Canes notes: What the loss of Edwards means; Golden on Thomas, Muhammad as backups; Kaaya on turning 20

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When fifth-year senior safety Dallas Crawford heard running back Gus Edwards was lost for the season over the weekend, he wasn't worried UM coaches were going to ask him to switch back to offense.

In fact, he wasn't worried much at all.

"We have a lot of good running backs out there with Joe, Mark and Choc," said Crawford, who was named a starter at safety Sunday, a season after he first switched from offense to defense. "They don't need me. They can handle it."

Coach Al Golden apparently agrees -- for now.

Tuesday, Golden reiterated he's confident UM has enough depth at the running back position to survive to loss of Edwards, who according to Golden was ruled out for the season after doctors performed surgery on his left foot Saturday and realized the injury was worse than initially diagnosed.

Golden said the fact UM's four running backs split carries evenly in camp has the team better prepared for Edwards' loss. He said if more help is needed at running back UM has "other things in place" so as not to move Crawford.

"I wanted from the get-go give all four guys reps with the ones," he said. "Even [fullback] Walter Tucker got reps, inside run. We don't feel we'll miss a beat there. Disappointed for Gus, he worked really hard."

Still, odds are UM will miss Edwards (6-2, 241) and his presence in short-yardage situations. Sophomore Joseph Yearby (5-9, 195) and freshman Mark Walton (5-10, 195) don't deliver big blows like Edwards does, and sophomore Trayone Gray (6-2, 215) is still growing into the position after having played quarterback and receiver in high school.

Gray said Tuesday he expects he'll get most of what would have been Edwards carries around the goal line and in short-yardage.

"It's tough," Crawford said. "Gus was primed to have a breakout year. He looked good every practice this camp. Things happen. I know Mark is ready. Joe is ready. Choc is ready. Tuck is ready. He's their biggest supporter. He was in the meetings today, has a good attitude. I know those guys will pick up the slack."

Said safety Deon Bush: "I'm very confident in the running backs. They're tough and they pound for yards. You can put any three of those guys in and they're going to fight for yards."

> So is Golden disappointed five-star defensive end Chad Thomas and four-star U.S. Army All-American Al-Quadin Muhammad didn't earn starting jobs coming out of camp?

Apparently not.

"We're excited about both those guys," Golden said. "This is the deepest we've been on the defensive line. [Ufomba] Kamalu has had a great camp for us, is 295 pounds now. Chad obviously will be in the rotation early. Maybe it's 1 and 1A. And RJ McIntosh has had a really good camp and will be in the mix. At the other spot Trent [Harris] was one of our most reliable players on defense a year ago. He doesn't make any [mental errors], exact every play. Demetrius [Jackson] had a good camp. We're not discouraged with Quan, Quan's going to be a heck of a player. Quan also missed 13 games a year ago. Those guys are going to be impactful. Our biggest change up front is how many we can put in the game."

> None of the Hurricanes wanted to talk about the photos that hit social media over the weekend depicting players in odd positions. 

"I'm not here to talk about pictures man," defensive tackle Calvin Heurtelou said. "I'm just focused on Bethune."

> What does quarterback Brad Kaaya want for his 20th birthday, which is Thursday?

"A win," he said. "20 isn't really an eventful number."

It's been an eventful 13 months since Kaaya arrived on campus. He was thrown into the fire and responded well as a true freshman. 

Does he think he was too young when he looks back on last season?

"Yeah, in a sense," he said. "When half your teammates are 22, 23 and half of them have kids or are married, so obviously in that sense. Yes."

Kaaya lived on campus last season. This year's he's living on campus with receiver Braxton Berrios and backup quarterback Malik Rosier.

With Duke Johnson and other stars gone he's been asked even more to become the face of the team this season, throwing out first pitches at games and being involved much more in the community.

"I'm comfortable with it," he said. "It just comes with being a quarterback here. It's just something I have to do. Even as a player at the University of Miami, or all over the country, people are expecting you to give back to the community. You can't be introverted, stay here all day. You've got to give back."

Kaaya's third down and fourth quarter were areas he admits were weak spots for him last year as a true freshman. But he's not taking all the blame for it either.

"There are 10 other guys on the field," he said "We have to operate on money downs and third and fourth downs. As an offense, that's where our focus was. It wasn't our biggest focus. But it was a focus [this off-season].

"Obviously, I watched the film and know I have to get better. But I'm not really sulking in last year. This is a new season now. It's September 2015. Some of those issues were happening in October and November 2014. I mean, I've moved on."

August 13, 2014

Canes home run derby a tuneup for scrimmage? We think not. (Where's David Thompson when you need him?)

   The football Canes switched to baseball and a home-run derby on their day off Tuesday.

   All I can say is that Malik Rosier, who will be an outfielder for the Hurricanes come baseball season, puts most of the other Canes to shame (Anthony Chickillo, don't quit your day job). 

   Speaking of baseball, former UM quarterback  David Thompson tore it up in the prestigious Cape Cod League this summer. 

  The regular season concluded with David, representing the Orleans Firebirds, hitting .331 (7th in league). He had 54 hits (4th), 29 RBI (4th) and 14 extra-base hits (5th). He led all batters in the East Division, was a starter on the All-Star team and was his team's MVP.
 
  Between the unexpected return of ace lefty Andy Suarez, Thompson's continued excellence and the eventual arrival of Rosier (one of four UM quarterbacks battling it out for playing time), UM baseball coach Jim Morris must be feeling optimistic this offseason.

  We'll be back as soon as we hear some news about today's football scrimmage, which is closed to the media and public.  

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

  

 

 

July 08, 2014

Hurricane linebackers JaWand Blue, Alex Figueroa kicked off team after admitting to police they intoxicated, raped 17-year old on campus

Two University of Miami football players were arrested and charged with sexual battery Tuesday morning after admitting to Coral Gables police they got a 17-year-old intoxicated and then raped her on campus over the holiday weekend.

JaWand Blue, 20, and Alexander Figueroa, who turned 20 on Tuesday, have since been dismissed by the school, according to a statement made by athletic director Blake James.

"Earlier today, I permanently dismissed JaWand Blue and Alexander Figueroa from the UM football team," James said in a statement. "The University has also suspended the students from school and barred them from all campus facilities while the University conducts an internal investigation and continues to cooperate with local law enforcement.

"Any allegation of a sexual assault is extremely serious, and the University will not tolerate conduct that threatens the sanctity and safety of our students and our campus. We hold all of our students -- especially student athletes -- to the highest standards of moral conduct. The University is committed to maintaining a safe campus environment for all."

According to Coral Gables police, the victim, also a UM student, reported the crime to campus police. Coral Gables police investigated and made the arrests.

According to the arrest report, the incident occurred in the early morning hours last Saturday inside Figueroa's dorm room at Pearson Hall on campus.

According to the report, Blue and Figueroa administered or had knowledge of someone else administering to the victim a narcotic, anesthetic or other intoxicating substance that mentally or physically incapacitated the victim without her prior knowledge or consent. Police said the victim was physically helpless to resist.

On Tuesday morning, Blue and Figueroa admitted to police they bought and provided several alcoholic beverages for the victim before bringing her back to Figueroa’s dorm room. They admitted to performing sexual acts on her without her consent, the report said. Both were immediately arrested and transported to Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center. Figueroa was also charged with having a fake driver's license.

A spokeswoman for Miami-Dade Corrections said Blue and Figueroa were in the process of bonding out of jail Tuesday for $10,000 and $15,000 respectively. Miami-Dade state attorney's office spokesman Ed Griffith said Figueroa and Blue were scheduled to be arraigned in front of Judge Maria Elena Verde on July 29.

UM president Donna Shalala released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying she had spoken to the victim and offered full support.

"The safety and welfare of our students is fundamental to our mission as a university. We have zero tolerance for sexual assault and gender-based violence," Shalala said in her statement. "There is no confusion about our responsibility as a university: We will fully and compassionately support the victim of sexual assault. I have spoken to her myself and reassured her of our full support.

"We have suspended the men involved, and they have been barred from campus. Our athletic director has taken firm action ending their involvement in the football program. We have notified the individuals involved that the university is beginning an investigation immediately, which we expect to conclude quickly and fairly. We will also continue to cooperate with the police in their ongoing criminal investigation."

Blue, a former three-star recruit from West Boca Raton High, played in two games last season and registered one tackle. He finished the spring as the backup middle linebacker behind Denzel Perryman.

Figueroa, the son of military parents from Stafford, Va., played in nine games last season and made two starts, registering 17 tackles. He ended the spring listed as a co-starter at outside linebacker along with Thurston Armbrister.

Getting a quick boot from the team following an arrest is nothing new under coach Al Golden.

In May 2011, Hurricanes freshman defensive lineman Jeffrey Brown was booted from the team after being accused of sexual battery on a helpless victim and admitting to Coral Gables police he had sex with a severely-intoxicated female student in a campus dorm. Those charges were eventually downgraded to false imprisonment and Brown was asked to serve three year's probation, complete a sex therapy program and perform 100 hours of community service.

Two months prior to that linebacker Ramon Buchanan was arrested and charged with two felonies and three misdemeanors following an incident at a Coconut Grove nightclub. Buchanan was suspended from the team following his arrest but reinstated two weeks later after he was permitted to enter a pre-trial diversion program.

In December 2012, cornerback Thomas Finnie was suspended indefinitely from the football team after surrendering to police and admitting he was involved in a laptop theft on campus.

In April 2013, linebacker Gabe Terry was kicked off the team following his arrest on charges of felony marijuana possession.

Neither player has posted any updates on their social media accounts since the arrests. But Figueroa did post the following message on Twitter last night.

This story was updated throughout the day as information became available

August 12, 2011

Matt Bosher misses the "family'' (with Warren Sapp sighting and uniform news)

Happy Friday, I hope.

I spoke with new Atlanta Falcon and recently departed UM kicker Matt Bosher by phone this week.

After a long day at training camp, he told me he was relaxing watching some television -- after playing video games.

No way getting around the fact that Matt, who was drafted in the sixth round, will be severely missed.

Matt did it all for the Hurricanes -- place-kicking, kicking off and punting. He told me he is competing to punt for the Falcons and possibly will do kickoffs. The Falcons are the ideal team for a kicker, because they play indoors. Also, Matt said his family can easily hop on a plane or even drive from Jupiter in Palm Beach County to Atlanta.

The Falcons' practice facility is outdoors in Flowery Branch, Ga., about an hour north of Atlanta.

Dalton Botts, who is expected to replace Matt as the punter, was wearing the coveted black jersey at Hurricanes practice Friday. Botts, a 6-3, 198-pound sophomore, is from Taft Union High School in Taft, Calif., about 45 minutes west of Bakersfield, he said.

"I haven't seen him kick, but I've heard good things about him,'' said Bosher, who worked out at UM during the summer at times when Botts was there.

"I met him in the weight room [in July],'' Botts said of Bosher. "He seemed real cool."

Bosher said he enjoys being a Falcon, and that there are "a great group of guys -- great special teams coach and a lot of solid veterans helping me. I have a veteran longsnapper (Joe Zelenki) and kicker (Matt Bryant). They've all been big helps.''

He said camp is going well, but that there was a learning curve for him regarding the new system and its terminology. Bosher is smart, so I doubt there will be any problems in that area.

Bosher said playing at UM "was a dream come true'' and that "everybody there was my family.

"Of course I miss it. Miami became my home. Leaving was tough, but it's a new chapter in my life. That's where I'll always have roots and come back to.''

Bosher said his message to the competing kickers would be: "Just keep working hard, stay confident in what you do and do it to the best of your ability. Always know you have an important job. Don't let the typical  kicker comments detract from what you're trying to do. It's an important role and if you treat it that way you can make an impact in just about every game.''

I asked Bosh about Jake Wieclaw, who has only kicked off once in one game. He's a fourth-year junior and fighting for the starting kicking spot. "That's just how it goes,'' Bosher said. "I had the opportunity to play, but Jake was a great guy, a great kicker. He's still a really good kicker and I'm sure he'll be able to prove that. He's a hard worker and he's confident, and that's good. When it's time to prove himself, he will. Jake is one of the more athletic specialists.''

WARREN SAPP SIGHTING

Former Hurricanes great Warren Sapp showed up at practice this morning a few minutes after the Canes got out there. He said he had never met coach Al Golden. Sapp previously dissed Golden publicly because he said the coach snubbed him when Sapp waited to meet him months ago, and also sent out mean-spirited tweets about UM's hiring of Golden in December.

  A few moments after Sapp walked onto the field, Golden saw Sapp and the two bear-hugged with gusto.  Lots of energy in that Canes lovefest moment. I guess Sapp is now a fan.

Sapp sparked the Hurricanes with a pep talk before the heart of the practice session got underway.

UNI NEWS

UM recently noted that the Canes would only have two uniforms this season: orange jerseys and white pants for home games, and all-white for road games.

Turns out that the road uniforms now will be white jerseys and orange pants.

When Golden was asked about the back-to-basic uniforms with no other options, as originally relayed, he was surprised (especially about the all-white uni, it seems).

"I don't think we're a [Nike Pro] combat team this year, so that's out. But in terms of the other colors, I haven't even talked to [equipment manager] Bobby [Revilla] or the AD about it. I do have something to do with it. But I didn't know we were going to be all white and what's the other?  We'll get that tied down for you.''

  UM later made the update, and did note, when I called and asked, that other color combinations could be used periodically.

 So for those who love those weird combos or the out-there looks, there's still hope. However, if the Canes keep winning, I'm betting they'll keep it simple.

TIDBITS

LT Seantrel Henderson is out-and-about already after back surgery on Aug. 8. Guard Brandon Linder said Henderson spent Thursday with the players and attended position meetings. Henderson is not back at practice and will be out indefinitely.

WR LaRon Byrd and CB Brandon McGee wore yellow non-contact jerseys Friday. McGee was limping but Byrd seemed OK.

Golden said there's no update on the statuses of RB Kevin Grooms, LB Antonio Kinard and DT Corey King. They are still waiting for clearance from the NCAA Eligibility Center (formerly called the NCAA Clearinghouse).

  --SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN