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4 posts from January 31, 2013

January 31, 2013

Booker T. coach Tim "Ice" Harris says he's stunned UM pulled scholarship from Kirkland

This isn't the type of finish UM coach Al Golden had in mind.

With less than a week before National Signing Day, the Hurricanes have pulled a scholarship offer from a top recruit at a major high school power in Miami-Dade County and angered its head coach.

Booker T. Washington coach Tim "Ice" Harris said Thursday it was grossly unfair for the Hurricanes to pull their offer from All-American offensive lineman Denver Kirkland right after the team's state championship parade through Overtown.

Harris, who himself worked on UM's staff under Randy Shannon and whose son Brandon was a standout cornerback at UM, said he had assured UM coaches privately Kirkland had decided to sign with the Canes and was simply waiting until National Signing Day to announce. But because Kirkland wasn't willing to commit before then and make the announcement public, Harris said, assistant Micheal Barrow told him the program "was moving in a different direction."

"This had nothing to do with academics and everything to do with UM doing something unfair to a local kid," Harris said. "Denver has a 2.8 GPA and has the test score.

"Coach Golden visited the school today before our parade and told Denver everything he wanted to hear. Then, a couple hours later, everything changed. I told them Denver was all set to go there for the academics. This isn't the way UM should be doing business, not with the kids in their own backyard."

Harris said Barrow asked for a private meeting following the parade and asked Kirkland flatly if he would commit. Harris said Kirkland told Barrow UM was in the top three, but he wanted to wait until Signing Day to announce.

"I just don't understand why they couldn't wait," Harris said. "The same way [linebacker] Matthew Thomas is a big-time kid, Denver is the same big-time offensive lineman. Let the kid enjoy his moment. If they were going to do this to him, why not let him know well ahead of time so he could plan another visit. Don't come to us in the end and say you're going in another direction because of a defensive lineman."

Asked if this would affect Thomas' recruitment, Harris said: "I just look at this from a loyalty perspective. If we commit to something and show you love and tell you we're going to do something, just wait for it to happen. I've never seen anything of this magnitude. I'm not sure what this does for UM in Miami as a whole... I'll never tell a kid not to go somewhere, but it's tough for me to tell my kids to trust UM at this point.

"They don't know when an offer is going to get pulled, if they're going to do what they did to Denver today. He's an All-American. I just don't understand how they let him get out of here. I won't stop anybody from going to UM, but I can tell you I'll never help them again."

Kirkland: UM is out of the picture

Guess I should have stuck around for the end of Booker T. Washington's state championship parade.

All-American offensive lineman Denver Kirkland confirmed Thursday night UM is no longer in the picture for him, just a couple of hours after saying he loved the coaches and the program. 

What led to this surprising news? Kirkland said he had a private conversation with UM assistant coach Micheal Barrow and Booker T. head coach Tim "Ice" Harris following the parade in which they discussed an issue that came up with him going to UM.

Is it that you didn't have the grades or test score to get in? "No, not that," he said. 

Are you upset? "No. I'm still going to play college football somewhere," he said.

Kirkland said his final four is now South Florida, Florida State, Ole Miss and Arkansas.

CanesInsider, which first tweeted the news, said Kirkland was told by UM coaches he no longer had a scholarship available to him.

From CaneInsider: Kirkland’s stepfather, Shanton Crummie, informed XOFan/CaneInsider of the news earlier tonight. He said the explanation he’s receiving from the Miami coaching staff is that they over signed defensive lineman and therefore Kirkland’s scholarship was used up.

The Hurricanes have 13 commitments and are still in play for some major recruits. But Kirkland was expected to pick UM. This obviously will not sit well with teammate Matthew Thomas, who was also considering UM.

Denver Kirkland, other top UM targets ready to make announcements on national TV

Booker T. Washington's state championship football team finally celebrated its state title Thursday with a parade through Overtown.

Among those to savor the moment: hulking 6-5, 333-pound offensive lineman Denver Kirkland, who along with star linebacker Matthew Thomas have been highly-coveted and recruited by Al Golden and UM coaches. 

Now with all his official visits behind him and decision day right around the corner, Kirkland said Thursday he's enjoyed the process, but is ready to get in front of a national TV audience on ESPN's networks and tell the world where he's headed for college. Kirkland isn't alone. He's one of six highly coveted UM recruits who are planning to make their college announce on ESPN on National Signing Day.

The announcement list -- always changing -- looks as follows at the moment:

- Port St. Lucie Centennial DL Jaynard Bostwick, 8 a.m.
- Booker T. Washington LB Matthew Thomas, 9:15 a.m.
- Booker T. Washington OL Denver Kirkland, 9:20 a.m.
- Northeast WR Stacy Coley, 10 a.m.
- University School WR Jordan Cunningham, 10:15 a.m.
- Miramar LB Jermaine Grace, 1:30-2 p.m.

Golden knew he was going to have to wait until late in the game to find out if he was going to land South Florida's top players. Plan B? I'm not sure there really is one. But most recruiting experts don't believe the Canes will strike out. Grace and Kirkland are the two players Charles Fishbein of Elite Scouting Services said he's confident UM will land. The others? Iffy.

Thomas, who wasn't around for the parade Thursday at Booker T., is down to Miami, Florida State and Alabama. Kirkland said he's still down to a top five: "Ole Miss, FSU, USF, UM and Arkansas."

"The recruiting process went good, I really enjoyed it, got to know a lot of people," said Kirkland, whose mother is pushing him to stay in Miami. "I got to see the fans being open with the players and how much they love the players. I had steak on every one of my visits, biggest one was 16 ounces. The most fun was the house parties, track meets and basketball games.

"I like the Canes a lot. They're academic program is good and the bonds I have with the coaches are good. Micheal Barrow was my recruiter. He's a good guy. UM is recruiting me as an offensive tackle just like everyone else."


> Northeast coach and former Hurricanes running back Donnell Bennett said "mum's the word" with his star receiver, Coley, who had an in-home visit with UM coaches Wednesday night. "I tried to corner him today. I couldn't get him to talk," Bennett said. "Florida State will be visiting him Saturday morning. I think that will be it. Then, he has to make a decision."

> Bostwick's coach Ron Parker Going confirmed the big defensive tackle will be visiting Florida this weekend. "He's going to take a final visit and then sit down and decide what he's going to do," Parker said. "Miami was here yesterday. Alabama was on a final visit this week. He'll have Monday, Tuesday to decide.

"He said he had a good visit at Miami [where cousin Thurston Armbrister plays linebacker]. Is his mom is pushing Florida? I don't know. Maybe it's the setting she likes. Maybe that's the setting he needs versus Miami Beach. But it's going to come down to Jaynard. I asked him if he was going to commit after this weekend and he said 'No.'"

> Staten Island (N.Y.) Totteville's Augustus Edwards, considered the top fullback in the country according to Rivals, has officially decommitted from Syracuse and will visit UM this weekend. FSU is also in the mix. New Hurricanes offensive coordinator James Coley loves him, I'm told, and thinks he'll be just like Orange Bowl MVP Lonnie Pryor.

> Why is South Plantation blue-chip running back Alex Collins flying to Atlanta to make his announcement Monday night instead of waiting until National Signing Day? Not because he wants to avoid heat from UM fans if he chooses Arkansas instead, his coach said. 

"FoxSports called me and said they were doing a Countdown to Signing Day Show and wanted to have [FSU commitment John Franklin] and Alex talk about how the recruiting process goes," South Plantation coach Doug Gatewood said. "I didn't really get involved in it. I told Alex and John and they said yes. John's dad is the chaperone. They've pretty much taken care of the details on their own. They fly up Monday afternoon and film it in studio at 10 p.m. They will stay overnight before they fly back home in the afternoon.

"I can't speak for Alex, but if he waited until Signing Day he's just a blurb with 100 other kids. If he does it on Monday it's all him. That's why he's doing it."

UM compliance office urges fans to stay away from recruits; twitter war over Alex Collins continues

The University of Miami's compliance office took to Twitter Thursday morning to send a message it hoped its fans would receive and heed: leave recruits alone.

What Al gets in the mail"Canes fans: We love when you support #TheU, but remember, only coaches can recruit prospects. #AskBeforeUAct," the tweet at around 10 a.m. from @UCompliance read.

Why the concern? Fans from both Miami and Arkansas have been a little too interested lately in trying to sway South Plantation blue-chip running back Alex Collins to pick their school. Collins is set to announce his college decision in an Atlanta TV studio Monday night after 10 p.m. on FoxSports Network.

It's against NCAA rules for fans -- especially those who provide financial aid to the schools they love -- to get involved in the recruiting process. Lucky for them, the NCAA doesn't have the time or resources to chase everyone down. But in this case, with Miami being under investigation, it's probably a good idea for Hurricanes fans to stop.

Collins, whose Twitter account is @Budda03, has been relatively happy with "the love" he's been receiving. But messages have been getting nasty lately. Some UM fans believe Collins' high school coach Doug Gatewood is steering him away from Miami because of an alleged connection to Arkansas.

Here is one example of one of those Tweets from Cane Flexin @ThatCaneZo: "Hey @Budda03 don't let your coach make your decision for you. It's your decision and yours only."

This morning Collins responded to some of those tweets: "It's crazy how people can make things up or assume things that's no where close to being true.. I've been hearin crazy things thats not true."

Gatewood has vehemently denied the claims and told The Miami Herald Thursday: "I get paid $3,100 to be a head coach and have caught more [expletive] this year than you can imagine. People sitting there saying I'm profiting from this, I'm going to send them a picture of my truck. It needs a paint job and is missing a window.

"I guess it happens. But I've never been a part of it. Everybody talks about my relationship with [Arkansas assistant] Charlie [Patridge]. At the end of the day, I use every resource I have to help my kids get recruited. I call every person I know when I have a kid. When [Collins] started playing last year nobody was recruiting him. I called everybody and said 'I got a kid. You got to come look at him.'"

"As much as I care about him, he cares about me as well. Nobody wants people talking [expletive] about their coach."

Some UM fans have responded positively to the UM compliance office's request. Victor Castro ‏(@BudussyCanes) tweeted Collins: "Mr. Collins, wherever U decide 2 play ur college ball, we Canes wish U nothing but the best of luck. #GOCanes"

Arkansas fans, meanwhile, have continued to pursue Collins. The running back shared a picture of a chain of papers he got in the mail which reads: WOO PIG SOOIE GO HOGS!

Here's a list of some of the tweets Collins has received from both Miami and Arkanas fans and retweeted:

From Randall Baker ‏@RSB416
"@Budda03 if you came to arkansas, I'd convert to Buddism."

From Kel Clarke ‏@kclarke56
"@Budda03 @HogCaller90 can u imagine 80,000 fans wearing dreads at all the games.. I know id buy one - that would be sick - RAZORBUDDA!!!"

From Purple Cane ‏@PurpleCane41
"I'd take a blindside hit from @raylewis if it got #AlexCollinsToTheU"

From Gene Esposito ‏@GeneEspo69
"@Budda03 u gonna play for Miami and hit up south beach or play for Arkansas where marrying your cousin is common?"

From Jonathon Zenk ‏@jzenk42
"@Budda03 You should go to Miami, unless you would enjoy getting your teeth kicked in by Bama and LSU every year..."

Perhaps the most interesting tweet came from Arkansas coach Bret Bielema himself. Of course, it wasn't directly sent to Collins. But it did mention Budda -- Collin's nickname. Bielema sent it to his running backs coach.

Here is the message: "Found a Budda in Dallas. Lucky charms everywhere we go. #wps #gohogsgo @coachjoelt"

The picture Beilema tweeted is below. Wonder if the NCAA will question Bielema for the Budda reference?

Bielema photo