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15 posts from December 2011

December 30, 2011

News from the Nevin Shapiro front: UM agrees to pay $83,000 to bankruptcy trustee. 'Deal eliminates likelihood of former Canes having to disclose under oath potentially incriminating information about impromper gifts.'

 Nevingate continues its winding path toward whatever conclusion awaits University of Miami athletics.

 The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson reports in today's Herald that "Former University of Miami football players who allegedly received Cadillac Escalades, jewelry, party invites, champagne, lap dances and the services of prostitutes and other gratuities courtesy of a now-imprisoned athletic-booster-run amok won't have to talk about it in a bankruptcy pleading. Nor will they have to give anything back.

  "UM has agreed to pay $83,000 to the bankruptcy trustee in the case of Nevin Shapiro, who is serving 20 years for defrauding investors in a Ponzi scheme. In exchange, the bankruptcy trustee agreed not to try to recoup any more money from UM or the 70 living players who are alleged to have received cash, gifts or services from Shapiro, in violation of NCAA rules.

   "The deal eliminates the likelihood of former Hurricane players having to disclose under oath potentially incriminating information about improper gifts received from Shapiro -- testimony that might have further embarrassed the university.''

   Please keep in mind that the settlement, according to our story, must be approved by a bankruptcy court judge on Feb. 27. But that, I am told, especially in a case like this, usually happens.

   So how does this affect UM's prognosis?  Remember, the NCAA does not have subpoena power and cannot require former UM players -- or former UM coaches (unless they're coaching at another college) -- to answer its questions or cooperate in the investigation. 

   In the end, it helps UM, though the NCAA has obviously talked at length to Shapiro and can use whatever he gives them, if the NCAA finds it to be true directly through its own investigation. But it has to be the NCAA itself that verifies that information. It can't be through the Yahoo!Sports report, or any other publication or second-hand source.

   However, sworn testimony by former players, etc., through the U.S. Courts would help to sink the Canes.

   I am told the NCAA case is not close to being concluded. 

   This is a positive development for the Hurricanes, but it does not mean they won't get slammed. It just depends on what the NCAA can discover for itself.

     UM will soon be starting its spring semester, with a new crop of Canes emerging. Between five and 10 newcomers will join the team in January. The status of a few is uncertain, depending on transcripts, grades, courses, etc.

   I hope everyone is having a happy and healthy holiday season and has a safe and fulfilling new year.

   Here's a link to Barry's well-reported story: http://tinyurl.com/842trms

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN



 

December 20, 2011

Some good news for UM: DeQuan Jones reinstated by UM, after consultation with NCAA -- and NCAA announces Ohio State's punishment

Great news for the Hurricanes.

You probably already know by now that UM basketball player DeQuan Jones has been reinstated by the Hurricanes and is available to play immediately. In fact, although the Canes left for Charlotte (they play Thursday) today without DeQuan, UM associate athletic director for communications Chris Freet told me the Canes are doing everything possible to get DeQuan to Charlotte for Thursday's game.

UM's written statement on the matter:

"The University of Miami, after consultation with the NCAA, has announced that senior basketball player DeQuan Jones can return to competition immediately.  In order to protect the integrity of the ongoing joint inquiry, the University will not comment further at this time."

People are asking if that bodes well for UM. Obviously it's a good sign for DeQuan -- very good sign. But I can't really say how it will affect the NCAA's UM-Nevin Shapiro investigation as a whole. Remember, it allegedly was former assistant Jake Morton who asked Shapiro for $10,000 to secure the commitment of then-recruit Jones. And remember, it's Shapiro who alleged all this stuff. And we all know how trustworthy he is. But then again, we also know that some of the stuff he alleged was true, unless the suspensions of all those football players were under false pretenses.

Interesting that the NCAA came out today with its 34-page public infractions report in the Ohio State case, that at first centered around some free tattoos for several players and then expanded from there. The Buckeyes received a bowl ban for 2012, which would be Urban Meyer's first year as head coach at Ohio State. NCAA found that there was a "failure to monitor'' OSU's athletic programs.

The Buckeyes also lost an additional five scholarships. They already had self-imposed four. The nine scholarship losses are over a three-year period.

Former Buckeyes football coach Jim Tressel got a five-year "show-cause'' order which basically prevents him from coaching for five years.

"Of great concern to the committee was the fact that the former head coach became aware of these violations and decided not to report the violations,'' the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions included in its report.

Tressel is now on staff of the Indianapolis Colts as a video-review coordinator, the AP wrote in its story.

The NCAA's investigation into UM and Nevin Shapiro isn't yet done, and from what I've heard, is progressing, but not close to being completed. It's interesting to me that UM hasn't self-imposed any scholarships. But the Canes did a smart thing by forgoing the bowl game after a 6-6 season. I still think they'll get another bowl ban, but again, we'll see.

I think the most damage for UM will be from any wrongdoings of former coaches Jake Morton or Frank Haith or former football recruiting point man Clint Hurtt. If you're working for a university, the NCAA has the right to interview you. Depends on what they said, I guess, or what the NCAA decides (through its investigation) is the truth, regardless.

Ohio State is on probation through Dec. 19, 2014.

USC's probation following the Reggie Bush situation was much worse: the loss of 30 scholarships over three years and a two-year bowl ban.

OSU AD Gene Smith said in statement, "We are surprised and disappointed with the NCAA's decision. However, we have decided not to appeal the decision because we need to move forward as an institution. We recognize that this is a challenging time in intercollegiate athletics. Institutions of higher education must move to higher ground, and Ohio State embraces its leadership responsibilities and affirms its long-standing commitment to excellence in education and integrity in all it does.''

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 19, 2011

UM baseball earns No. 14 preseason ranking; Nevin Shapiro NOT included in AP's Top 10 Sports Stories of the Year

The Canes will open their 2012 baseball season with a three-game series at home against Rutgers on Friday, Feb. 17.

On Monday, UM announced that the baseball team has earned a No. 14 preseason ranking from Collegiate Baseball, which named its Top 25 teams.

Miami returns 18 letter-winners from 2011, including starting pitchers Bryan Radziewski, Eric Whaley and Steven Ewing. E.J. Encinosa will serve as the closer. The Canes finished 38-23 overall and 19-10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2011. Jim Morris, who recently became a dad for the first time, will begin his 19th year as the Hurricanes head coach.

UM will host 16 of its first 18 games at Alex Rodriguez Park. Top-ranked Florida comes to Coral Gables on Friday, March 2 for a three-game series.

The ACC had five teams among College Baseball's Top 25. North Carolina is ranked No. 4, Georgia Tech, No. 9; Florida State, 13; the Canes, 14; and Clemson, 25. The Gators come in at No. 1 after finishing 53-19 last season and falling to South Carolina in the College World Series.

UM AVOIDS BEING AMONG AP's TOP-10 SPORTS STORIES OF YEAR (AND THAT'S A GOOD THING)

As most of you likely would have figured out on your own, the Associated Press reported today that, "the ouster of one of America's most revered coaches, Penn State's Joe Paterno, after shocking child sex abuse charges against his former assistant was overwhelmingly voted the sports story of the year by members of The Associated Press.''

The other Top 10 sports stories, according to AP, revolved around: NFL/NBA lockouts, the Green Bay Packers winning the Super Bowl, college conference realignment, St. Louis Cardinals win World Series, Ohio State's NCAA saga, Dallas Mavericks beat Heat for NBA title, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon is killed during IndyCar's season finale, longtime Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine is accused of molesting two former Syracuse ball boys and continuing saga, Japan beat U.S. in Women's World Cup final.

The NCAA investigation into UM and former booster Nevin Shapiro continues. Don't know when that will wrap up, but not in time for this year's list for sure.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

December 17, 2011

Ojomo denied sixth year by NCAA

ORLANDO -- There is another open scholarship available for Al Golden.

The University of Miami announced Saturday morning that defensive lineman Adewale Ojomo was denied a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA and will not be back next season.

Ojomo, who signed with UM in 2007, told us in November he had trouble finding the necessary paper work to receive a redshirt for his freshman season -- not the 2009 season he missed with a broken jaw after being sucker punched by a walk-on teammate in a preseason locker room brawl.

In 11 games this past season, Ojomo started seven and made the shift from defensive end to defensive tackle midway through the season. He finished the season with 19 tackles (9 solo, 10 assists), recorded 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

December 16, 2011

Duke Johnson turns in MVP performance in 5A title game, final game for Norland Vikings

ORLANDO -- It wasn't the greatest performance of his career -- far from it actually. But even on a day he fumbled and threw an interception, Duke Johnson was still pretty special in his final game in a Norland Vikings uniform.

Duke JohnsonHe turned in 266 all-purpose yards, five touchdowns and an MVP performance in leading Norland to a 38-0 win over Crawfordville Wakulla in the Class 5A state championship game Friday afternoon at the Citrus Bowl. (P.S. -- Don't mind the fat guy interviewing Duke after the game. Herald's Al Diaz shot it.)

"Today it was totally his show. Whether it was a run, a catch, a straight on return, you don't get any better than that. He's by the far best we've seen in the state this year," said Dwight Thomas, who coached a guy you might have heard of -- Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith at Pensacola Escambia High.

"That stuff he does where he's here one second and then over there the next, you can't emulate it. He's special."

Norland (15-0) probably could have beaten the overmatched War Eagles (12-3) without Johnson (5-9, 182). But the Vikings -- ranked eighth nationally by ESPN -- certainly would not have completed the climb to the crown without him.

Two weeks ago at No. 1-ranked Glades Central, a place no Miami-Dade or Broward team had won in 14 previous playoff trips, Johnson ran for 230 yards and four touchdowns. A week later, he posted the fourth-highest single game performance in Miami-Dade history, rallying his team from a 20-0 deficit at Palmetto by rushing for 375 yards and 3 TDs in a state semifinal win.

All Johnson did Friday was prove to a statewide television audience that hadn't seen him yet beyond grainy YouTube highlights is that he's not only the best present University of Miami coach Al Golden has under his Christmas tree, but one of the best players Dade has ever produced.

Johnson's final senior season rushing stats -- 208 carries, 2,087 yards, 29 TDs -- rank ninth all-time in Dade history. His career rushing numbers -- 504 carries, 5,109 yards, 70 TDs -- rank third all-time. But when you consider he averaged 10.0 yards per carry and had 103 rushing attempts fewer than the great Frank Gore (2,953 yards in 2000) this season, Johnson's performance stands out even more.

"To me, I once thought Duke was the most exciting player I'd ever seen," said Norland athletic director Ira Fluitt, a basketball star during his old playing days at Miami Springs. "But after what he did last week in running for 375 yards I think he's the best player I've ever seen. I'd put him right up there with the greats like Frank Gore, Elvis Peacock and Troy Davis."

Johnson, the state's Class 5A Player of the Year and a finalist for Florida's Mr. Football Award, gave Wakulla's defense credit for making him work for 130 yards on 21 carries. It wasn't until his final carry of the game -- a 40-yard touchdown run with 6:12 remaining where he stiff armed three defenders on his way to the end zone -- that Johnson was able to break a run longer than 15 yards.

Still, he displayed his big play ability plenty. He returned a kickoff following a safety 69 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter, hurdling over and spinning off would-be tacklers in impressive fashion. Later in the fourth quarter, he leaped over two defenders to haul in a 23-yard pass at the Wakulla 2-yard line. It setup his three-yard TD run two plays later.

"Blocking for that guy has been a lot of fun," said Vikings left tackle Ereck Flowers, a 6-6, 315-pound wrecking machine who will follow Johnson to UM. "He's a beast."

Norland coach Daryle Heidelburg said Golden and UM are getting a player "that refuses to lose" and "is going to do what it takes to build that program and help other players around him." Heidelburg said Johnson and linebacker Feddie Davey performed "bed checks" of teammates Thursday night before he could get to it himself.

Johnson wore special black and gold socks and gloves Friday to honor Liberty City Optimist founder, Sam Johnson (no relation), who passed away last Sunday from a heart attack. After the game, he returned to the Vikings bench to find a hat sporting the beak of Hurricanes mascot Sebastian the Ibis waiting for him and put it on.

His mom, Cassandra Prophet-Mitchell, who sat between UM assistants George McDonald and Terry Richardson for most of Friday's game, said there is no other place her son is going but UM.

"Can't wait to get there," Johnson said when asked if he's already thinking about the Canes.

But first, he says, "I'm resting for the next month. Then, it's track season. I want got to get faster."

UM Cane LT Brandon Washington and DE Olivier Vernon forgoing sr seasons to enter NFL Draft

Here we go again.

Two more University of Miami underclassmen are leaving the Hurricanes early to enter the 2012 NFL Draft.

This time it's 6-4, 320-pound offensive tackle Brandon Washington, who played his junior season at left tackle after being named an All-ACC left guard as a sophomore in 2010.

And add to that defensive end Olivier Vernon, who  is leaving as well. I'll get more on Olivier a bit later. Read on for Brandon news:

Former Hurricanes receiver Aldarius Johnson, who graduated from Miami Northwestern High with Washington and two other sources familiar with the situation, confirmed the news for me, as well as the university itself. Washington did not return voice and text messages yesterday.

"I am so overwhelmed and proud of Brandon’s accomplishments,'' said his mother, Cheryl, who said Thursday that she wasn't aware of his decision, but that he was a man and has been making his own decisions for quite a while. "I just want the whole world to know how proud I am of all my boys. Brandon is a sweetheart, and he is very humble.''

Cheryl Washington, who is currently unemployed, raised four sons and a daughter by herself in Overtown. She said she was adamant that somehow Washington earns his degree in criminology. "He knows that I don't play with education,'' she said.

Brandon Washington posted this message on his Twitter acount Dec. 10: "Ever been scared to check ya bank account..."

Washington, 23, played in the same Bulls' class as Jacory Harris, Sean Spence, Tommy Streeter, Marcus Forston and the rest of the Hurricanes-Bulls' contingent who pledged to help their hometown Canes get back to the glory days. But Washington had to go to Milford (N.Y.) Academy prep school to bolster his academics, and his first season was in 2009.

Washington becomes the third Hurricane from that Miami Northwestern class -- and now (after news of Olivier Vernon) fifth underclassman -- to depart early for the NFL.  Three of the five played on offense. Receiver Streeter, defensive tackle Forston and running back Lamar Miller are the other three who recently decided to forgo the rest of their UM careers to turn pro.

Johnson, who said he spoke with Washington by phone Wednesday, graduated Thursday with a group of Hurricanes that included Harris, Spence and Forston. Johnson was suspended indefinitely this past season after being involved in the NCAA case surrounding former UM booster Nevin Shapiro.

    “He told me yesterday,’’ Johnson said of Washington. “I just told him, ‘Congratulations.’’’

    Washington told reporters near the end of the season that he was definitely returning for his senior year, saying that he expected the Canes to have a great 2012.

  Washington's absence will hurt the Canes at a position that was projected to be their strongest in 2011, but struggled at times with penalties and short-yardage situations. He started all 12 games this season after being switched from guard to tackle. His UM-written bio says he "made only five mental errors over the course of the season, and registered only three penalties.''

In 2011, UM ranked 72nd in total offense in the Football Bowl Subdivision and was 61st in passing offense and 74th in rushing.

The Canes still have 6-8, 345-pound soon-to-be junior Seantrel Henderson, 6-5, 320-pound soon-to-be sophomore Jon Feliciano and 6-7, 320-pound soon-to-be redshirt sophomore Malcolm Bunche as experienced tackles.

In 2010, Washington started all 13 games and was second on the team with 56 pancake blocks. He earned ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors after Virginia Tech (loss) and Duke (win).

 In 2009, Washington played in all 13 games as a freshman, mostly on the place-kicking unit. But he made his first career start at left guard that season against Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl.

Defensively, Vernon’s absence is a blow to a defensive line that already is without Forston and could have used Vernon’s talent as a pass-rusher – though neither played much this season. Vernon, a Miamian who graduated from American High, was suspended by the NCAA for six games this season for accepting impermissible benefits from former UM booster Nevin Shapiro. He played in six games and had 18 tackles, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and fumble recovery. In 2010 he had 39 tackles, six sacks and 10.5 tackles-for-loss.     

 -SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

December 14, 2011

PODCAST: Canesport's Matt Shodell on UM's 1st two recruiting weekends

Here is the podcast I recorded with Canesport's Matt Shodell on Monday morning covering UM's last two recruiting weekends. Download it for your listening pleasure.

DOWNLOAD: EYE ON THE U PODCAST 12-12-11

 

December 13, 2011

Ray-Ray Armstrong will return to UM for his senior season

Finally, some good news for UM football fans from an underclassman.

Albert Armstrong, the father of UM junior strong safety Ray-Ray, told the Miami Herald tonight that his son has decided to return for his senior season -- unlike receiver Tommy Streeter, defensive tackle Marcus Forston and running back Lamar Miller.

"Of course he's coming back. He loves Miami,'' said Albert Armstrong, who then called his son to make sure he could relay the information. "He didn't get the opportunity he needed personally this season to step out to the NFL. The [NCAA] suspension hurt. Of course we knew he was NFL-caliber talent and could go in one of those rounds, but we didn't test the water. Didn't pursue the NFL at all to see what his status would be. The plan all along was for him to come back, have fun and graduate.

"He's excited about the opportunity to play again, get his degree and better himself all-around through coach [Al] Golden and his staff.''

CBSSports.com had Armstrong projected as the 77th top prospect for the 2012 NFL Draft, which would put him near the middle of the third round.

 Armstrong, a hard-hitting 6-4, 215-pounder with great speed, wears the late Sean Taylor's No. 26 and has often been compared to him. He was UM's top-rated signee in 2009. He led Sanford Seminole High to the Class 6A title as a quarterback and safety his senior year. Last year he finished third on the team in tackles with 79, and tied for a team-high three interceptions. This season Armstrong was suspended by the NCAA the first four games for accepting impermissible benefits from former UM booster Nevin Shapiro.

Armstrong later was suspended by Golden for the Florida State game after he posted a Twitter message about eating dinner at a restaurant with a friend who owns a public relations firm that represents pro athletes. He was cleared of any wrongdoing and finished out the season. He played in seven games this season and had 34 tackles, an interception and fumble recovery.

"If you go out early, you want to make sure you're going to get drafted high,'' Albert Armstrong said. "Now he'll have that opportunity.''

--SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

December 10, 2011

Duke Johnson a special weapon in waiting for UM

PALMETTO, Fla. -- Maybe it's silly of me to say this since I'm supposed to be objective, but man is it fun watching Duke Johnson run the football.

Duke JohnsonLast night, I got a chance to watch the Miami Norland senior and University of Miami commitment up close as he rallied his team from a 20-0 deficit to a 35-27 win over the Palmetto Tigers in a Class 5A state semifinal game. Duke, widely considered the best player in the state (somehow he didn't win Florida's Gatorade Player of the Year), finished with 375 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns on 27 carries by my count.

He had six runs over 25 yards in the game: a 49-yard gasher on a sweep, a 67-yard sprint around end for a touchdown, a 32-yard barreling burst up the middle for a touchdown, a 71-yard zig-zagger for a touchdown, a 25-yard power run up the middle and a 33-yarder off tackle. He had 98 yards on his other 21 touches, four of those carries went for negative yards.

It was a career night for Johnson (5-10, 180), who finished 44 yards shy of tying Frank Gore's record for rushing yards in a game. Afterward, he told me he had Gore's mark of 419 on his mind, but with his team nursing an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter he was more concerned about running out the clock. By the way, he also punted and finished the game on defense as Norland's defense held on late for the win.

Johnson reminds me very much of Gore in terms of speed, explosiveness, vision and toughness. Coaches in the area who were on the sideline and had never seen Johnson play until Friday were blown away by his stiff arm. It's impressive. 

The Hurricanes of course still have Lamar Miller. He hasn't announced he's going pro yet (although many expect he will considering he's been tabbed by experts to be the 2nd best running back in the country behind Alabama's Trent Richardson). If Miller leaves, the Canes still have senior Mike James, junior Eduardo Clements and sophomore Darion Hall all available to carry the rock. But assuming Johnson signs with Miami -- and there is no reason to believe he won't -- it's impossible to imagine he won't get plenty of touches. He's simply too gifted.

I don't have all his highlights from Friday night at Palmetto. But we did get what I thought was his most impressive run of the night on film -- his 32-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. In the highlight, Johnson powers through the line of scrimmage and barrels over Palmetto linebacker Da'Quall Randal, who by the way is 6-foot, 230-pounds. Randal keeps a souvenir as Johnson slams past him -- Johnson's shoe. The running back, however, isn't affected by it and still outruns the Palmetto secondary into the end zone.

Watch the play here...

Like I said, maybe I've got a man crush on Duke Johnson, but the kid is special. 

By the way, Johnson was approached by Gators fan after the game who told him 'Please come to Gainesville.' Johnson laughed it off and responded: "No way, bro."

Norland (14-0) plays in the Class 5A state title game next Friday at The Citrus Bowl in Orlando at 1 p.m. against Crawfordville Wakulla (12-2).

Johnson, who has only played about a half in most of his games because they've been blowouts, has run for 1,957 yards and 25 touchdowns on 197 carries. He's run for 800 yards and 10 of those touchdowns in the playoffs.

Here is his post-game interview

December 08, 2011

What will Canes 2012 depth chart look like? Here's my best guess minus Lamar Miller

When the Hurricanes football season ended Nov. 25 it felt like we had a firm grasp as to who was coming back next season and who might be leaving early.

Will Lamar Miller stick around?The consensus feeling was running back Lamar Miller would probably go and there was a chance defensive end Olivier Vernon and safety Ray-Ray Armstrong could join him. Since then, none of those three have announced anything, but receiver Tommy Streeter -- who at one point said he was coming back -- and defensive tackle Marcus Forston, who missed two seasons worth of games with injuries, decided they were heading out the door.

Could other unexpected third and fourth-year juniors follow suit? Absolutely. Who will leave? I've got no leads. But the more I think about the situation with Forston, the more I believe Al Golden had no problem letting him out the door. Anyone who has battled injury or has sat on the bench for 2-3 years without making an impact will probably be encouraged to leave, freeing up precious scholarships the school needs to load up on this next signing class.

Although Golden said in his press conference he believed "the worst was behind us" in terms of what sanctions UM could be facing from the NCAA, I've heard on my travels throughout Miami-Dade and Broward high schools over the past two weeks Golden and his assistants have been telling recruits "scholarships are limited." Several local coaches have told me UM is anticipating losing scholarships and thus is doing its best to create room by encouraging some current players to walk. Again, just what I'm hearing from outside -- nothing concrete from UM.

That being said, UM's depth chart will look awfully young next year. That's an enticing sell for freshman who want to play right away, but not necessarily a good look for an improvement from 6-6. Here's is the projected depth chart at the moment, assuming Miller leaves (rated second best RB by NFLDraftScout.com) and everyone else returns:

OFFENSE
QB: Stephen Morris, Jr. | Ryan Williams, Jr.
RB: Mike James, Sr. | Eduardo Clements, Jr. | Darion Hall, R-So.
FB: Maurice Hagens, Jr. | John Calhoun, Sr.
WR: Allen Hurns, Jr. | Rashawn Scott, So.
WR: Phillip Dorsett, So. | Kendall Thompkins, Sr.
TE: Clive Walford, R-So. | Dyron Dye, R-Jr. | Asante Cleveland, Jr.
LT: Seantrel Henderson, Jr. | Jermaine Johnson, R-Jr.
LG: Brandon Washington, Sr. | Jeremy Lewis, Sr.
C: Shane McDermott, R-So. | Jared Wheeler, R-Jr.
RG: Brandon Linder, Jr. | Malcolm Bunche, R-So.
RT: Jonathan Feliciano, R-So. | Jermaine Barton, R-So.

DEFENSE
DE: Anthony Chickillo, So. | Shayon Green, R-Jr.
DT: Adewale Ojomo, Sr. | Jalen Grimble, So.
DT: Curtis Porter, Jr. | Darius Smith, Sr.
DE: Olivier Vernon, Sr. | Olsen Pierre, So.
WLB: Denzel Perryman, So. | C.J. Holton, Sr.
MLB: Kelvin Cain, Jr. | Gionni Paul, So.
SLB: James Gaines, Jr. | Eddie Johnson, So.
CB: Brandon McGee, Sr. | Dallas Crawford, So.
CB: Thomas Finnie, So. | Kacy Rodgers, Jr.
SS: Ray-Ray Armstrong, Sr. | Andrew Swasey, Sr.
FS: Vaughn Telemaque, Sr. | A.J. Highsmith, R-Jr.

SPECIAL TEAMS
K: Jake Wiecalw, Sr. | Matt Goudis, So.
P: Dalton Botts, Jr.
KR: Phillip Dorsett, So. | Davon Johnson, Sr.
PR: Phillip Dorsett, So. | Kendall Thompkins, Sr.

> Now, this depth chart didn't have a single incoming freshman included in it because obviously they haven't officially signed a National Letter of Intent. But if you look at the players UM has committed at the moment, it's obvious receivers Angelo Jean-Louis (Palm Beach Central) and Malcolm Lewis (Miramar High) and running back Duke Johnson (Miami Norland) all have an opportunity to come in and help right away on offense and special teams.

Defensively, there are huge glaring holes and needs in the secondary and at linebacker. The most college ready linebackers are considered Raphael Kirby (Stone Mountain, Ga.) and Reggie Northrup (Jacksonville First Coast). The true freshman corner that could make an impact is Coral Reef's Vernon Davis. Little known JUCO corner Ladarius Gunter -- a recent commitment -- could also play right away as well as any other junior college additions. 

So what do you think of this depth chart and the outlook for 2012? Discuss.

December 07, 2011

Perryman named freshman All-American

Hurricanes linebacker Denzel Perryman was among 26 players named to CBSSports.com's Freshman All-American team Wednesday night.

Perryman finished the season ranked first among Atlantic Coast Conference freshmen with 69 tackles. He finished his first year with UM ranked second on the team in tackles and tied for third on the team in tackles for loss (6.5).

In his first career start against then-No. 20 Georgia Tech, Perryman recorded seven tackles, three tackles for loss and his first career sack. He would go on to start the final four games of the season for the Hurricanes, recording a career-high 14 tackles in the team’s season finale against Boston College.

December 05, 2011

Forston, Streeter sign with Rosenhaus, forego senior seasons

They came in together from Miami Northwestern High as part of the nation's No. 1 recruiting class in 2008 -- and now they'll be going out together too.

University of Miami juniors Tommy Streeter and Marcus Forston -- high school and college teammates of seniors Jacory Harris and Sean Spence -- will forgo their senior seasons to enter the NFL Draft according to UM. Both have signed with agent Drew Rosenhaus and will not return.

Streeter, 22, played in all 12 games this season and caught 46 passes for 811 yards and eight touchdowns. He was fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference in total yardage and fifth with his average of 67.6 receiving yards per game. Streeter’s 17.6-yard average per catch led ACC receivers with at least 40 receptions.

Forston, considered one of the best defensive tackles in the country coming out of high school, was marred by injuries in his college career. He played and started in three games before suffering a season-ending knee injury this season. He registered five tackles and one tackle for loss. Forston also missed most of the 2009 season with a shoulder injury.

Streeter's absence will be a major loss for the Hurricanes, who also are losing second-leading receiver Travis Benjamin, a senior, as well as senior LaRon Byrd. Allen Hurns, an upcoming junior, and Phillip Dorsett, who will be a sophomore, will return as the only veteran wideouts. Hurns caught 31 passes for 415 yards and four touchdowns this past season.

Before 2011, Streeter had a total of five catches – four in 2009 and one in 2010 for his lone touchdown. But he thrived this season, his 6-5, 217-pound frame and 4.36-second speed (in the 40-yard dash) overwhelming most defenders.

Streeter and Forston are both on pace to receive their college degrees in May.

> Freshman guard Shane Larkin earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors after averaging 15.0 points, 2.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds in two games last week. Larkin, who played high school ball at Dr. Phillips in Orlando, was 6-of-7 from long range (85.7%), hitting 9-of-18 overall from the field, and a perfect 6-of-6 at the line overall.

-- SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN AND MANNY NAVARRO

December 04, 2011

Tommy Streeter to enter NFL Draft??? Golden rumors AGAIN - with full Donna Shalala transcript of her reaction and other interesting Shalala comments

Life is never dull when you cover the University of Miami.

UM wide receiver Tommy Streeter had made his decision to forgo his senior year and enter the NFL Draft, his father and mother both told me today.

He had a long, long meeting with Coach Al Golden, and not sure if any other coaches were in there (don't think so, but not positive). Golden apparently swayed Streeter enough to make him wonder when he walked out of that meeting. UM coaches believe Streeter will be drafted fourth or fifth round, from what I've been told.

I think Tommy would be drafted higher than that.

Streeter told me after that meeting that he still wants to turn pro -- yet on the other hand, he said he wants to be absolutely, positively sure of his decision. "I want to make sure I'm 100 percent,'' he said.

Sounds like he's confused, and understandably. Also sounded to me like he's leaning heavily toward going. If I had to guess, I'd say he's going to turn pro.

For UM's sake, hope he stays and gets that extra year in. He could cement his status as a first-rounder if he comes back. I think it could only help for him to show consistency in his success over more than one season.

Keep in mind, however, that Tommy is 6-5 and 217 pounds and runs a 4.36-second 40-yard dash. He is amazingly fast for a very tall man -- great attributes for a receiver. That won't get past NFL teams.

This won't get past them either: 811 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 46 catches.

Also important: Tommy is a young man of high character. He's intelligent, too.

Yes, he's only had one great season, but he rarely played before this season. He was not a favorite of Randy Shannon's, and Streeter himself said he changed his attitude before this season.

  If Tommy leaves, his absence would be a major loss for the Hurricanes, who also are losing second-leading receiver Travis Benjamin, a senior, as well as senior LaRon Byrd. Allen Hurns, an upcoming junior, would return as the only veteran wideout. Hurns caught 31 passes for 415 yards and four touchdowns this past season.

"He believes he's ready,'' Tommy Streeter Sr. told me today. Mr. Streeter would like his son to stay in school, by the way.

Tommy Sr. told me TJ -- Tommy Jr -- "loves coaches Al Golden, Jedd Fisch and George McDonald, but he feels like it's time for him to move on.''

Now they will get together as a family again to discuss his future.

Tommy Jr. is majoring in sports administration and is on pace to get his degree in May, which I believe he still could get by arranging some internship hours.

It appears if he turns pro, he'll sign with  Drew Rosenhaus. I was assured by both parents, in no uncertain terms, that Tommy has NOT yet signed with any agent.

This is a good, close family.

Stay tuned.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

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As for UCLA being interested in Al Golden, it's probably true -- or else a ploy to get folks from thinking of other options. But even so, I would be more than extremely surprised to see Golden leave now. What does it take for people to believe he's here for at least now? I hope I'm not crazy, but I just don't see it. Manny Navarro, who is covering the Dolphins game today, said he and some other reporters talked to UM president Donna Shalala, who was at the Dolphins game.

He said she assured them that Golden is staying at UM and wants to be with the Hurricanes.

Here's are the quotes, word for word, that Manny just emailed me, from Donna Shalala, during her interview with Manny and some other reporters:

Why the extension? 

Shalala: "He wanted to stay. There is no question he
wanted to stay. We simply had to make sure we sent the message not
simply to him and the people he put together but to the Hurricane
family and all the kids thinking that have been a Hurricane all their
life and they want to play for the University of Miami."

  Is anything sure in this business?

"No. But just because someone calls up -- this guy wants to be with the
University of Miami. He's an excellent coach."

What about UCLA and other schools calling for him now? 

"Did you hear the story about Ohio State approaching me? If you're good enough
you're going to get calls every week. And particularly as the break
comes and the number of vacancies there are in the country, everybody
is going to call anybody who is talented. All that is is a sign that
we did the right thing."

Here's more on other schools coming after Golden:

"I know the rhythm of when coaching vacancies come out. Look at the difference it has made already. You make the announcement early enough. Other vacancies open
up. Of course UCLA and other schools are going to call. Everybody is
going to call everybody. When you're really good, you get phone calls."

Why the 4th quarter announcement of Golden signing, during the Boston College game?

"The reason it was announced when it was because the trustees were here for the game. We needed their approval and we did it at halftime. Once they do it, you've got to get it out. Since we got it done I needed a chance for the athletic director to explain it to the trustees here at the game. Once they said 'Yes,' we could make the announcement. It was actually a rational decision on our part. Once you get that number of people in the room, it's going to leak. At halftime we took an empty suite, gathered the trustees, briefed them on where we were and they said "fine." So, there was no reason not to get it out. I also knew after the last game there were going to be a lot of vacancies. So, it was
really a matter of talking to them. It seemed weird to you, [but] totally rational [to us]. If you were in my place and could get all your trustees together at halftime you would have done it that way. You need it approved by the board of trustees for a long contract extension. We happened to have them in one place. It seemed like a rational type of thing.

What did you like about the team this season? 

"I like the discipline. I don't know enough about football. But everybody around
me who knows about football feels very strongly that he's a tremendous
coach. Everything is right about him. The way he works with young
people, his expectations, about the standards he brings, about the
values he brings. We're very pleased and obviously we're prepared to
make the kind of commitment he needed to build the team."

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN and MANNY NAVARRO

December 02, 2011

New All-Star game invites lots of Canes -- to be coached by Howard Schnellenberger. Other team gets Bobby Bowden.

There's a new All-Star football game in South Florida for college seniors and those expected to enter the upcoming NFL Draft, and so far, three Hurricanes and one former Hurricane have accepted invitations.
The Battle of Florida all-star collegiate football game will be played at 8 p.m. on Jan. 21 at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton. And though the game was announced in September, many people still don't know about it. Nor do many know that retiring FAU coach (and beloved former UM coach) Howard Schnellenberger will coach the South team, while retired FSU coach Bobby Bowden will coach the North team.
Players must have been either born, played high school football or college football in the state of Florida. The game will be televised nationally by Fox College Sports.
UM offensive lineman Joel Figueroa, defensive tackle Micanor Regis, tight end Chase Ford and former Hurricanes receiver Aldarius Johnson will compete in the game for Schnellenberger's South team.
The other senior Canes who were invited and haven't yet responded: receiver Travis Benjamin, quarterback Jacory Harris, linebacker Sean Spence, defensive end Andrew Smith, guard Harland Gunn, center Tyler Horn, defensive back JoJo Nicolas and cornerback Mike Williams.
I had a chance to chat with The Battle of Florida personnel director Jaden McNeely, who believes his game has a chance to thrive right alongside of the other long-time collegiate all-star games -- the Senior Bowl (Jan. 28) and the East-West Shrine Game (also on Jan. 21).
"We don't see ourselves as a competition to the other games,'' McNeely said. "We did this game because we felt like Florida was being underserved. When you look at it, between the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game, you might end up with 12 to 15 players from the state of Florida in both of those games combined. They’re recruiting the entire nation so they have to have a balance. They typically go after the top guys in every state. Some come, some don't.
"We truly believe there are 100 NFL prospects in the state of Florida. Our approach is, why not take guys who would normally fall in between the cracks and let them play in front of NFL scouts and give them a chance? A lot of these guys don’t have the opportunity once their season is over. Maybe they had an injury or had a bad season, so they lost their opportunity to be seen."
Senior Bowl spokesman Kevin McDermond told me today that their invitations are in the middle of being sent out -- some already have gone out and many more will be sent in the next couple weeks. McDermond said the Senior Bowl has "not invited the Miami guys yet, but I anticipate we certainly will.''
The Senior Bowl is shown on the NFL Network and is played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.
The East-West Shrine Tame also is televised on the NFL Network and will be played for the first time at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
East-West Shrine Game executive director Harold Richardson told me today that the game sends out 65 invitations "to those everybody on the planet knows you'd invite -- the rest go out on a personal basis. We sent out that first batch about two weeks ago, and you really don’t count on getting a great response because guys who still have a bowl game, sometimes their coaches don’t even give them the invitation until after the season is over.''
Richardson does not publicize the invitation list. He said he'll distribute the acceptance list in early January. He said Miami players will be among those invited.
For fans interested in going to the newest game, go to www.TheBattleOfFlorida.com for ticket and other information.
ADDENDUM ON SATURDAY: I know about a couple other guys who go to school in South Florida and are in this game. FAU's Alfred Morris, who went to Pensacola Pine Forest High, wants to play on the North team with guys he knows from high school. FIU quarterback Wesley Carroll has committed to play for the South team. T.Y. Hilton of FIU was invited to play, but I was told by local organizer he got a Senior Bowl invitation and not sure where he's playing.

Here are a few other guys playing in The Battle of Florida: Appalachian State running back Travaris Cadet (who played at Miami Central) and Appalachian State cornerback (he was a quarterback before he switched) DeAndre Presley.
Also playing is Quenton Washington, a corner for USF who went to North Fort Myers High and Louisville wide receiver Josh Bellamy from St. Petersburg.

They did not have the complete list to give me. Hope this helps. And yes, in some cases, the organizer said if a player went to high school in one part of the state but plays ball in the other part, that player can choose his team.

**************************************************************************************
The NCAA announced that former UM basketball player Will Allen -- known as Willie when he played for the Hurricanes -- "will be honored with the NCAA's Theodore Roosevelt Award, the [NCAA's] highest honor, at the 2012 NCAA Convention in Indianapolis."
Allen already earned a $500,000 genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation, and was named last year by TIME magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential people in the category designated for heroes.
Named after President Teddy Roosevelt, who was instrumental in the formation of the NCAA in 1906, the award is given annually to a person "for whom competitive athletics in college and attention to physical well-being thereafter have been important factors in a distinguished career of national significance and achievement.''
Allen, a 6-7 former center who could leap 44 inches high in his prime and trails only Rick Barry in UM history with 916 career rebounds, played hoops for UM from 1967 to 1971. He is the cofounder and director of Growing Power. The nonprofit organization is an integrated food system that grows, cultivates and delivers fresh fruit and vegetables year-round from 11 small, inner-city farms in Milwaukee, Chicago and Madison, Wis., and feeds about 10,000 underprivileged people annually.
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Kudos to UM for being one of 17 institutions recognized for "an outstanding NCAA Graduation Success Rate of over 90 percent for their football student-athletes in the latest six-year window,'' as announced by the American Football Coaches Association.
Here are the other 16 institutions: Air Force, Army, Boise State, Boston College, Central Florida, Duke, Florida, Iowa, Miami (Ohio), Navy, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Penn State, Rice, Stanford.
--SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

December 01, 2011

South Miami CB AJ Leggett might not end up in UM's recruiting class

Last week when I visited South Miami High and spoke to All-American cornerback AJ Leggett before his team's big playoff game against Columbus he was gushing at the thought over playing for the Hurricanes next season.

AJ Leggett"I've been wanting to play at UM all my life," he said. "I see a lot of opportunity there. I've been working hard to get my grades right, my test scores, my classes and stuff in line. The only thing I have to pass right now is Spanish and Math class in virtual school so I can graduate on time. If I maintain my grades, I'll be straight."

Leggett, who has a 2.4 GPA and recently scored a 22 on his ACT, might have all the grades and necessary paperwork to get past the NCAA Clearinghouse next year. But UM's academic admissions department? That appears to be an entirely different issue according to South Miami coach Lamont Green.

Earlier this week, Green said UM defensive backs coach Paul Williams stopped by the school to have a conversation with Leggett about his academic situation, particularly what he needs to get into UM. And now it appears UM is warning Leggett that if he signs with them in February he may have to spend a year a prep school.

"According to what Paul said since AJ went to more than two high schools, he's going to need the paperwork of every high school he went to -- and he warned him it's going to be a long process," Green said. "He was just saying if they sign him football wise they don't think academically the school will let him in right away and he'll have to go to prep school. He said based on what they saw last year with a couple other guys it was going to happen again this year."

Leggett, considered the 10th best cornerback in the country by Rivals.com, took to Facebook to voice his frustration on the news saying: "I dont think I will be playing In miami next year," according to InsideTheU.com.

Leggett attended four different high schools, beginning the ninth grade at South Miami before attending Booker T. Washington as a sophomore, Gulliver Prep as a junior, Homestead this summer and then South Miami again as a senior.

"All that switching really wasn't up to me. It was my parents," Leggett told me last week. "If it were up to me, I would have stayed at one or two programs -- probably here or Booker T."

Leggett led South Miami to a 9-3 season. He played quarterback and accounted for over 1,600 yards on offense and 15 touchdowns. On defense, he had four interceptions. Leggett plans on playing in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Dallas, Texas as well as the Dade-Broward Game.

The issue now is what Leggett plans to do next. He said the reason he committed to UM and coach Al Golden -- after switching back and forth as a Florida State commitment -- was because he wanted to be close to home and his 11-month old son A.J. III.

"I have a responsibility here at home and I want to be with him," Leggett said. "It's good if you can play at a good college and be close to your kid."

Green said he's not sure what Leggett will do now, but said schools like Ohio State and Florida State are still interested in him. UM sorely needs cornerbacks in its recruiting class and has four other defensive back commitments. But Leggett is clearly considered the most talented of the bunch.

"At least they're letting him know now before he puts his signature on any documents what the deal is," Green said of Miami. "We'll see what he wants to do. Sometimes in college football things work out, sometimes it don't. They told him they definitely want him, but they want to be up front and not have him get frustrated. I don't know what he's thinking. I'm waiting on AJ to see how he wants to attack it."