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Notes from Thursday's Canes practice: Ice Harris talks becoming an assistant; Golden has high praise for Heaps

When Tim "Ice" Harris rejoined the Miami Hurricanes staff back in March as the assistant director of football operations, his plan was to finish his final year of college so he could put himself in position to become an assistant coach should a position open. 

That opportunity came a little earlier than  expected. When linebackers coach Micheal Barrow stepped away last week to go on sabbatical, coach Al Golden decided it was time to make Harris, who spent 24 years coaching in South Florida at the high school level, a full member of his coaching staff.

“God is good, you know?," Harris said Thursday after practice, his third day as UM's running backs coach. "He definitely sets things up for you when you least expect it, but if you do things the right way, you definitely get your blessings. It’s an awesome blessing and I’m so excited to be in the position that I’m in, and I’m running with it.

“This is something I’ve been waiting for my whole life, you know. The hard work that you put in doing things the right way at the high school level, developing young people and then to have an opportunity to be the running backs coach at the University of Miami, it’s a dream come true.”

Although it's not an NCAA requirement for a college coach to have a degree, it is a standard colleges want their coaches to meet. Harris, 48, said he's at the tail-end of completing his degree in business administration and is just "waiting on some grades, some final stuff to finish up." He said Thursday he thinks he'll be finishing school just before September starts. 

"It's going to be different and exciting [being on the other end of recruiting and going into high schools]," Harris said. "But one thing they're going to be able to see is when we talk about dreams and goals and stuff we always set out to do they can actually somebody of my magnitude, it doesn't matter how old you are, how long it takes, if you're doing things the right way dreams will come true because time will pass by."

Barrow was arguably Miami's best recruiter in South Florida. Harris said Golden still hasn't decided which areas he will absorb in recruiting, but it's hard to imagine a man who has coached at Miami High, Northwestern, Central and Booker T. Washington wouldn't be asked to try and corner the market in his backyard.

"He's a guy that a lot of families and players can relate to," running back Duke Johnson said. "Just to have him coaching us is exciting. Just knowing he comes from the area where I'm from and knows what it takes to be successful and he's going to install upon us to be successful. I'm just excited to see what he's going to bring and help us learn."

Harris, known for his expressive behavior on the sideline and not being one afraid to chew a player out, was asked if he might give offensive line coach Art Kehoe a run for the title for feistiest Canes assistant.

"Oh, no," Harris said. ""Art Kehoe, he's got me. He's a true veteran. I haven't caught up with him. [I'm] just going to focus on development. Whatever we have to do to get them to be developed -- take their talent and game to the next level, understanding this team's mission -- that's what I'm going to focus on."

GOLDEN HAS HIGH PRAISE FOR HEAPS

Golden had high praise for Jake Heaps Thursday, who again took the majority of reps with the first team at quarterback. Freshman Brad Kaaya also received work with the ones.

“Just a complete understanding, poise, experience, very coachable, not an error-repeater," Golden said. "Anything you correct, he gets fixed. Pleasure to work with right now.”

Told by a reporter Heaps seems to be making the extra effort to connect with his offensive line and teammates, Golden responded: “He’s that kind of guy. Glad he’s here. Mature, grateful, and doing a great job trying to bring it all together for us.”

Although he overthrew the speedy Stacy Coley and Phillip Dorsett on a pair of long passes, Heaps had several highlights on Thursday including a nine-yard touchdown pass during 11-on-11s. His most impressive throw was to sophomore Malcolm Lewis. Heaps showed nice touch on a corner route, delivering a perfect pass over the safety and for a 30-yard gain.

> Golden mentioned defensive linemen Chad Thomas, Anthony Moten and Demetrius Jackson as freshman who could all compete for playing time this season. He also said freshman Darrion Owens is fighting for a starting job as the strongside linebacker. Owens has been wearing a black jersey -- designated for starters -- the first three days of camp.

"We’ve got a long way to go, but certainly those guys are going to help us,” Golden said.

> Senior receiver Rashawn Scott, suspended twice in his career by Golden, was wearing an orange jersey (designated for offensive starters) Thursday for the first time in camp. What has Golden seen out of Scott lately?

“More maturity right now, more focus," he said. "He’s just got to stay with the structure, be around good people, keep making good decisions and he’ll allow his talent to come to the surface. I think that’s the biggest thing with Rashawn. He’s done a great job this summer. I’m proud of him. Clearly, he’s come back in the best shape of his life because he’s playing good football right now.”

> Why is Coley in a white, non-starter jersey?

“Stacy’s doing good," Golden said. "It’s just a deeper position than it was a year ago. It’s deeper and Tyre [Brady] and [Braxton Berrios] tightened it up for us. Again, Phillip healthy, Herb healthy, Malcolm healthy, much different group and Rashawn back, much different group."

> Freshman running back Joseph Yearby missed Wednesday's practice because he was sick the night before. Yearby was back at practice Thursday. "We were prudent with him," Golden said. "We held him out. We didn’t like where he was at at 2 o’clock, we held him out. That’s it. I’m moving on.”

> Thursday was the first day the Hurricanes donned shoulder pads in camp. Miami spent the previous two days in only helmets. The team will be in helmets and shoulder pads again Friday. They will move into full pads on Saturday.

AUDIO CENTER

Here is what the folks down at UM were talking about after Thursday's practice -- the third of the fall.

AUDIO: Al Golden talks about how Jake Heaps has looked in practice

AUDIO: Ice Harris talks about being hired as an assistant coach and what it means to him

AUDIO: Receiver Malcolm Lewis on his return from injury and Phillip Dorsett's eye-opening 40-time

AUDIO: Tight end Standish Dobard on his development and new teammate Raphael Akpejiori

AUDIO: Sophomore Walter Tucker discusses his move back to linebacker and his role as a two-way player

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