« Did swapping QBs hurt UM's offensive rhythm? Byrd appears OK | Main | Unidentified, unconscious UM player taken to local hospital for heat exhaustion »

UM's No. 1-ranked recruiting class of '08 failed in its quest; now it's all about the Golden process

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

Al GoldenWhen the nation's No. 1-recruiting class walked through the doors in 2008, the Miami Hurricanes were supposed to return to prominence. Randy Shannon, the man tapped into South Florida's recruiting pipeline, was supposed to restock the shelves with the talent Larry Coker let escape under his watch.

Winning? That was supposed to come quickly.

But we're still waiting.

With two games left in Al Golden's first season as Canes coach, UM is still sputtering, struggling to play better than .500 football. Are they folding like Shannon's Canes? Nope. Not even close.

Golden and his assistants have gotten more out of this group than Shannon ever did. Tommy Streeter, no where to be found under the old regime, has become a star. Jacory Harris is no longer an interception machine, rather one of the most efficient passers in the country. Sean Spence? Even better than he was his first three years, even wreaking havoc at middle linebacker when they've smartly used him there.

But the overall results for this group of 32 signees in 2008 who were supposed to save the day? Not very pretty.

> UM's record is 28-21, 17-14 in ACC play.
> The Canes are just 4-5 against FBS in-state opponents, going 1-3 versus Florida State, 0-1 versus the Gators, 1-1 versus USF and 2-0 versus UCF.
> The Canes record against ranked opponents since 2008? 5-7.
> The highest UM has been ranked in the AP poll was No. 8, before Clemson beat them at Sun Life Stadium 40-37 in overtime in 2009. The highest UM finished a season in the AP poll? 19th in 2009.
> Bowl wins? Zero.

A few of those kids have shined individually:
> Brandon Harris, a second round pick of the Texans who left school a year early, was an All-American cornerback.
> Spence, considered the 11th-best player for UM in that recruiting class by Rivals.com, will go down statistically as one of best Canes linebackers ever.
> Streeter, who did nothing his first three years here, has the potential to be a first round pick.
> Travis Benjamin became just the sixth player in UM history this past Saturday to eclipse the career 2,000-yard receiving mark.
> And Jacory Harris, for all his interception woes, will likely finish second to Ken Dorsey in all the major career passing stats.

Some turned out to be decent starters and contributors:
> Linebacker Ramon Buchanan, out for the season with a knee injury after just four games and could return next year, has 106 career tackles, 13.5 for loss in 39 games.
> Vaughn Telemaque, once compared to Ed Reed by Shannon, is a three-year starter at safety with 152 career tackles, 5 fumble recoveries and 4 interceptions.
> Defensive end/linebacker Marcus Robinson has 14.5 career sacks and 102 career tackles.
> Defensive tackle Micanor Regis has 101 tackles, 14.5 for loss, 3 INTs in 43 games.
> Receiver LaRon Byrd, who has struggled to get on the field his senior season, has 100 career catches for 1,179 yards and 6 TDs.
> Defensive end Andrew Smith, a 2-star recruit coming out of high school, turned out to be a decent third-down pass rusher (49 tackles, 8 TFL, 4 sacks).
> Junior College signee Pat Hill had two decent years opening holes as UM's fullback.
> And kicker Jake Wieclaw, once considered a mistake by coaches, has finally worked his way into the kicker's job after Matt Bosher left.

But so many of those 2008 recruits turned out to be busts:
> Arthur Brown, the No. 1 linebacker in the country and recruit in UM's 2008 class, did nothing in two years at UM. He's now a starter at Kansas State.
> Marcus Forston, the other 5-star recruit in UM's 2008 class, has had two seasons cut short by injuries including this one. But he's still made just 60 tackles, 7 sacks in 31 games.
> Jordan Futch -- a kid with a great attitude and a lot of heart -- didn't crack the starting lineup until this year. He has 36 career tackles in 31 games after being tabbed as the fourth-best player in the class.
> Aldarius Johnson, the No. 1-rated receiver in UM's 2008 class, has done nothing since his freshman year and got booted off the team in August for allegedly lying to NCAA investigators about the impermissible gifts he received from Nevin Shapiro.
> C.J. Holton? Davon Johnson? Ben Jones? Jeremy Lewis? All four-star recruits who have never cracked the starting lineup or done much outside of mop-up or special teams duties.
> From the Where are they Now Department: Joe Wylie, Thearon Collier, Antonio Harper, Gavin Hardin, Cannon Smith, Taylor Cook, Brandon Marti, Zach Kane and C.J. Odom.
> And we're all still waiting to see when Kendall Thompkins -- practice superstar -- does more than just help out on special teams. Fullback John Calhoun is a nice kid. Not much to say beyond that.

The reason I bring all this up -- this recap of ups and downs for what in essence is UM's senior class -- is to try and clear up why I think the Canes (5-5) are still stuck in this muddle of mediocrity even whileGolden and his staff have done a better job than the previous staff. Two reasons are depth and talent. UM simply missed on too many recruits the last few years. Another, is the mental makeup of the kids who are here. When the tough has gotten going, they've simply cracked.

"We have some bad habits that surface during pressure situations that we have to fix," Golden said of his team Sunday. "It is frustrating, but at the same time it's part of the process. We just have to stay with it. The kids have to continue to be willing to make the changes necessary."

That's the frustrating thing with these Canes. They've had three to four years to break those bad habits. This 2008 group -- and the one that came in right after it in 2009 with Ray-Ray Armstrong, Lamar Miller, Brandon Washington, Brandon McGee, Dyron Dye, Mike James and Olivier Vernon -- has just always found a way to blow close games.

The same problems always arise. Poor tackling. Freelancing. Blown coverages. Brain farts. Jacory Harris always seems to make a bad decision near the end zone. Travis Benjamin runs the wrong routes at Ohio State then chases after a punt that's past him at Florida State. Ray-Ray? Forget that he's always out of position because he tries to make too many plays. How does anyone get in trouble off the field again after they've already served a four-game suspension for doing something similar to what they got into trouble for the first time?

It's maddening really.

You can look at this picture sunny-side up and say UM's five losses this season have been decided by a total of 26 points, three by four points or less. You can say UM is just a few plays away. You can say they are just a few players away.

But to me, it feels like the process is going to take awhile. Until this group leaves and new ones with a different late-game DNA come in, it really won't change. Golden has tried hard to change the culture. He's tried to get his team up for every game. But the woes just seem embedded in some of these guys.

In the end, you can't be an ACC or national title contender when you can only hit on 40 percent of what is supposed to be your senior class. Golden has to do better than what Shannon did in recruiting. He has to land quality backups.

And he has to continue to change the off the field culture. You can't build consistency when some of your best players are getting suspended for doing really dumb things (Ray-Ray, Regis, etc). All of that in the end is why I believe this team is 5-5. There's just a lack of depth in too many places (corner, safety, linebacker). And the football IQ just hasn't gotten better.

Now, I'm not trying to say all of 2011 has been bad by any stretch.

Golden has gotten this football team -- which has been smacked hard by distractions -- to improve dramatically in a lot of areas. Despite Saturday's nightmare performance, UM has improved on special teams. Same with penalties. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch has worked wonders with Harris and UM's offense, which before Saturday was No. 1 in the country in efficiency. Miller became the school's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2002. Sean Spence is having an All-American season. Freshmen Denzel Perryman and Anthony Chickillo have shown us they will be stars in the future. And Golden has 26 commitments and a consensus Top 10 recruiting class lined up for 2012.

But don't let your imagination wander into the danger zone of unreal expectations. Don't start believing championships are right around the corner. We're still talking about a 5-5 football team that will face scholarship reductions and bowl-bans once the NCAA's investigation into this Shapiro fiasco is completed. We're talking about a 5-5 football team that next season will be without any of those good seniors I mentioned earlier -- and maybe some of those underclassmen too. That's the football team somebody -- hopefully Golden -- will be putting on the field next year.

So, dig your heels in. As Al says, it's a process. One that is going to take some time.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I said Shannon needed 4 years. I was wrong but I'll pull for Golden for 2 years.

Also "football intelligence" is a very real thing and is the result of a player's natural abilities and his coaching from pee wee all the way to where he is now.

But the way Manny and everyone talks about it, it's like they're implying there's something intrinsically wrong with the players, they're missing the "late game DNA" to succeed.

Bullsh*t. That's why some of these guys are going to go on to dominate in the NFL. They just don't have "it" in them.

It's a lazy explanation for a very complex problem.

Great article. I agree 100000000000%. The one thing I continue to tell my brother is I expected this outcome this year. It is hard to undo 3 years of poor weight lifting, poor coaching, poor process and you can go on and on. Golden will get it turned around. And yes it will take time. We need not to go to a bowl this year, sit it out and watch real teams give play on TV.

Golden investigated Ray Ray Armstrong's situation and determined that there were no violations and it was just like Armstrong said, he met some girl at the beach and took her out to dinner.

Like I said from the beginning, it is insanely stupid to be tweeting anything as baller as prime 112 before the investigation is over.

But maybe Canes fans could think twice in the future before completely throwing a HURRICANES PLAYER under the bus and bidding him good riddance, calling for his scholarship to be revoked, and calling him selfish.

Worst part is none of you would have turned on him if he hadn't had such a bad season on the field.

Being stupid doesn't make you a bad person.

Irvin used to carry a handgun on south beach.

BS regardless you dont tweet that type of stuff when your so call team is under investgation and why go to Prime 112.

Secondly BS again if you think he has played good. This mutherfuck@# gotten burnt every gm and also he's about self. Can you not see this (entitlements, selfish)he is always outta position.

He'll lose his position next year along with the rest of the secondary and Chase Ford.

2 years in counting

You just called BS on two things that I said the complete opposite of.

I said you don't tweet baller sh*t and I said he's had a horrible season.

And I don't agree that players shouldn't be allowed to go to trendy steakhouses or restaurants - WTF is Golden talking about when he's pitching a "major metropolitan city" over college towns if not Prime 112?

Posted by: UGoCanes2 | November 14, 2011 at 12:36 PM

UGo..Enjoyed and agree with your post listed above.
I have real problem with the TIMING of Manny's post.
Why, when we have 2 games left with several of these young men do we hold them up to ridicule?
Maybe Manny never played the game, but if he'd take a moment and consider how he'd like to read those "critiques" about his own kid?

Whether we all agree or not with his conclusions, WHY NOW?
Some of these kids have been a;ready mentally abused by the press and blogs such as these.
This sort of cruelty may be OK for NFL/NBA guys making 8 million, but not college kids.

Speaking of the NFL, Manny's inane column regarding my 2-7 Dolphins as being suddenly relevant is a joke.

Manny, I normally enjoy what you write, agree or not, but IMO you've gone too far here...WHY NOW?

Those seeking Mario Cristobal as a (possible) replacement HC should PSU come calling for Al should look at the cold, hard facts.
Mario is basically a .500 coach with S Florida players, playing in a 3rd rate conference.

When he goes 10-2 and makes a major bowl, MAYBE he is worth consideration. They have their own stadium too, something we lack.

That's another subject, but since I mentioned it, UNTIL UM gets something built close to campus, we will NEVER have the home field like the good old days.

I'm so tired of this 'have their own stadium' talk. Part of the reason we get players we shouldn't is because we play 'in' an NFL stadium, not to mention anyone who has been to an orange bowl game and one at Joe Robbie knows the parking is better, it
Actually has jumbotrons, and isn't collapsing, and did i mention the Parking is better? It's a worlds difference and so much easier to not only tailgate but leave the stadium. Quick drive on the turnpike and I'm 'in' south Miami.
What's funny is that any of u think golden has a shot at the Penn st job. He has no shot. They won't hire 'in' house and even if they did, he is 5-5!

That's right i call it Joe Robbie. Too many name changes.

U tell a recruit: the stadium u play 'in'? Has had more superbowls and will have 'in' the past ten years than any other team and probably for the next ten.

I'm sad about the whole thing

eudocimus. Clueless once again. Even Golden said that his actions were if nothing selfish. Nobody is questioning the eating at Prime 112, its the tweeting about by both parties involved that was stupid, careless, and selfish. Is he not aware of Miami's current NCAA situation? It'd be like Sandusky, out on parole, going to a Boy scout convention. It was selfish and immature. That kind of me me me first is the attitude Golden needs to wash and rid this program of.

Thats the reason teams like va tech, Boise state, Stanford, do better than Miami yr in yr out. VA Tech doent even come close to miami in the so called recruiting wars, but I'll be danged if they dont alwasys beat us-kids are better coached and real footballers. Not these entitled self promoting fake a55es that we've had since 2005

IMO you need to give Golden a pass and a contract extension. He has dealt with more garbage than anyone youcan imagine and he has done it with loyalty, enthusiasm, patience and class. Some of that garbage are SOME (not all) of the players on this roster. Once theyre gone, its a fresh start.

Board of Trustees: Please give Golden a hefty extension.

By the way those of you who say hes goingto PSU- never. Would you? That place is cess ool. There is still an investigation of probable cover up. They are losing recruits, and the verdict is still out. Never.

Ryan Williams will be the starting QB next year. Stephen Morris will back him up.

Eucdocimus is clueless once again Nevin. Really amazes me that he does not get it, told that many times, but yet the same drivel flows.

THE COORDINATOR'S GARBAGE. Your words e not mine and you qualified it very well. Clueless you are.

Miami needs to just win one game to become bowl eligible for this season. If I was the program head I would ban them this year from bowl eligiblity in hopes that it would lessen the NCAA installed bowl ban. Get at least one of them out of the way. Hopefully they could do this. They are headed for a mediocre bowl this year anyways.

Again for the benefit of one person who was sadly born without the ability to discern sarcasm - when I gave a list of excuses followed by exclamation marks, that was sarcastic. I don't think the coordinator is garbage and I WASN'T TALKING ABOUT THE OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR

Things will get better as long as Golden stays at UM. Outside of Maryland, Miami is winning against the teams they should and losing against the teams they should. Its a process that will require upcoming freshman to replace a bunch of underachieving dumb players. I find this very similar to what happened between in the mid to late 1990's. Coaches should be judged based on a body of work and not one season. Patience Canes fans.

Just remember no head coach and coordinator can come in here and expect to win with these types of players. Golden inherited a crap storm.

AG 5-5 with the talent that we have gets a grade of: C...NO excuses, remember?

Fact, we are getting a bowl ban and we should take it this year. Why? Recruiting. We have a couple of our few big time recruits wavering because of these impending sanctions, just go ahead and get it out of the way and it should ease the minds of incoming players and if they happen to hammer us, with 2 years at least one bowl ban will be out of the way before they arrive.
Fact, believe what you want but Golden isn't going to PSU, not anytime soon, anyway. That's an even bigger mess.
Fact, Our talent on Defense, is way off, especially on the line. Our depth of talent is way more than glaring, it's horrible. With Chambers, Williams & Jo Jo leaving, who does that leave to play Corner, except Brandon "Toast" McGee & True Freshman Thomas Finnie. To my knowledge, these will be the only players that have seen the field at that position.
Fact, we will have several players coming back on that side of the ball but who has really distinguished himself, game to game? Perryman & Chicklo are about it. What has Vernon done? What has Armstrong done? Forston will be servicable at best when he gets back. Telemaque is sometimey. Buchanan, was average at best when he was in there. Caine & Gaines sounds like a law firm. Darius Smith should be a nose guard indtead of a DT. Ojomo, better put on some serious weight in the off season to play tackle. Same goes for Grimble & Pierre, if they're going to have to play tackle. Porter & Robinson Can't get healthy enough to stay on the field. Paul will be good but would have been better off being redshirted. Bottom line, I don't see the defense being much better next year. We need difference makers on that side of the ball and aside from Keith Brown and it's looking less likely he will come here, I don't see anyone that can really help us next year, from this incoming class. Hell all the CB's verballed so far aren't really playing defense, they're all playing mostly offense.
Fact, we could be 10-0, as easily as we are 5-5. As crazy as it seems, with a little more football smarts, we could be.
Fact, our O-Corrdinator is good. He's worked wonders with J-12, oh he still has his moments, but he's 110% better than years before. I used to call him the anti-cane.
Fact, there are a lot of positives but there are somethings that quite obivious need changing and they will get changed. We are competitive and that's more than I can say from prior years, when we got beat or were getting beat, we just laid on the porch.

herbeibis - you really think UM will get a one year bowl ban? It feels to me like the penalty will either be very small or moderately large, I can see no bowl band or 3-5 years bowl ban but not one year.

I'd prefer to see Harris and Miller and Spence and Benjamin for one more game than not.

At the very worst the USC treatment, with a 2 year bowl ban. That's worst case scenario. It's already been proven with the suspensions, that we were guilty and that's just the tip of the iceberg, they haven't even gotten to the alledged coach's part of the scam or if any former players beside Moss came forward. We will probably see anywhere from 15 to 30 schollies lost as well.
The only thing that could save us from harsh penalties, would be if all the former players plead the 5Th and the former coaches shut there trap.

Truth Not Fiction.....that God exists has greater odds in favor of that belief than the odds that he doesn't. Niche a well known philosopher started the God is Dead movement and it exists until this day. After he died I once saw a buildboard that said this...Niche..."God is Dead," God..."Niche is Dead." Take your pick a lot depends on it!

Yea, that's what I was thinking - something like what USC got.

The good news is that Moss didn't come forward, he geniusly/idiotically denied ever talking to Yahoo and certainly didn't talk to the NCAA. As far as we know the NCAA doesn't have evidence of wrongdoing besides the testimony of the players that have been punished already.

My biggest concern is the basketball team, they look like they're going to get hammered over Haith and Jones but if their transgressions are extrapolated to being an "institutional" problem the football team could be hurt as well.

Best case scenario in my eyes is the death penalty for the basketball team - we need a mens soccer team to poach kickers from.

Eucodimus. OS got three years. Our infractions were much less it seems since our guys were suspended less. Also there have not been any further infractions exposed except self imposed. Rat ray has only been cleared to practice and ag says he may not play.
Self impose this year and get one more and we are on the upswing. Scholarships maybe reduced, but get the right players withe the right DNA and football sense up we go.
None of our coordinators are garbage.

golden is doing what he can with someone else's (crappy) team. its no easy reprogramming the minds of these players. he is the right man for the job & once the 08ers are gone he can focus on building the national championship team we have been begging for.

Oh, beat writer, stop bashing RS. He never gave you the time of day, so what.

Posted by: Cane89 | November 14, 2011 at 07:37 AM

Itcdolphin - I don't know why you can't stop hanging on my every word looking for things to disagree with. The fact of the matter is that you misunderstand almost everything I say and I'm sick of explaining myself for your benefit alone. I don't know what it is, maybe you're not a native English speaker, maybe you're just looking for validation from the only person on here who ever agrees with you, maybe you are just a bit slow.

But nobody else who read what I wrote thinks I was calling a coordinator garbage and if you don't understand the sarcastic tone implied in what I wrote there's no way anyone could ever explain it to you.

Euco. I'm not the only one, just look at the responses and how they read.
So which coordinator were you calling garbage??? Stand up and stop bobbing and weaving and calling names. Take your discourse upwards for a change.

Maybe an analogy could help you.

If I were to say "this pitcher is full of excuses! The sun was in his eye! The wind kicked up! The umpire was paid off!", would you come back and ask me why I think the sun was in the pitcher's eye?

Maybe you should xplain yourself. Which coordinator is garbage. You should at least back up your own words. You dodge and weave I surmise because you know you are wrong.

"So Al Golden failed to meet our expectations this year but we can still rationalize losing to UVA somehow because that Kool-Aid's still fresh. We lost all those games by one score! The coordinator's garbage! Once all those terrible Northwestern players move on to dominate in the NFL we'll get Golden's players in here with their big dangling intangibles and "finish genes"."

Read it 3 times and if you still don't understand then you never will.

The 2008 class had three offensive coordinators, four defensive coordinators and two head coaches. Not to mention all the revolving door position coaches. They could not red-shirt because Cooker ball left the team void of talent.

And in all your wisdom, you blame the kids! (the Sandusky defense) If you are going to report on a sport, get to know the dynamics that create great teams...It is not the fault of the 2008 class. Go CANES

So once again which coordinator is garbage??? It really is a simple question.


The sun wasn't in the pitcher's eyes either.

Take a deep breath, y'all and be ready for a good laugh. When the Class of 2008 was signed, I said that they would contend for the ACC if not NC in 2011. Bwahahahahahah!!!!!
Seriously, how many head coaches and coodinators have been at VT since then, for example. Thought so.
I'm sold on Al and see return to prominence ahead. He has much better odds in the ACC than in the Big Eleven Plus One.
Go Canes! Shreveport or bust!!

Horrible article, no real explanation of the problem. First of all, the there was nothing wrong with 2008 class, except that instead they failed to recruit a decent rb. When cooper went down, refteams stopped respecting the run. They had arunning back who nowplays corner for them, but never really used him. Whipple offense wasnt tailored for jacory, but forwhipple recriut morris.whipples offense wasnt siutedfor guys like byrd, aldarius,streeter, but forquick guys. All these guys coulf play in the right system, evidence: arthur brown

So once again you can't back up your own words. Guess its tough on you.
The whole problem is it seems very difficult to determine and seperate

Had this app.

And seperate your dumb remarks and poor attempts at sarcasm. Use the sarcasm button next time.

I agree they havent been coached well since coming despite them being talented but the okayers have some accountablity as well. they need to put in the extra time on their own. I understand they're in college but we all know the stars get special treatment so they can take some time to go watch more film, lift more weights, work with other members of their unit to gain more rapport and chemistry. The problem with these kids is the media hyped them so much they thought they already made it when they got to the U. they automatically think they're going to the NFL and they just have to make plays here and there for their highlight tape and then blow up and that combine. Too much ego not enough pride. This team is harder to watch than probation era canes.

I remember when Aldarius Johnson was recruited most of you losers said "he reminds me of Andre Johnson", simply because he had the same initials and last name. God, I hate you morons. None of you know anything about sports.

These players stink..it's not the coaching. Golden is a great coach.

I wish UM had an Deep Pattern runner Like AC..hmm the good ole days!!

« 1 2 3

The comments to this entry are closed.