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29 posts from January 2014

January 31, 2014

Hurricanes land commitment from Njoku; Valentine at home pondering decision coach says

Hurricanes assistant Brennan Carroll sent out the bat signal Friday to welcome Miami's latest football commitment: New Jersey three-star tight end prospect David Njoku.

The 6-4, 217-pound senior at Cedar Grove High visited UM last month and was a player UM had been trying to nail down. He was scheduled to visit Ohio State this weekend, but the backed off. He becomes the second tight end prospect to join the class. Georgia's Chris Herndon is the other.

Njoku also becomes the third prospect from New Jersey in the Class of 2014 to pick the Canes. UM coach Al Golden and many members of his staff obviously know the New Jersey area well.

LATEST ON TRAVONTE VALENTINE

Even though all signs are pointing toward LSU especially after he decided to pass on an official visit to UM this weekend, U.S. Army All-American defensive tackle Travonte Valentine hasn't ruled out the Hurricanes yet and planned to spend the next few days at home with his mother in Palm Bay trying to reach a final decision.

"Right now I would say it's probably 70-30 LSU," a Champagnat assistant coach close to Valentine said Friday morning.

Valentine told The Herald during a half hour interview on Tuesday he told UM coaches he would visit Coral Gables this weekend after Golden came to visit him at school. But after receiving a visit from LSU's coaches in his mom's home Wednesday night, the Champagnat assistant coach said Valentine and his mom decided visiting UM -- where he had been so many times unofficially -- wouldn't help the situation. He just needed to get away from it all, the coach said.

So what initially changed Valentine's mind about remaining committed to UM in the first place? Although Valentine reiterated to The Herald Tuesday the Al Golden to Penn State rumors last month played a factor, it appears scheme and the way LSU told Valentine he would be utilized has played a bigger role.

The Champagnat assistant said when Valentine returned from the U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio -- where he played in a 4-3 scheme -- he told coaches at Champagnat he might be better suited in LSU's 4-3 system instead of a 3-4/4-3 multiple defense at Miami. Valentine made reference to it Tuesday when asked if he liked one team's scheme over the other.

"Miami could change some things up, slim down the d-tackles a little bit," Valentine said. "Instead of playing like at 340, 350, I'd prefer to be 310, 315. LSU was telling me they could see me going down to 310, playing smaller, quicker, making tackles for loss."

The Champagnat assistant said he took Valentine down to UM to sit down and review film with Canes defensive line coach Jethro Franklin.

"He showed him all the film, how they use tackles in multiple ways, not just a nose guard," the Champagnat assistant said. "Golden, [Defensive coordinator Mark] D'Onofrio, Franklin, all of them were telling him he wouldn't have to come in and play heavy, they could make adjustments."

The assistant also said Valentine was a bit wary of how much pressure was going to be put on him at Miami, being someone expected to come in right away and deliver whereas he would have a little more time to ease his way in at LSU because of better depth.

Valentine said Tuesday he also felt closer to some of the former South Floridian players and Hallandale safety John Battle, at LSU 2014 commitment. Valentine also said he didn't feel the same connection to UM's recruits.

Asked Tuesday about Valentine and his wavering with UM, Booker T. Washington All-American defensive end Chad Thomas said he hadn't spoken with him and said he it didn't matter to him if Valentine chose UM.

"I ain’t no recruiter," Thomas said. "If he don’t want to go there, he don’t want to go there. That’s on him."

For what it's worth, Valentine said Tuesday his mother wasn't necessarily pushing him to stay close to home.

"She’s with me anywhere I go,"  Valentine said. "She’s with me through the long run. It’s not about a staying home situation."

Valentine is scheduled to make his college announcement during a small ceremony at Champagnat Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

January 30, 2014

WR Worton not taking official visit to UM; JUCO DT Wyche de-commits

The Hurricanes aren't exactly humming down the homestretch of this recruiting season.

Although it was nice to hear 2014 quarterback Brad Kaaya will be sticking with his commitment, the Hurricanes got some bad news Thursday whenJUCO defensive tackle Michael Wyche announced on his Twitter account he was de-committing from the program.

Wyche, a 6-4, 315-pound standout from East Los Angeles Junior College, had signed with UM last month but was being delayed entry because he was appealing an obscure ACC rule that requires players be enrolled three semesters at the same junior college. As our Barry Jackson wrote on his Sports Buzz blog, Wyche could have stayed committed to UM and enrolled here in May but apparently has chosen not to, at least at this point.

With U.S. Army All-American and local standout Travonte Valentine leaning heavily toward LSU, UM currently has three defensive tackles commitments: four-star St. Thomas Aquinas standout Anthony Moten, three-star junior college transfer Calvin Heurteleu (already enrolled) and three-star N.J. prospect Courtel Jenkins.

With only three returning defensive tackles in Olsen Pierre, Earl Moore, and Corey King, the Hurricanes badly need immediate help.

> Hurricanes offensive coordinator James Coley made a late push to get an official visit this coming weekend from South Dade receiver C.J. Worton, an All-Dade 1st team selection and former Florida State commitment. But it now appears that won't be happening.

"I’m finished with the visits," Worton told The Miami Herald. "For one, it’s my birthday today and there are a lot of people I'm going to be seeing. Two, my dad won’t be able to make it too. I wanted to take the trip with him. So, it looks like I won’t be going up. I haven’t ruled out the possibility of going onSunday just to go talk to Coach Coley.

"But there’s not really a big chance that plays a big factor. I just always enjoy his company and have a really good connection with him. I'll probably just go see him, hear what he has to say -- if even I even go Sunday."

Worton said although many people are predicting him to go to Florida he's completely torn between the Gators and West Virginia.

"I don’t have a leader," Worton said. "I’m torn between the two honestly. I love the schools, both coaching staffs. I love every aspect of each coaching staff. It’s going to be very hard. I’m going to tell the coaches either Sunday or Monday of my decision. Eventually someone has to have their feelings hurt. I don’t want to leave it up until Signing Day. I feel that’s disrespectful. Whatever school I choose will be Sunday or Monday and then I’ll go announce at school."

Kaaya ends speculation, tweets he is signing with UM

For weeks Hurricanes fans have been walking around with a bit of a knot in their stomachs, worried class of 2014 quarterback Brad Kaaya, committed to Miami since May, might end up opting to stay home somewhere out on the West Coast.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Semper Fi All-American, rated the seventh-best consensus pro-style quarterback in the country, ended those fears Thursday afternoon when he tweeted he planned to sign with Miami next Wednesday.

Kaaya had visited Boise State recently and was also being pursued by UCLA.

Boise State landed a commitment from Alex Ogle, a three-star quarterback from Jensen Beach, Fla., late Wednesday night.

The Hurricanes have two quarterbacks lined up in their 2014 signing class. Malik Rosier, a 3-star dual-threat quarterback from Mobile, Ala. is the other.

The Canes are also hosting Miami Booker T. Washington quarterback Treon Harris, a four-star recruit committed to FSU, this coming weekend. It's unlikely the Hurricanes will sway Harris to stay home.

> Two 2015 All-Broward First Team selections and highly-touted recruits Shawn Burgess-Becker and Calvin Ridley, who both attend Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, will make their college choices Sunday at 1 p.m. following a 7-on-7 practice. Miami is high on the list for both, who are listed as four-star receivers by 247Sports.com.

FYI, the Hurricanes have already offered 116 recruits in the 2015 class according to 247Sports.com including 52 in state, 21 from Dade and Broward Counties.

> Rapper Luther Campbell, who has long had ties to the University of Miami and many of the top innercity players in South Florida, was hired this week to be the defensive coordinator at Miami Norland. Campbell has coached at Miami Northwestern and Miami Central in the past. Although he's been critical of coach Al Golden in the past, he said he supports the program.

"I'm ready to go," said Campbell, who was with Northwestern until the middle of last season. "We got some young kids who were beat up last year, but they never laid down. [Norland coach Daryle] Heidelburg is one of the best offensive coordinators, head coaches and I'm excited. They got some kids. All the defensive backs, they got the best defensive back field in the county. I'm happy."

> Fort Lauderdale Dillard coach Lorenzo Davis said Randy Ramsey, an All-Broward first team defensive prospect the Hurricanes have made a late push for, has yet to decide if he's going to visit UM this weekend or not. Ramsey, a three-star recruit, recently committed to Arkansas.

January 29, 2014

Canes making late push for Dillard athlete Randy Ramsey, South Dade WR CJ Worton

It's never too late to try and use your home field advantage.

And apparently that's what the Miami Hurricanes and Al Golden are doing with a week to go before National Signing Day.

According to Fort Lauderdale Dillard coach Lorenzo Davis, Golden and UM assistants swung by the school on Tuesday to visit recent Arkansas commitment Randy Ramsey. And now the 6-4, 210-pound senior is pondering whether or not to take a last minute official visit to UM this coming weekend.

"Right now he and his parents are thinking about it," Davis said. "We’ll know something by [Thursday] evening. I don’t think it would be a bad thing to take a visit.

"He likes Miami. They’re the hometown team. They offered him a while ago and were trying to get him to visit, but he never would. Nothing wrong with going to look and see what it's like. He has a chance now not to have any regrets. There’s no loss just to go."

The Hurricanes apparently hadn't been after Ramsey hard enough and he wanted to see more of an effort on their part, Davis said.

Ramsey earned All-Broward First Team honors by the Miami Herald this season after racking up 20 sacks as an undersized defensive end. His future position in college remains up in the air. He's played cornerback, linebacker and rush end in the past.

"I think a reason a lot of schools were kind of holding back was because they were trying to figure out what position he was going to play," Davis said. "I was telling them all from the get-go just take him as an athlete. He did some amazing things for us this season."

> Another local player UM is hoping to get a visit from on a late push is South Dade receiver C.J. Worton, who recently de-committed from Florida State and is now entertaining offers from Florida, West Virginia and the Hurricanes. He told 247Sports its likely he'll visit UM this weekend.

“Well, I really haven’t had much contact with them, until recently I started talking to coach [James] Coley again,” Worton said of the Miami offensive coordinator. “He’s the one that originally recruited me to Florida State, so I always had a real good relationship with him. He just asked me how everything is going, I guess he heard I decommitted."

“He’s always wanted to coach me and he said wherever he was, that’s where he wanted me to go there...He’s very trust worthy, I trust him a lot. I know he will take care of me wherever I go and I know he wants to run his office through me.”

Worton told 247 it's like UM will get his last official visit because he feels like he owes it to Coley and his father has always been a big UM fan.

"I think it would be cool to try to get him to go if I end up do going," Worton told 247Sports. "I feel like that would be really cool for him to get up there and see the coaches and see the facilities. Since it’s so close, it’s an easy trip. I’m tired of all these plane flights and everything.”

Worton caught 42 passes for 1,052 yards to lead Dade County this season. His teammate, receiver Tyre Brady, is a UM commitment. Worton capped his senior year by hauling in six catches for 159 yards and 3 TDs in South Dade's Class 8A state championship victory.

Sapp takes aim at D'Onofrio, Golden, Canes defense

Everybody seems to have an opinion when it comes to Miami's defensive woes.

Wednesday, former Hurricane and Hall of Fame defensive lineman Warren Sapp made a guest appearance on WQAM's afternoon show with Adam Kuperstein and Channing Crowder and took his turn ripping Miami's defense.

“Don’t talk to me about Al Golden and whatever that D Coordinator’s name is,” Sapp said.

“Don’t ever hire someone that you can’t fire. That’s the golden rule. The D Coordinator is killing my school. That looks like no Miami defense in the history of our school.”

Former Canes cornerback Phillip Buchanan then chimed in too on Twitter.

Golden has defended D'Onofrio at every turn with Miami's defense and the last time he spoke with reporters in his end of the season wrap-up he did so again.

Here's a link to the Sapp audio on WQAM.

UM's early enrollee list expands to nine; which ones will help Canes immediately?

The Miami Hurricanes welcomed three more early signees to their 2014 signing class on Wednesday bringing their total to nine.

The three new players signed, sealed and on campus for spring semester are Miami Northwestern cornerback Ryan Mayes, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College defensive tackle Calvin Heurtelou and outside linebacker Darrion Owens of Orange Park's Oakleaf High.

They join the previous group of six already at UM: Miami Central All-American running back Joseph Yearby and offensive lineman Trevor Darling, Palm Beach Central All-American offensive tackle Kc McDermott, Winter Park All-American defensive end Trent Harris, All-American receiver Braxton Berrios of Raleigh, N.C. and outside linebacker Juwon Young of Albany, Ga.

Yearby and Berrios are injured and not expected to participate in spring football. Defensive tackle Michael Wyche, a JUCO standout at East Los Angeles College, signed with UM but hasn't received the necessary clearence from the ACC to start in the spring and is likely to enroll in May.

So who can likely help UM right away from this group? Charles Fishbein of Elite Scouting Services gave me his opinion on the eight players he's seen play in person (he never saw Heurtelou play).

- On RB Joseph Yearby (5-9, 180): “I definitely think he’s going to be a kid that comes in and plays right away. He’ll be the second-best running back on the team behind Duke. He’ll give you the same things Duke does. He’s not going to get hit hard. I think he’s going to be very good at the next level, runs with good pad level. Even if he doesn’t play in the spring, he’ll be able to give them something this year.”

- On OT Kc McDermott (6-6, 301): “Kc is a kid is I really think is going to be fighting for one of the tackle spots from Day 1. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he starts every game in his career at Miami. He’s an NFL kid, an instant impact player. He’s definitely further ahead than Ereck Flowers was as a freshman and he played and started right away. Kc is very polished, smart and is going to be a quick learner. What he’s going to be is what everybody hoped and expected out of Seantrel Henderson.”

- OT Trevor Darling (6-5, 330): “He’s a kid who was a four-year starter on a national championship caliber team that won three state titles. He was blocking as a freshman for Devante Freeman (now at FSU) and then the last three for Yearby and [Dalvin] Cook. He’s a big strong, physical kid. I think he can play guard or tackle. I would like to see him redshirt this year. But I think in a pinch he could be used at right tackle or guard if needed. He has a lot of logged minutes playing at a high level. All those snaps can only help you out. There’s just a lot of football this kid has played. He’s probably one of those guys if you had to throw him in there he could at least hold his own. He has NFL-type potential. Once he’s in a college weight room you don’t know how much stronger he’s going to get.”

- DE Trent Harris (6-2, 231): “He’s a kid that comes in at a position Miami need badly. I think he’s very similar to Al-Quadin Muhammad, Tyriq McCord as freshmen, a guy who can come in on third down and help. The fact he’ll be able to come in early will help him. He can get his feet wet. I think if they need him he could come in on third and 12 and get a sack. He’s not an everyday player right now. But he’ll get the benefit of what probably will be a redshirt year. If not, he should be able to play on special teams right away and in another year or two could be a very special player."

- OLB Darrion Owens (6-3 1/2, 216): “The first time I saw him was at Ed White High School as a sophomore safety. He’s probably more of a linebacker now. He’s going to give Miami something it hasn’t had and that is the potential to be a 235-pound guy who can run, play strongside linebacker, drop back into coverage, cover a tight end and help this defense. He has a lot of upside, probably one of the more underrated guys in their class and more potential than most of the guys they have. He kind of reminds me of Rocky McIntosh, a guy who played multiple positions for Miami. Rocky had the frame. This isn't a 6-1, 190 pound linebacker you hope to add weight to. Owens may be closer to 6-3, 6-4, with a long body built for the ability to put on more weight. You have that same thing with AQM and McCord, an Alex Figueroa, who is going to be a 240-pound kid at Miami."

- WR Braxton Berrios (5-9, 181): “He’s one of those kids I’ve only seen in 7-on-7 settings and film. But I can tell you he sees the ball well, catches the ball very well, runs good routes and is very competitive. On 3rd and 8, when you need that one receiver to keep the chains moving, he’s that kid. He can take a hitch route and take it the distance, too. Look at the kid Ryan Switzer at North Carolina.  I think Berrios is like him, a kid who can be explosive on special teams and in the red zone.”

- OLB Juwon Young (6-2, 235): “Another guy they need as far as a need position at linebacker. They’ve done a good job of finding talented kids from Georgia in the past like Eddie Johnson. It’s just a matter of keeping them in school. Young really provides Miami with more depth than anything else – especially on special teams. Down the road, I think he’ll be a pretty good player, a potential starter by his second or third year. He’ll be in the rotation then.”

- CB Ryan Mayes (6-2, 180): “The one thing he does is he gives Miami a corner with more size. He’s probably similar to Ladarius Gunter. He doesn’t have great top-end speed, but enough to hang with most receivers. He’s going to handle bigger receivers and be physical with them. When you face guys like Kelvin Benjamin at FSU or one of those big Clemson guys you need somebody to matchup with them. He’s definitely a redshirt candidate and somebody who has to get healthy, though. I think that’s a big reason he struggled as senior. He got hurt in the spring and never really recovered. The potential was there when he was a junior at Krop High, though. He’s good in man coverage.”

January 28, 2014

Valentine acknowledges his heart is with LSU and says UM "must show me something" on official visit

U.S. Army All-American defensive tackle Travonte Valentine got an early morning visit at Hialeah Champagnat from Hurricanes coach Al Golden and a couple of assistants on Tuesday.

Golden was there for two reasons: he wanted to make sure the 6-5, 325-pound Valentine was going to give the Canes an official visit this coming weekend and a shot to earn his signature on National Signing Day.

Mission accomplished.

Valentine, tabbed the 65th best 2014 prospect (regardless of position) according to 247Sports' composite rankings, said he assured Golden that he and his mother would visit Coral Gables officially this coming weekend. And he also said UM still has a shot to win him over, even though it's pretty clear LSU has his heart "as of right now."

"I don't know [what Miami has to do to change my heart]," said Valentine, who was wearing an LSU backback during a half hour interview at school with The Miami Herald Tuesday. "They just have to show me something."

That something is kind of difficult to put a finger on right now. Valentine, who de-committed from Miami late last month when the Golden to Penn State rumors were running rampant, knows he can come in and play early at Miami given the current state of the defensive line.

He also knows what Coral Gables is all about. Valentine said he's been down to UM so many times already he can't remember exactly how many unofficial visits he's made. So why does he feel the need to go there again this coming weekend?

"Just to have a good time with the players and the commits," he said.

Apparently Valentine hasn't done enough of that already. Valentine said while he's bonded with the coaches at UM, he hasn't felt the same "bonding experience" with Canes players and recruits. He said the reason his trip to LSU was special was because he did feel that bonding experience with a few former South Floridians who now call Baton Rouge home.

Valentine called that "a really big" factor.

"Team bonding," Valentine said when asked what he's ultimately looking for before making a final decision. "I want to bond with the team. I want everything to be good, a family situation when I get there.

"Like what I had this past weekend with [LSU freshman cornerback] Rashard Robinson [a Pompano Ely grad], [LSU freshman defensive tackle] Quan Bain [a University School grad] and [Hallandale senior safety and LSU 2014 commitment] John Battle. I have chemistry with them boys."

Valentine said he's already discussed rooming with Battle at LSU.

"Even though I can’t say I have that at Miami, I can have that [chemistry eventually] with guys like Chad Thomas, Anthony Moten, Mike Smith and Braxton Berrios," Valentine said. "We just have to build it."

When it comes to relationships, Valentine said he's been building a strong one with LSU assistant Corey Raymond since November. How is his chemistry with Canes assistant coach Hurley Brown? "It's pretty good," Valentine said. "Coach Hurley has known my stepdad since high school."

Valentine said Golden's recruiting pitch Tuesday was pretty clear cut. He brought up the history Miami has had with defensive linemen, and that he wants to have the opportunity to coach another great one. Valentine said Golden ended his pitch by saying: 'Let me coach you.'

How did those words make Valentine feel?

"Those were pretty big, decent words," Valentine said. "I felt like that’s something I have to think about."

Valentine promises he will and will do so before making his announcement on Signing Day. Champagnat coach Mike Tunsil said the school is planning to have its ceremonies around 10:30 a.m.

"I can never fault Miami for the way they've recruited Travonte," Tunsil said. "They did a great job recruiting him. I could never complain about that. They’ve been on him hard. They had the defensive coordinator, the d-line coach, the head coach over here. Overall, I think they could recruit our school better. But as far as Travonte, they’ve done great."

NEWS AND NOTES

> For those of you sweating over Chad Thomas' recruiting visits to Florida State last weekend and his upcoming visit to Alabama -- go ahead and stop.

The five-star All-American defensive end made it pretty clear Tuesday he isn't planning on breaking Canes hearts on Signing Day.

"There’s no suspense," Thomas said. "I’ve been throwing up The U since the first game of the season. I’m not really trying to build any suspense, get anybody wound up, rowdy. Miami coaches knew I was going to take trips. They've just told me to have fun –- not just too much fun."

Thomas, an aspiring musician when he isn't killing quarterbacks on the football field, has been looking at UM's Frost Music School since well before the Hurricanes ever offered him a football scholarship. As a student at New World School of the Arts in Miami, he's been playing the piano, tuba and a number of other instruments for years and dreaming of attending Miami's music school.

While he said seeing FSU's music school -- and having a long talk with former Seminole Myron Rolle -- were nice experiences last weekend, Miami is still his school.

"It's two different music programs," Thomas said. "They look more into the production side at FSU. Miami has a great production side too. But I think the production side and band side at Miami are both great."

Has Alabama talked to Thomas about music? "No. Just football," he said with a grin.

Is he 100 percent Hurricane? "Yes sir," Thomas said. "Alabama knows that. They're just doing their job recruiting me."

> Booker T. offensive coordinator Tim Harris Jr. said he believes Thomas and defensive end Demetrius Jackson will both sign with UM next Wednesday.

Jackson, a three-star recruit according to 247Sports, visited Arkansas last weekend after telling a few recruiting websites he wasn't taking any more trips and was solid to UM.

"Arkansas was the first school that offered him," Harris Jr. said. "It’s a big school, SEC school. It’s only right to go on an official visit like that. I’ve seen people have bashed him on his Twitter for it. People don’t understand he just wants to take a visit. Kids work themselves to get this point. Us as coaches we help them along the way, but those kids, this is their moment. At the end of the day I think he’s going to stick with Miami as well."

January 22, 2014

An early look at the Hurricanes 2014 football schedule with predictions

Are you ready for some Monday night football?

If not, get ready.

The Hurricanes are going to open the 2014 football season on the road at Louisville -- the team that just pounded them in the Russell Athletic Bowl -- on Labor Day night (Sept. 1) at 8 p.m. The game will be carried by ESPN. The Hurricanes will obviously be facing a brand new Cardinals team with a new starting quarterback and head coach. So it's tough to handicap the game now eight-plus months away.

UM's complete schedule -- which features 10 bowl teams and FAMU and Virginia -- was released at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Here is the rest of it with some quick analysis:

- vs. FAMU, Saturday, Sept. 6: Not a lot of time to recover from a road trip. Good thing is the Rattlers are coming off a 3-9 season and still in rebuilding mode. Canes should cruise in this one.

- vs. Arkansas State, Saturday, Sept. 13: The Red Wolves are coming off an 8-5 season in the Sun Belt and a win over Ball State in the GoDaddy.com bowl. Miami should be better than this team and coming off what should be a blowout win over FAMU will help.

- at Nebraska, Saturday, Sept. 20: Bo Pelini's team finished 9-4 thanks to a win over Georgia in the Gator Bowl. The Hurricanes haven't faced the Cornhuskers since beating them in the Rose Bowl in 2001 to win their last national title. Although the all-time series is tied 5-5, Nebraska is 3-0 versus UM all-time in Lincoln. Kansas State made most of us want to forget what happened the last time UM traveled to the Midwest to play a game. Here's to hoping the next trip is different.

- vs. Duke, Saturday, Sept. 27: The Blue Devils capped their best season in recent memory by finishing 10-4 and winning the Coastal Division. They thumped Miami up in Durham and finished ranked 23rd in the country after losing a shootout to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M 52-48 in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. If Miami doesn't win this game at home expect Al Golden's seat to begin to feel a little warm.

- at Georgia Tech, Saturday, Oct. 4: The Hurricanes have won five straight over Georgia Tech since Paul Johnson's team ran for 472 yards in a 41-23 win back on a cold November night in 2008. The Yellow Jackets finished 7-6 last season and lost to Mississippi 25-17 in the Music City Bowl. This one makes me nervous considering the Hurricanes had to pull out a 42-36 overtime win the last time they played in Atlanta.

- vs. Cincinnati, Saturday, Oct. 11: The Hurricanes haven't faced the Bearcats since cruising to a 38-12 win in Cincy back in 1998. Former Hurricanes assistant Tommy Tuberville (1986-93) enters his second year in Cicny coming off a 9-4 season and a loss to North Carolina in the Belk Bowl. The only time Cincinnati has beaten Miami? Way back in 1947. Cincinnati has 15 Floridians on its current roster including seven from Dade and Broward. Miami should also still be good enough to beat them.

- at Virginia Tech, Thursday, Oct. 23: The Hurricanes will have 12 days to prepare for the Hokies in what should be a huge Thursday night game in Blacksburg. Frank Beamer's team fell to 8-5 after its blowout loss to UCLA in the Sun Bowl. UM has only won two of the last eight meetings against the Hokies and have only won twice in Blacksburg in eight tries since 1995. Tough one.

- vs. North Carolina, Saturday, Nov. 1: Larry Fedora's team finished the 2013 season 7-6 after a blowout win over Cincinnati and Miami was forunate to come out with a 27-23 win in Chapel Hill last year. Believe it or not, UM has lost two of its last three at home to the Tar Heels. Another tough one.

- vs. Florida State, Saturday, Nov. 15: Miami will have two weeks to prepare for Jameis Winston and the defending national champions. It might not mean much if last year's Heisman winner is rolling. Florida State will be coming off a home game against Virginia the week before and have Boston College the following week after Miami. Those aren't exactly distractions. Toughest game of the year for Miami. FSU has won four straight in the series and seven of the last nine meetings.

- at Virginia, Saturday, Nov. 22: Finally a cupcake. At least we think. Virginia has never been an easy out for Miami. The Hurricanes are only 6-5 against the Cavaliers all time. UM has dropped two straight in Charlottesville.

- vs. Pittsburgh, Saturday, Nov. 29: Miami could be fighting for a spot in the ACC championship game -- or for a bowl berth if things don't go well -- heading into this week. The Hurricanes are 32-9-1 all-time against Pittsburgh, their former Big East rivals, thanks to a 41-31 win on the road last year. UM has won eight straight and is 16-1 against the Panthers dating back to 1984. No reason at least now Miami shouldn't win this game. Pittsburgh finished 7-6 last year and is coming off a win over Bowling Green in the Little Ceasar's Bowl.

> MY WAY TOO EARLY PREDICTION: Miami, with a new quarterback and a lot of young pieces on the defensive line, goes 8-4 with losses at Louisville, Nebraska, Virginia Tech and at home to Florida State.

January 20, 2014

From Miami to Los Angeles: 6-7, 327-pound lineman Malcolm Bunche leaves Miami Hurricanes for UCLA

So, the East Coast wasn't always great for Malcolm Bunche, whose playing time dwindled in 2013 for the Miami Hurricanes.

Now he's trying the West Coast.

Malcom is transferring to UCLA to play his final season at UCLA, his dad, Curtis Bunche, just told me.

Curtis Bunche said Malcolm will be playing tackle at UCLA, head coach Jim Mora and the other coaches told him, rather than guard. "Every single coach that contacted us lately said, ‘Are you kidding me, this kid with his measurables (6-7, 327 pounds) and his feet – he’s a tackle.'"

"I talked to Malcolm last night for quite a while and he was very impressed with his overall experience with the trip there to UCLA, the tour of the campus, his conversation with the head coach and offensive coordinator – and even more so his offensive line coach [Adrian Klemm]. He’s had several years of NFL experience as an O-lineman and has [three] Super Bowl rings [with the New England Patriots]."

 UCLA was 10-3 this past season and beat Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl, 42-12.

"Malcolm talked about the overall concept under Jim Mora being basically an NFL concept, an NFL approach. He had some time with an academic advisor regarding his pursuit to get his Master’s degree. He was gone the entire weekend.

 "His trip prior to UCLA was to Texas Tech on Friday during the day. He flew out Saturday to Los Angeles."

 Curtis Bunche said Malcolm called the UCLA campus "breathtaking.''

 Curtis said "there was no problem with his release at UM. Obviously UM tried to get him to stay. They went as far as calling his high school coach to ask him to get him to stay. You have to respect that.''

  But in the end, Bunche obviously realized he played minimally in 2013, and with only one season of eligibility left, he felt he needed a better opportunity.

 UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, a Heisman Trophy contender, completed 248 of 369 passes (67.2 percent) for 3,071 yards and 24 touchdowns, with 9 interceptions this past season.  But he was sacked 35 times.

 In contrast, the Hurricanes allowed 17 total sacks -- and that's including the four in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

  "They need an O-lineman to protect that Heisman Trophy candidate's blind side,'' said Curtis Bunche of his son.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

January 19, 2014

Duke Johnson says he doubts he'll be back for spring football; Miami lands 2015 commitment

The Miami Herald's Safid Deen, who covers recruiting for us, bumped into Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson at a South Florida Express 7-on-7 practice Sunday morning.

Johnson, whose season came to an abrupt end when he broke his ankle against national champion Florida State, covered a few topics including whether or not he thinks he will be back on the field for spring practice.

"I don't believe I will," Johnson told Deen. "But if anything changes, you'll see. But I don't really think so."

Johnson guessed he was about "a month and a half to two months" away from participating to on field activities. Johnson said he is lifting weights.

Johnson said the rumors about coach Al Golden leaving for Penn State earlier this month were exactly what he and the team believed them to be "rumors."

Johnson said Golden never spoke to the team about the rumors.

"We didn't feel the need to," Johnson said. "We looked at it as just rumor as that's what it was. Nothing took place that we know of. Nothing really happened. He's still here. There was no need to have a talk with us. We're moving on to our season and don't have time for distractions such as that."

> Canesport.com and InsideTheU.com reported Sunday that Miami received a commitment from 2015 offensive lineman Kevin Feder of Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey. Feder (6-9, 305) is rated a three-star recruit according to both sites.

> Both sites also reported 2014 commitment Demetrius Jackson, a 6-4, 220-pound defensive end from Miami Booker T. Washington "solidified his commitment" to the Hurricanes after taking his official visit this weekend. Jackson reportedly canceled an official visit he had planned for Texas Tech next weekend.

January 17, 2014

Miami Hurricanes linebacker Denzel Perryman admitted to University of Miami Hospital

We already know the good news: linebacker Denzel Perryman, the Miami Hurricanes' best player on defense, is returning to UM for his senior season.

The bad news as of Friday night: Perryman is in University of Miami Hospital feeling nauseous and sick to his stomach. He is expected to stay the night.

HERE'S THE UPDATE AS OF 7:15 P.M.: Desmond Perryman, Denzel's dad, just texted me that Denzel is OK. "It's just the flu and dehydration. He'll be fine.'' 

Desmond told me Denzel saw a doctor and was then taken to the emergency room by someone from UM this afternoon after feeling sick. "He might have a little virus because he was throwing up,'' said Desmond, who was on his way to visit his son.

Get well soon, Denzel.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

Grading Miami's recruiting class, roster as homestretch before Signing Day begins

We are heading down the homestretch here in recruiting. Thursday, the dead period ended and college coaches were back on the recruiting trail.

With three final weekends of visits left before National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb. 5., most of the best players in the country -- almost all already committed -- are playing the game and looking for nice weekend get-aways while building the suspense for their "big announcements." Personally, I hate what recruiting has become. I'm convinced most of these kids have made up their minds and only a select few are really on the fence with decisions. 

With that, I give you the rundown of how the Class of 2014 for the Hurricanes has been pieced together thus far. As you know, things change quickly in the recruiting world. All it takes is one tweet to send a fan base off the edge these days. Miami has 26 players currently "committed" to being a part of the incoming class and could add more or lose more in the coming weeks. The class ranks eighth according to ESPN; ninth according to Rivals and 10th according to 247Sports.

QUARTERBACK

UM reportedly offered 10 quarterbacks according to 247Sports.com and landed a commitment from West Hills Chaminade (Calif.) Brad Kaaya (6-4, 215) back in May. He’s considered the seventh best Pro-Style Quarterback in the country. Kaaya will visit UM this weekend (Jan. 17) and has maintained he’s a firm commitment to Miami. But he’s still being courted by Boise State and UCLA and there's a chance he could spurn UM late and stay on the West Coast. Miami has another quarterback commitment from Faith Academy’s Malik Rosier (6-2, 205) of Mobile, Ala.

Of the five dual-threat QBs Miami offered Rosier is ranked lowest by 247Sports (27th). Miami had a commitment from the higher-rated Alin Edouard (6-1, 180) of Hialeah High but stopped recruiting him. Edouard is now committed to Syracuse. The Hurricanes finally offered hometown star Treon Harris (5-11, 180, 9th best dual-threat QB according to 247Sports) of Miami Booker T. Washington a scholarship offer at quarterback and he will visit UM on Jan. 31. Harris is committed to Florida State.

> My take: Everything I hear about Kaaya is that he has an NFL arm and offensive coordinator James Coley loves him. Considering Kevin Olsen – last year’s big signee – was suspended for the bowl game it’s imperative Miami holds onto Kaaya. I have little doubt Ryan Williams will be Miami’s starting quarterback when the 2014 season starts, but the Hurricanes badly need a young passer to emerge as the season moves along. If not Olsen, then it has to be Kaaya. The fact Miami offered Harris at quarterback this late is almost comical. At what point during Booker T.’s national championship run did coaches finally say ‘That Harris kid is pretty good?’ He should have been offered at quarterback much earlier. Current recruiting grade: B+ (if Kaaya sticks around). Overall position grade heading into 2014: C

RUNNING BACK

UM offered 18 running backs a scholarship according to 247Sports.com and currently has only one committed – Miami Central star Joseph Yearby. The 5-9, 190-pound consensus 4-star tailback is rated eighth-best at his position and is already enrolled at UM. But this was a big year for running backs in South Florida and Miami not only missed out on two blue-chip talents -- American Heritage’s Sony Michel (5-star, Georgia) and Central’s Dalvin Cook (5-star, Florida State)– they also lost the top running back in Broward County, Deerfield Beach’s Brandon Powell, who made a last-second switch to Florida after Miami had already announced him as an early enrollee.

The Hurricanes now appear focused on trying to land JUCO running back De’Andre Mann (5-10, 205) of Salinas (Calif.) Hartnell Community College or Louisiana's Cameron McKnight (6-2, 220, 4.6-speed, 3-star Rivals). Mann, a backup to former Hurricane and current Miami Dolphin Lamar Miller, ran for a school-record 1,706 yards and 30 touchdowns this past season. Canesport.com reported Mann has nine offers including Kansas, Western Kentucky, Purdue and Hawaii. McKnight's other offers are Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe and Southern Miss.

> My take: I'm taking the approach that Miami only needed to land one of the big three (Yearby, Cook, Michel) in its backyard and pat them on the back for it. I’m not sure how many programs out there can land more than one Top 10 consensus running back each year anyway -- especially with Duke Johnson already in the backfield. But losing Powell at the last second to hated rival Florida was bad. Now the Canes are scrambling. Yearby, coming off a foot injury, will almost certainly see playing time in 2014. Miami definitely needs to sign at least two backs in this class, though. If they don't that's a big failure. Personally, I'd give Coral Gables High standout Gregory Howell (6-0, 204) a look. FAU and Minnesota have shown interest in him. He's been dominant in his three years as a starter in Miami-Dade County. Current recruiting grade: B. Overall position strength: B

RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

Homestead’s Ermon Lane (6-3, 193) was the highest rated of the 26 receivers Miami offered according to 247Sports.com. But he never seriously considered the Hurricanes and after de-committing from Florida last week appears headed to Florida State where he will take his final official visit on Jan. 31. Instead, Miami has ended up with three three-star commitments in Raleigh, N.C.’s Braxton Berrios (5-8, 170, No. 52 WR according to 247Sports), Darrell Langham (6-5, 190, No. 70 WR according to 247Sports) of Santaluces Community School in Lake Worth, Fla., and South Dade’s Tyre Brady (6-3, 187, No. 141 WR according to 247Sports) and a wildcard in Carol City’s Trayone Gray (6-2, 210, No. 59 ATH according to 247Sports). Two other receivers badly coveted and missed out on were West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman’s Travis Rudolph (6-1, 185, No. 6 WR according to 247Sports) who is headed to Florida State and Palm Beach Dwyer’s Johnnie Dixon (5-10, 187, No. 8 WR according to 247Sports) who is headed to Ohio State. FSU also took Brady’s teammate C.J. Worton (6-1, 175, No. 75 WR according to 247Sports). We’ll have to see who ends up having the better career between Worton and Brady. St. Thomas Aquinas four-star receiver Corey Holmes (6-2, 175) was the only other Dade or Broward County receiver the Hurricanes offered.

At tight end, Miami offered a dozen recruits according to 247Sports and landed a commitment from Chris Herndon (6-4, 230, No. 33 TE according to 247Sports) from Norcross, Ga. Canesport.com reported Miami is pursuing Cedar Grove (N.J.) tight end/receiver David Njoku (6-4, 217, No. 71 TE according to 247Sports). He already took a Miami visit in December and is still being pursued by Penn State, Ohio State and Temple.

> My take: Some kids just don’t want to stay home and I think that’s the case with Lane. Getting Rudolph or Dixon certainly would have been upgrades over what Miami ended up with. But Miami still went out and got three solid receivers to help fill a need. I just don't see a Stacy Coley in this group. Gray, whose grades have always been a concern, would instantly be the best receiver in this group in my opinion if he makes it into school without a hitch. With Tuesday’s news that 2013 signee Derrick Griffin is heading to Junior College, the Hurricanes will likely need at least one new addition to step in and help in 2014 alongside Coley, Herb Waters and Phillip Dorsett. As you know, Malcolm Lewis needs to prove he’s fully recovered from his 2012 foot injury and Rashawn Scott needs to prove he can avoid suspensions. At tight end, 2013 signee Standish Dobard (1 catch, 15 yards in 3 games) should have no trouble replacing the role of Asante Cleveland (3 catches, 23 yards, 1 TD in 13 games) as the team’s third tight end behind Clive Walford and Beau Sandland. That should make 2014 a redshirt season for Herndon and whoever else Miami signs. It would have been nice for the Hurricanes to nab local product Ravian Pierce (6-4, 215, No. 14 TE according to 247Sports) but that ended up as a victory for former Canes coach Randy Shannon and Arkansas. Current recruiting grade: B. Overall position strength: B+

OFFENSIVE LINE

The Hurricanes reportedly offered 30 offensive linemen according to 247Sports and did well landing early commitments from four much-needed prospects all in-state including three locally. Kc McDermott (6-6, 300, No. 3 offensive tackle according to 247Sports) is probably the best offensive player in Miami’s class and has a legitimate shot of starting at Miami from Day 1. McDermott along with three-time state champion and Miami Central standout Trevor Darling (6-4.5, 327, No. 8 offensive tackle according to 247Sports) are already enrolled at UM and on the team roster. St. Thomas Aquinas standout and Under-Armour All-American Nick Linder (6-3, 273, No. 56 offensive guard according to 247Sports) and Semper-Fi All-American Reilly Gibbons (6-6, 292, No. 28 offensive tackle according to 247Sports) will arrive in the fall.

> My take: Clearly the best part of Miami’s class on offense because there are no big misses and lots of quality. Two members of this group should help make up for the losses of four players in the rotation last season: starting right guard Brandon Linder (Nick’s older brother), starting right tackle Seantrel Henderson, key sixth man Jared Wheeler and Malcolm Bunche, who is seeking a transfer. Junior Hunter Wells, sophomores Danny Isidora, Taylor Gadbois and Alex Gall and redshirt freshmen Sunny Odogwu and Hunter Knighton are “the other guys” coming back alongside starting left tackle Ereck Flowers, left guard Jonathan Feliciano and center Shane McDermott (Kc’s older brother). Current recruiting grade: A. Overall position grade: B

DEFENSIVE LINE

Addressing the defensive line was clearly the priority for the Hurricanes in this class. According to 247Sports.com, Miami offered 33 defensive ends and 30 defensive tackles. Miami Booker T. Washington's Chad Thomas (6-5, 240, No. 3 weakside defensive end according to 247Sports), an Under Armour All-American, is widely considered the best defensive player in this class and is UM's only 5-star recruit. Teammate Demetrius Jackson (6-4, 220, No. 20 weakside defensive end according to 247Sports) has been flirting with Arkansas for a long time and is a late flight risk. He’ll visit UM this weekend where Miami hopes to solidify him. Winter Park’s Trent Harris (6-2, 231, No. 14 weakside defensive end according to 247Sports) is already enrolled at UM. Miami Northwestern’s Mike Smith (6-2, 210, No. 32 strongside defensive end according to 247Sports) has been committed to UM since June but will visit Louisville, a hub for former Northwestern standouts, on Jan. 31. 

At tackle -- a position Miami has long suffered at -- the Hurricanes have addressed immediate needs with two JUCO signees Michael Wyche (6-4, 315, No. 12 JUCO DT according to 247Sports) and Calvin Heurtelou (6-3, 304, No, 9 JUCO DT according to 247Sports) of Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College). Wyche is waiting on an ACC appeal to report and Heurtelou is working to arrive before Miami’s Jan. 23 deadline to register. Of the group of tackles, however, St. Thomas Aquinas Semper Fi All-American Anthony Moten (6-4, 292, No. 15 DT according to 247Sports) is the most highly-regarded. The Hurricanes also have Courtel Jenkins (6-2, 294, No. 76 DT according to 247Sports) of St. Anthony School in Jersey City, N.J. lined up to be part of the class. He’s been committed since June and had other offers from Maryland, Rutgers and Pittsburgh.

> My take: A big key here for Golden and his staff will be getting U.S. Army All-American Travonte Valentine (6-3, 338, No. 7 DT according to 247Sports) of Hialeah Champagnat back in the class. Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio and two assistants went to visit Valentine at school on Thursday. He de-committed after Golden flirted with the Penn State job after was already leaning toward leaving for LSU, where he will take an official visit (Jan. 24) before visiting Miami (Jan. 31). Locally, UM was in the running early for Chaminade Prep U.S. Army All-American Khairi Clark (6-2, 325, No. 17 DT according to 247Sports) before he committed to Florida in June. In the end, Miami went after the three best available pass rushers and three run stuffers in their backyard and currently have four of the six committed and could end up with five if Valentine comes back. Throw in two quality JUCO guys who can help right away and a defensive end who is already enrolled and it’s a very good haul. Considering the team lost six players to graduation – and only two starters (tackle Curtis Porter and end Shayon Green) Miami has clearly upgraded on paper overall. Current recruiting grade: A- Overall position grade (with signing class): B.

LINEBACKERS

The Hurricanes reportedly offered a total of 36 linebackers according to 247Sports and have three lined up to be part of the 2014 class. None of the three are considered elite, but the good news is two could be around for spring football. Juwon Young (6-2, 228, No. 59 OLB according to 247Sports) of Albany, Ga., is already enrolled at Miami. Darrion Owens (6-3, 216, No. 30 OLB according to 247Sports) of Oakleaf High in Orange Park, Fla. is still trying to enroll before the Jan. 23 deadline. Pompano Beach Ely’s Terry McCray (6-2, 215, No. 60 ILB according to 247Sports), expected to arrive in the fall, has a small ongoing romance working with LSU, which has taken kids from Ely in the past but doesn’t appear interested enough at the moment to take him. Miami is also still reportedly in the hunt for four-star Raymon Minor (6-3, 210, No. 18 OLB according to 247Sports) of Richmond, Va., who will take an official visit this weekend. There’s also a chance former 2011 signee Antonio Kinard could sign with Miami. But his JUCO coach at Arizona Western College reportedly doubts Kinard will finish school by July.

> My take: Locally and in the state it just wasn’t a very good year for linebackers. Three of the top six ranked among the Top 100 players in the state – Jacob Pugh, Kain Daub and Delvin Purifoy (three top 20 players) – are all headed to Florida State. The one local recruit in the state’s Top 100, University School’s Richard Yeargin, is headed to Notre Dame. Miami didn’t offer Yeargin according to 247Sports. The fact Denzel Perryman is returning to Miami downgrades my concern at linebacker from Category 5 problem to Tropical Storm. There are quite a few young guys who have to step up on this unit in a big way. It's time for Raphael Kirby, Alex Figueroa and Tyriq McCord to prove they can be dependable starters and not role players. Current recruiting grade: C+ Overall position grade: D+

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Miami reportedly offered 19 cornerbacks and 20 safeties according to 247Sports.com and have one corner and two safeties committed, none who will be around early this spring. Kiy Hester (6-0, 200, No. 19 S according to 247Sports) of St. Joseph Regional in Motvale, NJ and Marques Gayot (6-1, 205, No. 67 S according to 247Sports) of Park Vista Community School in Lake Worth, Fla. are the two safeties Miami got commitments from in December. Miami Northwestern’s Ryan Mayes (6-2, 180, No. 67 CB according to 247Sports) has been committed to the program since June. The Hurricanes had another commitment from Booker T. Washington’s Nigel Bethel (5-9, 173, No. 28 CB according to 247Sports) but he recently switched to Texas Tech. Locally, there were other talented players in Miami’s backyard available in the secondary. But Plantation High’s Chris Lammons (5-9, 170, No. 20 CB according to 247Sports) committed and de-committed from Florida and is now looking at South Carolina. Miami never offered University School’s Quincy Wilson (6-1, 196, No. 28 S according to 247Sports). But they did go after Miami Central’s Deatrick Nichols (5-10, 180, No. 56 CB according to 247Sports), who committed to former high school coach Telly Lockette at USF. The other potential big swing and misses: Immokalee’s J.C. Jackson (5-10, 180, No. 19 WR according to 247Sports), who appears headed to join Florida State’s class. Miami is now reportedly in late on Tampa Jefferson athlete Deoindre Porter (6-1, 180, No. 190 ATH according to 247Sports). He de-committed from USF and is scheduled to visit UM on Jan. 31.

> My take: Miami had a commitment from Dillard’s Dennis Turner (5-11, 175, No. 150 CB according to 247Sports) but had him as a wide receiver and not at cornerback like where his own coach said he would probably be better suited to play. Although the additions of Hester and Gayot are good pickups for Miami, the fact Lammons, Bethel and Nicholas are all leaving town has to irk you a little. The good news is Miami has a chance to make up for it next year. The secondary, led by juniors Tracy Howard, Deon Bush, Antonio Crawford and Rashawn Jenkins, sophomore Artie Burns and senior Ladarius Gunter is a solid top six. Depth, though, will be a concern unless some young players step up. Current recruiting grade: B-. Overall position grade: B-

January 14, 2014

Cetera Bunche on younger brother and soon-to-be UM transfer Malcom: "He's in the best situation that any 22-year-old college transfer could ever be in.''

I spoke to the older sister and briefly to the father of UM offensive lineman Malcom Bunche, who is transferring to a yet-to-be-determined university to play his final season.

Malcolm, from Newark, Delaware, earned his bachelor's degree in liberal arts last month, and thus will be eligible to play immediately as a graduate student. His father, Curtis Bunche, told me today that Malcolm earned a "mid-grade'' draft evaluation by the NFL Draft Advisory Board, but that he wants to get more experience on the college level.

"He worked really hard in the classroom but he just kind of felt like he wanted to see what was out there,'' said Cetera Bunch, his sister. "With degree in hand he's going to try a bigger school, definitely a public school.''

Bunche, 6-7 and 327 pounds, played both guard and tackle sparingly in 12 games this season, making his lone start at left guard in the season opener against FAU.

Bunche was rated as a four-star recruit, and attended Milford Prep in New York for one semester.

 In the recent bowl loss to Louisville, Bunche came into the game once during an extra point on special teams. In 2012 he started all 12 games at left tackle.

Cetera Bunche, a Miami-based personal trainer who ran track at Hampton University in Virginia, wouldn't divulge the schools with which he has been in contact, but suffice it to say that she hinted they were big-time, public-school programs. Florida State is out, since Malcolm is not allowed to transfer to any ACC school, or to any opponent of UM's for next season.

The Gators are out, too.

"I would never wear orange and blue,'' Cetera said. "We only have room for one set of orange in our closets, and that's orange and green. We love Miami. Our whole family loves Miami. Malcolm has a great relationship with [offensive line] Coach [Art] Kehoe. 

"They played him very minimally this season, but Malcolm doesn't play the blame game. He's actually grateful. What my parents have taught us is if you want things to change, change the way you do things. So this was a very mature decision on his part.

"He's in a really good situation. He's in the best situation that any 22-year-old college transfer could ever be in. He has a great opportunity to show the world his college potential -- again. He has a variety of choices.''

Curtis Bunche said his son ''loves Art Kehoe but told his dad, "Pops, I want to see what it's like at a bigger university.''

Curtis Bunche said Malcolm also told him: "I didn't play much this year and after the fourth or fifth game it taught me to be more patient and supportive'' of the other linemen.

Two veteran starters on UM's line -- tackle Seantrel Henderson and guard Brandon Linder -- just finished their senior seasons and will enter the NFL Draft. Guard/Center Jared Wheeler also is leaving after finishing his senior season.

The left side of UM's line should be set with rising junior tackle Ereck Flowers and rising senior guard Jon Feliciano returning. Shane McDermott returns at center.

The Hurricanes like guard Danny Isidora, who broke his foot early in fall camp and played in two games. So expect him to battle for the starting spot on the right side as a redshirt sophomore. Also on the line will be promising 6-8 redshirt freshman tackle Sunny Odogwu, as well as Hunter Wells, Hunter Knighton and Alex Gall.

Two early enrollees are considered key future linemen: tackle Kc McDermott of Palm Beach Central and guard Trevor Darling of Miami Central. Expected to arrive in the summer are commitments Nick Linder at guard/center and Reilly Gibbons

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

January 10, 2014

Hurricanes offensive guard Jonathan Feliciano announces he's returning for his senior year

  Welcome back to University of Miami guard Jon Feliciano, another underclassmen who said Friday he is staying for his senior season, joining linebacker Denzel Perryman and defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo and tight end Clive Walford.

Here's the release from UM regarding Jon.

 Miami Hurricanes offensive guard Jon Feliciano will return to school for his senior season, the Davie native announced Friday.

 “I am coming back (to Miami) because I believe in what Coach Golden, the staff and our team are doing here,” Feliciano said. “I think the program is rising at an all-time pace. With all the NCAA stuff behind us, we can come into a season without anything hanging over our heads.”

 Feliciano started all 13 games along the offensive line, making 11 starts at left guard and two starts at right tackle. An honorable mention All-ACC selection by ACSMA, he helped anchor the offensive line that paved the way for Miami’s offense to average 425.8 yards of total offense and 33.8 points per game.

 As a sophomore in 2012, he started all 12 games at left guard en route to All-ACC honorable mention from ACSMA. He has started 26 straight games on Miami’s offensive line and 33 of 35 career games.

 “I have some flaws in my game and that’s the reason why I’m staying for my senior season at Miami,” Feliciano said. “The coaches do a great job in finding weak spots in your game and making them your strength.”

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

Perryman's return big boost for Canes defense

Al Golden and Mark D'Onofrio got some much needed good news Friday.

Leading tackler Denzel Perryman is coming back for his senior season.

A family member of Perryman's told me a big reason he wanted to stay at UM was to get his degree. "It's important to his family and Cassie [his girlfriend]," the person said.

“I decided to stay because it is the best decision for me and my family,” Perryman said in a statement released by UM. “Ever since Coach Golden got here, I feel like this program is moving forward and will continue to rise under his direction.

“This coaching staff is dedicated to player development and getting us better. I’ve grown as a player and person each year thanks to them."

Perryman started all 13 games at outside linebacker for the Hurricanes in 2013, leading the team with 108 total tackles and 69 solo stops. He posted six games with 10+ tackles en route to first-team All-ACC honors from ACSMA and the league’s 14 head coaches. He also garnered All-America honorable mention from SI.com.

“Before this season, we hadn’t had a 9-win season in a long time,” Perryman said. “For those of us in my class who had never been to a bowl game because of the sanctions, it was a great feeling and I want to be a part of the next step forward.”

To take the next step forward Perryman is going to need a lot of younger players around him to develop. Miami is losing second-leading tackler and starting middle linebacker Jimmy Gaines to graduation and has received inconsistent play from the rest of its linebackers.

Junior Thurston Armbrister (6 starts, 33 tackles, 2 sacks), sophomore Raphael Kirby (13 games, 10 tackles, 1 sack), sophomore Tyriq McCord (13 games, 13 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 INTs), freshman Alex Figueroa (2 starts, 17 tackles, 1 sack), freshman Jermaine Grace (11 games, 8 tackles) sophomore JaWand Blue (2 games, 1 tackle) are who is returning alongside Perryman in terms of experience at linebacker. 

UM also brought in incoming freshman Juwon Young (Albany, Ga.) at linebacker on Thursday.

January 09, 2014

Is it over yet? CBSSports.com and ESPN.com reporting James Franklin to Penn State, but...

I still will completely believe it when it's a done deal.

However, CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman and ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy, both excellent reporters, are reporting through sources (I know, but nobody will ever say anything on the record) that James Franklin will be the next coach at Penn State.

Feldman said "there are still many details to be sorted out on both sides within the next 48 hours.''

McMurphy said that "Franklin is expected to accept an offer Thursday to become coach at Penn State.''

The headline for CBSSports.com: "Franklin to become next head coach at Penn State.''

The headline for ESPN.com: "James Franklin to Penn State.''

Also: UM has reported that in addition to new enrollee WR Braxton Berrios, offensive lineman Kc McDermott of Palm Beach Central and linebacker Juwon Young of Albany, Ga., has reported to the Hurricanes. 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

January 08, 2014

Good news for Canes: Anthony Chickillo returning -- and Al Golden/Penn State mystery continues

We've had no shortage of news.

On Tuesday, I learned that Anthony Chickillo had been projected by the NFL Draft Advisory Board as a fourth to fifth rounder and was mulling his decision about whether to turn pro early.

On Wednesday night, Chickillo tweeted, "To end all the rumors, I will return for my final season at miami, let's make it a good one.''

So glad Anthony is returning. UM needs him, and he needs the extra year to improve even more before he goes into the NFL. Anthony is a loyal Cane, but I'm sure he has been frustrated the past couple of seasons with the defense and how he plays both tackle and end. He's a team guy, and does what's asked of him.

Anthony, listed at 6-4 and 277 pounds, had 44 tackles this season, 7.5 tackles for losses, 3.5 sacks and two pass breakups.

*************************************************************

GOLDEN UPDATE

   I think we could know by tomorrow, maybe Friday, who the next Penn State coach is.

   A private jet landed in Destin, Fla., and took off again and was expected to arrive in State College (Penn State) at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday (tonight). Some people I know thought Vanderbilt football coach James Franklin might be inside. Franklin reportedly has a home in that area. 

   However, here's the tweet that just came over Twitter:

NBC crew in State College says Pres Rod Erickson, AD Dave Joyner got off plane at airport, coming from Destin, FL, where James Franklin was.

No Franklin on the plane. But Penn State prez Rod Erickson was on it, and the AD. 

 I know Al was at UM this afternoon. Not sure how late he left.

   Also, a tweet from James Franklins' Twitter account tonight said: "Just got done my most important job, putting our girls 2 bed & making sure they know how much their dad loves them! Family first!" Hmmm.

   Earlier in the day, I asked UM athletic director Blake James if he could comment on the latest round of Golden speculation.

  "I stand by my statement I have made all along,'' James texted to me. "Al and I are in regular communication he is our football coach and I believe he will be our coach going forward. Thanks.''

  Stay tuned. Hope the mystery unravels soon. 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

Canes' spring game set for April 12th at Sun Life Stadium

The Miami Hurricanes’ 2014 Spring Football Game will be held Saturday, April 12, at Sun Life Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

In their third season under head coach Al Golden, the Hurricanes posted a 9-4 record and earned a berth to play in the Russell Athletic in Orlando. Miami’s six home wins in 2013 were the most in the Sun Life Stadium era and its most home wins since 2003.

Miami’s entire spring football schedule and events will be announced at a later date.

> Golden said during Tuesday's edition of Hurricane Hotline Miami will have 82 scholarships available for the 2014 season. The maximum is 85. The NCAA docked UM nine scholarships to be divided any way UM sees fit  over the next three seasons because of the Nevin Shapiro scandal.

January 07, 2014

U.S. Army All-American Travonte Valentine, coach want sit down with Golden

U.S. Army All-American defensive tackle Travonte Valentine dropped his commitment to the University of Miami last week when talk of coach Al Golden possibly heading to Penn State began to reach a fever pitch.

Tuesday, his high school coach Mike Tunsil said Valentine could end up rejoining Miami's class now that Golden has announced he's staying put. But the 6-3, 338-pound standout and his coach at Hialeah Champagnat want to have a sit down conversation with Golden to "make sure everyone is on the same page."

"Travonte just wants security," said Tunsil, who said he's handling all interviews for Valentine until he makes his final announcement on National Signing Day. "He's been saying UM for a long time. He loves UM. But for Coach Golden to go interview for another job was unsettling. 

"A lot of things can change when a coach leaves. Now that Golden is back he wants to find out why Golden [interviewed] and if he really is planning to be there for the long haul."

Tunsil said Valentine has communicated with Golden since he de-committed on Saturday after the U.S. Army All-American Game. But Tunsil said he hasn't spoken to Golden and will reach out to him this week if he doesn't hear from him soon.

"Travonte loves UM, the small class rooms like here at Champagnat," Tunsil said. "His mom is close to him here. It's all about sitting down with Golden and getting on the same page. He has a great relationship with their coaches, coach Hurlie Brown. He's not asking for any starting job to be promised or anything like that. He knows nothing is given. It has to be earned."

Valentine, ranked the eighth-best defensive tackle in the country by 247Sports, named LSU his leader after the U.S. Army Game. Tunsil said Valentine plans on visiting UM and LSU before he makes his final decision on Signing Day. He said Valentine could also end up visiting Alabama or Kentucky before then.

"He just doesn't want to go somewhere and then there is a coaching change," Tunsil said. "People have been badmouthing him on Facebook and Twitter since he de-committed. It really isn't fair to the kid. He just wants to see what's going on."

Tunsil said any rumors about Valentine having academic issues and not being able to qualify at UM aren't true.

"He's got the grades and the test score. It's always been a core class issue and he's been taking care of that with online classes and here," Tunsil said. "Travonte could qualify at any school in America except the Ivy Leagues probably."

Hurricanes Denzel Perryman and Anthony Chickillo are mulling NFL -- both received projected status

I just spoke to Denzel Perryman's father and he told me Denzel, who is still in Rhode Island with his girlfriend (and her parents) and their baby daughter, received a third-round draft grade from the NFL Advisory Board.

Denzel, a rising senior, is contemplating his decision.

Also, rising senior Anthony Chickillo, who has played defensive end and defensive tackle this season, has received a fourth-fifth round projection from the NFL Advisory Board, according to someone familiar with his situation.

Anthony also is contemplating his decision.

Denzel, listed as 6-0 and 240 pounds, started all 13 games at outside linebacker this season, leading the Hurricanes with 108 tackles, including five for losses and 1 1/2 sacks. He had one forced fumble.

Anthony, listed as 6-4 and 277 pounds, started all 13 games and finished the season with 46 tackles and 7.5 for losses. He had 3.5 sacks and seven quarterback hurries.

Denzel's dad would rather he stay in school and get his degree and play his final season, but he said he wants it to be totally Denzel's decision and that he will respect anything he chooses.  It's not a matter of Denzel's daughter not being provided for, because both of Denzel's parents have good jobs. I don't know his girlfriend's family. But I think everything points to a good, stable situation.

Both players will talk it over with their families, regardless.

Underclassmen must make their intentions known to the NFL by the Jan. 15 deadline.

If Perryman or Chickillo declare for the draft early, they would be the first underclassmen to do so since five did it after the 2011 season. Those were OL Brandon Washington, DL Marcus Forston, WR Tommy Streeter, DE Olivier Vernon and RB Lamar Miller.

Miller and Vernon both play for the Miami Dolphins. Streeter is now on the practice squad for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Washington played in one game for the St. Louis Rams this season. Marcus Forston is not on an NFL roster.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN