CORAL GABLES -- It was an emotional, somewhat sad day out at Greentree Practice Field as UM prepares for its final game of the season against Boston College Friday. Here are some of the highlights from Monday's interviews with players and coaches:
> If there is some positive news for the Canes, it appears Al Golden and his staff will have use of every scholarship available to them in this next signing class. Asked if he's been assured by UM the scholarship total for 2012 wouldn't be affected, Golden said: "Yes. Yes sir."
Of course, the NCAA could have something to say about it after they complete their investigation into the alleged gifts UM received from former booster Nevin Shapiro. But it's tough to say if the NCAA will complete it's investigation by National Signing Day, Feb. 1. Most investigations take 11 months to complete. The NCAA acknowledged its investigation into UM began last March.
> With the Canes no longer headed to a bowl game the hot topic now is whether not they my lose a couple underclassmen who could opt to head pro early. Running back Lamar Miller, the first UM rusher to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark since Willis McGahee in 2002, said flatly the only way he'll consider going pro is if he's a first round pick.
Odds he will be back? "I'm not sure," Miller said.
I asked Miller, a redshirt sophomore, if he thought he was ready to make the leap. "I haven't been thinking about that yet. I just got to keep improving and get better day by day out here with my teammates. My coaches have been doing a great job telling me what to do to get better. I just have to keep improving... I know I have to improve on somethings. That's what I've been working on the last couple weeks. I just want to help my team really."
Golden said midseason Miller had a long way to go in terms of becoming a complete back. Miller agreed Monday. "I have to be more physical in my pass protection and get more tough yardage," he said. "I've been working on that the last couple games."
ESPN's Todd McShay, the director of College Scouting for Scouts, Inc., has Miller tabbed as the 14th-best prospect for next April's NFL Draft regardless of class. Miller is listed as the second-best running back behind Alabama's Trent Richardson.
> Receiver Tommy Streeter said the possibility of leaving early "hasn't passed my mind."
"I'm just enjoying these last days with the seniors. I'm not worried about what lies ahead," Streeter said.
"A lot of times I wish I could have this season back again. I don't think I'm ready for the seniors to leave. Everyday it's just vital I cherish this moment with these guys who came in with me. I don't even know how to say this. I'm sad everyday knowing the time is winding down with these guys and these are my last few days with them and they're going to be leaving me. It's going to be a weird feeling next year. I'm just trying to win this last game for them, have fun."
Asked later if he was coming back next year, Streeter said "Yes. I'm coming back...
"I haven't focused on my future at all. It's just been day-by-day, not focusing on the NFL and things like that. I just want to finish the season strong, slingshot the program in the right direction going into the spring and fall."
> Golden discussed Monday how he'll handle talking to his underclassmen about going pro.
"The same way we would with every kid," he said. "Make sure we go through the NFL and NFL players association and whatever we have to do to get as much feedback as possible for each one of those young men. Again, we'll always make sure we do our due diligence for them and provide anything the NFL can provide us on them."
Will he give them his personal opinion? "Certainly I give them my opinion," Golden said.
"I told them last year with Muhammad Wilkerson. I thought he was ready physically. I thought he was ready mentally. I thought it was time for him to come out. He's one of these kids that's different. If you have a chance to in the first round, that's life changing money. If you don't, then clearly you should come back and give yourself an opportunity to go in the first round. Because the difference between the first round and second and third is huge. So, again, we'll just share with them individually. Right now, we're just worried about beating Boston College."
> Aside from missing a bowl game, UM won't have the luxury either of having 15 extra practices. Golden said Monday: "That's tough. But we'll get over it."
"I really think one of the things we need is strength to be honest with you," Golden said. "We need to be a stronger team and we need to be a more physically stronger team. I think the only way we do that is by getting in the weight room. In practice, I hope to gain an advantage in the weight room. We'lll need it."
Golden praised the conditioning of his team prior the season, but the fact he's still not happy about the team's overall strength makes you wonder if there will be a change this offseason to the strength and conditioning staff.
> Senior defensive back JoJo Nicolas said Sunday's news that the team wouldn't be headed to a bowl game was a "pretty tough pill to swallow," but the team is looking forward to Friday's game against Boston College as it's bowl game. Golden said Monday's practice had "good focus."
What will be the legacy of this 2011 team? "This is a team that is very resilient and fought through every single game and competed. We played together as a family no matter what," Nicolas said.
"We've been knocked down a lot this year. Nothing is going to change now. It's just another thing we're going to overcome now."
Third-string quarterback Spencer Whipple admitted he shed a few tears after hearing Sunday's news as did others.
"Just thinking you're going to a bowl and all of a sudden you have four days left. It's just your time is cut down. It's more time cut down with teammates and coaches than anything else [that hurts]," Whipple said. "But we're just going to enjoy every moment now. That's all we can do. And stay positive."
Asked the legacy the 2008 recruiting class -- ranked No. 1 by ESPN -- will leave behind, Streeter said: "I don't know. I don't even know what to say. Those guys leaving this year. I'll remember those guys as being the first guys with Coach Golden, moving the program in the right direction. Senior leadership they exemplified this year stood out among all the years I've been here."
> Whipple said UM coaches have talked to him about possibly taking on a graduate assistant position next season on offense.
"It's something to think about," said Whipple, whose father was Mark was UM's offensive coordinator last year. "Coach Fisch, Coach Golden, the rest of the coaching staff is great. Miami is a great place to be. It's just something I have to think about."