The Hurricanes (2-2) will take on the Duke Blue Devils (4-0) in vital Coastal Division game at 7:30 p.m. tonight. The game can be seen on ESPN2. Feel free to tune in and participate in our chat.
DUKE (4-0) AT MIAMI (2-2)
> Kickoff, TV: 7:30 p.m., Sun Life Stadium, ESPN2
> History: Miami leads the all-time series 9-2, but lost last year’s game in Durham, N.C. 48-30 after being outscored 17-0 in the fourth quarter.
> Spread: Miami favored by 7
> Counting stars - Miami: Canes have 3 five-star recruits (two on defense), 18 four-star recruits (nine on each side), 27 three-star recruits (14 on offense), 1 two-star recruit (defense) and 2 no-star recruits (defense) on their depth chart. Among that group, nine of those players are projected to be taken in next year's draft according to NFLDraftScout.com. Those are: RB Duke Johnson (2nd RD), MLB Denzel Perryman (2nd RD), LT Ereck Flowers (2nd RD), CB Ladarius Gunter (4th RD), WR Phillip Dorsett (4th-5th RD), DE Anthony Chickillo (4th-5th RD), TE Clive Walford (5th RD), LG Jon Feliciano (6th-7th RD), DL Olsen Pierre (6th-7th).
> Counting stars - Duke: Cornhuskers have no five-star recruits, 1 four-star recruits (RB Shaquille Powell), 30 three-star recruits (18 on offense) and 21 two-star recruits (13 on defense) on their depth chart. According to NFLDraftScout.com their NFL prospects for 2015 are WR Jamison Crowder (4th rounder) and OG Laken Tomlinson (3rd-4th rounder).
> Injuries: Miami listed backup guard Alex Gall, kicker Matt Goudis(back) and receiver Rashawn Scott (shoulder) on the official injury report as being out. Duke backup quarterback Thomas Sirk (leg) was reportedly held out of practice this week with a muscle strain in his leg. Sirk is a big part of Duke’s running game as he comes off the bench and run read-option well. Starting defensive end Dezmond Johnson (leg) is out for the second straight week. The Blue Devils will get starting left guard Lucas Patrick back this week, which means Duke will have a completely healthy, veteran offensive line.
> Background: Duke has won 12 regular season games in a row. The Blue Devils’ only losses since in the last 12 months have come against eventual national champion Florida State in the ACC Championship Game and Johnny Manziel-led Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A bowl.
> Duke offense versus Miami defense: The Blue Devils, who own one of the most balanced offenses in the country (they’re averaging 230 yards passing and 260 rushing) have scored 30 or more points in five straight games and are looking to tie the school record of six 30-point games in a row this weekend. Duke is 27-9 under coach David Cutcliffe when it scores at least 30 points. Anthony Boone, a 6-foot, 225-pound redshirt senior, is 14-2 as a starter for the Blue Devils and a dangerous dual-threat quarterback. Although Sirk may be out or limited in this game, Boone is more than capable of carving up the Canes defense and protecting the football (Duke has turned it over only twice this year). The Blue Devils also love to go for it on fourth down and are 8-of-12 this season. Receiver Jamison Crowder has 13 career 100-yard receiving games including an 8-catch, 203-yard, 2-TD performance versus UM back in 2012. True freshman running back Shaun Wilson ran for a school-record 245 yards in a win over Kansas this season and is averaging 14.43 yards a carry. Duke’s veteran offensive line, led by right guard Laken Tomlinson (43 starts) and left tackle Takoby Cofield (33 consecutive starts), has given up just four sacks and 11 negative plays all season.
The key for Miami will be trying to slow down Duke’s read-option attack. With last week’s embarrassing 343-yard outburst by Nebraska on the minds of the Hurricanes – and last year’s 358-yard breakout performance by Duke also there – UM doesn’t need much in the way of motivation. What the Canes need is better execution by its safeties in the alley ways (Deon Bush, Jamal Carter, Dallas Crawford), more of a push by its ends (Anthony Chickillo and Olsen Pierre) and defensive tackles (Calvin Heurtelou vs. Tomlinson will be a battle to watch) and a lot fewer missed tackles by linebacker Denzel Perryman and company, who often times were guilty of trying to get a big hit instead of wrapping up. UM had no tackles for loss last week. That has to change this week. It will be interesting to see what kind of adjustments defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio makes this week, if any. He and coach Al Golden said the Hurricanes brought blitzing safeties and corners on 60 percent of the snaps on first and second down to try and disrupt Nebraska. It obviously didn’t work. Safeties and corners were too deep. Will they be this week?
> Miami offense versus Duke defense: Quarterback Brad Kaaya continued to improve and grow last week at Nebraska, completing 28-of-42 attempt for 359 yards and three touchdown passes. Nebraska took away the deep ball and speedy receiver Phillip Dorsett for the most part, but Kaaya smartly took what the Cornhuskers gave him, spreading the ball around to eight different receivers including tight end Clive Walford plenty. What killed Miami in the end last week were three turnovers including an uncharacteristic and game-changing fumble by Duke Johnson that directly led to seven points for Nebraska. Like last week, UM can’t afford to turn the ball over. The offense basically has to play a near-perfect game to beat Duke and the offensive line has to continue to give Kaaya time to throw. They also need to do a better job running the football.
Duke, which returns five starters from last year’s defense including safety Jeremy Cash (Plantation High), ranks 92nd in run defense and has been more willing to give up yards on the ground than through the air. In fact, the Blue Devils have yet to give up a passing touchdown (only one of six teams in the country to do so). They’ve given up just 10 plays of 20 yards or more and have forced seven turnovers in the last eight quarters. Duke’s first four opponents were hardly tough, but they still did what they had to, holding them to a mere 11.5 points per game including just 16 second half points total, which shows you they make the right adjustments. Defensive tackle Jamal Bruce (6-1, 285), defensive end Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo (6-4, 240) and middle linebacker David Helton (6-4, 240) are the backbone of the front six in the 4-2-5 formation.
> Special teams: Miami, awful on kickoff coverage through its first three games, played much better at Nebraska with more veterans involved in that unit. Walk-on freshman Michael Badgley booted an important 34-yard field goal against Nebraska and did a better job handling kickoffs for Miami. Justin Vogel's punting average of 44.7 ranks 18th nationally. Where the Hurricanes still haven’t had much of an impact is in the return game, something Golden acknowledged this week. Sophomore Stacy Coley, slowed by a shoulder injury, hasn’t returned a kick or a punt longer than 29 yards.
Duke, on the other hand, is one of only three FBS teams with two or more kickoff returns of 60 yards or more. Redshirt sophomore safety DeVon Edwards had a 61-yard return versus Troy and sophomore receiver Johnell Barnes brought one back 60 yards versus Elon. Duke blocked a field goal against Kansas and both its punter Will Monday and kicker Ross Martin are considered two of the best in the country at their position. Martin is the school’s all-time leading scorer, a perfect 6-for-6 on field goals with a career long of 53 yards and he’s made 82 consecutive extra points. Monday is averaging 42.1 yards a punt. He’s had three go longer than 50 yards and six pinned inside the 20.
> Prediction: Miami 45, Duke 41. Somehow, some way Miami is going to find a way to win this in wild fashion behind Kaaya and Johnson.
The Canes (2-1) will take on Nebraska Saturday night at Memorial Stadium with kickoff set for 8 p.m. on ESPN2
As usual, feel free to participate in our Cover-It-Live discussion while Susan Miller Degnan and I cover the game. We'll pull in Tweets and provide you with updates throughout the game.
Time to empty this week's reporter's notebook:
After three games what is defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio most proud of in terms of his unit's overall growth?
"I think they have really good leadership and unity," he said. "Those are things that we've been looking for. You can go a long way with that. They have taken ownership in the defense."
What would he like to see his unit do better? "I would have liked to see us be better on third down," he said. "I would like to see us better on balls down the field that we didn't come up with. Those are some of the things -- and some tackling. Those are some of the things that I know if we don't improve on will cost us here moving forward. My urgency is here everyday. Let's talk about what we're doing well, but let's always keep inside what we have to improve on and let's have a plan for it."
> Offensive coordinator James Coley said something clicked for Brad Kaaya in the Thursday practice leading up to last Saturday's win over Arkansas State. The two were discussing concepts where Coley said Kaaya turned to him and said 'I've got it.'
"He just didn't miss after that," Coley said. "His feet were very calm."
Coley said Kaaya (29 of 51 passing, 356 yards, 3 TDs, 4 INTs versus Louisville and Florida A&M) made faster reads and better decisions against Arkansas State. He also had more time to throw and nearly all of his throws were on the money. Only two of his incompletions were the product of being hurried and the other was a pass interference penalty on Arkansas State.
"He was just lighting it up," Coley said. "Whether it was a 70-yard throw or a 35-yard over route or seeing that corner blitz. He hits Phil [Dorsett] in stride. With a hard blitz, corner off the edge, that's tough and he spotted it, he banged it. He didn't rush it. You watch it on film. He sped up his process and it's six points instead of a first down."
> Freshman receiver Braxton Berrios has turned into Hurricanes' money man.
He's been targeted a team-leading 17 times and the ball has been thrown his way on money downs (third and fourth down) eight times. He's produced five first downs (one on a pass interference call). He's currently tied for the team lead with 10 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Why is he so good on third down? "No. 1 the reads take the quarterback there on third down," Coley said. "He's a good player. He knows how to run his routes with the right tempo where he gets open. I learned early in this profession there's two things a receiver has to do. He has to get open and he has to catch the ball. He came in here and those are the two things he does."
Golden had more nice things to say about Berrios. "He's smart, he's nifty, has got good body control," he said. "And he knows how to sit down versus man and uncover himself. He's caught two corner routes already so he has vertical speed and he's precise with his depth. The ball is thrown on time and the quarterback can throw to the corner too -- away from coverage. He's been effective, and he's a competitor. He wants the ball, which is great, and hopefully he'll continue to improve there."
> Even though he's graded out the highest among Miami's offensive lineman over the last two games, Hurricanes right tackle Taylor Gadbois hasn't forgotten about his rough night in the opener at Louisville.
"I had a lot of good plays and I had three really bad plays that were just uncharacteristic of me," said Gadbois, a 6-3, 316-pound redshirt sophomore who will make his fourth straight start Saturday night at 24th-ranked Nebraska (3-0).
"I kind of let the game get to me a little bit. I like going out there being a warrior and setting the tone for the O-line. I think I was just trying to do too much the first game."
Among his mistakes at Louisville, Gadbois said he called a protection the wrong way and it got quarterback Brad Kaaya hit. He said he missed a block near the goal which led to a tackle for loss because of poor communication. And, Gadbois said he got "beat across [his] face" on an inside zone run because of poor footwork.
What did Gadbois do better over his last two games? "He really finished better and he's just getting more confidence," offensive line coach Art Kehoe said. "He is a really talented guy, really smart but he's a guy that's hard to push sometimes. And he's starting to figure it out. He had his best game [against Arkansas State] and that team was tough the guy he was working on was tough. He missed a couple, but over the long haul of 60-some plays he held up good and he graded out the best of all our linemen."
Kehoe said right guard Danny Isidora has also made strides. "Danny, you can be a good player but until you get games under your belt in live action against different looks - it takes time," Kehoe said. "Now he's starting to feel confident, because he's a smart guy. He's starting to get the reps. I think he's going to be really good. He's going to be a good player."
Denzel Perryman gave me a look like he had seen an alien.
Was this the best defensive effort you guys have put forth in a while?
"It was pretty impressive, but I don't think it's the best we've ever played," Perryman said giving me that look. "Last year when we played Florida we had errors in that game as well, but we got the ball back a lot. This game, I was impressed with the defense. We just have to improve in our pass coverage."
Impressive is probably the right word to use, but only because we're comparing it to the nightmarish defense the Canes have played over the last two seasons.
On Tuesday, the day after Miami's 31-13 loss to Louisville, coach Al Golden threw the word "elite" around after he said the defense forced three-and-outs on half of the dozen series they were in on. Truth is it was five three-and-outs (two count were first play turnovers). But we got his point. It was elite for the Hurricanes. They don't usually get off the field quickly.
Coach Mark D'Onofrio's group gave up 24 points, 336 yards (206 passing, 130 rushing) and 21 first downs on 71 plays. Louisville piled up 17 points and 157 of those yards on their final three possessions. Miami's offense controlled the clock for only 14 plays and 5 minutes and 59 seconds during that stretch.
Last year, against seven FBS winning programs (and we're assuming Louisville will be one this year to make the comparison), UM's defense gave up an average of 35.9 points, 509.3 yards (295 passing, 214.9 rushing) and average of 25.2 first downs.
So, by the numbers alone the Canes were vastly better (11 points, 173 yards and four first downs fewer) against Louisville than they were against winning teams last year. Miami never produced more than two sacks against those aforementioned winning teams last year. They had four Monday night.
UM also forced two fumbles deep in Louisville territory. UM didn't force any turnovers against Virginia Tech, Duke and Louisville -- their last three losses of the season.
What did Mark D'Onofrio think of his defense at Louisville? He called it "a floor" and "a good place to start." And I agree.
"The first game there's always positives and things you could have done better," he said. "At the end of the day we didn't do enough to win the game and that's really what my assessment is.
"But from a positive standpoint obviously [five] three-and-outs out of 12 series is really good. And two of them one-and-outs, you know. That's what we want, take the ball away. So that part was good.
"I thought the tackling was good... especially for an opener. That's a good place to start. Again, those things should be improving every week. I thought the defensive line played well. Things that have to improve, the third down defense and red zone defense, giving up touchdowns. We want to give up field goals down there, get takeaways. That has to improve. And we had an opportunity in the fourth quarter we had them second and long, let them off the hook, didn't get the ball back. That's kind of a rough overall assessment."
D'Onofrio said he played nine defensive backs, nine defensive linemen and five linebackers. He saw fewer mental errors.
Among the first timers to see real playing time were defensive tackles Courtel Jenkins and Calvin Heurtelou, defensive ends Chad Thomas and Trent Harris and linebacker Darrion Owens.
"To get those guys in in that environment is a real plus for us moving forward," D'Onofrio said. "[Anthony] Chickillo I thought played a really nice game, really did a nice job. [Ufomba) Kamalu I thought played the best he played this year including the scrimmages. I thought the nose tackles really gave us some good play - Calvin and Courtel were kind of a two-man deal in there. Calvin got 36 snaps and Courtel had 26 in his first game. And I thought they showed up, you know. They were physical at the point of attack, pushed the pocket in the pass game and made some plays. Courtel split a double team on the first play of his career, made a play. So as far as the D line goes, those are the guys that stood out.
"And then Perryman and [Thurston] Armbrister at linebacker. And [Deon] Bush and Dallas Crawford in the secondary. Antonio Crawford I thought played a good game as well. Those are the guys that stand out to me."
> So why are guys like Tyriq McCord at the rush linebacker spot still dropping into coverage?
"Those guys have certain drops but they're never the deep player," D'Onofrio said. "It just all depends on the coverage and what the receivers do. Sometimes they have a responsibility where they have to take a wheel route, those sort of things. But they're always an underneath defender if we're dropping in zone."
> How close is Mike Wyche to getting on the field to provide more depth at defensive tackle? Not close enough for D'Onofrio's taste. "At the end of the day, he's on the clock," D'Onofrio said. "He got here and his weight has come down and he's got himself in a better position. But he's got to continue to learn and continue to get in shape."
> Golden said Wednesday Miami's offense was "22 points below where we want to be at a minimum."
If Brad Kaaya and Duke Johnson and the rest of Miami's offense can put up 35 points a game they should win a lot of games with this better version of a defense. Remember I said better. Not great or elite.
Hurricanes defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio opened camp Tuesday feeling the best he has ever felt regarding depth on the defensive line and in the secondary.
"Last year I don't think we had a stretch where we had more than three healthy safeties available," D'Onofrio said. "Now I'm looking at six guys and I'm no longer forced to play two of the young ones.
"We have some options at that nose tackle position between Earl [ Moore]. Calvin [ Heurtelou], who was here in the spring, [freshman] Cortel [Jenkins] and [junior college signee] Mike Wyche. The competition is really going to make everybody better."
Linebacker? That's another story. The dismissals of Alex Figueroa and JaWand Blue last month following their arrests on sexual battery have made developing depth at linebacker D'Onofrio's top priority in camp.
"I felt like we had seven guys coming out of the spring," he said. "Now we've got to go back and find No. 6, 7, and 8. That's going to be my focus. Just trying to figure out who the best combination of guys are on the field, particularly in passing situations."
After seniors Denzel Perryman (middle), Thurston Armbrister (strong side) and junior Raphael Kirby (weak side), there isn't a whole lot in the way of playing experience. D'Onofrio said 6-2, 210-pound sophomore Jermaine Grace, the team's fastest at the position, is currently fourth in his eyes on the depth chart but freshman Darrion Owens (6-3, 236) is coming on strong.
Tuesday, sophomore Walter Tucker, who spent most of last season and the spring as a fullback after being first recruited as a linebacker, was back taking snaps at linebacker. D'Onofrio said junior Tyriq McCord, who plays the rush linebacker position in the team's 3-4 formation, has strong-side experience and will be used there "while we develop other guys."
"There are going to be some guys that get shots early, and we're going to look at different combinations there," D'Onofrio said. "It will be good. We'll have competition. We've made some adjustments, made some moves. We'll work through it."
THIS AND THAT
What was senior defensive end Anthony Chickillo's first thoughts when he heard about the arrests and dismissals of two teammates on charges of sexual battery last month?
"Our thoughts were all with the victim and her family," he said. "Obviously, a huge mistake was made."
New defensive tackle Michael Wyche, signed out of East Los Angeles Junior College this summer, has already shed 10 pounds since his arrival to drop down to 6-4, 340 pounds. He's also established himself as a force in the weight room.
Wyche bench-pressed 225 pounds (the NFL Combine testing standard) a total 35 times, good for second on the team behind Corey King's 37 reps. Wyche said coaches want him to play at 335 pounds.
"I'm more about the action than talking, so I can't wait to get out there and just try to make some plays and learn about the defense," Wyche said.
Former basketball player turned tight end Raphael Akpejiori said he spent the summer working with former Hurricanes Jimmy Graham and Santana Moss on route-running and catching.
"At first I was getting jammed a lot [in 7-on-7s]," he said. "I didn't know how to get a release. But I've been doing pretty well so far. I've been finding myself open a lot. I dropped a few balls, but I think I caught more than I dropped. It's been great. "
Stacy Coley and Duke Johnson were named to the 2014 Maxwell Award Watch List on Monday, an award presented annually to the College Player of the Year since 1937.
Linebacker Denzel Perryman, meanwhile, has been named to the 2014 Bednarik Award Watch List, presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year annually since 1995.
Dan Morgan is the only Hurricane (2000) to win the Bednarik Award. Vinny Testaverde (1986), Gino Torretta (1992) and Ken Dorsey (2001) are previous Maxwell Award winners for Miami.
A 2013 All-ACC First Team selection, Perryman started all 13 games at outside linebacker for the Hurricanes, registering a team-leading 108 total tackles including 69 solo stops. In addition to earning All-America honorable mention honors from SI.com, Perryman was the recipient of the Hurricanes 2013 Hard Hitter Award and Defensive MVP award.
A second-team All-ACC performer in 2013, Johnson rushed for 920 yards and six TDs in eight games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. Johnson enters his junior season with 1,867 career rushing yards in 20 games. Last month, he was named third-team Preseason All-America by Phil Steele and was one of 40 FBS running backs named to the 2014 CFPA Running Back Trophy Watch List.
Coley was also one of 47 players named to the Paul Hornung Award Watch List on Monday, given annually since 2010 to college football's most versatile player.
As a freshman in 2013, Coley, a third-team All-ACC selection by the league’s coaches and honorable mention by the media, led the Hurricanes with 1,461 all-purpose yards – the 10th-highest single-season total in program history. He also led the team with seven receiving touchdowns while ranking second in receiving yards (591) and third in receptions (33). A Freshman All-America selection by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Coley was the only FBS player in 2013 to record a TD four different ways – rushing, receiving, punt return and kick return.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik Award will be announced November 3 and the three finalists will be unveiled November 24. The winner of the 2014 Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced December 11 as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show.
The watch list candidates were chosen by the Maxwell Football Club's selection committee, which analyzes both past performance and future potential. The Club reserves the right to make additions and deletions to these lists as the 2014 season unfolds. All members of the Maxwell Football Club, NCAA sports information directors, FBS head coaches and selected national media are eligible to vote for the awards.
According to UM's sports information staff, six former Miami Hurricanes are slated to suit up for NBA teams in the 2014 Samsung NBA Summer League, which tips off this weekend in Orlando, Fla., then will continue in Las Vegas, beginning July 11.
They are: Rion Brown (Charlotte Hornets), DeQuan Jones (Indiana Pacers), Kenny Kadji (Milwaukee Bucks), Shane Larkin (New York Knicks), Trey McKinney Jones (Miami Heat) and Durand Scott (San Antonio Spurs).
Brown recently completed his senior season with the Hurricanes, posting 15.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game while hitting 1.9 shots per game from the 3-point line in his final season in Coral Gables.
Jones will be participating in his third NBA summer league season after spending the 2013-14 campaign playing for the Reno Bighorns. He spent the 2013 summer with the Sacramento Kings and earned a spot on the 2012-13 Orlando Magic after an impressive showing on their 2012 summer league squad.
Kadji is playing in his second summer league after spending his first summer with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season. Kadji played for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the D-League in 2014, after starting the season with the NY Phantom Braunschweig in Germany.
Larkin, the 18th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft, was traded to the New York Knicks on June 26. He appeared in 48 games as a rookie with the Dallas Mavericks a year ago. Now Larkin will look to show the Knicks what he can do as he prepares for the 2014-15 season.
McKinney Jones, who was named to the 2014 All-NBA Development League All-Rookie Third Team, averaged 15.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals for the 2014 D-League champion Ft. Wayne Mad Ants this season. He was a member of the Milwaukee Bucks training camp roster a year ago before starring in the D-League.
Scott was with the Spurs in the 2013 summer league and went on to play the 2013-14 season abroad with Obradoiro CAB of the Spanish ACB League. He will return to the Spurs this summer and the reigning NBA champions will take another close look at the talented and versatile guard.
From July 5-11 the Orlando Magic will host the 25 games of the Orlando League at their Amway Center practice court. The Las Vegas League will consist of 67 games between the dates of July 11 and July 21, which will be held at both the Thomas & Mack Center and the COX Pavilion on the campus of the University of Las Vegas. All games will be broadcast on NBA TV, NBA.com, and on the NBA Game Time app.
PERRYMAN ON WATCH LIST
You can go ahead Hurricanes senior Denzel Perryman to another watch list. Wednesday he was named one of 40 FBS linebackers selected to the 2014 College Football Performance Awards Linebacker Trophy Watch List.
He joins teammates Ladarius Gunter and Anthony Chickillo on the CFPA watch list at their respective positions. Miami is one of only five FBS programs with a player named to all three defensive player watch lists.
An All-ACC First Team selection in 2013, Perryman started all 13 games at outside linebacker for the Hurricanes, registering a team-leading 108 total tackles including 69 solo stops. In addition to earning All-America, Honorable Mention honors from SI.com, Perryman was the recipient of the Hurricanes 2013 Hard Hitter Award and Defensive MVP award.
Hurricanes quarterback Ryan Williams said Thursday he's had no setbacks in his recovery from reconstructive right knee surgery on April 9 to repair a torn ACL, and he's still hoping to be Miami's starting quarterback on Labor Day night against Louisville.
"I feel pretty good, pretty confident in my rehab so far," Williams said Thursday during a series of one-on-one interviews with UM beat reporters. "I feel like where I'm supposed to be is where I'm at -- no setbacks yet. I think it's actually going better than I thought it was, these first couple months. I hope it continues and I'll be back in time.
"As long as I'm not going to go out there and reinjure myself and the doctor feels confident I can go out there and play in Week 1, I will play. But if I can't, if he wants me to hold off a couple weeks, then I will."
Williams said he's been doing leg-press exercises, squats and lunges during his rehab and he expects to begin jogging and running in a couple weeks. Then, he says, he will progressing to cutting -- the final hurdle. "I'm just getting my strength back and my range of motion and putting weight on it, getting movement so I can start running around on it," he said.
Williams said Dr. Lee Kaplan, who performed the surgery, has remained positive throughout the process he can get Williams back on the field quickly.
"He's the one that's been positive the whole time," Williams said. "It took me a couple days to get over the injury and get refocused. But after that, my teammates have always been there for me. They saw me the first couple days when I couldn't walk. They were in the training room a couple hours later cheering me up. Really, keeping myself positive has helped myself heal. I'm trying to keep myself in a normal thinking state of mind."
Williams said the fact other athletes have made quick recoveries from ACL injuries gives him hope he'll be back at some point during fall camp. UM begins fall camp on Aug. 5 -- the same day Williams' wife is due to deliver the couple's first child, a boy.
Williams said UM trainer Vinny Scavo reached out to trainers at LSU and the Minnesota Vikings to gather information on fast recoveries made by former Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger and All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson. Mettenberger returned to action and participated in his pro day only 13 weeks after surgery. Peterson returned in four months time.
"It gives me something to go after knowing if I can work as hard as they did I can be successful," Williams said. "Adrian Peterson had a great year after his surgery. He didn't play with a brace. Luckily I don't have to run around like he did or get hit as much as he did. It definitely gives me confidence in my knee and my ability to come back after the injury.
"In the end, it all depends on how hard I'm willing to work for it and how fast my knee is going to take to the graph, which so far it's done really good. As soon as [Dr. Kaplan] give me the full-go, I'll be back out there. But until then we don't know how long it will be."
Williams said the fact he didn't have a lot of swelling in his knee allowed for Kaplan to do the surgery quickly, and thus the recovery process got started faster. He said it took him about a week and a half to get off crutches. He's been rehabbing since.
Williams said also knowing he's going to become a father soon "has helped my rehab kind of."
"I can't be crutching around and taking care of a baby or my wife," Williams said. "So I need to be able to take care of her when she needs something. She took care of me the whole time I couldn't walk. She was doing all this stuff in the middle of the night when I couldn't get up. I had to hurry up and recover so I could the same for her when she needed me every night."
UM sent out the following press release regarding the health and status update of offensive lineman Hunter Knighton, who was hospitalized two months ago.
Statement from Hunter Knighton: “On February 24th, my football career at the University of Miami was unfortunately derailed after being taken to the hospital following a workout. With a 109 degree body temperature and unknowingly suffering with the flu, I was stricken by a heat stroke. The results were not good: brain swelling, multiple seizures, kidney and liver failure. Unresponsive, I was placed on a ventilator for twelve days during which time I fought one of the greatest battles of my life against a loss of blood platelets, double pneumonia, and fever. By God's grace, and with an amazing medical team at both Doctor's Hospital and UM Hospital and with a great support group of family, coaches, and friends, I was finally able to leave the ICU after two weeks. I am so close to achieving my childhood goal of playing Division I football and I am determined to make it happen. I plan to contribute this spring to my team and not only achieve my goal of playing major college football, but far surpassing it, and helping The U win games. Thank you to all of those who have supported me and prayed for me.”
Statement from Coach Golden: “As we entered the spring of 2014, Hunter Knighton was distinguishing himself as one of the top performers on our team. He had completed our off-season training program ranked third among all of our offensive linemen and was emerging as a team leader. Hunter was so close to realizing his lifelong goal of starting at center in major football program when he fell ill. Since he first began the recovery process, Hunter has been nothing short of amazing and has been an inspiration to us all, approaching his rehab program with courage and fortitude. I have absolutely no doubt that Hunter will continue to persevere, make a full recovery, rejoin his teammates and realize all of his goals at The U.”
All eyes inside Sun Life Stadium figure to be fixated on 19-year old redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Olsen Saturday night when the Hurricanes kick off their annual spring fling at 6 p.m.
Thursday, in UM's final practice of the spring, the eyes of former Hurricanes quarterback and 1992 Heisman trophy winner Gino Torretta were on Olsen. Barring a surprise development or injury, Olsen will be the starting quarterback when Miami opens the season Labor Day night at Louisville.
Torretta knows what it's like to be thrown into the fire in college at a young age.
During UM's 1989 national championship season a 19-year old Torretta took over as a starter for Craig Erickson after he broke a knuckle on the index finger of his throwing hand against Michigan State. Torretta stepped in and went 3-1 -- the loss coming at No. 9 Florida State when he threw four interceptions. Erickson, a junior, returned the next week and led UM to the national title.
Those Hurricanes of course had the nation's No. 1 defense, oodles of stars on offense and were able to survive some average numbers Torretta put up as a freshman: 57 percent completion percentage, 1,325 yards, 8 TDs, 8 INTs. In this scenario, Al Golden's Hurricanes have no veteran waiting in the wings if Olsen struggles -- and they probably won't have the nation's No. 1 defense either.
Talented All-American freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya will arrive in mid-May from California. But either way, fifth-year senior Ryan Williams has a long road ahead of him coming back from a torn ACL. After watching Olsen on Thursday does Torretta think he can handle the brunt of the 2014 season if it falls on his shoulders?
"Got no choice," Torretta said. "Some guys respond well to it. Some guys don't. That's the way I look at it. Heck when I got thrown into it I didn't have a choice. I didn't have a chance to think. At least he does. Now he has a little bit of a chance to think and prepare as the starter.
"I think the physical ability is there. The ball velocity is there," Torretta continued. "I just think the rest -- the mental side of it, decision making process, reads, getting on the same page with receivers -- all of that will come with practice and reps.
"Obviously you're glad he's got spring ball and then he's got the fall. But that's the thing every quarterback has to work on. Peyton Manning 10 years into the NFL is a lot better than Peyton Manning as a rookie even though his ability could be a little bit less. Physically, Olsen and Gray [Crow] are there. It's just getting on the same page with receivers and making the right reads, that sort of stuff."
Hardly a ringing endorsement. But then again, how many redshirt freshman not named Jameis Winston or Johnny Manziel make it look easy? Last year only 13 freshman -- redshirt or true -- were among the top 100 passers in the country in terms of quarterback rating. Temple's P.J. Walker (60.8 completion percentage, 2,084 yards, 20 TDs, 8 INTs), Texas Tech's Davis Webb (62.6 comp. pct, 2,718 yards, 20 TDs, 9 INTs), Penn State's Christian Hackenberg (58.9 comp. pct, 2,955 yards, 20 TDs, 10 INTs) and Houston's John O'Korn (58.1 comp. pct, 3,117 yards, 28 TDs, 10 INTs) were tops among them after Winston.
Thursday, Olsen had his up and down moments. He tossed a 45-yard touchdown pass -- with beautiful touch down the sideline to Rashawn Scott. He also got picked off twice and had several passes batted away by defenders.
Even before Williams tore the ACL in his right knee during the team's second scrimmage last week, coach Al Golden said Olsen was getting better this spring. Golden said Olsen's teammates were also gaining more confidence in him. Still, it's clear Olsen has a ways to go -- especially when it comes to making sound decisions and delivering the ball quickly.
"It's hard just watching a practice to [gauge] the mental side of it," Torretta said. "But I think the reads will come. There were some busts defensively I think threw him off a little bit on some of the reads, it looked like. I can't be sure not knowing what plays were called, what the secondary was running. But, it's all about repetition. Quarterbacks get better more with repetition than any other position. And I think that's what it is going to come down to. If it was me, I'd be clamoring for every single rep I could get."
Torretta, who has been around to provide a lot of keen advice to other UM quarterbacks over the years, says he sees some of Kyle Wright's abilities in Olsen. Wright was the No. 1 quarterback in the country coming out of high school and put up decent numbers in his college career: 59.2 completion percentage, 5,835 yards, 38 touchdowns and 31 interceptions during some lean years for UM from 2004 to 2007.
"Kyle had all the ability. Running, ball flight, all that. Olsen does as well," Torretta said. "He moves around the pocket well like him. It's speeding up the decision making process that's the key. Because it's going to get a lot faster on Saturdays than when he's out here."
Here is the story The Miami Herald broke earlier tonight:
University of Miami fifth-year senior Ryan Williams, who was on course to be the starting quarterback in the fall, will undergo surgery early next week to repair what doctors believe is a torn anterior cruciate ligament, a person with knowledge of the situation first told the Miami Herald on Saturday.
The University of Miami later released a statement confirming the news The Herald broke.
Williams, 22, a Miramar High graduate from Pembroke Pines, injured his right knee while rolling out during a play in Friday night’s closed scrimmage at Greentree Field — minutes after throwing a 76-yard touchdown to Stacy Coley. UM said the injury did not occur with any contact.
The source told the Miami Herald that Williams was walking without crutches as of Saturday morning but was very stiff and getting the knee iced. It’s unknown whether Williams is out for the season. There is a possibility, depending on the results of his surgery and rehabilitation, that Williams could return to play, the source said.
Left at quarterback to pick up the pieces are second-team redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen and third-string sophomore Gray Crow. UM also has two scholarship quarterbacks arriving this summer: Brad Kaaya of West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade High and Malik Rosier of Faith Academy in Mobile, Ala.
Williams sat out at UM one year after transferring from Memphis, where he started 10 games as a freshman. He played sparingly the past two seasons behind now graduated starter Stephen Morris. In four games last season, Williams completed 68.8 percent of his passes (22 of 32) for 369 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
UM has only two more practices next week before the spring game April 12 at Sun Life Stadium.
Get well soon, Ryan. He has surely paid his dues waiting with patience and class.
-- SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
*** So how do you feel about the Canes' QB situation? Here's how incoming freshman defensive end Demetrius Jackson feels about it.
KAAYA is the future for MIAMI at the quarterback position ... No doubt about that ..— Demetrius Jackson (@F5_Jackson) April 5, 2014
Seantrel Henderson's roller-coaster career at the University of Miami took one last strange turn Thursday when he decided to cut short his Pro Day.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Henderson "quit" halfway through UM's Pro Day today and thus "didn't help himself." But Henderson's agent, David Levine, said Henderson did not quit and did not participate in the final two drills because he was "dehydrated and felt sick."
Saying he quit "was quite a mischaracterization," Levine said.
Here's a point no one can argue: Henderson was eight pounds heavier Thursday than he was two months ago at the NFL combine. UM measured Henderson at 6-7, 339 pounds.
Considered the top UM prospect entering next month's draft, Henderson's physical skills are held in high regard by NFL teams. But there remain concerns about his character. Henderson was suspended at least three times at UM (including at least one for marijuana use). Teams also have questions as to why he couldn't permanently hold down a starting job at UM, starting in 26 of the 43 games he played in.
Henderson's Pro Day results weren't exceptionally impressive. His 23-bench reps of 225 pounds Thursday were only two more than safety A.J. Highsmith. Teammate Brandon Linder put up 30 reps, four fewer than team leader and defensive end Shayon Green.
Henderson didn't test in the bench at the combine, but ran a 5.04 in the 40-yard dash and a 24-inch vertical. Thursday, he ran a 5.15 in the 40 and posted a 28-inch vertical leap.
OFFICIAL TIMES AND MEASUREMENTS
(Name, Position, Height, Weght, 40-yard dash, Vertical leap, bench reps, L-Drill, Broad jump)
Eduardo Clements, RB, 5-9.2, 192, 4.72, 31.0, 10, 7.35, 9-4
Asante Cleveland, TE, 6-4.6, 261, 4.88, 32.5, 20, 7.33, 9-8
Tyrone Cornileus, LB, 6-1.5, 1/2, 218, 4.73, 32.5, 23, 7.18, 9-8
Akil Craig, LB, 6-0, 233, 4.91, 27.0, 20, 7.46, 8-8
Jimmy Gaines, LB, 6-1.1, 232, 4.77, 33.0, 18, 7.75, 9-8
David Gilbert, DL, 6-3.5, 258, 4.94, 31.5, 28, 7.44, 9-11
Shayon Green, DL, 6-1.3, 255, 4.58, 29.5, 34, 7.49, 9-1
Maurice Hagens, FB, 5-10.6, 246, 5.05, 27.0, 30, 7.76, 8-0
Seantrel Henderson, OL, 6-7.1, 339, 5.15, 28.0, 23, 8.15c, 8-6
AJ Highsmith, DB, 5-10.6, 198, 4.79, 31.5, 21, 7.03, 9-8
Allen Hurns, WR, 6-1.2, 194, 4.55, 31.0, 14c, 7.23c, 10-0c
Brandon Linder, OL, 6-5.7, 311, 5.35c, 26.5, 30c, 7.77, 8-3c
Stephen Morris, QB, 6-2, 211, 4.63c, 30.0c, -, 7.36c 9-2c
Pat O’Donnell, P, 6-4.2, 220, 4.64c, 30.5c, 23c, -, -
Curtis Porter, DL, 6-0.6, 315, 5.29, 28.0, 30, -, 8-4
Justin Renfrow, DL, 6-3.7, 305, 5.25, 33.0, 19, 7.74, 8-8
Luther Robinson, DL, 6-2.7, 299, 5.01, 28.5, 30, 7.75, 8-5
Kacy Rodgers II, DB, 6-1.3, 213, 4.55, 32.0, 26, 7.06, 9-11
Jared Wheeler, OL, 6-4.4, 315, 5.31, 26.5, 21, 7.72, 8-7
Tracy Howard has never been short on confidence.
Ranked the No. 1 cornerback in the country by both Rivals and ESPN coming out of Miramar High in 2012, Howard set the bar high for himself a year ago when he said he wanted to pick off 10 passes as a sophomore. He finished with a team-leading four picks and made 35 tackles, making 12 starts and playing much better than he did as a freshman.
"I’ve always been confident," Howard said Thursday following the team's sixth practice of the spring. "I've never lacked confidence... I never come out onto the field without my confidence being up to the sky."
The same couldn't always be said about the rest of the Hurricanes defense over the last few years. But it's starting to feel a little different around Coral Gables these days.
The offense, which has carried the defense on most Saturdays over the last two seasons, isn't winning the day as often as it used to in practice. The guys on the other side are having more success. They're being more physical. And there definitely feels like there is a lot more hooting and hollering going on with Mark D'Onofrio's unit than before.
"I don't think there's any question the defense was better today," UM coach Al Golden said Thursday. "It was good competition. Fig [Alex Figueroa] was physical, Tyriq [McCord] did a good job. It was good to see that kind of physicality on the team."
One moment Thursday which provided an example of that physicality was during Category 5 drills. Basically, the quarterback hands the ball off to a running back and the back has three blockers down field trying to create a slalom like path to help him run past a defensive lineman, a linebacker and a defensive back.
On this particular play, 6-2, 235-pound running back Gus Edwards was able to get to the third level where 6-1, 207-pound sophomore safety Jamal Carter had broken free from a D'Mauri Jones block for a one-on-one situation. It was the smaller Carter who won the battle, squaring his shoulders and knocking the bigger Edwards toward the turf. (CLICK HERE TO SEE THE PLAY)
That tackle -- along with another made by Al-Quadin Muhammad on running back Quincy Casimir during the same drill -- are examples of that physicality Golden was talking about.
"That’s just a drill in practice we line up every spring just to shed blocks, just to be physical," Howard said. "Jamal did a good job with that and it brought energy leading onto the team periods.
"Guys are just growing up, playing with attitude. We got guys like Denzel Perryman, [Alex] Figueroa, Jamal Carter, those guys are like dogs. Everybody just feeds off those guys when it comes to being physical and stuff like that. I feel like we’re just getting better as a whole."
Is the defense winning the day more? "Ask the offense. They’ll tell you the truth," Howard said with a smile. "We beat them in camp last year. We had most of the wins if you go look at the board."
NEWS AND NOTES
> Defensive tackle Olsen Pierre wasn't at practice Thursday after limping off the field on Tuesday. Golden said Olsen "should be fine."
> Golden made it pretty clear quarterback Ryan Williams is in the lead for the starting quarterback job.
"I think Kevin [Olsen] is having a good spring and Gray [Crow] and Kevin are competing. But Ryan is ahead right now," Golden said. "Kevin is having a good spring, he is. But as I said going in, Ryan is experienced, smart and he's doing a good job with the football right now."
What does Howard think of the QB play thus far?
"Ryan is a very good quarterback," Howard said. "He knows how to make very good checks and very good reads. He’s an experienced quarterback, started his freshman year at Memphis. He played a little bit last year and the year before that. I think Ryan is going to be a very good quarterback. His decision making is on point. He’s able to read defenses before the snap, great pre-reads. He gives great dummy cadences to make the defense shift and give away their coverages.
"Olsen is just getting better everyday. You see the development every day. We always knew he was going to be pretty good even from his first seven on seven. He trusts his receivers, takes chances on a lot of throws. He’s developing. Even though they’re in a battle he also has to learn from Ryan and it feels like he is."
> Howard said playing against bigger backs in Edwards and Walter Tucker (6-0, 218) has been good for Miami's defense this spring.
"Playing against those guys it helps out with tackling," he said. "Duke [Johnson] is more of a shifty guy. But Duke can do it all. He can lower his shoulder. He can run past you. But with those backs, they’re more downhill runners. They’re going to lower their shoulders probably 90 percent of the time. It helps us with our tackling just being physical. When we play against those guys we've got to be even more physical. They help us out."
> Howard said receiver Stacy Coley is becoming more of a trash-talker. The two go head-to-head in practice every day.
"3-on-3 is how I look at it," Howard said referring to the jersey number both players wear. "He’s fast, shifty. He’s mainly always my matchup. We just go out there and make each other better every day. He’s becoming more of a talker. I’m a big talker so I think I bring it out of him most of the time. I do it with all the receivers. When he makes a play he definitely makes sure you feel his presence. He’s not a big talker, but he’s going to talk. He’s going to have his share of words."
> Who ran with the first team Thursday?
On offense, quarterback Ryan Williams, running back Gus Edwards, tight end Standish Dobard, receivers Stacy Coley, D'Mauri Jones and Rashawn Scott, left tackle Ereck Flowers, left guard Jonathan Feliciano, center Alex Gall, right guard Danny Isidora and right tackle Taylor Gadbois.
On defense, it was ends Ufomba Kamalu and Al-Quadin Muhammad, tackles Earl Moore and Jelani Hamilton, linebackers Denzel Perryman, Raphael Kirby and Alex Figueroa, cornerbacks Tracy Howard and Antonio Crawford and safeties Jamal Carter and Deon Bush.
> Second team center Hunter Wells had a pair of high snaps which sailed over the head of backup quarterback Kevil Olsen. Golden stopped practice to have the offense run suicides after the second one.
> Among the special visitors at Canes practice Thursday: Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon and Hall of Famer Ted Hendricks.
? The Hurricanes picked up a commitment from 2015 Dade City Pasco High tight end Bowman Archibald (6-6, 240) on Thursday.
Archibald, rated a three-star prospect, visited Coral Gables on Tuesday and picked UM over offers from more than 15 schools including Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Oregon and Southern California.
News and notes from Tuesday morning's practice:
> UM coach Al Golden called the team's first day in pads a good effort with good energy.
"It's a good group to coach right now," Golden said. "A lot of guys learning. Not a lot of yelling, just a lot of teaching going on, which is good. We got a long way to go as a team and we're starting to learn more about our guys. [Running back] Gus Edwards and [quarterback] Ryan Williams and some other guys have stepped up and showing what they can do."
Edwards, a 6-2, 235-pound sophomore, had a couple of long runs Tuesday in which he barreled a few defenders over. He had a long 40 to 50 yard dash toward the end of practice.
"He's fast now. Gus is a 4.5 guy that is 235 right now," Golden said. "He might be a 240-something pound back before it's all said and done. He doesn't lose his explosion. He still has a lateral cut. We have to keep working on his staff arm.
"But he doesn't lose patience. That's the biggest thing I saw. Sometimes they don't have patience and just run into the back of somebody and he showed really good patience, waiting for his moment and then hit it today. I think [Walter Tucker] is starting to lean out and show how explosive he can be."
Williams spent most of the day rolling out of the pocket by design as UM worked on those particular packages, he said.
"That was one of those focuses today -- the move the pocket type plays," he said. "I think I did good. I think I'm good outside the pocket, can throw outside on the run. I missed one throw today I'm going to be upset about. But we're going to get it fixed before Thursday."
The pass Williams likely regretted? A pass that came out like a wounded duck and was intercepted by redshirt sophomore cornerback Larry Hope.
During two-minute drill work Williams connected on four straight completions -- all of them were of the short to medium range variety -- including a slant pattern sophomore Stacy Coley turned into a long gain and eventually a Matt Goudis field goal.
Williams also connected on a few long passes down field later in practice. Williams said he's probably added 10 to 15 yards on his long passes and more zip to balls underneath since high school.
"Now I don't have to lob things underneath under or over a backer," Williams said. "I can throw through windows and stuff like that."
> Williams spoke about knowing how in a few months he's going to become a father soon.
"I'm excited," he said. "We spent some time looking after Denzel's little girl. So I've had a chance to get my toes wet a little bit and know what it's like to be a dad. I'm excited."
> Speaking of Hope, he broke the UM weight room record for defensive backs set by All-Pro Antrel Rolle in the squat. Hope squatted 455 pounds, 10 more than Rolle did. With injuries to UM's secondary Hope is seeing a lot of playing time this spring. He knows this is his opportunity to impress.
> Golden said senior receiver Rashawn Scott, the team's second leading receiver in 2012 who was suspended at the end of last season and limited by injuries, has had a really good approach this spring.
Golden said he's doing a good job "just forgetting all the outside stuff, letting go of immature things, just growing up.
"I think Ryan Williams has had a really good influence on him," Golden continued. "I think they're creating a bond there. That's good. Ryan has been a positive influence on him. He just has to keep coming on for us."
Williams said the big thing for Scott is going to be dealing with the disappointment of last season.
"He has worked really hard since the season ended," Williams said of Scott. "He has a great work ethic. I think he's going to be a bust out player for us. He has to fill a role at the X or Z. But he's a big play receiver."
> Williams said he's seen a change in sophomore receiver Stacy Coley's leadership and attitude since the end of last season.
"You can just see it in his attitude when he comes to work now," Williams said. "He's not the young freshman who is just out there making plays. He's being a leader type, getting people set, making sure he communicates even with me and other quarterbacks on the field. Now he can actually see things and how they evolve on the field.
"He's more of the quiet type, but he has his moments. He's more of a funny guy. But he'll come to me and tell me what he sees and what he wants to run."
> Golden said he expects receiver Herb Waters and defensive end Anthony Chickillo to return to the field when the team comes back for more practices after spring break. Both have been wearing red jerseys (designated for injured players) and watching from the sideline thus far.
Golden said receiver Malcolm Lewis and cornerbacks Nate Dortch and Corn Elder will start to get integrated into practice (wearing yellow jerseys) when Miami returns from the break.
> Cornerback Artie Burns was at practice, but not wearing pads because Golden said the team wants to protect him. "He has a chance to be a national champion [hurdler]. I don't want him to turn an ankle."
Golden said he was pleased with how Burns and receiver Phillip Dorsett conducted themselves participating in track. Only Burns will still compete in track the rest of the spring.
> Golden said he was excited about the hiring of former Miami Booker T. Washington coach Ice Harris as the team's new assistant director of football operations. A source told me Harris met with the Canes Monday and spoke to them about what it means to be a national champion. Harris led Booker T. to three state championships since 2007 including a national title this past season.
"Ice has meant a lot to all of us throughout the time," Golden said. "After the season he probably accomplished everything you can accomplish at the high school level. We reached out to him to see if he'd have an interest in coming back. Really, we didn't want him to leave the first time, but he thought he would go back. He had success quickly back at Booker T. We just felt like it was a good opportunity and time for us. And obviously he felt the same."
Where will Ice's value really be felt?
"Certainly the community, the relationship," Golden said. "Someone that's on the inside every day that can communicate what we're doing, how we treat our student-athletes, what our mission is, what we really believe in. He's got a lot of wisdom. The biggest thing would be if you went to his practices it's the discipline, the life skills he was able to impart on his teams. We're hoping he can do the same with us. And he's already started that process knowing everybody. We're glad he's going to help us."
> Freshman Trent Harris practiced for the first time after being held up by the NCAA Clearinghouse. How are he and the other early freshmen to arrive doing?
"I'm really pleased with those guys, their approach," Golden said. "Juwon Young, Darrion Owens have really been a pleasant surprise for us. Obviously [offensive linemen] Trevor Darling and KC McDermott are playing a lot. [Cornerback] Ryan Mayes has been really a pleasant surprise for us, too. Their maturity, ability to learn - they don't know where half the buildings on campus are and now they're learning, have four or five classes, new way to lift, new way to study, new way to watch film, new nomenclature."
> How is Dallas Crawford doing after his switch to safety?
"Really good," Golden said. "You just feel his presence out there. Physical. Same old Dallas. You only have to tell him one time, very coachable. Coach him up and next play he gets it right."
> Crawford also served as the holder on field goal attempts during live drills Tuesday. He played quarterback in high school and has plenty of experience doing it.
> Golden said walk-on Ricky Carroll and Matt Goudis are the main competitors this spring for the punting job. But there will be more walk-ons and transfers coming in over the summer and fall.
"Forget about trying to replace [Pat O'Donnell]," Golden said. "Just get someone that can do a great job and put it where you want it. But don't worry about replacing Pat. He was faster than half the damn running backs at the combine."
> Safety Deon Bush looked like he got nicked during practice. Bush had his lower back examined on the sideline and didn't return to full contact.
> There was a scout from the Cincinnati Bengals who was at practice and closely watching Miami's defensive line group work.
> The viewing for JoJo Nicolas, the former Hurricanes defensive back who died last week after a horrific early morning car accident, will be held Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Covenant Baptist Church, 1055 NW 6th Ave., Florida City. The funeral for Nicolas will take place Saturday at Glendale Missionary Baptist Church, 14580 SW 117th Ave., Miami. Both events are open to the public.
> Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio didn't want to say Wednesday how much exactly sophomore linebacker Jermaine Grace weighs. Grace, working as a backup at weakside linebacker, is listed at 6-1, 210 pounds.
"Jermaine is very talented," D'Onofrio said. "The things we like about Jermaine is he can really run. He's very good in space. He's a good blitzer. And he's instinctive. But he needs to really work hard in the weight room. He needs to get bigger. And he needs to really work at the playbook. But the skill set is there. We need to get his preparation and his work habits to match his skill set.
"'I'm not going to give you the exact weight, but he needs to gain some," D'Onofrio continued. "Again, it doesn't need to be a ton. The defense is predicated on having guys that can play, not pieces that fit. He can play in our defense right now. Denzel was 208 pounds his freshman year and made a commitment to the weight room and is now 242 pounds. There's no reason Jermaine can't make that same commitment."
> D'Onofrio said freshman Darrion Owens is working at strong side linebacker, but he's also third on the depth chart at rush end behind Tyriq McCord and Al-Quadin Muhammad.
"He's looked really good doing it. Natural," D'Onofrio said. "He's a good rusher. Same category of guys. We're starting to have some symmetry there."
Tim "Ice" Harris, who won three state championships at Miami Booker T. Washington including a national title this past season, has accepted a position on the University of Miami football staff as Assistant Director of Football Operations.
Harris, 48, will be the primary liaison to high school coaches at UM under Al Golden. He will also assist in coordinating community service events for current student-athletes.
Harris worked under former UM coach Randy Shannon from 2008 to 2010 as a special assistant to the head coach. He coordinated the football team’s community relations projects and also assisted in other day-to-day operations of the football program.
Harris’ eldest son Tim Jr., Booker T.’s offensive coordinator, is expected to be named coach for the Tornadoes two sources told The Miami Herald. Harris Jr., 28, ran track at UM where he was an All-American. Harris' son, Treon, a star quarterback on the program’s back-to-back state championship teams, signed with the University of Florida last month.
Together the Harris family -- with deep roots to Miami's innercity -- led Booker T. to 26 consecutive victories and back-to-back state titles over the last two seasons. The Tornadoes finished the year ranked No. 1 in all seven national high school football polls.
In his first stint at Booker T. from 2003 to 2007, Harris Sr. went 57-7 and guided the Tornadoes to a state championship in 2007 en route to being named the USA Today National Coach of the Year.
He then followed his son Brandon Harris, a standout cornerback now with the Houston Texans, to UM the following fall. After Shannon was fired, Harris returned to Booker T. as head coach in 2011 and guided the Tornadoes to a state finals appearance immediately. Booker T. went 39-3 over the last three seasons combined including 14-0 this past season.
“God put me on this earth to help develop young people from a high school perspective,” Harris Sr. said after guiding Booker T. to the state championship last December and joining Nick Kotys (4), Billy Rolle (3) and Walt Frazier as the only other coaches in Miami-Dade County history to win at least three state titles.
“I know right now from watching our development the last three years you never know what might happen, if an offer may come. But right now I’m grounded to what we’re doing and Booker T. Washington High School.”
Eddie Arza, a longtime friend and assistant at Booker T. prior to 2013, said Ice was torn about leaving Booker T. but felt better knowing he was leaving the program in the hands of his son and his assistants. Harris Sr. also intends to finish his college degree at UM.
"If there’s something he would want to come out in the article is that it was a gut-wrenching decision for him because he’s so tied up to that community and to those kids," Arza said. "The phrase saving lives came out in our conversations hundreds of times over the weekend. Ice was not only about winning games at Booker T., but saving lives. I told him listen 'You’ve taught everybody well and we’ll continue to save lives while your over there. Now with Ice being at UM he can save some lives not only in Overtown, but Liberty City, Goulds and other areas throughout the county.
"It’s important for people to know he cares so much about his community. What made the decision easier for him was we spent the weekend in Orlando in the Nike Clinic. We had our 15 coaches in a room and we sat and spoke and laughed about all the things we wanted to accomplish. We get along so great. Seeing us laugh and joke around and knowing how much football we know because of him, it made his decision easier."
Harris began his coaching career at Miami High where he coached wide receivers and served as the offensive coordinator from 1986 to 1996. There, he coached UM offensive coordinator James Coley. Harris also served as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Northwestern High School from 1997-98 and 2001-02. He was the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Miami Central High School from 1999-2000.
A native of Overtown, Harris played three years as a defensive back at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis.
UM signed two of its top recruits in February from Booker T. -- five-star All-American defensive end Chad Thomas and four-star defensive end Demetrius Jackson. UM also has Booker T. standout running back Mark Walton (currently Class of 2016) committed as a recruit.
The Tornadoes are once again expected to be among the nation's elite teams in 2015.
Some thoughts and observations on the Hurricanes heading into the start of spring football Saturday:
### I never quite understood why Stephen Morris received as much criticism as he did during his tenure as UM’s starting quarterback. Only four starters posted better passer ratings than Morris (137.8) throughout their careers at UM and all four were either national champions or Heisman winners: Vinny Testaverde (152.9), Ken Dorsey (147.4), Steve Walsh (142.2) and Bernie Kosar (139.8).
Tied with Morris in fifth place is Craig Erickson, who also had a passer rating of 137.8 and won a national title too. Put Morris around the same supporting cast and defenses those guys played with and ask yourself if Morris doesn’t win a national title as well. Sure, he ranks 7th all-time in career interceptions at UM with 30. But that’s still only one more than Kosar and two more than Dorsey had during their careers.
My point is you’re going to miss Morris more than you know this coming season. You’ll start to see why by the spring game.
### Ryan Williams is a nice kid. He’s taller (6-6, 225) than Morris and he’s been waiting in the wings for three years for his turn. But his arm isn’t as strong as his predecessor and that counts for something in James Coley’s offense. Coley likes to go vertical. A lot.
UM ranked 17th nationally last season with 57 pass plays of 20 yards or more and third with 36 pass plays of 30 yards or more. Sure, some of those came on short pass plays Stacy Coley turned into much longer ones. But not the majority of them. Coley told me several times throughout the season Williams’ arm strength had been improving. We’ll get to see how much soon enough.
### I don't want to throw an extra blanket of pressure on redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen, but this spring wouldn't be the time to have any more mental lapses. Brad Kaaya, the four-star All-American recruit from California that Coley handpicked, will be arriving soon.
### Duke Johnson and Joseph Yearby won’t be participating this spring because of injuries, but there’s a reason you should still keep an eye on the Canes' backfield. They badly need depth to develop.
Want to know where the Hurricanes ranked in rushing over their final five regular season games in November? Try 107th. UM ran for 567 yards or 113.4 a game. Take away the 97 Johnson ran for back on Nov. 2nd when he tore up his ankle in a blowout loss at Florida State, and the Canes ran 118 times for 470 yards or about 3.98 yards per carry without him. UM topped it off with 14 yards on 28 carries in the bowl loss to Louisville. Despite all that, the Hurricanes still finished 72nd nationally in rushing with 160.3 yards per game.
My point is obvious -- Duke carries a huge load. Without him the Hurricanes aren’t average. They are well below average. Dallas Crawford’s move back to safety this spring – the original position UM recruited him for – will put the onus on big Gus Edwards (6-2, 225) to prove to us his 5.1 yards per carry average last season wasn’t a mirage. Because his stats tell us they might have been.
Edwards chugged for 230 of his 338 yards as a freshman (6.97 yards on 33 combined carries) against Savannah State, South Florida and Pittsburgh in games UM easily ran away with. Meanwhile, he ran another 108 yards (3.27 yards per carry on 33 combined carries) against FAU, Virginia Tech, Duke, Virginia and Louisville.
### There probably won’t be a more electrifying sophomore receiver in the country next season than Miami’s Stacy Coley. Among freshman in 2013, only Bowling Green’s Ronnie Moore had more yards per catch (19.54, 10th nationally) than Coley (17.91, 22nd nationally). You know who finished second among freshman receivers in yards per catch in 2012? Alabama’s Amari Cooper (17.22 yards per catch).
Coley only caught 33 passes total in 2012, but had 12 catches go for 20 yards or more (tied for 85th) and eight go for 30 yards or more (tied for 38th). To put Coley’s yards per catch average into context, only three receivers with at least 70 catches in their Hurricanes careers put up career averages that were better. They are: Andre Johnson (19.9), Eddie Brown (19.7) and Brian Blades (18.7).
Now the task for Coley will be going from being that quiet, talented freshman in the back of the room to front and center now that the Allen Hurns, the seventh-leading receiver in Canes history (121 catches, 1,891 yards, 14 TDs) is gone. Hurns converted 15 catches last season on third down for first downs (tied for 20th best in the country). The Hurricanes didn’t have another player with double-digit catches on third down. Those are huge shoes to fill.
### It’s going to be a very important this spring for seniors Phillip Dorsett (injured) and Rashawn Scott (suspended and injured) to bounce back. They were UM’s leading receivers two years ago with 98 combined catches for 1,354 yards and seven touchdowns. Last year? Dorsett had 13 catches for 272 yards and two scores in eight games and Scott had three catches for 38 yards in four games.
### Clive Walford’s 34 catches for 454 yards and two touchdowns last season were good for the third most catches and yards on the team. The Hurricanes haven’t had a tight end post a season like that since Greg Olsen led the team in catches back in 2006 with 40 receptions for 489 yards and a score.
UM was quick to point out on numerous occasions that many of Walford’s catches (19) produced first downs. The stat they didn’t share? Only two of Walford’s 34 catches the entire season were made on third downs. Both produced first downs, but considering third down is a time when a lot of tight ends make their mark, this is the area Walford should be concentrating on.
By the way, for your record keeping, only four tight ends at UM have more career catches and yards than Walford (77 catches, 1,077 yards, 7 TDs) does. They are: Kellen Winslow (119 catches, 1,365 yards, 9 TDs), Willie Smith (117-1,544, 6 TDs), Glenn Dennison (106-1,095, 5 TDs) and Olsen (87-1,215 yards, 6 TDs).
### UM has three other scholarship tight ends in camp this spring we would like to see more from: sophomores Jake O’Donnell (no catches) and Standish Dobard (1 catch, 15 yards) and senior Beau Sandland, who had nine catches for 94 yards and a score. Six of Sandland’s catches came against Savannah State. He didn’t catch a pass after the Florida State loss. That’s disappointing considering how highly touted Sandland was coming in from junior college.
### Don’t underestimate the losses to graduation on the offensive line. Brandon Linder (42 career starts), Seantrel Henderson (26 career starts) and Jared Wheeler (6 starts all as a senior) anchored the right side and did a fine job while here. UM only surrendered 17 sacks last season (tied for 21st and second in the ACC). That's the same number they gave up in 2012.
Freshman KC McDermott, UM’s best recruit on offense, is in for the spring and that’s huge. All eyes figure to be fixated on him as he tries to solidify himself as someone who can start right away. Same for Miami Central’s Trevor Darling, who at 6-5, 320-pounds has the size to play early too.
The other options to start alongside junior left tackle Ereck Flowers, senior left guard Jon Feliciano and senior center Shane McDermott? Guys we’ve hardly seen: redshirt freshman Sunny Odogwu (6-8, 324), sophomores Danny Isidora (6-4, 316), Alex Gall (6-5, 306), and Taylor Gadbois (6-8, 316) and junior Hunter Wells (6-6, 312). My thoughts are Gall and Isidora are probably the only two guys Darling and KC McDermott will be getting real competition from.
### Count your blessing that linebacker Denzel Perryman decided to return for his senior season. It’s not that Perryman is a dominant player (108 tackles, 1.5 sacks, five tackles for loss and one forced fumble). It’s that he’s one of the few experienced, reliable players in UM’s front seven.
Miami’s defense has wreaked something stanky two years running (26.8 ppg, 90th in yards per game in 2013 and 30.5 ppg, 120th in yards per game in 2012). But even with talented new additions in the 2014 signing class, you still need someone out there who can point people in the right direction.
Four of the team’s top six more experienced players and tacklers in the front seven (Jimmy Gaines, Shayon Green, Tyrone Cornelius, Justin Renfrow) are gone. Perryman, senior defensive end Anthony Chickillo (46 tackles), junior linebacker Thurston Armbrister (33 tackles) and senior defensive tackle Olsen Pierre (33 tackles) are all that is back in terms of players who saw heavy workloads.
So this spring is going to be all about players like sophomore linebacker Alex Figueroa (17 tackles in 9 games), junior rush end Tyriq McCord (13 tackles in 13 games), senior defensive lineman Ufomba Kamalu (13 tackles in 9 games), sophomore defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad (8 tackles in 13 games) and sophomore linebacker Raphael Kirby (10 tackles in 13 games) all growing up from role players.
### While last season’s 29 sacks were a huge improvement over 2012’s 13 sacks for UM's defense, there’s no question the Hurricanes still have room to grow when it comes to putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Miami ranked 44th nationally in sacks.
They were eighth in 2010 with a total of 37 sacks. That season they finished 27th nationally in scoring defense (20.7 points per game) and 22nd in total defense (323.3 yards per game).
### While UM loaded up in the front seven on Singing Day, only four are here in camp for the spring. They are defensive tackle Calvin Heurtelou, who comes in from junior college, defensive end Trent Harris, and linebackers Juwon Young and Darrion Owens. It’s probably asking a lot for those last three guys to come in right away and be nothing more than role players.
All eyes should really be fixated on sophomore linebacker Jermaine Grace, who is still slim at 6-1, 210 pounds, but probably has more speed and natural instincts than anyone else for UM at linebacker.
### The stats say the Hurricanes finished 92nd in pass defense last season, giving up 249.8 yards per game. But the stat I prefer to look at it opposing quarterback rating.
UM finished 57th there last year (130.33 rating) and fell two spots to 59th in 2013. But they actually improved (125.71 rating 2013) for the third straight year (142.66 rating in 2011). That’s because the Canes produced more interceptions (18) than touchdowns (16) allowed in 2012 (15 TDs, 11 INTs). UM gave up 16 TDs and had only six interceptions in 2011.
Remember that pass rushing stat stat I used a little while ago? Back in 2010 the Hurricanes finished fifth nationally in opposing QB rating (99.10). My point: When you have a pass rush, your defense has teeth.
### Dallas Crawford’s return to defense – likely at safety -- makes things interesting to me. We all know what a healthy Deon Bush can do (he finished 13th on the team with 31 tackles in 11 games). He and fellow junior Rayshawn Jenkins (46 tackles, 5th on the team) should be your starting safeties. But at least now if either of them get hurt you have a player in Crawford (6 tackles in 2013) who has 16 career tackles and knows how to deliver a hit back there. He’s shown it on special teams.
### UM’s cornerbacks certainly have some experience under their belts now. Senior Ladarius Gunter leads the way with 17 starts. Junior Tracy Howard has made 13; junior Antonio Crawford (2 starts, 25 games); speedy sophomore Artie Burns (11 games).
### The Hurricanes finished 42nd nationally in passes defended (62) in 2013. They had 61 pass breakups in 2012 and only 30 total (ranked 115th) in 2011. The last time they had a good defense in 2010 they broke up 63 passes (25th nationally).
### So who is going to replace one of UM’s most dangerous weapons in Pat O’Donnell at punter? Glad you asked. We’re not sure either.
The death of a young person is always difficult to swallow.
And yet, when it comes to the University of Miami football team, it feels like these tough to swallow moments hit home far too often.
Former UM defensive back JoJo Nicolas passed away Wednesday evening, a day after being involved in a horrific car accident. Nicolas slammed his car into the rear of a refrigerated 18-wheeler heading west on the MacArthur Causeway at about 5 a.m. Tuesday morning.
It happened hours after he posted pictures and comments on Instagram saying he was out having fun in anticipation of his 25th birthday. Detectives are still trying to determine whether speed, alcohol, texting or any other factors played a role.
Be it a car accident, violence or even a plane crash, the list of tragic deaths involving Hurricanes goes on and on and on.
The first one that comes to mind for most UM fans: Jerome Brown back in 1992. He and a 12-year-old nephew were killed when the Corvette he was speeding in skidded off a slippery road and onto a utility pole in his hometown of Brooksville, Fla. Brown was 27 and in the prime of his NFL career.
In 1992, Shane Curry, a former Canes defensive lineman with the Colts, was shot in the head and killed during an argument in a Cincinnati lounge parking lot.
In 1996, linebacker Marlin Barnes was bludgeoned to death in his campus apartment. He was 22.
A month after Barnes' death, former Canes offensive lineman Robert Woodus was among the 110 who died in the ValuJet crash in the Everglades.
Linebacker Chris Campbell, a senior starter on the 2001 national championship team, died when he lost control of his car and ran into a tree at 4 a.m. in Coral Gables. It happened a month after Miami celebrated its fifth national title in the Rose Bowl. Campbell was 21.
A year later, it was Al Blades. The former standout safety and younger brother of Bennie and Brian Blades was killed in a car crash following the celebration of his 26th birthday. His friend was at the wheel, racing someone else when he lost control of the car before it slammed into a bridge and plunged into a canal in Opa Locka.
Three years later it was Bryan Pata. The former defensive lineman was shot and killed in his apartment complex shortly after leaving a UM practice. He was 22.
A year later, Sean Taylor was shot and killed by robbers inside his home. He was 24 and in the prime of his NFL career.
Not long after Taylor's death in 2007, Time magazine writer wondered if the Hurricanes were cursed because the program "seemed a magnet for guns and trouble."
Former Hurricane safety Earl Little, who was Barnes' best friend and found him dead in his apartment, said he doesn't believe in any curse.
"It's the world we live in," Little, 40, said by phone late Wednesday night. "I had a lot of friends who I grew up with that aren't here anymore. They didn't all play football for the Hurricanes. I think it's just a situation where a lot of young cats just leave us too soon."
Little, who has coached high school football locally and was recently hired to be the head coach at Miami Jackson, said he spent the night Wednesday on the phone talking to former Canes teammate Chad Wilson. When tragedy hits the program, Little said, that's what Hurricanes current and former do. They grieve together and remember all the UM brothers they've lost.
"Not a day goes by I don't think about Marlin. That's the honest truth," Little said. "With the deaths of Sean Taylor and Bryan Pata and now JoJo all of them took me back to Marlin, to April 12, 1996. Immediately. It's something that hits home for all of us when one of our Hurricane brothers dies. Time heals. But what JoJo's family is going through is going to be tough. It will heal. But it still hurts."
Little met Nicolas once -- at a football camp he coached at UM. But Little said he admired Nicolas' attitude and the way he played safety and cornerback for the Hurricanes from 2007 to 2011.
Nicolas, a Homestead High graduate, was a relatively quiet player for most of his career when I covered him at UM and in high school.
But in his final season with the Canes -- shortly after the death of his prematurely born son -- Nicolas became a vocal leader for Al Golden's first team at UM. He was pulling the team together after losses and delivering pep-talks.
"He used to have the mute button on, never really talked that much," defensive end Olivier Vernon told me at the time. "Not anymore."
In a 24-7 win over Georgia Tech, Nicolas had an interception that led to a touchdown and recovered a muffed punt in the end zone for another score.
"I'm happy for him, happy to see him doing well," Sean Spence said of Nicolas after that victory. "Back in the past, JoJo said a couple things here and there, but he was always a guy who led by example. Now, he's leading by example, speaking up, making sure we're doing the right things. It's helped us out a lot."
The Hurricanes finished 6-6 that season. Nicolas didn't get to play in a bowl game as the Hurricanes decided to sit one out because of the Nevin Shapiro scandal. Nicolas didn't get drafted. He spent a preseason with the Giants in 2012 as an undrafted rookie free agent.
Now, he's gone at the age of 24. It's another sad, tragic loss for the Hurricanes family to swallow.
He's in and the Hurricanes are done with their 2014 signing class for now.
Carol City's Trayone Gray became the last player to officially sign with the Hurricanes on Wednesday. UM announced his signing just as Golden was addressing the media in his signing day press conference.
"Gray's a guy who can play wide receiver for us. Gray's a guy who could actually play running back too," Golden said of Gray, who started at quarterback for the Chiefs. "He's another guy who came to camp and I fell in love with him after 10 minutes."
> Golden said not having to recruit with an NCAA cloud over head since October certainly felt different.
"There were some homes I left in December and I felt like I left something, like your cell phone. And then I realized I didn't have to spend three-quarters of the time explaining or defending the NCAA thing," Golden said. "It felt good to talk about our academics, the campus itself, our football program, our tradition, all the things we want to talk about that have been eclipsed because whatever coach just left or came after you - `the NCAA, they're dead.' So it feels good.
"Was it a little too late for this group? Pretty much, 85, 90 percent of this class was done by the middle of October when this came out and we weren't able to address it personally until December when our season was over. We'll reap the benefits of that moving forward."
> Golden said of seven defensive linemen and four linebackers UM signed to upgrade their front seven: "They'll make an impact."
Tops on the list is five-star defensive end Chad Thomas. "An elite player, explosive pass rusher, brings speed on the edge, but yet is physical enough to take on a blocker a tackle or a tight end," Golden said.
"At such a young age he's so mature and knows what he wants," Golden continued. "He's very disciplined, not a guy you have to worry about. He's very structured already. This guy, he's inquisitive, he wants to learn about music but he shares an equal passion for athletics, for football. He's a young man that had everyone in the country offer him but decided to come down to our camp to get better. And you don't always see that."
Golden said Demetrius Jackson and Trent Harris "can go along" with sophomore Quan Muhammad and junior Tyriq McCord as strong side linebackers or rush ends.
"I feel much better about our depth there now that at any point last year," Golden said.
> Golden side at defensive tackle "is where we've probably made the most gains."
He called St. Thomas Aquinas standout Anthony Moten, listed as a 6-4, 292-ppound four-star recruit, "a premier player in the country at defensive tackle."
"I saw AJ last week and he was a shade under 300 pounds, so he'll come in ready made," Golden said. "We got to get him in condition. He'll come in during the summer and get him ready to go."
Moten said Wednesday he'd start off in the three technique and Golden mention "we'll add him to a position where Jelani Hamilton and Olsen Pierre play."
> Golden called the other three defensive tackles UM signed "nose tackles."
"Calvin Hertelou is here now at 324 pounds," Golden said. "He's going to give us the type of strength that we need. We're excited about his impact he'll have in the spring. Michael Wyche is a highly coveted player, someone we think will do an incredible job for us. Michael has a great perspective on life and kind of give us the leadership, be a guy will make an impact on and off the field. Courtel Jenkins is a young man we're excited about."
> Golden said he's excited about "just the sheer size" of his linebackers. Golden said early enrollee Juwon Young is 240 pounds and Darrion Owens is 6-2, 6-3, 230 pound-range.
> Northwestern's Michael Smith, listed as a defensive end and at 6-2, 210 pounds, will start out at linebacker Golden said. "He's a guy we obviously thought the world of," he said.
> Golden called Ely's Terry McCray a very sought after player. "He's a guy who is 6-2, 6-3, 228 pounds," Golden said. "Again, a very big group of physical linebackers."
> Golden said New Jersey athlete David Njoku is a big athlete, ex-wide receiver. "We'll see where he goes with his body," Golden said. "He's about 218 pounds now, about 6-4. He has the ability to be a guy we can move around from X to H and put him in space."
How might tight end Chris Herndon be used?
"Herndon is an H. Njoku is an X that can play at H," Golden said. "But Herndon is definitely an H. He's very similar to Clive [Walford] except he's going to come in a little bigger than Clive, 235, 238. We're excited about him. We were very close to taking another tight end, but Clive bailed us out. Getting a Y tight end is important in next year's class."
> Golden said he's grateful to quarterback Brad Kaaya and his family "for showing loyalty" after many schools came in after him after he had committed to UM early in the process.
"He's a fine young man now," Golden said. "He's 6-4, has a big arm. Everybody I knew out at the Semper Fidelis game said he had a big week and is very bright. He's a young man that came and visited us 11 months ago when we were starting spring ball and you could tell just how bright he is."
> Golden said quarterback Malik Rosier of Mobile, Ala. is a recruit "we should get to know because he'll be playing baseball for the Canes and Jim Morris in addition to playing football."
Golden said Rosier has big hands, a strong arm and excellent mobility. Golden said Rosier can throw the ball in the pocket real well, but provides an extra element to escape the pocket and make plays.
"Both of those guys are winners," Golden said.
> Golden said getting All-American offensive linemen Kc McDermott and Trevor Darling on campus early was huge.
"They are who we thought they were," Golden said. "It doesn't matter what anybody says -- the services, the stars. It's 'Are they what you though they were?' Trevor Darling and Kc McDermott are that. They'll be two young men that will be able to help us right away."
Golden said he's seen gains from them in the weight room since they enrolled.
Golden said UM may continue to add another offensive lineman in the class "because I'm worried about the numbers."
"We don't have much room," Golden said. "We're basically at our max right now, maybe have one spot, maybe two. But offensive line is a position I'll continue to look at just because our numbers are not great."
> After signing only one running back -- Miami Central's Joe Yearby -- could UM be looking to add help there?
"I don't think so," Golden said. "Joe is not 6-foot, but Joe runs hard. Duke Johnson now is 202 pounds, and we're trying to get him to 205, 206. Joe Yearby is following Duke's footsteps and he'll get stronger and we have Dallas Crawford and Gus Edwards. The depth there is better than the last couple of years and I'm excited about that. I don't think we'll go after a big back, I really would rather save that for next year and get two running backs. We really like a lot of the running backs in next year's class and will bring two in [in 2015]."
> Golden said UM will release a list of who will miss spring practice next week. But count on Duke Johnson, Yearby or freshman receiver Braxton Berrios to be on the list.
The Hurricanes sports information department announced a little while ago that Booker T. Washington defensive end Demetrius Jackson and JUCO defensive tackle Michael Wyche have officially signed with the Hurricanes.
That now makes it 25 of UM's 26 commitments officially signed, sealed and delivered.
Carol City athlete Trayone Gray remains the only recruit the Hurricanes have yet to officially announce as a signee. Gray signed his National Letter of Intent with UM this morning.
VIDEO: Chad Thomas, 5-star defensive end, talks signing with the Canes; Demetrius Jackson gets emotional
Here is what UM's top-ranked recruit, Miami Booker T. Washington defensive end Chad Thomas, had to say after announcing he was Coral Gables bound on Wednesday morning to our Andre C. Fernandez.
Be sure to check out how emotion his high school teammate and fellow Canes recruit Demetrius Jackson gets talking about signing with UM.
In case you haven't been paying close attention on National Signing Day, the University of Miami sports information staff has announced that 23 of the 26 commitments the Hurricanes had coming into Wednesday have officially signed with the program.
Who are three yet to be announced? Booker T. Washington three-star defensive end Demetrius Jackson, JUCO three-star defensive tackle Michael Wyche from East Los Angeles College, and Carol City three-star athlete Trayone Gray. All three are expected to be a part of UM's class and the two locals signed paperwork in front of reporters.
So what's the hold up? Could be a lot of things -- faulty fax machines, paper work might have something missing or there could be a red flag somewhere in UM's admissions.
We'll be sure to ask coach Al Golden about it if there isn't answer before then at 4 p.m. when Golden meets with the media.
Here is a link to where UM is posting its signees.
A year ago, Hurricanes coach Al Golden sat around the fax machine on National Signing with the knowledge that sooner or later the NCAA was going to come around to hand down penalties.
There were no such worries Wednesday -- just happiness -- as the Hurricanes reeled in their best signing class in Golden’s four years in Coral Gables.
Among the big fish UM reeled in: Miami Booker T. Washington five-star defensive end Chad Thomas and pass rushing teammate Demetrius Jackson, California All-American quarterback Brad Kaaya, three All-American offensive linemen and a quartet of talented defensive tackles led by 6-4, 287-pound Anthony Moten from nearby Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas.
“A lot better,” Golden told ESPN when asked Wednesday morning around 10 a.m. how this year’s Signing Day compared to last year.
“We’re excited. We had a chance to get through the NCAA investigation. We have a lot of kids that fill a lot of needs for us, particularly in the front seven, which we really think we did a great job there. Not to mention we just ended up getting Chad [Thomas] and Demetrius [Jackson] from Booker T., two really good pass rushers.”
The day could have gone even better had UM been able to pick up a couple of late additions. But alas, Booker T. Washington quarterback Treon Harris and Immokalee cornerback J.C. Jackson – who UM made strong late pushes for – both opted to sign with the Florida Gators.
Hialeah Champagnat defensive tackle Travonte Valentine, a U.S. Army All-American committed to the Hurricanes until January, opted to sign with LSU over UM.
“Not a surprise in the end, but still a crushing blow for Miami,” Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting, said of the 6-3, 338-pound Valentine. “That was the prospect they needed.”
Thomas, the 6-5, 240-pound Under Armour All-American who visited Alabama and Florida State over the last couple weekends, had UM fans nervous before making his announcement in front of family, friends and teammates inside Booker T. Washington’s auditorium.
"For the next four years I plan to be at... the University of Miami," Thomas said as he pulled out his Hurricanes jacket and put it on.
Golden told ESPN he was “absolutely concerned” Thomas might head to Alabama “until all the faxes” were in.
“I had a chance to talk to [his mother] Steph this morning. I was excited about that," Golden said. "Chad has been good. Obviously he’s valuable to us because he’s a pass rusher.
"So now we not only bring in some interior guys in [Michael] Wyche, [Calvin] Heurtelou, [Cortel] Jenkins and [Anthony] Moten, but we get the pass rushers we needed to get desperately in [Trent] Harris, Demetrius Jackson, Chad Thomas, Mike Smith, guys like that."
Jackson, 6-4, 225-pound athletic defensive end rated a three-star recruit, got emotional talking about his commitment to the Hurricanes. A basketball standout at Booker T., he only played football his senior season at the school. But he was impressive, earned All-Dade First Team honors and interest from Arkansas and Texas late.
“It means a lot man. Growing up right there on 17th and Overtown I never thought I would be going to the University of Miami and for football,” Jackson said. “It shows you God’s work. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Kaaya, a 6-4, 215-pound four-star quarterback from West Hills, Calif., woke up early in the morning out on the West Coast to be one of the first players to fax his signed national letter of intent to UM. Malik Rosier, a 6-2, 205-pound dual-threat quarterback from Mobile, Ala., also signed with the Canes.
"Both of those young men came to our camp," Golden said. "We had a chance to see them live and how they operate, how they conduct the huddle and really their football intelligence. Brad, at first is a 6-5 guy. Excellent pocket passer, really can step up, did a tremendous job in the Semper Fidelis [All-American] game. Malik has a big strong arm, another bright young man, a leader. Malik is a little more versatile, can pull the ball down and run. Those two guys are really guys we think can make an impact at playing time for us."
Kaaya wasn’t the first recruit to get his fax into UM. That honored belonged to St. Thomas Under Armour All-American center Nick Linder, the 6-3, 273-pound younger brother of former Hurricane Brandon Linder.
"To be the first one in and locked is exciting," Linder said. "The coaches told me to try to be the first one in it at 7 a.m. So I was here at 6:59 to send it through."
Being a leader like his older brother, who started more than 40 games in his career for UM, is important to him the younger Linder said.
"It's definitely who I want to be," Linder said. "I want to come in and make an impact and that's what I'm working for right now."
UM's class came into the day ranked eighth nationally by ESPN. Does Golden think UM will improve or possibly slip?
"I think will stay around the same," Golden said. "I think we signed 26 guys, maybe 27 when it is all said and done. But it’s really the quality of it. If you look at the offensive line with [early enrollees Trevor] Darling, Kc McDermott and Linder, we’re really excited about those young people.
"Joe Yearby, a great tailback from Miami Central. He fit a great need. We needed long receivers this year and we did that. [Darrell] Langham is 6-4 ½, Tyre Brady is taller than me at 6-3, [David] Njoku. Then we went into Georgia to get an H tight end, somebody that can move and get vertical in Chris Herndon. So, it’s a good group and a group we’re excited about it.
"And we topped it off on defense with the two safeties we ended up getting in Kiy Hester and Marques Gayot. It’s a really good day for the Miami Hurricanes. We’re really excited to move forward now without anything hanging over our heads."
Hurricanes coach Al Golden will address the local media at 4 p.m. today on the Hurricanes recruiting class. But he gave ESPN, on campus at 13 of the nation's premier schools, an interview moments after Chad Thomas and Demetrius Jackson announced their pledges to the Hurricanes.
How does this Signing Day compare to last year?
"A lot better," Golden said. "We’re excited. We had a chance to get through the NCAA investigation. We have a lot of kids that fill a lot of needs for us, particularly in the front seven, which we really think we did a great job there. Not to mention we just ended up getting Chad [Thomas] and Demetrius [Jackson] from Booker T., two really good pass rushers."
Was Golden concerned he might lose Thomas to Alabama?
"Absolutely concerned," he said. "Concerned until all the faxes are in. I had a chance to talk to [his mother] Steph this morning. I was excited about that. Chad has been good. Obviously he’s valuable to us because he’s a pass rusher.
"So now we not only bring in some interior guys in [Michael] Wyche, [Calvin] Heurtelou, [Cortel] Jenkins and [Anthony] Moten, but we get the pass rushers we needed to get desperately in [Trent] Harris, Demetrius Jackson, Chad Thomas, Mike Smith, guys like that."
The Hurricanes netted two quarterbacks -- Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier -- and Golden believes both can make an impact.
"Both of those young men came to our camp," Golden said. "We had a chance to see them live and how they operate, how they conduct the huddle and really their football intelligence. Brad, at first is a 6-5 guy. Excellent pocket passer, really can step up, did a tremendous job in the Semper Fidelis [All-American] game. Malik has a big strong arm, another bright young man, a leader. Malik is a little more versatile, can pull the ball down and run. Those two guys are really guys we think can make an impact at playing time for us."
UM's class is ranked eighth nationally by ESPN. Does Golden think UM will improve or possibly slip?
"I think will stay around the same," Golden said. "I think we signed 26 guys, maybe 27 when its all said and done. But it’s really the quality of it. If you look at the offensive line with [Trevor] Darling, Kc McDermott and [Nick] Linder, we’re really excited about those young people.
"Joe Yearby, a great tailback from Miami Central. He fit a great need. We needed long receivers this year and we did that. [Darrell] Langham is 6-4 ½, Tyre Brady is taller than me at 6-3, [David] Njoku. Then we went into Georgia to get an H tight end, somebody that can move and get vertical in Chris Herndon. So, it’s a good group and a group we’re excited about it.
"And we topped it off on defense with the two safeties we ended up getting in Kiy Hester and Marques Gayot. It’s a really good day for the Miami Hurricanes. We’re really excited to move forward now without anything hanging over our heads."
It's official: Chad Thomas is a Miami Hurricane.
The five-star recruit and Under Armour All-American kept his word and signed with UM on Wednesday morning during a ceremony at Booker T. Washington High School in Overtown.
"For the next four years I plan to be at... the University of Miami," Thomas said as he pulled out his Hurricanes jacket and put it on.
Thomas had taken a pair of late visits to Florida State and Alabama and had UM fans nervous. But moments ago Thomas inked with the Hurricanes alongside teammate and fellow defensive end Demetrius Jackson.
Thomas is UM's top recruit on defense.
"He's just now starting to really scratch the surface of where he can be talent wise," said Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting. "If he does what I believe he can he's a first round pick down the line. He's really a heck of an athlete. Long arms, a winner, who understands what to do down there in the trenches.
"You could look at Joe Yearby, Shane McDermott and Brad Kaaya and Chad as the best recruits in UM's class.
"Chad is going to be a part of their two deep right away. He has to be. He might be more of a pass down guy initially, but he'll be an every down player soon enough. He's up there with Al-Quadin Muhammad in terms of pure talent. They definitely have good quality players at the end spots now.
"I see a little John Abraham in Chad because of the way he runs after the passer. He's definitely a 4-3 defensive end, kind of like Michael Johnson from Georgia Tech who is now with the Bengals.”
Jackson, a first-year football player, was pushed hard by Arkansas and received a late offer from Texas. But in the end he decided to stick with the Hurricanes, too.
“First time I saw him was against Central. He's this basketball guy, swatting passes down like an NBA center," Long said. "He knows some basic go-to-stuff in terms of moves. What I like most about him is that as a defensive end, he uses his arms to disrupt the play even if he's not close enough for a sack. He's a really tough kid, smart kid. He's always looking to disrupt.
"I think he needs to redshirt because he doesn't have the experience. I don't think you can put the young man on the field as a true freshman with only one year of high school football. I'm not sure where his future is down the line either. He might be a linebacker. He's long enough. He's a very much unfinished prospect but the initial reports are really good.”
Chad Thomas, DE, Miami Booker T. Washington
> Measurables: 6-5, 240, 4.85 in the 40-yard dash, 310-pound bench press
> Twitter handle: @F5_Chad
> Commitment date: July 20, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: A five-star recruit ranked 26th regardless of position in 247Sports composite rankings, 5th in the state of Florida and third among weakside defensive ends nationally.
> Career highlights: Under Armour All-American tallied 72 tackles, 15 for loss and eight sacks his senior season in helping lead his high school to a mythical national championship and back-to-back state titles. Chose UM after taking late official visits to Alabama and Florida State.
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/1506372/highlights/32658377
Demetrius Jackson, DE, Miami Booker T. Washington
> Measurables: 6-4, 225, 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 34-inch vertical leap
> Twitter handle: @F5_Jackson
> Commitment date: Dec. 9, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 425th regardless of position in 247Sports Composite rankings, 59th in the state and 22nd among weakside defensive ends.
> Career highlights: Despite a late push from Texas and lots of tugging from Arkansas, Jackson, a first-year football player, kept his pledge to UM. As a senior he earned All-Dade First Team honors, racking up 73 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and seven sacks playing opposite of Chad Thomas.
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/2611977/highlights/53579378
Three-star tight end recruit Christopher Herndon of Norcross, Ga. made it official with the Hurricanes moments ago.
Herndon (6-4, 230) is one of two tight ends who are in UM's 2014 signing class. The Hurricanes also received a late commitment from three-star David Njoku (6-4, 220) of Cedar Grove, N.J. last week. He already signed this moring.
UM had four scholarship tight ends on the roster including incumbent starter Clive Walford (6-4, 259). The others are senior Beau Sandland (6-6, 255) and sophomores Jake O'Donnell (6-7, 250) and Standish Dobard (6-4, 261).
As of 8:40 a.m. UM has 20 new additions officially in (9 enrolled early, 11 who signed Wednesday). Here are the profiles of the others I didn't post earlier.
Chris Herndon, TE, Norcross, Ga.
> Measurables: 6-4, 230
> Twitter handle: @Chris_Authentic
> Commitment date: June 22, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked as the 701st recruit nationally regardless of position in 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, 61st in the state of Georgia and 31st among tight ends.
> Career highlights: Camped at Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Florida State and then Miami and picked the Canes over offers from Western Kentucky and Mississippi State. Herndon hauled in 33 passes for 543 yards and six touchdowns as a senior. Had five catches for 45 yards in the state title game to help Norcross win a second consecutive state crown in Georgia.
> Quotable: "Even though I'll be nine hours away from home, The U is a big family, so it will be my new home," Herndon told gwinnettprepsports.com back in June. "You have to make decisions that take you out of your comfort zone."
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/1576082/highlights/51520495
Tyre Brady, WR, South Dade
> Measurables: 6-3, 187
> Twitter handle: @Tyre_Brady
> Commitment date: Nov. 16, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: A three-star recruit ranked as the 738th best overall according to 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, 102th best in the state and 109nd best among receivers. Attended Junior Day at UM and got a Florida State offer in March before UCF, Minnesota, Western Kentucky, FAU and Kentucky offered. UM became the seventh offer and after three unofficial visits Brady finally pulled the trigger on a commitment.
> Career highlights: An All-Dade Second Team selection as a senior Brady helped lead South Dade to its first state championship. He finished with 39 catches for 600 yards and 10 touchdowns and also shined on defense playing safety.
> Expert opinion: “He's another kid who is just really coming out for football, didn't play a lot before,” said Corey Long, Editor-in-Chief for FUEL Recruiting. “I like that he goes up and reaches for the football, gets it at the highest point. I like the fact he's an aggressive receiver. He's a little bit more advanced where he could play early if they needed him. But he's probably better off being redshirted. He's come a long way in a short period of time.”
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/1685677/highlights/73648639
Terry McCray, LB, Pompano Beach Ely
> Measurables: 6-2, 215
> Commitment date: July 23, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: A three-star recruit, McCray is unranked in the 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, 166th overall in state of Florida and the 48th best inside linebacker nationally.
> Career highlights: Rolled up 101 tackles and 19 sacks and was selected All-Broward First Team as a senior by The Miami Herald. He had 113 tackles and 13 sacks as a junior. Received a UM offer in November of his junior year and visited UM unofficially three times before Tulane, Syracuse, Temple, Minnesota, Cincinnati, FIU and West Virginia all offered. He held out hope for a while Alabama and LSU might offer.
> Expert opinion: “He can make an impact on special teams early,” said Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief for FUEL Recrutiing. “I think he can be a rotational guy down the line, provide some depth. He's a good coach’s prospect in the sense where they can do different things with him. He'll be the kind of guy who will lead the team in special teams tackles, a good backup linebacker. The thing with their linebackers is he's one of the bigger more physical kids they've gotten. So he can help provide depth.”
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/1353525/highlights/111387627
Darrell Langham, WR, Lantana, Fla.
> Measurables: 6-5, 190
> Twitter handle: @DLangham7
> Commitment date: June 9, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: A three-star recruit ranked 510th overall regardless of position by 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, 74th in the state and 71st among receivers nationally. UM coaches fell in love with him and offered a scholarship after he attended their camp in June. The only other camp Langham attended before that was FAU.
> Career highlights: Earned All-Conference honorable mention by the Palm Beach Post in Class 8A. He had 20 catches for 326 yards and five touchdowns as a senior.
> Expert opinion: “I like him, think he's underrated in his class,” said Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief for FUEL Recruiting. “He's tall, has long arms, a raw kid,” said Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting. “You feel like he's a blank canvas where you can create something really special. Right now, today, off what I've seen, he's more of a red zone guy who can go up and get passes. I think you give him two years and you'll definitely have a big-time wide receiver. He's not as big as [Kelvin] Benjamin at FSU, but he reminds me of some of the big receivers I've seen around like Ramses Barden of the Giants. I think Langham can get there. He’s just a basketball kid who is still a little raw.”
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/748977/darrell-langham
Marques Gayot, DB, Lake Worth, Fla.
> Measurables: 6-1, 205, ran a 4.56 40-yard dash, 34 inch-vertical
> Twitter handle: @MgayotUM
> Commitment date: Dec. 13, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: A three-star recruit ranked as the 789th best prospect regardless of position by 247Sports.com composite rankings, 116th in the state of Florida and 64th among safeties. He had offers from Cal, Louisville and Bowling Green and committed to Louisville in April before de-committing in Decmeber and committing to UM a day later.
> Career highlights: Tallied 17 interceptions in his career including four as a senior at Park Vista Community School. Made All-Conference First Team in Class 8A for Palm Beach County.
> Expert opinion: “He can really get around,” said Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief for FUEL Recruiting. “I don't know what kind of hitter he is. But I think if he puts on a good training camp coaches will try and figure out how to get him on the field. He's a hard working kid.”
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1003985/marques-gayot
The Miami Hurricanes made a hard push for Immokalee four-star cornerback J.C. Jackson.
But he's taking his talents to Gainesville according to early reports out of the Naples area.
Florida spoiled the surprise by already announcing Immokalee's J.C. Jackson is committed to #Gators— Adam Fisher (@NDN_Adam) February 5, 2014
Miami Northwestern and the University of Miami have had a long, storied connection over the years.
It continued Wednesday when one of the best pass rushers in the county signed with the Hurricanes.
Mike Smith, committed to UM since June, signed his national letter of intent before gathering for a ceremony at school with friends and family and teammates.
Smith joins former Northwestern teammates and defensive backs Ryan Mayes (enrolled in January) and sophomore cornerback Artie Burns as current Bulls on Miami's roster.
“Mike's going to come in and chase the quarterback,” said Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting. “I haven't really seen him in any pass coverage. But I do think he's good at stopping the run and getting to the quarterback. I have to see how he is in pass coverage before we talk NFL potential.”
UM signed eight members of Northwestern's national championship team in 2008 including starting quarterback Jacory Harris, linebacker Sean Spence, offensive lineman Brandon Washington and standout receivers Aldarius Johnson and Tommy Streeter.
But after that season UM didn't sign any Northwestern stars for four straight years, missing out on standout quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) and receiver Amari Cooper (Alabama) among others. Burns got the pipeline going again last year.
Mike Smith, DE/OLB, Miami Northwestern
> Measurables: 6-2, 210
> Twitter handle: @mikesmith_11
> Commitment date: June 22, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: A three-star recruit ranked as the 389th best prospect regardless of position by 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, 50th in the state of Florida and 31st among outside linebackers.
> Career highlights: Smith only ended up making one official visit – to West Virginia – after committing to the Hurricanes. He earned All-Dade First Team Honors (Class 8A-6A) two years in a row and netter 42 tackles, seven sacks and 51 quarterback hurries as a senior. As a junior he produced 73 tackles and finished second in Dade with 18 sacks.
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/2334571/highlights/63262353
So who here is the list of a dozen recruits officially in as Miami Hurricanes before 8 a.m.
— Hurricanes Football (@MiamiHurricanes) February 5, 2014
Aquinas All-American center Nick Linder first to get fax through; DT Anthony Moten ready to make instant impact
The Hurricanes will have a defensive tackle -- arguably their most talented in the 2014 class -- officially signed, sealed and delivered soon.
Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas seniors Anthony Moten (6-4, 292) and center Nick Linder, the younger brother of former Hurricanes offensive lineman Brandon Linder, faxed their National Letter of Intent over to Coral Gables moments ago as expected.
Linder was actually the first one through officially.
"To be the first one in and locked is exciting," Linder said. "The coaches told me to try to be the first one in it at 7 a.m. So I was here at 6:59 to send it through."
Being a leader like his older brother, who started more than 40 games in his career at UM through this past season, is important to him the younger Linder said.
"It's definitely who I want to be," Linder said. "I want to come in and make an impact and that's what I'm working for right now."
Moten was in the process of faxing his when I interviewed him over the phone at 7:30 a.m.
"I wanted to get it over with early," said Moten, once a Florida commitment. "I know i can come in and make an impact early, get some playing time. I'm at 287 right now. Coaches like my size and said I can come in and play the three technique and in different packages play the four and the five."
Moten is one of three defensive tackles UM brought in with this class. UM signed Junior College prospects Michael Wyche and Calvin Heurtelou, who are expected to come in and give returning senior starter Olsen Pierre some help and juniors Ufomba Kamalu, Corey King and Earl Moore a battle for playing time.
“He's played a lot of football, been starting for a long time at Aquinas," said Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting. "He's not the biggest defensive tackle, but a pretty good pass rusher. He definitely gives them an upgrade of skills at the tackle spot. Given how poorly they've recruited there in the past he's got to play. His NFL potential remains to be seen. I think Moten is a little different than Jelanie Hamilton. The potential is there for a lot of playing time so he'll have the opportunity to impress NFL scouts down the road.”
Aquinas will now have four players on UM's roster this coming season, the most from any high school on the team.
Anthony Moten, DT, St. Thomas Aquinas
> Measurables: 6-4, 292, 5.17 in the 40-yard dash, 26.9 vertical, 315-pound bench, 385-pound squat
> Twitter handle: @anthony_moten95
> Commitment date: Nov. 13, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 168th regardless of position in 247Sports Composite rankings, 15th among defensive tackles and the 24th-best recruit in the state of Florida.
> Career highlights: Once a Florida Gators commitment, Moten de-committed and eventually switched allegiance to the Hurricanes. Semper-Fi All-American had 40 tackles, 12 for loss and six sacks and was selected All-Broward First Team by The Miami Herald as a senior. He was selected All-State Third Team.
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/1241016/highlights/55484375
Nick Linder, OL, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas
> Measurables: 6-3, 273, 315-pound bench, 385-pound squat
> Commitment date: March 6, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked the 152nd-best recruit in the state in 247Sports Composite rankings, Linder is tabbed as the 53rd best offensive guard in the country.
> Career highlights: A two-year starter for the Raiders, Linder was an All-Broward First Team selection and played in the Under Armour All-American Game. He was the starter at center when Aquinas won the state championship in 2012.
> Expert opinion: “He's going to step in and be the next center,” said Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief at FUEL Recruiting. “He's not as big as his brother or have the same ceiling. But when it comes to giving direction on the line, he's a super smart kid. He can recognize things easy. His future is pretty much penciled in as the next center. He's a little small so he'll have to work to get his weight up. He's going to give you three solid years as a college starter.”
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/1240996/highlights/54165809
Pipeline to New Jersey grows as four-star safety Kiy Hester, three-star DT Courtel Jenkins, TE David Njoku sign with Canes
The Hurricanes continued to build their pipeline with the state of New Jersey Wednesday morning when four-star safety Kiy Hester and three-star defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins faxed their national letters of intent over to UM nice and early.
Hester and Jenkins are two of three New Jersey area recruits in the 2014 class and join redshirt quarterback Kevin Olsen, sophomore defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad and senior defensive tackle Olsen Pierre who made their way from the Garden State to the Sunshine State.
"It was just the players, the coaches being from Jersey, the family atmosphere," Hester told NJ.com back in December as his reason for picking the Hurricanes. "Al-Quadin Muhammad (class of 2014 Don Bosco recruit now at Miami), he played a huge role. I've known him since I was in eighth grade, so he was huge. And [defensive tackle] Courtel Jenkins was, too."
Miami needed to add depth at safety with juniors Deon Bush and Rayshawn Jenkins back as the only experienced men who have started and can play back there.
THE OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS
Kiy Hester, DB, Wayne, N.J.
> Measurables: 6-0, 200
> Twitter handle: @Hester_2k
> Commitment date: Dec. 15, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Tabbed as a four-star safety and ranked 288th regardless of position in 247Sports Composite Rankings, Hester is tabbed as the 18th best safety in the country and eighth among all prospects in the New Jersey area.
> Career highlights: A former Rutgers commitment, Hester had offers from Ohio State, Vanderbilt and took an official visit to Michigan State before visiting Coral Gables and falling in love. Attended DePaul High School and played mostly strong safety although he did see time at receiver. Finished with 56 tackles, a sack, five interceptions and 18 pass breakups at safety as a senior. Had 17 catches for 379 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver.
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIUGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/737623/kiy-hester
Courtel Jenkins, DT, Wayne, N.J.
> Measurables: 6-2, 294, 375-pound bench press, 400-pound squat
> Commitment date: June 6, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Listed as the 943rd recruit regardless of position in 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, 26th overall in the state of New Jersey and the 62nd best defensive tackle in the country.
> Career highlights: Racked up 74 tackles, 17 for loss with five sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble playing on both the offensive and defensive lines at DePaul High School. He earned All-County First Team honors. Jenkins had an early offer from Pittsburgh and took unofficial visits to Rutgers, Pitt and Maryland before camping at UM and receiving an offer last June. He didn’t visit any other schools.
> Mid-year analysis on Jenkins in NJ.com
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/892274/highlights/87627377
David Njoku, TE, Cedar Grove, N.J.
> Measurables: 6-4, 220, 4.47 in the 40-yard dash, 40-inch vertical, 285-pound bench press, 455-pound squat
> Twitter handle: @David_Njoku80
> Commitment date: Jan. 31, 2014
> Recruiting ranking: Rated a three-star recruit and tabbed as the 836th best player in the country regardless of position by 247Sports.com Composite rankings. He’s the 64th best athlete and 116th ranked recruit in the state of New Jersey.
> Career highlights: Played in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl. Once a Rutgers commitment, Njoku took official visits to Temple, Miami and UConn and had an offer from Ohio State that was eventually taken back before he committed to the Hurricanes late last week. He hauled in 40 catches for 981 yards and 11 touchdowns and ran 39 times for 334 yards and six scores. He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown as a senior.
> Of note: Njoku is considered a talented track athlete. Last year he broke his county record in the triple jump (47-8) and school record in the high jump (6-10)
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/90257/david-njoku
Brad Kaaya told the L.A. Times on Monday his plan was to wake up and fax his signed national letter of intent over to Coral Gables and be one of the first recruits in for the Hurricanes.
Mission accomplished. Despite being three hours behind on the clock, UM's quarterback of the future woke up bright and early and posted on Twitter that he got it done.
Fax went through. Officially a Miami Hurricane.— Brad Kaaya (@TrinidadBrad) February 5, 2014
As of 7:10 a.m., UM had yet to make the announcement official on its Twitter feed.
UM announced St. Thomas Aquinas All-American center Nick Linder was also one of the first to send his fax through.
Many recruiting experts predicted Kaaya, who received an early UM offer and committed to the Hurricanes back in May, would eventually opt to stay out on the West Coast. But despite overtures from USC, UCLA and Boise State, Kaaya kept his word.
“Through the process, you have to know the difference between who you can trust and who’s feeding you what you want to hear,” Kaaya told the L.A. Times on Monday.
Of the rumors of him straying from UM, Kaaya said: “I was wondering where are they getting these sources from and how credible can they be?”
With Stephen Morris gone, UM has three quarterbacks currently on scholarship and two they are adding as part of the 2014 class. Senior Ryan Williams, redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen and sophomore Gray Crow will be the only scholarship quarterbacks around in the spring. Kaaya is joined in the 2014 class by three-star Mobile, Ala. quarterback Malik Rosier.
“Kaaya is the QB of the future for this team,” said Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting. “He's got the tools, the arm, the footwork. He definitely has the escapability to get out of the pocket and make tough throws on the run. He’s an accurate quarterback.
"As a prospect he's a step up from the prospects they have there at UM now. If you look at Jacory [Harris] and [Stephen] Morris, they both had considerable weaknesses. Kaaya brings better tools to the table. If he had enrolled early he would have had a shot right away to start. He's better than Kevin Olsen and Ryan Williams. He's going to go in there and establish himself as the best QB on the roster by the end of the season. He's the best they've brought in under Al Golden. He reminds me a lot of Colin Kaepernick. He has real tools, a live arm, not as good of a runner, but escapes pressure well.”
Brad Kaaya, QB, West Hills, Calif.
> Measurables: 6-4, 215
> Twitter handle: @TrinidadBrad
> Commitment date: May 13, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Tabbed a four-star recruit and ranked 141st overall regardless of position in 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, 14th in the state of California and seventh among pro-style quarterbacks
> Career highlights: At Chaminade High, Kaaya completed 225 of 362 passes for 3,853 yards, 27 TDs and only six interceptions as a senior before being selected to play in the Semper Fi All-American Game. He ran twice for 14 yards and a touchdown. As a junior, he completed 126 of his 186 attempts for 1,875 yards, 13 TDs and 2 INTs. Despite some late love from UCLA and Boise State, Kaaya stuck to his Canes commitment.
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/1269507/highlights/66537379
Good morning it's National Signing Day.
Fax machines will begin receiving signed National Letters of Intent beginning at 7 a.m.
The Hurricanes have 26 commitments: nine early enrollees, one signee waiting to enroll and another 16 who have pledged to sign with them today. We will track all the action in this Cover-It-Live blog -- including when signed letters of intent become official at UM.
The Twitter accounts for 16 of UM's commitments have also been linked to the live blog. Those are: RB Joseph Yearby, WR Braxton Berrios, DT Calvin Heurtelou, DE Chad Thomas, DT Anthony Moten, DE Demetrius Jackson, DB Kai Hester, QB Brad Kaaya, TE Chris Herndon, DE Mike Smith, DB Marques Gayot, WR Darrell Langham, TE David Njoku, DT Michael Wyche, QB Malik Rosier and WR Tyre Brady.
The blog will feature Twitter feeds from UM's official account (@hurricanesports), those of our reporters and others out on the scene to cover announcements live, and links to other blog items, video and analysis as it comes in.
While this blog will remain at the top of today's blog there will be individual news items posted throughout the day below it. You will see links to those items in the Cover-It-Live feed.
Below this I'll include a timeline of events as the day progresses.
SIGNING DAY TIMELINE
> 7 a.m.: Signed National Letters of Intent begin being received at colleges throughout the country.
> 8 a.m.: Immokalee CB J.C. Jackson is set to announce his decision and will choose between the Hurricanes and Florida Gators.
> 9 a.m.: National champion Miami Booker T. Washington will host its Signing Day ceremony. UM commitments Chad Thomas and Demetrius Jackson are expected to stay with Miami. Quarterback Treon Harris will choose between FSU, UF, UM and Auburn.
> 10:30 a.m.: Former Hurricanes commitment and All-American defensive tackle Travonte Valentine is set to choose between UM and LSU.
> 3:30 p.m.: A Hurricanes National Signing Day show hosted by UM radio personalities Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey Jr. will air live on FoxSports Florida.
> 4 p.m.: Coach Al Golden will address the media in a Signing Day press conference. UM will have interviews with assistant coaches and Golden throughout the day as Letters of Intent arrive on HurricaneSports.com.
SIGNING DAY COVERAGE
> The Hurricanes' 2014 recruiting class stands at 26 players (nine early enrollees, one signee and 16 commitments) on the eve of National Signing Day. UM remains a player for a handful of other recruits, though none of them are currently projected by experts to pick UM.
- J.C. Jackson, CB, Immokalee (8 a.m. announcement)
- Treon Harris, QB, Miami Booker T. Washington (9 a.m. announcement)
- Travonte Valentine, DT, Hialeah Champagnat (10:30 a.m. announcement)
- Lorenzo Featherston, DE, Greensboro, N.C.
- Lamont Gaillard, DT, Fayetville, N.C.
> If you want to know who has officially signed with the Hurricanes on Wednesday UM’s official football Twitter account (@MiamiHurricanes) will provide updates as the National Letters of Intent are received and processed by the school's compliance office.
> HurricaneSports.com will post video highlights, bios and digital trading cards when each player makes it official. UM assistant coaches will also be interviewed on camera for the website to talk about the Canes’ 2014 additions.
> UM was one of 13 schools selected by ESPN to be featured throughout the day. Coach Al Golden and assistants will be interviewed during ESPN’s 16-hour coverage on ESPNU.
> Fans who would like to receive mobile text alerts every time a Canes recruit signs a National Letter of Intent Wednesday can do so by texting GOCANES to 90561.
> Football play-by-play radio voice Joe Zagacki, and color analyst Don Bailey Jr. will host a live 30-minute Signing Day show at 3:30 p.m. on FOX Sports Florida statewide. That precedes Al Golden's press conference with the rest of the South Florida media at 4 p.m, which will be streamed live on HurricaneSports.com.
> UM is not having a signing day event for fans, but the first 1,000 fans at the men’s basketball game vs. No. 18 Pitt Wednesday night will receive a limited-edition trading card set featuring the 2014 football recruiting class. The trading card set will include early enrollees Trevor Darling, KC McDermott, Trent Harris, Juwon Young, Braxton Berrios and Joseph Yearby in addition to the recruits who sign Wednesday.
Are you ready for some Monday night football?
If not, get ready.
The Hurricanes are going to open the 2014 football season on the road at Louisville -- the team that just pounded them in the Russell Athletic Bowl -- on Labor Day night (Sept. 1) at 8 p.m. The game will be carried by ESPN. The Hurricanes will obviously be facing a brand new Cardinals team with a new starting quarterback and head coach. So it's tough to handicap the game now eight-plus months away.
UM's complete schedule -- which features 10 bowl teams and FAMU and Virginia -- was released at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Here is the rest of it with some quick analysis:
- vs. FAMU, Saturday, Sept. 6: Not a lot of time to recover from a road trip. Good thing is the Rattlers are coming off a 3-9 season and still in rebuilding mode. Canes should cruise in this one.
- vs. Arkansas State, Saturday, Sept. 13: The Red Wolves are coming off an 8-5 season in the Sun Belt and a win over Ball State in the GoDaddy.com bowl. Miami should be better than this team and coming off what should be a blowout win over FAMU will help.
- at Nebraska, Saturday, Sept. 20: Bo Pelini's team finished 9-4 thanks to a win over Georgia in the Gator Bowl. The Hurricanes haven't faced the Cornhuskers since beating them in the Rose Bowl in 2001 to win their last national title. Although the all-time series is tied 5-5, Nebraska is 3-0 versus UM all-time in Lincoln. Kansas State made most of us want to forget what happened the last time UM traveled to the Midwest to play a game. Here's to hoping the next trip is different.
- vs. Duke, Saturday, Sept. 27: The Blue Devils capped their best season in recent memory by finishing 10-4 and winning the Coastal Division. They thumped Miami up in Durham and finished ranked 23rd in the country after losing a shootout to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M 52-48 in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. If Miami doesn't win this game at home expect Al Golden's seat to begin to feel a little warm.
- at Georgia Tech, Saturday, Oct. 4: The Hurricanes have won five straight over Georgia Tech since Paul Johnson's team ran for 472 yards in a 41-23 win back on a cold November night in 2008. The Yellow Jackets finished 7-6 last season and lost to Mississippi 25-17 in the Music City Bowl. This one makes me nervous considering the Hurricanes had to pull out a 42-36 overtime win the last time they played in Atlanta.
- vs. Cincinnati, Saturday, Oct. 11: The Hurricanes haven't faced the Bearcats since cruising to a 38-12 win in Cincy back in 1998. Former Hurricanes assistant Tommy Tuberville (1986-93) enters his second year in Cicny coming off a 9-4 season and a loss to North Carolina in the Belk Bowl. The only time Cincinnati has beaten Miami? Way back in 1947. Cincinnati has 15 Floridians on its current roster including seven from Dade and Broward. Miami should also still be good enough to beat them.
- at Virginia Tech, Thursday, Oct. 23: The Hurricanes will have 12 days to prepare for the Hokies in what should be a huge Thursday night game in Blacksburg. Frank Beamer's team fell to 8-5 after its blowout loss to UCLA in the Sun Bowl. UM has only won two of the last eight meetings against the Hokies and have only won twice in Blacksburg in eight tries since 1995. Tough one.
- vs. North Carolina, Saturday, Nov. 1: Larry Fedora's team finished the 2013 season 7-6 after a blowout win over Cincinnati and Miami was forunate to come out with a 27-23 win in Chapel Hill last year. Believe it or not, UM has lost two of its last three at home to the Tar Heels. Another tough one.
- vs. Florida State, Saturday, Nov. 15: Miami will have two weeks to prepare for Jameis Winston and the defending national champions. It might not mean much if last year's Heisman winner is rolling. Florida State will be coming off a home game against Virginia the week before and have Boston College the following week after Miami. Those aren't exactly distractions. Toughest game of the year for Miami. FSU has won four straight in the series and seven of the last nine meetings.
- at Virginia, Saturday, Nov. 22: Finally a cupcake. At least we think. Virginia has never been an easy out for Miami. The Hurricanes are only 6-5 against the Cavaliers all time. UM has dropped two straight in Charlottesville.
- vs. Pittsburgh, Saturday, Nov. 29: Miami could be fighting for a spot in the ACC championship game -- or for a bowl berth if things don't go well -- heading into this week. The Hurricanes are 32-9-1 all-time against Pittsburgh, their former Big East rivals, thanks to a 41-31 win on the road last year. UM has won eight straight and is 16-1 against the Panthers dating back to 1984. No reason at least now Miami shouldn't win this game. Pittsburgh finished 7-6 last year and is coming off a win over Bowling Green in the Little Ceasar's Bowl.
> MY WAY TOO EARLY PREDICTION: Miami, with a new quarterback and a lot of young pieces on the defensive line, goes 8-4 with losses at Louisville, Nebraska, Virginia Tech and at home to Florida State.
The Miami Herald's Safid Deen, who covers recruiting for us, bumped into Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson at a South Florida Express 7-on-7 practice Sunday morning.
Johnson, whose season came to an abrupt end when he broke his ankle against national champion Florida State, covered a few topics including whether or not he thinks he will be back on the field for spring practice.
"I don't believe I will," Johnson told Deen. "But if anything changes, you'll see. But I don't really think so."
Johnson guessed he was about "a month and a half to two months" away from participating to on field activities. Johnson said he is lifting weights.
Johnson said the rumors about coach Al Golden leaving for Penn State earlier this month were exactly what he and the team believed them to be "rumors."
Johnson said Golden never spoke to the team about the rumors.
"We didn't feel the need to," Johnson said. "We looked at it as just rumor as that's what it was. Nothing took place that we know of. Nothing really happened. He's still here. There was no need to have a talk with us. We're moving on to our season and don't have time for distractions such as that."
> Canesport.com and InsideTheU.com reported Sunday that Miami received a commitment from 2015 offensive lineman Kevin Feder of Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey. Feder (6-9, 305) is rated a three-star recruit according to both sites.
> Both sites also reported 2014 commitment Demetrius Jackson, a 6-4, 220-pound defensive end from Miami Booker T. Washington "solidified his commitment" to the Hurricanes after taking his official visit this weekend. Jackson reportedly canceled an official visit he had planned for Texas Tech next weekend.
We are heading down the homestretch here in recruiting. Thursday, the dead period ended and college coaches were back on the recruiting trail.
With three final weekends of visits left before National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb. 5., most of the best players in the country -- almost all already committed -- are playing the game and looking for nice weekend get-aways while building the suspense for their "big announcements." Personally, I hate what recruiting has become. I'm convinced most of these kids have made up their minds and only a select few are really on the fence with decisions.
With that, I give you the rundown of how the Class of 2014 for the Hurricanes has been pieced together thus far. As you know, things change quickly in the recruiting world. All it takes is one tweet to send a fan base off the edge these days. Miami has 26 players currently "committed" to being a part of the incoming class and could add more or lose more in the coming weeks. The class ranks eighth according to ESPN; ninth according to Rivals and 10th according to 247Sports.
UM reportedly offered 10 quarterbacks according to 247Sports.com and landed a commitment from West Hills Chaminade (Calif.) Brad Kaaya (6-4, 215) back in May. He’s considered the seventh best Pro-Style Quarterback in the country. Kaaya will visit UM this weekend (Jan. 17) and has maintained he’s a firm commitment to Miami. But he’s still being courted by Boise State and UCLA and there's a chance he could spurn UM late and stay on the West Coast. Miami has another quarterback commitment from Faith Academy’s Malik Rosier (6-2, 205) of Mobile, Ala.
Of the five dual-threat QBs Miami offered Rosier is ranked lowest by 247Sports (27th). Miami had a commitment from the higher-rated Alin Edouard (6-1, 180) of Hialeah High but stopped recruiting him. Edouard is now committed to Syracuse. The Hurricanes finally offered hometown star Treon Harris (5-11, 180, 9th best dual-threat QB according to 247Sports) of Miami Booker T. Washington a scholarship offer at quarterback and he will visit UM on Jan. 31. Harris is committed to Florida State.
> My take: Everything I hear about Kaaya is that he has an NFL arm and offensive coordinator James Coley loves him. Considering Kevin Olsen – last year’s big signee – was suspended for the bowl game it’s imperative Miami holds onto Kaaya. I have little doubt Ryan Williams will be Miami’s starting quarterback when the 2014 season starts, but the Hurricanes badly need a young passer to emerge as the season moves along. If not Olsen, then it has to be Kaaya. The fact Miami offered Harris at quarterback this late is almost comical. At what point during Booker T.’s national championship run did coaches finally say ‘That Harris kid is pretty good?’ He should have been offered at quarterback much earlier. Current recruiting grade: B+ (if Kaaya sticks around). Overall position grade heading into 2014: C
UM offered 18 running backs a scholarship according to 247Sports.com and currently has only one committed – Miami Central star Joseph Yearby. The 5-9, 190-pound consensus 4-star tailback is rated eighth-best at his position and is already enrolled at UM. But this was a big year for running backs in South Florida and Miami not only missed out on two blue-chip talents -- American Heritage’s Sony Michel (5-star, Georgia) and Central’s Dalvin Cook (5-star, Florida State)– they also lost the top running back in Broward County, Deerfield Beach’s Brandon Powell, who made a last-second switch to Florida after Miami had already announced him as an early enrollee.
The Hurricanes now appear focused on trying to land JUCO running back De’Andre Mann (5-10, 205) of Salinas (Calif.) Hartnell Community College or Louisiana's Cameron McKnight (6-2, 220, 4.6-speed, 3-star Rivals). Mann, a backup to former Hurricane and current Miami Dolphin Lamar Miller, ran for a school-record 1,706 yards and 30 touchdowns this past season. Canesport.com reported Mann has nine offers including Kansas, Western Kentucky, Purdue and Hawaii. McKnight's other offers are Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe and Southern Miss.
> My take: I'm taking the approach that Miami only needed to land one of the big three (Yearby, Cook, Michel) in its backyard and pat them on the back for it. I’m not sure how many programs out there can land more than one Top 10 consensus running back each year anyway -- especially with Duke Johnson already in the backfield. But losing Powell at the last second to hated rival Florida was bad. Now the Canes are scrambling. Yearby, coming off a foot injury, will almost certainly see playing time in 2014. Miami definitely needs to sign at least two backs in this class, though. If they don't that's a big failure. Personally, I'd give Coral Gables High standout Gregory Howell (6-0, 204) a look. FAU and Minnesota have shown interest in him. He's been dominant in his three years as a starter in Miami-Dade County. Current recruiting grade: B. Overall position strength: B
Homestead’s Ermon Lane (6-3, 193) was the highest rated of the 26 receivers Miami offered according to 247Sports.com. But he never seriously considered the Hurricanes and after de-committing from Florida last week appears headed to Florida State where he will take his final official visit on Jan. 31. Instead, Miami has ended up with three three-star commitments in Raleigh, N.C.’s Braxton Berrios (5-8, 170, No. 52 WR according to 247Sports), Darrell Langham (6-5, 190, No. 70 WR according to 247Sports) of Santaluces Community School in Lake Worth, Fla., and South Dade’s Tyre Brady (6-3, 187, No. 141 WR according to 247Sports) and a wildcard in Carol City’s Trayone Gray (6-2, 210, No. 59 ATH according to 247Sports). Two other receivers badly coveted and missed out on were West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman’s Travis Rudolph (6-1, 185, No. 6 WR according to 247Sports) who is headed to Florida State and Palm Beach Dwyer’s Johnnie Dixon (5-10, 187, No. 8 WR according to 247Sports) who is headed to Ohio State. FSU also took Brady’s teammate C.J. Worton (6-1, 175, No. 75 WR according to 247Sports). We’ll have to see who ends up having the better career between Worton and Brady. St. Thomas Aquinas four-star receiver Corey Holmes (6-2, 175) was the only other Dade or Broward County receiver the Hurricanes offered.
At tight end, Miami offered a dozen recruits according to 247Sports and landed a commitment from Chris Herndon (6-4, 230, No. 33 TE according to 247Sports) from Norcross, Ga. Canesport.com reported Miami is pursuing Cedar Grove (N.J.) tight end/receiver David Njoku (6-4, 217, No. 71 TE according to 247Sports). He already took a Miami visit in December and is still being pursued by Penn State, Ohio State and Temple.
> My take: Some kids just don’t want to stay home and I think that’s the case with Lane. Getting Rudolph or Dixon certainly would have been upgrades over what Miami ended up with. But Miami still went out and got three solid receivers to help fill a need. I just don't see a Stacy Coley in this group. Gray, whose grades have always been a concern, would instantly be the best receiver in this group in my opinion if he makes it into school without a hitch. With Tuesday’s news that 2013 signee Derrick Griffin is heading to Junior College, the Hurricanes will likely need at least one new addition to step in and help in 2014 alongside Coley, Herb Waters and Phillip Dorsett. As you know, Malcolm Lewis needs to prove he’s fully recovered from his 2012 foot injury and Rashawn Scott needs to prove he can avoid suspensions. At tight end, 2013 signee Standish Dobard (1 catch, 15 yards in 3 games) should have no trouble replacing the role of Asante Cleveland (3 catches, 23 yards, 1 TD in 13 games) as the team’s third tight end behind Clive Walford and Beau Sandland. That should make 2014 a redshirt season for Herndon and whoever else Miami signs. It would have been nice for the Hurricanes to nab local product Ravian Pierce (6-4, 215, No. 14 TE according to 247Sports) but that ended up as a victory for former Canes coach Randy Shannon and Arkansas. Current recruiting grade: B. Overall position strength: B+
The Hurricanes reportedly offered 30 offensive linemen according to 247Sports and did well landing early commitments from four much-needed prospects all in-state including three locally. Kc McDermott (6-6, 300, No. 3 offensive tackle according to 247Sports) is probably the best offensive player in Miami’s class and has a legitimate shot of starting at Miami from Day 1. McDermott along with three-time state champion and Miami Central standout Trevor Darling (6-4.5, 327, No. 8 offensive tackle according to 247Sports) are already enrolled at UM and on the team roster. St. Thomas Aquinas standout and Under-Armour All-American Nick Linder (6-3, 273, No. 56 offensive guard according to 247Sports) and Semper-Fi All-American Reilly Gibbons (6-6, 292, No. 28 offensive tackle according to 247Sports) will arrive in the fall.
> My take: Clearly the best part of Miami’s class on offense because there are no big misses and lots of quality. Two members of this group should help make up for the losses of four players in the rotation last season: starting right guard Brandon Linder (Nick’s older brother), starting right tackle Seantrel Henderson, key sixth man Jared Wheeler and Malcolm Bunche, who is seeking a transfer. Junior Hunter Wells, sophomores Danny Isidora, Taylor Gadbois and Alex Gall and redshirt freshmen Sunny Odogwu and Hunter Knighton are “the other guys” coming back alongside starting left tackle Ereck Flowers, left guard Jonathan Feliciano and center Shane McDermott (Kc’s older brother). Current recruiting grade: A. Overall position grade: B
Addressing the defensive line was clearly the priority for the Hurricanes in this class. According to 247Sports.com, Miami offered 33 defensive ends and 30 defensive tackles. Miami Booker T. Washington's Chad Thomas (6-5, 240, No. 3 weakside defensive end according to 247Sports), an Under Armour All-American, is widely considered the best defensive player in this class and is UM's only 5-star recruit. Teammate Demetrius Jackson (6-4, 220, No. 20 weakside defensive end according to 247Sports) has been flirting with Arkansas for a long time and is a late flight risk. He’ll visit UM this weekend where Miami hopes to solidify him. Winter Park’s Trent Harris (6-2, 231, No. 14 weakside defensive end according to 247Sports) is already enrolled at UM. Miami Northwestern’s Mike Smith (6-2, 210, No. 32 strongside defensive end according to 247Sports) has been committed to UM since June but will visit Louisville, a hub for former Northwestern standouts, on Jan. 31.
At tackle -- a position Miami has long suffered at -- the Hurricanes have addressed immediate needs with two JUCO signees Michael Wyche (6-4, 315, No. 12 JUCO DT according to 247Sports) and Calvin Heurtelou (6-3, 304, No, 9 JUCO DT according to 247Sports) of Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College). Wyche is waiting on an ACC appeal to report and Heurtelou is working to arrive before Miami’s Jan. 23 deadline to register. Of the group of tackles, however, St. Thomas Aquinas Semper Fi All-American Anthony Moten (6-4, 292, No. 15 DT according to 247Sports) is the most highly-regarded. The Hurricanes also have Courtel Jenkins (6-2, 294, No. 76 DT according to 247Sports) of St. Anthony School in Jersey City, N.J. lined up to be part of the class. He’s been committed since June and had other offers from Maryland, Rutgers and Pittsburgh.
> My take: A big key here for Golden and his staff will be getting U.S. Army All-American Travonte Valentine (6-3, 338, No. 7 DT according to 247Sports) of Hialeah Champagnat back in the class. Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio and two assistants went to visit Valentine at school on Thursday. He de-committed after Golden flirted with the Penn State job after was already leaning toward leaving for LSU, where he will take an official visit (Jan. 24) before visiting Miami (Jan. 31). Locally, UM was in the running early for Chaminade Prep U.S. Army All-American Khairi Clark (6-2, 325, No. 17 DT according to 247Sports) before he committed to Florida in June. In the end, Miami went after the three best available pass rushers and three run stuffers in their backyard and currently have four of the six committed and could end up with five if Valentine comes back. Throw in two quality JUCO guys who can help right away and a defensive end who is already enrolled and it’s a very good haul. Considering the team lost six players to graduation – and only two starters (tackle Curtis Porter and end Shayon Green) Miami has clearly upgraded on paper overall. Current recruiting grade: A- Overall position grade (with signing class): B.
The Hurricanes reportedly offered a total of 36 linebackers according to 247Sports and have three lined up to be part of the 2014 class. None of the three are considered elite, but the good news is two could be around for spring football. Juwon Young (6-2, 228, No. 59 OLB according to 247Sports) of Albany, Ga., is already enrolled at Miami. Darrion Owens (6-3, 216, No. 30 OLB according to 247Sports) of Oakleaf High in Orange Park, Fla. is still trying to enroll before the Jan. 23 deadline. Pompano Beach Ely’s Terry McCray (6-2, 215, No. 60 ILB according to 247Sports), expected to arrive in the fall, has a small ongoing romance working with LSU, which has taken kids from Ely in the past but doesn’t appear interested enough at the moment to take him. Miami is also still reportedly in the hunt for four-star Raymon Minor (6-3, 210, No. 18 OLB according to 247Sports) of Richmond, Va., who will take an official visit this weekend. There’s also a chance former 2011 signee Antonio Kinard could sign with Miami. But his JUCO coach at Arizona Western College reportedly doubts Kinard will finish school by July.
> My take: Locally and in the state it just wasn’t a very good year for linebackers. Three of the top six ranked among the Top 100 players in the state – Jacob Pugh, Kain Daub and Delvin Purifoy (three top 20 players) – are all headed to Florida State. The one local recruit in the state’s Top 100, University School’s Richard Yeargin, is headed to Notre Dame. Miami didn’t offer Yeargin according to 247Sports. The fact Denzel Perryman is returning to Miami downgrades my concern at linebacker from Category 5 problem to Tropical Storm. There are quite a few young guys who have to step up on this unit in a big way. It's time for Raphael Kirby, Alex Figueroa and Tyriq McCord to prove they can be dependable starters and not role players. Current recruiting grade: C+ Overall position grade: D+
Miami reportedly offered 19 cornerbacks and 20 safeties according to 247Sports.com and have one corner and two safeties committed, none who will be around early this spring. Kiy Hester (6-0, 200, No. 19 S according to 247Sports) of St. Joseph Regional in Motvale, NJ and Marques Gayot (6-1, 205, No. 67 S according to 247Sports) of Park Vista Community School in Lake Worth, Fla. are the two safeties Miami got commitments from in December. Miami Northwestern’s Ryan Mayes (6-2, 180, No. 67 CB according to 247Sports) has been committed to the program since June. The Hurricanes had another commitment from Booker T. Washington’s Nigel Bethel (5-9, 173, No. 28 CB according to 247Sports) but he recently switched to Texas Tech. Locally, there were other talented players in Miami’s backyard available in the secondary. But Plantation High’s Chris Lammons (5-9, 170, No. 20 CB according to 247Sports) committed and de-committed from Florida and is now looking at South Carolina. Miami never offered University School’s Quincy Wilson (6-1, 196, No. 28 S according to 247Sports). But they did go after Miami Central’s Deatrick Nichols (5-10, 180, No. 56 CB according to 247Sports), who committed to former high school coach Telly Lockette at USF. The other potential big swing and misses: Immokalee’s J.C. Jackson (5-10, 180, No. 19 WR according to 247Sports), who appears headed to join Florida State’s class. Miami is now reportedly in late on Tampa Jefferson athlete Deoindre Porter (6-1, 180, No. 190 ATH according to 247Sports). He de-committed from USF and is scheduled to visit UM on Jan. 31.
> My take: Miami had a commitment from Dillard’s Dennis Turner (5-11, 175, No. 150 CB according to 247Sports) but had him as a wide receiver and not at cornerback like where his own coach said he would probably be better suited to play. Although the additions of Hester and Gayot are good pickups for Miami, the fact Lammons, Bethel and Nicholas are all leaving town has to irk you a little. The good news is Miami has a chance to make up for it next year. The secondary, led by juniors Tracy Howard, Deon Bush, Antonio Crawford and Rashawn Jenkins, sophomore Artie Burns and senior Ladarius Gunter is a solid top six. Depth, though, will be a concern unless some young players step up. Current recruiting grade: B-. Overall position grade: B-
U.S. Army All-American defensive tackle Travonte Valentine dropped his commitment to the University of Miami last week when talk of coach Al Golden possibly heading to Penn State began to reach a fever pitch.
Tuesday, his high school coach Mike Tunsil said Valentine could end up rejoining Miami's class now that Golden has announced he's staying put. But the 6-3, 338-pound standout and his coach at Hialeah Champagnat want to have a sit down conversation with Golden to "make sure everyone is on the same page."
"Travonte just wants security," said Tunsil, who said he's handling all interviews for Valentine until he makes his final announcement on National Signing Day. "He's been saying UM for a long time. He loves UM. But for Coach Golden to go interview for another job was unsettling.
"A lot of things can change when a coach leaves. Now that Golden is back he wants to find out why Golden [interviewed] and if he really is planning to be there for the long haul."
Tunsil said Valentine has communicated with Golden since he de-committed on Saturday after the U.S. Army All-American Game. But Tunsil said he hasn't spoken to Golden and will reach out to him this week if he doesn't hear from him soon.
"Travonte loves UM, the small class rooms like here at Champagnat," Tunsil said. "His mom is close to him here. It's all about sitting down with Golden and getting on the same page. He has a great relationship with their coaches, coach Hurlie Brown. He's not asking for any starting job to be promised or anything like that. He knows nothing is given. It has to be earned."
Valentine, ranked the eighth-best defensive tackle in the country by 247Sports, named LSU his leader after the U.S. Army Game. Tunsil said Valentine plans on visiting UM and LSU before he makes his final decision on Signing Day. He said Valentine could also end up visiting Alabama or Kentucky before then.
"He just doesn't want to go somewhere and then there is a coaching change," Tunsil said. "People have been badmouthing him on Facebook and Twitter since he de-committed. It really isn't fair to the kid. He just wants to see what's going on."
Tunsil said any rumors about Valentine having academic issues and not being able to qualify at UM aren't true.
"He's got the grades and the test score. It's always been a core class issue and he's been taking care of that with online classes and here," Tunsil said. "Travonte could qualify at any school in America except the Ivy Leagues probably."
That's the one word that gets thrown around more than any other in college football.
Yet, as we've come to realize, it means absolutely nothing.
Al Golden used the word right after the Hurricanes got embarrassed by Louisville a little more than a week ago in the Russell Athletic Bowl. And he meant it.
"I made a commitment to get it done and we're going to fight our asses off until we get it done," Golden said of returning the Hurricanes to dominance.
Now, less than 10 days later, we're sitting here wondering if he's leaving for his alma mater Penn State. So are his bosses, assistant coaches, players and recruits.
"We don't know anything yet," President Donna Shalala told the Miami Herald in an email.
Golden? Not a peep, which says his commitment and his loyalty is really only to himself and his family.
We all know this of course. We're not naive. We all have priorities. If you were in Al's shoes and your alma mater came calling, offering more money, offering a heroes welcome, you would have to listen at least.
And maybe that's all this is. Maybe Golden won't be leaving anywhere.
After all, Penn State is reportedly interviewing Mike Munchak and James Franklin today. Maybe Al isn't sure he'd be better off back where he met his wife Kelly. Maybe being the next Joe Paterno isn't his thing. Maybe he wants to jump from Miami to the NFL and aspires to be the next Bill Belichick.
Only Al and his people know.
What does Al want us to know? Nothing. His silence speaks for itself. It reminds us people in college football can use the word commitment one day and change their minds the next. All anyone is really going to do is what's best for themselves from one decision to the next. And there's nothing wrong with that. That's real life.
In the end, if Al stays at Miami, it's going to be hard for some to believe just how committed he really is to this program. And the truth is that's really what was maybe Golden's most likable quality wasn't it? The fact he was, in his words, "going to fight [his] ass off until we get it done."
That commitment to standing by Miami's side through the NCAA mess. We loved that. The idea he was going to dig his feet into the ground, recruit his butt off and take Miami back to the top. Many Canes fans -- after a 7-0 start and rise to a No. 7 ranking -- were completely buying in.
Not so much anymore of course. They want his best bud, defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio, out of here. Get rid of him or you can go with him Al, many say.
If Al leaves, which many outside the program seem to think he will, the next guy will be expected to pick up right where he left off. Since the Canes went 9-4 this year, the next guy has to secure that Top 10 recruiting class, and then win the Coastal Division. No excuses. To not accomplish that would mean failure.
The good news for Hurricanes fans is that if Al leaves there are hungry, interested coaches out there who could accomplish that.
Mario Cristobal would be the first person I would call. Yeah, Cristobal left for a better paying Alabama job after Al gave him one when FIU dumped him.
But can you imagine anyone "fighting his ass off" for Miami -- his alma mater -- harder than Cristobal? He still hasn't tasted that NFL money, still hasn't really proven himself. He would work to get to that point.
And that's really what this Miami job has always been about. It doesn't pay enough to be a place where someone settles in for the long haul. It never has been. In it's most successful days it's always been the springboard to then next big, better paying job.
Some are saying Rob Chudzinski, Greg Schiano and Butch Davis would be great options. Tommy Tuberville might be too. But I'd call Mario first.
The only commitment you would need from Cristobal is what this program has really always been about and needed. That's a commitment to winning and winning big.
ORLANDO -- Not a lot of positive to report after the 36-9 thumping the Hurricanes took at the hands of Louisville Saturday night here in the Russell Athletic Bowl. But a quick few bullet points before we get to the transcript.
> Tight end Clive Walford said he's decided to return for his senior season. He led the Hurricanes with four catches for 82 yards tonight.
> Linebacker and leading tackle Denzel Perryman, a new father, said he hasn't made up his mind yet if he's returning for his senior season.
"I was going to wait until pretty much after this game," he said. "Whatever kind of break we have I'm going to go home, sit down, talk to my family, make the best decision for me."
Perryman said he hasn't heard back from the NFL advisory committee yet. "I sent them my evaluation paper I don't know how many weeks ago," he said. "It should come in either this weekend or next weekend."
He said he's going to wait for it before making his decision. What will be the biggest factor? "I don't know. I haven't thought about it yet," he said.
Here is everything UM coach Al Golden and quarterback Stephen Morris had to say post-game. You'll want to read the stuff specifically about Golden's time table for when he thinks UM will be back competing for national titles and how Louisville threw things at Miami they weren't prepared for.
Opening statement: "Obviously disappointed we got beat in all three phases. There's no excuses. We didn't play well enough, give a lot of credit to Louisville they played really well, executed well. Again, it's my responsibility and disappointed in our execution in all three phases. I just -- as I just shared with the team. Despite that, just really proud of Stephen and this group of seniors and what they've been through and what they've endured in moving us forward from six to seven and from seven to nine wins. We're going to miss them greatly for all that they've contributed and obviously for their leadership through really tough three years. So go ahead."
Q: Did it kind of remind you of the Florida state game that you clearly were just against a football team that was significantly farther along than where you are right now?
COACH GOLDEN: Again, Gary, I appreciate the question but it's so hard to answer that without discrediting the guys in that locker room especially the seniors who have been busting their tail to keep us afloat and move us forward. I think everybody recognizes and I'm going to answer this honestly. Everybody recognizes that we're not where we want to be yet but we're scratching and fighting and clawing to get to where we want to be and keep moving forward. We've done it, you know, against terrible odds. I'm not going to discredit the guys we just played, but we have to get better and we're going to play these guys again in the near future and we got to be better.
Q: Al, what does have to change going into next season defensively?
COACH GOLDEN: "Again, we didn't give the defense a chance early in the game. I thought they were playing really well. They did a great job against the run. They were out there for too many plays and we didn't convert. I think we were 0 for seven at the half. Matt, there's a lot of things that have to change. We have to do better job coaching, we have to continue to build our program and just move forward and -- but, again, I think the defense was what was holding us in there in the first half and they were out there for too many plays."
Q: Coach, did you see any of this in preparation, in bowl practice? Was there any sign the game would be like this?
COACH GOLDEN: No, obviously it's our first go round for the freshman, sophomores, and juniors. It's the first time going through this experience. Again, Stephen and Jimmy and Allen, they provided really good leadership for us. But, again, it's the first time. You got to go through it. We didn't want to play the way we played. We wanted to play better. There are going to be a lot of things from this week and from going into a site and learning how to handle the media and the crowd and all of those things that we have not had the opportunity to do. Again, I think our guys are going to find value in that and learn from that.
Q Coach, can you please tell us a little bit more about the significance of the senior class and how it's been in this program after you guys have been through?
COACH GOLDEN: Again, I don't think it's -- to go out on a limb and say they saved us. They could have cut and run. They kept us afloat, you know, and they saved us. I don't know how else to look at it. You know, that's about as hard as you get what they had to endure for three seasons. You know, again, it's not to our standard, let alone anybody else's expectations, but I'm not going to let that eclipse what these young men have done for the university of Miami and this program and the class they exhibited and to take somebody else's problem on and claim it as their own and have the resolve and the mental toughness to fight through. I'm proud of them.
Q Stephen, this question is for you, obviously today four sacks, most pressure you felt all season back there. Can you talk about the performance and this being your last game as a Hurricane?
MR. MORRIS: "Obviously it wasn't the performance I wanted to have being my last game but give credit to Louisville. They had a great defensive plan going. They were in the right spots at the right time. They came up with making the play. It's definitely something I want to work on, something it's been an issue for running on third downs we needed to do a better job on that. Over all my performance as a quarterback was not one of my greatest performances but you just learn from it."
Q Coach, you've been here three years, defensively there's been some issues with schematics. Are you going to reevaluate the whole staff and everything in the future now that the season is over or perhaps look to make any changes?
COACH GOLDEN: I'm going to evaluate the whole program, just like I do every year. It's not going to be any different. Again, there's things right now but in terms of moving the program forward, we're going to keep moving it forward. We're going to be resolute in that and we're not going to flinch with that. Again, at the end of the day, we're going to continue to recruit, continue to develop, but in terms of the young kids in our program and everything, I don't want to trade the young kids. I want to keep going. I want to keep moving forward. I just think overall, I think it's really important that every coach, every unit, every player, everybody is evaluated and I'll start that probably tomorrow.
Q Stephen, this might not have been the way you wanted to end your career here but has it fully hit you you've played your last game at the university of Miami and what is it you'll take away most of your time at the university?
MR. MORRIS: I think it will probably hit me tomorrow when I wake up and won't have a schedule from coach Golden and won't have a tech saying where I need to be. It's been a pleasure here, man. It's been a true blessing. I'm blessed to say that all these coaches have truly left such a great mark on my life. It's changed me to a better man. I'm proud to say. Football is a game of wins and losses. Unfortunately we didn't win how we wanted to win. Sometimes we lost the way we loss. I'm always going to be proud to say I'm a Cane.
Q How much did they change over the month in terms of blitz packages?
COACH GOLDEN: It was different.
Q Significantly different?
COACH GOLDEN: Yeah, no it was definitely different and then obviously you know when they got out to a lead and we never brought my pressure on the other side, which kept compounding the problem, Gary. So I don't think there's any question about it. Then you get to a point in the game where you're pressing and your trying to make some plays that you don't need to make. I don't think there's any question we didn't protect as well as we needed to protect. It's my responsibility.
Q Coach, this is for you and Stephen. I know it's not good right now, but the week in general, I mean, talk about how was the bowl experience for you/
MR. MORRIS: The bowl experience was very fun. Russell Athletic did a great job hosting the events for us. On top of that the week's practice was great. Even when we were in Miami we had tough physical practices which was great. Guys were excited to be here and when we got to the bowl site throughout the whole week everyone was focused and everyone invested a lot into this game. It's disappointing the way the game turned out to be but it's been a great experience.
COACH GOLDEN: I would say on above of the University of Miami we're grateful, the Russell Athletic Bowl and Orlando for just -- they did a tremendous job for our young people and especially given the fact that our guys hadn't experienced that since 2010. We're grateful.
Q Al, I think Teddy had over 400 yards passing in this game. What was he doing that just allowed him to be so effective tonight?
COACH GOLDEN: Number one, I think he made a lot of plays where he broke a tackle, you know, made a completion. He made some really, really excellent plays, just individual plays where it looked like we had him for a sack. It looked like we got him for a sack, he breaks the tackle and throws. There was a number of those, number of those plays, but obviously he's an excellent quarterback, he threw the ball well, but, again, you can't -- there's no excuses right now. He played well, he execute well. Their team executed well. We have to do a better job.
Q You spoke about a lot of the momentum you felt this month and obviously with everything that's gone on this season, what type of message does this game send the recruits?
COACH GOLDEN: Well, I don't know if it sends a message. I just think we're still building. We need help. Obviously the size of this class is an indication you know that we're bringing a big group in and there's a lot of room to help us. I don't think there's any question that those kids understand that. They understand that they can help us and there's room to help us and we're not in a situation right now where we want to be and those kids see themselves as guys that can help us get there. So I don't think that's going to change anything. We just got to keep moving forward.
Q Coach, you're going to have the opportunity to play Louisville again real soon. How are you going to play differently and what can you expect from that program over the next several years?
COACH GOLDEN: Again, I can't really speak to what direction they're going. All I can answer is what we need to do. Obviously we need to get back to work and see how we evolve with our personnel in the spring. Depending on when we play them, we'll make determination what our game plan is and what our personnel is. That's so far off right now. We're going to add 25, 26 guys to this team and obviously develop the young men that we have and decide what direction we want to go in all three phases in the off season and spring ball and we'll decide what the game plan will be.
Q Coach, you talk about the process all the time and now the cloud is removed from the NCAA do you have a time frame you expect to get this program back consistently top ten competing at a high level?
COACH GOLDEN: Well, number one, we just won nine games for the third time in a decade. I wish we had won ten, all right, but we're busting our tails right now to keep moving. There is no time table. Again, I take responsibility for everything, responsibility for everything in the program. At the end of the day today wasn't good enough. Again, I'm proud of the seniors and I don't want that to be diminished or lost here. We're going to keep moving this thing forward and it's hard for me to give you a time table. When my time table is wiped out on August 15, 2011. It's hard me to give you a time table. I made a commitment to get it done and we're going to fight our asses off until we get it done.
Q I was just wondering about you know what happens tomorrow? Do you meet with the under class men at all? Do the seniors just kind of walk away and that's the end?
COACH GOLDEN: We'll get the seniors back when they either, A, come back to school or when they start to work out to get ready and do those types of things. They know. We have a great relationship with the seniors, but tomorrow everybody is going to kind of go their own way. That's pretty traditional. We'll find an opportunity to get the seniors back and get them together, but we really did try to honor them as best we could at the banquet and just make sure before the game they understood how important they were and we just had another opportunity and we did that again.
Q Are you -- I guess you probably already talked to some of the juniors that are contemplating, perhaps, entering the NFL. How does that work now?
COACH GOLDEN: We have a great process in place where they get their draft reports. They had and will continue to have opportunities to speak to every entity that they need to, but as it relates to me. I'm just there for support. I am not part of that decision. I make sure that they get everything that they can get to make the best decision for them and their future and obviously if they need consultation from me, then I give it to them, just as we have a whole booklet of people that they can call and different people they can get information from to make the best decision for themselves.
ORLANDO -- The Miami Hurricanes were hurting at receiver coming into this game with sophomore Herb Waters out.
They are minus another: junior Rashawn Scott. He was among a list of three players UM confirmed did not make the trip up to play in the bowl game.
The others: freshman quarterback Kevin Olsen, who had made previous road trips and dressed in uniform, and cornerback Ray Lewis Jr.
UM has not given a reason as to why the three players are not playing. But they have confirmed they were left behind.
Scott has been suspended multiple times, including at the end of last season.
Olsen was charged with leaving the scene of a car accident before arriving at UM this summer. The report stated that Olsen “appeared to be under the influence of something.”
He and Lewis were both being redshirted this season.
Either way, it's never a good thing when you don't end up making a bowl trip with your teammates and you are healthy.
ORLANDO -- The Hurricanes (9-3) hope to complete their first 10-win season in a decade with a win over 18th-ranked Louisville (11-1) at 6:45 p.m. tonight at The Citrus Bowl.
It won't be easy. Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a former standout at Miami Northwestern and once a UM commitment when Randy Shannon was coach, leads a potent Louisville passing attack.
Las Vegas lists the Cardinals as a 3 1/2 point favorite. With good reason, too. Despite facing a pretty weak schedule, Louisville is sound defensively.
We'll be here to provide live updates as usual on Twitter and in our live blog.
ORLANDO -- Here is a breakdown of Saturday night's Russell Athletic Bowl game featuring Miami (9-3) and 18th-ranked Louisville (11-1). The Cardinals are favored to win by 3 1/2 points.
> Here is also a link to my weekly segment with Orlando Alzugaray on 640Sports.com.
WHEN MIAMI RUNS THE BALL
Louisville coach Charlie Strong said the Hurricanes present the toughest challenge his defense has faced in his four years with the Cardinals. That's not exactly a stretch -- at least for this season.
The Hurricanes are the highest-ranked scoring offense (35.9 points per game, 25th nationally) and top rushing team (172.5 yards per game, 63rd) the Cardinals will face this season. Although Louisville ranks second nationally in run defense (86.25) and is allowing only 2.74 yards a carry, they've faced only two teams who rank better than 80th rushing: Cincinnati (68th) and UCF (79th). Both of those opponents had some success (160 yards average and three touchdowns each) against the Cardinals.
Can Dallas Crawford, Gus Edwards and Eduardo Clements find running lanes behind a big, beefy offensive line that averages 320 pounds? With Duke Johnson sidelined over the last four games, they haven't done it enough. Miami has averaged 121 yards on the ground. That ranks 109th. To beat Louisville, Miami will also have to be better on third down (37.8 percent, 85th). The Cardinals rank second nationally in third down defense (28.6 percent). Edge: Louisville.
WHEN MIAMI THROWS THE BALL
The Cardinals have allowed the fewest passing touchdowns in the country (eight) and rank eighth in passing yards allowed (171.7). Only Cincinnati, whom the Cardinals beat in overtime 31-24 in the regular season finale, managed to throw for more than 250 yards against them. Sophomore cornerback Charles Gaines leads the team with 11 pass breakups and five interceptions.
Miami, led by quarterback Stephen Morris and receivers Allen Hurns and Stacy Coley, has thrived with the big pass play. UM ranks second nationally with 35 pass plays of 30 yards or more. Louisville has allowed only 10 pass plays of 30 yards or more all season (tied for fifth-fewest).
What the Cardinals do best to stop offenses is sack the quarterback (39 total, fifth nationally). Senior defensive end Marcus Smith ranks second nationally in sacks (12.5) and junior Lorenzo Mauldin is 17th with 9 1/2. UM has allowed only 13 sacks on the season. Edge: Even.
WHEN LOUISVILLE RUNS THE BALL
About the nicest thing you can say about Miami's run defense (ranked 81st, 182.33 yards per game, 25 TDs allowed) is that it isn't as bad as last year's (114th, 217.92, 29).
Junior Dominique Brown (6-2, 216) and senior Senorise Perry (6-0, 187) are averaging five yards a carry and have combined to run for 1,414 yards and 14 touchdowns on a Cardinals rushing attack that ranks 80th (150.2 yards per game). It's likely Louisville could opt to give them more work than usual Saturday when you consider the Hurricanes have given up 821 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground over their last three games. Edge: Louisville.
WHEN LOUISVILLE THROWS THE BALL
For the first time since 2010, Miami's pass defense has produced more interceptions (18) than touchdowns allowed (13). Of course, Teddy Bridgewater, the nation's fifth moss efficient passer (70.2 completion percentage, 3,523 yards, 28 TDs, 4 INTs), could change all that Saturday night.
He's got six receivers with at least 22 catches this season. Bridgewater doesn't go deep as often as Morris does, but when he does 6-3, 209-pound junior DeVante Parker (46 catches, 743 yards 11 TDs) is usually his favorite target.
But for the most part, Louisville doesn't mind killing their opponents slowly. The Cardinals rank sixth in time of possession (33 minutes, 25 seconds per game). Miami's defense is used to being on the field a lot. The Hurricanes rank 118th in time of possession (26:21). Edge: Louisville.
UM kicker Matt Goudis ended the season by shaking out of his funk with seven consecutive made field goals, finishing 13 of 17 including a season-long of 49 yards. Punter Pat O'Donnell had a special season, averaging 47.3 yards a kick including 20 punts of 50 yards or more.
Gaines has returned a kick (93 yards) and a punt (35 yards) for a touchdown this season and is hands down Louisville's most dangerous weapon in the return game. Cardinals kicker John Wallace hasn't had to boot many pressure kicks, but is 17 of 21 on field goal attempts with no makes longer than 39 yards. He has had three field goals blocked and punter Ryan Johnson (41.2 yards) has had one of his kicks blocked.
Louisville's punt coverage team is very good having allowed 15 total yards on 13 punt returns. Coley has a punt and kick return for a touchdown this season and should be aided by the return of Phillip Dorsett. Edge: Even.
Strong hasn't faced many ranked opponents in his four seasons as coach, but he's 4-1 in those games. His team has trailed only once at halftime this season -- 13-10 against Houston -- before rallying for a 20-13 win.
Louisville will be Miami's third rank opponent this season. The Hurricanes beat Florida 21-16 back on Sept. 7 before the Gators went into a tailspin and then they were blown out at Florida State 41-14. Miami is 3-5 under coach Al Golden against ranked teams. Good starts are almost mandatory with UM going 17-1 when leading at halftime under Golden, and 3-13 when trailing. Edge: Louisville.
PREDICTION: Louisville 38, Miami 27
ORLANDO -- UM coach Al Golden met with reporters Friday morning to look ahead to Saturday night's showdown with Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville at the Russell Athletic Bowl. Here is the complete transcript.
Opening statement: "Obviously, very grateful to Russell Athletic Bowl and the Orlando community for just an incredible week and an opportunity for our young people and all of our families, our staff, our coaches, wives, our children, just an incredible experience and one that will create lasting memories, so we're excited. We've turned our focus here in the last 48 hours to really getting ready for a really, really good Louisville Cardinal team and excited about the opportunity to kick that ball off tomorrownight at 6:45, so with that I'll open up to any questions that you might have."
Q: Coach, with a day until the game, what's the perception like with your players knowing that the University of Miami is back in a bowl game and they're this close to being on the field?
COACH GOLDEN: Well, they're excited. We've been excited, really, since we started our first practice, you know, probably more than three weeks ago now. Our freshman, sophomores, and juniors were not able to experience this so -- and that includes everything. That includes the bowl practices, that includes the travel, the unity and the bonding that occurs during these -- that can really only occur when you -- when you experience things like this. And they've practiced with a purpose. I think they've really earned our trust all week by being where you are. You know, they really conducted themselves well and were accountable to each other and now it's really time to get focused in and get ready to play this game.
I think we're in the right -- you know, we have a long way to go until we kick it off, but we're in the right frame of mind right now.
Q: Coach, Teddy Bridgewater is such a dynamic quarterback. What have you seen that you're going to do to try to stop him tomorrow night?
COACH GOLDEN: Well, I think you got to -- you can't let him throw in rhythm, so obviously you have to get pressure on him, you have to change up the rotation or the looks. He'll pick you apart if you just stay in one coverage or if you don't put any pressure on him. I think the thing about Teddy Bridgewater that he probably doesn't get enough credit for is his mechanics are tremendous. Tremendous balance, tremendous mechanics and, you know, really well taught. So he's got poise. His completion percentage to interception ratio is phenomenal, so we have to find a way to get pressure on him and we have to, you know, obviously make some plays.
Q: Coach, given the current competitive nature of college athletics, do you think the concept of the big three as it used to be, is that still attainable for obviously you guys and Florida and Florida State to be at that elite level on a regular basis?
COACH GOLDEN: Well, I mean, clearly Florida won championships. I don't know exactly, I think I want to say six and eight, '06 and '8, and Florida State is playing for a championship this year. We have to do our part. We have to continue to build. Obviously we've been encumbered a little bit more than we would have wanted to be the last two years, but we feel like we are moving the program forward and we do have an opportunity with a win tomorrownight to be the first team in Miami in a decade to win ten games.
And given the circumstances and the adversity that we've dealt with, that would be a tremendous task and a great honor for our seniors. So I don't think there's any question that can still happen and we intend to make it happen.
Q: Can you talk about how the extra bowl practices have helped with recruiting and where you are now in terms of the 2014 signing class?
COACH GOLDEN: Well, there's no many different ways to look at it. Number one, we didn't have the -- clearly we are one of the largest cities in the country in terms of cultivation and recruiting. We have one of the best bases, but yet the last two years we didn't have the opportunity for those young people to come over and watch bowl practice and be around us the way they are now.
We also didn't get this opportunity for a week long infomercial, if you will, that a lot of our adversaries had the chance to and then it was all compounded by the fact we were embroiled in something that brought a sensational element and we were dealing with a very difficult task. So I think clearly the first two are in place now. The third one has been eliminated, and just in the two weeks that I was able to get out, you know, we just have not, Manny, since we've been here -- and, again, you've covered us from the get-go. You know, the first year was a transition year and we didn't have much time at all to go recruiting and then the second two years we were dealing with a very tumultuous situation.
It's never felt like it's felt right now. We feel like we're recruiting to a higher level right now. We feel like the questions that we're getting from parents or coaches or young people, prospects are in line with what they should be. They should be about our university, about our program, our systems, our philosophy, and I can't tell you how good that feels to be able to go just out and recruit without handcuffs on.
It's been -- it's again great. This week has been great for us and can't wait to get back out on the road again.
Q: Coach, you were talking about those inroads with recruiting. Sometimes Louisville is known as Miami north, 26 guys from the area. In that regard, how important is this for the future with so many eyes in that area on this game?
COACH GOLDEN: Again, Coach Strong and his staff do a great job of identifying who they want to recruit and I believe the same for our staff. The difference now for us is that we don't have to do it with one hand -- really two hands tied behind our back. Again, whatever Louisville's philosophy is, their philosophy, I don't really worry about what anybody else is doing. I don't worry about the ones you don't get. I worry about the ones that you do get.
The ones that you do get have to be able to play, have to be able to execute. They have to be able to execute your philosophy on a daily basis. And as it relates to the University of Miami, they have to attend the number one school in the state of Florida, a top 40 institution nationally. So we're proud of that. And so, again, we have so much -- I mean this with a great deal of respect for Coach Strong and Louisville, but I would say the same thing if you were talking about Florida or Florida State or any of our adversaries, especially in the southeast. I don't negatively recruit. I don't talk about the other team, ever. We feel like we have one of the greatest products that there is in college football. We've gone through a very, very difficult time and we're excited to go out and sell that again and be able to do that. And so to be honest, I really don't worry about the other programs because we're in one of the greatest climates mats that there is in the nation. We have one of the best institutions in the nation. We've had more guys in the NFL than anybody. We've got a great tradition. We've played for more national championships than anybody over the last 30 years. We've won more, and it's our job to get it back and we're going to do it and we're going to keep fighting. And this is a big step obviously moving forward.
Q: Coach, are there any -- I know you're seeing Louisville again next year in the regular season. Are there any benefits at all preparation wise, spend some time looking -- how do you think they might have fared competitively in the ACC this year?
COACH GOLDEN: Again, I think, you know, Coach Strong, they're fundamentally sound as any team that we'll see. I think they're going to do what they'll do. I feel the same way about us. We're going to do what we do.
And whenever we meet again next year, you know, depending on quarterbacks, depending on personnel, depending on what direction both programs go in the spring and then obviously the way we start the season, it might change a little bit, but we are pretty much who we are and we're just going to try to get better at it.
I think the one thing that we sorely missed, and maybe I underestimated it, that we really missed were these bowl practices. You know, to see Jermaine Grace and Jamal Carter and Artie Barnes, Gus Edwards and how much better they have gotten over this, you know, three and a half weeks or whatever, whatever it has been, this time of bowl preparation has been invaluable and clearly those young guys are going to benefit from it down the road. We've missed that.
Q: The second part was how do you think they might have fared?
COACH GOLDEN: I think they're going to be an excellent team. It's a great addition. I'm sorry I didn't follow up. I'm being blinded here by the light. It's a great addition for the Atlantic Coast Conference, it really is. It's making us stronger in every aspect, in every sport, but certainly from a football standpoint, from a men's and women's basketball standpoint, baseball. It's going to make us really strong. We're excited to have them in.
You know, we have to do our part. We have to continue to move and get better and that's going to help the national appeal of the ACC. But certainly I think Louisville coming in is going to help us an the brand recognition now from Boston down to Key West is really going strong for us in terms of television sets and population density. It's going to make us strong and I think Louisville is going to help us with that.
Q: I wanted to get your thoughts on just Ladarius Gunter's progress. The last time he was out there, it ended very scary for him. You know, how has he just been working back from that injury and that situation and how did that impact all the guys afterwards?
COACH GOLDEN: I think Ladarius -- you know, first of all, we have great medical staff and we're so much better prepared, all of us, in the sport now to handle any injury that may look significant as it relates to head or neck. So we -- he ran through all the tests. Certainly he missed the last game, but was really cleared the next week when we started practice. And he's another young man that has gotten better and especially at the bowl side. I think he's practicing with a purpose. I think he understands the challenge ahead of him with Teddy and this great receiving core that we're going to face. He's been really doing well. In terms of the impact on the team, the team knows that we're going to always be smart with them relative to head injuries or, you know, the protocols that we have in place to make sure that we safeguard their health and put the student athlete welfare first. I think our team trusts that and understands that, so I know they were glad that he was, A, okay, number one, okay, and then, B, that he was able to return to action and compete like he is.
Q: Is there room in this state for the big four with the way UCF has been progressing?
COACH GOLDEN: Again, for you guys -- those are all the story lines for you guys. I mean, I wished I lived in that world. Sometimes I wish I did, but I don't live in that world. I don't worry about any of those things. I just think George has gone a great job. George is a class act and he's done a great job and I'm happy for George.
But, again, it's hard for me to understand, you know, without playing them or seeing them or being in the league, you know, what all goes into that, you know, other than, you know, you admire the job he's done from afar.
Really, with our student athletes, with our staff, with all that we've been through, we're just focused on Miami and moving Miami forward and I just can't tell you how good it feels to finally be able to do the things that you came to Miami for, A, go to bowl games, B, get your team better, C, recruit like you are at Miami and not, you know, being challenged by things that are -- circumstances out of your control.
Q Coach, as you've watched the film, who at Louisville kind of jumped off the screen and you believe is the next level talent?
COACH GOLDEN: There's quite a few. Starting with Teddy -- you know, again, I can't say enough kind things about the young man and his maturity and probably the leadership that he provides to their organization, but he's such a good decision-maker and so good with his balance and his rhythm and those are the challenges for us, so certainly Teddy.
But there's others. I mean, wide receiver core is really talented. Again, I got them all here, Parker Copeland, you know, all those guys do a great job, Eli Rogers. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Marcus Smith on the other side of the ball, a very disruptive -- you know, 12-plus sacks, the TFLs that he has, very active, you know, active secondary, you know, Brown at middle linebacker, a big, strong physical kid who can run, so those are all some guys.
But overall very balanced and offense. You know, they'll rush for 150 and throw for 300, very balanced. They do a great job with time and possession. They convert on third down better than just about everybody that we've seen at over 55 percent. On defense, you know, they're top ten on just about everything on defense. I think the one thing that jumps off to me at defense is how disruptive they are. Tackles for loss sacks and interceptions, very disruptive group. And their experience, they have an experienced offensive/defensive line. If you can get experience there, you have a chance to be good.
Q: I know you're limited in what you can say in terms of names and so forth, but in terms of early enrollees do you have a number now that you're thinking you're going to end up with?
COACH GOLDEN: No. It's still evolving. I would say safely eight, you know. You probably have it in front of you more than I do. It's probably about eight. It may grow depending on what transpires here. But, you know, we need that. You know, we needed some guys to come in and offset some of the losses we had. I'm excited for those young people that are coming in because it's going to give us an opportunity to challenge them and acquaint them to how we do things at the University of Miami and cultivate them into our philosophy and how we do things systematically and then obviously give them a chance to adjust to college life itself. I'm excited about that.
Q: Obviously you have a lot of commitments. You've been rebuilding this class for awhile. But this last month, are there any position areas that you're still hoping to address, or do you feel like you've pretty much shored up everything you've wanted?
COACH GOLDEN: No. We still got some positions that we have earmarked. I really don't want to get into the specifics of it, Manny, with all due respect. You know, there's still some -- you guys really probably do a better job of just charting who we're recruiting. That will tell you what we're still looking for.
But because of, you know, some of the things that we imposed against ourselves in the last two years, we had a very small class last year. That's not ideally how you want to build your team. This class is going to be a large class. It's kind of backwards. It should have been the other way around. But having said that, we're excited about this group and what they bring and I really feel like it has a chance to be our best class since we've been here. It may be that way already, Manny, to be honest with you.
Q: Coach, with it being only a day away from the bowl game, what's your main message to the whole team? Is it to make sure that they win? Is it to make sure that they get out there and play?
COACH GOLDEN: Well, I think clearly we're prepared, you know. We're prepared, but, you know, you can lose a lot of games in the final 48. I think the most important things for our guys is to trust. We have 120 years of bowl experience on our staff, but yet we have very few young people on our team that have been to a bowl game so now they have to understand how to stay focused and how to avoid the lobby and how to avoid all the -- because, you know, as the preparation dwindles, you know, as the game approaches, the amount of distractions increases.
There's more people in town. There's more family in town now since the holiday, you know, has ended, so now they really have to trust the formula that we have for them, win the final 48 mentally, and just really stay focused and eliminate the distractions. That's easier said than done when you don't have a lot of guys on the team that have been there, so that's going to be our -- you know, in addition to what the message is to the team, it's going to be making sure we do that.
Q: I'm going to try to take you to that world, so I apologize. You're a hot commodity coach. Charlie Strong is a hot commodity coach. Having dealing with him, he is frustrated with answering questions and questions and questions. How do you deal with it?
COACH GOLDEN: I'm going to have Charlie answer them. Is Charlie coming back in? I'll have Charlie answer them for me. You know, we're in one of the greatest places that there is in college football and we've gone through a really hard time. But it's hard to imagine, you know, places out there that you could, you know, sell, that you could present better than the University of Miami. We know we're not where we want to be, but we know we're not where we were. It was pretty dark days, as you remember. Many of you covered it. We were on the cover of Sports Illustrated two years ago. For these kids -- and it wasn't because we were holding up a trophy. They wanted to end the program. I dealt with masses of media.
My first training camp at the University of Miami, if you can imagine throngs of media three or four times the size of this. Manny is over there shaking his head. And the questions were are you going to have a team next year, and I couldn't believe it.
But we had a lot of young men that stood with the University of Miami. We had a lot of coaches and staff that stood with the University of Miami through really, really dark times, dark days and we're excited about moving the program forward. We're excited about the experience this week and the opportunities that we have and all that we're doing. You know, we just moved into a new football complex. We just finished a new student center on campus. There's never been a better time to be at the University of Miami in terms of the educational opportunities, in terms of everything that we can afford. Young people in our college town of Coral Gables, South Miami, Coconut Grove, you know, but yet we have the diversity and culture that only a world-class city like Miami can bring. So we haven't had the opportunity to really sell that and I'm looking forward to doing that here in January and thereafter.
The Miami Hurricanes football team held its 2013 Canes Football Awards Show on Saturday night at the Maurice Gusman Concert Hall located inside the Frost School of Music.
Joe Zagacki, the “Voice of the Miami Hurricanes”, served as the awards show’s emcee. The show opened with the top 13 plays of the 2013 season.
The Hurricanes coaching staff handed out 21 annual player awards. Freshman WR/KR Stacy Coley was named the team’s Newcomer of the Year; junior LB and Butkus Award semifinalist Denzel Perryman was named Defensive MVP, while senior OG and Senior Bowl participant Brandon Linder was named Offensive MVP.
Second-team All-America P Pat O’Donnell was named Special Teams MVP and senior WR Allen Hurns was awarded the Jack Harding Team Most Valuable Player award.
Throughout the evening, several video messages from prominent #ProCanes were played for the team – Warren Sapp, Michael Irvin, Andre Johnson, Clinton Portis, Ed Reed, Jon Beason, Antrel Rolle, Devin Hester and Greg Olsen.
QB Stephen Morris was the recipient of the Plumer Award for Leadership, Motivation and Spirit. Senior DE Shayon Green received the Melching Leadership Award. Both awards are voted on by the team.
At the end of the night, head coach Al Golden thanked the senior class and all 25 seniors were presented with their framed jersey.
"We were on the road all week, and we’re excited to be out on the field tonight and again tomorrow for the last two open practices, and then we’ll great into our preparation for Louisville and the Russell Athletic Bowl. I missed an opportunity to visit since the bowl announcement, but clearly we’re grateful for the opportunity to go to the Russell Athletic Bowl, to play in Orlando, and let our kids experience the sites and attractions and the community in Orlando, and get a great opponent in Louisville. Our kids are excited, I think they’re grateful. They’ve been through a lot the past two years, and they have not been able to have this opportunity. I thought after we talked last weekend, that [the conversation] resonated in the way they practiced. Hopefully we’ll see that again here tonight and tomorrow. They’re practicing with a purpose, they’re excited, and clearly they have a really tough opponent coming up."
On the younger players who impressed during the first weekend of bowl practice…
“Just jumping around, I think Taylor Gadbois and Alex Gall were two guys that really benefited from that. I think both of those guys stepped up and showed that they’re capable, so we’re going to continue to push them and get them ready here for the bowl game. Those are two guys that come to mind. I told [Raphael] Kirby again today, I thought he really grew up last week and played with low pad level and ran and took charge of it. He needs to do that. In Jimmy [Gaines’] absence, he needs to be able to do that. If he keeps practicing like he did last week, he’ll carve out more playing time. I thought Jamal Carter really great up and answered the call for us.
“There were a lot of guys who really competed. There were others, a lot of guys that really competed. You got that sense when you were out there, that it meant something to them. Clearly now with a lot of the veterans coming back, there will be more competition. We’re still going to see a lot of those young guys, but this time it will be against guys like Allen Hurns, Stephen Morris and Brandon Linder, which should make the competition all the more better.”
On the challenges for his secondary of facing Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater…
“We have to play really well. This is a very talented young man. He has great command on the offense. I don’t want to intimate you at all, that I’ve studied everything I can about them, we’re going to do that about 11 a.m. Sunday. We’re going to take two whole days to do that. Clearly we see enough Thursdaynight games or Friday nights to see the young man is talented. He has speed, good corps of receivers, knows how to distribute the football, doesn’t make many mistakes with the football, can move in the pocket. It’s going to be a great challenge for our corners and safeties. Those guys are going to be challenged again tonight to improve, compete and get better. Certainly we’re not where we want to be yet, in every facet of the game – not just corners and safeties.”
On his satisfaction with safety play, specifically Rayshawn Jenkins and Deon Bush…
“I think your comment is fair. We need to continue to be more physical and more consistently physical. Deon clearly has been hampered all year. Hopefully every time we were hoping we were going to see Deon…he came up with a hamstring recently and before that, his groin. Hopefully we’ll see him get healthy here and finish off the season well. With Rayshawn, it’s continuing to trust the process and be consistent. Not your highs be high and your lows be low – just continue to be consistent, and we have to to get that play out of him, there’s no question about it."
On how he has seen freshman Stacy Coley improve over the first weekend…
“I think Allen [Hurns] has been a great mentor for him. He has learned how to prepare. I keep saying to you guys, his talent is really good. He has excellent talent. But what’s allowing him to play at a high level and have so many explosive plays is [that] he’s trustworthy. We give him a lot of plays. It’s really a great example of ‘Hey, if you want to increase your role in a game, master the ones we give you.’ He has done that. It hasn’t always been easy for him, as you guys can recall. He didn’t start off the season the way he wanted to, let alone how we wanted him to do. He fought through it and continued to get better every day. This is a young man who can be a great model for a lot of young players out there for how to prepare, how to study, and how to article that. Mike James talked to our team in the spring, when he got back from the NFL Combine, about being able to regurgitate it and being able to articulate it. This young man, no matter what we ask him – he’s very loud and proud in the meetings. He tells James [Coley] or Brennan [Carroll] or the offense exactly what he’s going to do on a play – with conviction. That leads to a lot of trust. There is a preparation element in there that really exceeds his age.”
On the health improvements of junior Phillip Dorsett…
“I’m expecting him to be healthy, I really am. I’m as anxious as you. I’ve been out all week. I think we have a green light with him. We should see Phillip back to normal, which hasn’t been the case since the North Carolina game for us. We would love to have Phillip back - he was really having a heck of a year when he got hurt.
“I think he has had a great attitude. He fought, fought, fought and got really close, and really we thought we would have a chance with him in the Virginia game but it wasn’t quite right. There were a couple plays in Pitt when he got in, but not to have the impact of the game that he wanted to have. Clearly on offense we were doing well, so it got to a point where [we said] “Do we really need to put him in?” I know he’s anxious to get back out there, and hopefully we’ll see him out there today.”
On how closure to the NCAA investigation has affected his staff’s ability to recruit…
“I don’t know if it’s ever easy, but what energizes your staff when you go out? What motivates it and what drains it? Clearly you can understand almost every high school we left, we left answering 20 questions about something we didn’t have any answers about. We did that for 28 months. It’s very difficult to recruit under those circumstances.
“We didn’t have the opportunity to have tonight - we’ll have 30 or 40 juniors out there from South Florida. We haven’t had that opportunity. We haven’t been provided that opportunity. It feels totally different. You’re not going to get them all. There are other good opportunities for kids and all that, but at the end of the day, we feel like we’re on a level playing field for the first time. It’s unfortunate it comes at the tail end of our third class, but nonetheless, it gives us a chance to finish this one and start the 2015 class with a fresh slate. There has been a lot of positive energy out there, and we’re just excited to move forward. You can feel the difference.”
On the difficulty of recruiting dominant interior linemen…
“When I answer the question, it’s hard to answer without reflecting on the players that are currently in the program. What head coach and what defensive coordinator doesn’t want dominant defensive players? We have to continue to develop the young men we have, but I don’t think it’s a secret we need help on the defensive line, help on the front seven.
“I think everybody understands that, and I think that’s reflected in our numbers of guys we have committed at those positions. We were not given the opportunity to recruit the type of full class we wanted to recruit last year. We’re making up for it right now. We were looking at 16 commitments going into Signing Day a year ago. If you’re on a regular ‘Year Two’ schedule, that number probably would have been 23, 24 or 25. Here we are the following year trying to make up for that. It’s been a challenge. There were a lot of places we would have loved to fortify our positions a year ago, we weren’t given that opportunity. We gave up a lot so we can move forward now, so let’s move forward.”
On if he has a plan to divide the scholarship reductions …
“I do. I don’t know if I want to share that at this time, just because we’re working through it. Again, it seems very simple, because now they quantified it for us and made it a static number. You can deal with a static number. Last year, I had no idea how many I was going to have - before Signing Day, after Signing Day, right until after we kicked off the ball. Now that we have an idea, I feel like we can plot a course. Clearly I don’t recommend anybody running their business that way. It’s hard.”
Nine Miami Hurricanes were selected to the 2013 All-ACC Football team by the league’s 14 head coaches, the ACC announced Wednesday. Miami’s first- and second-team All-ACC selections mirrored those selections made by ACSMA last week.
Junior LB Denzel Perryman and graduate P Pat O’Donnell were both named to the first team. Sophomore RB Duke Johnson, senior WR Allen Hurns and senior OG Brandon Linder were named to the second team.
Senior QB Stephen Morris, a third-team All-ACC selection by ACSMA, was named to the coaches’ All-ACC third team and was joined by senior OT Seantrel Henderson, junior C Shane McDermott and freshman specialist Stacy Coley.
Henderson, McDermott and Coley were All-ACC honorable mention by ACSMA.
Perryman, who has started all 12 games at linebacker, leads the Hurricanes defense with 104 total tackles – 65 solo stops – along with 5.0 tackles for loss. Perryman, who was honorable mention All-ACC by ACSMA and the league’s coaches in 2012, has tallied 10+ tackles in six games this season.
O’Donnell ranks third nationally with a 47.3 yards-per-punt average, which leads the ACC by nearly 3.0 yards per kick. O’Donnell has 20 punts of 50+ yards to his credit and 17 that have landed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
Despite missing the last four games of the season with a fractured ankle, Johnson collected second-team All-ACC honors after rushing for 920 yards and six TDs. He was averaging 115.0 rushing yards per game before his season-ending injury. He averaged 174.1 all-purpose yards per contest.
Hurns is currently enjoying one of the greatest receiving seasons in program history. The senior leads Miami in both receptions (60) and receiving yards (1,138). He is only the fourth player with a 1,000-yard receiving season in school history and 19 yards shy of breaking the school single-season receiving yards mark. Currently, Hurns ranks seventh in Miami history in both career receptions (119) and career receiving yards (1,867) and eighth in career receiving TDs (14).
Linder, a preseason All-ACC selection, helped anchor Miami’s offensive line that paved the way for the Hurricanes to average 446.8 yards of total offense and 35.9 points per game. Miami’s offense scored 40+ points five times in 2013.
Miami’s four third-team selections were led by Morris, who has thrown for 2,868 yards and 21 TDs through 12 games. For the second straight season, Morris has posted four 300-yard passing games. The Miami native ranks third all-time in Miami history with 7,736 passing yards and 49 passing TDs. Morris is the only QB this season to throw a 50+ yard pass in nine different games.
Joining Morris on the third team were Henderson and McDermott, who were part of an offensive line that allowed only 13 sacks in 12 games – tied for the fewest in the ACC. Coley is the only FBS player this season to score a TD four ways: rushing, receiving, punt return and kick return.
No. 25 Miami (9-3) will play No. 18/16 Louisville (11-1) in the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28 in Orlando. Tickets, which are priced at $77 and $82, can be purchased through the UM Ticket Office online at CanesTix.com, in-person at BankUnited Center (M-F 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.) or by phone at 1-800-GO-CANES.
Miami is also hosting BankUnited #CanesFest Family Friday Bowl Practice from 5-7 p.m. Friday at Cobb Stadium. Admission is free. Sebastian the Ibis, Miami cheerleaders and the Sunsations will be at practice. Bounce houses will be on site for the kids, who can also take their photo with Santa. The Hurricanes will also be collecting toys for "Toys For Tots". Fans in attendance will also have the chance to purchase Russell Athletic Bowl tickets.