Today's Hurricanes' football practice, another nearly three-hour marathon at Greetree Field, was definitely a family affair on the sideline, where about 150-200 folks watched Day No. 2 of the 15-practice session that ends with the spring game April 12.
Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork was there with his wife and a couple of his kids, Former Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma came with his 4-year-old daughter Samaara, former UM running backs coach Don Soldinger -- a classic and UM Sports Hall of Famer -- was there watching and shmoozing, Artie Burns' mom Dana and his brothers were there, A.J. Highsmith came to watch his (former) teammates, Deon Bush's father came to watch, Shaiy Howard and family were there and the list goes on and on.
"It's fun watching,'' Vilma, who won a national championship in 2001, told me. "I work out here in the offseason every year and I always take time to come out and look. I watch them grinding away and it reminds me of how we were -- especially with Coach Soldinger here. It's just a matter of focusing in on the details. We made great strides last year and the boys will get even better.''
I especially enjoyed meeting Denzel Perryman's beautiful daughter Ella Grace, about to turn four months -- and then learning that quarterback Ryan Williams' wife, Deanna, is expecting a baby boy on August 5th. Right in time for the season.
"I like the name Ryan but he likes Rey,'' said Deanna, who said, along with Ryan's mom, Jayne, that she's nixing that name. "I think he's ready to be a father. I think he'll be more motivated and a little bit more focused.''
Deanna, who graduated from FIU in social work and health administration, eventually plans to get her masters in speech pathology.
Deanna and Ryan's mom said Ryan told UM offensive coordinator James Coley about his expected arrival before he told his parents.
"Is that not crazy?'' Jayne said, laughing along with Deanna. "You go tell your football coach before you tell your parents. Football first. We're second.''
Deanna and Ryan "officially'' got married, Deanna said, on Jan. 31, 2012, in a small ceremony with their parents there. There was another party/ceremony later. They're having one baby shower in May with family members in New Orleans, and another shower later in South Florida.
"It should be an amazing year,'' Deanna said.
Denzel Perryman's fiancee, Cassie Stuart, is having an amazing year herself.
She brought baby Ella, who has long brown curls, sparkling blue eyes and a big smile, to watch Denzel practice. Denzel's dad was there, as well as a couple of Denzel's nephews and Denzel's younger brother.
"It's easy,'' Cassie said about being parents and Denzel having daddy responsibilities while playing football. "It took a while, but we figured it out.''
While Cassie works a couple nights a week, she said Denzel happily stays home with Ella Grace.
"He's awesome with the baby,'' she said.
Cassie plans to eventually return to school to finish a degree in criminal justice. She told me she was grateful that Denzel returned to UM for his senior season.
"He needed to get his degree,'' she said. "I'm happy he made that decision.''
So are UM fans.
*The Canes practiced in shorts again Sunday. The injury list is the same as yesterday, except for linebacker Thurston Armbrister being out of his limited yellow jersey and back in green.
*Early signee Trent Harris, listed as 6-2 and 240 pounds, watched the practice on the field in street clothes because he has not been cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center due to paperwork that still has to be signed and approved. Don't know the details.
* First-team black jerseys that I noticed Sunday: CB Tracy Howard, safety Deon Bush, safety Jamal Carter, cornerback Larry Hope, defensive end Al-Quadin Muhhamad, linebacker Perryman, linebacker Raphael Kirby, linebacker Alex Figueroa.
*Though it's obviously early, Dallas Crawford looks really good at safety. He had a great pass breakup during practice, leaping way the heck into the air to get it. Then, a couple plays later, he intercepted a pass by scout-teamer Garrison Lassiter.
*Howard picked off his former Miramar High school teammate, Williams.
*Williams threw a 40-yard touchdown to Stacy Coley to end the practice.
*CB Artie Burns, the new ACC 60-meter hurdles champion, returned from the ACC track and field championships at Clemson and was on the sideline watching his teammates and getting congratulated by coaches and players. Al Golden called him a "champion'' today.
* Practice resumes at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Everyone is invited back. It's open.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN