Here's a quick preview of what could be in store next Wednesday, National Signing Day.
> NOTE: I wore the old Cubs jersey in honor of the late great Ernie Banks.
Canes fans, get out your wallets.
If you're not a season-ticket holder, Monday is the day to buy some of those coveted tickets.
UM announced Sunday night that single-game tickets for home games would go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday.
Fans can purchase tickets online through HurricaneSports.com, by calling 1-800-GoCanes or by visiting the Hurricane Ticket Office at 5821 San Amaro Drive in Coral Gables (Google Map).
Sales are anticipated to be brisk, especially for the home opener against Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State.
Tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis and are subject to availability.
Single game ticket prices begin at $19 for all games, except Ohio State, which starts at $40.
The Canes kick off the 2011 season on the road at Maryland on Labor Day (Sept. 5). UM fans that don't make the trip can watch the game live on ESPN and ESPN HD at 8 p.m. Eastern. The Golden era will make its first appearance at Sun Life Stadium on Sept. 17 when the Hurricanes and Buckeyes renew their rivalry on national television at either 7:30 or 8 p.m.
Guess they won't be changing their own linen.
If you haven't heard by now, the Hurricanes will be spending three weeks in a hotel during preseason camp, Coach Al Golden confirmed to me a few days ago. He didn't want to say, at least yet, what hotel they'll be staying at, though he knows it eventually will be reported.
Here's his explanation of that situation during our private interview earlier this week:
"It was a function of whether or not we wanted to move from Summer-Two [session] housing to preseason camp housing, then to a hotel, then to fall housing,'' Golden said. "What we opted to do is to keep them in one spot for three weeks, then move in to fall housing.
"It's Less disruptive, more congruent with what this team needs in terms of our unity and our togetherness, and to be honest with you there are safety issues there as well. We didn’t want kids driving home -– because we have kids who live all over the place –- at 11 O’Clock at night after going through a two-a-day in 90-degree heat and those types of things. So we have a chance to be safe, we have a chance to bring the team together, we have a chance to monitor the team and we have a chance to just have a singular focus and purpose for three weeks."
Added Golden: "It's just for preseason.''
And when I asked what hotel they're staying at, Golden answered, "I’m not going to give that one. I’m sure it’s going to get out at some point."
Wonder how much this is costing Miami.
SOME OTHER UPDATES FROM MY CONVERSATION WITH COACH:
* Golden is still implementing his system of awarding different colored jerseys to the players who have excelled the previous week in training, conditioning, practices, etc. He said "the offense is orange (first team) and then white and the defense is black (first team) and then green."
* Former TB Eduardo Clements during the spring said he first was switched to cornerback, but he’s now a safety, and has been for a while, Golden confirmed -- "only because the need over there."
* Sophomore Kacy Rodgers, who came in as a safety, "is playing a little corner for us throughout the summer,'' Golden said. "He was a safety, but he has length and good speed, so we’re trying him at corner as well."
* Golden: "All the linebackers will be moving around."
In other UM news, redshirt sophomore Shayon Green (knee surgery) will not be ready to go until the beginning of October. If you recall, Shayon -- from Tifton, Ga. -- started his career at UM as a linebacker. But Coach Golden switched him to defensive end during spring practice because, as Golden said in March, “He has a chance to be a big, strong, physical kid. He has big legs and can carry weight. Plus, he can always go back to linebacker.”
I'm not sure of Shayon's exact status now position-wise, but I do know he is still rehabilitating and it will be quite a while before he fully practices with his teammates.
Have a good, safe weekend everyone
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
They didn’t go in the draft, but they’ll be suiting up with NFL teams come this weekend.
University of Miami tailbacks Damien Berry (Baltimore Ravens) and Graig Cooper (Philadelphia Eagles), defensive backs Ryan Hill (Minnesota Vikings) and Cory Nelms (San Francisco 49ers), and fullback Patrick Hill (Tennessee Titans) have all been picked up as free agents since the NFL lockout ended.
A LATE CONGRATULATIONS TO S JARED CAMPBELL, A VERY NICE PERSON AND THE YOUNGER BROTHER OF FORMER CANE CALAIS CAMPBELL. JARED WAS PICKED UP AS AN UNDRAFTED FREE AGENT BY THE ARIZONA CARDINALS, WHERE HE WILL JOIN HIS BROTHER! GOOD LUCK JARED.
“I leave for San Francisco in the morning,’’ said Nelms, 23, who stayed at UM for the summer to work out with strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey and other former Canes now in the NFL, such as Willis McGahee, Roscoe Parris, Andre Johnson and most of the new UM draftees.
“From what I hear, training camp starts Thursday,’’ Nelms said. “The goal is to make it through all the way. I definitely have a backup plan, but I am not going to give up on the dream.’’
Nelms said he got the phone call first from his agent, then from the 49ers this afternoon. “I have to give the 49ers a big thank you for giving me the opportunity,’’ he said. “I was ecstatic, man. It’s definitely a blessing and a great opportunity. We all know this is a rough business and you have to keep working to stay in. It’s not about getting in, it’s about staying in.’’
Nelms, a former All-American track star as well, earned his UM undergraduate and master’s degrees in exercise physiology.
He said the only time he has been in San Francisco, was when UM played – and lost – to Cal in the Emerald Bowl. “It’s a great city.’’
Nelms is godfather to Patrick Hill’s son and daughter, and spent plenty of time on the phone with him Tuesday. “He was very excited,’’ Nelms said. “You put in so much hard work over the years. We were all on pins and needles thinking, ‘I’ve got to get in. I’ve got to get in.’ And then it happened.’’
Nelm’s girlfriend, fellow UM graduate Ti’erra Brown, who won the national championship in the 400- meter hurdles this summer, is currently training in Amsterdam to prepare for a meet in London in early August. Nelms said Brown will stay in Miami and train at UM during the track offseason.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
Dressed in a suit and tie and sporting a big smile, Jonathan Vilma handed over a check to the University of Miami athletic department on Tuesday for $450,000, a donation that goes toward completing the funding for the Theodore G. Schwartz and Todd G. Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence.
The fact Vilma made the donation is no surprise. The Saints Pro Bowl middle linebacker has always had a big heart. He does countless events in the South Florida community and in two years has raised over $200,000 in relief efforts for the earthquake victims in Haiti through his foundation. He said Tuesday he will be going to Haiti in November -- during the Saints bye week -- to visit the schools and people his foundation has been aiding.
In honor of Tuesday's gift, UM will name the new players lounge, a space for football players to relax and gather before and after practice at the Schwartz Center, in Vilma's honor.
Vilma isn't the first former Cane to open his wallet to help his alma mater. Recently retired running back Edgerrin James has done it before and has the team's meeting room named in his honor.
Still, it's harder to find a player Canes fans should love more than Vilma.
Like many former Canes, he's gone back to UM after each of his first seven NFL seasons to train with Andreu Swasey and serve as a mentor for current and former players during their spring and summer workouts. But he spends more time there than anybody -- "anywhere from 3 1/2 to 4 months," he said Tuesday, "from February to June." One season, he said, he even took a fine from the Jets so he could remain at UM, instead of training with pro teammates.
And the relationships he builds with young players when he's at UM are deep. Sean Spence calls him "a big brother."
"Jon is a guy I look up to," Spence said. "That was one of the linebackers I always watched growing up. Then when I got here, he took me under his wing as a little brother. We ran with it from there. He's done nothing but kept it real with me, told me what I needed to work on, what I needed to be a great linebacker here at UM. We've watched film a couple times and I think it really helps me look at the game different. But it's not all about football. We talk and have a couple laughs too."
Swasey said having Vilma around "is huge because players not only hear what he says, but see him come in at 7 a.m. and do everything they do."
"A lot of guys come in, but he's probably here more than anybody," said Swasey, UM's strength and conditioning coach. "Sometimes the NFL might seem so distant for these guys. But he gives them a platform. He's approachable, he communicates with them and gives them hope. They say 'Man I can do it.' That's pretty special."
Al Golden said Vilma has become "the quintessential Miami Hurricane."
"One of the things we talk about is gratitude and appreciation and I think this is the ultimate illustration of gratitude," Golden said. "All you have to do is listen to his speech. If that doesn't move you or help you understand what it means to be a part of the University of Miami football program, I don't know what will. That's an amazing human being right there."
PINEHURST, N.C. -- Had a pleasant one-on-one interview with Coach Golden today. I hope he does well at UM. He is respectful, direct and answers questions -- or at least actually listens to them. Yes, he's a coach, and coaches often answer questions by not answering them, or by being so confusing you don't know what's going on (evidence: the first time Golden talked to us during spring about possible suspensions). But so far, I'm very impressed. We'll see how it plays out as the season progresses. I guess so much of it comes down to the W's (I won't mention the other letter).
I don't have much time here, because group interviews with coaches are approaching at the ACC Football Kickoff. And again, unfortunately, Al Golden's interview session is late afternoon/evening. Bad for deadline purposes.
Briefly, if any of you follow me on twitter @smillerdegnan you saw this stuff, but here's some of the newsy stuff he told me. I haven't transcribed yet, sorry.
I asked Coach Golden: "Not naming names, is there anyone you know that will be suspended for at least one game this season?" His answer. "Yes."
He hedged when I asked him if there were "multiple players suspended" -- seemed to be counting in his mind (haha -- seriously), and again, I don't have the transcription yet. But he did tell me he will let media know of anyone suspended the week going into that particular game.
OT Seantrel Henderson has been dealing with lower back pain for a long time now, and he is trying to resolve the problem. He will be eased into fall practice gradually, as will DT Marcus Forston, who is coming off knee surgery.
S Vaughn Telemaque, who was wearing a neck brace during the spring game, should be OK for fall practice.
Coach Golden said WR Aldarius Johnson is doing well and everything is good with him and the Canes. Many of us have heard about certain attitude-related situations with Aldarius, but Golden insisted he's A-OK.
Some incoming signee (or not incoming) news:
Golden said OT Joel Figueroa, who was granted a rare sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, is raring and ready to go. But he would not say what position on the line he will play. If you recall, Joel started as a guard and was moved to tackle. If you guys know anything about Art Kehoe, he practices everyone at every position on the line.
Have to run now.
Later, Susan Miller Degnan
P.S. ACC media just picked FSU to beat Virginia Tech in the ACC title game for the ACC crown. UM was picked second in the Coastal Division behind Va. Tech.
PINEHURST, N.C. -- The season is fast approaching, and no doubt everyone is thrilled about that.
The Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff gets underway shortly. The Canes brought senior center Tyler Horn and senior linebacker Sean Spence to represent the U. We chatted briefly last night to say hi, and they are, as you would expect, excited to get things going.
ACC commissioner John Swofford will speak first, then they'll bring in two athletes from each ACC team. Unfortunately, UM doesn't go until late afternoon/evening.
Before I run downstairs, I wanted to see what you thought about UM's schedule beginning on the road against ACC opponent Maryland, which, by the way, has an outstanding quarterback in Danny O'Brien and is probably pretty ticked about the way it lost to UM last season. That game is on Monday, Sept. 5, Labor Day night, and will be the only football game on -- in prime time.
UM's first six games, except for Bethune Cookman on Oct. 1, are a load: at Maryland (then the only open week of the season, and a very early open week at that), followed by Ohio State, Kansas State, BC, at Virginia Tech and at North Carolina.
Also interesting: the FSU game this year is as late as I remember it, in Tallahassee on Nov. 12, followed by an away game at USF. Both those games bring back horrible memories.
No other ACC teams except Maryland and Miami play another ACC team to open the season. I like the challenge of the opener. Both teams will be equalized somewhat because it's their first game (always a bit rusty for both teams) and both teams should be fresh. If the Canes can go on the road and beat what looks to be a pretty darn good Terrapins team, what a way to lift off the Al Golden era.
There is little doubt the most intriguing position battle on the team starting Aug. 6 will take place at quarterback between senior Jacory Harris and sophomore Stephen Morris.
And they continue our Canes Top 40 Countdown...
16. QB Jacory Harris (6-4, 195, Sr.): He's already second all-time in touchdown passes (50) at UM and will likely pass Heisman winner Gino Torretta for second place in yards (7,690) and completions (555) by the time his career comes to an end. Harris currently has 6,340 career passing yards and 508 completions. The big question is will Jacory stop throwing interceptions? He has 39 in his career, most ever by a UM quarterback. Last year, he started the first eight games of the season before a concussion sidelined him for three games and opened the door for Morris. This spring, Jacory looked a little better than Morris running Jedd Fisch's offense. But he wasn't spectacular either. In the team's first scrimmage, Harris completed 14 of 21 pass attempts for 120 yards and a touchdown. In the second game, he went 18 of 26 for 237 yards, 2 TDs and one pick. In the spring game, he finished 18 for 30 for 149 yards and two interceptions.
17. QB Stephen Morris (6-2, 210, So.): Played in six games, starting four as a true freshman. He threw for 1,240 yards on 82-of-153 passing, but had nine interceptions compared to seven TDs. He was named ACC Rookie of the week after leading a comeback win over Maryland, completing a touchdown pass with 37 seconds remaining to seal the victory. He wasn't great this spring. He 7 of 13 passes for 93 yards and a 13-yard touchdown in the first scrimmage and ran for a 20-yard touchdown. In the second scrimmage, he went 9 of 14 for 146 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. In the spring game, he went 14 of 22 for 140 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs.
18. LB Jordan Futch (6-3, 235, Sr.): It's amazing to think Futch, a highly touted recruit out of Hollywood Chaminade, is already a senior. The sad part is, injuries have marred most of his career. He has 12 career tackles -- six last year after playing in 12 games, mostly on special teams. The good news is it looks like he'll play a much bigger role this season, potentially as the team's starting middle linebacker. He shined brightly in first spring scrimmage, leading the team with nine tackles and two sacks, a real bright spot for Futch, who had switched to tight end before the bowl because he wasn't getting a real opportunity to play at linebacker. He had six tackles and two sacks in the second scrimmage, including a big hit on former tailback Storm Johnson.
19. Aldarius Johnson (6-3, 205, Sr.): A standout at Miami Northwestern, Aldarius delivered upon arrival as a freshman. He had 31 catches for 322 yards and three touchdown catches, starring as the team's leading receiver. He's been in and out of lost and found ever since. Over the last two season scombined, he has 31 catches for 466 yards and one touchdown. With Leonard Hankerson gone, Travis Benjamin and LaRon Byrd appear to be in prime position to take over as the team's primary pass catchers. But don't count Aldarius out yet. He has oodles of chemistry with Jacory Harris. And if he takes football seriously -- especially since he'll be playing to impress the NFL -- he could have a monster season.
20. TE Asante Cleveland (6-5, 255, So.): The Sacramento native made a rather large impact as a freshman last season, hauling in key third down passes among the eight balls he caught for 110 yards. He appeared in 12 games, starting two. An injury that kept him out this spring might have set him back and opened the door for Clive Walford and Chase Ford to impress UM's new coaches. But I suspect when he gets back on the field this fall, it won't take coach Al Golden long to realize Cleveland's skill set is the best on the team at tight end.
The 2011 ACC Football Kickoff in Pinehurst, N.C. is just around the corner and we will finally start hearing from players and coaches after a long summer on Sunday.
Our Susan Miller Degnan will be there to report what she gathers from UM's reps at the event -- coach Al Golden, linebacker Sean Spence and center Tyler Horn, who is among our next five in our Canes' Top 40 Countdown:
25. LB Kelvin Cain (6-3, 230, So.): Linebackers coach Micheal Barrow went out to California and found Cain, who outside of UM had offers from San Jose State, Fresno State an Nevada. Although Cain ended up playing in 11 games, it wasn't until he filled in and started for Colin McCarthy at middle linebacker against Duke that we saw what he was capable of. In that game, he finished with nine tackles (third most on the day) and had a forced fumble. He registered three more tackles the rest of the year. This spring, Cain played well, registering seven tackles in the team's second scrimmage and six more in the spring game. But his name wasn't on the two-deep. Since he is a littler bigger than UM's other young linebackers, I can see Cain serving as a backup to Jordan Futch at middle linebacker and Jimmy Gaines (6-3, 220) playing on the outside.
24. OT Jermaine Johnson (6-6, 320, So.): Seantrel Henderson and Brandon Linder weren't the only true freshmen who made an impact on the offensive line last season. Johnson played in 11 games, making five starts including the Sun Bowl. He graded out at 93 percent against Virginia and 92 percent against Maryland, neither were starts. At the end of the spring, he was listed as the starter at right tackle. Unless Ben Jones became Superman over the summer or Johnson gets hurt, he should start every game at right tackle for UM this coming season.
23. OG Harland Gunn (6-2, 310, Sr.): He's made 18 career starts including all 13 games last season. He had 13 pancake blocks and six lumberjacks. Graded out at 96 percent against Georgia Tech and at 95 percent against UNC. Gunn came to UM from Omaha, Nebraska rated the eight-best center in the country by Rivals.com and the No. 6 guard and No. 63 player in the country by Scout.com. If he can start and play in all 13 games this season, he'll finish with 31 career starts, not too shabby.
22. C Tyler Horn (6-4, 305, Sr.): Started all 13 games at center for the Hurricanes last season and graded out at 94 percent in the win against North Carolina, with six pancake blocks. He was named ACC offensive lineman of the week following the win over the Tar Heels and finished with 39 pancake blocks and seven lumberjacks, both third best on the team. He's on the preseason Rimington Watch List.
21. OL Brandon Linder (6-6, 310, So.): The St. Thomas Aquinas grad played in 12 games, starting five, all as an extra lineman in the jumbo package. He graded out at 97 percent against Georgia Tech, and was named the ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week for it. In the game, took snaps at center, guard, tackle, and tight end and helped the offense run for a season high 277 yards, and a season high 507 total yards. He graded out at 93 percent in the season opener and above 90 percent for the last seven games of the regular season. Few players have bigger upside than Linder, who I expect will once again play a lot and make an impact.
When Gino DiMare stepped down as UM's assistant head coach in 2008, it wasn't because he was disappointed with what he was getting out of his hitters or he was doing a bad job as recruiting coordinator.
Fatherhood was calling.
"Coach [Jim] Morris certainly didn't want me to leave," said DiMare, who served as an assistant from 1997 to 2008 and the team's recruiting coordinator over his last nine seasons. "I had two kids -- [ages] three, one, and another one on the way. My life had changed kind of quickly. It's tough when you're away from your family. People don't realize that. When they hear a coach say 'I'm stepping away to be with my family,' they think that's a cop out, bologna deal. It is for some guys. But it wasn't for me. I had a really tough time getting on a plane and being away from my kids all summer.
"Three years later, I have three daughters who are 6, 4 and 2 and I think they're all dying for me to get out of the house."
Nobody was happier to hear that than Morris, whose team hasn't been able to get back to the College World Series -- or past the University of Florida -- since DiMare left.
The team’s batting average this past season was just .275, a low that hadn't been seen in the program since the Canes hit .273 in 1979.
Miami’s offense ranked among the top 10 in school history in eight of DiMare's nine seasons as the club's hitting instructor. The 2008 team that advanced to the College World Series and spent much of the season atop the national collegiate baseball polls finished the year hitting at a school eighth-best .320 average, while also ranking tied for second in home runs (106), fourth in slugging percentage (.541), eighth in total bases (1,202) and RBI (517), tied for ninth in doubles (135) and 10th in hits (711).
"I'm not coming back to just get to an NCAA Tournament," DiMare said. "Coach Morris knows how I am. He and [pitching coach] JD [Arteaga] are used to winning and going to Omaha. The fans are used to that. I am as a former coach and player at Miami. I certainly wouldn't be coming back if I didn't feel the program could get back to Omaha. I wouldn't put myself in that situation. I think we can get it turned around. I don't think they're that far off. But there's no doubt we have to get it going in some areas, hitting is one big area where we have to get it turned around. And we will get it turned around."
DiMare is already familiar with at least two of UM's top returning hitters -- shortstop Stephen Perez and infielder Michael Broad, two players he recruited to UM before leaving.
DiMare, who will share the recruiting responsibilities with Arteaga, previously helped recruit former stars Yonder Alonso, Ryan Braun, Jon Jay, Gaby Sanchez, Danny Valencia and Jemile Weeks – all of whom have reached the big leagues in recent years.
Thursday, his first official day on the job, DiMare said he was already out watching a double-header of games in South Florida and was preparing to meet with Arteaga and Morris in the evening to discuss their recruiting plan.
DiMare said he plans to be aggressive in finding players who can help UM right away.
"Recruiting has changed in that kids are committing a lot earlier now," DiMare said. "We have commitments not only for 2012, but we got commitments for 2013 and upcoming juniors. My last couple years I saw schools become very aggressive in getting kids to commit early, which I'm not a big fan of. But that's the way the game is played and that's the we're going to play it."
Rob Vite, football coach at Sanford Seminole High School, usually gets a ton of mail from colleges interested in his players. But most of the letters he's been getting this summer are coming from somewhere else -- the NFL.
"It's kind of been the same process as when colleges came to recruit high school kids," Vite said. "Except, they're digging a little bit. What kind of kid is he, character, everything about him. I'm sure Coach Golden is getting a lot of them too."
If his junior season pans out the way most hope, Armstrong may not be in college much longer. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper recently rated Armstrong (6-4, 215) the No. 1 junior safety in the country. Armstrong, an All-ACC Second Team pick as a sophomore, has also been named to the Bednarik, Nagurski and Jim Thorpe award watch lists.
Big expectations? Vite said Armstrong, who led Seminole to the Class 6A state title in 2008, will exceed them all.
"It's going to be a great year for him," said Vite, who talks to Armstrong once a month and recently saw him when he returned home the last weekend in May. "He just has to go out there and be Ray and he'll be okay. He's a monster man. I don't know how much bigger he is, but he has more muscle, ripped. He's excited for the season and for the [coaching] changes. He knows its going to be a big year for Miami football."
Last season, Armstrong registered a team-high tying three interceptions and ranked third on the team with 76 tackles. He returned one of those interceptions 22 yards for a touchdown against Florida A&M, and racked up a season-high nine tackles against both Ohio State and Florida State.
Vite said Armstrong will be returning home to Sanford the final weekend in July -- a week before UM opens training camp -- for the city's second annual "Ray Ray Day." Last year, his father Albert organized the event to give back to the community. The event included free food, music and entertainment (jump houses) for kids and fans got an opportunity to catch up with Armstrong and wish he and his teammates well on their season.
"He's huge in the community," Vite said. "He did a little youth camp in the community [in May], came out and showed his face, watched a little alumni football game. The kids loved it.
"We all believe in him. Not a lot of guys are going to go to UM and take No. 26 and really fill that number and the pressures that go along with that number. But he has and he will."
A FEW MORE TIDBITS...
> Senior Tyler Horn was named to the preseason watch list for the Rimington Trophy, given annually to the most outstanding center. Horn had 39 pancake blocks and seven lumberjacks, both third-best on the team in 2010 and started all 13 games. He was named Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Offensive Lineman of the Week following the Hurricanes' win over North Carolina on Oct. 23.
> Season Ticket sales representatives will be at Sun Life Stadium from today through Saturday for Select-A-Seat Week. You can purchase your tickets or schedule an appointment by calling 1-800-GO-CANES or by emailing email@example.com.
Club Level prices have been reduced across all sections. 400 Level seats start at $110. 100 Level seats start at $215. Season Ticket benefits include: Payment plans, discount season parking passes, opportunity to purchase individual home game tickets prior to general public, priority access to away game tickets and Hurricane Club membership (included with purchase of select tickets).
At 6-8, 310 pounds, former Hurricanes defensive end Calais Campbell can appear awfully frightening to an NFL quarterback when he's in full-out pursuit.
But that's not the scariest he's ever looked according to his younger brother and former Canes safety Jared Campbell. "Put a dress on him and give him one of my mother's wigs," Jared said, "and he becomes the ugliest blind date you've ever seen."
All in the name of comedy of course. Somewhere back home in the Campbell family's video vault in Colorado, Jared said there is a home video of Calais playing a nightmare blind date during one of the many sketch comedy routines they filmed with their other brothers Ray, Severin and Ciarre.
Will it ever be seen by the rest of the world? "Probably not," Jared said laughing. "But you might see him doing something else pretty funny."
The Campbells, a football-first family from Denver who became a part of UM's family when Calais starred there from 2004-2007 and Jared played there from '07-10, are hoping to break into Hollywood with their act. And if the chips land where they need to, Calais said, "we might be the next Wayans brothers."
Calais, who is still waiting for the NFL lockout to end so he can he rejoin the Arizona Cardinals (where he racked up 60 tackles and 6 sacks last season in his third full pro year), recently attended the 15th annual American Black Film Festival here in Miami over the weekend. The trip was just part of his off-season tour as he continues to learn all he can about the film industry, with his ultimate goal to be a comedy writer after football.
"Football is first always, that's my job and I love it," Calais said. "But when you're only working out three or four hours a day, there's a lot of extra time to do stuff.
"I want to make movies one day, write, produce and direct. By this time next year, I'd like to have one complete script done. I have some ideas, know what I want to write. The first one, it's kind of like a football type movie, but based on people I know who are very funny. I was always told write what you know. So, it will be based on the situations I've been in and my brothers have been in really."
Campbell, who took acting classes and learned how to pitch story ideas to film and TV from Hollywood's best while he was here over the weekend, has kept himself immersed this summer in his off field pursuit. He’s visited the set of Funny or Die where he shared ideas with comedian Will Ferrell, he met with writers of Family Guy and recently attended a taping of Tosh.0 where he met with producers.
"Doors open up so much when you're a professional athlete," Campbell said. "I got to meet Michael Bay, the director of Transformers, a year ago. I was talking to him for awhile, just talking sports. Actors and directors love sports. I ask them about movies and they want to know about football."
While Calais' goal is to eventually get into the business, Raj Campbell, a former receiver at Adams State College, already has. The 27-year old is a stand-up comedian in Los Angeles, according to Calais, and "puts on comedy shows."
Jared, who graduated from UM with a degree in Motion Pictures, could be the next Campbell brother to head to L.A. Undrafted and still hoping to catch on with an NFL team after the lockout ends, Jared said his backup plan should football not work out is to join his brother Raj on the West Coast.
"If football doesn't work out, there's a few internships and TV shows I've got my eyes on," said Jared, who is currently working out in Arizona to keep himself in shape to join an NFL team. "Football has always been my dream, but making movies has been my passion. It started in high school when I used to do the student announcements and we'd play with the cameras, take them home and do little skits with my brothers. But it's pretty serious now.
"Calais and I talk about scripts, formulating ideas. He'll give me the ideas, I'll type it up, come up with the script. He's pretty funny, not just when he's dressed up like a girl either. It's funny seeing a 6-8 guy act silly."
Here is the Hurricanes football team’s schedule for training camp, which will start Aug. 6. All dates/times are subject to change and all practices are closed to the media and public (unless invited):
Practice 1: Saturday, Aug. 6th at 8:20 a.m.
Practice 2: Sunday, Aug. 7th at 8:20 a.m.
Practice 3: Monday, Aug. 8th at 8:20 a.m.
Practice 4: Tuesday, Aug. 9th at 8:20 a.m.
Practice 5: Wednesday, Aug. 10th at 8:20 a.m.
Practice 6: Thursday, Aug. 11th at 8:20 a.m.
Practice 7: Thursday, Aug. 11th at 3:00 p.m.
Practice 8: Friday, Aug. 12th at 8:20 a.m.
Practice 9: Saturday, Aug. 13th at 8:20 a.m.
Practice 10: Saturday, Aug. 13th at 3:00 p.m.
Practice 11: Sunday, Aug. 14th at 1:00 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 15th – Players OFF
Practice 12: Tuesday, Aug. 16th at 8:20 a.m.
Practice 13: Tuesday, Aug. 16th at 3:00 p.m.
Practice 14: Wednesday, Aug. 17th at 8:20 a.m.
Practice 15: Thursday, Aug. 18th at 8:20 a.m.
Practice 16: Thursday, Aug. 18th at 3:00 p.m.
Practice 17: Friday, Aug. 19th at 8:20 a.m.
Practice 18: Saturday, Aug. 20th at 8:35 a.m.
Practice 19: Saturday, Aug. 20th at 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 21st – Players OFF
Practice 20: Monday, Aug 22nd at 4:00 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 23rd- Players OFF
Wednesday, Aug. 24th – Players OFF
> ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. recently tabbed UM safety Ray Ray Armstrong as the nation’s top junior safety. Other Canes Kiper listed as potential high draft picks in 2012: Sean Spence is the fifth-best senior outside linebacker; Marcus Forston is the second-best junior defensive tackle; Brandon Washington is the third-best junior offensive guard; Vaughn Telemaque is the fifth-best junior safety.
A pair of future Canes landed verbal commitments from another pair of future Canes Sunday.
Essentially, that's what Miami Norland running back Duke Johnson and linebacker Keith Brown pulled off when they convinced Homestead linebacker James Burgess Jr. (6-1, 208) and receiver Herb Waters (6-0, 177) to call UM coaches and pledge to Al Golden's 2012 recruiting class.
The four players spent the past five days together in Beaverton, Oregon as part of Nike's newest training competition, The Opening. According to Johnson, who along with Brown committed to UM as a junior, the Homestead duo might just be the first of several players they recruited during the trip out West to commit to UM over the next couple days.
"We got two so far, but we ain't done yet," said Johnson, a 5-9, 175-pound scatback considered one of the country's Top 150 high school seniors according to ESPN. "We're very close to getting tight end [and USF commitment] Sean Price [North Marion, Fla]. [Miami Columbus safety and ESPN Top 150 recruit] Deon [Bush] too. We spent a lot of time working it, talking to [Miami Beach safety] Ricardo Louis. [Miramar cornerback] Tracy Howard. [Tampa Berkley Prep athlete] Nelson Agholor.
"Guys see what's going on at Miami and they want to be a part of it. They're excited by the fact of all the guys who are committed and they look at the talent coming in this year. If we all go together and we all keep our talent and go together we have a chance of doing something special. Herb and James saw that."
The Hurricanes now have 22 non-binding, verbal commitments as part of their 2012 signing class. Most experts expect UM to sign upwards of 30 to 35 recruits. ESPN currently ranks UM's class ninth best in the country.
"Herb always knew inside UM is where he always wanted to be," Johnson said. "It was just the fact of doing it. Herb said he didn't want to go unless his linebacker went with him. James father graduated from UM, it was just a plus. Once James decided to go ahead and commit, so did Herb."
Homestead coach Bobby McCray said he still hasn't had a chance to speak with either of his players about their commitments, but confirmed with their families that the players had pledged to UM. James' mother, Lakeisha, said her son was "happy to be a Hurricane."
Last season, Burgess finished with 132 tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception for the Broncos. ESPN rates Burgess as a 4-star recruit. McCray said Burgess had offers from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, USF and North Carolina among others.
"We had Micheal and James' father down here before," McCray said. "He has more potential than both of 'em. He can play all positions, will, mike or sam. He's athletic enough in passing situations to not have to come out of the game. I'll put it to you this way, I've put him at free safety sometimes."
Waters, considered the 49th-best receiver in the country by Rivals, has been plagued by injuries his sophomore (separated shoulder) and junior (knee sprain) seasons. But he's an all-around gifted athlete, who has played quarterback, receiver and running back in high school. McCray said Waters had offers from Oregon, Alabama, UCF and FSU.
"He's a very good technician," McCray said. "He can also be a return man. He might be rated even higher if he hadn't been hurt. He just hasn't finished the last two seasons because of injuries. We were 5-0 in '09 when he got hurt and we ended up going 6-3. Last year we were 4-1 when he was hurt and finished 5-4. The coach from Oregon saw him said he hadn't seen many kids his age run a route like that before. He showed out in the 7-on-7 game and the jamboree against American [High]. He's shown big explosiveness."
The best news about both commitments for UM is that they're already academically eligible. According to McCray, Waters has a 2.7 GPA and scored a 19 on his ACT. Burgess has a 2.6 GPA and scored a 23 on the ACT.
"We have a nice little history now of sending guys to Miami," said McCray, who coached current Canes Jojo Nicolas, Marcus Robinson and incoming freshman defensive end Ricardo Williams at Homestead.
"That's how Butch Davis built the program. He took care of Dade County, then added to it from elsewhere. It seems like that's what Coach Golden is doing. His building a champion."
As we move closer to Aug. 6 and the start of camp, we pick up the Top 40 Countdown:
30. TE Chase Ford (6-6, 245, Sr.): He was supposed to be ready to deliver solid results right away coming out of junior college in Texas. Ford had trouble doing that, appearing in nine games, starting one and catching seven passes for 96 yards and a touchdown. At times, he had issues dropping passes. Now, after this spring, it's hard to tell exactly where Ford stands in the rotation at tight end. Talent wise, it's clear sophomores Clive Walford and Asante Cleveland have more of it and will probably be on the field more often than Ford. But don't count him out totally yet. He is going to be a senior and Cleveland is coming off injury.
29. KR/DB Eduardo Clements (5-9, 195, So.): The highly-touted former tailback at Miami Booker T. Washington ran for 3,105 yards and 50 touchdowns in high school. With a stacked backfield in front of him, nobody expected Clements to play much, still he saw action in 12 games last season and tallied eight carries for 32. Now, his career as a running back is over as he's made the switch to the defensive secondary this spring. Scouts have always said Clements had the talent and the hips to make the switch to cornerback. Now, we'll get to see if that's true. At the end of the spring, he was listed second on the depth chart at strong safety behind Ray Ray Armstrong. One way or another, he should eventually get a look at corner, possibly in nickel and dime situations. Clements played some defense in high school his senior year and knows how to hit and tackle.
28. CB Lee Chambers (5-10, 185, Sr.): After spending his first three seasons at Miami at tailback, Chambers made the transition to defense last season and played in nine games, mostly on special teams. He made two tackles, both on special teams. This spring, he left as the starter opposite JoJo Nicolas at cornerback. One way or another, the Hurricanes sorely need Chambers to be an quick learner this fall and take his game up a few notches like former converted offensive players Sam Shields and Ryan Hill did as a seniors. Can he do it? Sure. Chambers played some defense in high school. Will he do it is another issue.
27. CB Brandon McGee (6-0, 190, Jr.): A U.S. Army All-American out of Plantation High, McGee has played in 21 games in his career at UM and has made one start to date. That's clearly not enough production for the highly-touted prospect, who recorded 15 tackles last year with two pass break-ups as primarily a nickel and dime corner behind Brandon Harris and Ryan Hill. The more disappointing part of the spring was that McGee left the as the backup to Lee Chambers. As the most experienced and potentially talented cornerback on the team, I expect assistant Paul Williams will eventually get the most out of McGee's talents. UM can't afford for McGee to fail. It's time for him to show up.
26. DE Marcus Robinson (6-1, 255, Sr.): A former U.S. Army All-American out of high school, Robinson turned heads and earned Freshman All-American honors in 2008 when he finished as the fifth leading tackler on the team (35 tackles) and ranked second with four sacks. Unfortunately, except for a few brief, shining moments, he hasn't been able to take his play up to the next level in the two years since. Two years ago, he compiled four sacks again and made 17 tackles in six starts. Last year, injuries led to his numbers falling off again as he played in 10 games and made 19 tackles, 2.5 sacks. Robinson, who moved to defensive end from linebacker coming out of high school, could become a dangerous weapon again if used as a hybrid defensive end/linebacker. It will be interesting to see how new defensive coordinator Mark D'onofrio decides to utilize him. But the talent is there.
For those of you interested in the player and coaches interviews on WQAM from Friday, here is the link. You can listen in. Honestly, not a lot of news came out of it. Just talk.
With football camp set to start on Aug. 6, the Miami Hurricanes will take to the airwaves Friday morning from 6 to 10 a.m. on 560 WQAM.
Among the guests from UM lined up: football coach Al Golden, men’s basketball coach Jim Larranaga, offensive line coach Art Kehoe, women’s hoops coach Katie Meier and athletes Olivier Vernon, Sean Spence, LaRon Byrd, Marcus Forston, Vaughn Telemaque, Mike James, Tyler Horn, Harland Gunn, Malcolm Grant and Julian Gamble.
With the football team off limits to the media -- outside of the flagship station obviously -- this might be the only time you get to hear them talk for the next few weeks. So listen in.
>The Maxwell Football Club named Spence and junior defensive back Ray Ray Armstrong to the 2011 Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List on Tuesday, given annually to the best defensive player in college football. Dan Morgan is the only UM player that has won the Bednarik Award, winning it in 2000, along with the Nagurski Trophy & Butkus Award.
> Travis Benjamin was one of 75 receivers named to the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award Wednesday. The award is presented annually to the nation’s outstanding college football receiver by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation.
> University of Miami left-hand pitcher Bryan Radziewski was named to the Baseball America Freshman All-America Second Team on Tuesday. Radziewski finished the 2011 season with a team-leading nine wins, amassing a 9-2 record with a team third-lowest 3.35 earned run average.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- During my stay in the Dallas area this fourth of July weekend I got a chance to go back and visit The Sixth Floor Museum, which chronicled the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy just a few feet from where he was shot in Dealey Plaza.
The last time I had been to Dallas and the museum was in 2007, a few days before Miami Northwestern played Southlake Carroll in the biggest high school football game I've ever covered. I did the tour of the museum with Jacory Harris, Sean Spence and Marcus Forston and shared a few laughs before the game.
Those Bulls, who eventually sent eight players to UM from that team, were so talented and so full of promise Hurricanes fans thought it would only be a matter of time before those local kids would lead the Canes back to national prominence. So far, it hasn't happened. Of those eight, only two -- Spence and offensive guard Washington -- have even made the All-ACC Team.
Of course, their careers aren't over yet. All eight could end up playing prominent roles this season.
We pick up our Top 40 Canes' Countdown with three of those former Northwestern Bulls starting with tackle Ben Jones...
35. OT Ben Jones (6-5, 310, Jr.): Three years into his career at UM and Jones is smelling a lot like the second coming of Chris Barney, a big, highly-touted Miami Northwestern offensive lineman who did nothing in his career at Miami. So far, Jones has only played in seven games, making his only start last season in the opener against Florida A&M because of suspensions to other players. He ended the spring as the co-starter at right tackle with Jermaine Johnson. But Johnson, who played in 11 games and made five starts a year ago, is going to be the starter in my mind until proven otherwise.
34. WR Kendal Thompkins (5-10, 182, Jr.): It says on his bio he played in 11 games and started four times last season. It also says there he made one catch for six yards. It's the last factoid that is more telling of Thompkins' contributions at UM. In three years, he's played in 23 games and has five catches for 45 yards and a touchdown to show for it. Funny thing is, Thompkins accomplished more than that in the Canes' most recent spring game alone, hauling in seven passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. So when are Canes fans going to see the Thompkins coaches and teammates always rave about in practice? Maybe this season in new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch's offense. Or, if they're lucky, maybe Al Golden will invite them out to practice.
33. WR Allen Hurns (6-3, 185, So.): Randy Shannon absolutely loved Hurns' blocking ability and gave the former Miami Carol City product playing time in 10 games because of it. But Hurns never made a catch and spent most of his time on special teams, where he recorded four tackles (three solo) on the season. In the spring game with LaRon Byrd and Travis Benjamin out with injuries, Hurns made six catches for 64 yards. There's no reason Hurns can't become productive, especially as a possession receiver down the middle of the field. I think he goes for as many as 10 catches this season including a few big ones.
32. LB James Gaines (6-3, 220, So.): Hurricanes fans everywhere were a bit stunned when Randy Shannon offered Gaines, a two-star prospect out of the Buffalo area a scholarship in 2010. Gaines might stun them again this season by getting on the field and getting some real playing time. At the end of the spring, he was named co-starter at middle linebacker with Jordan Futch. Gaines, who played in six games last season on special teams and racked up one tackle, probably won't win the starting job over Futch come the season opener. But an injury or two and he'll be doing more than making tackles on special teams. One way or the other, I expect him to be on the field contributing.
31. WR Tommy Streeter (6-5, 215, Jr.): As big and as fast as he is (he was clocked at 4.3 seconds in the 40 last spring), Touchdown Tommy came to Miami with a lot of hype and expectations. Here's what he's produced in two healthy years -- five catches, 109 yards and a touchdown (a 42-yard grab against Notre Dame in the Sun Bowl). Streeter had a monster game at Traz Powell Stadium in the second of three UM scrimmages this past spring, hauling in six passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Then, a couple weeks later, he couldn't be spotted during the spring game, except for failing to bring in passes he should have caught. With Leonard Hankerson long gone, UM will be looking for a deep target this season. Will Touchdown Tommy answer? That's anybody's guess at this point. But the talent and potential has always been there.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- University of Miami baseball coach Jim Morris called Indians closer and former Hurricane Chris Perez Sunday morning to wish him a happy and belated 26th birthday.
Morris had no idea he'd be calling him back a few hours later to congratulate him on something else -- getting his first invite to the All-Star Game. Perez and two former Hurricanes teammates -- Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez and Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun -- were picked to represent their respective leagues Sunday, making them the first trio in Hurricanes history to play in the same Midsummer Classic.
Perez went into Sunday tied for third in the American League with 19 saves, a 2-3 record and a 2.37 ERA. Sanchez is the Marlins team leader in batting average (.293) and RBI (46) and has 13 homers. Braun is hitting .310 (10th best in NL) with 16 homers (tied for 10th most in NL) and 62 RBI (4th-most in NL).
"That's great news," Morris told The Miami Herald Sunday afternoon after hearing the news. "I talked to Chris this morning and didn't even know it. Maybe he didn't either. They probably hadn't announced it yet. But it's great news. We've had some really good players here over the years and it's a credit to our guys and our assistant coaches for getting to the next level and continuing their success."
For Braun, the leading vote getter in the National League, it's his fourth consecutive All-Star Game appearance. But for Sanchez and Perez it marks the first time in their careers they've been All-Stars. The only other time UM has had more than one former Hurricane in the same All-Star Game was in 2001 when catcher Charles Johnson and outfielder Greg Vaughn each made it.
Prior to Sunday's selections, UM had only had five former players make it to the Midsummer Classic -- pitcher Danny Graves (2000, '04), pitcher Neal Heaton (1990), Johnson ('97, '01), Vaughn (93, 96, 98, 01) and Braun. Former Dodgers, Marlins and Mets catcher Mike Piazza played six games at UM before going pro. He played in 12 All-Star Games, but he doesn't really consider himself a former Hurricane. He played more at Miami-Dade College.
The Hurricanes currently have 10 former players up in the major leagues. Aside from the three All-Stars, outfielders Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff are playing for the Giants, infielder Alex Cora is with the Nationals, outfielder Jason Michaels is with the Astros, outfielder John Jay is with the Cardinals, third baseman Danny Valencia is with the Twins, and former second baseman Jemile Weeks was recently called up by the Oakland A's.
> Hurricanes designated hitter Cade Kreuter, meanwhile, was selected to play in the California Collegiate League (CCL) All-Star Game July 13 in Glendale, Calif.
Kreuter, a USC transfer who hit .228 with nine RBI in 57 at-bats as a sophomore for UM, has eight hits (three doubles) and three RBI for the CCL’s Academy Barons this summer. He has started 11 of 13 games. The game will be televised live nationally on Fox Sports Net.
Mark Guandolo has coached quite a few talented linebackers throughout his career in South Florida.
Witt, who earned MVP honors at one of Al Golden's summer camps this past month, told UM coaches Friday he wanted to be a part of their 2012 signing class. The 6-2, 208-pounder outside linebacker, clocked by Guandolo with 4.5-speed in the 40-yard dash, had offers from 10 other schools including West Virginia, Louisville, Texas Tech, Wake Forest and Kentucky.
"All the guys I've had are different in their own way, but Josh to me is sort of a mix of Glenn and Jon," Guandolo said. "I think Josh has Beason's motor. That's saying a lot. Jon's one of the hardest players I've coached. And, he's tall like Glenn Cook. He's also a little faster than both of 'em."
Witt grew up in Texas and played as a backup quarterback for Guandolo as a sophomore. But in the spring of last year, Guandolo decided to move him to outside linebacker.
"He was a decent quarterback, but we just thought with his speed and because he was a real aggressive kid who wanted to hit people we just thought his ticket would be defense," Guandolo said. "He's just a real, real strong, tough kid with great speed. He ran the 100 meters for our track team. Just a great motor.
"He's just gotten better every day. Our playoff run last year really helped him. He played at his best then even with an injured wrist. His best game was against [eventual Class 6A state champion] Miami Central. To me, you can put him anywhere. He's one of those guys who can come off the edge or stay in the middle and play the run. He has the ability to drop and cover too."
Witt could end up being the first of several Cypress Bay players the Hurricanes bring in over the next couple seasons.
Left tackle Danny Isidora, rated the 26th best offensive guard in the country by Rivals.com, has UM in his top four according to Guandolo. "He's looking at Wisconsin, North Carolina, Michigan and Miami," Guandolo said of Isidora (6-3, 330). "I think he wants to make a decision before the season starts if possible. But Miami is right there. There's nobody leading. He's still evaluating."
Other Cypress Bay players UM is interested in according to Guandolo are 2013 running back Matt Dayes and 2013 receiver Alex Montgomery.
"The one thing you have to give Miami a lot of credit for is that they're trying to build something and they're out there looking, being thorough," Guandolo said.
"They're working guys out hard. They really evaluated Josh hard. It wasn't just an offer. They really did a thorough job on him. It's a big commitment on both sides. I think a lot of schools have lost that evaluation process. They rely on video or the one time they come to watch a kid play. Josh was impressed with the staff. I've been impressed with the staff."
Miami Hurricanes center Reggie Johnson will be sidelined for five to six months after having surgery Thursday to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.
UM is hopeful Johnson, who injured the knee during a pick-up game with teammates on Monday, will be able to return in time for the start of Atlantic Coast Conference play in January.
"Reggie has some time to work on rehabbing the knee and trying to get back for at least a portion of the season. It is a devastating blow because of the real optimism we had when Reggie elected to pull his name out of the draft. Now, we have to rethink our plans for the upcoming season. We have to try and figure out who will fill that very big void."
The 6-10, 305-pound junior from Winston-Salem, N.C. started 34 games last season for UM and earned All-ACC honorable mention honors after averaging 11.9 points and 9.6 rebounds a game. He tested the waters of the NBA Draft last spring and elected to return.
Guard Trey McKinney-Jones, who was there when Johnson injured his knee on Monday, said initially no one at UM thought Johnson’s injury was very serious.
“No one touched him really,” said McKinney-Jones, a junior transfer who will be eligible this season after transferring in from the University of Missour-Kansas City. “He just came down wrong and kind of limped off the court. He wasn’t rolling on the ground, screaming. We thought it was just something small.”
But an MRI on Tuesday reveraled a tear. Doctors informed Johnson it would be better to repair the meniscus for his long-term future instead of letting it heal on its own. And that’s what he opted for.
“Honestly, he’s a huge part of this team,” McKinney-Jones said. “He was dominating on the court with us, looked real good. It’s going to hurt not having him, but we’re such a deep team. With the new coaching staff, they’ll get us ready to make the adjustments without Reggie. I think the sky is still the limit for us.”
As a sophomore, Johnson was Miami’s leading rebounder and third-leading scorer, converting 59.1 percent of his field goals (the third-highest single-season percentage in UM history). He also averaged a team-high 1.3 blocks per game. He finished the season ranked second in the ACC in offensive rebounds (3.5), fourth in both defensive rebounds (6.1) and overall rebounds and 20th in scoring.
Larranaga said UM will look to 6-11 redshirt sophomore Kenny Kadji (a Florida transfer), 6-10 senior Julian Gamble and 6-10 sophomore Raphael Akpejiori to fill the sizable void left by Johnson during his rehab.
"I don't know that much about Kenny's game," Larranaga said. "There's no video of him playing with Miami. I only got to see him during our brief individual workouts.
"Julian Gamble is working very, very hard rehabbing his injury. He's been playing daily. But he didn't do any individual stuff in the spring."
The Hurricanes, projected by some to be a Top 25 team, lost just one player (three-point specialist Adrian Thomas) from a 21-15 team reached the NIT quarterfinals.
Larranaga said Johnson has stayed positive since the injury.
"He was in good spirits before the surgery and he came out of it in good spirits," Larranaga said. "It was just a pick up game. He twisted it. Bad luck."
> Larranaga said he's had a chance to work on his team's schedule for the upcoming season, but still hasn't finalized it.
"I'm pretty pleased with what we've been able to do," he said. "We open up the season in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge versus Purdue. Then Memphis is coming to our place. Rutgers is coming to our place, Ole Miss. It's part of the home and home deal from last year.
"We have very, very good top 50 teams on our schedule. As I told our team, the goal of scheduling is not just to play great teams, but play a schedule that will allow you to compete for an at-large bid [in the NCAA Tournament]. It's about developing a good RPI ranking in the non-conference. That will determine if you are even in a position to earn an at-large bid."
Larranaga said he and his assistants will be spread out throughout the country over the next month recruiting. He said he's already met "a ton of local high school coaches" during a team camp and coaches clinic at Miramar High last month and emails them everyday.
"We have a lot of catching up to do with the kids who are going to be seniors because we haven't been here to recruit those guys," Larranaga said.
"Many schools in our league and the SEC have been involved with these young men for a year or two. What we need to do is develop relationship with 10 graders who will be juniors. That will be the first recruiting class we'll be able to develop a relationship with for a year and that's what we we have to do this July in order to make this a successful recruiting class."