all about competition. The depth chart is etched in sand. Just because you earn a job you better keep that job. I can't tell you how happy I am to be here and how excited I am because I know we're going to win. I know it. Let's get there and we'll see it happen."

How valuable is that you have the institutional knowledge of what it's like when you go into Tallahassee? How valuable do you think that part of is going to be to this new staff?

"I think it will be invaluable and I think that's part of the reason he brought me back. Just from the other guys that I played with, that I coached, that came back here and wanted to meet coach Golden, they all feel the same way. This isn't something like Art's got a good relationship with the guy, everything is hunky-dory. This is a lot of people talking to Al Golden and he's bringing the same message over and over. Is it inputed yet? There's no way. It's not there. You're dealing with 17, 18, 19, 20-year old guys. They're gonna have to figure it out. And they will. Because this is a great place. It has a tradition of winning. They know. Micheal Barrow, there's other people here, and the whole athletic department is going to contribute to this. To win, you have to win as a team. To win the recruiting battles, it takes the whole university. To win on the field, it's a lot more than just the guys on that field. It takes everybody in this building. That's the other good thing. The guys coming in here saying 'God, we're geeked. We're at Miami.' We're coming from Temple and we're going to Miami and 'Wow.' He wants to learn and he wants to bring the old back. He's already talked to Melvin Bratton, Alonzo Highsmith and Michael Irvin about coming back and talking to his team. And he understands how this was built. He's definitely a student of the game.

"The first thing he said to me when we sat down. He looked at me. He has those ice blue eyes man you know. I'm going 'Wooh.' He looked me right in the eye and said 'Art, I'm walking down the field and I see you working in your individual period. What am I going to see?' I thought that was a heck of a question. I told him, 'First of all your going to see a prepared bunch of guys. We're in our meeting, we're going to discuss what we're covering that day. We're going to cover it with film. We're going to know every place, the where the why and when on that football field. We're in whatever area we're in. So they're going to be hustling and I"m going to be hustling to that next drill. And they're going to be sweating when they get to team periods. And they're going to be working and we're going to consume ourselves with effort on the field and preparation.' I said, 'That's what you're going to get from me.' I know he expects that out of everybody. We probably got a lot of things to work at here. What I've been hearing, what I've been seeing, what I've been listening to -- I like."

Have u allowed yourself to daydream what will be like going back to FSU this fall after u never thought u’d go back there again?

"I haven’t gotten to that point. I've been thinking about a lot of stuff but -- you know what’s funny? When we were let go in 2005, that night, I never talked to Florida State guys. I’ve seen them in high schools my whole life, Coach Bowden. I respect them immensely. I think we played them 28 times during my tenure and we were 17-11. And they were the most dynamic crazy football games. The heat -- I remember -- it’s crazy, those games are crazy. We could sit here for days if we’re going to talk about Florida State and Miami.

"I remember one of my last games, it was double 90s in the Orange Bowl – we just pulled it out with a wide right, maybe, I’m not sure – and I’m leaving and I see all the equipment guys with a gigantic push cart of hundreds of pounds of ice. We have 15 guys literally on the floor of the training room with IV bags coming out of their neck, everywhere. They’re in total cramp, total exhaustion. I don’t want to compare it to war, but it looks like a battlefield.

"They were coming back with the ice, and they said ‘you think this is bad? Go over there. they’re spread out all around the locker room. Guys haven’t taken their pants and pads off yet and it’s 35 minutes after the game. I’ve already showered.

"I think we could play them on the beach down here in Key Biscayne and get a couple hundred thousand (fans) for the game."

"But I remember the night we were let go, Bobby Bowden and Odell [Hagans] and Coach Amato all called me at my house. They said, ‘Bro, we just want you to know it a'int going to be the same.’ Odell Hagans, everytime we played them on either field, sometime during the warmup he would find me…and he would point at me like, ‘It’s on baby, get ready. Yes, it’ll be beautiful, it’ll be awesome. And they’re recruiting good and that’s another thing about coach Golden. He said, ‘Hey Art, I don’t like guys that are just going to go, ‘Well, he’s going to Florida State or he’s going to Florida.’ I said, ‘You won’t have that problem with me, man. I’m going to fight to the end.’” I can tell these guys are good at that, too. They’re scrambling because they got into it late, but they’re doing fine."

Before you started talking to Al, in the last 5 years or so, did you think this was a real possibility u’d be back at UM or just fantasy?

"Never. I never thought it would happen -- you get to come home. That’s what he said when he called. It’s a funny thing. I live in Taylor, Miss. Which is about six miles from the {Ole Miss] campus. And you’re really like in Mars. I get no bars on my phone. So I’ve been trying to chase jobs, and my office is the Subway at Walmart up in Oxford. And he called me and said, ‘Are you ready to come back to the family?’ And I screamed, I screamed. And I said, ‘Are you serious?’ He said, ‘I’m dead serious.’ And I screamed out my window. It was raining, cold, about 27 degrees. And I’m thinking this is awesome. I told him, I’m going to go home, kiss the kids and my wife and pack up and I’m going to drive. I’ll see tomorrow about 5 o’clock."

You drove?

"Yeah, I wanted to bring my stuff so I wouldn’t have to make a trip back and waste any time. I did it on no sleep, too, which is fun. But it was worth it. I was excited. He made it fun.

"And I can tell already – the first staff meeting, there’s a lot of preparation, a lot of grinding going on, but he makes it fun, too. We’re going to be around each other for 14, 15, 16 hours a day. U’re going to get tired of each other. So we have to have some fun. That’s a big part of it."

A lot of coaches move around every three, four years, you fortunate to been at UM almost three decades. How tough was the instability last five years on you and your family?

"Actually, we’ve been staying. I was the one that was moving. Dee probably liked that actually. We’ve been in Taylor, Miss. And it’s been really tough. I miss them, man. You go away for 5 months or 6 months and u miss a lot of their lives. Right now we’re probably going to have to go another 7 or 8 or 9 months. I’ll try to sneak up there a couple of times. But I’m anxious to get us all back together. It’s a terrific thing to come back to Miami and bring all of our family home."

Do you see similar traits between Golden and some of the great coaches at UM in the past?

"That’s a great question. It’s a weird combination of maybe Howard and Jimmy. I see some of that in there. I see some Butch in there. We were fortunate all of those coaches were really good. But I see maybe Howard and Jimmy in him. Howard always used to tell us about ‘This is the vision. This is where we’re going to be.’ [laughs] and it happened man. And it happened at a place where nothing like that ever happened before. He talked about it all the time in that strong monotone, very deliberate, never get excited, you’re out on the field, you’re sweating and he’s just pounding on you. Then he calls everybody up and he’d start talking about these visions. You start to listen and it just seeps in there. He gets into your head. And Jimmy was a mind-game guy, too. With Howard, it was always about where we’re going to be and how we’re going to get there. And with Jimmy, it was always about what he put on the wall in the weight room – positive mental attitude plus effort equals performance. And he talked about it all the time. He took each section of that and broke it down to little lectures. I could see a lot of that stuff in Al Golden. I’m really really looking forward to working for him and these coaches because I think we have a good bunch."

January 30, 2011

Brissett enjoys UM visit, will decide Monday

Lisa Brown has felt a lot like a phone operator of late. Everyone she knows and doesn't know has been trying to figure out where her son, Palm Beach Dwyer quarterback Jacoby Brissett, will be going to college.

Jacoby Brissett Brown isn't sure where that will be just yet. But she knows her and her son will probably be making that decision on Monday night, before announcing it to the public on Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m. at Dwyer High.

"Our plan is to cut the list down by tomorrow," Brown said Sunday evening. "We have to hammer a few things out so he can make the best decision possible. But I can tell you this: he had a really great time on his visit to Miami this weekend and they're definitely in it."

UM's coaches have tried hard over the last two months to recruit a talented quarterback since Miami Northwestern's Teddy Bridgewater de-committed and signed with Louisville following the coaching change. The Canes learned over the weekend they are out of the running for Orlando Lake Nona's Kevin Sousa, who informed UM coaches he's down to South Florida and Wake Forest. St. Thomas Aquinas' quarterback Jake Rudock told UM coaches earlier this week he was sticking with Iowa.

As for Brissett, Dwyer coach Jack Daniels said he called him Sunday morning to trim one of his four remaining schools from the list. So who is out? "He has it down to three schools," Daniels said. "He kind of wants to tell the school before I say anything else. I can guarantee Miami is one of the three schools still in it."

Florida, Wisconsin and Washington were the other schools still in the running for Brissett before his weekend visit to Coral Gables. The 6-4, 200-pound senior U.S. Army-All American visited Washington officially last weekend. Wisconsin is the only remaining school that has recruited him since Sept. 1 of his junior year. Florida, which already has highly-touted Jeff Driskel, "only started recruited him a few weeks before Miami did," according to Daniels.

"I don't try to get too involved," Daniels said. "But I know he has a pretty good opportunity at Miami and his mom is a huge Canes fan. That's definitely in their corner."

Daniels said Hurricanes coaches have put a full court press on Brissett over the last two weeks. Al Golden and several assistants went to see Brissett's high school basketball game on Monday. Golden sat next to Brissett's mother during the game.

"He's as close to Coach Fisch and Coach Golden as someone can get to anybody in a span of two weeks," Daniels said. "If he's really close to anybody, it's the coaches at Wisconsin because they've been recruiting him from Day 1. He really likes the offensive coordinator. The thing is the distance.

"We'll have to wait and see how he feels Monday. But the plan now is he'll inform the coaches of where he's going and make a formal announcement Wednesday morning. Honestly, it's kind of exciting. I'm on edge. We'll see what he ends up deciding soon."

A FEW MORE TIDBITS

> Daniels said UM, which hasn't spent a lot of time recruiting his players in the past, have already verbally offered 6-6, 280-pound left tackle Patrick Miller, who is part of Dwyer's 2012 class.

> Jacksonville Ed White offensive lineman Kaleb Johnson, who visited UM Jan. 21, will make his announcement at 9 a.m. Wednesday at his high school, according to his coach Terry Gilliam. Johnson (6-5, 280) met with UM coaches on Tuesday.

"Miami is still definitely in the picture," Gilliam said. "The others are North Carolina, Louisville and Rutgers. His mom decided he would let the school know before hand."

Does any school have an edge? "I don't know," Gilliam said. "But I do know he has a family member who works at North Carolina."

> Las Vegas Bishop Gorman defensive tackle Jalen Grimble, a 5-star recruit according to Scout.com who visited UM last weekend and was once a USC commitment, took his official visit to UCLA this weekend according to coach Tony Sanchez.

"He's going to announce at [5 p.m. EST] on National Signing Day," Sanchez said. "I'll find out more tonight when I talk to him at our banquet. But I can tell you Miami is still in it."

Canes land commitment from DE Dubose

Bryant "B.J." Dubose will remain a Hurricane. 

The 6-4, 230-pound defensive end/tight end and two-time All Broward First Team selection from Oakland Park Northeast High (whose nickname is the Hurricanes) committed to UM on Sunday -- although he was hoping to keep it a secret until National Signing Day.

"That was the plan," Dubose said of his commitment. "But you know how these websites are. They hear something and they call you nonstop."

So why did he pick the Canes? "It just felt like the place for me," Dubose said. "I felt most comfortable there."

Dubose, who visited UM this weekend, played in high school for former Canes running back Donnell Bennett. He's considered a three-star recruit by both Rivals and Scout.com. Dubose had 60 tackles, 11 sacks and an interception as a senior as he helped lead Northeast to the Class 6A regional final. As a junior, he had 55 tackles and 13 sacks.

"I'm just very proud of him as a person," Bennett said. "He's grown so much on and off the field. He's starting to get the gist of this growing up thing."

Bennett said Dubose still isn't a full academic qualifier for college, "but he's pretty close."

"I'm not sure what he needs -- the guidance counselors handle that," Bennett said.

Bennett said Dubose would have his National Signing Day event at school at noon on Wednesday.

> Orlando Lake Nona quarterback Kevin Sousa scratched the Canes off his list Saturday night according to his high school position coach Anthony Paradiso.

"He's probably going to make a decision between Wake Forest and South Florida in the next day or so," Paradiso said. "We called coach Fisch last night and shared that news with him. We were up at South Florida this past weekend. With Kevin being new to football and Wake Forest and USF having recruited him for awhile, he just feels more comfortable with those guys. They know him better and he knows them better."

At this point it appears UM will either land Dwyer's Jacoby Brissett (visiting UM today) or end up with a transfer or prep school quarterback.

> Dubose becomes UM's 15th commitment and fourth defensive end to join this class. UM is expected to land JUCO DB Byron Moore when he makes his announcement on Monday night. Moore is choosing between UM and Tennessee. The Hurricanes have at least 16 scholarships to offer in this class -- if not more. 

January 29, 2011

Anthony Chickillo will stay in Tampa to sign his LOI

National Signing Day is Wednesday, Feb. 2.  Future UM defensive end Anthony Chickillo was so excited at the prospect of signing his Letter of Intent that he wanted to do it in Miami instead of Tampa, where he lives and is a senior at Alonso High School.

But instead of doing it in Miami, Chickillo has decided to play it smart and do it during a 9 a.m. ceremony Wednesday at his high school. There were some NCAA compliance issues that had to do with possibly having his signing ceremony at Miami establishments owned or run by UM boosters.

"It's not worth getting in trouble over,'' said his mother, Joan, who is very excited at the prospect of having another Hurricane in the family. Anthony's father Tony was a UM star defensive lineman in the early 1980s. Anthony's late grandfather Nick was a two-way All-American lineman in the early 1950s.

And if you happened to catch Anthony in action this season -- including in the Under Armour All-American game earlier this month -- you know the caliber of athlete he is already. The kid has a motor that doesn't quit.

It should be fun to watch another Chickillo grow up in Coral Gables.

--SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

January 28, 2011

UM's strength program under new Golden rules

Strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey has seen a lot of change at the University of Miami over the last 11 years. The Hurricanes have gone from being a national championship-caliber team under Butch Davis and Larry Coker to last season's 7-6 mess under Randy Shannon.

UM strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey So what has Swasey seen in the early stages from his new boss, Al Golden? A lot of what he saw when he first got back to UM in 2000.

"Right now, I would compare him to Butch -- just on discipline, structure and what he's demanding," Swasey said. "The thing I know coach is stressing, that he wants, is mentally tough guys. He wants to find out when guys are going to crack and when they aren't going to crack."

Golden has asked Swasey to implement some new rules in the team's off-season workouts programs. Among the new additions and changes:

> The addition of "The Fifth Quarter."

"It's something at the end of the workout to target intensity," Swasey said. "It starts at five minutes, but can last longer. The kids love it. It's exciting. It's a post workout. It's high intensity. It could be forearm plate raises. It can be core [training] stuff. We could be outside flipping tires, doing a hammer hit, pushing sled, pulling sleds, doing a lot of different stuff. It's something that will challenge them after they're fatigued and tired. You just did a full workout, but now we're challenging you at the end of the workout."

> The addition of "Creative Excellence." After workouts, Swasey said, players are required to work on individual position drills by themselves or with their teammates. It's a mandatory 20 minutes -- at the very least.

"The first week they were throwing up right and left," Swasey said. "I think it's a great addition. He wants guys working on their craft each day, even if they worked out early and are dead tired. He wants them working on their actual individual position drills. The thing I love he said about it was, 'Painter's paint, singers sing, you're a football player you have to work on that too.' You have to lift weights, but at the end of the day you have to be a better football player. You have to go and work on your art after the weight room."

> Also a new Golden rule according to Swasey: Breakfast is mandatory.

Before Golden, Swasey said, there was no monitoring of what players ate before coming to him. And some, he said, would skip breakfast. "They have to come check in or we check on them to make sure they ate," Swasey said. "The good thing about that is they are getting 1200 to 1500 calories prior to starting. Some kids wouldn't eat until lunch before."

> Swasey said he loves the fact Golden has pushed the start of spring practice back to March 5th. Under Shannon, the team would start spring practice in mid-February. Swasey said adding a few more weeks in the weight room "will definitely help guys get bigger and stronger."

> Another new addition Swasey likes -- what players do in the weight room will actually count toward where they start out on the depth chart in spring ball.

"He told guys `You can start, can come out of spring ball a starter depending on how you rank in the weight room, your work ethic," Swasey said. "We want tough guys, guys that will fight, guys doing everything they're supposed to do, which makes you a champion."

Swasey said he feels blessed to still be with the program. When Shannon was fired, he wasn't sure if Golden would keep him on the staff. Swasey and Micheal Barrow are the only remaining holdovers from Shannon's staff.

"I think when I got back from the bowl game [is when I found out I was going to stay]," Swasey said. "He told me to write down somethings so we can get ready for spring, some ideas. He gave me some pointers on what he wanted to target and focus on. When I heard that, I was overly excited about it.

"But the bottomline is that we were 7-6. It is what it is. Whatever happened, can't happen anymore. Whatever's going on, we have to get better. I look at everything as a whole. No matter how we got to those six losses, we came up with them. The approach coach Golden has -- and that's what I love about him -- is that whatever we did last year wasn't good enough. That's a great approach. Right now, that's the approach we're pushing and have in the weight room."

Swasey said the team, which began lifting four days a week with him (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) for an hour and a half a week ago, will not do any strength tests until a week or two before the start of spring ball. But Golden has already been handed stat sheets with players weights, strength and speed numbers -- and he's expecting improvements.

"Right now we don't have a choice but to be better than 7-6," Swasey said. "I do believe we will be. One [reason] is because of Coach Golden's plan of attack and how he's doing it. Just the cohesiveness he's building. Two, I think he has a hell of a staff. We just have to keep working. Time will tell. But we're definitely ready to be a much better football team. We have to be a lot better than 7-6."

A COUPLE OTHER QUICK NUGGETS...

> Defensive end Olsen Pierre became the second early enrollee Friday. He will start classes Monday. Pierre (6-4, 240) was a three-star recruiting according to ESPN out of Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy. 

> UM had its first baseball practice of the spring Friday. I'll have some more news and notes from coach Jim Morris and several of his players. The Canes are ranked 18th in two preseason polls and were picked to finish third in the ACC Coastal Division.

Canes take LB Paul away from Arizona St.

"Welcome to The U" Gionni Paul.

Gionni Paul With National Signing Day less than a week away, the Miami Hurricanes landed their 14th oral commitment Friday morning when the Lakeland Kathleen High School linebacker announced he was switching his future plans from Arizona State to Miami.

"I just did it this morning," Paul (6-0, 227) told CaneSport.com. "I called, talked to coach [Al] Golden and [Micheal] Barrow. They were so excited. They really made me happy, made me feel good, my parents feel good. It was a big decision. It was the best decision for me and my family.

"It just came down to Auburn, Louisville, Miami and Arizona State. It came down to the people. They're great, down to earth people. I love the way coach Golden conducts himself, his program. He's big on discipline. I love the players. There's nothing bad to say about Miami."

According to Canesport.com, Paul got an in-home visit from coach Al Golden on Thursday evening; Arizona State coaches came in for a visit afterward. But it was Golden & Co. that won out.

"Coach Golden came with Barrow," Paul said. "They told me they want me to come in and run the show. They didn't talk to me like recruiting. They talked to me more like from a life perspective."

Paul, who visited UM last weekend, said UM wants him either at middle linebacker or outside. "I'm shooting for nothing less than to play right away," he said. "My goal is to be Freshman Player of the Year in the ACC."

Paul started at safety as a high school freshman before moving to linebacker. Paul is He's rated the nation's No. 33 outside linebacker prospect by Rivals.com. He finished his senior season with 149 tackles, double digit sacks and four interceptions.

January 27, 2011

PODCAST: Will UM's recruiting efforts pay off on West Coast?

With a week to go before National Signing Day the Miami Hurricanes have 13 commitments and about a dozen more recruits they are still after. 

It's not humanly possible to chase down all the rumors and all the players coach Al Golden and his staff have gone after over the last five weeks. So, instead, I chased down two of the experts who work the recruiting circuit 24/7 for a living -- Scout.com's Mike Bakas and Brandon Huffman.

Bakas has covered Hurricanes recruiting for 10 years. In our conversation, he provided some good insight on new UM commitment Rashawn Scott, a 6-2, 200-pound receiver from Melbourne Central Catholic. We also talked about who Bakas thinks the Canes really have a shot at signing come Wednesday (yes, he believes UM will land Dwyer quarterback Jacoby Brissett) and a lot more. 

Huffman, the Regional Recruiting manager on the West Coast for Scout.com, will have JUCO defensive back Byron Moore on his show Monday night to announce his choice between UM and Tennessee. Huffman knows all about Brennan Carroll and Jethro Franklin and the work they did on the West Coast as recruiters. Huffman talks about that, which California 2011 recruits UM really has a shot at and which 2012 players the Canes have already given written offers to. You don't want to miss that.

EYE ON THE U: Recruiting Podcast 1/26/11

January 26, 2011

Fisch wants fresh start for QBs, cut down INTs

University of Miami offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch went on Joe Rose's radio show this morning on WQAM. Here is a transcript of most of their conversation:

Jedd Fisch > Fisch started by addressing the initial ESPN reports the Seahawks may have been interested in bringing him back as offensive coordinator: "No I wasn't close to going back. It was one of those deals the last couple weeks were obviously hectic and crazy. The reason I took the job at The U is because I wanted to come to The U. It wasn't about other options or other offers I was going to have in the National Football League whether to stay with Seattle in a coordinator role or with a couple other teams. It was an opportunity to come down here, to go with coach Golden.

"I think it just happened to be more of a set of circumstances that the logical maybe progression was to ask me to stay or not to stay or whether to have that conversation. But really, as soon as I met with, as I soon as spoke with Coach Golden, as soon as met with Coach Carroll a week prior to our playoff game against Chicago I was totally 100 percent committed to coming to The U and that never wavered."

> Fisch said the fact he didn't meet Golden before he was offered the job -- and spoke to him only a week prior -- isn't as strange as it sounds. Fisch said he hadn't met Pete Carroll before landing in Seattle to take the quarterbacks coaching job a year ago.

"With our profession in coaching, at least in the circumstances I've been in, sometimes you don't have time," Fisch said. "We were in the middle of a season We were in a playoff run. I sensed that not many teams expected us. We were 6-9 going into our last game of the season. So I think coach Golden felt pretty good about talking to me and flying me in to interview me and then we beat St. Louis to win the first game and then we're beating the world champions. So, I think he probably felt pretty good at that point -- that he'd be able to fly in after that game and then when we won that game he had to start moving a little quicker in terms of having to fill his staff. So he called me that Sunday and we had a long conversation. Throughout the week we were able to talk in the morning and then in the evening each day to make sure we were philosophically on the same page.

"I know he probably did a lot of research, talking to a lot of head coaches that I've worked with and players that I've coached. As well as I did my research, talking to a bunch of people that have crossed his path. And we thought it was a great marriage. And that's what it needs to be when it comes to this profession and the role I have for him."

> Fisch said he spent a couple days researching Golden before taking the job.

"The first thing I found out was he's extremely organized, extremely detailed and one of the top coaches in the nation," Fisch said. "And I heard that from three or four coaches that I respect at the highest level. They felt that what he did at Temple -- and I know what he did at Temple. I'm from New Jersey and I know the non-rich tradition of Temple football -- and from 1979 to until Al Golden got there they did not have a winning season and when he was able to get there and go 9-4 and 8-4 in back-to-back seasons, I knew there was something special with Al Golden and the staff he put together at Temple.

"And as I continued to do my research, Matt Hasselbeck, who was on my team, was on a team with Al at Boston College. He spoke extremely highly of him. Along with other guys I spoke with. Everybody felt the same way, organized, detailed, a great football coach, a great communicator and a great person. And he emphasized both family and football. I think those are the two most important things."

> Fisch said the key to his offense at UM will be getting the ball in his playmakers hands. The role of the quarterback, he says, is to be a point guard.

"They have to be the Magic Johnson, the John Stockton, a guy that distributes the football as well as anybody that we can ever hope for and he has to distribute it to the best playmakers he can possibly distribute it to," Fisch said.

> So how does he feel about the Canes' two current point guards, who along with two other backups helped the Hurricanes lead the country in interceptions? Fisch said he wants to give them each a clean slate

"I saw we threw 27 interceptions this past season and obviously that's not a number we're looking for," Fisch said. "We'd obviously like to cut that in half at the most. Sometimes, interceptions are a fluke. I know Tom Brady threw 325 passes without a pick. But I saw nine that could have been. Sometimes you wonder what happens if guys catch balls instead of dropping them. The other thing is we have to do a great job explaining whether its Jacory [Harris], Stephen [Morris] or whoever plays quarterback at The U that they have to know where everybody is on the field. There's no need to force a ball. First of all, punting is fine. Second of all, checking the ball down to our backs is a huge advantage for us. I would guess that our running backs against most linebackers in the nation, I'll take our matchup. So we have to encourage our guys to say it's not just about throw it to this and just throw it to that guy. We have to understand how to go through a progression and most importantly we have to know how to check the football down. And be smart. We understand winning and losing games comes from turnover ratio."

> Fisch, who has been out recruiting and speaking to some of UM's top quarterback targets, said when the dead period starts on Monday he will begin breaking down film to see where and how he can help Harris and Morris.

"I think the first thing for Jacory is we're at a clean slate right now," Fisch said. "I don't have any history with Jacory. As a matter of fact, the games I’ve seen Jacory play were really in 2009 and he had an outstanding year the games that I saw. I know he won a bunch of games without even throwing an interception. He had some real early success. That's kind of the last time I've seen him play.

"What he needs to know is I have all the confidence in him -- as well as Stephen. Because I don't know any better right now. I'm not going to stare at a sheet of paper and see what a statistic told me or a report told me about a guy. I want to see it in person. And what he has to understand -- and what they both do -- we're going to coach swagger, confidence, intelligence, knowledge of the game and passion. We're going to evaluate them on on all of it. And if he has what we’re looking for at the quarterback position, Jacory can have a great year, and Stephen the same way. They both have an opportunity to do something special. What I can't wait for is to be a part of that with them, to help them along, not hold anything back and not hold anything against them for what they’ve done in the past. And really start fresh and start new."

Kiper likes Hankerson, says Bailey has slipped

Mel Kiper, ESPN’s NFL Draft guru, spoke to reporters this morning via conference call. We got in a few questions about where several draft-eligible Canes stand in his mind:

Brandon Harris > At the moment, Kiper feels cornerback Brandon Harris will be the only first round pick. He has him going to the Ravens with the 26th overall pick. “That’s a need area for the Ravens," Kiper said. "I think if Harris doesn’t go there, I think [he’ll be drafted] late in the first round. There’s a couple of other teams that certainly could look at cornerback – Chicago being one and Pittsburgh another."

> After Harris, Kiper has defensive lineman Allen Bailey going next. Bailey, who has received a lot of praise at the Senior Bowl this week for his 'Adonis body', has also been ripped this week by a few pundits. Kiper thinks Bailey will be a second round pick.

"You look at him as a 3-4 end, a 4-3 defensive tackle that I think he would fit the bill," Kiper said. "I think the ball location this year was a little lacking. There were times where it looked like he didn't have that awareness, getting in the backfield and making the play some other defensive ends had. Maybe, he felt that wasn't a position that could maximize his ability, that he feels comfortable at that spot when he was kicked out. I think inside maybe he'll feel comfortable as a 3-4 end. I think he can hold stout against the run and hold double teams. I think he's strong enough to do that. I just think his stock dropped from where it was. I thought he would be a first round pick potentially, now he's more of a second."

> If anybody has really shined or improved their stock, its receiver Leonard Hankerson. Kiper believes Hankerson is the best senior receiver in this draft class.

"Hankerson I've liked all year," Kiper said. "I've never put him in the first round. I've never had him in my Top 25. But as a senior receiver I thought he was the best out there. With his size, he runs good routes, I like the pacing of his routes. I think he's a little underrated in terms of the quickness out of his cuts. His hands are very good. He'd have a drop or two, which was very uncharacteristic -- it was more of a concentration issue, not a hands issue. He's not going to be a vertical stretch guy on a regular basis. But he runs well enough. I think he could come in and be a good complimentary good number two guy and be worthy of being a second or third round pick."

> Kiper on a few other Canes:

“In terms of the other players from Miami, offensive tackle Orlando Franklin has some versatility that he provides. I don’t think he played to the level of his talent in games that I saw. He’s going to have to define where he fits best into an NFL blocking scheme. He could be in that early Day 3 area, maybe late Day 2.

“For linebacker Colin McCarthy, probably Day 3 for him which isn’t bad. Day 3 starts with the fourth round.

“I think cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke Day 3 as well. [Kicker Matt] Bosher free agent.

“You also have [running back] Graig Cooper who needs another year to come completely back from that [knee] injury. He came on a little late the year. He was [projected as] a second-round pick before the injury. You might be able to get him on Day 3. Remember James Starks was a guy was a guy that had an injury and fell to the sixth round and has a heck of a finish to the season for the Packers. I think Cooper could be in the fifth, sixth, seventh round and be a nice pickup for somebody once he gets back to where he was a few years ago.”

January 25, 2011

Canes pull in WR recruit with knack for TDs

Rashawn Scott wasn't a player Hurricanes fans heard much about through the recruiting process. That's because until Monday, the 6-2 1/2, 195-pound senior receiver at Melbourne Central Catholic had been told he would have to wait for a scholarship offer.

Rashawn Scott Scott finally received it Monday and when UM receivers coach George McDonald visited him at school Tuesday, Scott told him he wanted to be a Hurricane.

So what kind of a receiver did the Hurricanes get? According to Scout, Rivals and ESPN, a mid-level talent all rated three stars by the so-called experts. But according to his coach, Mike Riazzi, Scott is the type of player who just has a knack for scoring touchdowns.

"Someone said to me 'What's Ray's gift?," Riazzi said. "I told them, 'When he catches the football, he becomes a running back. He's not like a wide receiver. It takes more than one guy to bring him down. He's got moves, he's fast. What he does after the catch is not teachable. He just knows how to score touchdowns.

"There are a lot of guys who don't have that knack and he's one of those guys that just knows how to get down there."

Scott scored 31 touchdowns as a senior at Melbourne Central Catholic, a Class 1A state school with a student population of 300 that has sent three other players to Division I schools (Navy, UCF, Georgia) in the last four years.

He scored four different ways as a senior -- as a quarterback (he started the first 3 games), a running back, a receiver and a safety. His final senior stats according to the team's website on MaxPreps: 545 passing yards (5 TDs, 1 INT), 1,008 yards rushing (on 96 carries, 12 TDs) and 1,072 yards receiving (45 rec., 11 TDs) and 59 tackles, 2 INTs and 2 fumble returns for touchdowns.

"He's a track kid and a basketball kid, too," Riazzi said. "He's got gifts. Coach McDonald believes he's a raw receiver. The things Ray does he can't teach. But he can teach him to be a receiver. But those other things? You can't teach that."

USF and West Virginia were his two other finalists according to Riazzi. But Scott also had offers from Michigan State, Indiana, Illinois, UCF, Georgia Tech, FAU among a list of 20 schools.

Riazzi said UM didn't begin recruiting Scott until after Al Golden became coach.

"I'd been on the phone with coach Barrow for a few weeks and he said the Canes were going through some transition and said we needed to be patient," Riazzi said. "There was a phone call here, phone call there, 'Are you still interested?' Ray loved his other school's too. You build relationships over the eight month process. But it's hard to resist the Canes. Art Kehoe, Michael Barrow, what Coach Golden is building is amazing. I really enjoyed coach McDonald today. It was a good day and a tough day. But it's a day Ray won't forget. And neither will the Canes."

Scott becomes the second receiver commitment for UM in this class and the 13th commitment overall. The Hurricanes are still recruiting at least two other receivers: Patrick Onwausor and Devin Lucien.

> JACOBY BRISSETT UPDATE: The Palm Beach Post's high school writers have been following the situation with Dwyer U.S. Army All-American quarterback Jacoby Brissett closely for the last few days. Here is a link to their story from Tuesday night. UM is pushing hard to get Brissett to take his final visit to Coral Gables. The Gators apparently are making a push too.

Al Golden was supposed to be in Brissett's home tonight and at his basketball game.

Hurricanes basketball coach Frank Haith said Tuesday he's had conversations with UM's football recruits in the past about playing basketball and is open to letting them tryout for the team.

"I would be very open to it," Haith said. "Vince Young never did it. But I remember at Texas he used to come over to my office everyday and tell me he was going to play both and it never happened. I saw him play basketball and he was really good. He and TJ Ford had some battles in high school. He was a bad boy, but it never quite happened for him."

Do Canes have surprises on tap for Signing Day?

Nobody ever wants to ruin a good surprise. So, its hard to blame Anthony Chickillo when he says he doesn't "want to be THAT GUY!" either.

Anthony Chickillo The Hurricanes' top recruit in the 2011 football class has been a busy worker bee for coach Al Golden since reaffirming his commitment over a weekend visit. His goal: recruit more monsters to Miami.

"I've be calling guys, texting them, sending them messages on Facebook," said Chickillo, the MVP of the Under Armour All-American Game.

"Recruiting is a tough job. I want to build a good class. My goal is to bring a sixth national championship team to Miami. I'm telling you there are going to be a couple surprises, guys who have committed but will announce later. I just don't want to spoil it for them."

Chickillo said he's spent a lot of time talking to quarterback targets Jake Rudock of St. Thomas Aquinas (who informed UM coaches he will stick with Iowa late Monday night) and Palm Beach Dwyer's Jacoby Brissett. "I have a feeling we're going to get one of those guys," Chickillo said. "I've talked to Jacoby a few times."

Others Chickillo said he feels UM has a real shot at: Booker T. Washington defensive tackle Elkino Watson, Junipero Serra (Calif.) safety Marqise Lee and Las Vegas Bishop Gorman defensive lineman Jalen Grimble.

UM, which has 12 players who have publicly said they're committed to the Canes, is likely to land Los Angeles Harbor City Community College's Byron Moore, whose friend from California (a fellow visitor to UM this weekend) told InsideTheU on Sunday he has picked the Canes over Tennessee. Moore hasn't come out and said it himself yet -- so don't officially count him as a commitment yet.

So, who could other potential silent commitments be? I guess we'll find out a week from Wednesday.

> Chickillo, by the way, said he is planning to have his National Signing Day event down here in South Florida, possibly at the Titanic restaurant near UM.

> As for Grimble, a 6-3, 255-pound five-star linemen and USC commitment, his visit to UM this weekend wasn't only a surprise to UM fans -- but his high school coach, too. Bishop Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said he "had no idea Miami was bringing him down."

"I talked to him today a little bit about the whole situation," Sanchez said. "Their coaches haven't contacted me at all. It seems like things with USC have changed a bit with him. Miami definitely has a shot. I don't believe he's going to visit USC this coming week. For me, his trip to Miami speaks for itself. But you'll have to ask him what he's going to do. I don't want to speak for him."

Sanchez said Grimble will probably make his final announcement on National Signing Day. Grimble's cousin, Xavier, was a freshman tight end at USC last season. He was the No. 1 high school tight end in the country last year according to Rivals. He didn't catch a pass this past season.

Could he eventually end up heading to UM, too? That's just pure speculation right now. UM national recruiting coordinator Brennan Carroll, however, did recruit Xavier Grimble to USC before being let-go by Lane Kiffin.

Sanchez said Jalen Grimble had a basketball game Monday night. He couldn't be reached for comment.

> Orlando Lake Nona quarterback Kevin Sousa will likely make his announcement by the wekend according to his position coach Anthony Paradiso. But first he will host the offensive coordinators from South Florida, Wake Forest and UM. Paradiso said UM offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch told him he would visit either Tuesday or Wednesday. Wake Forest's coaches come in on Wednesday.

"Kevin is going to ask a lot of questions, like how they can help him and get him better," Paradiso said. "I think his mind is made up about what he likes about certain schools. Every school has a little bit of something of what he wants in his future and what his goals are. He's excited about Coach Fisch and what he said.

"Ultimately, I know Miami would like to bring in two quarterbacks. They're goal is to take two. If they can get a real quality one or a transfer, they'll do that. The two kids they told me they've offered were Brissett and Sousa."

> South Broward running back Kevin Grooms didn't end up taking his official visit to Virginia Tech this past weekend according to coach Allen Held. Hokies coaches came down and tried to make a push for him to follow through, but Held said Grooms is fully committed to UM.

"Unless he did it without me knowing, I'm 99 percent sure he was here this weekend," Held said.

> Don't forget to watch former Canes Colin McCarthy, Allen Bailey, DeMarcus Van Dyke and Leonard Hankerson at the Senior Bowl this week.

> When the Hurricanes face Georgia Tech over the next four years, they can expect to face an angry and hungry Nick Menocal. The former Canes' commitment, who switched to Georgia Tech over the weekend, expressed his frustrations to ESPN about UM's new coaching staff.

"After coach Shannon got fired I was still very solid," Menocal told ESPN. "But last week I received a call from Coach [Micheal] Barrow and he told me that after re-evaluating my film they didn't think I would be a fit on the defensive side of the ball."

Menocal, a 6-2, 235-pound outside linebacker from Miami Belen, said that the Hurricanes wanted to honor his scholarship offer and move him to the offensive side of the ball, most likely as a fullback. At that point, though, Menocal began to reassess his standing with the program.

"I told them how I felt, I didn't feel like I was wanted to be honest," Menocal said. "None of the coaches ever came to my school or my house to speak to me.

"I went to Miami on an unofficial visit about the first weekend coach [Al] Golden was there and met with him, but there wasn't any real communication after that. No phone calls or anything, they pretty much abandoned me."

January 24, 2011

Canes recruiting: The Chase for a QB continues

With a little more than a week to go before National Signing Day, finding the Miami Hurricanes in the national recruiting rankings has become a little harder than usual.

UM, which had 12 publicly declared oral commitments as of Monday night, has the 47th-best class in the nation according to Rivals.com and the 52nd-best according to Scout.com. ESPN, which ranked the Hurricanes No. 1 in 2008, doesn't have UM anywhere near its Top 25.

Jacoby Brissett But where the Hurricanes are ranked come Feb. 2 -- when those fax machines start churning -- isn't how new coach Al Golden and his staff should be judged. It should be whether or not the team fulfilled its biggest needs, starting with quarterback.

"We are all going to judge him, but it's really unfair to," ESPN's Jamie Newberg said. "You're asking Al Golden to do in four, five, six weeks what other teams have been trying to do for the last year to three years in building this class.

"Regardless of what they do from here on out, what they've done is make this class a lot better. But again, it's about filling needs -- and that primary need is the quarterback position. They really need to make sure they get a couple arms. I know they're doing their best."

The Hurricanes, who once had Miami Northwestern's Teddy Bridgewater all set to be their quarterback of the future under former coach Randy Shannon, have worked hard over the last month and a half to put themselves in position to land three of the nation's best signal callers.

At the top of that list is Jacoby Brissett, a 6-4, 220-pound U.S. Army All-American from West Palm Beach Dwyer, who will likely take his last official visit to UM this coming weekend and decide between UM, Wisconsin and Florida according to his coach.

“They hammered him and sold him on a few things. It piqued his interest," Dwyer coach Jack Daniels told The Palm Beach Post last week. "To me, it seems like Jacoby’s the No. 1 player they target.”

The other two quarterbacks UM has offered scholarships to: St. Thomas Aquinas' Jake Rudock (a long-time Iowa commitment) and Orlando Lake Nona's Kevin Sousa, who visited UM last weekend and is committed to Wake Forest.

Rudock, a two-year starter at Aquinas, is expected to announce on Tuesday he will stick with Iowa. Sousa, who only began playing football as a sophomore, will host several in-home visitors next week (UM, USF and Wake) and will likely make his mind up by Saturday according to his position coach Anthony Paradiso. Wake Forest will visit Wednesday night Paradiso said. UM offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch will come either Tuesday or Wednesday. 

"He likes the tradition, being close to home, the opportunity with the depth chart and the chance to be part of something special," Paradiso said of why Sousa (rated the 42nd best quarterback in the country by Scout.com) likes UM.

"He's excited about Jedd Fisch and what he said. They broke down all of his highlights on his visit, talked about how he could get better. [Fisch] was impressed how much better Kevin looked as the year went on."

If neither of those three end up choosing the Canes, other options include: Land O'Lakes' Steve Weatherford; Marcus McDade out of Hargrave Military Academy (Va.); and Dustin Paonessa, a 6-5, 220-pound left-handed quarterback out of Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy. But the Hurricanes could also opt to not take any quarterbacks and use those scholarships elsewhere.

There is also a possibility former high school All-American quarterback Tom Savage will transfer in from Rutgers. His father is currently appealing a decision by the school to deny Savage permission to speak to Miami. His father said he's hoping the final decision of a three-person panel at Rutgers handling the appeal (according to him) will be reached in the next 10 days.

All-American defensive end Anthony Chickillo, UM's top recruit who re-affirmed his commitment over a weekend visit, said he's been trying to help the Hurricanes recruit Brissett and Rudock and several other top uncommitted players.

Jalen Grimble Among the others Chickillo has been talking to on his phone, texting and messaging on Facebook: ESPN Top 150 safety Marqise Lee of Junipero Serra High in Gardena, Calif; Lee's high school teammate, George Farmer, the nation's No. 1 receiver, who is expected to remain committed to USC; Las Vegas Bishop Gorman defensive end Jalen Grimble (also committed to USC but strongly considering UM according to his coach); and Miami Booker T. Washington defensive tackle Elkino Watson, who has thrown UM into the mix with Florida and Louisville.

"My goal is to bring a sixth national championship to The U," Chickillo said. "I'm telling you right now there are going to be a couple surprises, guys who are committed but will announce later. I'm not going to spoil it for them."

How many available scholarships the Hurricanes have left remains unclear, but Golden told reporters after the Sun Bowl UM would sign at least 16 players, if not more. 

The remaining spots UM would like to address outside of quarterback: receiver, defensive line and cornerback.

Former Miami Central cornerback Thomas Finnie enrolled at UM last week and South Fort Myers cornerback Dallas Crawford, considered the 27th best at his position by Rivals.com, is locked in. Los Angeles Harbor College's Byron Moore, considered the top Junior College cornerback, will likely be the third cornerback the Canes bring in.

At receiver, where UM will have three seniors next season, St. Thomas Aquinas' Phillip Dorsett remains the only commitment. UM is hoping to sway 6-1, 190-pound Devin Lucien of Crespi Carmelita in Encino, Calif. (rated 44th best WR by Scout.com) and/or 6-2, 194-pound Patrick Onwuasor of Inglewood, Calif. Aquinas' Rashad Greene, a longtime Florida State commitment, isn't expected to switch to UM.

On the defensive, the Hurricanes are looking to get Watson and or Grimble. Both are likely signing day announcements. David Moala (6-0, 285) visited UM with his friends from Juniperro Serra (Gardena, Calif.), but still has yet to land a Canes offer.

UM could also end up adding Jacksonville Ed White's Kaleb Johnson (rated 47th best offensive guard by Scout.com); Lakeland (Fla.) Kathleen's Gionni Paul (rated 33rd best outside linebacker by Rivals) an Arizona State commitment  who visited UM over the weekend; and Winton Woods (Ohio) outside linebacker Antonio Poole, who doesn't have an offer from UM yet, but has UM in his final three with Kentucky and Purdue.

There is also one more recruiting weekend on tap. Oakland Park Northeast defensive end B.J. Dubose (6-4, 245) is among a little more than handful of visitors expected to check out UM. Louisville is Dubose's other finalist.

Which of the current commitments could make the most immediate impact?

"It's kind of hard to say who can make the big splash," Newberg said. "I think guys like Kevin Grooms (who didn't visit Virginia Tech this weekend) and Dallas Crawford can help out in other ways with special teams.

"I think Phillip Dorsett could be a guy that is a spark to the offense because he's dynamite with the ball. It's hard to say because you don't know how a kid is going to transition. I think they're all big time gets."

The recruit who will surprise fans most? "I think [Homestead defensive end] Ricardo Williams has a chance to be big time for them," Newberg said. "He's a kid on the edge, kind of flown under the radar screen a little.

"[Offensive tackle Taylor Gadbois] is starting to blow up, a big offensive linemen. Georgia just offered him."

Newberg thinks in the end UM could end up "somewhere between 20 and 30" in most national rankings.

Kehoe's return 'makes everything feel right again at UM'

Art Kehoe, who won five national championships as a UM assistant coach, was finally named the Hurricanes offensive line coach Monday -- about a week after rumors began to surface he might have a chance to return home.

Art Kehoe Kehoe, 52, spent the past two seasons as the offensive line coach for the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League. He played two seasons for UM as a junior-college transfer and served as an assistant UM coach for 25 years before he was fired Jan. 2, 2006, by former coach Larry Coker.

New coach Al Golden interviewed Kehoe last Thursday in Mississippi. Kehoe accepted the job Sunday and the announcement was formally made late Monday afternoon. 

"Everybody who has ever been coached by that guy has a pretty significant and everlasting bond with Coach Kehoe," said former Hurricane offensive lineman KC Jones, who is now a financial advisor who lives in West Palm Beach.

"He was a big reason I came to the University of Miami. His attitude and his passion is unmatched by any player or individual I've been around. You can't help but increase your tempo, your level of excitement just being around the guy. He's a guy that comes over and changes a program, the outlook, the excitement level of anybody involved."

Jones said he'll never forget what Kehoe told him when he was being recruited by UM, Oklahoma, Rice and Duke.

"I was pretty wide-eyed when I got to the University of Miami on my recruiting trip," said Jones, who from Midland, Texas. "I remember him asking me what other schools were recruiting me and when I listed the schools, he said, 'That's great. That sounds great. You can go to those other schools. But just know we're going to end up kicking your ass.

"The attitude he has is what the University of Miami is all about. He embodied that spirit. Bringing Coach Kehoe back makes everything feel right at the University of Miami again."

January 23, 2011

'Melancholy mood' for Johnson, Canes

RALEIGH -- There is still enough time for the Miami Hurricanes to turn things around and make the NCAA Tournament. But right now, these stinging losses -- like Sunday's 72-70 heartbreaker at N.C. State -- and a 12-game road losing streak in the ACC is weighing on the Canes.

Reggie Johnson "It's a melancholy mood right now," said center Reggie Johnson, who scored 20 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, blocked five shots and turned his play up in the second half to help the Canes rally from a 17-point deficit and have a chance at winning late.

"Everybody is hanging their head right now. But we still have a season to play. We're not giving up hope. Guys got to keep fighting at the end of the day."

It was the second game in a row UM had a chance to tie on its final two possessions and failed to score. Durand Scott, who missed a pair of lay-ups in the final 10 seconds of a 55-53 loss to Florida State Wednesday, had the ball stolen away by N.C. State's Ryan Harrow on his way to the basket on UM's next-to-last possession with 20 seconds left.

Johnson then had the ball stripped from him by Tracy Smith near the basket with under three seconds to go. A scrum ensued for the ball and the remaining seconds ticked away. UM coach Frank Haith said the final play was drawn up for Malcolm Grant, who led UM with 23 points and made all five of his three point attempts.

Grant couldn't do much. He was defended well. "When I came off the screen I felt I wasn’t going to get a good shot off because I felt he was crowding me and his length was going to cause a problem," Grant said. "But I guess I should have just put it up on the rim. I got it to Reggie. But those guys did a good job of swiping the ball and knocking it out of his hands."

Haith said Grant should have gone to an open shooter. "It was a double screen and they covered it up," Haith said. "[Grant] just went to make a play. I thought he had Rion Brown in the corner, he just didn't get the ball to him."

The bottom line for UM here is that they need Johnson to play at a high level or they have little shot at competing in the ACC. While Grant and Scott are capable of carrying the load when they get hot, UM needs Johnson to at least keep the other team honest on defense. Sunday, they were down 17 in the second half when Johnson snapped out of his his funk. After starting 4 of 12 from the field and struggling on defense, he made his final five shots and UM actually took the lead on a Scott layup with 1:04 to go. The last two possesions after that, however, were bad. The Canes never got a shot up.

"I knew once I got going, the guys would feed off me," said Johnson, who scored 22 combined points in his three previous games. "That's a responsibility I put on myself. If I'm playing well, I think the guys tend to feed off me and just get going."

Johnson insists he's no longer feeling the effects of the bone spurs in his right foot (suffered the day after the Duke loss on Jan. 2). But the truth is he is still not playing hard enough every time he's on the floor and he knows it. "A lot more energy," Johnson said of his strong finish Sunday. "First half I felt I was flat coming out -- cold air in my lungs. I just had to get over all that, come out and play harder."

The Hurricanes aren't running out of air yet, but they're getting close. North Carolina (13-5, 3-1 ACC) visits Wednesday night. Then, it's a trip to Virginia Tech (12-5, 3-2). Unless the Canes turn it around quickly, I'm afraid this season could spiral the wrong way quickly. That's not good for Haith or anyone on his staff -- especially after what we saw this past football season.

I'm not saying anybody should or will be fired. Kirby Hocutt has always liked Haith and has repeatedly told me he's happy with the job Haith has done. But a shakeup of some sort is always possible. This team was expecting to contend for an NCAA berth. They have to start winning some of these close ones soon.

QUICK RECRUITING NUGGETS

> Los Angeles Harbor College defensive back Byron Moore is expected to become a ‘Canes commitment officially later this week after visiting UM this weekend. InsideTheU.com is calling it a done deal. Moore wants to make the announcement himself, but Patrick Onwuasor, who made the trip with Moore and several other players from California, told InsideTheU.com Moore has already committed.

> Defensive end Anthony Chickillo told our Susan Miller Degnan today he reaffirmed his commitment to UM. Coral Gables linebacker Denzel Perryman said last night he expected Chickillo to do so.

> Here is the link to an interview I did recently with Hurricane Sports Nation.com about Al Golden recently.

January 22, 2011

Perryman talks commitment; Menocal switches

Denzel Perryman got his first verbal scholarship offer when he was just a freshman at Coral Gables High -- and It came from his beloved Hurricanes, delivered by linebackers coach Micheal Barrow.

Denzel Perryman After waiting four years for an answer, the three-time All Dade First team middle linebacker finally told the Canes Saturday to count him in their next recruiting class. Perryman (5-11, 215) was so anxious to deliver the news he told UM coaches before his official visit this weekend was even over.

"My heart has always been here," said Perryman, who racked up 134 tackles and eight sacks in 10 games his senior season. "Basically, I didn't want to lose my scholarship or whatever. I knew I wanted to be here."

Perryman, considered one of the nation's top 20 inside linebackers by ESPN, said he probably would have committed to UM earlier in the process. But he said he just wanted to make sure Barrow was going to be on Al Golden's staff and that UM's new coach also wanted him here.

"When I heard Coach Shannon was fired I got real nervous," Perryman said. "Coach Barrow and I grew real close. The fact he stayed was a huge plus for me." 

Also a plus: the fact new defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio coached Perryman's older brother, Quintero Frierson at Rutgers.

"My brother played for him his freshman year, told me he was a great coach," Perryman said. "I never met him when he was coaching my brother. But I like what his plan is for the defense. I met him two weeks ago. He's a real good guy."

Perryman, one of nearly a dozen recruits at UM this weekend, became the 12th commitment for the Canes leading up to National Signing Day (Feb. 2). UM has at least three more available scholarships -- if not more.

Perryman said he expects UM's top recruit, defensive end Anthony Chickillo, to reaffirm his commitment to UM on Sunday. Chickillo, the MVP of the Under Armour All-American game, had been wavering since former coach Randy Shannon was fired.

"I think we both were just waiting to see how this new ataff was going to be," said Perryman, who is rooming with Chickillo on the visit to UM. "But now that we know what they are about, you feel good about The U."

Perryman said he and Chickillo have turned their focus to trying to get Miami Booker T. Washington defensive tackle Elkino Watson to commit to UM, too. Watson is a surprise visitor this weekend.

> Miami Belen linebacker Nick Menocal switched his commitment late tonight from UM to Georgia Tech. Menocal, who committed to the program when Shannon was still coach, had been asked by Golden to play offense. He felt he was a better fit at Georgia Tech.

He is the second former Shannon recruit Golden has parted ways with over the last two weeks. Cornerback Jeremy Davis was encouraged to look elsewhere.

Nelson's future unresolved; Perryman commits

RALEIGH, NC -- The future of Hurricanes freshman linebacker Kevin Nelson, who left the football team while they were practicing for the Sun Bowl, remains unresolved.

This week, Nelson met with UM coach Al Golden to talk about returning to the team. But according to a source at UM, the 6-foot, 210-pound linebacker from Gainesville was told by Golden he would have to wait until after National Signing Day to receive a final answer.

Nelson (6-0, 210) was considered the third-best inside linebacker in the country by ESPN last February. But he had some issues his freshman season and didn't play for the Hurricanes. According to UM spokesman Chris Freet, no football player had requested a transfer or release of scholarship as of Saturday morning.

> Saturday, the Hurricanes received a commitment from Coral Gables middle linebacker Denzel Perryman during his official visit according to Canesport and InsideTheU.com. We'll have more on Perryman later. 

January 21, 2011

UM hopes to end ACC road woes at NC State

Hurricanes point guard Malcolm Grant said he'd like to own a black Dodge Charger some day soon so he can stop bothering his teammates for a ride. But first, the 6-1, 180-pound junior from Brooklyn has to finally get his drivers license.

Malcolm Grant "I've taken [the test] once and failed really bad," Grant said Friday. "It's a really funny story. I ran into the cones when I was parking. The [instructor] asked me, 'How long have you been driving?' I said, 'Two weeks.' He said, 'That's the reason right there. You're not ready. You're not ready to drive.'

"He kind of hurt my feelings and I got out of the car real mad. But I can drive now. I just wasn't ready for the test the other day."

UM coach Frank Haith, who likes to give Grant a hard time about his driving, joked South Floridians should be happy Grant isn't on the road. "He has a tough time figuring out how to put his seatbelt on," Haith said. "So, there's no way he should get a license."

Haith doesn't want to see Grant behind the wheel, but he's definitely hoping he can start steering the Hurricanes' offense in the right direction beginning Sunday at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C. against N.C. State (11-7, 1-3).

UM has lost 11 straight road games in the ACC and is coming off its first home loss of the season Wednesday night to rival Florida State -- a bitter defeat that saw the Hurricanes (12-6, 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) blow a seven-point lead with over six minutes to play.

Grant, who scored 20 points, was the only UM player to score in double-digits and make a field goal (a three-pointer) over the final six minutes of the game.

Despite holding FSU to a season-low 19.2 percent shooting in the first half and leading by as many as 12 points, the Canes converted only six of their final 22 field goal attempts and shot 34 percent for the game. Sophomore guard Durand Scott missed two crucial lay-ups on UM's final two offensive possessions -- including one that would have tied the game with three seconds to play.

"Looking back at the film, maybe I should have looked back around to see who was open instead of going directly to the basket," Scott said. "That would have been my better choice. But in the heat of the moment, it's kind of hard to think about stopping knowing there is 10 seconds on the clock."

Grant took UM's final shot -- a three-pointer -- with two defenders in his face as the final second was ticking off the clock. It was partially blocked. Grant said Friday he was fouled attempting it. But referees didn't call it and ruled the shot was released after the game clock had expired.

"After the game, the day after I was still upset about it," Grant said. "But I just had to let it go man... Nobody is really panicking yet. We understand what our record was last year. But at the same time we know its a long season. We're ready to keep fighting."

N.C. State is coming off three consecutive losses to the top three teams in the league: Florida State, Boston College and Duke. But the Wolfpack, picked to finish fourth in the ACC in the preseason, are a dangerous team according to Haith.

Coach Sidney Lowe recruited the seventh best freshman class in the country last season according to ESPN, adding 6-8, 205-pound forward C.J. Leslie (11.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg) and guard Lorenzo Brown (8.9 ppg, 3.2 apg) to a team already featuring All-ACC forward Tracy Smith (15.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and swingman Scott Wood (10.9 ppg), one of the league's top three-point shooters.

"It's a very gifted team in terms of talent," Haith said. "They've lost a couple games here late. I'm sure they think its a home game they got to have to get back in the race. But we feel like its a road game we have to have. It should be an intense basketball game."

A big key for UM's struggling will be getting center Reggie Johnson more involved in the offense. UM's third leading scorer has been battling bone spurs in his right foot since the day after the Canes' loss at Duke on Jan. 2. Johnson has scored 22 points combined over his last three games and hasn't attempted more than six field goals in any of those games. He's averaged under 25 minutes during that span while also battling foul trouble.

"When we do see Reggie's number -- and that 42 is hard to miss -- we got to throw it to him," Haith said. "But he has to do his work early. People are looking to take him out. He's got to work a little harder. The other night he missed a couple shots, got frustrated, so he wasn't himself. That's part of his maturity. He can't let past plays affect his current play."

As much as UM's offense has struggled, turnovers really haven't been the problem. Since ACC play began, the Canes haven't had more than 12 in any of their first four games. Haith said the problem hasn't been shot selection either.

"If you really dissect it, we really got some good looks," Haith said. "Adrian Thomas from three-point range with nobody in front of him. That's a good shot. Everytime we got the ball inside to Reggie he missed a couple bunnies. Those are good shots for us.

"That's tell me we're doing okay offensively. We just have to make some shots. "

A FEW MORE BASKETBALL NUGGETS...

> Haith doesn't want to get fined for complaining about the officiating on Wednesday, but he was obviously upset with the discrepancy (UM went to the line 20 times, FSU went 30).

"Couple plays that could have gone either way," Haith said of the officiating Friday. "The play before Durand brought the ball up with 10 seconds, there was a lot of contact there. The referee didn't think it was enough to warrant the foul. Durand's next play though was tough to see. Malcolm's [last-second shot] there was some contact there. It's part of it. Late game, referees want to make sure they see it good before they make a call like that... I'm being politically correct of course."

> Although they aren't exactly as stingy as Florida State when it comes to clamping down on shooters, UM's defense has steadily improved this season at least in conference play. Last year, UM ranked last in three-point shooting defense (.386) and ninth in field goal defense (.440). Through four games against three of the top teams in the standings: UM ranks seventh in field goal defense (.429) and fifth against three-pointers (.318).

"We went into the year thinking we were going to be a primary zone defense. We worked on it a lot. But I think we're a pretty good man defense too," Haith said. "Against Boston College we played a lot of man, we mixed it in a lot. I think it's good to have the ability to do both. Our zone has man principles. It's very similar. We pressure the ball, have help side defense, we rotate. It's very similar other than we're stationary. We don't run all over the court."

> Haith said freshman forward Erik Swoope might be the toughest and grittiest guy on the team.

"This guy turned his ankle the day before. His ankle ballooned up. He finished practice. [Our trainer] said 'He better go get an x-ray because I think it's broken.' He comes back, finds out its not broken, says 'I'm playing.' He can hardly walk, gets treatment all day and he's playing," Haith said.

"He has that 'it' factor. I love him. I love what he stands for. I love what he's all about. You can win with guys like that. He's a little undersized. But he plays with a lot of grit."

> Haith said he's hopeful swing man DeQuan Jones (broken right hand) will return some point later on this season. Without Jones on Wednesday, Haith juggled his lineup a bit -- giving more time to his freshmen.

"We ended up sizing down, playing Adrian [Thomas] more at the three and moving Raphael [Akpejiori] in the post. That's what we have to do. Hopefully, Rion Brown will get more minutes too."

> Even though they're 1-3 in league play and likely need to win seven of their final 12 league games to have any shot at going to the NCAA Tournament, Malcolm Grant isn't worried.

"We're going to continue to do the same things we've been doing," Grant said. "We're going to turn it around. Nobody is panicking. We all still believe we're going to make the tournament, we're going to do it -- I know that for a fact."

Ayles enrolls, adds depth at tight end for UM

Blake Ayles Blake Ayles, considered the nation's second-best tight end coming out of high school in 2008, enrolled at UM Friday afternoon -- ending about two weeks of speculation he would be transferring in from USC.

Ayles spent three years at USC as a backup where he caught 14 passes in three seasons. Last season, he had one catch in 10 games. Former USC tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Brennan Carroll was recently named to the same position at UM. Carroll recruited Ayles out of Orange (Ca.) Lutheran High.

Ayles (6-5, 245) joins a relatively young group at tight end at UM. Last season, UM's tight ends combined to catch 21 passes for 246 yards and one touchdown. Freshman Asante Cleveland led all tight ends with eight catches for 110 yards. Junior Chase Ford had seven catches for 96 yards and a touchdown.

> As of 3 p.m. Friday, there has been no official word regarding the Hurricanes' offensive line coaching position. We know former UM longtime assistant Art Kehoe interviewed with Golden Thursday in Mississippi. I've heard from several sources the interview went well. So what's the hold up? Nobody is sure. 

But I've also heard for some time now the Hurricanes are also interested in Pat Ruel, 60, who played at Coral Gables High and played two seasons at UM before embarking on a long coaching career at the college and pro level. Ruel coached with offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch in Seattle this past season and was an assistant at USC when Brennan Carroll was there as well. Ruel was recently replaced by Tom Cable as the offensive line coach of the Seahawks. Maybe Fisch and Carroll would prefer for Ruel to get the job instead.

January 20, 2011

Former Cane Hurlie Brown joins UM staff

Former Hurricanes defensive back Hurlie Brown, who played on two national championship teams in 1989 and 1991, was hired Thursday as a special assistant at the University of Miami. 

Hurlie Brown Brown coached the secondary at FIU from from 2001 through the 2006 season and spent the last few years at Louisiana-Lafayette coaching defensive backs there.

Brown replaces Tim "Ice" Harris Sr., the father of former Hurricanes cornerback Brandon Harris, who spent three years as a special assistant to former coach Randy Shannon. Harris Sr. left the program earlier this week according to UM and will likely be named the head coach at Miami Booker T. Washington High as early as next Monday.

Harris helped coordinate the football team's community relations projects and assisted in other day-to-day operations of the football program when he was at UM. He won state championships in football and track at Booker T. in and was named USA Today's Coach of the Year in 2007. He sent three players -- including his son -- to UM in 2008.

After his son declared he would enter the draft earlier this month, Harris Sr. said he would remain at UM but was looking to get back into coaching.

> In other news, Miami Central cornerback Thomas Finnie was accepted into UM on Thursday morning and is set to begin taking classes according to UM's sports information office. Finnie is the first of three possible early entrants to begin taking classes in the spring semester.

> Spoke with former longtime UM assistant Don Soldinger who is crossing his fingers for Art Kehoe to land the Canes' vacant offensive line job. As our Susan Miller Degnan is reporting, Kehoe is meeting with Golden today for the first time

"I think Art could really help 'em," Soldinger said. "He's been there for everything. He's a Miami guy. Always has been. It doesn't make sense what happened with both of us. We just dedicated ourselves to winning games at Miami."