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7 posts from June 2012

June 29, 2012

UM Canes Ray-Ray Armstrong and Seantrel Henderson are the subject of rumors -- again

A briefing for those of you wondering about the status of University of Miami senior safety Ray-Ray Armstrong and junior offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson:

I had originally heard rumors that Seantrel and Ray-Ray were dismissed from the football team, but those are apparently false. When I called UM to ask about those rumors, I was told by Chris Freet, the UM associate athletic director for communications and marketing, that UM declined to comment on anything regarding that subject and Al Golden was on vacation and could not be reached.

I also reached Ray-Ray Armstrong's dad, Albert, by phone a little while ago, and he told me he knew nothing about any Ray-Ray news.

Here's what InsidetheU is reporting:

"Armstrong discussed interaction with a booster via Twitter and the coaches have suspended him indefinitely, but as of today he has not been removed from the team. However, this situation should be closely monitored as there is current discussion within the coaching staff about his future with the team.

"In regards to Henderson, the players were given time off in between first and second summer sessions, but were expected to be back by Tuesday. Henderson arrived a day later on Wednesday and is currently serving a punishment, but is expected to return to the team in the near future."

Those last two graphs were reported by InsidetheU.com.

After speaking with various sources, and reading the report, it's obvious something is going on with these guys -- the exact extent of which is yet to be revealed by Al Golden (if, indeed, Golden reveals it).

Henderson, listed on the latest roster as 6-8 and 350 pounds, started nine of the 12 games he played in for the Hurricanes as a freshman in 2010. He played in eight games – two of which he started – after recovering from offseason back surgery as a sophomore in 2011.

    Henderson, who played in high school at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, Minn., was the 2009 USA Today High School Offensive Player of the Year, the only lineman to ever win the award. He was ranked as the No.2 recruit in the nation by Rivals.com.

    Henderson was suspended for the first weekend of spring practice in early March, 2012 for violating an undisclosed team policy.  He also was the subject of rumors more than a year ago that referred to him getting in trouble and contemplating transferring.

    Armstrong, who ended spring as the top free safety on the final depth chart, played in seven games as a junior in 2011, earning a start against Duke. He finished the season with 34 tackles, an interception and fumble recovery.

    Armstrong was a 2011 candidate for several national preseason awards before being suspended by the NCAA for the first four games of 2011. He was suspended for accepting impermissible benefits from former UM booster Nevin Shapiro, whose relationship with the University of Miami is the subject of an ongoing NCAA investigation.

   Armstrong also was suspended in November after going to dinner at Prime 112 steakhouse in Miami Beach with a friend who owns a public relations company that works with professional athletes, then tweeting about the dinner. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing in that situation.

    In the spring game in April, Armstrong had an interception and a fumble recovery. Many believed he would enter the NFL Draft, but he chose to remain with the Hurricanes.

    Rivals.com ranked Armstrong as the nation’s No. 13 player, regardless of position, as a senior in 2008.

    I am on vacation and will be back for the ACC Kickoff in North Carolina.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 


June 15, 2012

Baby UM Canes excited to rep The U and bring it back. 'The class we have is pretty amazing. Everything you need is in this class.'

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

 

 

June 14, 2012

Hurricanes shine academically; especially impressive that football & baseball are in top 10 percent of nation in Academic Progress Rate

Before I head out for vacation I wanted to get this report in from the NCAA, regarding the Hurricanes' academic standing among five of its sports programs.

The NCAA reported today that UM football, baseball, women's cross country, women's golf and men's diving teams were among the most successful academically in the nation.

I, for one, am very impressed the Canes' football program has finished in the top 10 percent nationally for three consecutive years.

This is a geat accomplishment in and of itself, obviously, and the Hurricanes should be very proud. However, it also should help in the long run on the field. Moms and dads, who usually have a major influence in where their children play, can only be impressed by this report. And you know that UM will tout it all over the place, as it should. As a parent, you want your child -- even the ones who are almost singularly focused on football -- to have a good education and some type of assurance that the college they attend cares about more than just football.

I think this is a positive selling point for Coach Al Golden, who will run with it.

Now, if he can keep getting highly ranked recruits who strive for excellence academically, UM football will benefit.

Here's the release from UM.

Everyone have a safe, happy and healthy summer!!

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Five University of Miami teams were publically honored for being among the top 10 percent in Academic Progress Rates (APR), as announced by the NCAA earlier today.

Football, baseball, women’s cross country, women’s golf and men’s diving were recognized with APR Public Recognition Awards. It marks the third straight year that Miami football has been recognized for finishing among the top 10 percent. Baseball and women’s golf were both honored for the second consecutive season.

"The collective effort of the student-athletes on the baseball, football, women’s cross country, women’s golf and men’s diving teams have raised the bar at the University of Miami," said Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst. "We join our coaches and academic support staff in celebrating the academic achievement of these Miami Hurricanes, which has established a new high of five APR Public Recognition Awards. This success starts with dedication and perseverance by our student-athletes, who are able to balance the many pressures of college and still achieve academic success at a higher rate than the majority of their peers.” 
Miami History - APR Public Recognition Awards
2006 (4 Teams) Women's Golf, Men's Track & Field (Outdoor), Men's Diving, Men's Cross Country
2007 (2 Teams) Men's Cross Country, Men's Diving
2008 (2 Teams) Men's Cross Country, Men's Track & Field (Outdoor)
2009 (4 Teams) Men's Cross Country, Men's Diving, Men's Track & Field (Indoor & Outdoor)
2010 (1 Team) Football
2011 (4 Teams) Baseball, Football, Men's Tennis, Women's Golf
2012 (5 Teams) Baseball, Football, Men's Diving, Women's Cross Country & Women's Golf
Each year the NCAA honors select Division I sports teams by publicly recognizing their latest multiyear NCAA Division I APR.  This announcement is part of the overall Division I academic reform effort and is intended to highlight teams that demonstrate a commitment to academic progress and retention of student-athletes by achieving the top APRs within their respective sports.  Specifically, these teams posted multiyear APRs in the top 10 percent of all squads in each sport.  This year's release will again include recognition in the sport of football by subdivision (i.e., Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision). 

"It is with great appreciation that we accept this honor from the NCAA and we applaud not only our illustrious student-athletes, but the faculty, academic advisors and coaching staff for fostering an environment that cultivates personal, academic and athletic excellence," said David Wyman, Associate AD for Academic Services.
 
 

June 13, 2012

Second Annual UM Sports Hall of Fame Celebrity Dolphin (as in fishing) Tournament set for June 29-30

HERE IS A RELEASE I JUST RECEIVED IN CASE THERE ARE ANY FISHERMEN OUT THERE WANTING TO HELP OUT THE UM SPORTS HALL OF FAME, AS WELL AS SHAKE-A-LEG AND HABITAT FOR HUMANITY -- ALL GREAT ORGANIZATIONS:

 

MIAMI, June 12, 2012 – More than 200 former Hurricanes football greats and sports fans are expected to take to the waters off of Islamorada, Fla., later this month for the 2nd Annual University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame (UMSHoF) Celebrity Dolphin Tournament.

 Hosted by Warren Sapp, a Hurricanes defensive lineman who starred for 13 years in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders and who is known today for his work as an NFL television analyst, as well as for his runner-up finish in season seven of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, the event will provide anglers with the opportunity to fish alongside former University of Miami sports stars while raising money for several non-profit organizations. The tournament, slated for June 29 and 30, will benefit the UMSHoF, which is set to undergo a renovation of its on-campus facility in Coral Gables, Fla., Shake-a-Leg Miami and Habitat for Humanity of the Upper Keys. 

 “The registration numbers have already surpassed those of last year’s tournament,” said K.C. Jones, president-elect of the UMSHoF, a 2008 hall inductee, two-time Super Bowl winner with the Denver Broncos and founder of the tournament. “However, we still have space for individual participants and groups with or without their own boats. In keeping with the UMSHoF’s mission of recognizing, showcasing and celebrating the achievements of athletes who brought acclaim to the university, the tournament is an ideal venue for Hurricanes fans to network, socialize and have fun with former UM athletes while contributing to important causes.”

 Former Hurricanes sports stars expected to participate include Brett Romberg (Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Rams and Atlanta Falcons), Bubba Franks (Green Bay Packers), Gary Dunn (Pittsburgh Steelers), Damione Lewis (St. Louis Rams, Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots and Houston Texans), Jeremy Shockey (New York Giants, New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers) and Randal Hill (Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints).

Tournament Information

 For information about tournament participation, including boat entry or sponsorship opportunities, visit www.canesfish.com, send an email to info@canesfish.com or contact K.C. Jones directly at (305) 925-3660.

June 11, 2012

UM Canes to Honor 1987 National Champions -- and how about College World Series bound Stony Brook?

As the Hurricanes continue to prepare in the weight room and on their own during seven-on-sevens for the 2012 football season, the University of Miami announced Monday that it will honor the 1987 Canes at halftime of the homecoming game against Florida State on Oct. 20 at Sun Life Stadium.

The 1987 national champion Canes were coached by Jimmy Johnson and finished 12-0, defeating top-ranked Oklahoma 20-14 in the Orange Bowl for UM's second national title.

The Hurricanes, then ranked No. 3, defeated then-No. 4 Florida State at Tallahassee on Oct. 3, 1987, after being behind 19-3 late in the third quarter. UM's memorable comeback encompassed three quick scores: a 49-yard reception from Steve Walsh to Melvin Bratton; a 26-yard completion from Wash to MIchael Irvin (plus a two-point conversion to tie it at 19); and a 73-yard touchdown from Walsh to Irvin to put UM ahead with 2:22 left.

The Canes stopped an FSU attempt at a two-point conversion and finally won 26-25.

I like the homecoming game being against a heavy-duty opponent. It shows moxie.

NOW, FOR BASEBALL

By now, I'm sure you know that Stony Brook shocked the college baseball world by defeating No. 7 National Seed LSU in a super regional to advance to the College World Series for the first time in its history. Stony Brook is the No. 4 seed that made UM look bad (in addition to UM making itself look bad, actually) in the opening game of the Coral Gables regional.

I was sure after that tournament that Stony Brook was the real deal, but it's hard to convince anyone that a no-name school from Long Island in the the America East Conference is a team with which to be reckoned.

 "They outplayed us really in every phase of the game,'' LSU coach Paul Mainieri told reporters after the Seawolves clinched with a 7-2 victory over LSU (winner of six national titles). "The people in the South haven't heard much about Stony Brook, but they know who they are now.''

  Stony Brook defeated LSU in two of three games and trailed only once in those games: when LSU's Mason Katz hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 12th in the super regional opener. The Seawolves outhit LSU 15-3 in the series finale.

  According to the Associated Press, the Seawolves are the first team from New York State to reach the College World Series since 1980, and the first team from the Northeast since Maine did it in 1986.

  Stony Brook became the second team to open the NCAA Baseball Tournament as a No. 4 seed in a regional and reach the College World Series. The first was Fresno State in 2008. Fresno State went on to win the title that year -- the last time UM was in the College World Series.

  I didn't mean to go on and on about Stony Brook (52-13), but in light of what happened to UM in Coral Gables, I thought it was telling that a similar fate awaited LSU (47-18).

  SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

June 05, 2012

Seawolves howling all the way to Baton Rouge, while Canes watch top recruits go bye-bye

The Stony Brook Seawolves looked as good the past few days as the Canes looked bad last Friday in UM's opener in the NCAA Coral Gables Regional.

No. 4 seed Stony Brook (50-12), led by Willie Carmona on Monday night, won the school's first regional championship by defeating UCF 10-6 at Alex Rodriguez Park.

Stony Brook advances to the Baton Rouge Super Regional to meet No. 7 national seed LSU in a best-of-three series.

You may recall Stony Brook pitcher Tyler Johnson (11-1), who dominated the Canes. After two days rest he came out again and allowed four runs in 6 1-3 innings while throwing 119 pitches.

According to the Associated Press, the Seawolves are the third No. 4 seed to win a regional (Missouri, 2006; Fresno State, 2008) since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 2001.

Meanwhile, as the first round of the MLB Draft went on, UM coach Jim Morris must have gotten that sinking feeling -- not that he hasn't had enough of that the past few days.

The No. 1 draft pick Monday? Shortstop Carlos Correa of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. No. 1!!!! to Houston. Nothing like rubbing salt on the wound. Carlos, of course, was a UM commitment.

Just as painful: fellow UM commitment Albert Almora, an outfielder from Mater Academy in Hialeah, was picked by the Chicago Cubs sixth overall. Just watched a video on him. Good story. Touching.

And to continue UM's woes, Hurricanes commitment Nick Travieso, a right-handed pitcher, was selected 14th overall by Cincinnati.

Keep in mind that these signees have until July 15th to decide whether they're turning pro or going to college. But let's face it, I think we all know at least what Correa, Almora and Travieso will do (If not, I'll be stunned).

As posted on HurricaneSports:

"Two more signees were selected with compensatory picks, otherwise known as “sandwich round” selections. The Chicago White Sox took Keon Barnum (King High School), highly regarded for his powerful bat and solid arm strength, with their second pick of the night at No. 48. Walker Weickel (Olympia High School), a 6-foot-6 pitcher with a 90-92 mile-per-hour fastball and an impressive 12-to-6 curveball, was the fifth and final Hurricane selected, chosen by the San Diego Padres at pick No. 55.

The 2012 Major League Baseball Entry Draft will resume Tuesday afternoon, set to commence at 12 noon live on MLB Network."

Even before Monday, Jim Morris lamented UM's history in the draft, saying he has watched some pretty special Hurricanes recruits opt for pro ball over college. "I mean the biggest thing that has happened is he last two or three years we've been crushed in the draft on our team, and all our recruiting classses, as people that follow closely know. It's something that's out of your control. We signed some of the best players in the country. We signed the best player in Puerto Rico, but you know you've got to sign players that go to school.

"...I think they're signing too many guys that are not top prospects. When you say that after the first round, 98 persent of the guys do not make it to the Major Leagues, then 98 percent of those guys should have gone to college. Maybe they would have matured physically and mentally and maybe they would have made it...''

How much can one highly regarded prospect improve a program? "It can,'' Morris said. We got a kid out of Orlando, Walker Weickel (GONE!), that can really make me a good coach. ...You need a break and get a guy like that.''

None of the current Canes got drafted Monday. Of the several who are draft-eligible, four were listed by Baseball America ranked in the Top 500:

Catcher Peter O'Brien, ranked 69th nationally and 13th in the state.

Pitcher E.J. Encinosa, 322 nationally and 38th in the state.

Shortstop Stephen Perez, 357th nationally and 45th in the state.

Pitcher Eric Whaley, 397th nationally and 51st in the state.

 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

 

 

June 02, 2012

UM baseball goes down hard at home in its NCAA regional. The season is over for the Hurricanes.

Hard to believe. I thought for sure the Canes would have enough left in them to win one at Mark Light Field on Saturday afternoon. The victor, Missouri State by a 12-2 butt-whooping, will advance to Sunday's early game against the loser of Saturday night's UCF-Stony Brook game.

The Hurricanes are done for the season at 36-23.

It's the first time UM has gone two-and-out in the postseason since the 1993 season, when Brad Kelley was coach -- for that season only -- before current coach Jim Morris took over and was 49-14 in 1994. Morris lost in his third game of the College World Series that year.

Morris only wishes he could have gotten there this season.

This team lacked in every part of the game. Poor fielding. Poor hitting. Even the pitching collapsed at the end.

Not the Canes that I recall from years past.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN