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Freshmen ready for first taste of UM-FSU rivalry

Anthony Chickillo didn't need to listen to the Seminole War Chant -- played all week inside the University of Miami locker room -- to get him fired up for Saturday's rivalry game in Tallahassee. 

Anthony ChickilloAs a third generation Cane, the 6-4, 250-pound freshman defensive end said he's been looking forward to lining up against Florida State since he was in diapers.

"My dad has told me whatever happens in these games you're going to remember it for the rest of your life. Twenty years from now you're going to look back and say man this is how I did against FSU," said Chickillo, who has started six games this season and ranks sixth in tackles (33), second in sacks (3.5) and third in tackles for loss (5) on the Canes defense.

"I think my dad only lost one game to them when he played [from 1979 to 1982]. I know I don't want to have a losing record against them."

Chickillo, UM's top recruit last February, has lived up to his hype through nine games. Florida State, meanwhile, who had the No. 2 recruiting class in the country last year according to Rivals.com, has had a number of true freshmen make big impacts for them this season on offense.

Among the standouts:

> Running back Devonta Freeman, who led Miami Central to the state title in December, has started the last three games for FSU and leads the team with 367 yards rushing and six touchdowns.

> Tight end Nick O'Leary, the grandson of famed golfer Jack Nicklaus and a former standout at Palm Beach Dwyer the Hurricanes badly coveted, has started twice and ranks sixth on the team in receiving with 12 catches for 164 yards and a touchdown.

> Former St. Thomas Aquinas offensive linemen Bobby Hart, has started the last four games at right tackle. Austin Barron, who started alongside Hart on the Raiders' state and national championship team last Decemeber, made his first start for the Seminoles last week at center against Boston College.

> Receiver Rashad Greene, another star on that St. Thomas championship team, ranks second on the team in receiving with 26 catches for 457 yards and a team-leading six TD receptions. Greene has missed the last four games with an ankle injury, but it appears likely he'll return this week.

Aside from Chickillo, the Hurricanes (tabbed with the 36th best 2011 recruiting class in the country by Rivals.com) have had a couple of other true freshmen standouts shine this season.

Linebacker Denzel Perryman, who said he "hurt" last year when he sat in the stands and watched the Seminoles wallop the Canes 45-17 at Sun Life Stadium, ranks fourth on the team with 48 tackles despite making just two starts. He also has a sack, three tackles for loss and a forced fumble.

Phillip Dorsett, who tried unsuccessfully at swaying his former Aquinas teammate Greene to defect to the Canes late in the recruiting process after taking an official visit to Coral Gables, is sixth on the Canes in receiving. Last week against Duke, Dorsett caught his first touchdown pass. He has 10 catches for 120 yards and a score. He also serves as the backup to Travis Benjamin on kickoff and punt returns.

While other true freshmen like cornerback Thomas Finnie (8 games, 13 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PBU), defensive tackle Olsen Pierre (7 games, 4 tackles) and linebacker Gionni Paul (6 games, 4 tackles) have had some playing time, UM coach Al Golden has been content with allowing the majority of the 16 players he signed in his first recruiting class spend the year learning on the scout team.

Asked if he thought any other freshmen might see more playing time over the last three games, the only player Golden mentioned was defensive lineman Jalen Grimble.

"We’ve got a lot of football left," Golden said Tuesday. "I think when freshmen show that they are capable of playing or making progress, you reward them with more time. I think some of the guys that we’ve mentioned already are doing that and will continue to do that as they grow here."


> A total of 48 players between UM and FSU have high school connections. The most popular: St. Thomas Aquinas, who has 11 total. Miami Northwestern High is next with eight. 

> The Hurricanes, who recorded 18 sacks in their first seven games, have been shutout over the last two weeks.

"There's been some opportunities," Chickillo said. "But Duke was throwing a lot of quick passes, slants and stuff. You just have to get your hands up. Ball disruption is just as good as a sack. Batted balls and getting in the quarterback's line of vision is important. We need to do a better job of that."

FSU has given up 26 sacks this season. Despite being rather elusive, E.J. Manuel has been brought down 18 times -- including 10 sacks over the last three games.

Of his own play, Chickillo said: "My footwork has gotten a lot better. My technique has gotten a lot better. My feel for the game, knowing my job, learning the process, going week to week and how hard I have to study.

"Coach Jet [Jethro Franklin] is a perfectionist. He wants me to work on the little things to make me great. Having a pass rushing plan every single play, a counter to the pass rush play. I just have to keep working and getting better."

> Chickillo insists he was always going to UM, but had he gone with his second choice it would have been FSU. "I took 6 unofficial visits to FSU," Chickillo said. "I got a lot of friends at Florida State, a lot of friends who went there. Coach Fisher is doing a lot of good things, they have a lot of good coaches I had good relationships with. I can't wait to play against them. It's going to be an exciting game."

> Receiver Tommy Streeter, in the hunt for a 1,000-yard receiving season, figures to draw safety help over the top of him in coverage Saturday like he has over the past couple weeks to prevent the deep ball.

But Golden said Streeter is more than "just a go-runner."

"He is catching fades. He’s catching back-pad throws. He’s catching slants. He’s catching in-cuts. He’s doing a lot of different things. He’s more versatile," Golden said. "He’s done a great job with his hands. He’s running routes harder. He made some key blocks for us too. Knowing Florida State and watching how they played, I don’t think they’re going to pay any more attention to him than they did anybody. Whether it was the young man from Clemson, they’re just going to line up and do their deal and make you beat them. They’re aggressive and they have good cover skills. Their safeties can cover and can run and strike. They have 30 sacks and none of them seem to be breathing heavy because they just keep rotating them in there. It’s going to be a great challenge for our offensive line and quarterback."