« May 9, 2014 | Main | May 12, 2014 »

3 posts from May 10, 2014

May 10, 2014

7th-round UM Cane Seantrel Henderson "quintessential underachiever,'' says Polian; QB Stephen Morris & WR Allen Hurns go undrafted.

The Canes end up with three players drafted this year: Offensive guard Brandon Linder in the third round to Jacksonville Jaguars, punter Pat O'Donnell in the sixth round to the Chicago Bears and offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson in the seventh and final round to the Buffalo Bills.

Naturally, the networks talked at length about Henderson, who was suspended multiple times at UM for what he eventually admitted was because of marijuana smoking. Then it was revealed by ESPN's Adam Schefter last week that Henderson tested positive for marijuana while at the NFL Combine.

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper, Jr on Henderson: "This kid was the no. 1 guy. He was who everybody wanted coming out of high school. He was supposed to be the next Jonathan Ogden – that type of player coming out of the prep ranks. If he can stay focused, if he can just be all football and no other problems, then he can be a factor in the NFL. But he got pushed way down, beyond where any player with his physical prowess should be."

ESPN's Todd McShay on Henderson: "For 6-7, 331 pounds he runs pretty well. He’s got power. And when he’s on his game, he’s dominant. He could have been a first-round pick if he had done all the right things right. Even if he had done things right the last six months he may have been a third, fourth-round pick. He falls in the seventh round for one simple reason: you can’t trust him. Maybe this is the wakeup call he needs."

ESPN analyst Bill Polian on Henderson: "...He is the quintessential underachiever. You’ve got to make a decision as an organization, do you want an underachiever in your building or don’t you? They took a chance and we’ll find out. He’s got one chance and one chance only."

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock: "Here's a situation where a kid has more God-given natural ability than you can even believe and he took all that ability and because of all the issues off the field turned himself from a first-round pick to a seventh-round pick. I wish the kid well. I hope Buffalo is able to help him grow up. I'd like to see nothing more than this kid grow into and mature into this massive talent that he has, and become a really good guy.'' 

 As for undrafted free agent quarterback Stephen Morris and wide receiver Allen Hurns, they will join Linder and former UM offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch with the Jacksonville Jaguars. UM reported they signed contracts with the Jaguars.

 I talked to Stephen Morris' dad, Colin Morris. As expected, he was disappointed. "It's been a very tough day,'' Colin Morris said. "But thankfully, he's getting ready to head off to another city and start working with another team. I know that Stephen is very excited about going to Jacksonville.''

 Also signing free-agent contracts, according to UM, were linebacker Jimmy Gaines (Buffalo), defensive tackle Justin Renfrow (Arizona Cardinals), fullback Maurice Hagens (Atlanta Falcons), tight end Asante Cleveland (San Francisco 49ers), guard/center Jared Wheeler (Carolina Panthers), safety Kacy Rodgers II (Kansas City Chiefs), defensive end Shayon Green (Miami Dolphins), safety A.J. Highsmith (San Francisco), defensive tackle Curtis Porter (Oakland Raiders).    

 

    

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

How's this for a twist? First Canes player taken on Saturday in NFL Draft: punter Pat O'Donnell.

Miami Hurricane Pat O'Donnell of Lake Worth, yes, PUNTER Pat O'Donnell, just got selected by the Chicago Bears 191st overall -- the 15th pick in the sixth round -- in the NFL Draft.

I've said it numerous times (and so has UM coach Al Golden): O'Donnell is a beast.

O'Donnell played his first three seasons for Cincinnati before transferring to the Canes and being allowed to play immediately because of the exemption graduated senior transfers get from the NCAA. He was a graduate student.

He's the first UM player taken in Saturday's final day of the draft and the first kicker of any type taken in this draft -- and he's an amazing athlete.

O'Donnell, 6-4 and 220 pounds, earned All-America honors from USA Today and set Miami's single-season record by averaging 47.1 yards per punt that ranked second in the nation en route to being named a 2013 All-ACC selection.

At the NFL Combine, O'Donnell's time of 4.62 seconds in the 40-yard dash tied former USC kicker David Buehler from 2009 as the fastest 40 for a kicker or punter since 2006. O'Donnell also did 23 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press -- more than six tight ends, 19 running backs, 21 defensive linemen and all 37 wide receivers.

In the final regular-season game of 2013, O'Donnell earned ACC Player of the Week honors. 

Against Pitt, O'Donnell kicked four punts for a 44.2-yard average, including three kicks inside Pitt's 20-yard line. However, his biggest play occurred on the opening kickoff, when he forced a Pitt fumble which was recovered by UM's Garrett Kidd. That forced fumble resulted in a touchdown by Stacy Coley.

It's almost impossible to believe he wasn't even named among the SEMIFINALSTS for the Ray Guy Award. 

Not that any of it matters now. Be assured that O'Donnell will be an NFL success.

Meanwhile, quarterback Stephen Morris, receiver Allen Hurns and tackle Seantrel Henderson still wait.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

My interview with Brandon Linder (he's giddy with joy) after being drafted by Jacksonville Jaguars.

 

  (AFTER MIDNIGHT) -- Former Miami Hurricane and new Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Brandon Linder and I just had a phone conversation.

  To say he's happy is an understatement.

   "A Florida boy, born and raised, and he’s staying home,’’ Linder, from Southwest Ranches in Broward County, said about himself. 

    “Crazy, right?,’’ said Linder, who was drafted 93rd overall -- the 29th pick in the third round -- on Friday night and leaves for Jacksonville Sunday. “I’m so happy right now. It was me and my family sitting down, no real expectations, and I get a call from Jacksonville and didn’t even know they had traded up with the Patriots to get a pick. I was ecstatic. My family and I were going crazy.''

   Linder, a guard who also played some tackle, will be coached by his former offensive coordinator at Miami -- Jedd Fisch. It would be hard to finda nicer, friendlier, more intelligent peson than Jedd Fisch, by the way. Linder is truly lucky. Fisch is a talented teacher and good man.

   “I can’t wait to get there and get to work. Coach Fisch is my guy,'' Linder told me. "He coached me for two years and I couldn’t be more excited to be working with him.

    "It’s been a crazy day. I talked to Jedd on the phone. He said, ‘Congratulations, we’re excited to have you as a Jaguar,’ when they were passing the phone around. I was at a loss for words. I can’t believe the opportunity I’ve been given."

   Linder said Jags’ general manager David Caldwell was the first person who spoke to him, then head coach Gus Bradley and then Fisch.

   "I didn’t know they traded up so when I heard it was the Jaguars I really didn’t know what was going on. Then someone on the phone said they traded up.

   “My parents were just sitting there filming me.’’

   Linder said he and his brother Nick, a fellow offensive lineman who will be joining the Canes as an incoming freshman next week, gave “each other a big hug.

   "This is just a childhood dream for both of us. I’m sure he’ll be accomplishing this down the road. He’s my best friend and my biggest fan and I’m his biggest role model. And we’re just in a complete state of happiness.’’

   Linder said he’s gotten so many text messages he hasn’t been able to read through them all. He said he is rooting for his draft-eligible teammates to be taken Saturday.

   “They’re going to be great picks for anybody that takes them,'' he said. "I know what great talents they are and can’t wait to see where they end up so I can cheer for them.’’

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN