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."

September 01, 2015

Depth chart shows us Canes very reliant on two most recent signing classes

When UM released its depth chart Sunday night there were 55 players listed on offense (29) and defense (26).

While the Hurricanes have 80 scholarship players on the roster (79 if you don't count RB Gus Edwards who was lost for the season), the most coach Al Golden said he's had during his tenure, it's interesting to see who exactly is being counted on at least on paper to carry the bulk of the weight.

One way to look at it is by class: 11 seniors, 15 juniors, 14 sophomores, 14 freshmen. 

I prefer to look at it a different way -- recruiting class: 2011 (3), 2012 (10), 2013 (12), 2014 (21) and 2015 (9). 

A year ago at this time, after UM opened the season with an ugly loss at Louisville, I wrote a story on how player retention woes from Golden's first three recruiting classes were killing the Canes.

It still is.

Here's an update to some those recruiting stats I put out last year:

> Of the 71 players signed by Golden his first three years on the job, 11 finished their careers at UM (two were first round picks) and only 28 are still on the roster (16 are starters, 9 backups heading into 2015). Perhaps more frightening than that: nine of those 71 signees never got on the field (six never made it into school) and 23 have left the program (either dismissed or transferred). So only 39 of the 71 recruits in Golden's first three classes truly panned out. 

Now, of the 55 players on UM's latest depth chart, only 25 are part of Golden's first three signing classes. That means the remaining 30 players are from his last two signing classes. So, he's relying more on his newest recruits than his older ones to deliver. 

BREAKDOWN: CANES DEPTH CHART BY RECRUITING CLASS (55 players, 26 starters)

2011 (19 players signed, 8 finished their careers at UM, 3 are on the depth chart, 2 are starters): WR Rashawn Scott (starter); S Dallas Crawford (starter), LG Hunter Wells (backup)

2012 (33 players signed, 3 finished their careers at UM, 13 are still around, 10 are on the depth chart, 5 starters): RG Danny Isidora (starter), ILB Raphael Kirby (starter), CB Tracy Howard (starter), WR Herb Waters (starter), S Deon Bush (co-starter), WR Malcolm Lewis (backup), S Rayshawn Jenkins (backup) OLB Tyriq McCord (backup), TE Jake O'Donnell (backup)

2013 (19 players signed, 12 are still around, 9 are starters, 3 are backups): WR Stacy Coley (starter), LG Alex Gall (starter), RT Sunny Odogwu (starter), TE Standish Dobard (starter), DE Ufomba Kamalu (starter),ILB Jermaine Grace (starter), CB Artie Burns (starter), CB Corn Elder (starter), S Jamal Carter (co-starter), C Hunter Knighton (backup), RB Walter Tucker (backup), OLB Al-Quadin Muhammad (backup)

2014 (27 players signed, 26 are still around, 21 are on the depth chart, 9 are starters, 12 are backups): QB Brad Kaaya (starter), RB Joe Yearby (co-starter), LT Trevor Darling (starter), C Nick Linder (starter), H-Back Christopher Herndon (starter), NG Calvin Heurtelou (starter), DT Courtel Jenkins (starter), OLB Trent Harris (starter), OLB Darrion Owens (starter), QB Malik Rosier (backup), RB Trayone Gray (backup), WR Braxton Berrios (backup), LT Kc McDermott (backup), RG Joe Brown (backup), H-Back David Njoku (backup), DE Chad Thomas (backup), NG Michael Wyche (backup), DT Anthony Moten (backup), ILB Terry McCray (backup), ILB Marques Gayot (backup), OLB Demetrius Jackson (backup)

2015 (22 players signed, all are on the roster, 9 are on the depth chart, one is a starter): RB Mark Walton (co-starter), WR Lawrence Cager (backup), LG Tyler Gauthier (backup), RT Tyree St. Louis (backup), TE Jerome Washington (backup), DE RJ McIntosh (backup), NG Kendrick Norton (backup), CB Sheldrick Redwine (backup), S Jaquan Johnson (backup)

August 19, 2015

UM president Julio Frenk attends Wednesday morning's Canes practice, talks to team

It was a presidential Wednesday morning at Greentree Practice Field.

New UM president Julio Frenk met with the team for about six minutes prior to the start of Wednesday's drills. First he spoke to the coaches and players. Then, he put on a Canes jersey (No. 1) and posed for photos with the seniors. He was given an autographed football from the team.

Frenk did not speak to reporters, but we did shoot pictures of his meeting with the players and team. 

I didn't notice it upon first glance, but Frenk was actually given an old Nike jersey. I'm sure once UM's new Adidas jerseys arrive it will be switched out.

Here's what Frenk tweeted out two days ago when he arrived on campus at UM for his first official day on the job.

For you football fans, I only noticed two players in red non-contact jerseys this morning. Those were receivers Malcolm Lewis and Braxton Berrios.

There also was some interesting music selections being played. It sounded like someone raided the CD collection of running backs coach Tim "Ice" Harris.

August 07, 2015

July 07, 2015

Canes all-time leading rusher Duke Johnson hosting charity bowling event

Fans of former Miami Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson know he loves to bowl.

So, at 7 p.m. tonight – Tuesday, July 7 – Johnson will do what he loves while raising money to provide equipment and uniforms for underprivileged schoolchildren through the Duke Johnson Foundation, as well as for his mother’s charity “Young Women Facing their Future.”

The Young Women Facing their Future mentoring program helps empower Miami-Dade youth ages 7 to 18.

The Bowling for Kids event is at Strike 10 Bowling & Sports Lounge at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, and will run until about1 a.m., Johnson’s mother, Cassandra Mitchell, said.

Tonight’s program is the foundation’s inaugural event. People who attend can hang out with Johnson, the Canes’ all-time rushing leader who was drafted in the third round by the Cleveland Browns.

Johnson will sign autographs and pose for photos with event-goers, who can also participate in a separate event tournament that allows bowlers to donate extra to Johnson’s foundation.

Cost is $20 a person for unlimited bowling.

Call 305-699-3837 for more information.

Kaaya named to Maxwell watch list

University of Miami sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya was named to the watch list for the 79th annual Maxwell Award on Tuesday by the Maxwell Football Club.

The Maxwell Award, named in honor of Robert W. "Tiny" Maxwell, has been given to America's College Player of the Year since 1937. Maxwell's contributions to the game of football were extensive, including time as a player, a sportswriter and an official.

Kaaya received the preseason honor after he authored one of the finest first-year campaign’s in school history, while guiding the Hurricanes to their second-consecutive bowl appearance.

During his rookie campaign, Kaaya was the only true freshman quarterback in the country to throw for over 3,000 yards, 26-or-more touchdowns and 12-or-fewer interceptions.

In addition, Kaaya rewrote the Hurricanes’ freshman record book as he set the single season freshman standard for passing yards and touchdowns. He finished the year with 3,198 passing yards and 26 touchdown passes. His 26 touchdown passes from a year ago tied him with Heisman Trophy winning signal-caller Vinny Testaverde for third all-time.

This is the third preseason honor Kaaya has received this summer. In the month of June, he was named to both the Phil Steele and Athlon Sports Preseason All-Conference Team.

Kaaya is one of 20 sophomores that were named to the Maxwell Watch List and was one of just eight sophomore quarterbacks that were recognized nationally.

June 30, 2015

Donor gives UM $1 million to help fund football scholarship

University of Miami alumnus Scott C. Mueller, BBA ’85 and CEO of Dealer Tire, has made a gift of $1 million to establish The Scott C. Mueller Endowed Football Scholarship at the University of Miami.

The gift will help fund a scholarship in perpetuity for a student on the football team.

Mueller, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, attended the University of Miami on an academic scholarship and never forgot the opportunity the University gave him.

“I was fortunate enough to earn a scholarship while attending the University of Miami,” Mueller said. “I always thought it was a great honor and a tremendous break in my life and I want to make sure that I pay back that generosity by helping another student. The hard work and commitment of Miami’s students- athletes is very inspiring to me and I want to ensure the University is positioned for future success.”

Mueller, who lives in the Cleveland area, co-founded Dealer Tire in 2001 with his brother, Dean, and father, Walter, after selling the 84 year-old family business, Mueller Tire & Brake. Dealer Tire supplies tires and accessories to car dealers and manufacturers and is one of the largest distributors of tires in the nation.

Mueller has been a fan of Miami football since his days as an undergraduate student in the early 1980s, when the Hurricanes captured their first National Championship under head coach Howard Schnellenberger.

“On behalf of the University of Miami, I would like to thank Scott for his unwavering support and generosity to our Athletics Program,” said Miami Athletic Director Blake James. “This leadership gift will provide an academic and athletic opportunity to a deserving young man who will proudly represent UM on the football field while working toward a degree. Scott truly defines what it means to be a Miami Hurricane and we can’t thank him enough for his passion and support of our student-athletes.”

The University of Miami Department of Athletics fields 17 varsity sports with over 400 plus student-athletes and has won 21 national championships. Almost 260 student-athletes receive athletic scholarship dollars.

June 25, 2015

Gadbois announces he's no longer part of Hurricanes football team; UM says they dismissed him

Taylor Gadbois' days as a Miami Hurricane are over.

The 6-8, 321-pound junior offensive tackle, who started five games at right tackle last season before going down with a season-ending knee injury versus Duke, was dismissed from the football team on Thursday.

Before UM announced the news, Gadbois posted it on Twitter.

Coach Al Golden released the following statement via a press release: “Taylor is a bright young man and we wish him the best in his future academic and athletic endeavors."

Gadbois was expected to start the season on suspension for unspecified reasons.

His departure leaves an already young and inexperienced UM offensive line a little more depleted.

The Canes lost three starters on the line: Ereck Flowers left early for the NFL Draft and was taken in the first round by the Giants, and seniors Jon Feliciano and Shane McDermott.

The only returning starter with plenty of experience is right guard Danny Isidora.

Sophomore Trevor Darling started the final five games of the season at right tackle. Darling and sophomore Kc McDermott are expected to be the first team offensive tackles.

Gadbois was very confident he was going to be the starting left tackle this coming season. He spoke with Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post during a local youth football event last week. Here's a link to what Gadbois told Porter.  

April 21, 2015

Kiper ranks Dorsett highest of Hurricanes draft eligible players; Gruden 'shocked Miami didn't have more success on field'

Our Barry Jackson will have a more in depth report on what analysts think of potential Miami Hurricanes draft picks in his Buzz column later this week, but this is what Jon Gruden and Mel Kiper had to say about them Tuesday.

The Miami Hurricanes haven't had a first round pick since the New York Giants took Kenny Phillips 31st overall in 2008.

But that figures to change a week from Thursday. 

Receiver Phillip Dorsett and offensive tackle Ereck Flowers are two Hurricanes ESPN analysts Jon Gruden and Mel Kiper believe are worthy of first round selections. Both raved about Dorsett and Flowers Tuesday on separate conference calls with the media.

"I told several people that I talk to in the league that my favorite players in this draft are Miami Hurricanes," said Gruden, once thought to be a candidate himself to be the Hurricanes coach before Al Golden was hired. "I love [Ereck] Flowers at left tackle. I think he's going to be a Pro Bowl lineman. I don't know if he's going to be a right tackle, a guard or a left tackle. He's just a pup. But he is big, he is powerful and he has the playing style I love. I can't tell you how much I love Flowers at left tackle."

Kiper projects Flowers anywhere from the 20th pick to the 32nd in the first round. Kiper has Dorsett rated even higher.

"When you look at Dorsett and run like he does, in the 4.2s, a 4.33 at the combine, a 4.2 at his Pro Day, you catch the ball and you're gone," Kiper said. "[He's] a great kid, the ultimate team player, a positive personality, great leader, great versatility. The T.Y. Hilton comparisons I think are valid. Although I think Hilton tracks the ball down the field a little bit better, I think Dorsett is a first round pick.

"I think [linebacker Denzel] Perryman is a second round pick. I think [tight end Clive] Walford is a second round pick. As I said before, [center Shane] McDermott and [guard Jon] Feliciano are going to play in this league. I don't care where they're drafted. [Ladarius] Gunter, the corner, could get drafted. [Defensive end Anthony] Chickillo, [will be taken] late. There's a lot of Miami of Florida players that are going to come into this league and play. As I said before, had they not come into that FSU game and lost, their year would have finished a heck of a lot different than it did."

Running back Duke Johnson, like Flowers, is entering the draft as an underclassman. Kiper projects him as a third or fourth round pick because of "durability issues."

I asked Kiper if he thought Johnson should have returned to school for his senior season to raise his stock.

"Well, there's two ways to look at that. If you go back and get hurt again, have injuries, then all of a sudden there are major durability concerns," Kiper said. "You roll the dice either way on that and strike gold or have a major problem and then fall down maybe further than say the third or fourth round, which is where I think he'll go. If you can keep him healthy...

"Some guys come in banged up and then they never get hurt once they're in the league. Some guys are completely healthy and get hurt right away and have injury problems. You never know how injuries are going to correlate to pro careers based on past history. There's no guarantee or certainty that's going to happen. He may be fine. But he has shown injury issues and durability is a concern. He has great kick return ability too if you go back to a couple years at Miami prior to this season. I think he's a third or fourth round draft choice."

Gruden seems to think Johnson is going to be a steal. He's also very fond of Perryman and Dorsett.

"[Perryman] is on my All-Gruden Grinder team," Gruden said. "He's like [Jon] Beason, he's like all those Jonathan Vilma guys that have come through there. He makes a lot of tackles. He's a great communicator, biggest hitter in the draft. Perryman can play.

"And if you don't like Duke Johnson, you have to tell me why. Maybe he's not big enough. But he can return. He's a great receiver. Anybody I talk to down there tells me he has the heart of a lion just like [Willis] McGahee and just like [Clinton] Portis and [Frank] Gore had. He makes a lot of yards and a lot of plays.

"And Dorsett, is there a faster, more dynamic player in the draft? I mean this kid can fly.

"I'm really shocked Miami didn't have more success on the field, but those four Hurricanes are going to go high. You watch. They're going to go real high in this draft and make some people real happy." 

March 28, 2015

Replacing a handful of NFL draft picks no easy task, but here's where UM made strides this spring

The Miami Hurricanes have to replace 11 starters and potentially five players who look like they will get taken within the first three rounds of the NFL Draft next month: running back Duke Johnson, receiver Phillip Dorsett, offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, tight end Clive Walford and linebacker Denzel Perryman.

So is there enough talent in Coral Gables to improve upon a 6-7 season and contend for the Atlantic Coast Conference title?

That was a hard question to answer at Saturday's spring game especially with a trio of key players out with injuries (cornerback Tracy Howard, defensive tackle Calvin Heurtelou, safety Rayshawn Jenkins), another held out because he broke curfew (running back Joe Yearby) and 17 of the 22 recruits in the signing class still yet to arrive on campus.

But here's what offensive coordinator James Coley and defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said they saw this spring in terms of growth: 

> Even though he split time this spring between baseball and football, redshirt freshman Malik Rosier (6-1, 212) has impressed all camp and was sound again Saturday. He engineered a 12-play, 84-yard scoring drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown pass to receiver Braxton Berrios and it's clear coaches feel better about its backup quarterback situation.

"He's juggling two different calendars right now," Coley said. "When he goes full time in the fall it's going to be fun -- because he can play man, he can run. He's a really good athlete."

Although he struggled Saturday and was picked off three times, starter Brad Kaaya "got better every week as well," Coley said. "His passing percentage was sick all spring long, 78-80 percent."

> Gus Edwards left Saturday's scrimmage with a left shoulder injury, but running backs coach Ice Harris said the junior has clearly taken the next step in terms of development.

Coley said Edwards will enter the fall as the No. 1-back ahead of Yearby. Coley said Edwards has some of the fastest "GPS numbers" on the team, which measures speed, effort and distance traveled and he isn't worried about him being too big for the position.

"You see consistency with the reads, the decision making, when he's running routes, his protections," Coley said. "With his overall consistency you can feel comfortable calling the base offense with him starting the game. Either way, they're both going to play."

> Replacing the speedy Dorsett, who helped stretch the field won't be easy, but Coley believes he has two receivers capable of it. 

"Stacy [Coley] and Herb [Waters]," he said. "Herb's got to come down with a couple of those catches, but he was open. He's just go to finish the play. Stacy, we just need to get him the ball. He's wide open. There was a couple times [Saturday] there where we missed a guy up front and Brad's got to scramble. He's got Stacy breaking open and can't get him."

> Who is the most improved offensive weapon? "I would say Malcolm Lewis because of the strides he hit with getting his weight down," Coley said. "He made so many plays this spring. I would say it's hard to say Malcolm Lewis isn't back to his speed."

> Replacing Walford at tight end, who led the team in catches (44), appears to be a tougher task. Junior Standish Dobard had another drop Saturday and Coley admitted he's been inconsistent in camp. Newcomer Jerome Washington also still needs to make a lot of strides. 

> UM's offensive line, which must replace four starters (right guard Danny Isidora is the only full-timer back), gave up six sacks Saturday and clearly has to make the biggest improvement of any unit. A healthy Kc McDermott (he was around for only four spring practices), Taylor Gadbois and the addition of five recruits will help, Coley said.

> Does UM have a linebacker that can remotely fill the shoes of Denzel Perryman at linebacker?

"One guy? Not one guy," D'Onofrio said. "He had physical gifts and the ability to time those [big hits] up and see them happen, annihilate the ball carrier. That's a skill that he had and he brought and not everybody has that level of explosiveness to them, but that doesn't mean they can't be great players. 

"Everybody has their own skill set and I'm pleased with the group. We have to build some depth, get guys in a position where they can impact the game. But I like the direction we went in."

D'Onofrio said senior Raphael Kirby is the leader of the group "that sets the standard in meetings, on the field, how he prepares."

"Obviously Jermaine [Grace] has a unique skill set in that he can run," he continued. "Darrion Owens is different. He's 6-3 and he can do a lot of things for us. They're all kind of different in their own way and they're all improving."

> Although the defensive line must replace two starters who logged a lot of playing time in Anthony Chickillo and Olsen Pierre, D'Onofrio said he's pleased he has six former first year players who garnered plenty of experience last season. 

Who is the best pass rusher?

"I'd rather talk about most improved," D'Onofrio said with a chuckle. "I think [Ufomba] Kamalu made some really big strides. Chad [Thomas] is gifted, so he's got an opportunity where he can just beat guys easily at times. I think Trent Harris has made really big strides. For a young player, he's really a technician both in the run game and the pass game. He knows how to use his hands to beat guys, knows how to setup moves and do all that kind of stuff."

> D'Onofrio said new defensive line coach Randy Melvin has been stressing a different technique when it comes to pass rushing that he prefers. 

"If you meet a point of resistance we can't stop and try to bat down balls," D'Onofrio said. "We want to keep collapsing the pocket, keep making progress on the quarterback. That was a big goal and I think we did that. I see the guys doing that right now, working their countermoves. Randy has done a great job."

> As for the secondary, which lost only senior Ladarius Gunter to graduation and junior Antonio Crawford (he quit the team), D'Onofrio feels like the safeties made tremendous growth.

"The No. 1 thing back there that they have to be able to do, they have to be able to communicate, get us in the right call," D'Onofrio said. "[Jamal Carter] and Dallas [Crawford] made huge strides in that area. Very proud of what they've done there."

The Hurricanes have three corners and one safety coming in the fall. If needed, D'Onofrio said, Deon Bush would be his first choice to switch from safety to corner in a pinch. Gunter did that the other way, moving from corner to safety, last season.

"Deon played some corner today," he said. "He'd been doing it throughout the spring. That's something we always try to do, look ahead and down the line, move guys around a little bit."

March 16, 2015

Canes slugger David Thompson named ACC Player of the Week; Football announces staff promotions, additions

It was a big week at the plate for Hurricanes third baseman David Thompson and it paid off Monday when he was honored as the ACC's Player of the Week.

Thompson hit .524 (11-for-21) with two doubles, three home runs and a team-high 13 RBI as the Hurricanes went 5-0. Thompson’s walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning Friday keyed a three-game sweep of NC State over the weekend.

In a 15-4 win over FGCU last Tuesday, Thompson set career marks with four hits and six RBI and came just a triple shy of the cycle. His slugging percentage was 1.048 for the week. For the season, he is hitting .354 with team-high totals of four home runs and 26 RBI, and his .608 slugging percentage leads all players.

UM has a 12-1 record at Mark Light Field this season, and is ranked in the top 25 of every national poll. The Hurricanes return to the diamond Tuesday for a midweek matchup with Army before traveling to Wake Forest for a weekend series.

FOOTBALL STAFF NEWS

The Miami Hurricanes on Monday formally announced the promotion of current staff members Larry Scott, Kareem Brown, Eric Josephs and Jorge Baez, and the addition of Josh Darrow, Evan Cooper and Jake Flaherty to the staff.

Scott, the tight ends coach, will add the title of run game coordinator. Brown, a former graduate assistant who has spent time coaching the defensive line, will serve as the outside linebackers coach and direct the team’s nickel package defense. Josephs, who spent the last two years in the football operations department, is now director of player personnel. Baez will serve as the coordinator of on-campus recruiting/offensive personnel.

The three additions to the Hurricanes’ staff will feature Darrow moving into the role of assistant director of football operations (high school relations and community affairs), Cooper as the assistant director of player personnel, and Flaherty serving as the team’s offensive graduate assistant.

Scott is no stranger to working with running backs as he served as the running backs coach at USF in 2012. For Brown, a former Hurricane, this will be the first time he serves as an assistant coach.

Prior to his arrival at UM, Josephs had three different intern stints in the NFL, working with the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles. In his new capacity, Josephs will be responsible for the identification, selection, organization and flow charts of perspective recruits. In addition, the 2008 Miami alum will be responsible for the recruiting travel logistics of coach Al Golden.

Baez, a Miami native, came to UM after spending the 2013 season as Gulliver Prep’s offensive coordinator and two seasons at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La. where he worked as the team’s wide receivers coach and co-passing game coordinator. Baez will now coordinate all unofficial visits, independent junior days and continue with his role as the team’s offensive player personnel director.

Darrow has been a sideline reporter for UM football since 1999 and covered South Florida high school, college and professional sports for nearly 15 years at WQAM and SFHSSports.com. He will coordinate the Hurricanes’ 7-on-7 Clinic, oversee the program’s in-house social media messaging, manage high school coaching visits to spring practice, direct gameday experiences for youth coaches, oversee instructional clinics in South Florida, supervise the Deserve Victory Tour and coordinate team community events.

Flaherty arrives in Coral Gables after serving as an offensive quality control assistant at Montana State University. Under Flaherty’s assistance, the Bobcats offensive unit averaged nearly 500 yards per game (488.3). MSU finished the year with an 8-4 record and just missed out on a bid to the NCAA playoffs. In addition, Flaherty spent the summer of 2013 working as a Dallas Cowboys training camp intern. During the summer of 2013, Flaherty worked closely with the Cowboys wide receivers under assistant coach Derek Dooley. As student-athlete, Flaherty played four years at wide receiver at Bucknell University.

Cooper joins the staff after spending the past two seasons serving as a defensive graduate assistant at Temple University where he played. Cooper spent two seasons as the defensive backs coach at Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy prior to that. At Temple, Cooper played for Golden and had 44 tackles during his senior season en route to earning the 2008 Carlos Diaz Award as the most improved player following his final season.

February 27, 2015

Late addition to 2015 signing class CB Terrance Henley will replace Antonio Crawford

Sometimes a scholarship spot just opens up.

HenleyIn the case of Pompano Ely cornerback Terrance Henley, a senior who didn't get the qualifying ACT test score he needed until National Signing Day, one finally did this week down at the University of Miami. Friday afternoon, the 6-foot, 170-pound senior became the latest addition to the Hurricanes 2015 signing class when he faxed over his signed national letter of intent to the UM offices.

Although UM has yet to officially announce his signing, it's expected Henley will take the spot of senior cornerback Antonio Crawford, whose mother told Canesport Friday her son had been granted his release. UM's sports information department said Friday at 3:30 p.m. it had no official news regarding Henley or Crawford as of yet. 

As for Henley, he was happy.

"It's been a very emotional time of late," Henley said. "When I found out I passed my ACT on Signing Day I was extremely happy, tears of joy. But when me and [assistant principal Malcolm] Spence called schools and they told me they were full I felt like giving up. Mr. Spence just told me to be patient, my time will come. And it came. Miami said they had an opening because one of their seniors left."

Henley was an unranked, no-star recruit according to 247Sports. But he said he was always on UM's radar, having shined at their camp with one of the fastest 40-times (4.5 seconds). A two-year starter at Ely, Henley said he intercepted three passes as a senior and six as a junior.

"I had about five or six other offers," Henley explained. "All the colleges asked me for my scores and I didn't have the scores. So basically my offer was just sitting there and other players kept filling that spot. James Madison, UAB, FIU, Temple, Tennessee State, Miami and Southwest Baptist were the schools who recruited me and told me I had offers."

Henley, who runs track (he said his fastest time in the 100 meters was 10.7 seconds), said he will be enrolled at UM this summer.

"Like I told the defensive coordinator [Mark D'Onofrio], I'll play wherever they can put me to try and get us a championship," he said. "I've always worn orange and green -- from high school to pop warner with the Pompano Chiefs. Miami was always my favorite school growing up."

Henley's younger cousin is one of the area's top 2017 recruits -- Cardinal Gibbons receiver Leroy Henley, an All-Broward First Team selection with 52 catches for 730 yards and eight touchdowns in 2014. Miami is hot on his trail. 

"The thing with me and my little cousin is we always wanted to play together," Terrance said. "By me going to Miami most likely, like 99 percent likely, my little cousin is going to end up coming to Miami too."

As for Crawford, he ends his career with 58 career tackles and two starts. He was in the rotation at cornerback and played a lot, but apparently unhappy with his role.

"I wanted him to stay, told him to stay, but it's his decision," Crawford's mother Shawanda Rogers told Canesport. "He said he wants to play somewhere else, wants to be a starter, doesn't want to be second [string]. He just feels that he's going to try to play somewhere else."

Here's what Crawford tweeted out this afternoon.

> Meanwhile, UM picked up its fifth Class of 2017 commitment Friday when Miami Norland offensive tackle Kadeem Telfort (6-6, 310) announced on Twitter he was committing to the Canes.

Telfort wants to follow in the footsteps of former Norland grad Ereck Flowers, who is expected to be UM's first first round pick since 2007.

February 26, 2015

Berrios on Canes '#Swag16' recruiting class: "From what I've seen, every commitment is real."

They've gotten so popular they have their own hash tag. They call themselves the #Swag16.

The Miami Hurricanes 2016 recruiting class is currently 18 commitments strong and tabbed No. 1 in the country in both sheer size of commitments and overall ranking.

And yet, as UM fans learned through a bevy of de-commitments last recruiting season, it all means absolutely nothing until those commitments sign on the dotted line and make it official on National Signing Day 2016.

So why should we care about commitments? Why should we believe this class will remain intact 12 months from now? There really is no reason. Really, it's just another barometer to measure the job Golden is doing. If he wins, the commits probably stick. If the Canes stink, they'll likely flee.

It's pretty simple really: 12 months is a really long time for a lot of things to happen. 

"They committed early and that's a great thing. I just hope that it's a strong commitment and not for publicity or whatever," said receiver Braxton Berrios, who was part of a 2014 UM class (Brad Kaaya, Joe Yearby, Chad Thomas were other leaders) who bought into Golden's long term vision. 

"With this whole social media, Twitter, Instagram, type era -- that's the big thing publicity, followers. From what I've seen, every commitment that we have is real. They're serious about it. They're diehard Canes or they want to be. So we love it. We love getting commitments and we want them to be here.

"They seem to be together kind of like we were [in 2014]. We want to know as the senior class leaves the next class is coming in. If we can get the snowball rolling now imagine what it can be going into summer and into winter."

UM, set to host another Junior Day this coming Saturday, is still dealing with NCAA sanctions from the Nevin Shapiro scandal.

We learned recently the Canes will still be three scholarships short in 2016. Football recruits also can still only attend one free game (football, basketball, whatever) while the program is on probation. Golden said this weekend's junior day will be "a little tricky because we have some guys coming that have been to a football game so they can't go to the [North] Carolina basketball game."

Still, the Hurricanes -- despite going 6-7 in 2014 -- have found a way to thrive in recruiting (the 2015 class aside). Although UM lost a 2016 commitment from Lakeland defensive tackle Keyshon Camp Wednesday, they've picked up a dozen other commitments between the classes of 2017 and even 2018 since their first Junior Day back on Jan. 25.

How in the world has that happened?

"I just think we've had a lot of guys that identified with what we're doing and who we are and are matches for us," said Golden, who said the fact UM has poured millions into upgrading its facilities -- practice fields ($7M), training tables ($3M), student center ($56M) -- has helped out tremendously.

"I don't look at it like it's a philosophy," Golden continued. "A lot of them wanted to do it and be a part of it. I think it's great. But it's a long way to go as you guys know. We'll just keep moving forward. We have a lot of work to do."

And nearly all of that work is on the field. Going from 6-3 to 6-7 last season certainly hurt the Canes down the recruiting stretch. The Canes have to prove in 2015 they can win from start to finish and really contend for the ACC title, not just flirt with it. Or, Golden, and most of his recruits, could be gone. At the end of the 2014 season, it was the top recruits who bolted.

"I don't think the Class of '16 having [18] commitments right now [can be] bad," Berrios said when asked how potential decommitments in the 2016 class could be more damaging in the long run. "Obviously that means people want to be here. When they go on Yahoo and see the class rankings they see we're ahead [that helps]. Obviously we want them to come here if they're committed here. If they don't, they don't.

"I think [how we play on the field ultimately] always plays a factor. You look at the last few years, not even with us, just other teams. I think how you close out the year [on the field] and how close it is to signing day -- that little sway -can influence kids. So I think it's always relative and it always matters."

A LOOK AT UM'S 2016, 2017 and 2018 COMMITMENTS
2016-Jack Allison, QB, Palmetto, Fla., 6-5, 181, 3-stars (Committed since 6/23/14)
2016-Mike Pinckney, LB, Jacksonville Raines, 6-0, 213, 3-stars (6/24/14)
2016-Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Orange Park Oakleaf, 6-0, 239, 4-stars (6/25/14)
2016-Dionte Mullins, WR, Gulliver Prep, 5-10, 175, 4-stars (7/4/14)
2016-Sam Bruce, WR, St. Thomas Aquinas, 5-8, 178, 4-stars (7/8/14)
2016-Ahmmon Richards, WR, Wellington, 6-3, 175, 3-stars (7/22/14)
2016-Zach McCloud, LB, Lantana Santaluces, 6-2, 215, 3-stars (11/17/14)
2016-Isaiah Johnson, WR, West Palm Beach Dwyer, 6-3, 190, 3-stars (12/15/14)
2017-Todd Centeio, QB, West Palm Beach Dwyer, 6-0, 190, NR (12/16/14)
2016-Cedrick Wright, ATH, Gulliver Prep, 5-10, 180, 3-stars (1/25/15)
2016-Joseph Jackson, DE, Gulliver Prep, 6-6, 245, 4-stars (1/25/15)
2016-Amir Rasul, RB, Coral Gables, 5-10, 188, 3-stars (1/25/15)
2016-Devin Gil, DB, Flanagan, 6-1, 195, 3-stars (1/26/15)
2016-Tyler Byrd, ATH, Naples, 5-11, 160, 4-stars (2/3/15)
2016-James Wiggins, DB, South Dade, 5-10, 185, 3-stars (2/13/15)
2016-Evan Hinson, DE, Deltona, 6-5, 210, 0-stars (2/13/15)
2016-McArthur Burnett, RB, Pahokee, 6-1, 180, 3-stars (2/17/15)
2016-Greg Simmons, LB, Fort Pierce Central, 6-2, 225, 3-stars (2/18/15)
2017-Bentavious Thompson, RB, Killian, 6-0, 183, NR (2/22/15)
2018-A.J. Blades, DB, University School, 6-1, 147 NR (2/22/15)
2016-Deion Jackson, DB, Hallandale, 6-1, 170, 3-stars (2/24/15)

***********************

THURSDAY'S PRACTICE NOTES

> Thursday's practice featured the return of linebackers Terry McCray and Jermaine Grace, who missed Tuesday's practice because of academic issues.

"His teammates are irate," Golden said of Grace, a projected starter, missing practice Tuesday. "Puts a stress on a lot of different components, whether it’s special teams or their position or the defense, it puts stress. Some guys have to learn two positions, some guys have to take more reps, nobody wants to, nobody should have to do that. You gotta handle your business.

> Running back Trayone Gray still hasn't returned from dealing with his academic issues. Cornerback Antonio Crawford, who has expressed his dismay on social media with the way he's being used at Miami, missed his second straight practice.

"I’m not pleased where that is and he knows what he needs to do," Golden said of Gray. "There’s no resolution [as far as Crawford]. When we have resolution I’ll share that with you. Again, we just always, we don’t live in the world that you guys live in. I’m sorry. But when they’re our student-athletes and it’s sensitive and everything, we’ve got to give them they’re time and space and their privacy."

> Offensive tackle Kc McDermott, who had knee surgery in late October, said Thursday he will be back on the practice field as a full participant starting March 17.

> With three NFL-bound skill players in Duke Johnson, Clive Walford and Phillip Dorsett already out the door I asked Mark D'Onofrio Thursday who on UM's offense he thinks will keep defensive coordinators on their toes in 2015.

“Obviously, our tailbacks that can carry the ball," he said. "They come in different shapes and sizes. Gus [Edwards] being really big and also fast. He’s going to be a guy, 235-plus pounds, really runs well, I think everybody’s going to have to deal with. Obviously, Joe [Yearby] has his skill set too to break big ones and make people miss. There are a few other guys over there doing that. On the perimeter, [Stacy] Coley, we all know what he’s capable of doing. We’ve seen that. Rashawn Scott has been really, really impressive. That’s not surprising to me because last year, he redshirted. He was able to come back, we saw him do some things. He’s been very competitive and going for the ball. We’re playing with multiple tight ends so, those guys are starting to get chances. Standish [Dobard] is a guy that’s improved every year. You’re starting to see Chris Herndon over there. These are the guys that you feel. Across the board, we still have that size and athleticism at the tight end position."

> D'Onofrio said rush-end Al-Quadin Muhammad has "to be a first and second-down player" for the Hurricanes in 2015.

"When he played for us as a freshman, what I tried to do with those guys is really -- like we did last year with Chad [Thomas], we give them that [third down] role first," he said. "Where can they impact the team, easiest, without having to learn everything and where they can just get their skill in the game and that’s usually where we’ve added those guys on third down. But in the case of both guys, Quan not being here last year and this being his second year, and Chad, they’re really going to have to be every-down players for us and we’ll feel their impact on the field because they’re both guys that can do a lot of good things.”

February 12, 2015

New Canes assistant Randy Melvin explains how he got reunited with his old boss Al Golden

New Hurricanes defensive line coach Randy Melvin has been coaching football since 1982 -- right around the time personal computers like the Commodore 64 started to become mainstream. 

So how did the 55-year-old, former Temple, FIU assistant and Super Bowl-winning coach with the Patriots end up reuniting with his old boss Al Golden again earlier this week? Naturally, the internet.

“The beauty of social media," Melvin said Thursday during a 15-minute talk with local Hurricanes beat writers. "Looking online, seeing movement [is how I found out UM was looking for a new defensive line coach]. I actually was on my phone and I saw that Jethro [Franklin] was leaving [for the Oakland Raiders]. So I tried to make contact and go through the proper channels. We visited on a couple of occasions and went forward from there.”

Melvin, who started his coaching career the same year Canes offensive line coach Art Kehoe did (they are the elder statesmen on the staff), has been around the block a few times. He started off as a high school assistant in Ohio, worked his way into a head coach in Illinois and then made the jump to college at Eastern Illinois in 1988. He spend time at Wyoming (1995-96), Purdue (1997-99), Rutgers (2002-04, 2010), Temple (2009) and most recently FIU (2014).

Along the way he hit the pros too coaching alongside Bill Belichick in New England in 2000 and 2001 and winning the Super Bowl his last year there before Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel took him to Cleveland for four years from 2005 to 2008. Melvin spent a year coaching the British Columbia Lions in the CFL in 2011 and then two more with the Tampa Bay Bucs in 2012 and 2013 before FIU coach Ron Turner took him with to South Florida.

Now, Melvin is rejoining Golden. In 2009, Temple's staff was being treated like superstars in Philadelphia following a 9-4 season. Now, Melvin is rejoining Golden as he's on the hot seat and coming off a 6-7 season. Why would he want to do that? Melvin likes Golden and believes in him.

“I guess really in reality I’m immune to that," Melvin said of the critics. "Because I’ve been let go before. That’s part of the game. The greatest pressure that anybody has is what they place on themselves. I can’t speak for him. I can speak for myself coming into this situation -- I put more pressure on myself than anybody else can. The whole thing is to get your team to play well and do what they’re supposed to do and allow the fans to celebrate with you.”

Melvin said Golden is "very, very detailed" and said he's a pleasure to work for "because he lets me coach."

"He has a unique creativity along with the ability to be detailed," Melvin said. "That’s the thing that really attracts me. Getting the pieces, coaching them up, that’s how you get things done properly. Sometimes it doesn’t build as fast people want. But when it’s done right, it’s built to last.”

Melvin, hired on Wednesday, said he's met with his future defensive linemen briefly but still can't put names to faces. He said he didn't recruit a single player at UM. But he said he will study plenty of tape in the nine days leading up to the starting of spring practice on Feb. 21 to see where certain guys have talent and others have flaws so he can help them. He said he likes the size of the guys he's been tasked to work with in UM's 3-4 scheme.

"I always kind of let guys know No. 1 you have to be physically able to handle it," Melvin said of what he preaches as a coach. "No. 2, be able to execute the defense. I’ve got to teach and you got to learn it. Everybody learns it a little differently. So we have to find ways to make sure you’re on point there. The final thing is they have to play with some effort, play with hustle. Defensive football in its simplest form is tackling the football. So you start the game there and then as a coach you work on consistency, technique and development to help them master some skills.”

> New receivers coach Kevin Beard, who we've covered plenty in the blog in the past week, said Thursday he's not taking over the recruiting coordinator duties held by previous receivers coach Brennan Carroll.

"I’ll be heavy into Broward County and a couple of other places," said Beard, a graduate of Plantation High in Broward. "But it will just be like every other coach. Just about building relationships. I’m just the wide receiver coach. I don’t know the full scale of the whole process. I’m learning on the go. Just happy to learn and grow.”

A former assistant on the successful South Florida Express 7-on-7 team, Beard said he believes his relationships on the 7-on-7 circuit will be a boon for him as a recruiter.

“It kind of gives you a lot eyes outside the university," Beard said. “I look at it like as when I was in the 7-on-7 world, I was friends with everyone. A lot of guys have made it into a rivalry or something like that. I just look it as an opportunity to help kids get better. So I feel like I have a lot of friends out there, places I can’t be – especially with guys I’m looking to recruit. [My friends] can be another ear or another voice that these guys can hear and they’ll say he’ll get you right and you can trust that guy.”

February 10, 2015

New Canes receivers coach Kevin Beard could be "the glue" that connects UM with elite local recruits again

New University of Miami receivers coach Kevin Beard went on the Joe Rose Show Tuesday morning and Hurricane Hotline Monday night and made it pretty clear he's excited about his new job.

The Hurricanes could definitely use a spark. 

Beard, 34, was promoted Monday from assistant director of football operations to coaching the position he once played for the Hurricanes from 1999 to 2003. For the past year, Beard said he served as "the bridge between the players and coaches" at UM. When someone would have a bad day, Beard said, he would be the guy coach Al Golden would send down to talk and mediate the situation, get the player to understand the reason he was being coached hard "was to make them better."

Now, Golden is looking to Beard to do the same as an assistant -- and as someone who could help mend relationships on the recruiting trail in South Florida.

Beard, a Plantation High graduate and former All-Broward star, definitely knows what it's like being on the other side of the fence from UM having served as an assistant coach at University School in Fort Lauderdale for four years and as a coach for the South Florida Express 7-on-7 team for six-plus years. For nearly a decade, Beard has worked with some of the most elite skill players to come out of the South Florida area.

He's respected.

Brett Goetz, the coach and founder of the South Florida Express, said adding Beard is a huge addition to the UM staff especially since he has great relationships with most of the star recruits in the area for 2016 and 2017.

UM has been criticized hard for missing out on local star receivers like Alabama's Amari Cooper (Miami Northwestern) and Florida State's Ermon Lane (Homestead High). Goetz said having Beard on staff might swing things in the Canes' favor now. 

"They all know KB," Goetz said of the top recruits, high school coaches and 7-on-7 coaches. "He has great relationships that are going to help them be in the mix for a lot of kids like [2017 receiver recruit] Emmanuel Green, [2016 St. Thomas Aquinas receiver] Sam Bruce. If KB was hired prior to last year’s signing class they probably would have had a good shot with Ermon Lane, Chris Lammons [South Carolina] and Travis Rudolph [now at Florida State] because Beard had great relationships with those kids.

"It’s also different recruiting down here than anywhere else in the country. There’s middle men. I think that makes it a lot more difficult to recruit here. Kevin knows what he wants to do here. He wants to go directly to the kid and the parents and avoid talking to people you don’t need to talk to. Kevin knows who to go to."

UM has landed several South Florida Express stars over the years. The list includes Duke Johnson, Deon Bush, Malcolm Lewis, Herb Waters, Tyree Brady, Tracy Howard and most recently Jaquan Johnson. They've had a harder time landing commitments from other 7-on-7 teams. 

Beard said Monday night he feels like he can be "a glue guy" between the community and the Canes. 

"I know what the community is missing, lacking, wants to see, wants to hear [from UM]," Beard said. "That’s what I want to bring to the table. I want the community, I want them to be heard. Once that happens things will definitely start changing a whole lot faster. The community will start getting back to being for us and not so much against us because of what the record is. They’ll see we’re making moves in the right direction and Coach Golden is the right guy for the job.”

Beard said recruiting in South Florida has become "the hardest place in America to recruit for the simple fact that everybody else in the country is trying to come in your backyard and take what’s yours."

"They’re throwing offers out to all kind of kids from the time they’re in the 10th grade, and then a lot of kids are saying, ‘Well, I got 15 offers from everybody in America but UM.’ If you offer a kid and then you back out on it, you’re going to get ridiculed, you’re going to get ripped for it," Beard said. "We try to do things the right way. Pretty much right now no matter what you do, you’re doing it wrong. I’m trying to bring [the right] mindset to the table.”

Goetz said he expects Beard to have a profound effect on Coley, who slumped during his sophomore year, and to get the most out of other top players at Miami like Herb Waters who have been up and down most of their careers.

“I really am going to dive into the technique of this position," Beard told Rose of what he will teach UM's receivers. "A lot of people don’t understand. They feel like if a receiver is fast, explosive and they can catch, they’re good. And the thing that makes the difference in good receivers and great receivers are the ones those that pay attention to detail, that are technicians. You can be a 4.5, 4.6 and beat a 4.3 defensive back based off technique. Technique makes the game easier. You play smarter and not harder. I think that’s the game changer for us right now. We’re really going to dive into the technique, the art of the position.”

Of Coley, Beard said: “I just feel like he needs a better understanding of who he is and who he wants to be. I think he came in – you know how high school guys are, he’s the No. 3 receiver in the country coming out of high school, Under Armour All-American. You feel like you’re that guy. He had all the success he had his freshman year, he kind of felt like I can be this same guy and still have the same success and it never turned to the next level. I think he stagnant, where he was. And I think it kind of caught him by surprise. So I think he’s disappointed in the way the season went. So, he’s excited to get out there and have a great junior season.”

SPRING BALL SET TO BEGIN FEB. 21

> UM will begin its spring practice schedule two weeks earlier than last year when drills get underway on Feb. 21. All of the practices will be closed to the public except for the spring game, which is scheduled for March 28th (the site has yet to be locked down). The team will also scrimmage March 5th and March 21st. 

February 04, 2015

Hurricanes reach financial aid agreement with former Gators 5-star DT Gerald Willis III

AUDIO: Al Golden National Signing Day Press Conference

The Hurricanes lost three-star receiver and commitment Terrell Chatman, but they picked up a trio of talented recruits on National Signing Day and a very intriguing former five-star prospect too.

Coach Al Golden, speaking during his annual Signing Day Press Conference, said Miami agreed to a financial agreement with former Florida Gators defensive lineman Gerald Willis III, who was dismissed on Jan. 6. Willis got himself into a fight with UF's third-string quarterback over cleats back in October and had other issues on the team.

Listed at 6-2, 255 pounds, Willis was a teammate of Hurricanes tight end Standish Dobard at Edna Karr High School in New Orleans. Golden said part of the reason UM was willing to take Willis III was because of their relationship.

"He's technically not part of this class, but he's part of our plans for this class," Golden said of Willis III who won't be eligible to play until 2016. "He will have to sit out a year, but that's part of the equation as we start to lose [Ufomba] Kamalu and some of those guys. We have other guys in place to pick them up. He's a great football player, a great motor and a guy we coveted a year ago. We did not get him. We're glad to get this time around."

Asked why UM was willing to take a player with a bit of a troubled past, Golden said Miami did it's research.

"It was things we didn't think were to the point it would discourage us," Golden said. "I think that's one of the things we tried to do, a good background check really on everybody -- all the players. We're not perfect. But in his case it was stuff that was a lot of immaturity, things of that nature. But nothing that without the right group, right mentor [can't be addressed] and Stan has offered to do that for us.

"I don't know that we would be sitting here without the connection with Stan and obviously the testimony of Stan in terms of the environment, the enjoyment he's having in this program and what that represents. I know Gerald was excited about becoming a Miami Hurricane. When he's finished up with classes, he'll enroll this summer."

WHAT ELSE DID GOLDEN DISCUSS?

> Golden said former walk-on punter Justin Vogel paid his own way on to the team last, but will count as one of the scholarship player this season.

> Golden told ESPN The Ticket Wednesday Miami will be between 78 and 79 scholarships next season with the hope they will be done with the nine scholarships they need forfeit before 2016.

> Golden said he likes the defensive tackles UM now has in the program.

"All three nose guards we had last year were inexperienced a year ago -- Courtel Jenkins, Michael Wyche and Calvin Heurtelou. They all played. Plus we redshirted Earl Moore. So I'm pleased with that position," he said. "Obviously defensive tackle we got Ufomba Kamalu, AJ Moten, Jelani Hamilton. You mention Kendrick Norton. He's a young man we're really excited about. He brings us strength, brings us power. He's a big man. He's got to be 315, 320 pounds in that range. So we're excited about that and obviously we added Gerald Willis to that mix."

> Golden said he's fine with the numbers Miami has at running back (five with incoming four-star freshman Mark Walton), receiver (nine with incoming four-star freshman Lawrence Cager) and tight end (five with incoming No. 1-ranked JUCO tight end Jerome Washington). Quarterback (UM didn't see any, but picked up Texas Tech transfer Vincent Testaverde) is an area Golden said the team will continue to monitor.

"The one position we had to overcompensate for was offensive line," he said. "I prefer not to do that in any single year. I think if you can take four offensive lineman a year you would be really happy. That would give you 14 or 15 over a four-year period. When you have to take six in a year it shows you how we're not really where we needed to be a year ago on the offensive line. It takes away from you getting a skill guy or somebody that can do something with the ball in your hands.

"We're good [at running back]. We got Joe [Yearby], Gus [Edwards], Trayone Gray, Mark Walton and then Tucker will do what he has continued to do for us. He'll be a fullback when we need him. But Tuck is a really good one back and he's doing a great job with track. He's lean. So he'll do a dual role. Because if he doesn't he sits around a lot. If we use the fullback 12 times a game that's probably on the high side."

> Of UM's 20 signees, only seven are from South Florida. Golden said those numbers are skewed by the high number of offensive linemen UM had to take.

"I don't think we would drive past any kid in South Florida to go somewhere else," Golden said. "You guys may no better than me how many power-five offensive linemen were offered in the three counties. But for us, we had to go to Venice, Bradenton and we were lucky with Milo from Kaaya's school. Obviously, Loftus was a young man from Tallahassee Godby we liked who came down from camp. Those six and then the tight end wasn't from down here either. That's seven guys from one-third of the class that were not from South Florida for sure."

> How would Golden evaluate the way UM recruited skill talent in South Florida?

"Well, again, it wasn’t a big skill year," he said. "We needed two corners and two safeties, we probably would’ve taken one more wide receiver, but we only lost one wide receiver, so it’s just the way it shaped out," he said. "We played 34 first and second-year players a year ago and redshirted 17 guys, so those 51 are all guys that are coming back on our roster. You can’t lose one, Phillip Dorsett, and replace him with three. It doesn’t work that way in terms of the roster. That’s not where we are right now. Hopefully we’ll get to 78, 79 this year and get to 85 by ’16, so we’re still at a cap deal. Again, Justin Vogel did a great job. We’re appreciative of him and his family paying for this year. He ended up being an all-conference candidate or he might have made one of the all-conference teams, which is great for him moving forward. So it counts, it counts as part of this class. The offensive line obviously was one of the positions that we were hoping to stay healthy, ‘cause we were? There, so we had to compensate there as well."

> In general, how would Golden say he's done recruiting South Florida these four, five years? 

"Obviously last year, again, I don’t know overall, but last year was clearly our best year and not just, it’s really not about numbers, but it’s about performance and production," he said. "Chad Thomas and Joe Yearby, KC McDermott, Nick Linder, Trevor Darling, all of those guys were either starters or big contributors and there’s so many other guys like Demetrius Jackson who we think is going to be a really good player. TJ McCray, we had so many kids from South Florida a year ago.

"Again, this number’s a little bit skewed because of the number of offensive linemen and none of them were local, but we just gotta keep doing it. I think we have 13 commitments in next year’s class and all of them are from Florida. Again, sometimes that’s just the way it breaks down. There’s obviously a great number of skill players here, so if you’re not taking three or four wideouts, next year we’re going to probably take five wideouts. We should have a good year in South Florida, I think five wideouts. That’s just the way it shakes out. I think every one of our players in next year’s class is already from Florida, so I think when you couple that with the overall body of work in the last three years, I think that’s when you’ll find our commitment to South Florida."

> Golden said freshman defensive end Scott Patchan "is doing great" in his recovery from a torn ACL which cost him his senior year. "He's already 245 pounds," Golden said. "The biggest thing is [trainer Vinny Scavo] is trying to slow him down. He's already wanting to go full speed. So we're going to be careful with him early in spring ball. He will participate in spring ball, but from a preventive measure standpoint we're going to hold him out probably until spring break. That's something I have to check. All the reports are he's doing good. He's got work ethic and he's long. So he's going to be really big."

> As for the high-number of decommitments for UM this year, Golden said reasons are "all the above." "Maybe it's that just the direction we're going," he meant in terms of the way college football is trending. "We don't want to get into that business. At the end of the day we're happy with our class and the needs we met in our class. It's a variety reasons and really they are individually based. It's tough to just sit up here and paint a brush as to why it happened. But obviously moving forward, we’re excited about this group and anxious to get started on the 2016 group tomorrow."

“Again, just keep moving the program forward. Infrastructure is improving. Do a great job on the field, move the program forward there. And just continue to show them the impact that they can have and obviously we’re excited because it’s going to be a skill-laden group. I don’t think we’re going to take many offensive linemen. So there’s going to be a lot of wide recievers in the group, probably two tight ends, I’m still going through it. Two running backs. Multiple corners. Multiple safeties. From that standpoint, we’re ecited about it. Keep moving forward.”

Q: A couple of the defensive backs you got in on late, [Sheldrick] Redwine and [Robert] Knowles in particular: Big year for DBs in South Florida, a lot of them went to different places. How did these two compare in your evaluations to some of the other kids that maybe were more highly regarded by the outside world?

“Yeah. I think, so, to answer your question, for all the kids – and again, it was what we needed this year, in terms of – Michael Jackson came to camp, had South Florida ties, he was 6-1, had length, at corner. I think there were two guys, three including Sheldrick, maybe I’m wrong, in South Florida in terms of length. We got one of the three. It’s really not a function of when you get them, it’s can they do the things you need them to do--

Q: But when you guys evaluated them, did you see them as a comparable-level player to some of the other [higher-ranked players]?

“I think you’re splitting hairs. It’s like that scene in Moneyball, when he sits across from him and says, ‘You think you know. You don’t know.’ We think we know. Everybody thinks they know. All around the country, everybody thinks they know. And then when the kid comes and all of a sudden he’s great, everybody says, man, we’re awesome evaluators. We’re awesome. But the reality is, you’re splitting hairs. There’s a lot of corners down here, a lot of corners down here this year. The guys that were not 6-1, we just needed length at that spot. In terms of Robert Knowles, when his film came in, and we had a chance to meet him in person and see his size, see his stature, you’re talking about 6-1 and a half, and gonna be big. Gonna be a 215-pound safety. When you turn on his film, his physicalness … again, why do guys like Khalil Mack go to Buffalo and end up being first-rounders? It’s because a lot of guys are filled up in the recruiting cycle and not really looking. We got fortunate there with Robert Knowles and I feel the same way about Sheldrick. But you’re splitting hairs in terms of who’s really – it’s going to come down to character, it’s going to come down to makeup, it’s going to come down to who’s consistent off the field. If they’re consistent, they’re going to keep learning, keep growing, keep improving, all of those things. Those guys wanted to be Miami Hurricanes, and I think that’s important here too. I don’t want to lose that. Those guys wanted to come. Robert Knowles wanted to be here and he’ll go to work and fight his ass off for us.

Q: You talk a lot about size, and not recruiting some kids because you’re looking for a 6-1 corner for example. Is part of the reason because some South Florida kids are fast and don’t have the size?

I hate painting with a broad brush. There’s so many different players and so many different varieties. I don’t know; do you guys have a count of how many guys are going Division I? There’s so many. There’s so many. You can’t get them all. Just make sure the ones you get can do what you need them to do and fit your system. But because our skill numbers will be high, I expect our South Florida numbers to be really high next year, as is already evident by every single one of them – 100 percent of the 13 committed for next year – are from Florida. We are gaining a little bit of traction in Jacksonville, we’ve done well in Tampa obviously and now we’re kind of moving down the west coast a little bit which is great. It’s great for us to do that. We’re getting a little bit more Bradenton, a little bit more Venice, got somebody committed from Naples the other day. We should be in that whole area and if we don’t have to leave there, we’re not going to.

February 03, 2015

Canes National Signing Day live blog with feeds from recruits, targets & UM

COVER IT LIVE BLOG FOR REALTIME UPDATES ON TWITTER:

Live Blog National Signing Day 2015: University of Miami
Live Blog National Signing Day 2015: Miami Hurricanes

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LATEST UPDATE: 11:50 a.m.

CANES NAB REDWINE, KING A PAIR OF THREE-STAR LOCAL RECRUITS LATE

It hasn’t been a five-star recruiting season for the Miami Hurricanes, but so far at least they’ve managed to pick up a couple of noteworthy additions on Wednesday morning.

Despite being late to the party with scholarship offers, UM was able to flip a pair of three-star local recruits and All-Dade First Team selections in Miami Killian cornerback Sheldrick Redwine (6-2, 190) and Booker T. Washington linebacker James King (6-2, 210).

Redwine had been committed to Louisville and King to Florida Atlantic University. Now, they’re staying home.

“There’s nothing like staying home and putting on for your home city,” Redwine said. “It’s a dream school growing up. The opportunity came. I just couldn’t pass it down.”

Both players had high profile high school teammates who were previously committed to UM’s signing class and signed: Booker T. Washington four-star running back Mark Walton and Killian four-star safety Jaquan Johnson.

Johnson, one of five early enrollees at UM, went back to Killian Wednesday, morning to support Redwine.

“Jaquan had a huge impact on me,” Redwine said. “He texted me ‘Come to the U’, we’re going to grind together. We’re going to shine together.’”

Redwine had three interceptions and was one of the best cover corners in the state as a senior. King racked up 65 tackles as a senior for the three-time defending state champion Tornadoes.

“UM came in last week and offered me,” King said. “I was expecting the U to come in, but things happen and now I’m going to Miami. I just have to work hard and try to become the next Denzel Perryman or Ray Lewis.”

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A FEW SWINGS AND MISSES

UM’s two additions are being celebrated, but Miami did swing and miss at a handful of other recruiting targets.

Four-star cornerback Marcus Lewis out of Washington, D.C. signed with Florida State; three-star receiver Antonio Callaway of Booker T. Washington picked the Florida Gators, Orlando four-star running back Dexter Williams chose Notre Dame and Plantation American Heritage quarterback Torrance Gibson, who stuck with his commitment to Ohio State.

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STILL WAITING ON

In all, Miami has officially announced the signings of 14 players not including five early enrollees.

The two commitments they had entering the day who had yet to have their names added to the signee list by 11:30 a.m. included four-star offensive lineman Tyree St. Louis (6-5, 300) of Bradenton IMG Academy and three-star receiver Terrell Chatman (6-3, 180) of Baton Rouge, La.

 St. Louis, who visited the Florida Gators late, will stick with his commitment to Miami according to his school’s Twitter account. Chatman, meanwhile, has yet to announce if he will choose UM or TCU or Arizona State. He's expected to announce at 3:30 p.m.

Here is the tweet IMG Academy sent out.

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MCINTOSH FIRST TO SIGN

Richard McIntosh, a burly 6-5, 278-pound defensive end from Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons, was the first Hurricanes commitment to get his signed National Letter of Intent through the fax machine in Coral Gables.

"I'm just excited to become a Hurricane and I'm ready to get this process done," said McIntosh, a three-star prospect who had 71 tackles and 11 sacks as a senior and passed on offers from Clemson, Florida, Georgia Tech, Louisville and Missouri to sign with the Canes.

"I didn't know I was going to be the first one, but I wanted to hurry up and get it in. It's special, something I'll remember the rest of my life."

McIntosh, committed to Miami since the summer, never visited any other schools. He said he didn't need to. Now, he's looking forward to enrolling in the first semester this summer and helping strengthen the UM defensive line.

"I'm just looking forward to bonding with all the players, getting to know the school," McIntosh said. "I'm a quick learner so I'm looking forward to learning the plays."

McIntosh was one of four Hurricanes commitments (they had 13 entering the day) to turn their signed National Letter of Intent in before 8 a.m. Wednesday. The others: three-star Venice offensive lineman Tyler Gauthier (6-5, 305), Miami Edison three-stary safety Robet Knowles (6-1, 185) and three-star defensive end Jamie Gordinier (6-4, 235) from Red Bank Catholic, N.J.

Aside from Johnson, a U.S. Army All-American, UM will have the nation's No. 1-rankd JUCO tight end Jerome Washington (6-5, 260), three-star JUCO offensive lineman Jahair Jones (6-5, 310), Royal Palm Beach three-star linebacker Charles Perry (6-1, 205) and three-star defensive end Scott Patchan (6-5, 237) of Bradenton's IMG Academy around for spring football.

UM COMMITMENTS STILL ON THE FENCE

1. Terrell Chatman, WR, Baton Rouge, La., 6-3, 180, 3-stars (Miami, TCU or Arizona State), 3:30 p.m. (TWITTER: @trellc66)

REMAINING RECRUITING TARGETS

Austrian Robinson, DE, Trinity-Pawling School, N.Y., 6-6, 255, 3-star (Miami, Maryland, Mississippi), noon (TWITTER: @UG_Aus)

Kendrick Norton, DT, Jacksonville Trinity Christian, 6-3, 305, 3-star (Miami or Auburn), 2 p.m. (TWITTER: @norton_kendrick)

Shelton Johnson, DE, Delray Beach Atlantic, 6-5, 220, 3-star (FSU, UM, Virginia Tech, Michigan), 3 p.m.

Kevin Scott, DT, Los Angeles Bishop Mora Salesian, 6-5, 280, 4-star (Miami, Mississippi, USC), 4 p.m.

LINKS/NOTES

> Coach Al Golden will host his usual National Signing Day press conference at 4 p.m. He will also make a radio appearance on 790TheTicket at 2 p.m. and will appear on ESPNU's Signing Day Coverage.

> For more on UM's 18 commitments heading into Signing Day including the opinions of scouts click on the link.

> Here's a link to the Top 150 recruits in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.

> Here's the link to follow me on Twitter.

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VIDEO

Q&A covering Canes, FSU and UF with 247Sports National Recruiting Insider Ryan Bartow

On Monday afternoon I caught up with 247Sports National Recruiting Insider Ryan Bartow to talk about the Canes, Seminoles, Gators and a lot more including Dade and Broward Counties.

Bartow is one of the best in the business at covering recruiting. He said he’s gone to 350 high schools from last signing day to December, visiting six and seven schools a day not only in Dade, Broward, Tampa and Orlando, but the Carolinas, Virginia Beach, all the way up to New York. He’s also in charge of recruiting information for Dallas and Los Angeles.

So, I felt it was best to cover a lot of bases. Here’s our conversation. Note: You’ll want to stick around to get his take on UM.

Q: It feels like the national story line this year are the high number of decommitments and kids being dropped. Am I wrong?
“In terms of verbal commits, sometimes these kids don’t have a strong home life or strong high school coach that really values the word commitment. Sometimes it's lacking unfortunately. It’s not all on the prospects. Some of it is on the colleges as well. They’ve cooled on kids. So it’s kind of a two-way street. Jordan Scarlett is on his third commitment. Jamile Johnson, a three-star safety out of Dallas, on Wednesday he’ll sign and that will be the fourth school he’s committed to. It’s more of a trend now in the last couple years than when I started this nine, 10 years ago. That was really rare. Now it’s more common.”

Q: There are more and more offers going out it seems but in the end it’s about who the schools continue to call.
Bartow: “The thing that changed that about three years ago was that they took away the written offer. They were able to give a binding, written offer on Sept. 1 of their junior year. But once they took that away college coaches in some places like Temple and Syracuse would fly into South Florida and offer more than 50 kids each in a week. It’s really hard for the recruit and high school coach because it’s all basically verbal offers. The colleges get to get away with that because they’re isn’t anything binding.
Imagine me trying to cover it. That’s why you have to use the terminology claimed verbal offer. Some of these coaches give them out left and right and some of them aren’t allowed to. It really varies.”

Q: Are there any schools having really strong classes that were unexpected?
Bartow: “I’ll give you two. North Carolina State. This year they’re going to get four of the top seven kids in North Carolina for the first time ever. That’s something that program has never done. They’ve already got four-star DE Darian Roseboro and the No. 2 all-purpose back in Nyheim Hines already enrolled. They got four-star running back Johnny Frasier to flip from Florida State, which is unheard of in their program. And they got Emmanuel McGirt one of the best left tackle prospects in the country away from Georgia and UNC. All those kids normally leave the state and go to Tennessee, Florida State or Clemson. So that’s definitely one of the bigger surprises nationally. Also, Arizona State. I love their class. Knowing all the kids in Los Angeles, all the guys USC isn’t getting in Los Angeles most of the second-tier ones are going to Arizona State. They’re doing a great job. A lot of those kids used to go to UCLA and Oregon. Now Arizona State is getting them. I think Arizona State and N.C. State are two programs trending upward.”

Q: Which program has really disappointed this year?
Bartow: “Florida. No doubt. They should never sign a class that isn’t Top 10 in the country. They don’t have to go outside their state to get a Top 10 class. They have this year. So, I think we have them 42nd. They’ll probably get a few more here to move them up. They’re definitely struggling. It will be a challenge for the new coach.”

Q: Are the coaching changes to blame for the struggles at UF?
Bartow: “Coaching change plays in. At the same time, this new staff hasn’t developed any real momentum yet. The guys they are taking probably aren’t on the previous staffs board. As one of the top five jobs in the country you never see them ranked that low in terms of recruiting.”

Q: Who closes the strongest nationally on Wednesday?
Bartow: “I think Auburn could close really strong late. They are in great shape with guys like Byron Cowart, potentially CeCe Jefferson. [Miami Norland cornerback] Carlton Davis they will get. Potentially [five-star offensive tackle] Martez Ivey. So I think Auburn is going to have a really good Signing Day. And overall I don’t think anybody is going to close better than the USC Trojans. They’ll get the top corner in the country in Biggie Marshall. They’ll get a five-star defensive tackle in Rasheem Green, four-star linebacker John Houston. The got four-star linebacker Porter Gustin out of Utah [Tuesday]. We’ve known for a long time it was going to be a great class for them and close strong because a lot of kids were going to announce on Signing Day. I think they’re going to close as good as anybody.”

Q: Your thoughts on FSU’s Class?
Bartow: “Their class is awesome. Last year’s class was just as tremendous. This year is just as good. They have probably the top big back in the country in Jacques Patrick out of Orlando. They got a couple really good receivers in Da’Vante Phillips and George Campbell, big, tall, explosive guys. They also got the quarterback of the future in Deondre Francois, an Orlando native. Then, defensively they could potentially land five-star defensive tackle Terry Beckner. They have five-star cornerback Tarvarus McFadden. Obviously they got the No. 1 recruit in the country in Josh Sweat, a freaky defensive end out of Chesapeake, Virginia. This class is pretty loaded for the Seminoles. They have a very bright future.”

Q: How much is FSU cashing in on UM and UF struggles or is this a credit to Jimbo Fisher and his staff being good recruiters?
Bartow: “It’s a combination of both. I think Tim Brewster does a good job in Dade County. Plus, their program is winning. Kids want to go where winning is at. They can get kids in. At the same time, they’re going and picking whoever they want in South Florida. They want a guy – they’re getting him. Whether it’s McFadden or Dalvin Cook or Ermon Lane, the list goes on. They’re even turning kids down that are four-star guys. So they go it rolling.”

Q: What about Miami’s class and losing Jordan Scarlett. Does Al Golden still get a pass because of the NCAA cloud and scholarship reductions? Next year’s class is rated No. 1.
Bartow: “I think sometimes they just make the job harder than it needs to be. It’s easy to hit up six, seven schools here a day – not two or three. Because they’re all close to one another. You shouldn’t be flying to the Mid-Atlantic or Louisiana or wherever, Washington, D.C. to get your skill talent or back seven on defense. That’s all here. You don’t even have to go north of West Palm Beach to get that. So, that’s one of the biggest reasons you take the job at Miami. You don’t take that job for the facilities. You take it for geography. It happens to be located where there are the most Division I kids in the country. So, you can go elsewhere maybe to get some linemen, but everything else is within an hour or two of campus. Until you make that a priority and get your share – if not more – you’re just going to be average. So, I think that’s something they need to really amp up. I would use the guys who have the connections in terms of James Coley, Ice Harris that need to be down here and signing guys more. Recruiting is similar to football you need to use good personnel use. And you need to put the guys – if you’re a recruiter – in the hot places where they have connections. You don’t need to put other guys in those places just so then maybe your guys get credit for getting these kids. It’s a long topic. But at the same time, the personnel you get down here is not big linebackers. It’s not 6-4, plus defensive linemen. It’s not tall wide receivers. It’s fast and small with a lot of speed. So when you see 3-4, read-and-react defense and you see power run offense those personnel schemes really don’t fit what you can get personnel wise in your own backyard.”

Q: So is it more of a philosophy problem, too much Big Ten style for South Florida?
Bartow:  “I don’t think he plays Big Ten football. I think that’s what he knows. He came up under Al Groh, 3-4 read-and-react defense. So that’s all he knows. That’s what he’s going to implement. That’s fine in some places in the country. But in Florida, that’s not the consistent kind of personnel you can get.”

Q: Obviously there are still guys UM wants – Tavares McFadden, Dalvin Cook, Da’Vante Phillips – and they can’t get them. Do these kids look at the program and just say they’re 6-7, I don’t want to go there. Or is it scheme?
Bartow: “I think it’s a combination of both. They’re in a place where there’s a lot going on here. It’s not some Southern town, college town where nothing is going on. Some of it is personnel use. Some of it is home game atmosphere. Some of it is a disconnect in terms of the defensive staff and local high school coaches. You’re in a place with a lot to do. You have to appease to these kids senses. Some of that is playing in wide open offenses and wide open defenses like Miami traditionally used to do. Kids want to play in that. They want to have fun. I think they don’t see that fun level right now.”

Q: Locally, who are kids they should have been on that would have signed with UM if they recruited them the right way?
Bartow: “Where do I start? Sheldrick Redwine, the 6-1 corner they just offered a couple days ago. He’s got a ton of upside. He’s may end up going to Louisville, maybe Miami. DeAndre Baker, a four-star corner, U.S. Army All-American at Northwestern who ran a 4.4 at their camp and Miami never offered. He’s at a traditional Miami school and he’s on Georgia’s commit list and could flip to Texas. Shaquery Wilson who is going to West Virginia out of Coral Gables that was a Georgia commit. He’s 6-3 and could play either side of the ball. Juwan Taylor, a linebacker out of Hallandale, Miami didn’t offer and is going to Georgia. There’s a lot of other guys throughout Broward and Dade that they missed on. I mean everybody knew Da’Vante Phillips was going to Florida State for a year. You have guys like Chris Hart, the defensive end at St. Thomas that is going to Utah, that [assistant head coach] Dennis Erickson got and that I think will be a steal. To not really recruit Tarvarus McFadden, one of the top corners in the country, and the high school coach is Mike Rumph who played at Miami, that’s a head scratcher. I’m just trying to go school by school because there are two or three examples at every high school.”

Q: How many of these schools told you ‘Well, if Miami recruited me early it might have been different?’
Bartow: “Most of them when you talk to them and a lot of kids I’ve dealt with since they were sophomores – a lot of them grew up Miami fans. Until you put in the effort and stay on them everyday [it’s hard]. Now, South Florida is an interesting dynamic. A lot of them you don’t want to get their first verbal commit. You want to get their third. So, a lot of these kids can’t take unofficial visits. So they’re going to take official visits. A lot of them are good enough where they’re going to have spots open at these colleges. So, you have to kind of set some time back at the end of the class for some of these guys because they’re going to be late decisions. But then it’s worth it because they’re confident, they have speed and a lot of upside because all of their best football is down the road. That’s why everybody recruits South Florida.”

Q: How about the guys they did get? Your thoughts on Miami’s class overall (currently ranked 28th by 247Sports).
Bartow:  “I think traditionally you want a Miami class that is 75 to 85 percent from West Palm Beach down if you’re doing it right. I only see a couple guys in there. I’m not saying it’s a bad class. But if you’re doing it right, you don't need to be going north of West Palm to get most of what you need. They have some good players. I think Charles Perry can be a good linebacker for them out of West Palm. Jaquan Johnson, even though at 5-10 and maybe not great speed, he does have good instincts. I think Mark Walton is the best player in the class. He has the most upside and will help them right away. Wide receiver, they went for size at receiver. So they went out of region for that. [Terrell] Chatman has a lot of upside. [Lawrence] Cager has a lot of upside. He’s long, has speed. I think [Hayden] Mahoney would be a good offensive line take. A lot of those offensive linemen they didn’t really beat anybody else out for. Then, defensive line is the biggest need in the program. [Richard] McIntosh has some upside scheme wise. But I didn’t really see them filling that need in terms of defensive tackle. That’s two years in a row they’re going on. That’s definitely a question mark for the future.”

Q: Which recruits does UM add here late?
Bartow: “I said this to a different publication too. For Miami’s class, it’s really about holding onto the guys they have. I don’t see them adding too much. I mean [cornerback] Marcus Lewis is going to choose between Miami and Kentucky. But he has some academic concerns. He could be a Prep School guy. But again, you’re going to Washington, D.C. to get a guy that is mass produced in South Florida. At the same time, they’re going to try to hold onto Chatman. At QB they hosted Torrence Gibson over the weekend. He’s not a fit for what they do at Miami or LSU. He’s more of a fit for what they do at Ohio State and Auburn as a dual-threat guy who wants to stay at that position. That’s going to be a hard one as well. And then some of these defensive linemen and linebackers they’re in on we’ll see if they can get any of them. I don’t see much of a splash. Antonio Callaway, even with all those connections at Booker T., I wouldn’t be surprised if he went elsewhere. Jordan Scarlett kind of added to [the downtrend]. I think they lead the country in decommitments. I don’t see much of a big close. If anything it might be the opposite.”

Q: Do you have a list of decommitments by school somewhere? You sure Miami leads?
Bartow: “I don’t think it’s even close.”

Q: So is Miami’s class still decent in your eyes?
Bartow: “In terms of what they want to do in terms of building it into a Virginia, Al Groh type of program you have guys that can fit into their read and react scheme and power game, a lot of developmental guys. But it is disappointing in terms of geography. I mean, why are you going to take the Miami job if you’re not going to over recruit these awesome counties of Broward and Dade? It’s kind of defeating the purpose of the job and the location.”

Q: Is there a coach out there you feel is a good fit for Miami?
Bartow: “No doubt. If they went for a Miami guy like a Mario Cristobal that understands, respects the talent here, that wouldn’t go chasing his tail out of region for guys, knows the second and third tier recruits in Broward and Dade are better than the first almost anywhere else in the country, and has a great rapport with the high school coaches, 7-on-7 coaches, the people on the street and would bring in a tempo, spread offense like Booker T., like Auburn and Oregon, that would put butts in the seats and points on the board that would make local studs want to again play there. And everyone in America knows what happens when the local studs stay home and play for the Canes. They are then the best of the best.”

Scouts provide take on Hurricanes recruiting class

Hurricanes 2015 Recruiting Class (All rankings are 247Sports Composite)  
Early Enrollment (5) POS School HT WT Stars POS/RK
Jaquan Johnson  S Miami Killian 5'10 182 4 13
Jerome Washington TE Mercer County CC 6'5 260 3 1
Charles Perry LB Royal Palm Beach, Fla. 6'1 205 3 31
Scott Patchan DE Bradenton IMG Academy 6'5 237 3 22
Jahair Jones OT Brooklyn ASA College 6'5 310 3 12
Commitments (13) POS School HT WT Stars POS/RK
Mark Walton RB Miami Booker T. Washington 5'10 179 4 10
Bar Milo OT West Hills Chaminade, CA 6'6 270 4 19
Tyree St. Louis OT Bradenton IMG Academy 6'5 300 4 31
Lawrence Cager WR Calvert Hall College, Mary. 6'5 195 3 40
Michael Jackson CB Birmingham Spain Park, Ala. 6'2 190 3 56
Terrell Chatman WR Baton Rouge Central, La. 6'3 180 3 69
Richard McIntosh DE Ft. Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons 6'4 270 3 43
Jamie Gordinier LB Red Bank Catholic, N.J. 6'4 235 3 42
Brendan Loftus OT Tallahassee Godby 6'7 270 3 88
Hayden Mahoney OT Malvern Prep, Penn. 6'5 280 3 94
Ryan Fines DT Bradenton IMG Academy 6'4 305 3 58
Tyler Gauthier OT Venice, Fla. 6'5 305 3 112
Robert Knowles S Miami Edison 6'1 185 3 105

Before we hear coach Al Golden's take Wednesday on Miami's 2015 Signing Class, I sought the opinion of a handful of recruiting services and scouts to provide unbiased takes on the 18 players currently listed as commitments.

Let's get to it.

1. Mark Walton, RB, Miami Booker T. Washington, 5-10, 179

> Background: A Canes commitment since Sept. 29, 2013, the four-star recruit was bumped up from the Class of 2016 to 2015 so he only played three years of high school ball. He visited West Virginia late in the process but never swayed. He ran for 1,470 yards, 22 TDs and caught 24 passes for 282 yards and four TDs as a senior. Rivals.com rates him UM’s top recruit. ESPN, 247Sports also rate him a four-star recruit.

> Scout's take: "He's an every down back. I think he's a kid that can play right away and be part of the rotation, share carries with Joseph Yearby. Walton and [former Hurricanes commitment Jordan] Scarlett were different style backs. Scarlett was more Marshawn Lynch. He's more a Reggie Bush, Duke Johnson, move him around type of guys who can play in space, has more lateral quickness. Walton is a little more versatile. He's their guy for the next three years."

> My two cents: Hard to argue with the scout's take. I thought all along Walton was the best player in this class. To me, he's Duke Johnson with better hands.

2. Jaquan Johnson, S, Miami Killian, 5-10, 182 (already enrolled)

> Background: Committed since August and never made trips elsewhere. U.S. Army All-American finished his senior season with 41 tackles, 3 INTs, 2 fumble returns for TD and a 58-yard punt return for a score. Rivals dropped him from a four-star recruit to a three-star recruit recently. Two-way star at Killian most of his career and four-time All-Dade First Team selection. Killian coach Corey Johnson has compared him to former FSU safety Lamarcus Joyner, whom he coached.

> Scout's take: "He'll be a role player immediately in the secondary, gives you a guy that can provide depth. He's a smart football kid, has a high football IQ. It's not going to take him long to learn the system and play right away. I think he'll be an impact player on special teams. He can be a 2, 3-year starter and All-ACC defender down the line."

> My two cents: He's the best open field tackler I've seen at the high school level locally in quite some time. If he stays healthy, he'll be Miami's best all-around safety since Ed Reed.

3. Lawrence Cager, WR, Towson, Maryland, 6-5, 195

> Background: U.S. Army All-American visited Alabama, but secured his commitment to UM after his official visit to Coral Gables. Said he’s now 100 percent with the Canes after spending time with his future QB Brad Kaaya. ESPN, Rivals, 247Sports rate him a four-star recruit. Cager picked UM at the U.S. Army All-American on Jan. 3. Rivals said he had over 800 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns as a senior. Said on his Hudl page he runs a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash.

> Scout's take: "Watched him at the Nike Camp in New Jersey and also at the Rutgers camp. Big, long receiver, physical, who will fight for the football at its highest point. He’s not a burner, but gets good body position. He can jump, has good body control and concentration in the air. Any time he has a one-on-one matchup he goes up and gets the football. I want to say he’s underrated even though he picked up huge offers. He’s definitely a player and with his size you can expect he’ll have an opportunity to play from Day 1. He’s a full-grown receiver. I’m 6-4 and I look up to the kid when I talk to him. He reminds of Mike Williams, who played at USC."

> My two cents: Even if he ends up the only receiver in Miami's class it's not the end of the world. UM has already loaded up on receiver commitments in 2016. Cager looks like a No. 1 guy down the line.

4. Bar Milo, OL, West Hills Chaminade, Calif., 6-6, 270

> Background: Semper Fidelis All-American and four-star prospects didn’t take visits elsewhere. Brad Kaaya’s former left tackle trimmed down from 315 to 270. ESPN, Rivals rate him a four-star recruit.

> Scout's take on ESPN: "Milo comes across as an OL that will line up and battle defenders to try and get the job done. The method is not always pretty, but he is going to give effort and fight. Shows flashes to execute with technique and once he can more consistently blend that nastiness with the technique he can be a very effective OT at the college level."

> My two cents: I'd be surprised if he isn't in the rotation as a true freshman. Whether that's at guard or tackle remains to be seen.

5. Tyree St. Louis, OL, Bradenton IMG Academy, 6-5, 300

> Background: A Canes commitment since July, the four-star prospect visited Florida over the weekend and is considering flipping on Miami. The starting left tackle on his high school team, ESPN rates St. Louis as UM’s top recruit. Losing him at a position of such huge need would hurt.

> Scout's take: "He's young, but he's improved a lot. He went from a question mark to one of the better linemen in the state as a senior. He's more of an interior guy to me. I don't think they need him to start. He has a chance to backup though. He's long and pretty good prospect down the road for them."

> My two cents: I'm beginning to think he won't be a part of this class.

6. Jerome Washington, TE, West Windsor, N.J., 6-5, 260 (already enrolled)

> Background: Rated the nation’s No. 1 JUCO tight end by 247Sports. Should see immediate playing time with Clive Walford gone. Had 24 catches for 510 yards and TDs last season. ESPN rates him a four-star recruit.

> Scout's take: "He’s a big bodied kid with good athleticism for his size. Good hands. He can play in-line or be flexed out. Ultimately, if it didn’t work out at tight end the kid could be an ideal tackle. He could probably even play some H-Back. He can make some plays after the catch with his brute force and ability to break tackles by running through guys. He’s tough to bring down. He’s a big target. You can get a clear shot on him, but he keeps driving his legs and picks up the first down. He can beat defenders in zone spots, posting guys out. He can force mismatches against smaller linebackers. If you recruit a JUCO kid you expect them to come in and play right away for you. He definitely has the drive and skill set to do it. Physically, he’s ready. He’s a big strong kid that will force a lot of mismatches and be a huge outlet target for his quarterback."

> My two cents: I've seen No. 1 ranked JUCO tight ends come in here before and fall flat on their face. Miami can't afford that now.

7. Scott Patchan, DE, Bradenton IMG Academy, 6-5, 237 (already enrolled)

> Background: Hurricane legacy was injured his senior year of high school and is already enrolled at UM. ESPN, Rivals rate him a four-star recruit.

> Scout's take: "High energy kid, kind of how Anthony Chickillo came out from that area. He's a better athlete than Chickillo, has more speed on the edge. His only question mark is the knee injury. Does he overcome it or need a year? He understands the game. He's the type of kid that can be all-conference down the line. With the knee injury he may be a year away. He's a better version of Chickillo. I don't think he gets as big. He's more like 260. He'll be a starter at Miami for a few years."

> My take: All I see is Anthony Chickillo Part 2.

8. Terrell Chatman, WR, Baton Rouge Central High, La., 6-3, 180

> Background: UM is doing its best to hold onto the three-star receiver who took official visits to TCU, Arizona State recently. Miami will get his last official visit. Had a ridiculous one-handed catch in the back of the end zone his senior season dubbed “The Catch.” It has 23,484 views on Hudl.com. Rated a 4-star by ESPN and the 254th best recruit in its Top 300. Listed with 4.62-speed in the 40.

> Scout's take on ESPN: "We are a little perplexed that Chapman didn't receive more early attention. He's a naturally gifted pass catcher with innate hand-eye coordination and confidence. We wish he were a little more explosive in terms of top end speed, but he is fast enough and when you consider his playmaking ability once the ball is in the air he more than compensates."

> My two cents: Man it's going to stink losing this guy on Signing Day.

9. Jamie Gordinier, DE/LB, Red Bank Catholic, N.J., 6-4, 235

> Background: Committed to UM since June, he didn’t take any other visits. Finished season with 117 tackles, 1 sack, fumble return for TD and was New Jersey’s Defensive Player of the Year on state title team. Lined up at outside linebacker. Had offers from N.C. State, Syracuse, Purdue, Nebraska and Wake Forest.

> Scout's take: "The one area he can improve is using his length in his arms to extend and get off blocks, disengage better. But he will find the football and nail you. He’s long, athletic, runs well for his size. He has a good understanding of defensive concepts. But there’s still a little bit of rawness to his game simply because he’s played linebacker throughout high school and I don’t think that’s where he’ll be at the college level. He’s a 3-4 outside linebacker, defensive end. He’s so big he can probably put on weight and play tackle. He comes from a good high school program where he’s well coached."

> My two cents: If Al Golden and Mark D'Onofrio had a baby...

10. Charles Perry, LB, Royal Palm Beach, Fla., 6-1, 205 (early enrolled)

> Background: UM's longest-standing commitment in the class. Rated a four-star prospect by 247Sports, Perry was a two-way star in high school (1,081 yards, 10 TDs rushing as a senior). He had offers from Florida, FSU, Purdue, Nebraska and Cincinnati among others.

> Scout's take: " I've always been very high on him. He's similar to Jon Beason coming out of high school. Most underrated player in the class. He hasn't gone through the whole recruiting process like everybody else. He may end up the best linebacker in this class in the state anyway. I really like his ability to pop into coverage. High football IQ, understands the game. I think he won't just play on special teams. I think he has a chance to start. He's light now. But he'll be 230 soon enough. They can put weight on the kid."

> My two cents: Looks like a better version of Jermaine Grace to me.

11. Michael Jackson, CB, Spain Park Birmingham, Ala., 6-2, 190

> Background: Committed since late October. He said he was going to visit Clemson, but called it off and instead visited Middle Tennessee State. Rated the 56th best at his position by 247Sports.com. Scouts said Jackson’s size, physicality in press coverage is very good. Had 17 tackles, 2 INTs as a senior. Rivals.com rates him a 4-star recruit. His 40-time is listed as 4.67 seconds.

> Scout's take: "Jackson is a solid prospect and if he is not a corner he has the size to potentially help as a safety. He should make a lower level power conference school a good signee."

> My two cents: He's one of the kids I was actually impressed with on film. That said, with all the cornerbacks in South Florida this year it's a wonder why Miami had to go to Alabama to get their only corner.

12. Jahair Jones, OL, ASA College Brooklyn, N.Y., 6-5, 310  (already enrolled)

> Background: Passed on offers from Ohio State, Virginia Tech and could contribute immediately with left tackle Ereck Flowers leaving school early for the NFL Draft. Committed Dec. 15 and signed four days later.

> Scout's take: "He's one of the top JUCO linemen in the country. Big, athletic, has a bit of a mean streak. He should be plug and play right away. That's why Miami wanted him."

> My two cents: He has to be plug and play.

13. Richard McIntosh, DE, Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons, 6-4, 270

> Background: Committed since July the three-star prospect took his only official visit to UM. Had 71 tackles, 11 sacks as a senior. Had offers from Clemson, Florida, Georgia Tech, Louisville and Missouri. Has a younger brother, running back Deon McIntosh, a 2016 recruit, Miami is very much interested in. Made All-Broward First team. The only recruit from Broward currently in UM's class.

> Scout's take: "He's another kid that took his game to another level as a senior. I don't know if you want him to start next year, but he he'll have a shot too with their issues on the defensive line. He doesn't have to get bigger or more physical because he already has the size to play at the next level. He's further ahead than some of the other guys there now. I think he's an All-ACC type kid with NFL potential down the line."

> My two cents: With Miami's issues at defensive tackle I get the feeling they are going to try and put weight on him.

14. Ryan Fines, DT, Bradenton IMG Academy, 6-4, 305

> Background: Committed to UM back in February and never swayed or visited elsewhere. Had 55 tackles, eight sacks, a safety in 10 games in senior season. Played in both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes. Only other offers were from USF and Arizona.

> Scout's take: "I don't know if he'll be a starter until late in his career, but he'll be in the rotation. He's high-energy off the bench, a lunchpail type kid that goes to Virginia Tech and make plays for them. He's not a high-end, high-ceiling type of guy. But he'll be productive player at Miami like the Matt Walters kid they had a couple years back." 

15. Robert Knowles, DB, Miami Edison, 6-1, 185

> Background: Former FIU commitment flipped to the Hurricanes on January 4 after a stellar senior season. He had 44 tackles, three interceptions, three fumbles forced and two sacks in 10 games. Played a lot of deep centerfield in coverage, but also showed plenty of closing speed and big hitting ability. ESPN rates him a four-star recruit.

> Scout's take: "The kid had a good senior year. I've always been one about production. He produced. This is one area where Miami is kind of deep so he'll probably redshirt and be a starter down the road. He's not a need player, more of a luxury. Down the road, he can be a better version of Rayshawn Jenkins. He's better than some of the guys they've had in the recent past for sure." 

16. Brendan Loftus, OL, Tallahassee Godby, 6-7, 270
> Background: A commitment since July, Loftus is rated the 88th best player at his position according to 247Sports.com. Had offers from Kentucky, Cincinnati, Ole Miss, Missouri and Wisconsin.

> Scout's take: "I think he's a project -- very similar to Sunny Odogwu. He's kind of stiff, not a super athletic kid. He's more of  a right tackle than a left tackle. The question with him is how much weight he can put on. He's not really big and he doesn't have the structure to put on that much. He's probably more like 295 long term. He's not a kid I'm in love with. He might be a starter as a redshirt junior or senior. He's a clear backup at Miami."

17. Hayden Mahoney, OT, Malvern, Penn., 6-5, 280
> Background: Committed to UM since March, he didn’t take any other official visits. Rated 94th best at his position by 247Sports. Started at right tackle in a primarily run-based offense. Had early offers from Akron, Boston College and Villanova.

> Scout's take on ESPN: "Mahoney is a good athlete with the toughness we look for when evaluating offensive linemen for the next level of play; this is a developmental prospect needing time and a red shirt year to mature physically while improving playing strength and explosiveness." 

> My two cents: Sure sounds like another project. 

18. Tyler Gauthier, OL, Venice, Fla., 6-5, 305

> Background: Committed to UM since June and never visited elsewhere. Two-year starter at left-tackle in high school. Did a lot of run blocking. Other early offers were from Toledo and UCF. Arizona, Purdue, USF also reportedly offered him.

 > Scout's take: "I saw him last summer at their camp. He's a guard/center. He's very similar to Derrick Morse who played at Miami. He's not going to be the most athletic guy, but he will punch you in the mouth, be a physical kid. He's not a finesse kid. They'll run behind him on 3rd and 1 and he'll move people. He can be a two-year starter down the road. He's definitely better than a Shane McDermott, Nick Linder type."

> My two cents: Miami can't afford to have more than three redshirt offensive linemen -- especially if St. Louis bails to Florida. I can also hear Art Kehoe saying he loves this kid's punch him in the mouth attitude.

January 26, 2015

Make it five 2016 commitments for Canes in 48 hours with addition of Flanagan LB Devin Gil

The Miami Hurricanes keep picking up commitments for their top-ranked 2016 signing class. If only that Signing Day wasn't 53 weeks away.

Monday, less than 48 hours after picking up four commits on Junior Day, UM added another in Pembroke Pines Flanagan's Devin Gil (6-1, 200).

Unranked among recruits by 247Sports, Gil was the Falcons' third-leading tackler last season (64, six for loss) and had three interceptions and 1 1/2 sacks while playing both outside linebacker and safety.

"[UM] saw the way he played on the ball at safety, saw him down in the box when my son Devin [Bush] got hurt," Flanagan coach Devin Bush Sr. said. "It shows you the type of versatility you're going to get. They offered Gil last week. Temple and Miami are his only offers. The kid grew up liking Miami. I guess he got real excited about it after he was there Sunday. Right now, they got him listed as an athlete. The kid is so versatile he can play anywhere for them."

Bush Jr. and Stanford Samuels, a 2017 recruit and cornerback, also have Hurricane offers according to their coach. Flanagan reached the Class 8A state semifinals last season before losing to Columbus.

"I give everybody a shot with my son," Bush Sr. said. "My son is completely wide open. Because of where I went [Florida State] that's not a deterrent. The idea is to pick the best place for him. Devin has about 30 offers. Stanford has a lot of big SEC offers."

Bush Sr. said he's not sure why Gil isn't more highly regarded. But he expects everyone to start jumping on him as he nears his senior year.

"Just versatile," Bush Sr. said of Gil. "Talented, talented kid."

January 15, 2015

On second thought, Elder and Jones stick to football

UM basketball coach Jim Larranaga, tickled to see a crowded interview room after the Canes' huge road upset over No. 4 Duke, opened by announcing that, upon further review, football players Corn Elder and D'Mauri Jones decided to stick to football and not play for the basketball team.

"Despite how excited myself and my staff were about having Corn Elder and D’Mauri Jones join us, those guys realized the amount of work they have to do academically and still with football, and the time commitment was just going to be way too much, so neither will be with us any further. Corn was with us two practices, D’Mauri just watched, and realized, `Well, maybe I need to just concentrate on the football.'’’

(My translation: Perhaps they realized just how serious college basketball is, how skilled the players are, how hard the practicees are, and it would be hard to just dabble in it. It requires a bigger commitment than they have time or energy to give)

--Michelle Kaufman