The football season is closer than it seems, and no one knows that more than this year's crop of Baby Canes, who have been arriving since January to get a head start for 2012.
I have a story in today's Miami Herald about the guys who have enrolled in the first summer session, and are about to enroll in the second summer session that begins June 27. Naturally, they're very excited to get going and experience college life while also diving into their workout regimens and seven-on-seven sessions with the older players.
"Me and [fellow incoming Cane] Vernon Davis have been going to UM every day and lifting weights,'' receiver Herb Waters of Homestead High told me. "We're working on our abs and muscles I never even knew about. Like on our shoulders we have inner muscles that hold our joints, or something like that. We use a little bungee cord to strengthen those muscles.''
Waters is also excited about being able to take one class when he gets to UM in late June. He said he is interested in studying criminology. He also said he likes the way the upperclassmen respond to the younger ones.
"The older guys are pretty cool,'' he said. "They treat you with respect.''
"Big Earl" Moore, a 6-1 defensive tackle from Tampa Hillsborough High, told me he has gained 15 pounds since the high school season, and now weighs 295. He said he's interested in studying about sports medicine.
"I'm pretty sure it's going to be good, just from how [the other freshmen already enrolled] talk about it,'' he said, adding that safety Rayshawn Jenkins told him all about the small classes and how "the professors really get to know you."
Moore said he's been working out with his coach from Hillsborough before he gets to Coral Gables in late June. "[UM] told me I'm going to play the position I played in high school, which is defensive tackle and noseguard. Mostly I look forward to the football season. I can't wait to get back on the field."
Vernon Davis, the cornerback from Coral Reef High who also will arrive for summer session II, said UM "is like family. Everybody is together. I'm very happy with my choice. The position I'm in, they really need help. I hope to get early playing time."
Davis said he likes coach Al Golden's straight-forward approach.
"I love Coach Golden. He doesn't sugarcoat anything. He tells you what's right. He tells you how it is. He doesn't hide anything. He tells the truth all the time.''
Vernon said he wants to major in sports administration. "I was always a UM fan,'' he told me. "I feel like we're going to bring the team back to the way it was in the early 2000s, when everyone scored touchdowns and jumped around and celebrated. The class we have is pretty amazing. Everything you need is in this class.''
The parents, it seems, are equally happy.
Standout safety Deon Bush, already enrolled (summer session I), keeps his dad, Gary Bush, abreast of what's happening. Gary Bush said his son loves his psychology class, and that Deon was super excited about using "a clicker'' to take a test using a promethium board (interactive electronic whiteboard).
"He said he did pretty well,'' Gary Bush said. "Deon can retain. He has a good memory.''
Earl Moore's mom, Cherrie (pronounced like the wine), said she "just fell in love with UM'' when she visited. "I was good with UM,'' she said, because of "the graduation rate of the athletes and the fact that it's a private school with smaller classes -- the personal attention."
Theodosia Davis, Vernon's mom, said she likes Golden and thinks Vernon will excel at UM. "Coach Golden seems like he's a family type guy,'' she said. "I like that because I know I'm releasing my son to someone who will treat him like I would.''
I hope all of you have a great summer, as I begin my vacation. My daughter just graduated from Yale (proud mom!), so it started out very well.
Again, have a healthy, happy and safe summer!
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN