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Tyler Horn, Mike James say Canes are focused on football, not Shapiro or allegations

CORAL GABLES -- Al Golden tabbed the second week of training camp at the University of Miami as "moving week," the period when starting jobs would be won and lost.

Mike James But after Yahoo! Sports unfurled a tsunami of allegations by former booster and convicted felon Nevin Shapiro against the University of Miami Tuesday night, the attention the Hurricanes have been getting has been anywhere but the football field.

So how have the Canes dealt with this rather large distraction? How have they handled having NCAA investigators on campus asking questions? Friday, center Tyler Horn and running back Mike James, the first football players to do interviews since the allegations became public, said they've dealt with it by focusing simply on what they came to Coral Gables to do -- play football.

"Of course it was a shock, these allegations," Horn said. "But we're focused on football. That's all we're focused on, all we can control. We're coming out everyday, working hard, busting our butts to be the best team we can be.

"I'm not scared by it. I can't control it. When I'm out here I can only stay on my craft. We can't come out here and actually lollygag around. We have to actually play. You don't play, you get hurt. We're out here to have fun playing football. That's why you play the game."

While Horn said he's had family and friends texting him and calling him to find out how he and the team are doing, he said it's been easy to focus on football because he and his teammates are at the Hecht Athletic Center from "6 a.m. to 10 p.m." everyday.

"Football is like a soothing sport. It keeps us going, keeps our mind focused," said James, who said that the team leaders, linebacker Sean Spence, defensive tackle Marcus Forston, quarterback Jacory Harris, receiver Travis Benjamin, Horn and himself got the team together earlier this week to deliver a message of unity.

"It's not very difficult at all [to stay focused]. Coach Golden instilled what we have to do and the things we have to focus on, core values. It becomes easy after a while."

Still, with the season opener at Maryland right around the corner (Sept. 5) and potential sanctions on the way how could the team not be worried about possibly losing 12 players implicated by Shapiro for allegedly taking improper benefits, including 10 starters?

"The way we've been taught from the very beginning is the depth chart is in the sand," Horn said. "We don't even know who is going to start. All we can do is come out and play as hard as we can.

"[Coach Golden has] told us to be optimistic and keep the spirit of the team up. We can't let this get us in the tank. All we can do is focus on football and that's what we're going to do."

James said the 12 players implicated by Shapiro (Harris, Forston, Spence, Benjamin, safeties Ray-Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque, defensive ends Olivier Vernon, Marcus Robinson, and Adewale Ojomo, cornerback Jojo Nicolas, receiver Aldarius Johnson and tight end Dyron Dye) have been the same guys they've been everyday.

"Nothing has changed," James said. "They're doing the same things we always do. Staying on process. Tunnel vision, staying on track."

Still, former players have said this could potentially tear the team apart, or bring the team together. Horn said he believes the latter.

"Honestly, it should be us against the world," Horn said. "That's all we can focus on. The only thing that matters are the people inside that Hecht. All the people that matter are the people who are on this football field every day. That's what we see. Those are my brothers and we're going to stick together."


> Horn said the competition on the offensive line for starting jobs is intense. "We have a lot of great players and a lot of guys rotating in at the tackle spots, guard spots," Horn said.

"Everybody is playing at a very high level now. You have guys like Malcolm Bunche, Jermaine Johnson. Jonathan Feliciano is making a strong push. [Joel Figueroa] played some tackle yesterday. It's great to have all these guys out here playing so hard. It's very comforting to know guys want to win that bad, that want to get on the field, they're playing this hard."

> James said the quarterback competition between Harris and sophomore Stephen Morris is "going good."

"They're working hard," James said. "Shoot, I don't know who its going to be. They're doing such a great job, they're making it hard on everybody."

> The Hurricanes practice Saturday and then are off Sunday before their second scrimmage of the fall on Monday. Asked about the scrimmage, James said: "It's going to have a lot of juice. There's a lot depending on it because guys are trying to get on the bus. That's been the theme of the week -- it's moving week. So guys are trying to do that. It's dog eat dog. Nobody is letting up because everybody is trying to go."