Here's a quick preview of what could be in store next Wednesday, National Signing Day.
> NOTE: I wore the old Cubs jersey in honor of the late great Ernie Banks.
The University of Miami is investigating whether the football program committed a secondary NCAA rule violation, athletic director Blake James said Friday night.
The possible violation involves at least one assistant football coach watching a voluntary workout in the distance just beyond the UM-Florida baseball game at Mark Light Field. The football workout, which took place on the other side of the center-field fence, was witnessed by the media covering the baseball game -- as well as likely many of the 3,481 fans at the game. The coach was seen by the Palm Beach Post.
Palm Beach Post reporter Matt Porter reported that he saw offensive line coach Art Kehoe at the workout.
“Our compliance staff will assess the situation and if there’s a violation we’ll report it,’’ UM athletic director Blake James told The Miami Herald (that's me) at the baseball game.
In late October, the Canes were put on three years’ probation and docked nine football scholarships and three basketball scholarships related to former booster Nevin Shapiro.
UM: FIVE HURRICANES WILL PARTICIPATE IN NFL SCOUTING COMBINE ON SATURDAY -- WATCH IT ON TV BEGINNING AT 9 a.m.
INDIANAPOLIS – Five Miami Hurricanes will be among the more than 300 prospects participating Feb. 22-25 at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. The four-day combine will be televised live exclusively on NFL Network.
Offensive guard Brandon Linder, offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson and punter Pat O'Donnell will work out Feb. 22. Quarterback Stephen Morris and wide receiver Allen Hurns will work out Feb. 23. Live coverage begins each day at 9 a.m. ET. Miami's official football Twitter account (@MiamiHurricanes) will also provide live results for all five Hurricanes.
Morris, a two-year starter under center and a 2013 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team member, finished his career ranked third in Miami history with 7,896 passing yards and 49 touchdowns. A 2013 All-ACC third-team selection, Morris is one of only two QBs in Miami history with multiple 3,000-yard passing seasons (Gino Torretta).
Linder started all 13 games along the offensive line in 2013 and concluded his career with 37 consecutive starters. He was a second-team All-ACC selection and was named the team’s Offensive MVP at the end of the season. Henderson, a third-team All-ACC selection, played in 12 games along the offensive line, making eight starts at right tackle.
Hurns enjoyed one of the greatest receiving seasons in program history in 2013. The second-team All-ACC receiver set a single-season school record with 1,162 receiving yards and finished with 62 receptions – the third-most in a single season. He finished his career ranked seventh in both receptions (121) and receiving yards (1,891).
In his one season in Coral Gables, O’Donnell made a considerable impact, setting the school single-season record with a 47.1 yards-per-punt average. A first-team All-ACC choice and second-team All-America selection by USA TODAY, O’Donnell booted 23 punts of 50+ yards and downed 19 inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
Miami opens its spring practice schedule March 1. The Hurricanes' annual Spring Game will kick off at 6 p.m. on April 12 at Sun Life Stadium.
****************************************************************************************************** Who do you think will have the best showing, relative to their positions, of the five Hurricanes at the NFL Combine? QB Stephen Morris, WR Allen Hurns, OG Brandon Linder, P Pat O'Donnell, or OT Seantrel Henderson?
I'm going with Pat O'Donnell.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
This just in from UM sports information's David Villavicencio:
Artie Burns Sets American Junior Record
Burns breaks 60m HH record set in 1976
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Artie Burns' latest sprint down the track broke a 38-year old American Junior record.
The Miami, Fla., native ran a blazing 7.68 last week in the 60m hurdles at the Don Kirby Elite Invitational, setting a new American junior record. Burns bested the 7.70 ran by Washington's Robert Gaines in 1976 and South Carolina's Jason Richardson in 2005. The World Junior record is 7.55 set by China's Liu Xiang in 2002.
"Artie is just touching the surface of what he is capable of in the hurdles," Miami director of track and field/cross country Amy Deem said. "He is getting better each practice and it is showing in the meets."
Burns has been an impressive freshman hurdler for the University of Miami track and field program. he made a big impact from the first time he stepped on the track as a Hurricane, running a 7.80 in the 60m hurdles at the Doc Hale VT Elite Meet. The 7.80 earned him a second-place finish at the meet and moved him into second on Miami's all-time 60m HH list.
The 7.68 Burns ran in Albuquerque, N.M., ranked in the top five times in the NCAA this season. It also moved him closer to Miami's 60m HH record holder, Devon Hill (7.55).
Burns has the fastest under-20 time in men's 60m hurdles in the NCAA. He has posted four of the five best times in the country this year.
A cornerback on Miami's football team, Burns also holds the best 60m hurdle time of any NCAA Division I football player this season.
The rapid success should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed Burns' track career. He was a three-time Florida State 3A 110m hurdle champion for Miami Northwestern High School. Burns also won the 300m hurdles at the 2013 3A State Meet and had the fastest 110m and 300m hurdles times in the nation during his junior season at Northwestern.
The gifted hurdler has benefitted greatly from working with Deem and Miami men's sprints coach Devin West. Burns will look to continue to climb the record books next weekend at the ACC Indoor Championships.
Better yet: Game Day against the Gators.
The No. 16 Hurricanes (2-2) will attempt to break out of its hitting slump at 7 tonight at Alex Rodriguez Park against the in-state nemesis the Canes (and especially, it seems, Canes fans) love to hate.
The feeling no doubt is mutual.
But the No. 23 Gators (4-1) have had the upper hand the past few years. Florida has defeated Miami 13 out of the last 14 games. UF had won 11 straight until Miami broke the streak last season. But UM still ended up losing two of its three-game series at UF in 2013.
Both teams were eliminated in the NCAA regionals.
"It's huge,'' UM third baseman David Thompson said of the weekend series. "We don't like them very much and they don't like us very much. We really want to win this series.''
To do that, the Canes need to start connecting. They have a dreadful .228 team batting average, with, among regular starters, Dale Carey leading the way with .400, Tyler Palmer (former Gator) at .357 with a team-high .643 slugging percentage and David Thompson at .286. From there it's bad.
Coach Jim Morris and his players believe the youngest Canes have been putting too much pressure on themselves and pushing too much to excel at the plate.
"I was nervous at the start of the season and I know how the freshmen feel,'' Thompson said. "Last year I was super nervous. We've just got to calm down and relax. We've played this game our whole lives and let's not try to do too much.''
Even Carey, a senior, said he tried too hard in the bottom of the ninth in Wednesday's loss to FAU. Carey whiffed on three pitches with runners on second and third.
"I got a little anxious,'' he said. "I didn't stick with my approach that I had throughout the game. I wanted to be a hero and make things happen for my team and I think that just got to my head. I started chasing pitches that I know I shouldn't swing at. Just learn from it.
"I feel like we're putting too much pressure on ourselves, especially the young guys. This is their first time playing on a big stage like this. I know a lot of guys are not going with their approaches. They're trying to do too much or trying to get too big, swinging too hard. Go up there and know what you can do. Trust yourself, trust your instincts, trust your abilities and go have fun.''
I talked to freshman Zack Collins yesterday before practice. Zack had been UM's best hitter during practice, but he's 0 for 15 with two walks and five strikeouts. He has connected pretty hard on several pitches. He told me he wasn't pushing too much.
"I don't know how to explain it,'' Collins said. "I just haven't gotten a hit yet. I'm not really too worried because I know that after the first one I'll come through.''
Collins has a lot on his mind, given that he is a natural catcher and is being groomed for now to play first base, a position he is still learning.
"It has been a little challenging,'' Collins said. "I have to work a little over there. I'll get it though.''
Lefty Chris Diaz will pitch for Miami tonight.
"This is going to test us,'' Diaz said. "We know we have to play well or we're not going to win, plain and simple.''
Hope the fans show up tonight. It's another beautiful day, and Mark Light really does light up when the place is packed.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: UM baseball
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday.
WHERE: AlexRodriguezPark at Mark Light Field, corner of San Amaro Drive and Ponce de Leon in Coral Gables.
BROADCAST: ESPN3; WQAM 560 and WVUM 90.5 FM.
ADMISSION: $10 (general)-$18 (reserved chairback); $8 children 2-17 and adults 55-older.
PROJECTED STARTERS: Friday – UM LHP Chris Diaz (1-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. LHP Bobby Poyner (1-0, 0.00); Saturday – UM LHP Bryan Radziewski (0-1, 0.0) vs. RHP Brett Morales (0-1, 13.50); Sunday – LHP Andrew Suarez (1-0, 1.80) vs. RHP Karsten Whitson (0-0, 13.50).
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN