Just talked to Hurricanes coach Al Golden by phone.
* He's very pleased with UM's recruiting efforts, and feels strongly that "the majority'' of kids that have verbally committed "will honor their commitments and stay with us.''
He said among the positions UM needs, the Canes need cornerbacks "terribly.'' He said the Canes are "still looking ahead at a big-time linebacker, we're still looking ahead at a big-time defensive lineman and we're still looking to see if there's a tight end that fits what we're trying to do out there.''
Golden said re: recruiting, "There's not any position not represented now other than kicking and tight end. We're not quite Noah's ark. We're not getting two of everything but we're getting one of everything and in many places we're getting two. We need to do that.''
* He said at least seven players will enroll early, including junior college transfer Ladarius Gunter, a cornerback out of Fort Scott (Kansas) CC. There could be more early enrollees, but he just wanted to give the minimum amount he expects. Some who are academically deficient could go to prep school. You guys likely already know that the two young qbs, Preston Dewey and Gray Crow, are ready to go for spring. But Golden wouldn't name anybody other than Gunter.
* He said QB Stephen Morris has an advantage going into the spring quarterback competition, but that the competition is wide open for all four quarterbacks, which include Ryan Williams, the Memphis transfer who is eligible to play this season. "It's always going to be open with me. It's always going to be earn-it-on-the-field. End of story,'' Golden said.
*OT Seantrel Henderson came back early on Jan. 3 to campus so he could get extra treatment for his back. "It was a good idea,'' Golden said. "It was a good sign for us.''
*C.J. Holton has moved from linebacker to fullback. Former receiver Davon Johnson, per the roster, is now a defensive back.
*Has Golden learned anything new about the ongoing NCAA investigation? "No.''
* He said the newest surgeries were to receiver Rashawn Scott (shoulder), RT Jon Feliciano (knee scoping; cleaning out).
* Golden said Jedd Fisch told him he would be there for next season. Fisch's name had been mentioned in relation to an opening with Chicago Bears.
*What has been the best thing about the offseason, Golden was asked. "For the student-athletes it's been an opportunity to get stronger and become a more physical and more explosive team in the weight room. For the coaches it has given us an opportunity to catch up and really immerse ourselves in the recruiting end of things.
The most frustrating thing? "Watching it all unfold in front of you -- the bowl games. I get the sense from the staff and many of our players who text me during games that it's also providing fuel for us. It's providing motivation and direction.''
The coach admitted that he was "surprised'' at the five players who left early for the NFL. "I was surprised at how quickly the decisions were made and that many of them signed prior to getting any feedback from the NFL Advisory Committee, which I had never seen before in my 17 years.
"Obviously they felt comfortable with their status and where they would fall in the draft and made their decisions.''
*LB Ramon Buchanan is back, though he is still recuperating after knee surgery and will likely miss spring.
*The spring game, April 14th, will be at Sun Life Stadium, finally! There also will be a scrimmage near Fort Myers and one in Miami area. Spring practice begins Saturday, March 3, according to Golden.
In closing, Golden made it clear that although in a perfect world you hold open at least a spot or two for any surprise signees after signing day, he "would be more inclined at this juncture to go ahead and try to finish this class off, given the momentum and strength that we've received here in the last couple of weeks. I would strike while we're hot. We're on a roll right now. We're doing very well.''
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN