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.
Huge accomplishment tonight by Miami Hurricanes pitcher Javi Salas, who I'm sure right about now is ecstatic that he came back for his senior season.
Salas pitched a perfect game for a 17-0 UM victory over Villanova -- the second perfect game in school history. The only other Hurricane to throw a perfect game was Kevin Sheary on March 14, 1987.
It was the 20th perfect game in NCAA Division I history. The last perfect game was on March 29, 2011, when Will Roberts of No. 1 Virginia defeated George Washington 2-0.
From AP story:
"Salas was drafted in the 38th round by Minnesota last year, faced only four three-ball counts. The last of those was a full-count offering to Max Beermann with one out in the eighth, Salas setting him down swinging.
Left fielder Sebastian Diaz made a diving catch for the third out in the eighth, robbing Donovan May. And in the ninth, Salas finished it off in style, striking out Derrick May Jr. swinging to end the night.
Salas (1-1) entered the game with an 11-11 career record. He struck out six, and induced 11 fly ball outs and 10 more off of grounders, throwing 113 pitches."
The senior right-hander and team captain struck out six of the 27 batters he retired, including the last batter.
"I hope this gets us going,'' Salas said during a post-game interview. "We start ACC play this weekend, so we really have to get on a roll here.''
Take a bow, Javi. I only wish I could have been there.
Nothing like a perfect game to help cure the sting from that series loss at FSU.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
News and notes from Tuesday morning's practice:
> UM coach Al Golden called the team's first day in pads a good effort with good energy.
"It's a good group to coach right now," Golden said. "A lot of guys learning. Not a lot of yelling, just a lot of teaching going on, which is good. We got a long way to go as a team and we're starting to learn more about our guys. [Running back] Gus Edwards and [quarterback] Ryan Williams and some other guys have stepped up and showing what they can do."
Edwards, a 6-2, 235-pound sophomore, had a couple of long runs Tuesday in which he barreled a few defenders over. He had a long 40 to 50 yard dash toward the end of practice.
"He's fast now. Gus is a 4.5 guy that is 235 right now," Golden said. "He might be a 240-something pound back before it's all said and done. He doesn't lose his explosion. He still has a lateral cut. We have to keep working on his staff arm.
"But he doesn't lose patience. That's the biggest thing I saw. Sometimes they don't have patience and just run into the back of somebody and he showed really good patience, waiting for his moment and then hit it today. I think [Walter Tucker] is starting to lean out and show how explosive he can be."
Williams spent most of the day rolling out of the pocket by design as UM worked on those particular packages, he said.
"That was one of those focuses today -- the move the pocket type plays," he said. "I think I did good. I think I'm good outside the pocket, can throw outside on the run. I missed one throw today I'm going to be upset about. But we're going to get it fixed before Thursday."
The pass Williams likely regretted? A pass that came out like a wounded duck and was intercepted by redshirt sophomore cornerback Larry Hope.
During two-minute drill work Williams connected on four straight completions -- all of them were of the short to medium range variety -- including a slant pattern sophomore Stacy Coley turned into a long gain and eventually a Matt Goudis field goal.
Williams also connected on a few long passes down field later in practice. Williams said he's probably added 10 to 15 yards on his long passes and more zip to balls underneath since high school.
"Now I don't have to lob things underneath under or over a backer," Williams said. "I can throw through windows and stuff like that."
> Williams spoke about knowing how in a few months he's going to become a father soon.
"I'm excited," he said. "We spent some time looking after Denzel's little girl. So I've had a chance to get my toes wet a little bit and know what it's like to be a dad. I'm excited."
> Speaking of Hope, he broke the UM weight room record for defensive backs set by All-Pro Antrel Rolle in the squat. Hope squatted 455 pounds, 10 more than Rolle did. With injuries to UM's secondary Hope is seeing a lot of playing time this spring. He knows this is his opportunity to impress.
> Golden said senior receiver Rashawn Scott, the team's second leading receiver in 2012 who was suspended at the end of last season and limited by injuries, has had a really good approach this spring.
Golden said he's doing a good job "just forgetting all the outside stuff, letting go of immature things, just growing up.
"I think Ryan Williams has had a really good influence on him," Golden continued. "I think they're creating a bond there. That's good. Ryan has been a positive influence on him. He just has to keep coming on for us."
Williams said the big thing for Scott is going to be dealing with the disappointment of last season.
"He has worked really hard since the season ended," Williams said of Scott. "He has a great work ethic. I think he's going to be a bust out player for us. He has to fill a role at the X or Z. But he's a big play receiver."
> Williams said he's seen a change in sophomore receiver Stacy Coley's leadership and attitude since the end of last season.
"You can just see it in his attitude when he comes to work now," Williams said. "He's not the young freshman who is just out there making plays. He's being a leader type, getting people set, making sure he communicates even with me and other quarterbacks on the field. Now he can actually see things and how they evolve on the field.
"He's more of the quiet type, but he has his moments. He's more of a funny guy. But he'll come to me and tell me what he sees and what he wants to run."
> Golden said he expects receiver Herb Waters and defensive end Anthony Chickillo to return to the field when the team comes back for more practices after spring break. Both have been wearing red jerseys (designated for injured players) and watching from the sideline thus far.
Golden said receiver Malcolm Lewis and cornerbacks Nate Dortch and Corn Elder will start to get integrated into practice (wearing yellow jerseys) when Miami returns from the break.
> Cornerback Artie Burns was at practice, but not wearing pads because Golden said the team wants to protect him. "He has a chance to be a national champion [hurdler]. I don't want him to turn an ankle."
Golden said he was pleased with how Burns and receiver Phillip Dorsett conducted themselves participating in track. Only Burns will still compete in track the rest of the spring.
> Golden said he was excited about the hiring of former Miami Booker T. Washington coach Ice Harris as the team's new assistant director of football operations. A source told me Harris met with the Canes Monday and spoke to them about what it means to be a national champion. Harris led Booker T. to three state championships since 2007 including a national title this past season.
"Ice has meant a lot to all of us throughout the time," Golden said. "After the season he probably accomplished everything you can accomplish at the high school level. We reached out to him to see if he'd have an interest in coming back. Really, we didn't want him to leave the first time, but he thought he would go back. He had success quickly back at Booker T. We just felt like it was a good opportunity and time for us. And obviously he felt the same."
Where will Ice's value really be felt?
"Certainly the community, the relationship," Golden said. "Someone that's on the inside every day that can communicate what we're doing, how we treat our student-athletes, what our mission is, what we really believe in. He's got a lot of wisdom. The biggest thing would be if you went to his practices it's the discipline, the life skills he was able to impart on his teams. We're hoping he can do the same with us. And he's already started that process knowing everybody. We're glad he's going to help us."
> Freshman Trent Harris practiced for the first time after being held up by the NCAA Clearinghouse. How are he and the other early freshmen to arrive doing?
"I'm really pleased with those guys, their approach," Golden said. "Juwon Young, Darrion Owens have really been a pleasant surprise for us. Obviously [offensive linemen] Trevor Darling and KC McDermott are playing a lot. [Cornerback] Ryan Mayes has been really a pleasant surprise for us, too. Their maturity, ability to learn - they don't know where half the buildings on campus are and now they're learning, have four or five classes, new way to lift, new way to study, new way to watch film, new nomenclature."
> How is Dallas Crawford doing after his switch to safety?
"Really good," Golden said. "You just feel his presence out there. Physical. Same old Dallas. You only have to tell him one time, very coachable. Coach him up and next play he gets it right."
> Crawford also served as the holder on field goal attempts during live drills Tuesday. He played quarterback in high school and has plenty of experience doing it.
> Golden said walk-on Ricky Carroll and Matt Goudis are the main competitors this spring for the punting job. But there will be more walk-ons and transfers coming in over the summer and fall.
"Forget about trying to replace [Pat O'Donnell]," Golden said. "Just get someone that can do a great job and put it where you want it. But don't worry about replacing Pat. He was faster than half the damn running backs at the combine."
> Safety Deon Bush looked like he got nicked during practice. Bush had his lower back examined on the sideline and didn't return to full contact.
> There was a scout from the Cincinnati Bengals who was at practice and closely watching Miami's defensive line group work.
> The viewing for JoJo Nicolas, the former Hurricanes defensive back who died last week after a horrific early morning car accident, will be held Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Covenant Baptist Church, 1055 NW 6th Ave., Florida City. The funeral for Nicolas will take place Saturday at Glendale Missionary Baptist Church, 14580 SW 117th Ave., Miami. Both events are open to the public.
> Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio didn't want to say Wednesday how much exactly sophomore linebacker Jermaine Grace weighs. Grace, working as a backup at weakside linebacker, is listed at 6-1, 210 pounds.
"Jermaine is very talented," D'Onofrio said. "The things we like about Jermaine is he can really run. He's very good in space. He's a good blitzer. And he's instinctive. But he needs to really work hard in the weight room. He needs to get bigger. And he needs to really work at the playbook. But the skill set is there. We need to get his preparation and his work habits to match his skill set.
"'I'm not going to give you the exact weight, but he needs to gain some," D'Onofrio continued. "Again, it doesn't need to be a ton. The defense is predicated on having guys that can play, not pieces that fit. He can play in our defense right now. Denzel was 208 pounds his freshman year and made a commitment to the weight room and is now 242 pounds. There's no reason Jermaine can't make that same commitment."
> D'Onofrio said freshman Darrion Owens is working at strong side linebacker, but he's also third on the depth chart at rush end behind Tyriq McCord and Al-Quadin Muhammad.
"He's looked really good doing it. Natural," D'Onofrio said. "He's a good rusher. Same category of guys. We're starting to have some symmetry there."