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.
HEAPS OF KAAYA (ON FRIDAY)
It's still early in camp, but at least after four practices it seems that graduate transfer Jake Heaps and true freshman Brad Kaaya are the Nos. 1 and 1A leaders, respectively, in the quarterback race.
Kaaya, the 6-4, 218-pounder out of West Hills, Calif. (Chaminade-Madonna), took the reins for much of Friday's practice as the first-team quarterback. He is poised, has a great release, nice touch and exudes confidence on the field.
Golden, who has praised Kaaya all week, was asked what else he'd like to see from the young quarterback.
“Just do what he’s doing,'' Golden replied. "Command of the huddle. Continue to be more vocal. I think that’s the one thing Jake Heaps is right now. He’s vocal. He’s not afraid to get into, get after other guys and communicate and be loud. We’ve got to continue to work with Brad and Kevin [Olsen] and Malik [Rosier] on that. So that was the challenge to Brad today, just continue to be more vocal. Obviously he’s learning a lot. We’ve got a lot going in on the front end.”
*** Ryan Williams, slated to be the starting quarterback before he tore his ACL in April, was behind center for three plays during seven-on-seven drills Friday.
"He’s making progress,'' Golden said of the fifth-year senior. "Again I keep knocking on wood, and I’m not being coy with you – I don’t know what it all means. All I know is, he’s having an unbelievable recovery. In terms of the bell curve, he’s on the high end of it. So it’s good.”
Hurricanes kicker Matt Goudis, a junior who hit 13 of his 17 field-goal attempts last season, said he is feeling better after injuring his back this summer, forcing him to “miss some time in the weight room and running.’’
Goudis said now that he's back, he needs to build up his legs again.
“I should be good to go and back by Louisville,’’ Goudis said of the Sept. 1 opener. “From missing some running, my legs are just a little tired, not as explosive, but I’m still hitting from 50. In four more weeks I should be good to go.’’
LIGHTNING STRIKES AGAIN
The Canes had their next-to-last afternoon practice of fall camp Friday, but their fourth consecutive session with a lightning delay.
That streak could end Saturday, when they switch to a morning practice and don full pads for the first time.
They go in the afternoon Sunday and then back to mornings Monday.
“It’s almost comical,’’ Golden said, laughing, when he was told by a reporter that it was a short practice. “We only had one interruption today, so this was good. The kids fought through it, finished up their finals and papers this morning and got locked in. I’m proud of them. They did a great job this week. Great maturity, excellent leadership, good focus.’’
Golden said he likes morning practices better.
“Yeah, it’s good for their recovery,’’ he said. “It’s better for our meeting schedule and most importantly, it’s best in terms of the heat and everything.’’
*** Wide receiver Darrell Langham, the only Hurricane who has not joined camp, was expected to arrive Friday night, Golden said.
*** The Canes will practice for the first time this camp in the morning on Saturday. They will also be in full pads for the first time.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
When JaWand Blue and Alex Figueroa were arrested and booted off the team last month following their arrests on sexual battery, sophomore Walter Tucker said he had an idea coaches might ask him to move back to linebacker.
Apparently, though, coaches didn't get around to it until Monday -- the day before camp started.
"Basically [linebackers coach] Hurlie [Brown] called telling me to come to the office," Tucker said. "He asked if I minded playing linebacker. I was down for it."
Tucker (6-0, 218 pounds) is still down to play fullback, too. And as far as coach Al Golden is concerned, Tucker will.
Although he spent the first three days of camp at middle linebacker and will spend the rest of it shadowing starter and leading tackler Denzel Perryman, Tucker said he still expects to come in and block or carry the ball in short yardage situations as a fullback.
"It really shows that I'm an athlete," said Tucker, who said he still participates in team meetings with the running backs to stay fresh with that side of the ball. "In the past, when I was younger, I always played both sides of the ball.
"With the [defensive] scheme, things are coming along better than what it was last year. I also have DP there to help me. We always get together after practice and work on plays."
Tucker was a two-way star at Plantation American Heritage as well as a track star. He won a pair of state titles in the 110-meter hurdles and had the nation's fastest time as a senior at 13.89 seconds.
This summer, Tucker said he was timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.4 seconds, squats 405 pounds, bench presses 330 pounds and produced 25 reps on the bench of the NFL Combine testing standard (225 pounds).
What does he like about middle linebacker? "Basically, you get all the action," he said. "You are the head hunter and you are also like the quarterback of the defense. You're in control."
Golden called Tucker explosive earlier this week.
“He’s a 4.5 guy who’s 230,” Golden said. “He played a lot there last year and even a great deal before the bowl game, he took a lot of reps there. He’s got some stored up. Talking to [linebackers coach] [Brown], he was comfortable with his recall to this point.”