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16 posts from June 2014

June 30, 2014

Canes slugger Zack Collins talks making Team USA, becoming sixth player in UM history to be named Baseball America's Freshman of the Year

Monday turned out to be a pretty special day for Hurricanes slugger Zack Collins.

First he was one of 24 players selected to the USA's National Collegiate Team. Then, he became the sixth player in Hurricanes history to be named National Freshman of the Year by Baseball America.

"Starting off a Monday like this is always good," said Collins, who spoke with The Miami Herald by phone Monday afternoon.

Which achievement ranks higher?

"That's hard to say, but I would have to say making the national team," Collins said. "Before I came up here [to Cary, N.C. for tryouts] I told a couple friends that it's just an awesome feeling when you put on this jersey. It's kind of weird how when you put it on it gives you this electric feeling."

Collins, a Pembroke Pines native who starred at Plantation American Heritage High School, has chalked up plenty of accolades this summer. He was named 2014 Freshman Hitter of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers’ Association (NCBWA), 2014 ACC Freshman of the Year, and pulled in Freshman All-America honors on three teams. Collins (.298, team-leading 11 homers, 54 RBI) and freshman right-handed pitcher Brian Garcia (7-4, 1.75 ERA, 15 saves) both earned Baseball America Freshman All-American First Team honors on Monday.

Collins, though, is the first Hurricane to win the Freshman Player of the Year award since Chris Hernandez in 2008. Past Hurricane winners include Alex Fernandez (1989), Pat Burrell (1996), Kevin Howard (2000) and Ryan Braun (2003).

"That's a huge accomplishment. I never thought the way I started off my year it would have ended like this," Collins said. "It's just an amazing feeling for me knowing all the talent out there that I was named Freshman of the Year. I don't even know what to say."

Collins said he's looking forward to playing with Team USA this summer and making trips to Cuba and the Netherlands. He played on the 16-under National Team and won a gold medal in Mexico.

"It seemed like every time I was on the younger teams tryouts I was always looking up to the college team. And now I'm on it. It's just an awesome feeling," Collins said. " think I'm looking forward to going to Cuba the most because being from Miami there's a lot of people from Cuba and they always talk about how awesome it is over there. Just to go there and see the culture and where a lot of people come from in Miami is going to be pretty fun. I haven't really heard about any players in particular, but I know Cuba always has some tremendous players. Yasiel Puig once played for Cuba, Yoenis Cespdedes, all these guys played for their national team. It should be pretty fun."

Collins is also already looking forward to next season. He said losing to Texas Tech in the final game of the Coral Gables regional left him and his teammates quite hungry.

"I went to Miami to win a championship and that's pretty much the main goal for everybody on our team. We're definitely going to make it to Omaha next year," Collins said. "I think what we learned was how no matter what type of team you are in the regular season you have to be on your best once you make it to the playoffs. Because once you get there anybody you play is going to be really good."

Canes' Zack Collins selected to USA Collegiate National Team

Hurricanes freshman catcher Zack Collins has earned one of 24 roster spots on the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, and will travel to both the Netherlands and Cuba as part of the team’s annual summer tour.

He hit .333 with Team USA during the Red, White and Blue Tour through the Coastal Plain League, where the team finished with a 6-1 record. He hit two home runs, scored six runs and drove in six more during the seven-game tryout stint to successfully earn a place on Team USA.

Collins is the 23rd Hurricane to make the team – the second-most of any program in history – and his selection marks the 20th year a Hurricane has been chosen, marking the third-longest stretch for any program all-time. His selection also makes it back-to-back years for Miami with a member on Team USA; lefthanded pitcher Chris Diaz was selected for the tour in 2013.

Collins was named 2014 ACC Freshman of the Year and ranked among the ACC leaders in nearly every offensive category. Collins batted .298 for the season with 11 home runs, 54 RBI and a slugging percentage of .556.

The Pembroke Pines native connected on 14 doubles and three triples, had an on-base percentage of .427 in his 58 starts. The third-team All-ACC selection tied for the team lead with 114 total bases this spring.

The Collegiate National Team opens its series against Chinese Taipei at 7:05 p.m. on July 1 at the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. The teams will play again on July 2 at Keeter Stadium in Shelby, N.C., on July 3 at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, N.C., and on July 4 and 5 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, N.C.

Team USA will then host a three-game set against Japan July 6-8 in Thomasville, Wilson and Wilmington, N.C., before traveling to the Netherlands for Honkbal-Haarlem Baseball Week, July 11-20. Following that tournament, the U.S. will head to Cuba for a five-game friendship series, July 23-27.

June 27, 2014

Former Krop standout, Niagra forward Joe Thomas signs financial aid agreement to play for Canes

Joe Thomas, a 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward, has signed a financial aid agreement to play for the Hurricanes, coach Jim Larrañaga announced Friday.
"Joe joins us at the perfect time," Larrañaga said in a statement released by the school. "We needed a front court player with experience and a fifth-year senior was exactly what my staff and I hoped for. He provides us with some size and strength and rebounding toughness."
Thomas, a fifth-year transfer from Niagara University,  will have one year of eligibility with the Hurricanes, beginning immediately. At UM, Thomas will be reunited with former Miami Krop High  teammate and point guard Angel Rodriguez.
Thomas averaged 3.4 points and 2.7 rebounds in 30 games last year during his redshirt junior season at Niagara. He led the Purple Eagles in blocks, and his 54.8 field goal percentage was second-best on the squad.  

As a prep player at Krop, Thomas averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and four assists as a senior. He and Rodriguez led the Lightning to a 26-6 record and its first trip to the Class 6A state Final Four.

Thomas joins eight new players on Miami’s 2014-15 roster. Five are recruits: Kamari Murphy, Ja’Quan Newton, James Palmer, Omar Sherman and Ivan Cruz Uceda. Two are Big 12 Conference transfers –  Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan. Redshirt freshman Deandre Burnett sat out last season with an injury.

> Earlier this week, UM announced the team had an accepted an invitation to participate in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational hosted by the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Monday, Dec. 22. The Canes will take on Providence.

June 26, 2014

Canes QB Ryan Williams says he's had no setbacks since ACL surgery, still targeting Week 1 start

Hurricanes quarterback Ryan Williams said Thursday he's had no setbacks in his recovery from reconstructive right knee surgery on April 9 to repair a torn ACL, and he's still hoping to be Miami's starting quarterback on Labor Day night against Louisville.

"I feel pretty good, pretty confident in my rehab so far," Williams said Thursday during a series of one-on-one interviews with UM beat reporters. "I feel like where I'm supposed to be is where I'm at -- no setbacks yet. I think it's actually going better than I thought it was, these first couple months. I hope it continues and I'll be back in time.

"As long as I'm not going to go out there and reinjure myself and the doctor feels confident I can go out there and play in Week 1, I will play. But if I can't, if he wants me to hold off a couple weeks, then I will."

Williams said he's been doing leg-press exercises, squats and lunges during his rehab and he expects to begin jogging and running in a couple weeks. Then, he says, he will progressing to cutting -- the final hurdle. "I'm just getting my strength back and my range of motion and putting weight on it, getting movement so I can start running around on it," he said. 

Williams said Dr. Lee Kaplan, who performed the surgery, has remained positive throughout the process he can get Williams back on the field quickly.

"He's the one that's been positive the whole time," Williams said. "It took me a couple days to get over the injury and get refocused. But after that, my teammates have always been there for me. They saw me the first couple days when I couldn't walk. They were in the training room a couple hours later cheering me up. Really, keeping myself positive has helped myself heal. I'm trying to keep myself in a normal thinking state of mind."

Williams said the fact other athletes have made quick recoveries from ACL injuries gives him hope he'll be back at some point during fall camp. UM begins fall camp on Aug. 5 -- the same day Williams' wife is due to deliver the couple's first child, a boy.

Williams said UM trainer Vinny Scavo reached out to trainers at LSU and the Minnesota Vikings to gather information on fast recoveries made by former Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger and All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson. Mettenberger returned to action and participated in his pro day only 13 weeks after surgery. Peterson returned in four months time.

"It gives me something to go after knowing if I can work as hard as they did I can be successful," Williams said. "Adrian Peterson had a great year after his surgery. He didn't play with a brace. Luckily I don't have to run around like he did or get hit as much as he did. It definitely gives me confidence in my knee and my ability to come back after the injury.

"In the end, it all depends on how hard I'm willing to work for it and how fast my knee is going to take to the graph, which so far it's done really good. As soon as [Dr. Kaplan] give me the full-go, I'll be back out there. But until then we don't know how long it will be."

Williams said the fact he didn't have a lot of swelling in his knee allowed for Kaplan to do the surgery quickly, and thus the recovery process got started faster. He said it took him about a week and a half to get off crutches. He's been rehabbing since.

Williams said also knowing he's going to become a father soon "has helped my rehab kind of."

"I can't be crutching around and taking care of a baby or my wife," Williams said. "So I need to be able to take care of her when she needs something. She took care of me the whole time I couldn't walk. She was doing all this stuff in the middle of the night when I couldn't get up. I had to hurry up and recover so I could the same for her when she needed me every night."

June 24, 2014

Morris extended through 2018, DiMare named coach in waiting

The University of Miami and head baseball coach Jim Morris on Tuesday agreed to terms on a three-year contract extension through the 2018 baseball season and named longtime assistant coach Gino DiMare the coach in waiting.

Morris, who has been at the helm of the Hurricanes program since November 1993, led Miami to its second ACC Regular Season Championship in program history this past spring.  Among the most successful head coaches in college baseball history, Morris has guided Miami to over 900 wins in his 21 seasons in Coral Gables.

"We are ecstatic that Coach Morris has agreed to remain at the helm through the 2018 season," said Director of Athletics Blake James.  "What Jim has built at Miami is unprecedented, and the success speaks for itself.  This extension is well earned."

DiMare is entering his 16th season as an assistant at Miami, following a stellar playing career at UM and a professional career with the Boston Red Sox organization.  DiMare has been instrumental in the Canes success, overseeing recruiting and serving as the hitting coach for many years.

"Gino possesses all of the ingredients of successful head coaches," James said. "I have no doubt that he will continue to bring conference and national championships to Coral Gables.  As Jim leads our program through 2018, we have a plan in place for a smooth transition and continued excellence, and I couldn't be happier that Gino will be our next head baseball coach."

"Coach Morris has been a tremendous leader for our baseball program for many years, and I will be honored to serve with him for another four," DiMare said. "I am profoundly humbled by the opportunity to take over such a storied program from a legend, and I am confident that we will continue the proud Miami baseball tradition." 

Morris has led Miami to 21 straight appearances in the NCAA postseason and 11 trips to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. The Hurricanes’ college-baseball record 42 straight postseason appearances is the longest active streak for any Division I sports program nationwide.  Morris, who ranks fourth among active Division I coaches in career victories, has been named National Coach of the Year on three occasions. Including his time at Georgia Tech, Morris ranks eighth all-time in Division I victories.

"I am humbled and honored to continue to serve the University for four more years," Morris said.  "We have had an outstanding run but there is more work to be done and more championships to be won.  I want to thank President Shalala and Blake James for their belief in what we are doing and I am excited for Gino to get this opportunity."  

June 23, 2014

Hurricanes land commitment from one of the country's top 2016 quarterbacks

The Hurricanes picked up a commitment from one of the nation's top-rated quarterbacks Monday night. But they've got wait another two years before he can suit up for them. 

Jack Allison, a 6-5, 200-pound pro-style passer from Palmetto, Fla., pledged his commitment to UM on Twitter Monday night, two days after attending a football camp at UM.

Allison is considered the top quarterback prospect in the state in the 2016 class -- ninth overall among pro-style passers according to 247Sports. He had offers from Alabama, Missouri, South Florida, Tennessee, and UCF.

Allison finished his sophomore season throwing for 1,778 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions and led his team to the state playoffs. 

The Hurricanes also picked up a commitment from 2016 linebacker Michael Pinckney (6-1, 215) of Jacksonville Raines over the weekend. 

Miami has 13 commitments as part of the 2015 class including one quarterback -- Tampa Hillsborough's Dwayne Lawson.

Here is a link to Allison's highlights.

June 18, 2014

QB guru who tutored Aaron Rodgers believes Jake Heaps headed for monster year with Canes

If numbers never lie, new Hurricanes quarterback Jake Heaps appears to be nothing more than a former blue-chip recruit gone bust.

In four years, Rivals' No. 1-ranked pro-style quarterback in 2010 has gone from breaking Ty Detmer's freshman record at BYU for touchdown passes in a season (15) to the third-worst rated FBS quarterback in the country a year ago who lost his starting job on a 3-9 Kansas team.

It sure looks ugly and makes you wonder, 'Just how desperate is Al Golden for quarterback help?' But at least one man doesn't see this as a desperation move by the Canes. He sees it as a smart decision on both sides. 

Meet Taylor Barton (@TaylorBarton12), a former quarterback at the University of Washington who was on the field as a backup when the Hurricanes steamrolled the Huskies 65-7 en route to the national title in 2001. Barton is now a quarterback coaching guru in the Pacific Northwest, who runs the Barton Football Academy in Oregon and Washington.

Barton has not only coached Heaps since the sixth grade when his parents used to drive him 3 1/2 hours each way on the weekends over to Portland, Oregon for two hour camps. He has also tutored some of the best players to come out of the region including Super Bowl winning quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Jake Locker, Joey Harrington, Kellen Moore, Kellen Clemens and Derek Anderson among more than a dozen alumni who have reached the NFL. 

"We’ve been working together for a long time. Jake's one of my all-time favorites if not my favorite to come through," Barton said. "He’s a great kid, great competitor. I would say Jake epitomizes exactly what you think of when you picture the ideal quarterback. He’s not the big 6-foot, 5-inch quarterback. He’s not a guy who is going to blow you away with size or arm strength. But he does all the little things the right way. That stuff adds up to big things. That’s why he’s been so successful and that’s why I think he’s going to have a monster year next year at Miami."

It's hard to equate success to what Heaps has done at the collegiate level over the last three years. After completing 57.2 percent of his 383 passes for 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions as a freshman at BYU in 2010, his numbers went south along with his playing time in 2011. So he transferred to Kansas where Charlie Weis, who had tried recruiting him to Notre Dame, promised big dreams and a big payoff in his pro-style system after sitting out the 2012 season. 

Barton said the reason things fell apart at BYU are pretty simple. The Cougars changed their offensive coordinator and their scheme. "The next year after Jake left that coach ended up getting fired," Barton said. "I think that can lead you to the conclusion maybe he wasn’t put in the best position that year."

So why the struggles at Kansas? The Jayhawks pretty much stunk, Barton explains.

"You can look at maybe his completion percentage [49 percent, 125th out of 129 passers], but that doesn’t tell the whole story," Barton said. "I went back and looked at film in one game where he had four straight passes where he hit the receiver in the hands and they dropped it. Statistically that’s an incompletion. But from a quarterback’s standpoint all you can do is drop back, find the open guy and throw it to him. You can't run the route and catch it too. So there were a lot of things that get pinned on the quarterback."

Barton said Heaps has never been one to "point the finger at everybody else."

"He hasn’t been perfect. He’ll be the first to admit that," Barton said. "Every QB wishes they could have some reads back or throws back. But for the most part I think he’s been put in some situations where the odds were stacked against him. And I think that’s why he’s so excited about this situation and why I’m so excited about this situation for him. Because this is the first time he’s going to a program with superior talent, a tremendous coaching staff and a tremendous system. He doesn’t have to be the featured guy -- just get the ball in the athletes’ hands and let them make the plays.

"He hasn’t had that since he was in high school [at Skyline High in Seattle where he won three state championships]. And I think that’s why he’s going to end up having one of the biggest years and being one of the biggest surprises in the country next year."

When Heaps found out at the end of this past spring he wasn't going to be the starter at Kansas, he decided to transfer and immediately reached out to several schools at both the FBS and FCS levels. UM was one of the first schools respond. Barton said when Heaps took an official visit to Miami a month and a half ago, he was scheduled to meet with offensive coordinator James Coley for an hour. They ended up sitting down for six and breaking down the Hurricane's offense on a greaseboard.

"If anyone can do it I think Jake has the advantage," Barton said of picking up the Hurricanes' offense quickly. "I guess the silver lining in going through the path he’s gone he’s seen several different systems. There’s not much you can throw at him he hasn’t heard, seen or understands. I know Coach was very impressed with Jake’s intellect and knowledge of the game. Jake was excited. He came back saying he gets the concepts, loves what he’s doing and he thinks he’s going to thrive in it."

Heaps, who spoke with me for about 30 minutes Tuesday evening, said he received the complete playbook from UM "once things became official." But he's been preparing himself with the notes he took for weeks. He's set to arrive in Coral Gables on June 28th where he will immediately begin working with his teammates. He said he plans on living out of his suitcase until his wife, Brooke, a dental assistant, arrives in late August.

"The offense at UM is similar to different things I've done in the past," Heaps said. "The offense I ran at BYU my first year, and in some ways the offense I came to run at Kansas as far as making protection calls and changes at the line."

Listed at 6-1, 210, Heaps' height won't be an issue, Barton promises. Neither will mobility (he was sacked 23 times at Kansas).

"Guys are always a little bit smaller than they mention anyway, but he’s right around that 6-foot mark," Barton said. "He’s not going to walk into a room and have everybody say that’s Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. But one of the QBs who came through our academy was Kellen Moore. We sent him onto Boise State and he ends up being the winningest QB in BCS history. And he was 5-11. The guy who won the Super Bowl was 5-10 ½. The game has really changed at the position. Look at what Johnny Manziel is doing. He’s barely 6-feet tall. I think Jake has enough size.

"As a QB people overvalue height. You’re never throwing over lineman anyway. You’re throwing through lanes. Maybe back in the day that was more important. But the evolution of the game it has become a lot less about height and a lot more about athletic ability and being able to make quick reads and get the ball in your playmakers hands and that’s what Jake does tremendously. If the line gives him time, he can make reads and pick anybody in the country apart.

"Now, if the pocket collapses he’s not going to be a Marcus Mariotta or a Colin Kaepernick and break off a 70-yard TD run. That’s not his style. But he is athletic enough and fast enough where he can pose a problem for a defense. He can get that 8, 10, 12-yard gain and move the chains and be enough of a threat to keep a defense honest."

When it comes to arm strength and comparisons, Barton sees a bit of Drew Brees in Heaps.

"With Jake he’s probably in that 60-65 yards throwing it down field," Barton said. "But when it comes to what he does best -- the thing Jake is superior to when it comes to all the guys that I’ve worked with or seen – it's timing and anticipation. To get to the higher level that becomes more important than arm strength.

"You see a lot of guys that have a very strong arm, but they wait until a receiver is open. When you get to the higher levels, playing a Florida State, their defensive backs are fast too. They’ve already broken on the ball. The great quarterbacks throw it to a receiver before he’s open. So when he turns around or when he comes out of his break the ball is there. That’s what Jake does. What he lacks for in arm strength he makes up for in being so smart, reading the coverage and being able to anticipate the throw and get it to the receiver before he’s out of the break."

> What the Hurricanes could end up getting in Heaps in the long run is a 2-for-1 quarterback special. According to Barton, UM recently offered 2016 top-rated quarterback Jacob Eason of Lake Stevens, Wash. and camper at the Barton Football Academy.

"It very easily could be a situation with them signing Jake he could very well easily step in and be the starter and then with Jacob Eason he could end up stepping in at Miami and being the starter in two years," Barton said. "He’s a kid who is going to graduate early and end up somewhere in spring ball. He has a chance to be the best to ever come out of this region. He is going to be a guy that plays in the NFL for 12 to 15 years. He’s the real deal."

June 16, 2014

Waiting for Heaps: UM's other five QBs -- including injured Ryan Williams -- working hard to stay ahead.


While transfer Jake Heaps gets ready to arrive in Coral Gables to begin a one-season tenure with his third college football team, it's life as usual for the other five scholarship quarterbacks.

Redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen, recently arrived true freshmen Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier, third-year sophomore Gray Crow and fifth-year senior Ryan Williams are doing what it takes to prepare for what they hope will be a meaningful season. 

Kevinolsen"It comes with the position,'' Olsen's father and former high school coach, Chris Olsen, told The Miami Herald by phone Monday, when asked how his son was doing in light of the news of Heaps coming to compete for the job. "It is what it is. As far as Kevin goes, he's fine."

There were only two spring practices remaining, not including the annual spring game, when projected 2015 UM starting quarterback Williams tore the ACL of his right knee during a scrimmage. Suddenly, Olsen, a highly touted four-star recruit out of Wayne Hills (N.J.) High School, was thrust into the position of being the main man before he had ever thrown a pass in college.

Olsen, who had his share of struggles in his first year at UM, was doing well and had improved a great deal, according to teammates and coaches. But he had a disappointing showing in the spring game (as did Gray Crow), completing 7 of 21 passes for 65 yards, with no touchdowns and an interception.

Crow was 9 of 20 for 63 yards, with no touchdowns and an interception.

 "He's there the whole summer, taking summer school classes, going to workouts -- the whole thing that everybody does,'' Chris Olsen said. "All you can ask for is an opportunity to go out and play. It will all work out in the end.''

Meanwhile, Williams, who earned his undergraduate degree in December in sports administration, has been rehabilitating his knee daily and still has a goal of returning for the September 20 Nebraska game.

"I can't believe how fast he's bounced back,'' Jayne Williams, his mother, told the Herald today. "He was driving and off his crutches two weeks to the day of his surgery (which was Wednesday, May 9). 

"His spirits are unbelievable and he has such a great mindset. We were in New Orleans a month ago and we were in the French Quarter and he was walking around for hours. He said he's not in pain. He's doing fabulously.''

Jayne Williams said her son took it in stride that a new fifth-year senior quarterback would soon be arriving. Remember, Williams, too, transferred to UM from Memphis after starting there his freshman year.

"I feel like UM would have been doing itself an injustice if they didn't at least bring someone in with experience while Ryan is rehabbing,'' Williams said. "[Heaps] also has played and he's older than the other quarterbacks. That will make Ryan work twice as hard. That's the kind of kid Ryan is. He doesn't get upset in that kind of way.''

One big similarity between Heaps and Williams: both are married. 

 Williams' wife Deanna is expecting their first child -- a son -- on August 5th, the day fall camp opens. But she said the baby is so large (already over five pounds), that she doubts she'll last that long.

Heaps, a Mormon married to a former BYU student (he started 10 of 13 games as a freshman at BYU), transferred to Kansas after his sophomore season and played one disappointing season for Kansas (128 of 261 for 1,414 yards and eight touchdowns, with 10 picks). Kansas, however, had a bad offense all the way around, including its offensive line, which at least partly (or more than partly) allowed the less-than-mobile Heaps to be sacked 23 times.

 From everything I've read, Heaps is smart and a really good person with leadership qualities and a strong arm. He has publicly said he will get his degree this month, and thus, be able to play immediately at UM as a graduate student.

 He was rated the top quarterback in the nation by Scout.com and No. 1 pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com when he graduated from Skyline High School in Sammamish, Washington.

"I am excited for the opportunity to play my last year of college football as a Miami Hurricane!" Heaps posted on Twitter and Instagram. "Ready to get to work!"

This will be a compelling fall camp, and with Williams possibly in the mix early in the season, the storylines will be plentiful. If Williams can get back in the game sooner than later, he is going to do everything possible to play after waiting three years behind Stephen Morris.

I'm on vacation until football gets going with the ACC Football Kickoff (media days) in late July in Greensboro. Until then, Manny Navarro will be manning the blog while he also covers the Marlins.

Everyone have a happy and healthy summer.


June 15, 2014

UM gets quarterback transfer from Kansas (via BYU) - but he doesn't have to sit out

From UM:

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Kansas QB Jake Heaps has signed a financial aid agreement and will transfer to the University of Miami, head coach Al Golden announced Sunday.

Heaps spent his junior season in 2013 with the Jayhawks, earning second-team Academic All-Big 12 honors. He was voted as one of the team captains. He played in 11 games, starting nine, and threw for 1,414 yards with eight TDs.

(Note from me: He also threw 10 interceptions along with the eight touchdowns, and had 49-percent accuracy).

The 6-foot-1 product from Sammamish, Wash., began his college career at BYU, where he played in 2010 and 2011. As a freshman in 2010, Heaps set every BYU freshman QB record, including passing yards (2,316), touchdowns (15) and wins (6). He was named New Mexico Bowl MVP and was later named honorable mention Freshman All-America by College Football News.

As a sophomore in 2011, he threw for 1,452 yards and nine TDs in nine games, making six starts. He sat out the 2012 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules after transferring to Kansas.

Note: Heaps should be able to play immediately without sitting out another season, per NCAA rules, if he earns his college degree this month from Kansas and can take graduate courses at UM.
"I am very grateful for the opportunity given to me by Coach [Charlie] Weiss to play football and earn my college degree,'' Heaps said in an Associated Press story that ran Friday. "My wife and I have truly enjoyed being part of the Jayhawk Community. We have made lifelong friends through this experience.''

So, if Ryan Williams, recuperating from a torn ACL, doesn't return as quickly as he hopes (by Nebraska game September 20), the Canes now have an option in Heaps if Golden is intent on redshirting Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier, and Kevin Olsen or Gray Crow don't work out.

You would think that highly touted Olsen, who had a disappointing spring game, would know the offense enough and pick up his play enough to earn the starting job. But at this point who knows?


June 11, 2014

6-9 forward Kamari Murphy transfers to Miami from Oklahoma State; will sit out the 2014-15 season

 Per University of Miami:

  Hurricanes head coach Jim Larrañaga has announced the signing Kamari Murphy to a financial aid agreement to play men’s basketball for the University of Miami.

"We were looking for a forward with great athletic ability," said Larrañaga. "Kamari, at 6-foot-9, can run and jump and is as good an athlete as you will find, but what is most impressive is his versatility both offensively and defensively. He can defend multiple positions and he can play both forward positions. We needed additional scoring and rebounding up front and he can provide that. He is a great addition to our program."

KamarimurphyMurphy, who played two seasons at Oklahoma State University, will sit out the 2014-15 season, then will have two years of eligibility with the Hurricanes.

As a sophomore with the Cowboys in 2013-14, the 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward started 21 of his 33 games, averaging 6.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.2 blocks in 25.9 minutes per outing. In his rookie campaign, Murphy started his first 15 collegiate games and grabbed six rebounds in the semifinal game against Kansas State at the Big 12 Championship.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Murphy attended Lincoln High School before playing ball at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.). At IMG he averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds and three assists for a team that finished 28-2 against prep schools and was ranked among the top-five nationally. He was ranked No. 10 on HoopScoop's list of top fifth-year players in 2012. As a senior at Lincoln, he averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds per game, helping the Railsplitters to the PSAL Class-AA title game as a senior and the Brooklyn regular-season crown and borough title. At that time he was ranked by HoopScoop as the No. 6 player in New York.

Murphy joins seven new players to Miami’s 2014-15 roster, which includes four recruits – Ja’Quan Newton, James Palmer, Omar Sherman and Ivan Cruz Uceda – along with two other Big XII transfers – Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan – and redshirt freshman Deandre Burnett, who sat out the 2013-14 season with an injury.



Miami Hurricanes baseball coach Jim Morris gets three-year contract extension through 2018

    After leading the Hurricanes to their best regular season since 2008, University of Miami baseball coach Jim Morris has been awarded with a new contract that extends his head-coaching duties through 2018.

   Our Barry Jackson reported the news late last night.

   Morris, 64, had one year remaining on his contract, which would have taken him through the 2015 season. That contract extension was done in September 2009.

   “I love coaching,’’ Morris told the Miami Herald in mid-May, when asked about his future status and what he would say to critics that wanted him ousted after seeing UM go three consecutive seasons without winning a regional – one of those, in 2012, as the host. “I’m not doing things a lot differently than I did 10 years ago. We have better players this year. We had a great recruiting class.

   “You know what? I drive a Cadillac. And these guys are Cadillacs.’’

   The Hurricanes finished the season 44-19. They got to the championship game of the Coral Gables Regional, but lost to Texas Tech, now in the College World Series. They were 41-17 in the regular season for a .707 winning percentage, third only to national seeds Virginia (.772) and Florida State (.741) – both fellow members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

    Miami won the regular-season ACC crown with a 24-6 league record (.800).

   Morris has led the Canes, who have qualified for the NCAA tournament a national-record 42 consecutive years, to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, 11 times since he began coaching at UM in 1994.

    He brought national titles to Coral Gables in 1999 and 2001.

    But UM has not been to Omaha since 2008, and last year Morris was hospitalized with pneumonia during the NCAA tournament and said he doesn’t remember anything from that period. He said he’s in perfect health now, and doesn’t plan on hanging up his cleats anytime soon.


June 10, 2014

Could Miami Hurricanes get back LHP Andy Suarez? Doubt it. But he still hasn't signed with Nationals.

Seven Miami Hurricanes were drafted this past weekend in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft: pitcher Andy Suarez (second round, Washington Nationals), pitcher Chris Diaz (fifth round, Atlanta Braves), outfielder Dale Carey (seventh round, Washington), pitcher Bryan Radziewski (ninth round, Houston Astros), pitcher Javi Salas  (10th round, Milwaukee Brewers), left fielder Tyler Palmer (21st round, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) and second baseman Alex Hernandez (40th round, Houston Astros).

Six of the seven have, or are expected to in the next day or so, sign, and most are heading out this week to their prospective leagues.

AndysuarezOne is holding out for now: Suarez (6-3, 2.95 ERA).

He told me this evening that he has not signed a contract, and that if he doesn't by the July 18th signing deadline, he would gladly come back to the Hurricanes.

"I'm still negotiating,'' Suarez said. "If the Nationals and I don't make an agreement I'm going to end up coming back. I really don't know what's going to happen. It would be exciting [to play pro ball], but if it doesn't happy I don't really mind coming back. It would be a good thing.''

 Suarez, 21, a Miamian who graduated from Christopher Columbus High, just completed his redshirt sophomore season at UM, and has two years of eligibility left. MLB's assigned signing value for the 57th overall pick (Suarez) is $987,800.

Hard to believe he would come back.

If he signs with the Nationals, he'll join teammate Dale Carey in the New York Penn League's short season with the Auburn Doubledays.

"He has leverage, I don't,'' said Carey on Tuesday. "I am so excited. I cannot wait."


Tyler Palmer
is flying out tomorrow for Orem, Utah, to play short season advanced rookie ball with the Orem Owlz in the Pioneer League. 

"It was pretty funny,'' Palmer said of the moment he was drafted. "I was watching the draft and a super regional and getting kind of nervous. In the 15th or 16th round I left my house in Pembroke Pines and drove to Chick-fil-A -- on my way my phone started blowing up. As I was in the drive-through ordering my food, then paying for it, I get a call from a scout with the Angels.

"'Congratulations, we drafted you,' he said. I picked up my food, called my parents and brother and they were all ecstatic."


   Bryan Radziewski told me tonight that he signed with the Astros today and will play for the Tri-City Valley Cats of Albany, N.Y., in the New York Penn League: His roommate? Alex Hernandez.  

  "It's definitely going to make the transition for me a lot easier,'' B-Rad said. "I haven't been away from home before. It's a lot more responsibility, but UM prepared us to be responsible.''

  Hernandez, 22, of West Palm Beach, was the first player taken in the 40th round -- the final round of the draft. "It was pretty nerve-racking because I'm a senior and it was pretty much do or die.''

   So, Hernandez and his parents, girlfriend and brother tried to relieve the stress by going to a movie. "An old friend of mine texted me saying, 'Better late than never,' Hernandez said. "I thought, 'What is this guy talking about?'

  "I went on Twitter, refreshed it and my name popped up. I saw that I got drafted before the movie started. They all started screaming and hugging me. We left.''


Chris Diaz said he's heading to Rome, Ga., to play for the Rome Braves. "This is something I've wanted to do my whole life,'' Diaz said. "I can't wait to start.'' 




June 06, 2014

It's over for now. Canes pitchers Andy Suarez, Chris Diaz, B-Rad, Javi Salas & OF Dale Carey drafted.

Sometime before the sun set: Bryan Radziewski called me to make sure I knew that pitcher Javi Salas was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 10th round.

He told me all the guys were making plans to go celebrate. Salas said they all might gather in his "very big'' backyard, two blocks from campus.

"It's been a great ride,'' Salas said. "Obviously we started the season with high hopes and came a little short. But this is a great reflection of the program and coaching. Miami prepared us for this moment.''

5:45 p.m. Friday: I was on the phone with Dale Carey, when he shouted, ""B-Rad just went in! Awesome!"

  That was a cool moment. "B-Rad" is Bryan Radziewski, the left-handed redshirt junior who was just drafted in the ninth round -- 256th overall -- by the Houston Astros.

B-Rad was drafted by the Cardinals last year in the 29th round -- 875 overall -- but chose to return to the Hurricanes. Obviously a very wise decision. Not only did he earn his degree, he will have more money in his pocket and be that much better a player.

 Radziewski, from Miami and a graduate of Florida Christian School, went 8-2 this season with a 2.86 ERA. He struck out 111 batters in 100.2 innings and held opponents to a .228 average in 16 starts.

  He is in seventh place in the UM record books with a career 333 strikeouts.

  His patience and talent has paid off.

"Four years at UM passed in front of my eyes and now I'm ready to start a new chapter in my life. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can accomplish.''


5 p.m. Friday: UM's third player, outfielder Dale Carey, was drafted in the seventh round -- 214th overall - by the Washington Nationals. He will be joined by fellow UM player and new Nationals' draftee Andy Suarez.

 Carey led the Hurricanes with a .305 batting average this past season, with a team-leading 16 doubles. He also had seven home runs and 29 RBI and 16 steals and was the only Cane to start all 63 games. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 21st round in 2010, so he has improved his stock big time.

"I was sitting down and eating and I heard my dad scream and my name announced,'' Carey said. "That 'Oh my God! I just got drafted!' feeling came over me. I couldn't wait to hear my name called -- so stressful. Finally, relief.''

Couldn't be happier for him!



3:30 p.m.: UM's second player (and pitcher), left-hander Chris Diaz, was drafted by the Atlanta Braves 163rd overall (fifth round).  Diaz, the Atlantic Coast Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year, was Miami's Friday-night ace this past season. He was not drafted out of Miami Gulliver Prep.

 He is from Florida City.

Diaz finished 9-1 with a 2.41 ERA, and was Miami's first, first-team All-American (Louisville Slugger)  since Yasmani Grandal in 2010.

  The Hurricanes won every 2014 regular-season game started by Diaz. His only loss came in the NCAA regionals.

 Diaz was not drafted out of high school.

Also, Archbishop McCarthy left-handed pitcher Brian Gonzalez, who signed with Miami, was the Baltimore Orioles' first overall pick today -- 90th overall, third round. 


 University of Miami left-handed pitcher Andy Suarez, who was drafted in the second round (57th overall) after 11 p.m. yesterday to the Washington Nationals, is naturally elated to be turning pro. Needless to say he didn't sleep much last night.

   He told me just now in a phone interview that he absolutely made the right decision to become a Hurricane when he was drafted in the ninth round out of Miami Columbus High.

   "Definitely worth coming to UM,'' Suarez, 21, told me. "It was always a dream of mine to play baseball at Miami. When I got drafted out of high school I still didn't know that much about baseball. But Coach [Jim] Morris and [pitching coach] J.D. [Arteaga] and all the older guys helped me mature and taught me so much. 

   "I just wanted to go to school, get an education and get ready. College helps you mature as a player and as a person.''

   Suarez, a 21-year-old who just completed his redshirt sophomore season, finished his season 6-3 with a 2.95 ERA. He pitched nine innings four times this past season, including a complete-game shutout against Bethune-Cookman in his final start May 30 during the Coral Gables Regional.

   "It was very disappointing to finish the way we did,'' Suarez said. "It wasn't how we wanted to end up. I'm sure next year the're going to bounce back and go further.''

   Suarez said he first learned he might be drafted soon when he got a text from a scout -- not from the Nationals -- "saying, 'Congratulations!' And I was like, 'What?'

   "I was at a friend's house and was checking on my phone. When the Nationals' scout called me and told me, I got over 100 text messages and phone calls congratulating me in the next 15 minutes. My phone just blew up.

   "I am honored to be taken so high in the draft.''

    He said he doesn't know anyone on the Nationals, but he was happy it is an "MLB East team so I get to be home a lot if i get a chance to make it.''

   I asked Suarez what's it like to almost be a millionaire (the slotted signing bonus for a player taken at his spot is nearly a million dollars). His dad is a local truck driver and his Cuban-born mom is a pharmacy technician. They are a hard-working family, but not a rich one.

    "It feels great,'' he said about the projected money. "I'm not going to try to spend it on anything except helping my family out. I'm sure I'll get them presents.''

    He has one older brother and a younger brother and sister that range from 15 to 23.

   Suarez said he needs one more year at UM to get his bachelor's degree in criminology and psychology.

   "If it doesn't work out with the Nationals,'' he said, "I'd come back to school.''

    Day 2 of the MLB Draft has just started. More UM players will go today, for sure.

   Some of them that might be taken in the remaining rounds of the draft, that continues through Saturday: pitchers Chris Diaz, Bryan Radziewski and Javi Salas; and outfielders Dale Carey and Tyler Palmer.

   "I'm supposed to go today as far as I know,'' said Radziewski, "but anything could happen. I'm just happy for Andy. There's no one who deserves it more. He turned down a lot of money to come to school, came closer to his degree and learned a lot. I know he wouldn't trade any of it for the world.'' 

   Every one of those young men are class acts.

    Good luck to them all.


June 02, 2014

IT'S OVER: Texas Tech Tops Canes 4-0, Wins Regional

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

After the Miami baseball team kept its season going with a win in an elimination game Monday afternoon, Hurricanes coach Jim Morris told his team they were going to "win the second game.''

They didn't, however, and now Miami's season is complete.

The Hurricanes put one runner in scoring position and failed to score in Monday's 4-0 loss to Texas Tech in the championship of the Coral Gables Regional at Mark Light Field.

Miami topped the Red Raiders 2-1 in 10 innings earlier in the day but couldn't get the second win.

"We were the home team, I thought we were going to win,'' Morris said.

Texas Tech (43-18) moves to an NCAA Super Regional for the first time in its program's history and are two wins away from the College World Series in Omaha.

The Hurricanes end 44-19 as they failed to get out of the regional round for a fourth straight year. Miami hasn't been to the CWS since 2008.

"It's very disappointing,'' said leadoff hitter Dale Carey, who walked three times in the championship game. "We fought hard in the game and all season. I'm proud of us.''

The Hurricanes got plenty of pitching during this regional but not enough run support.

In Monday's championship game, the Hurricanes first hit didn't come until the fourth inning as they were almost completely shut down by starter Cameron Smith.

"I didn't even know I was going to pitch,'' said Smith, who pitched a three-hitter despite complaining about stiffness in his left arm. "But I told coach I wanted the ball. I had to go and prove myself from my last outing. I put my team first and played well behind me.''

Miami was shutout by the Red Raiders for the second time since losing 3-0 on Saturday.

The Hurricanes hadn't been shutout all season before Saturday; it happened to the Hurricanes twice in the regional as Miami's bats went cold as Miami went 4-3 since clinching the ACC regular season title two weeks ago.

"They did a great job against us,'' Morris said. "It's a hard thing to explain at any level, whether it's here or high school or the major leagues and everywhere in between. It's hard to explain why the bats go cold. We've scored a lot of runs. But their two lefties ate our lunch.''

The Hurricanes scored 13 runs in its five games in the Coral Gables Regional -- although 10 of those came in Sunday's blow out of Bethune-Cookman.

In three games against the Red Raiders, Miami put two runs across with both coming in Monday's extra-innings win.

Monday, Miami's pitching was strong in both games.

Closer Bryan Garcia started the resumed game (Tech was leading 1-0 when the game was postponed because of weather on Sunday night) and pitched three no-hit innings.

In the second game, starter Derik Beauprez gave Miami four solid innings as he didn't give up his first hit until there was one out in the fourth.

Miami replaced Beauprez with submarine reliever Cooper Hammond.

The freshman from Venice got into a little trouble with one out as back-to-back singles put runners on the corners. Hammond then struck out pinch hitter Todd Ritchie (after he failed to bunt Devon Conley home from third and got Bryant Burleson to fly out to left.

Texas Tech did its damage in the seventh, with Ryan Long reaching after being clipped by a pitch and Tim Proudfoot singled.

Conley bunted to move the runners, but Miami catcher Garrett Kennedy overthrew Alex Hernandez covering first. The ball sailed into the right field bullpen and the Red Raiders got the only run they needed. Tech tacked on a second run on a sacrifice fly from pinch-hitter Alex Humphreys.

Miami, meanwhile, didn't do much to threaten. The Hurricanes rarely got the ball out of the infield and put just one runner (Johnny Ruiz in the seventh) in scoring position.

So, when Tech scored two on a single from Zach Davis in the top of the ninth, the game was all but over.

"They have a great pitching staff,'' outfielder Tyler Palmer said. "Every guy they threw at us kept us off balance, stayed ahead in the count, threw for strikes.''

In the elimination game, the Hurricanes quickly tied things up as they came into the eighth down 1-0.

The Hurricanes got back-to-back singles from Palmer and Zack Collins to start things off with Palmer coming home on David Thompson's grounder to third.

In the top of the 10th, Miami had runners on the corners with one out when Thompson lofted a fly ball that landed just down the right field line. Thompson's double brought Palmer in from third to make it 2-1. Miami had bases loaded with one out in the 10th but couldn't put any more across.

With Garcia dealing, it didn't matter as he put the Red Raiders down in order in all three innings pitched.

"We knew if we won the first game, we had a good chance,'' pitcher Javi Salas said. "We battled all season long, had a tough stretch at the beginning and really came along.''

CANES WIN: Hurricanes Top Texas Tech 2-1 in 10; Regional Title Game Starts at 4:10

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

The Miami Hurricanes baseball team stayed alive on Monday afternoon, beating Texas Tech 2-1 in 10 innings.

Miami's win forced a championship game of the NCAA's Coral Gables Regional. That game is scheduled to start at 4:10 p.m. on Monday.

Had Miami lost on Monday afternoon, its season would have been over.

Miami trailed the Red Raiders 1-0 when the game was halted because of weather on Sunday night. The game was resumed on Monday afternoon with one out in the top of the eighth inning.

It didn't take Miami long to tie things up.

The Hurricanes (44-18) got back-to-back singles from Tyler Palmer and Zack Collins to start things off with Palmer coming home from third on David Thompson's grounder to third. Texas Tech third baseman Ryan Long threw home, but Palmer slid without catcher Tyler Floyd applying the tag.

In the top of the 10th, Miami had runners on the corners with one out when Thompson lofted a soft fly that landed just down the right field line. Thompson's double brought Palmer in from third to make it 2-1. Miami had bases loaded with one out in the 10th but couldn't put any more across.

With closer Bryan Garcia dealing, it didn't matter. Garcia pitched all three innings in Monday's opener to get the win. Garcia put the Red Raiders down in order in all three innings pitched.

Follow me (@GeorgeRichards) for updates on the title game.

June 01, 2014

Hurricanes 5 minutes away from Coral Gables Regional baseball showdown with Texas Tech

Good evening from Alex Rodriguez Park, where the gray clouds are indeed ominous. 

The Canes, who finally broke out the bats against Bethune-Cookman this afternoon, are on the field being announced now for their do-or-die 7 p.m. showdown with the Texas Tech Raiders.

UM defeated Bethune-Cookman 10-0 this afternoon, eliminating the Wildcats and leaving just the Canes and Red Raiders in the regional.

If Texas Tech (42-18) beats UM tonight, the Red Raiders will claim their first NCAA regional championship and advance to a super regional next weekend.

If UM (43-18) defeats Texas Tech tonight, the teams will meet again in a winner-takes-all regional championship game at 7 p.m. Monday.

The Canes finally broke out their bats in the first game, garnering 10 hits, including ACC Freshman of the Year Zack Collins' two home runs that drove in five runs. Now Collins is tied with Mike Papi of Virginia with 11 home runs. 

And left-handed senior pitcher Bryan Radziewski was spectacular in allowing only three hits in nine innings for the shutout. Radziewski raised his record to 8-2 and lowered his ERA to 2.86.

UM still hasn't used many of its relievers, and the ones who have thrown have been used sparingly. Closer Bryan Garcia hasn't even pitched this tournament.

"Our bullpen is in great shape,'' Morris said after this afternoon's victory. "Woodrey threw an inning and a third last night and Cooper [Hammond] threw a little bit. [Javi] Salas is going to pitch tonight. ..We need a good outing out of him. I'm very confident he could pitch and do the things he needs to do. He's a senior and a guy that needs to get it down and step up.''

Pitching for Texas Tech: right-hander Ryan Moseley (1-2, 3.86 ERA)

If UM wins tonight, I, unfortunately, will have to miss the championship game Monday night. My son is graduating from high school at 7 p.m. I'll have my phone charged up and ready to go!