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51 posts from August 2011

August 31, 2011

Former Bethune-Cookman star catcher O'Brien enrolled at UM, seeking waiver to play

Former Bethune-Cookman star catcher Peter O'Brien has enrolled at UM and he hopes to play for the Hurricanes as a senior once he receives a waiver from the NCAA.

Peter O'Brien O'Brien (6-4, 220) was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the third round last June after a stellar three-year career at B-CC. But he didn't sign with the club before the Aug. 15 deadline, allowing him to return to college.

The former standout at Miami's Braddock High wrapped up his career at B-CC playing in a total of 168 games, hitting a total of 38 home runs and 38 doubles, while racking up 154 RBI and a .336 batting average. In his time behind the plate, he collected 1038 putouts and 148 assists, for a .985 fielding percentage.

UM's sports information department said O'Brien is allowed to practice with the team, but still needs a special waiver from the NCAA to be eligible to play this coming season. Last year, UM received a waiver for USC transfer and first baseman Cade Kreuter.

Aldarius Johnson's mother hires lawyer, wants explanation on why her son has been suspended indefinitely by Golden

Shantera Walker-Johnson is one angry mom and she wants someone to clarify why her son, senior receiver Aldarius Johnson, was suspended indefinitely by University of Miami football coach Al Golden on Tuesday.

Aldarius_johnson Johnson, one of a dozen players fingered by imprisoned former Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro for allegedly taking impermissible gifts, was interviewed by NCAA investigators two weeks ago according his mother.

But unlike 13 of his teammates who heard back from the NCAA on Tuesday in regards to their eligibility, Johnson's name was nowhere to be found on the NCAA's findings and penalties report. Instead, UM sent out a press release Tuesday saying Johnson, the team leader in receptions in 2008, had been suspended indefinitely by Golden for a violation of team rules.

"What UM told me when I called is that they're waiting on the NCAA to clear him," said Walker-Johnson, who says she's hired an attorney to help get her son reinstated. "I don't see his name anywhere on the NCAA website about the case. I figure if they had the other players names up there, and what UM was telling me was true, it would say Aldarius Johnson's case is still pending. And it doesn't.

"To me, they're trying to set an example with Aldarius. But he's not the one to set an example on. I'm not going to allow it. I'm going to fight until I get some justice. He's not the fall guy. Go back at Shapiro and point the finger at him. You all let him come to your university, gave him a hall with his name on it, you had coaches taking these kids to meet this man. It's not fair to put it all on Aldarius. He is not Nevin Shapiro. He ain't did nothing."

Other news outlets -- including Yahoo! Sports investigative reporter Charles Robinson -- reported through sources that Johnson was less than forthright in two interviews with NCAA investigators while the rest of the UM players questioned by the NCAA admitted they had received impermissible gifts.

UM associate director for communications Chris Freet, however, told The Miami Herald Wednesday Johnson's suspension was not-related to the NCAA investigation, but rather the result of what Johnson did last last week. Freet said Johnson was actually suspended indefinitely on Sunday, but the announcement wasn't made until after the NCAA's ruling because the school was waiting until after the ruling for all roster news to come out at once. Freet confirmed Johnson is still enrolled at UM.

Walker-Johnson said her son told her he recently got in trouble for breaking "Team rule No. 10," a Twitter-related rule in place by Golden. On Saturday, during Canesfest, an autograph event involving players and fans at the BankUnited Center, Johnson sent out a tweet on his account (adjohnson04) asking his followers what the best strip club in Miami was. It has since been erased.

"They said it was tweeted by Aldarius, but at the time Twitter came through, he was signing autographs, taking senior pictures at Canesfest," Walker-Johnson said. "And are they really suspending him because of that? He can't practice or do nothing with the team because of that. He's got to sit in study hall and watch as his teammates practice. That's not a reason to suspend him. To me, it has nothing to do with it. What they keep telling me is he can't participate is because his case is pending. To me, they just want to make an example of him."

Of the 12 players named by Shapiro in the Yahoo! report, Johnson had the most allegations against him. Shapiro claimed he provided Johnson with dinner at Benihana in 2008 followed by VIP access and approximately $5,000 in entertainment and drinks for Johnson and other players at The Cheetah Gentlemen’s Club in North Miami Beach.

Shapiro also alleged that he gave Hurricanes equipment staffer Sean Allen $150 to have Johnson’s car removed from a towing lot, and providing Johnson with multiple cash gits totaling in thousands of dollars.

“Aldarius was always calling me if his mother couldn’t pay the bills, or the cat had a problem or the dog ate his homework," Shapiro told Yahoo! "I just gifted him money at least 10 times, from the low end being like $50 [to] the high end being probably like $300 to $400. I’d say he took a couple grand from me over the course of time.

“He just became very heavy maintenance – high maintenance. I inevitably just broke the chain because I couldn’t take the calls from him anymore. It was always about wanting something.”

Asked if her son lied to NCAA investigators, Walker-Johnson said: "That's not true. For one, you can't make him say he was somewhere and he wasn't. That's the issue. You're going to make him lie? He's not supposed to be lying. Here's a convict who did lying for a living and the school would say Nevin Shapiro is not lying, but you are Aldarius? I don't think so. If the NCAA felt that way then why wouldn't they have ruled a punishment like they did to other kids?"

Walker-Johnson said her hope in the end is to get her son reinstated so he can finish his senior year at UM. Johnson, who came to UM as the all-time leading receiver in Miami-Dade County after a stellar career at Miami Northwestern, had been trying to make a comeback after two disappointing seasons after a solid freshman year. His name, however, is no longer even listed on UM's roster.

"He graduates in 12 weeks," Walker-Johnson said. "My main concern is in a couple weeks he will be walking across the stage, getting his degree at the University of Miami. But he didn't just come to UM to get a college degree -- he came to play college football. How are you going to take that from my son when he needs a breakout year to go pro? If this got anything to with the NCAA, he should be able to practice and do everything else but play in a game.

"My son has been doing everything he was supposed to do to better himself, even more than what he was supposed to be doing. That's what he don't get. 'Mama, I done everything they've told me to do. You mean to tell me football is over?' Do you know what that means to hear from my child? It ain't over son. It's not over.'"

Golden: QB competition will continue after Maryland; Highsmith will serve as emergency QB

Stephen Morris will start for the Hurricanes at quarterback when they open the season Monday night at Maryland.

Jacory Harris But when the Canes return home, UM coach Al Golden said the fight for the starting quarterback job between Morris and senior Jacory Harris that "had to be aborted" will re-open during UM's bye week.

"We have two or three practices during the bye week there so we'll let them compete," Golden said of Morris and Harris, one of eight players suspended for the season-opener at Maryland by the NCAA for taking gifts of more than a $100 from former booster and convicted felon Nevin Shapiro.

"The competition was really close and then got skewed toward the stretch because it looked like one was going to be ineligible and we didn't know if he was going to be reinstated. That competition ended. So we'll continue it after this game."

With Harris out for the opener, Golden said former backup quarterback and current backup safety A.J. Highsmith will serve as an emergency third quarterback behind former walk-on and usual third-string senior Spencer Whipple Monday. Golden said Highsmith will still serve as a backup at safety and play on special teams Monday.

"AJ has played quarterback for two years," Golden said. "AJ is a bright kid, can move his feet. He played the position for two years. So we'll have three ready and three at the game. Whip is smart, a coaches' son who carries it over to the game. He's the kind of guy who didn't get as many reps during the preseason, but he's been getting a lot of reps the last five or six practices. He can operate despite not getting the reps because he knows it so well and because he's a quick learner and smart."

Golden was asked who might have been named UM's starting quarterback had the competition not been halted by the NCAA's investigation. "That's impossible to answer," Golden said. "We hadn't had our second scrimmage and news started breaking and Jacory's name had been mentioned. We had to abort the competition and make sure Stephen was ready.

"Stephen was certainly up to the challenge. They were neck and neck. I think anybody on the team will tell you that. The players themselves felt whoever the selection was we can win with. The bottomline was Stephen really came on strong last four or five practices, certainly the last scrimmages and really we turned the reigns over to him all of last week and clearly this morning once the news came down."

> It sounds unlikely UM will try to appeal any of the eight suspensions handed down by the NCAA Tuesday. Golden said at the moment UM isn't trying to appeal anything and in the end, it's "up to the individual and their family" if they want to appeal.

> When asked if he felt the NCAA penalties UM was handed fit the rule violations, Golden said he simply supported the NCAA and its investigation.

"How do I feel about the penalties they got? I have no idea what the young people said, what actually transpired. The NCAA felt that was just, they reinstated five our young people and others have to serve a game or multiple games and make repayment," Golden said. "I support that and I'm glad we have a chance to move on. But I'm glad how our young people handled the situation and they're honesty. I know the NCAA has said that as well."

> Asked if he's relieved only three players will be suspended more than one game, Golden said: "I think that's fair. I think that's absolutely a correct assumption. We had five guys reinstated and five guys I believe are just serving one game. Again, I don't know the extent of the conversations or what the NCAA garnered from their conversations with our young people. But I feel that what these young people did is clearly a reinstatement case. So it's restitution of payment, serve a game and then be reinstated. From that standpoint, it's clear cut."

> As for his game plan Monday night, Golden said everybody in the two-deep will get to play and that starters will not be leaned on more than usual.

"We work under the philosophy you bring your two deep and continue to rotate," Golden said. "We'll bring our guys and rotate throughout the game. It's a great opportunity. I'm disappointed some of our guys because they're seniors are suspended for this game. But at the same time there's a lot of younger guys who are getting an incredible opportunity and I know they're going to make the most of it."

 

Maryland coach Randy Edsall expects to see 'eager, hungry' Canes Monday night

Maryland coach Randy Edsall was asked Wednesday if facing a Hurricanes team minus nine suspended players including seven starters makes him feel like the Terrapins should be favored to win Monday's season opener at Byrd Stadium.

Randy Edsall Edsall hardly took the bait. "All I know is all those players Miami is going to bring up here are very talented, very fast, athletic and physical," Edsall said.

"Even though there are going to be some of those young men who aren't going to be coming with them as they make the trip north on Sunday to play Monday, those other young men who are going to step in have been very eager and very hungry to go in and play. So, we just need to make sure we take care of ourselves and go out and perform... that's how we're going to approach it."

Edsall, who went 74-70 at UConn including 33-19 over his final four seasons, was also very complimentary of Hurricanes coach Al Golden, who told us Tuesday he called Edsall to keep him abreast of the situation involving his team as a courtesy. While it might be unusual to hear from an opposing coach the week before you face his team, Edsall said he was appreciative of Golden's phone call.

"I would have done the same thing if I was in that same situation," Edsall said. "Again, that's the right thing to do.

"I've gone against Al and have a lot of respect for Al and what he did at Temple and what he's going to do there at Miami. As a coach, it's unfortunate he inherited that situation. He didn't cause the problem. I just told him keep looking forward, keep doing what you're going to do and you'll be fine. That's really all he can do or anybody in that situation can. That's all they can do. I think what he did was make sure his people were up front and honest with the NCAA and the people at the university. That's what I would always expect from Al and the way Al has always been. We were in contact with Al. I was in total agreement with how we were going to handle the situation. Again, it was a mutual respect between two coaches."

> Edsall said he's very aware of the success UM quarterback Stephen Morris had against Maryland last season and respects him. Morris led UM to a come-from-behind win over the Terrapins in his first start for the Canes, tossing the go-ahead 35-yard touchdown pass to Leonard Hankerson with 37 seconds left.

"When you take a look at his numbers and how he performs he's, an elite quarterback," Edsall said. "He's a young man that has the ability to beat you in a couple different ways. We're very aware of him. It's good we do have some film on him, we can study him. Now, he's going to be in a new offense. But again, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and what he can do. Our guys know he's a guy who beat us a year ago."

> The Hurricanes won't be the only team playing Monday night with suspensions. Edsall said Maryland running back D.J. Adams and offensive lineman Cody Blue will be held out of the game for violating team rules.

Adams had been listed as the tailback behind Davin Meggett. Blue had been a backup tackle. Adams played in nine games as a reserve tailback in 2010, finishing third on the team in rushes (67) and rushing yards (239) and had a team-high 11 rushing touchdowns, a Maryland freshman record.

August 30, 2011

UM releases depth chart

CORAL GABLES -- Along with the news from the NCAA, here's the depth chart according to UM (with suspensions).

Offense
QB: Stephen Morris | Spencer Whipple
RB: Lamar Miller | Mike James | Maurice Hagens
WR: Allen Hurns | Kendall Thompkins | Phillip Dorsett
WR: LaRon Byrd | Rashawn Scott or Tommy Streeter
TE: John Calhoun or Asante Cleveland or Chase Ford or Clive Walford 
LT: Joel Figueroa | Malcolm Bunche
LG: Harland Gunn | Jared Wheeler
C: Tyler Horn | Shane McDermott
RG: Brandon Linder | Jonathan Feliciano
RT: Brandon Washington | Jermaine Johnson

Defense
DE: Marcus Robinson | Anthony Chickillo
DT: Micanor Regis | Olsen Pierre
DT: Darius Smith | Jalen Grimble
DE: Andrew Smith | David Perry 
SLB: Ramon Buchanan | C.J. Holton
MLB: Jimmy Gaines | Gionni Paul
WLB: Jordan Futch | Denzel Perryman
CB: Mike Williams | Lee Chambers
CB: Brandon McGee | Thomas Finnie
FS: Vaughn Telemaque | Kacy Rodgers
SS: Jojo Nicolas | A.J. Highsmith

Special Teams
K: Jake Wieclaw | Matt Goudis
P: Dalton Botts | Jake Wieclaw
KR: Lamar Miller | Brandon McGee | Phillip Dorsett
PR: Phillip Dorsett | Kendall Thompkins 

NCAA: Eight Canes must sit out, repay benefits; Aldarius Johnson suspended indefinitely

CORAL GABLES -- The NCAA announced moments ago that eight Hurricanes will face suspensions and be forced to repay benefits in order to be eligible to play again following a decision Tuesday afternoon by the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff. 

Of the eight, three received substantial benefits as recruits from former booster Nevin Shapiro and athletics personnel to entice them to enroll at UM, which are considered some of the most serious recruiting violations within the NCAA. Five other students were found to receive less than $500 each as student-athletes at UM.

> Defensive end Olivier Vernon received more than $1,200 in benefits and must miss six games and make repayment of the value of the benefits. 

> Safety Ray Ray Armstrong and tight end Dyron Dye will miss four games and must make repayment. Ray Ray owes $788 and Dye owes $738. 

> Defensive end Marcus Forston, linebacker Sean Spence, defensive end Adewale Ojomo, receiver Travis Benjamin and quarterback Jacory Harris must miss one game and make repayments. Forston received more than $400 in extra benefits. Spence received approximately $275; Ojomo $240; Benjamin $150 and Harris $140.

The NCAA says UM has not submitted any additional reinstatement requests at this time. 

"The NCAA has informed the University of Miami of their decisions regarding the reinstatement of eight student-athletes who were declared ineligible by the University last week,” UM athletic director Shawn Eichorst said in a statement released by The NCAA. “The student-athletes involved have acknowledged receiving improper benefits and will now be responsible for restitution and, in some cases, the student-athletes will also serve game suspensions. They understand that their actions demand consequences.

"This university has the highest standards in all of our academic and athletic endeavors. We will remain steadfast in our commitment to continue to build winning programs with the utmost of integrity. We will be more vigilant in our compliance and continue to work with the NCAA on the joint investigation to determine the facts..

"We appreciate the diligence and understanding of the NCAA staff and its handling of the student-athlete eligibility issues in an expeditious manner. I would also like to thank Coach Golden and his staff for their professionalism and leadership over the past few weeks."

> Additionally, the following football student-athletes have been cleared by the NCAA to play in all competition and each must make repayment in the amount of less than $100: cornerbacks Brandon McGee and JoJo Nicolas, defensive tackle Micanor Regis and safety Vaughn Telemaque.

Linebacker Marcus Robinson has been cleared of any NCAA violations and will not face any penalties.

Finally, UM head coach Al Golden announced that senior wide receiver Aldarius Johnson has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.

> It's our understanding is all suspensions begin immediately, starting with the season opener at Maryland Sept. 5.

Golden won't release depth chart until UM hears from NCAA; others news & notes

CORAL GABLES -- Hurricanes football coach Al Golden said Tuesday he won't be releasing a depth chart until he here's back from the NCAA on the players ruled ineligible and seeking reinstatement.

Al Golden "I know everybody wants the depth chart, but it would be disingenuous for me and for us to release one here today and to have to adjust it later today or tomorrow morning," said Golden who told WQAM on Monday he expected to hear back fro the NCAA regarding his ineligible players by Wednesday.

"I've reached out to [Maryland coach] Randy [Edsall] personally, told them our situation, assured him what we're looking at as a program. From an ethical, sportsmanship basis, I wanted to make sure I'd reach out to him head coach to head coach and let him know we'll cooperate with him on what we know so we can be on the same page.

"What we don't want to do is release something prematurely and we find out from the NCAA we have to go back and release something else. I don't think that would be genuine. Clearly it's gone from releasing it based on where we were, to now when the NCAA comes back."

Where we are in terms of how many players could be suspended remains to be seen. When asked specifically about the eight players The Miami Herald, Associated Press and other outlets reported as seeking reinstatement, Golden said that number was "inaccurate. And I'm not going to comment on inaccurate reporting. I'm not going to do that. It's irresponsible."

UM could ultimately suspend all 15 student-athletes President Donna Shalala said had eligibility issues and that's likely why Golden tried to shoot down the reports of eight athletes seeking reinstatement. Either way, Golden said Tuesday anybody with eligibility issues isn't taking first team reps and that if they aren't cleared to return by the NCAA or UM by Thursday's deadline, they won't be available to play in the opener at Maryland next Monday night.

"If it's someone alleged, they're really not getting the reps," Golden said. "If they have been rendered ineligible, and we have not released any names from our end, if they've been rendered ineligible by the university, they can only be reinstated by the NCAA. So right now we're not counting on those guys. Is it difficult. Sure it's difficult. I'm not going to lie to you. Is it a distraction? Sure, it can be. But we have to maintain our focus.

"The bulk of the game planning goes in on a Tuesday and Wednesday practice so it's really important they're there for one of those at least."

Here's what else Golden was talking about Tuesday regarding his team:

- Asked about the situation at defensive tackle and junior college transfer Darius Smith, Golden said: "He's done a great job, has matured. He's doing a nice job for us right now. We're excited about Darius. Olsen Pierre has been in there as well. [Jalen] Grimble has played in there a little bit, too. And we also have some vets. Hopefully those guys will continue to make progress at that position."

- Golden on Maryland quarterback Danny O'Brien, the ACC Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2010: "If you get good quarterback play you can get good play from your team. Danny does that. He has a strong arm in addition to being really bright. He can move in the pocket and re-set his feet and keep his eyes downfield. That's really hard to do for a young [player] and he does it naturally. We have the utmost respect for O'Brien."

- Golden on his team's cornerback play: "Well, I think Lee Chambers and Mike Williams have helped us out tremendously there. This is the healthiest Lee has been in his career. He's excited. He's always been a tough player, fast player. Now he has the skill set to compete at corner. I think he'll do so. Mike has been a pleasant surprise at corner. We needed experience because we lost four corners to the NFL; we're pleased with Mike's progress there. [Freshman Thomas] Finnie has done a nice job; JoJo [Nicolas] has done a nice job, has really improved his skill set. [Brandon] McGee is more mature now than he was at any point in the spring. I think we've improved that position. They're going to test us at 8:02 on Monday night and we'll get a better [feel] for where we are."

- On the play of senior Jordan Futch, who has moved to weakside linebacker: "He's an excitable guy. Sometimes Jordan has been his own enemy. If something doesn't go right that carries into second down, third down. What we're seeing from Jordan now is a little more poise, maturity. He's playing WILL but can also play MIKE. I'm excited for Jordan. Right now he's probably playing the most consistent football since I've been around. He's playing really consistently right now."

- On freshman defensive end Anthony Chickillo, who has run with the first team in camp: "The expectations are high for him. He's shown a maturity physically and mentally that he should be able to handle this grind, contribute for us. His work ethic is great, he's got a great motor. Those are the things you have to teach freshmen a lot of times, teach that and not the X's and O's. That's why you don't want to play with a lot of them. Hopefully he has that and now we're focusing on the system part with him. We're excited; it's a great opportunity for Anthony, and that's why he came to Miami."

- On how sixth-year senior Joel Figueroa has moved into the fight for the starting left tackle job: "Right now Fig and [Malcom] Bunche [are battling at left tackle]. With Joel, we have to make sure he's careful with his back, keeps his weight down. We're expecting big things from Fig. Fig is good, brings a sense of maturity. He's been through a bunch of coaches, a great deal of experiences. He has a maturity about him that's hard to duplicate in your locker room. It's Harland [Gunn] at left guard backed up by [Jared] Wheeler. At center it's [Tyler] Horn backed by [Shane] McDermott. Right guard - [Brandon] Linder backed by Feliciano. And the right tackle is Washington and Jermaine Johnson."

- Golden said he's hopeful senior transfer Blake Ayles will be available to play this season. "The others will see action for us in the game. Asante [Cleveland] looks to be healthy, Chase [Ford] is doing a nice job and Clive [Walford] and [John] Calhoun have done a nice job as well. We'll see all four of those tight ends. Anyone who has followed my career knows I like to use tight ends."

- Golden said Jake Wieclaw has won the kicking job for field goals and kickoffs and Dalton Botts has won the punting job. The kickoff job is still up for grabs. "Right now Botts, Wieclaw and [Matt] Goudis is who it is for kickoffs. For me it's about hang time - I don't want line drives to the goal line."

August 27, 2011

Figueroa leads at left tackle; Futch backing up Spence; more news & notes from UM media day

CORAL GABLES -- University of Miami coach Al Golden said Friday that the team's depth chart would probably be released to the media next Tuesday -- after the Hurricanes exchange it with Maryland.

But based on some conversations with players and coaches at UM's media day Saturday here are a few tidbits of news in the fight for position battles that we learned:

Joel Figueroa > Sixth-year senior Joel Figueroa (6-6, 315) appears to have either won or be in the lead for for the starting left tackle job. Freshman Malcolm Bunche (6-7, 328) was expected to win the job coming into camp with sophomore All-American Seantrel Henderson out with a back injury.

But Figueroa, who has 15 starts in his career (13 at guard), has apparently been very impressive according to teammates. Junior Brandon Washington, who was moved to right tackle after Henderson's injury, said he's seen a different level of play from Figueroa, who has lost nearly 15 pounds since having surgery.

"I see this guy down the field full speed every play," Washington said. "Then he comes back to the huddle every play 'Oh man, oh man.' I'm like 'Fig, calm down. You got a missing disc in your lower back bro. You made your block, fine, but don't sprint down the field.' I told him, 'Dog you got other reps to do.' 
"The way he's competing for the starting job, I've never seen him perform like that the whole time I've been here."

Figueroa started two games last season -- Ohio State and Pittsburgh -- at right tackle and clearly looked overmatched and slow. But not now according to teammates.

"The coaches believe in him," Washington said. "Last season early in the season he didn't have too many good games at right tackle. I know they saw that film. For them to come back and say you're going to be our blind side tackle, that's a lot of expectations. But he's showing fight every practice."

The other starting jobs on UM's offensive line that appear to have be won

- At left guard senior Harland Gunn (6-2, 310) is ahead of redshirt sophomore Jared Wheeler (6-5, 315)
- At center senior Tyler Horn (6-4, 305) is ahead of redshirt freshman Shane McDermott (6-4, 290)
- At right guard Brandon Linder (6-6, 310) is ahead of redshirt freshman Jonathan Feliciano
- Redshirt sophomore Jermaine Johnson is running behind Washington at right tackle. Junior Ben Jones (6-5, 310) is rotating at both tackle spots as a reserve.

Jordan Futch > With defensive captain and leader Sean Spence's future in question (he needs to be reinstated by the NCAA), we learned Saturday senior Jordan Futch will be the man who first steps in and tries to fill his shoes.

Futch, beaten out by sophomore Jimmy Gaines in the middle linebacker competition, has been moved to the weakside spot behind Spence. Futch (6-3, 235) said he and Gaines (6-3, 220) would call the plays at linebacker if Spence is out.

"He's doing a great job," Spence said of Futch. "He's already been physical, but he's picking up the mental part of the game. He's doing a better job being vocal, making a lot of plays out there."

Gaines is currently being backed up by true freshman Gionni Paul (6-0, 230) and Kelvin Cain (6-3, 230) at middle linebacker. Senior Ramon Buchanan (6-1, 222) will be the starter on the strong side. His backups are junior C.J. Holton (6-1, 230) and true freshman Eddie Johnson (6-1, 230). Freshman Denzel Perryman (6-0, 217) was wearing a protective boot on his right foot this week in practice. He's currently behind Futch at weakside linebacker.

A FEW MORE TIDBITS...

> Spence on his mental approach on the season with the NCAA investigation that is ongoing at UM: "Same way that I've been preparing. Nothing has changed. I'm still going out and practicing hard, helping guys out, giving it all I got.

"When I'm on the football field I'm at peace. That's where I find my peace of mind."

> Washington on what it's been like facing true freshman defensive end Anthony Chickillo (6-4, 248) in camp: "When he first got in, I was kind of like 'Why did you put a true freshman up against me? I'm a junior. I thought that was a slap in the face. But after the first two practices, that kid brung it. 

"He's physical. He knew what he was doing. He knew the playbook like the back of his hand. He ain't no freshman."

Washington said he tries to make Chickillo believe that he isn't a freshman. 

"He's my locker mate -- I'm number 72 and he's 71. So he asks me questions all the time and I say 'Chick, stop being a freshman,'" Washington said. "I told him that because of his play on the field. He ain't no freshman. I remember they told me the same when I was a freshman. I didn't even get to do some of the things that freshmen did. He shouldn't either."

> Washington on the chemistry he's built with Brandon Linder on the right side of UM's offensive line: "No doubt in my mind I can trust him. I know I can go into that fourth quarter dead tired, unfocused and I can ask him what the call was and he'll tell me. Because he's done it in practice."

> Sophomore quarterback Stephen Morris on what he likes about new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch's offense: "[The] ability to do whatever you want. Coaches give you a play and you have to maximize that play. You have to know the offense inside and out and just make sure you understand all the checks and reads."

> Defensive tackle Marcus Forston made a funny Saturday when he saw a reporter trip and stumble over some stairs (the reporter was OK). "First tackle by the turf monster," Forston shouted.

As one of the 12 players cited in the Yahoo! article for receiving impermissible gifts from former booster Nevin Shapiro, one might imagine it would be easy for Forston to get down. But he said that hasn't happened yet.

"When you have teammates like we have, 105 players with 105 different personalities there's never a down day in the locker room. It's always fun," Forston said. "Guys telling jokes, guys with great spirits, positive spirits. That's all you can have if you want to have a great team. That's what you need in a locker room.

"We had a good practice today man. Coach Golden said that was one of the best practices we've had since he's been here. I feel like me as a leader, I have to bring energy every day. I got guys looking at me, [can't have them saying] 'Marcus is having a down day.' There's a lot of young guys on that defensive line. Even if I'm having a bad day, I can't show it."

Fisch believes UM has depth it needs on offense to deal with possible suspensions

CORAL GABLES -- UM offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch spoke to reporters after Saturday's media day and was asked how possible suspensions or player eligibility issues could affect his offense this season.

"I think we'll be able to handle it accordingly," Fisch said. "We've got a lot of very good players. I think when we get our players together and assess who we have at that point in time I feel great about our depth and everything that is going to happen."

Of the 12 football players named in the Yahoo! article citing Nevin Shapiro's allegations that players took improper benefits, only four play offense -- quarterback Jacory Harris, tight end Dyron Dye and receivers Aldarius Johnson and Travis Benjamin.

Jedd Fisch Here's what else Fisch was talking about...

What did you see out of Stephen Morris in camp that you liked?
"I think that all the quarterbacks did a tremendous job performing. The quarterbacks are getting better every day. When it comes to Stephen, he's shown great leadership. He's shown that he can make all the throws, and most importantly that he can command the huddle."

How important was it for the quarterbacks to avoid throwing interceptions in camp?
"It was fun for them. They're excited they can walk away from the last scrimmage and I think go 39 of 52 for 500 yards and no interceptions. If we can have days like that, that's tremendous. But obviously those aren't necessary all the expectations. The expectations are playing smart, and I think their confidence has grown with more knowledge of the offense and what we're trying to get done."

Can you talk about Tommy Streeter? He had a huge camp it seems.
"I think the wide receivers have all had a really good camp. I'm excited to watch them perform when it comes to game time. At practice they've all really gotten better. Tommy Streeter has really stepped up his game. He's made a lot of catches, a lot of big plays. He's an explosive receiver. It's really fun to watch Allen Hurns. It's fun to watch LaRon Byrd and Travis Benjamin and how they all work together. And the young guys too - Phillip Dorsett and Rashawn Scott have done a tremendous job. Coach [George] McDonald has those guys playing at a really high level."

How do you attribute the quarterbacks throwing fewer interceptions in camp?
"I'm hoping that it's their experience. It's one more year of experience for both of them. That's No. 1. No. 2, what we're asking them is to get in and out of bad plays. If we have a negative play or that doesn't look real good, we've given them the ability to audible and check into a play that will work. So I think that has really helped them not to cram a ball into a tight space or force a throw. And also we've really encouraged them to check down, find a running back and go from there."

Can the element of surprise in your offense be really helpful this season?
"I hope it's to our advantage. I said to our guys the whole time that it's our responsibility to keep what we do on offense to ourselves. When it comes down to next Monday night to be able perform at the highest level and hopefully use it to our advantage. There is no film on what we do; there is no examples of what it's going to look like for [Maryland's] defense, and we have to use that to our advantage."

How excited are you about the receivers?
"The one thing I'm most excited about is their knowledge of the game. The quarterbacks and receivers, whole lot of them, all understand the game better. They understand that press coverage equals this, Cover 2 equals this. These are the things that we need to take advantage of. Our ability to audible, get them in better position is really a credit to how hard the players have worked."

Is this team ready for the opener?
"I think that they are. I think they're excited about it. How could you not be? It's a Monday night game. It's at 8 o'clock on national TV on ESPN, it's an opportunity for them to perform. These guys are all big time players, played in big time games before. Stephen's played Maryland before. Stephen came back and brought the team back to a victory, scoring with 35 seconds left last year. Jacory has played in a ton of big games. So these guys have all played in big time games and they'll be fun to watch -- if the quarterbacks, receivers and offensive line do what they need to do."

What will picking the starting quarterback come down to?
"I think when it's time to make that decision and coach (Al) Golden makes that decision it's based on everything we've done, and it's a full assessment of everything that's gone on - training camp, spring practices and everything in terms of their work ethic as well."

What have you seen from your tight ends? Blake Ayles has been out due to injury for a while now.
"The tight ends we have are all playing at a high level. It's exciting to see Asante Cleveland come back from the shoulder situation he had. It's exciting to watch Clive Walford develop, Chase Ford develop. Hopefully Blake will be ready to go. We've got four solid tight ends that are really playing at a good level. We also have fullbacks that are playing both the fullback and tight end position. When you mix in [John] Calhoun and [Maurice] Hagens and those four guys, we've got nice depth at that position."

Were there any down moments during camp?
"We played with really high energy during camp. There was a lot of excitement. There was a lot of newness, and guys are going out there and having fun. We tried to keep it exciting, fun for them. Most importantly I think they were stimulated, because they had to think, always be on top of their game. We made every day a challenge."

How much has the NCAA investigation affected the team's spirits and the coaches decisions on who might start?
"It hasn't affected it at all. They have been outstanding. Our group has been great. We've gone out every single day, had a blast. We have fun in our meeting room, on the practice field, and they're performing at an extremely high level. I don't even know when that all came out, but I know it came out before a scrimmage that our guys played extremely well at. So I'm excited about every way we've practiced. Whatever happens with that happens with that, but we don't talk about that. We just talk about what we can do on offense to get better."

Will Spencer Whipple be ready if he needs to play?
"He had an unbelievable spring, took the first snap in the spring because of how hard he worked in the off-season program. Spencer understands the game, his work ethic is tremendous. He's ready to do whatever is needed to do to play the best we possibly can on offense."

How has Ryan Williams looked?
"He has done a great job of everything we've asked him to do. But his situation is different because he transferred in [and will probably redshirt this season as a transfer]".

How do you perceive the team looking at the coming season?
"A lot of the seniors feel this is their last shot. They want to give it everything they've got. Every play is the most important play, every game is the most important game. for the younger players, they want the seniors to go out on top as we all do.

UM's Jacory Harris expects to play, but he's also ready to 'weather the storm'

CORAL GABLES -- With his future eligibility and those of seven teammates now in the hands of the NCAA, University of Miami quarterback Jacory Harris seemed like his usual calm, cool and collected self Saturday when he was asked about the Hurricanes season opener at Maryland Sept. 5.

"Do I expect to play?" Harris said. "Yeah."

Jacory Harris Harris, linebacker Sean Spence and six other unnamed football players who allegedly took impermissible gifts from convicted felon and former booster Nevin Shapiro hope to learn soon if that will become a reality. The Miami Herald first reported Thursday that eight players -- including Spence and Harris -- had been deemed ineligible by UM and were in the process of seeking reinstatement from the NCAA, a process UM coach Al Golden said Friday he hopes is expedited.

UM President Donna Shalala said earlier this week that UM was trying to determine the eligibility status of 15 student-athletes. She, nor anyone at UM has specified names or how many were football players. But in a large expose done by Yahoo!, who investigated Shapiro's claims for more than 11 months, 12 are football players (including seven starters on defense) and one is a basketball player, forward DeQuan Jones.

Harris, who ranks second all-time in UM history with 50 touchdown passes and set UM's all-time record with 39 career interceptions, didn't seem to be very worried about any of that Saturday during the team's 30-minute media session with reporters.

"I'm probably the happiest I've ever been -- even with everything that's going on," said Harris, who joked with teammates as they walked by during his interview.

"I just see the brighter side of things. I see a future where there's going to be a lot of success. That's why I'm not even worried about what's going to happen, if anything happens. Just leave it in God's hands. Whatever happens, happens. I just got to deal with it, fight through it.

"Just like these penguins we watched the other day where they weathered a storm for six months and the males had to watch the eggs. Then, when the storms finally subsided, the eggs hatched and they had their goal, which is to have their child. Our goal is to win the national championship. And through it all, we're going to fight, keep on fighting and make it at the end."

Before camp started and Yahoo! dropped its bomb, the biggest story at UM was the impending quarterback battle between Harris and sophomore Stephen Morris. We still don't know who won the starting job and probably won't until UM releases a depth chart on Tuesday. But in light of the situation with Harris, it's likely the NCAA will really decide.

Stephen Morris "Every day we went out there with the same mindset -- we both wanted the job," said Morris, who celebrated his 20th birthday Saturday. "We were both going 100 percent and we both knew that every throw we had counted. Everything we did mattered and every decision we made was magnified. It just helped us take our competition to another level."

So who do you think won? "I have no idea man," Morris said.

Harris said he's confident that no matter what happens Morris can lead the Hurricanes.

"Stephen will be ready no matter what," Harris said. " Stephen will be ready the whole year. That's my boy and I'm helping him out with whatever I can.

"He was a freshman last year, just out there having fun, just like I was my freshman year. Now, he's going to have it good because he has years to grow and years under the system where he'll be able to run the offense himself. And as long as he learns it and keeps executing the right way, the way Coach Fisch wants, he can do some tremendous things."

Fisch said both quarterbacks were impressive in fall camp. According to UM, both quarterbacks combined to go 77 of 109 for 954 yards, 11 TDs and one interception in two scrimmages. UM coach Al Golden referred to Harris as "nothing short of excellent" during camp. Harris said Saturday he combined to throw 19 touchdowns and four interceptions between the 20 practices and scrimmages during fall camp.

But it's likely going to be the Stephen Morris show -- at least early on.

"When it comes to Stephen, he's shown great leadership and he can make all the throws and most importantly that he can command the huddle," offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said.

"Stephen's played Maryland before. Stephen brought the team back to a victory, scoring with 35 seconds left last year. Jacory has played in a ton of big games. So these guys have all played in big time games and they'll be fun to watch -- if the quarterbacks, receivers and offensive line do what they're supposed to do."

August 26, 2011

PG Shane Larkin signs, but must sit; Canes unveil baseball class

CORAL GABLES -- We interrupt your Hurricanes football frenzy for news on the baseball and basketball teams. First hoops.

Shane Larkin Shane Larkin, a transfer from DePaul, officially signed with UM Friday and is enrolled in classes, but can't play this season per NCAA transfer rules.

The son of former Cincinnati Reds All-Star shortstop Barry Larkin left the Chicago-based school in July for an undisclosed medical reason.

The 5-foot-10, 160-pound point guard from Orlando Dr. Phillips High was the Class 6A Player of the Year runner-up to Austin Rivers as a senior after leading his team to a 27-6 record and the state championship while averaging 18.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 3.5 steals per game.

Larkin will be allowed to practice with the team this season.

BASEBALL: Now to the diamond where UM announced it's signing class Friday. According to UM's sports information staff the Canes could announce two more signings in the coming days...

HERE'S WHO IS ALREADY IN:
Chris Diaz, SP, L/L, 6-0, 200, Gulliver Prep
- Went 8-2 with a 2.45 ERA and 66 strikeouts as a senior to earn All-Dade First Team honors by The Miami Herald.

Alexander Fernandez, 2B, R/R, 5-9, 180, Archbishop McCarthy
- Son of former UM pitcher and Marlin Alex Fernandez. Drafted in the 46th round by the Tigers in 2011 Draft. Hit .513 with 34 RBI and went 10-0 with 50 Ks a senior, leading his team to back-to-back state championships. Named First Team All-Broward Class 4A-1A by The Miami Herald.

Sean Hurley, 3B, R/R, 6-2, 210, Sarasota High
- Hit .371 with six homers and 23 RBI as a senior.

Garrett Kennedy, C, S/R, 6-1, 185, Archbishop McCarthy
- Named Honorable Mention Class 4A-1A for The Miami Herald.

Vince Kossak, RP, R/R, 6-2, 175, Palm Beach State College
- Went 4-0 with a 4.96 ERA as a sophomore, 32 Ks, 28 BBs.

Patrick Kulick, RP, L/L, 6-1, 205, Parkland Douglas
- According to InsideTheU.com, Georgetown, Florida, Florida State, Wake Forest, and Duke were among the schools recruiting Kulick before he picked the Hurricanes. This past season was frustrating for Kulick, who suffered a minor right knee injury, which prevented him from only playing in 12 games. He hit .500 with two home runs and only pitched three innings and did not allow a run. He hit .421 with 5 homers and 26 steals as a junior.

Jake Lane, OF, R/R 6-0, 185, Tavernier Coral Shores
- Selected in the 45th round by Arizona in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Lane was The Key West Citizen's 2011 Monroe County Baseball Player of the Year after he hit .493 batting average with seven home runs and 28 RBI. Had a 4.56 GPA, was Senior Class President and Homecoming King.

Jarred Mederos, SS, R/R, 5-11, 175, Hialeah Mater Academy
- Third Team All-Dade Class 4A-1A as a senior.

Eric Nedeljkovic, RP, R/R, 6-1, 185, Sierra College (Rocklin, Calif.)
- Went 1-2 with a 2.05 ERA and 7 saves in 19 games at Sierra College.

Ryan Otero, RP, R/R 6-3, 200, Miami Ransom Everglades
- Hit .394 with two homers and 14 RBI as a senior according to MaxPreps.

Tyler Palmer, SS, R/R, 5-11, 190, University of Florida
- He hit .610 with 37 RBI, 24 stolen bases and six homers as a senior at the University School. Palmer hit .286 in nine games, making four starts, in 2011 for the Gators. He's eligible to play immediately at UM in 2012.

Alex San Juan, C, R/R, 5-11, 205, Miami-Dade College
- Hit .310 with two homers and 19 RBI in 34 games with the Sharks as a college sophomore. Formerly of Miami Columbus.

Andy Suarez, SP, L/L, 6-2, 190, Miami Columbus
- Went 4-3 with a 1.65 ERA, 58 strikeouts as a senior at Columbus. He was 5-1 with 83 strikeouts and a 1.65 ERA as a junior when he was named Class 6A Pitcher of The Year. Selected in the ninth round, 289th overall by Toronto in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

Esteban Tresgallo, C, 6-2, 200, R/R, Colegio Marista, Puerto Rico
- Selected by the Mariners in the 50th round of the 2011 draft.

> UM had four other players who were originally part of their 2011 signing class who ended up elsewhere. Third baseman Cory Spangenberg (Indian River State College) was taken 10th overall by the Padres in the 2011 draft and signed with them; Huntington Beach, Calif. left-hander Henry Owens was drafted 36th overall and signed with the Red Sox; Wekiva High (Orlando area) right-hander Jace Herrera is no longer going to sign with UM; and Deltona High shortstop Jack Lopez signed after being drafted in the 16th round by the Royals.

Chickillo, Dorsett say UM freshmen are ready to step up if needed

CORAL GABLES -- With eight players seeking reinstatement from the NCAA and a handful more who could face possible suspensions from UM on its own, the Miami Hurricanes could trot out a really young and inexperienced for its season opener Sept. 5 at Maryland.

Anthony Chickillo UM coach Al Golden said last week that in the event of possible suspensions he's confident many of his freshmen would be ready to step up and play. Two of those highly touted freshmen -- defensive end Anthony Chickillo and receiver Phillip Dorsett -- agree.

"We have a great freshman class and if they have to step up they will do it," Chickillo said Thursday. "Guys like Gionni Paul and Phillip Dorsett and Rashawn Scott and Denzel Perryman are fun guys to be around and they come out every day to compete."

Dorsett said Golden has "told everybody to prepare to be the starter." Could Dorsett, a former standout at Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, do it?

"Absolutely," Dorsett said. "I'm real comfortable with the [playbook] now. I think I've got it down -- especially since I came in the first summer session."

Chickillo was already running with the first team before the allegations hit. Dorsett said Friday he's been running with the first and second team at two receiver positions -- the Z [flanker] and the X [slot]. He's also competing for playing time on kickoff and punt returns.

"I think I'm having a pretty strong camp," Dorsett said. "I'm just going out there doing everything my coach tells me. I'm not really worried about anything. Coming from St. Thomas I feel like I've been ready, prepared for it. It's not that different. I feel like I can contribute a lot, on special teams, even on the offense. The coaches have done a good job in preparing me so I feel I can contribute a lot."

Phillip Dorsett With allegations made against defensive ends Adewale Ojomo, Olivier Vernon, Marcus Robinson and defensive tackle Marcus Forston, it's more likely the bigger hole for UM will be on the defensive line. Chickillo said he'll be ready to go if needed.

"He is a guy that came in and you would think he is a sophomore already," receiver LaRon Byrd said Thursday of Chickillo. "He is big, he's strong, and he's fast. He already has great technique and I think he will be a key addition to this team."

With allegations surrounding UM and possible sanctions headed the Hurricanes way, it's possible players could transfer out of UM without penalty. Chickillo and Dorsett both said they've not considered that at all and are simply concerned about the upcoming season.

"I have waited my whole life to come here and I am happy to have coach Golden as my coach and I'm happy with the team," Chickillo said. "I love being here. I come here every day ready to work."

Said Dorsett: "I came here to play football. This is my dream school like I said. I don't want to leave."

UM coach Al Golden talks eligibility, reinstatement and more Friday

CORAL GABLES -- UM coach Al Golden confirmed Friday that UM has begun the process of filing the necessary paperwork to the NCAA seeking reinstatement for players allegedly involved in taking impermissible gifts from former booster and convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro.

UM coach Al Golden The Miami Herald first reported Thursday that eight current players -- including quarterback Jacory Harris and linebacker Sean Spence -- were ruled ineligible by UM and were seeking reinstatement from the NCAA. Golden wouldn't discuss specifics or name anyone involved in that process Friday, but said he's hopeful the NCAA will work expeditiously in resolving each of those players cases.

UM opens the season Sept. 5 at Maryland and it is expected that as many as 13 players could be suspended or ruled ineligible for that game and possibly more in light of the allegations and investigation into the program. Five of those 13 players, who do not need to seek reinstatement from the NCAA because they took gifts less than a $100, could still end up being suspended by UM for their roles.

In all, 10 of the 12 players fingered by Shapiro in a Yahoo! expose done last week were back out at practice -- including Spence and Harris. The only two not out at Friday's practice were cornerback JoJo Nicolas, whose prematurely born son recently passed away and has been granted time away from the team to grieve by Golden, and tight end Dyron Dye, who wasn't at practice for an undisclosed reason.

Golden said Friday players whose eligibility status remains unclear can continue to practice.

Here's Golden's complete transcript from Friday...

Can you tell us if the status of any players involved in the NCAA investigation has changed and if they're allowed to practice?
"They're eligible to practice. We have filed paperwork to the NCAA as of late last night, which is part of the normal process. The way the process works is we deem them ineligible, file the paper work on their behalf and the only entity that can reinstate them is the NCAA. We've done our part. Of course there are going to be follow ups from the NCAA standpoint. But we've done our part from this end and it's up to the NCAA to reinstate them."

The Miami Herald reported eight players are seeking reinstatement. Can you comment?
"I don't read The Miami Herald with all due respect. I'm not going to comment on it. It's an ongoing investigation. I'm not allowed to comment on that. We've been most respectful through the process here with the NCAA and been extremely cooperative, so I'm not going to deviate from that path right now."

The players who were not eligible have been reported by NCAA. But are there others being held out with a school issue?
"Whoever we submitted was submitted last night. Names. Number. Again, that's all part of the investigation. Again, that's all been submitted. Once we hear back from the NCAA, we'll act accordingly."

With respect to the process, how much more difficult is the job getting of keeping your team focused?
"What's evolving right now is the story. The status hasn't changed for many of the guys who have been identified. The story is kind of growing on itself, it's magnified. Other than that, we're just doing what we're doing. I keep telling you, this impacts less than -- 90 percent of the guys aren't impacted by this and none of the staff is impacted by this so we're going to continue to move forward and stay focused."

The university can ask for this to process involving the eligibility of players to be expedited, do you expect that to be the case?
"I expect that. The president I believe said on Monday we've initiated that process. So that process has been initiated, maybe I'm the first one to tell you, but that paperwork has been sent to the NCAA."

A lot of supporters feel bad for you because you walked into this situation do you realize that and that they want you to stay?
"I realize the support is out there in terms of the other stuff, it has nothing to do with what we're trying to do right now. We're 10 days out from trying to beat Maryland. We're trying to get the team prepared. Again, I really appreciate the support from all levels we're receiving and I know the team does too. We'll get through this. We'll fight through this. Hurricanes always have. And we'll continue to do so. Again, it's a great place, Top 50 institution. I don't need to tell you all that. But clearly, we have some things here we have to address and move forward."

The players who have been declared ineligible by UM, what did you tell them and the team as a whole?
"Just that we don't know their status and we won't until we hear back from the NCAA. The NCAA is the only governing body in this that can render somebody eligible or ineligible based on what we've submitted. We'll find out more when that returns."

How are their spirits?
"Well, they've been as good as they can be. They're in flux a little bit. I think anybody would be in flux would have some concerns. We've been trying to keep them on task and they've been doing a good job of that."

How ready is your team for the opener?
"As ready as you can be 10 days out. Obviously you want to be ready on Sept. 5 at 8 o'clock. We've begun the process with Maryland. We're not fully on Maryland yet because we have a few things we need to improve as a team. Our focus this week has been team improvement with a twist of Maryland. Obviously next week when we get into game week it will be fully on Maryland. We don't want to just delve completely into Maryland right now. We'll get stale after nine or 10 days."

Is it a blessing you have a Monday night game and not a Saturday game in light of what's going on?
"I don't know. I think from our standpoint, it's not during the regular season, it's preseason. It's a function of when we started camp and where we are right now. It's not really a function of having extra days. We don't have extra days to prepare. We're just the last game on that opening weekend. We'll just address the schedule accordingly."

Can you clarify the situation with the ACC rules and when we might be able to see the depth chart and travel roster?
"Chris alerted me yesterday that we have a policy where you have to list all the kids that are probable or not going to play or are out for the game, those types of things and I think it would typically be on a Thursday -- so Saturday of Maryland week. Hopefully, both institutions will get together and release the depth chart hopefully by Tuesday."

August 25, 2011

Two big leaders -- Jacory Harris, Sean Spence -- among at least eight Canes seeking reinstatement

In case you missed it, our Susan Miller Degnan first reported earlier this evening that at least eight players questioned by the NCAA for allegedly taking improper benefits have been ruled ineligible by UM and they are each in the process of seeking reinstatement.

Sean Spence Two of the eight we know of are quarterback Jacory Harris and linebacker Sean Spence. Each of the eight ineligible players has an opportunity to be reinstated and return before the season-opener at Maryland Sept. 5. Last year, former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was deemed ineligible before the SEC Championship game by Auburn and two days later he was back.

Still, the possibility very much exists we may not get an answer on any of the eight as quickly as Newton, in light of the number of allegations levied. The NCAA will now review each ineligible player’s case and either reinstate them – every case is handled individually – or rule how many games they have to sit out for suspension.

Harris was locked into a big-time battle for the starting job with sophomore Stephen Morris this fall and was "nothing short of excellent" according to coach Al Golden. According to UM, Harris and Morris went a combined 77 of 109 for 954 yards, 11 TDs and 1 interception (Morris reportedly threw the pick) in two scrimmages.

But with Harris now ruled out and his reinstatement status uncertain, Morris moves to the front of the line to start against Maryland. Last season, he had arguably his best game against the Terps, tossing the game-winning 35-yard touchdown pass to Leonard Hankerson with 37 seconds left to rally UM to victory. He had an interception returned for a touchdown, but finished 18-for-30 for 286 yards.

The Hurricanes do not have any scholarship quarterbacks beyond Morris eligible at the moment. UM has been trying to get a hardship waiver for Memphis transfer and former Miramar High quarterback Ryan Williams, but hasn't received it yet according to Golden, who was asked about it again before Thursday's practice.

The bigger loss, though, could be on defense where Spence had clearly solidified himself as UM's leader.

One of seven Hurricanes to start all 13 games last season, he finished second on the team and fifth in the ACC with 111 tackles and had a team leading 16 tackles for loss, fourth most in the conference. UM coach Al Golden said in camp it was likely Spence would be in charge of calling defensive plays for UM and organizing the defense.

Freshmen Gionni Paul and Denzel Perryman and senior Jordan Futch are three players who could replace Spence if he's suspended or ruled ineligible permanently. Perryman, however, didn't practice Thursday and was seen in a walking boot according to InsideTheU.com

Al Golden transcript from Thursday morning

CORAL GABLES -- Al Golden and the Miami Hurricanes are still in a holding pattern.

UM coach met with the media Thursday morning and had no news updates regarding the NCAA investigation or the 15 student-athletes whose eligibility are in question -- or a depth chart to present either.

The reason for the delay? Well, they vary. Here's his complete transcript from this morning.

What's the latest with the NCAA investigation?
"Same as I told you last week. We're going to go on coaching our team until we hear from the NCAA. We've cooperated fully. It's out of our hands right now. And as soon as we hear from them, we'll release the information to you and go from there."

What's up with the depth chart?
"We're still working on it. We have not finalized it yet. We have to coordinate with Maryland. Again, the unwritten rule for the coaches is release it to each other first and then coordinate to the media. I know there's an ACC policy that mandates it be done by Tuesday. If we get it, if both [teams] release it sooner [than Tuesday], then we'll do so."

What's your game plan moving forward with players in light of the investigation?
"All of the above. We're just coaching the team, trying to move the team forward. We'll make sure we practice enough guys because we really don't know what the future brings and hopefully we'll find out pretty quickly here in the near future if there are any penalties or suspensions and we'll adjust accordingly.

"We've all evaluated of them in training camp. We've communicated to every player where they stand. Obviously where they are coming out of training camp. The next thing is the Maryland game. Anything else above and beyond that is speculation. Any projections are just speculation and I don't want to get into that."

How do you prepare for a game when so many distractions are on the outside?
"I think if you continue to keep it in the context of this building, the coaches weren't here. 90 percent of the players weren't here. Everybody else is. We're going about our business. Obviously some of the players that are alleged to have done something are guys that have played a lot of football for us. Obviously there's going to be some adjustments if there are suspensions. But other than that, we're just moving forward and the kids have been great in terms of that."

Have any players been declared ineligible by the university?
"Again, by rule, I believe that has to happen. But I'm not going to comment on the university or NCAA. It's an ongoing process right now. Our job is to cooperate right now. "

Are the players in question practicing today?

"Yes."

So the NCAA wouldn't do anything first, it would be UM making a move on the players in question first?
"I believe that's how it is. Again, I don't want to misspeak. But that's the athletic director and the president. And I follow suit based on what the rules and what compliance say."

Have you addressed this with the team?
"Just to tell them what they were hearing outside, just to confirm. If there was an investigation and like anything else, we don't speculate, we don't have opinions in the media or things like that. We keep it in house and move forward.

Any update on recruits who were having clearinghouse issues?
"No. Once we receive that, we'll get it to you and go from there.

Is there a deadline for those players with clearinghouse issues?
"I don't know the deadline, but there is a deadline for sure."

Any update on when you might get Seantrel Henderson back?
"Again I don't know. Everything is positive right now in terms of the back injury. We're optimistic, but we're being cautious with it. We're talking about a young man that has a really positive future and bright future. We just want to positive with it, prudent with it and we really won't know anything for 3 or 4 weeks probably."

Has he been able to do more now?
"He's doing great. He's doing a lot of things pain free. He can get into his stance. He's going to start having a little more aggressive rehab. I think he's moving out of the recovery phrase and into the rehab phase."

Will freshmen have to play more now since many of the players with eligibility issues are veterans?
"Anybody that's moving on to speculating or projecting right now is wrong. We have no idea -- and we're in the middle of it -- what the findings are. So, again, as I said, this whole investigation, 90 percent of our team and staff wasn't here.

How did the scrimmage go Sunday? We're you happy with what you saw?
"Very encouraged. Everybody got some reps. There were some guys we pulled after 20-25 reps. Lamar Miller. Some key players that obviously had played a lot of football. Sean Spence. Ray Ray. I was very encouraged by it. I thought we had a good tempo, good energy. Really excited about the QB play. I thought we ran the ball better in scrimmage 2 than scrimmage 1. A lot of guys touched the ball on offense. We learned a lot about our defense, most particularly individual players. I thought the split squad was good for us because it got us in and out of the game, from nickel to regular to goalline to field goal block."

Are you encouraged by the lack of turnovers?
"It's been good. We just got to continue to take good care of the ball. The flip side of that we need to be a little more aggressive on defense."

Will the NCAA handle this in a case by case basis for players?
"I would hope it would be all together. My job is to coach out. When they say coach this is where we're at and what the findings are."

Will the depth chart be out soon?
"We're not releasing it today. We're still finalizing some things. But at the same time it's really important we coordinate with Maryland and release it at the same time, to each other first, and then to the media. We haven't done that. I know the ACC calls for it to be done by Tuesday. Again, I wasn't aware of the totality of the policy, guys you got to list. I was aware of it and not when it had to be done."

So the ACC mandates it you release the depth chart together?
"No. All I'm saying the ACC policy is you have to release whose playing, whose doubtful, all those things. What I'm saying to you is since I've been in this business, it's always been the courtesy to release it to the opponent before you release it to the media."

Has the investigation caused you to take longer looks at guys you normally wouldn't?
"Again, we're just trying to improve our team. There's not one player out here that doesn't have a concentration card today that we're not trying to improve their game or move them forward. I think again, there might be more turns or opportunity because of that. But it's business as usual for us.

"I told you back in January there were a bunch of them that we're going to have to play anyway. Thank goodness they are what we thought they were. A lot of them are tough. A lot of them are smart. And a lot of them came in good condition, which gave them an opportunity."

How disruptive has this all been?
"It's not. To me, it's a mindset. If you want to worry about that stuff. You can worry about it. If you want to create excuses, you can create excuses. It's no different than having guys injured. You can sit around talk about the injury or do something about it. And my mindset has always been to move forward. So, it doesn't come into our building. And it's not going to. We're just going to move forward. Our mentality is always next man in. So there are going to be some opportunities for some guys."

Could the depth chart, 60-man travel roster change all the way up until the Maryland game?
"Yes. There's going to be a lot of competition. We still have a lot of competition between the twos and the threes and that's going to depend on how they perform on special teams over the next four days."

August 24, 2011

UM men's hoops schedule released; Canes to face eight NCAA tournament teams from 2011

The University of Miami released it's men's basketball schedule Wednesday and it is highlighted by eight games against teams that advanced to the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

In addition to playing 16 games in the Atlantic Coast Conference, UM will take on Rutgers at home (Nov. 15), Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss. (Nov. 15), Purdue away (Nov. 29, ESPN2), UMass (home, Dec. 3, ESPNU), Memphis (home, Dec.6, ESPN2) and West Virginia (away, Dec. 10, ESPN2) in its non-conference slate. A program record 20 games will be televised this season, including all 16 of Miami's ACC contests.

UM opens the season at home against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 11.

"The ACC provides the nation's most exciting brand of basketball," coach Jim Larranaga said in a statement released by the school. "This is why I came to Miami and I am looking forward to the challenge that it provides our program. I can't wait to start the season."

For the 17th time in 18 seasons, the Hurricanes will be playing in the Orange Bowl Classic. Miami will head to Sunrise to take on FAU on Dec. 17. The Canes faced the Owls in the first round of the NIT in March, advancing to the second round with an 85-62 victory.

UM's ACC slate begins with road games at Virginia (Jan. 7 - ESPNU) and North Carolina (Jan. 10 - Raycom/ESPN3.com). After an eight-day break, the Canes return to the BankUnited Center to take on Clemson (Jan. 18 - RSN/ESPN3.com) and NC State (Jan. 22 - Raycom/ESPN3.com). UM will then travel to Georgia Tech (Jan. 24 - ESPNU) and Boston College (Jan. 29 - Raycom/ESPN.com) before opening the month of February at home against Maryland and new head coach Mark Turgeon on Feb. 1 (Raycom/ESPN3.com).

Duke, last season's ACC Tournament Champions, will welcome the Hurricanes to Cameron Indoor Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday at 3 p.m. The game will be the first of two ACC Sunday Night Basketball features for the Canes and will be aired on ESPNU.

Virginia Tech - 2011 NIT participants - will be paying a visit to the BankUnited Center on Feb. 9 (ESPN or ESPN2/ESPN3.com) at 9 p.m. Miami then has its quickest turnaround of the season when it heads to Tallahassee, for a 1 p.m. contest on Feb. 11 (Raycom/ESPN.com).

The Tar Heels make a return trip to face the Canes on Feb. 15 (ESPN or ESPN2/ESPN3.com). UM remains at home for a visit from Wake Forest on Feb. 18 (RSN).

Two of the Hurricanes final three games will be on the road, including trips to Maryland (Feb. 21 - Raycom/ESPN3.com) and NC State (March 3 - RSN/ESPN3.com). UM's final home game will be its second ACC Sunday Night Basketball contest when it welcomes Florida State on Feb. 26 (ESPNU).

Tickets are available through the Hurricane Ticket Office at 1-800-GO-CANES or visit us online at hurricanesports.com.

August 23, 2011

UM's frontcourt grows thinner after Gamble tears ACL, ruled out for season

Jim Larranaga's thinning front court just took another big hit.

Julian Gamble Senior Julian Gamble, a 6-9 senior forward who was expected to help fill-in for Reggie Johnson while he sits out until Janurary, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left leg according to UM. Gamble will miss the entire season.

"We feel awful for Julian Gamble," Larranaga said in a statement released by the school. "Tearing your ACL is a devastating injury at any time in your career, but particularly in your fifth year of eligibility. Julian is a bright, hard working and competitive athlete. We will do everything we can to support him in his efforts to rehabilitate this injury. We know he will also be there supporting his teammates, becuase that is just the kind of person he is."

Gamble started 13 games last season and averaged 3.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game.

:We are never given more than we can handle, so I never ask "Why me?" just "Why not?" because i will come out on top!," Gamble posted on his Twitter account Tuesday.

The Canes now have two post players injured as the college hoop season quickly approaches. UM will have to rely heavily on redshirt-sophomore center Kenny Kadji, who will be eligible to play this season after transferring from the University of Florida.

Johnson, the team-leader in rebounds and third-leading scorer, underwent surgery on June 30 to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. Johnson was expected to be sidelined for 5-6 months from the date of the surgery. Larranaga has said he's hopeful Johnson will be back by January.

Limited immunity just one way the NCAA plans to try and nail UM says CBS Sports report

If you thought Nevin Shapiro was Miami's only troublemaker -- guess again.

Robert Marve According to this article by CBS Sports.com Senior Writer Dennis Dodd, former Hurricanes Robert Marve and Arthur Brown and four other former Hurricanes recruits who are now at other schools (also implicated by Shapiro for taking impermissible gifts while at UM) are the people who will probably serve as the NCAA's best informants during its investigation. 

According to Dodd, their payoff for revealing their own indiscretions and those they witnessed others doing is limited immunity -- essentially becoming an informant in exchange for avoiding punishment themselves. CBS Sports spoke to NCAA vice president of enforcement Julie Roe Lach, who basically spelled it out that way without specifically talking about UM.

"The enforcement staff has been given, by the membership, a pretty important investigative tool," Roe Lach told CBSSports.com in an exclusive interview.

"Limited immunity" is a little-known procedure granted to NCAA investigators to get information from a player "when such an individual otherwise might be declared ineligible for intercollegiate competition," according to the NCAA Manual.

Roe Lach put it another way: "When we think that's really our only shot of getting that information."

Marve was among the 72 current or former UM players named in the Yahoo! report who allegedly took extra benefits from Shapiro. He is alleged to have taken a cash gift, received access to VIP nightclubs and a strip club and treated to at least two dinners at pricey restaurants.

And like Brown (now at Kansas State with his younger brother Bryce), Florida's Matt Patchan and Andre Debose and Georgia's Orson Charles, Marve has been cleared in the last week by the NCAA of having any eligibility issues according to their respective schools.

Monday, UM President Donna Shalala said in a video statement that 15 student-athletes -- she didn't specify which sports -- had their eligibility in question. Yahoo! fingered 12 current football players (quarterback Jacory Harris, receivers Travis Benjamin and Aldarius Johnson, tight end Dyron Dye, defensive linemen Marcus Forston, Olivier Vernon, Adewale Ojomo, and Marcus Robinson, linebacker Sean Spence, safeties Vaughn Telemaque and Ray-Ray Armstrong, cornerback Jojo Nicolas) and basketball forward DeQuan Jones as student-athletes who broke rules.

Charles Robinson, who has been involved with nearly all of Yahoo!'s investigations into college programs who broke rules of late, told Yahoo! radio host Tim Brando Monday that he believed former Alabama defensive tackle Marcel Dareus was given limited immunity to get information on the North Carolina players who attended a party with an agent. Dareus was suspended just two games last season after talking to the NCAA and required to pay back the $1,787.17 received in impermissible benefits to the charity of his choice. But unlike most of those Tar Heel players implicated, he got to play last season.

"I can't say this with absolute certainty [but] to me, [the fact players implicated at other schools have been cleared] suggests [the NCAA] has already reached out to those players at other schools and they've cooperated with the NCAA," Robinson said of the situation at UM.

Just my opinion, but at this point I would have to guess none of the current 15 student-athletes at UM are going to be cleared, not when the school is trying to play nice and not with the NCAA allegedly making these "limited immunity" deals with former recruits and players. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if UM decides on its own to hand out the punishment in an attempt to gain favor with the NCAA.

The opinion of most experts, though, like Robinson, is that the NCAA is more concerned about going after the big fish. And in this case, the 72 players implicated by Shapiro and their transgressions are really sardines. As Robinson said Monday, the NCAA can't make athletes no longer in college talk about anything. The big fish the NCAA is after are UM's administration and its former coaches.

Former basketball coach Frank Haith, assistants Jake Morton and Jorge Fernandez and former football assistants Joe Pannunzio, Clint Hurtt, Jeff Stoutland and Aubrey Hill have to be at the front of the big fish line at the moment. Would the NCAA cut a "limited immunity" deal with one of them? Probably not. But if their testimony could prove higher ups such as former athletic directors Paul Dee, Kirby Hocutt and Shalala knew of Shapiro and other improprieties, well, what makes you think they wouldn't?

Look, I'm not trying to defend Shapiro by any means (he's a convicted felon for crying out loud), but in the end this is all going to come down to what the NCAA determines on its own that Miami did wrong, not what Yahoo! reported or Shapiro alleged. Many of you have tried to find holes in Yahoo!'s 11-month investigation. I did too. But it appears pointless. 

UM isn't going to court to defend itself from Shapiro or Yahoo!. There won't be an impartial jury that gets to listen to Tyrone Moss, Randy Phillips, Devin Hester (or any of the other former Canes who allegedly partied on Shapiro's dime) try and explain or defend themselves. The NCAA doesn't care about any of that because they are the judge, jury and executioner.

And right now, college's governing body doesn't care how it gets its information -- cutting breaks for guilty parties elsewhere to get after the guys still wearing orange and green. That should tell you one thing: they want to nail UM. And this is only the beginning. They've started with the sardines. The big fish -- and the real trouble -- is next.

August 22, 2011

Streeter shines again in UM's final scrimmage

The Hurricanes concluded their second scrimmage of the fall Monday and according to the school's sports information staff receiver Tommy Streeter was a star again along with both of the quarterbacks -- Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris -- competing for the starting job.

Tommy Streeter Streeter, who had three TD catches in the team's first scrimmage, two more on Monday and led all players with seven catches for 148 yards. He also supposedly came within inches of a third TD catch at the end of the scrimmage when he hauled in a 50-yard "Hail Mary" pass from Jacory Harris, but dragged down at the 1-yard line. The white team won 34-31 over the Orange.

Harris, leading the Orange team and sophomore Stephen Morris of the White squad were a combined 39-of-57 passing for 547 yards with six touchdowns and no turnovers.

The scrimmage was divided up into four 10-minute quarters with the offenses starting drives in their own end. There were no punt or kick-off situations. It also was not open to the media.

UM coach Al Golden said he and his assistants would have a lot of decisions to make over the next 48 hours -- not just at quarterback. He said Saturday there's a chance the depth chart would be out at Tuesday. But it's more likely that Wednesday will be the day.

MORE TIDBITS FROM THE SCRIMMAGE ACCORDING TO UM...

> Running backs Lamar Miller and Mike James each ran the ball six times in the first half for a total of 99 yards. However, redshirt freshman Darion Hall was impressive with his team-high 11 carries and a touchdown.

> Junior kicker Jake Weiclaw may have solidified a starting spot as he closed the first half with a 53-yard field goal for the Orange team.

> Big Hits: Dallas Crawford on Eduardo Clements, Micanor Regis on Darion Hall, Darion Hall on Ray-Ray Armstrong, Jeremy Lewis on Jordan Futch, Davon Johnson on Eduardo Clements

> Tackles for loss: Thomas Finnie, Andrew Smith, Micanor Regis, James Gaines, Kelvin Cain

> Sacks: Sean Spence, Andrew Smith (2), Jalen Grimble

> Pass break-ups: Thomas Finnie, Brandon McGee, Andrew Swasey

> Receiver Aldarius Johnson made some nice grabs on the day, including a sideline catch where he feigned two defenders for a nice gain

> A Morris pass was tipped at the line by freshman Anthony Chickillo. However, the ball made it to its original target Maurice Hagens, who made a spectacular one-handed catch in the flat and then ran into the endzone for the 20-yard score.

Receiving Touchdowns: Tommy Streeter (2), Clive Walford, Lamar Miller, Maurice Hagens, Rashawn Scott

Rushing Touchdowns: Mike James, Darion Hall, Stephen Morris

MORE TIDBITS NOT FROM UM...

> On Al Golden's post-practice interview with UM radio announcer Joe Zagacki, back-up defensive tackle Luther Robinson can be seen walking away on crutches.

UM President Donna Shalala releases video statement, says 15 current athletes have questions over eligibility (transcript included)

CORAL GABLES -- UM President Donna Shalala delivered a video address to students and the community Monday afternoon. We have the complete transcript and a few quick points from her 5-minute commentary on the ongoing NCAA investigation. 

KEY QUICK POINTS FROM SHALALA
> NCAA Investigators made it on campus Aug. 15 and conducted interviews with current student-athletes, coaches and staff.
> Shalala said 15 student-athletes currently have their eligibility under review and the hope is to move quickly, but thoroughly.
> UM retained outside counsel familiar with NCAA investigations.

COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT (VIDEO BELOW)

"This past Friday was move-in day for thousands of freshmen at the University of Miami. I joined many new Canes as they lugged overflowing suit cases, moved into the residence halls and hugged their parents good-bye. So much optimism, excitement and pride. I thought of those moments over the weekend as I continued to work with our senior staff in the ongoing NCAA investigation.

"I think of those eager young students ready to embrace the opportunity for growing and learning at our university. That is what the University of Miami is about. The young men and women who come here to achieve their dreams. And there are thousands more on our campuses, hundreds of thousands of graduates, who define Miami not nearly as a place, but as an idea.

"The past eight days have been difficult for many members of our community. As I said Wednesday, I'm saddened and disappointed by the allegations leveled against some current and former members of the university community. However, I'm heartened by the kind of displays of support in recent days, phone calls, texts messages, emails and letters from so many of you.

"When our values are called into question as they have been this past week, we have only one option -- do what is right and have the confidence in tomorrow. We will not let others define us.

"The allegations leveled against current and former Miami student-athletes and coaches are serious, and we are treating them with the priority and urgency they warrant. I know there are many unanswered questions about the investigation, about the process and consequences. With NCAA investigators on campus over the past week and with so many unknowns, there's just not much we can say beyond our written official statements.

"The NCAA has instructed us not to comment on specific details of the investigation. It's frustrating for us, for me to be unable to speak more freely or to answer questions. However, we must protect the integrity of the investigation and have patience as the work proceeds.

"I am able to share with you some important points of information:

"I was notified that the NCAA would be on campus on Aug. 15 to investigate potential violations. I insisted on complete and honest cooperation by every member of the Miami athletic department including administrators, coaches, staff and student athletes.

"We retained outside counsel -- outside counsel which specializes in NCAA cases to assist the university in all aspects of the investigation.

"The NCAA enforcement staff in a joint investigation with the university conducted several campus interviews last week and we expect the investigation to continue.

"The Miami Athletic Compliance staff in a joint effort with the NCAA is now beginning the process of reviewing the eligibility of 15 current student-athletes. With the season fast approaching, I know our coaches, players and fans are eager to know the results. The process, however, must be deliberate and thorough to ensure its integrity.

"I'm proud of how our leaders, staff and coaches and student-athletes have handled themselves in the past week. We have been open and cooperative with investigators.

"I should also note the NCAA welcomed our request to conduct a joint investigation and [NCAA] President Mark Emmert commented publicly on Friday that we are being extremely cooperative. Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst has been remarkable in his leadership of our department through these very difficult days.

"The circumstances have also imposed a great deal on the shoulders of [football] coach Al Golden and [basketball coach] Jim Larranga, all of our coaches. We are fortunate there are no better leaders of young men and women. Their insistence in integrity in their programs will help us move forward.

"I ask all of our friends and supporters to continue to passionately support our student athletes who do the right thing and represent the university so wonderfully to the world. We cannot let the actions of some, define the many as we have so much to be proud of.

"I love the University of Miami. It is my home. My colleagues and I are committed to academic and athletic programs of the highest integrity. Like our new freshmen unpacking in their residence halls who are filled with promise, we will be stronger, we will be better. We will move through the process thoroughly. We will learn where there are lessons to be learned. We will move on with a commitment to the highest levels of professionalism and integrity in everything we do. Thank you."