GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Miami Hurricanes coach Al Golden was kind enough to give each of the three South Florida dailies that cover the team one-on-one time today before he meets with the entire media in the early evening.
There was a fireplace beyond our chairs, so I'd like to think of it as a fireside chat.
Just to get a few topics out of the way for those wondering... At some point in our chat, I asked him, "Were you offered the Penn State job?"
"I'm never going to comment on those things,'' he told me. "Never.''
Understood. I followed with, "What was that short window of your life like last year?"
Golden: "I'm just not going to comment. I just don't want to get involved in that. Professionally I just think...(he pauses here) The year before, rumors were circulating about this thing or that thing. I just don't want to get involved with that.''
I let it go.
I also asked him about former UM linebackers Alex Figueroa and JaWand Blue and their rape-related case. He definitely would not touch that one in any specific way.
"Ultimately I'm responsible for all 114 student-athletes on the team and making sure that they're conducting themselves in a manner consistent with the University and our mission. But more importantly this goes beyond that in terms of their families and our families and society and issues that we're dealing with in colleges.
"We do a lot to educate them as a team and try to give them examples, help teach them the lifeskills, but more importantly support the lifeskills their parents gave them and sent them to us with. But at the end of the day it's my responsibility as a head coach.''
Have you replaced Blue and Fig's scholarships yet? "No.''
Are there two empty scholarships? "There may be.''
Are you bringing in somebody from the outside to replace them? "We're always looking to improve the roster. We don't have anybody in mind at this point.''
Look for Tyriq McCord to play a lot of linebacker again this season.
Who's the quarterback? I asked.
"xxxx xxxx!'' Golden said. He didn't divulge.
On senior QB Ryan Williams, recuperating from a torn ACL: "Ryan is doing great. He's as good as anybody that suffered the injury he has. We don't know what that will mean though in terms of when he will be integrated back into action but whenever that is it will be the earliest possible because of how much progress he has made during his rehab. ...I am not prepared to give any kind of medical word on when he'll be cleared.''
On redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen: "He's had a really good summer. He's growing up physically. He has matured. He's developing. He just looks a lot different, a lot more confident. He has put in a lot more time and has been focused.
On graduate student/Kansas transfer Jake Heaps, who is eligible to play immediately: "We brought him in because he's 23 years old. He's married. he started 30 games in college and he gives us maturity, he gives us experience and he's exactly what we thought he would be. Very bright. Very focused. He's clearly in a little bit different place in his life than many kids that may be freshmen and sophomores. He's already been through it. He's competing very well right now. I'm very pleased with Jake.''
Would you hope Jake starts so Kevin can get one more year learning if he needs to? “We’ll see. I don’t predetermine it. We’ll go from 4 quarterbacks to 2 very quickly in terms of who we’re going to focus our reps on in camp. But right now Malik Rosier and Brad Kaaya have really benefitted greatly from being at both summer sessions. They’re both very bright and they’re both going to be excellent leaders. A little bit different style for both.
"Brad is a big presence in the pocket – 6-4, 6-5, 220-something pounds. Great work ethic, can really see it. so I’ve been very impressed with him. And Malik, big strong arm and bright. Most people think he’s a runner just because he’s athletic. But he’s athletic in the sense Stephen [Morris] was. He can move and create but he doesn’t really look to run all the time although he can run. He’s a very good athlete."
Golden: "[QB] Gray Crow moved to H-back."
Golden: "It’s just how it worked out. It’s a position we feel he can help the team at, just the way it shook out at the quarterback position. I don’t think he’s disappointed. Gray has always been a team player. He loves the University of Miami. He’s a great teammate and a great guy to have in the locker room."
Would you like to redshirt Brad and Malik?
"I don’t know. Those guys have been out there in 7 on 7s and 1 on 1s and all that and we haven’t seen them in practice or scrimmage settings. We’re going to let it play out on the field. We’re going to give them an opportunity to compete. They’ve been competing all summer. I think a lot of their teammates are impressed with their knowledge and with their work ethic and with their poise. I want to see what we have before we decide to redshirt them."
Some other topics we discussed:
* Incoming freshmen WR Darrell Langham and ATH Treone Gray have not yet arrived at UM, but Golden said he expects them in camp.
* S Rayshawn Jenkins, who was injured during the spring, "is doing the best he's been and we expect him cleared for full activity and training camp within the next week,'' Golden said.
* CB Nate Dortch "has left the team,'' Golden said. Note: He played in six games last year, mostly on special teams.
* Speaking of special teams, UF Gators transfer Justin Vogel, who shares the jersey No. 16 with QB Heaps, "is doing a really good job'' at punter, Golden said. The way it's looking now, according to Golden, is it's between Vogel and Ricky Carroll, though kicker Matt Goudis will also work there.
* Golden agreed with me that freshman Braxton Berrios has the "it'' factor. "He's just about 100-percent right now'' in terms of his knee surgery rehab. "He's already cutting and doing all that. It's just one of those deals where he just finds a way. He's very resourceful, whether it's special teams or slot receiver, he finds a way to get things done.''
* What does Golden think of DT transfer Michael Wyche: "He's strong,'' the coach said. He's at 348 pounds now, Golden said, and he wants him at 335. "He's got a great personality. He's very grateful. Every time you turn around he's speaking to kids. We're glad he's a Hurricane.''
* Coach said the Canes played with 80 or 81 scholarship players last season and he expects the same this season.
* Coach said he expects to sign "probably 25 or 26" in the 2015 signing class.
* I asked Golden about Ray Lewis III. If you recall he was suspended for the bowl game.
Golden: "He's making progress. He's got to continue to mature and settle in. Hopefully he's continuing to improve. Like a lot of kids his age, it's time to grow up and time to mature and make sure to prioritize your day, think about why you're here and what you're trying to get accomplished and what are your goals and what are the team goals. Hopefully, he'll continue to move in the right direction.''
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN