Mark Richt's $1 million pledge: when he revealed it and why facility is needed

Markrichtwithfootballi

If you're a UM fan, you've got to respect a coach (and a program's first-year coach, at that) for not just urging others to get on board by supporting the program above and beyond -- as in $$$$$$$ -- but doing it himself. Here's my story on when/where Mark Richt actually revealed his $1 million pledge toward the indoor practice facility project, and the bottom line of why the AD knows the facility is necessary -- with Richt comments from Pro Day added.

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The University of Miami indoor football practice facility project just got a nice boost from the man closest to the Miami Hurricanes.

Nice, as in $1 million.

UM football coach Mark Richt told a group of about 50 “very supportive individuals’’ at a private dinner after UM’s #Building Champions Spring Tour in Chicago last Thursday that he was donating $1 million toward the facility, a source at the private dinner told the Miami Herald.

UM athletic director Blake James confirmed that Richt is giving a donation but wouldn’t divulge details.

“I know Mark is going to make a gift to the project,’’ James told the Herald on Wednesday. “When we finalize it we’ll make an announcement.”

The donation was first reported by Canesport.com.

James wouldn’t give a timetable for breaking ground or announcing a major leadership donation by someone who would get his or her name on the building.

“There’s a lot of energy and excitement about the project,’’ James said, “but until we do get the gift there isn’t anything to announce. We don’t put timetables on gifts.’’

When Richt mentioned the donation at the dinner, the guests were apparently thrilled.

“You can imagine the reaction,’’ the source said. “Everyone was extremely impressed. Everyone clapped. People hollered. It was impressive.’’

The source said Richt “spoke to the dinner crowd about his commitment to the program, about his commitment to those young men and the major needs of the program, including the indoor facility.’’

The #BuildingChampions Spring Tour, separate from the dinner, was at the Knickerbocker Hotel.

Richt, in his first year at Miami, makes more than $4 million, though UM is a private school and does not disclose his contract details.

Multiple sources familiar with the indoor facility plans previously told the Herald that coaches have been informing prospective recruits about the facility and that renderings of the project, which has yet to break ground and even officially be announced by UM, have been made available to current players by Richt.

The indoor practice facility, which James told the Herald has “been No.<TH>1 on my list for a year and a half,’’ will be large enough to enclose a regulation-size football field.

It will include a weight room and coaches’ offices and is expected to extend from the current weight room housed in the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence near the outdoor practice fields. Initial costs will be between $20 and $30 million.

UM is the only Atlantic Coast Conference school without an indoor facility and one of the only major programs in the country not to have one.

James told the Herald last month that the biggest safety concern is lightning, which often strikes repeatedly in Miami’s tropical climate, wreaking havoc on practice.

Every time UM’s lightning alarm goes off, the players are required to go inside for at least 30 minutes.

 “It’s not temperatures that we’re looking to get out of,’’ James said. “And obviously you have to play in the rain. For us, it’s getting out of the lightning.”

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Speaking of rain, the many Hurricanes who performed in front of NFL representatives on UM Pro Day -- its combine at Greentree Field -- were undoubtedly hampered by torrential rain that day. They kept performing because they had no choice, but an indoor facility would have been a blessing at that point.

"It was sad, really,'' Richt, who attended the UM combine, told reporters the next day. "It was sad that it was a downpour at the moment they needed to be able to show what they could do.

"They fought through the adversity, and I think the pro scouts appreciated and saw that. I did like how they handled adversity. That's part of the evaluation process. [But] not to have a place where they could have the type of day that they've been working so hard for, for so long -- not only from the end of the season to now, but really their whole life they're waiting for that opportunity -- was just tough on them.''

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

April 28, 2016

Artie Burns continues the Canes' first round tradition -- goes 25th overall to the Steelers

The tradition continues.

IMG_1303
Artie Burns and agent Melvin Bratton (right) pose for a photo moments after the Pittsburgh Steelers took the UM cornerback with the 25th overall pick Thursday

Artie Burns, who lost his 44-year-old mother to a heart attack in October and left UM after his junior season to take care of his younger siblings and 19-month old son, became the 58th first round pick in University of Miami history when the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him with the 25th pick Thursday night.

Four corners were drafted ahead of Burns, who was listed as the 31st best overall prospect by ESPN’s Mel Kiper and came in as the seventh-best cornerback in the draft according to CBSSports.com.

"They needed help in the secondary. They gave up almost 4,500 yards passing," ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said of the Steelers. "[Burns] came on this year. I think he's another long, bump-and-run corner that will flourish under Mike Tomlin, an ex-secondary coach."

Said Kiper of Burns: “I like everything about him. He gets a little grabby at times and that might be his only issue in the NFL, getting penalties. But he's big, he's long, he's fast, he's athletic, makes some big plays. I thought he got beat in some games more than I like -- particularly the Nebraska game bothered me. But if he refines his technique he should be a really good player.

"I love his anticipation, his ball skills, had six interceptions this past year. He really came on. But you can't be grabby in the NFL with the way they throw flags. If he corrects that, he's got everything it takes physically and athletically to be a good corner. He can have a presence in that secondary that the Steelers like."

Burns former UM teammates and new Steelers teammates were obviously happy for him.

Here are some tweets:

NIGHT ON THE BEACH

Burns and his family – including his younger two brothers, girlfriend Ella and 19-month old son AJ – watched the first round of the draft inside a hotel room at The Betsy Hotel off Ocean Drive on South Beach. Burns’ agent Melvin Bratton said former UM receiver Rashawn Scott was also there to support Burns.

Bratton said earlier in the day Burns spent the afternoon walking the beach for two to three hours with him and his wife trying to fight off nerves.

“Artie had some good pre-draft meetings with Carolina, Tampa Bay, the Jets, Miami and the Cardinals too – teams that need corners,” Bratton said Thursday moments before the draft got underway.

“But like I told him, the teams you haven’t spoken to are usually the ones that draft you.”

The Hurricanes, who had seven players taken in last year’s draft including two first round picks, don’t have as deep a draft class this year.

Safety Deon Bush, whom Kiper listed as his 181st overall prospect, will likely be the only other player taken in the draft. Other Hurricanes prospects who could get drafted or sign with teams as free agents are Scott, defensive end Ufomba Kamalu, cornerback Tracy Howard, linebacker Tyriq McCord and receiver Herb Waters.

Counting Burns, the Hurricanes have had 94 draft picks since the start of the 2000 season – a figure that ranks second among all NCAA teams.

BRATTON DISMISSES TMZ REPORT

TMZ reported Thursday morning that Burns spent $41,000 on jewelry in a New York city store earlier this week to look good before the draft. Bratton called the report “flat out wrong.”

“We squashed that,” Bratton said. “First of all, he did that in February and he spent a couple grand. It wasn’t $41,000. That guy from the jewelry store was just trying to advertise his company. Artie doesn't even own a car right now. I won't let him buy one until after this weekend. So, if he doesn't even have a car why would he spend $41,000 on jewelry?"

January 29, 2016

A look at the Miami Hurricanes 2016 recruiting class heading into the final weekend

With less than a week to go before National Signing Day, Hurricanes coach Mark Richt and his staff have been busy both keeping the 2016 recruiting class together and adding pieces.

Thursday night, they picked up four-star tight end Jovani Haskins of Bergenfield, N.J., giving quarterback Brad Kaaya yet another weapon to throw the ball to. The Hurricanes have six scholarship receivers expected back next season and three will be seniors: Stacy Coley, Malcolm Lewis and D'Mauri Jones

Receiver, cornerback, linebacker and tight end were all areas Richt wanted to address. Three linebackers are already among the five early enrollees, and among UM's 10 commitments, five are pass catchers and two are cornerbacks.

The issue for Miami is that it could end up losing U.S. Army All-American cornerback Tyler Byrd of Naples, who is visiting Tennessee this weekend with his best friend and teammate.

That would be a devastating blow, Scout.com's Corey Bender told me last night. That said, Bender gives Richt good marks for the job he's done since taking over for the fired Al Golden in December. 

Here's a look at where the Canes stand heading into the weekend:

EARLY ENROLLEES (5)

Shaquille Quarterman, ILB, Orange Park Oakleaf, 6-0 1/4, 233
- The U.S. Army All-American and nation's fifth best inside linebacker accoridng to 247Sports.com had been committed to UM since before his junior season (6/24/14). SENIOR HIGHLIGHTSTwitter: @OgBoobie_Shaq

Jack Allison, QB, Palmetto (Fla.), 6-5, 200
- The nation's eight-best pro styler passer according to 247Sports.com and Under Armour All-American was committed to UM since prior to his junior season (6/23/14). Had offers from Alabama, Tennessee and UCF. SENIOR HIGHLIGHTS. Twitter: @Jackallison_11

Zach McCloud, OLB, Lake Worth Santaluces, 6-2, 218
- The nation's 18th best outside linebacker according to 247Sports.com first committed to UM back in Nov. 2014 as a junior and then de-committed when Al Golden was fired. He then recommitted to Miami a month later after a visit from Richt. SENIOR HIGHLIGHTSTwitter: @chief__20

Patrick Bethel, DE, Vero Beach, 6-3, 249
- The Under Armour All-American and 14th best strongside defensive end in the country according to 247Sports.com committed to the Hurricanes Dec. 14, less than a week after receiving a visit from Mark Richt. Took visits to Tennessee and Auburn. SENIOR HIGHLIGHTSTwitter: @Pat_Bethel93

Michael Pinckney, ILB, Jacksonville Raines, 6-1, 215
- Rated the 19th best inside linebacker by 247Sports.com, Pinckney was a longtime UM commitment. He had 85 tackles, 8 sacks and an interception as a senior and turned down offers from Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Nebraska, Notre Dame and West Virginia. HIGHLIGHTS ON HUDL

COMMITMENTS (10)

Sam Bruce, WR, St. Thomas Aquinas, 5-8, 180
- The Under Armour All-American and 11th best receiver in the country according to 247Sports.com has been committed to UM since before his junior year (7/8/14). He flirted with Ohio State late in the process but reaffirmed his commitment to the Canes this week. Had 46 catches for 427 yards and four touchdowns as a senior at Aquinas. HIGHLIGHT REELTwitter: @_QUICK6

Tyler Byrd, CB, Naples, 5-11 1/2, 194
- The U.S. Army All-American is rated the 10th best corner by 247Sports.com and has been committed to since 2/3/15. But he was set to visit Tennessee with his teammate and best friend Carlin Fils-aime this weekend, who is committed to the Volunteers. Had 38 tackles, 1 INT as a senior and 36 catches for 641 yards and 9 touchdowns at receiver. Former UM assistant Larry Scott, now on Tennessee's staff, is pushing for Byrd. SENIOR HIGHLIGHTSTwitter: @D1fuzzymuffin17

Dionte Mullins, WR, Gulliver Prep, 5-10 1/2, 179
- Under Armour All-American ranked the 34th best cornerback by 247Sports.com. He's been committed since prior to his junior season (7/4/14). Did not play his senior season because his GPA was too low. He could end up being an academic casualty. HIGH SCHOOL HIGHLIGHTSTwitter: @dionte_mullins8

Joseph Jackson, DE, Gulliver Prep, 6-5, 245
- Rated the nation's 16th best weakside defensive end by 247Sports.com and committed to UM since 1/25/15. Had 46 tackles, six sacks and four forced fumbles as a senior. CAREER HIGHLIGHTSTwitter: @joejackson919

Travis Homer, RB, West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy, 5-11, 195
- Rated the nation's 10th best running back by 247Sports.com, Homer has been committed to UM since 5/31/15. Ran for 1,315 yards, 11 touchdowns as a senior. CAREER HIGHLIGHTSTwitter: @Travishomer4

Jovani Haskins, TE, Bergenfield (N.J.), 6-4, 235
- Nation's 19th ranked tight end according to 247Sports became the Hurricanes' latest commitment on Thursday night, almost a week after taking an official visit to UM. A quarterback for his high school team, Haskins completed 39 of his 67 pass attempts for 785 yards, 2 INTs and ran for 639 yards and 4 scores as a senior. He had three catches for 90 yards at receiver. He had visited West Virginia and Virginia Tech through the recruiting process. SENIOR HIGHLIGHTS. Twitter: @leehaskins_

Malek Young, CB, Coconut Creek, 5-9 1/2, 182
- The U.S. Army All-American was rated the 47th best corner by 247Sports.com. A former Georgia commitment, he switched over to the Canes on Jan. 15 after being recruited by new cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph. Had 34 catches for 684 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior. SENIOR HIGHLIGHTSTwitter: @MalekYoung

Cedrick Wright, S, Gulliver Prep, 5-9, 180
- Rated the 38th best safety by 247Sports.com, Wright has been committed to UM since 1/25/15. He tackles and 3 interceptions as a senior at Gulliver. HIGLIGHTSTwitter: @_CedTooLive

Michael Irvin Jr., TE, St. Thomas Aquinas, 6-3, 220
- The son of Hall of Fame receiver and Hurricanes legend Michael Irvin is rated the 32nd best tight end in the country by 247Sports.com. He's been committed since 7/6/15. Had 29 catches for 291 yards and 2 TDs as a senior on Aquinas' state championship winning team. SENIOR HIGHLIGHTS.  Twitter: @M_Irvin17

Latrell Williams, WR, Lake City Columbia, 5-11, 171
- Rated 110th best WR by 247Sports.com (Committed since 1/17/16). Former USF commitment was recruited by new receivers coach Ron Dugans to UM. Visited Tennessee on 1/22/16. Had 68 catches for 1,035 yards, 10 TDs as a senior. SENIOR HIGHLIGHTS. Twitter: @LastKingTrill

REMAINING TARGETS

Ahmmon Richards, WR, Wellington (Fla)., 6-1 1/2, 171
- The U.S. Army All-American was a Hurricanes commitment for over a year until Al Golden was fired. Now, the Hurricanes are fighting with Alabama to get the nation's 28th best receiver according to 247Sports to recommit. He had 73 catches for 1,278 yards and 14 touchdowns. He's supposed to make his announcement at noon on ESPNU on National Signing Day according to Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post. HIGHLIGHTSTwitter: @AhmmonR2

Romeo Finley, S, Niceville (Fla.), 6-1, 198
- The nation's 15th best safety according to 247Sports.com is supposed to visit UM this weekend. Clemson and Georgia Tech are the other finalists. Finley had 60 tackles, 6 PBU and an interception his senior year. HIGLIGHTSTwitter: @RomeoFinley1

Javon Wims, WR, Hinds Community College, 6-4, 215
- Wims, a former high school standout at Jacksonville Ed White High School, has been committed to Georgia since Nov. 6 but Richt has been coming after him hard and the Hurricanes believe they have a chance to flip him. He had 47 catches for 775 yards and nine touchdowns this season. HIGHLIGHTSTwitter: @Javon_Juice

Randrecous Davis, WR, Atlanta Mays (Ga.), 5-10 1/2, 169
- The former Georgia commitment dropped his pledge to the Bulldogs after visiting UM on Jan. 22. This weekend, Davis is visiting South Carolina. He's rated the 70th best receiver in the class according to 247Sports.com. He had 58 catches for 1,024 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior. SENIOR HIGHLIGHTS. Twitter: @Dreak_1

Kelvin Harmon, WR, Palmyra (N.J.), 6-3, 180
- The former South Carolina commitment is choosing between the Hurricanes and N.C. State on Monday. He visited UM on Jan. 22. Harmon had 66 catches for 1,111 yards and 14 touchdowns and 38 tackles, three forced fumbles and an interception as a senior. SENIOR HIGHLIGHTS. Twitter: @Wide_Receiver9

January 04, 2016

Alumnus Mike Rumph confirmed to be headed to UM as new CBs coach

            Mike Rumph was part of the last national championship team at the University of Miami.

            Rumph is headed back to his alma mater to try and help them win another one.

            Rumph, who spent the past three years as the head football coach at Plantation American Heritage School, is set to join the coaching staff at UM under new coach Mark Richt.

            CanesInSight.com first reported that Rumph has been hired as the Hurricanes’ cornerbacks coach, a position he played at UM and in the NFL.

American Heritage athletic director Karen Stearns confirmed that Rumph met with his team Monday morning to let them know he would be leaving. Rumph did not immediately return phone calls Monday morning to The Miami Herald.

“Mike called me last night and let me know he was leaving,” Stearns said. “It was an emotional meeting with the kids and obviously we’re sad to lose him, but we’re thrilled for him. It’s very exciting for him, for UM, and for all of us. It’s a great move.”

            Rumph starred at UM where he had six career interceptions and finished his college career on UM’s star-studded 2001 national championship team.

            Rumph, 36, played six seasons in the NFL and had stints with the 49ers, who drafted him in the first round in 2002 and later the Redskins and Rams.

            Not long after retiring following the 2007 season, Rumph went into coaching.

            Rumph became an assistant coach at Miramar Everglades in 2010 and later at American Heritage in Plantation.

In 2013, Rumph replaced former Miami Dolphin Jeff Dellenbach as the school’s head coach and guided the Patriots to back-to-back state championships and a regional semifinals appearance this past season. During that time, American Heritage went 35-6.

Rumph replaces UM defensive backs coach Paul Williams, who has reportedly been hired at the University of Illinois. Williams spent the past five seasons coaching at UM originally under former coach Al Golden.

December 04, 2015

Voices behind the scenes of a new day for Hurricanes football: Mark Richt, Blake James and Jon Vilma

How laid back is new Hurricanes coach Mark Richt?

See for yourself.

He spent about 10 minutes with local Miami Hurricanes beat writers discussing what Friday was like for him from the moment he woke up, what his goals in recruiting are, why he took the job and more.

So how did athletic director Blake James land his new head coach? He explained it after the press conference Friday.

Now that Richt has been chosen how do the players and former players feel about the future of the program? Jonathan Vilma, who was part of the search committee, explains how they decided on Richt and what the expectations are from the alumni at UM.

December 03, 2015

In Mark Richt, Canes have something they've never had when hiring a football coach -- a proven winner

(That's how Hurricanes players feel about Mark Richt and probably Hurricanes beat writers now that the coaching search appears to be over)

Go back and look at the history on your own if you want to.

Either way, I'm going to provide a quick lesson.

Mark Richt, assuming there are no hiccups in the final contract negotiations with Miami, is something the Hurricanes have never had before when its hired a football coach. It's called a proven winner.

Although most people up Athens, Ga. might disagree with that sentiment because Richt, 55, never won a national title as a head coach, he's about as close as you can get to a guarantee when it comes to finding someone to lead your program out of irrelevance. 

Richt's 145-51 record ranks seventh among all active head coaches in wins. Only Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer (237), Alabama's Nick Saban (193), Missouri's Gary Pinkel (191), Oklahoma's Bob Stoops (179), Cincinnati's Tommy Tuberville (155) and Ohio State's Urban Meyer (153) have more. Beamer and Pinkel are retiring after this season. 

Richt's career .7398 winning percentage, by the way, ranks 41st all-time. Only Meyer (.855), Washington's Chris Petersen (.815), Stoops (.7991), Saban (.7618), TCU's Gary Patterson (.7513) rank better among active coaches with at least 10 years of experience. Richt, by the way, is right behind Bobby Bowden's .7402 win percentage.

The point is Miami has never landed a coach with such a sterling resume.

The Hurricanes have always opted to go the cheap route and find a coach who was looking to prove themselves on the job.

That worked in the 1980s and 1990s with Howard Schnellenberger (he spent one-plus years as the head coach of the Colts 4-13), Jimmy Johnson (29-25-3 at Oklahoma State), Dennis Erickson (18-16-1 at Wyoming and Washington State) and Butch Davis (no head coaching experience when Miami hired him). But that was before college football really started to make money. 

That same, cheap approach really hasn't worked out since for Miami.

Larry Coker (no head coaching experience), Randy Shannon (no head coaching experience) and Al Golden (27-34 at Temple) were all inexpensive, we're-going-to-throw-our-hands-up-in-the-air-and-just-believe-our talent-will-carry-us-hires by Miami's administration.

Go back and look.

Want to know who landed new head coaching jobs in 2001 when Miami decided to turn things over to their offensive coordinator? Meyer at Bowling Green (they went from 2-9 to 8-3 in his first season), Gary Patterson at TCU, Les Miles at Oklahoma State, Pete Carroll at USC, Jim Tressel at Ohio State, Gary Pinkel at Missouri and some guy named Richt at Georgia. 

A year after Florida hired Meyer from Utah to a seven-year, $14 million deal in 2005, the Hurricanes fired Coker and signed Shannon to a four-year, $4 million deal. Who else was hired then? Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, Mark Dantonio at Michigan State and Brian Kelly at Cincinnati. 

In Dec. 2009, FSU hired Jimbo Fisher to take over for Bobby Bowden at $9 million over five years. A year later, when Shannon was fired, Miami spent less than $2 million to bring in a guy from Temple and then restructured his contract a year leater and extended him through 2019 because he was blindsided by the school's NCAA mess. In 2010, David Shaw took over at Stanford and Dana Holgorsen was named head coach at West Virginia.

Money doesn't always solve problems. But it doesn't hurt.

Richt, who was making roughly $4.1 million a season at Georgia before being fired Sunday, is expected to be paid at least $4 million a year by UM. And its almost safe to assume he would not agree to get to this point in the negotiations if he didn't believe the school would have enough money to pay for quality assistant coaches too.

Say what you want about Richt's record against Florida (5-10), his average record against ranked teams (39-36), but do you really want to go back and look at what Golden did against ranked teams and UM's rivals? I didn't think so.

What's happened between Miami and Georgia since Richt went from being Florida State's offensive coordinator under Bowden where he coached two Heisman winners in Charlie Ward (1993) and Chris Weinke (1999) to coaching the Bulldogs are two vastly different roads. 

Yes, UM won a national title under Coker in 2001. But the Canes have been on a downward trend ever since.

** Georgia has had 79 players drafted since 2002 including 12 first round picks. UM during that same time had 81 players drafted including 23 first round picks. Georgia went 145-51 including 9-5 in bowl games. Miami went 124-64 including 4-7 in bowl games.

** UM has been ranked once in the final Top 25 poll since 2006 (19th in 2009). Georgia has been ranked in the final AP poll six times since 2006 including as high as 2nd in 2007 and 5th in 2012.

** Georgia by the way under Richt was ranked in the Top 10 of the AP poll at one point or another in 11 of his 15 seasons. Miami has been ranked in the Top 10 twice in the last 10 years.

** The Bulldogs' recruiting classes since 2002 were ranked no worse than 15th every season by Rivals.com and were in the top 10 a total of 11 times. The Hurricanes have had just two top 10 ranked classes by Rivals since 2006 (2008 and 2012). 

You can say, well, Georgia is always loaded with talent. Of course Richt should have won. 

In the 15 seasons before Richt arrived, the Bulldogs only had two double-digit win seasons. That happened nine times under Richt in his tenure and could again if he ends up coaching Georgia in the bowl game.

The Hurricanes haven't had a double-digit win season since 2003. 

Now, Miami appears to have a coach who churns them out consistently.

That will get you in the Top 25.

That will make Miami relevant again.

That makes Miami a winner today.

***** 

By the way, he's a look at local recruits who have signed with Georgia since 2002:

2016
CB Malek Young, Coconut Creek, 3-star (commitment)

2015
ATH Shaq Wilson, Coral Gables, 3-star
LB Juwan Taylor, Hallandale, 3-star
DB DeAndre Baker, Northwestern, 3-star

2014
RB Sony Michel, American Heritage, 5-star
WR Isaiah McKenzie, American Heritage, 4-star
WR Gilbert Johnson, American Heritage, 3-star

2012
K Marshall Morgan, American Heritage, 3-star

2011
LB Kent Turene, Boyd Anderson, 3-star

2009
WR Rantavious Wooten, Glades Central, 4-star

2008
K Blair Walsh, Cardinal Gibbons, 3-star
DE Jeremy Longo, Cardinal Gibbons, 3-star

2006
DE Geno Atkins, St. Thomas Aquinas, 4-star
OL Kevin Perez, Killian, 3-star

2005
DT Jeff Owens, Plantation, 4-star
WR Mike Moore, North Broward Prep, 4-star
DB Donovan Baldwin, American Heritage, 3-star

2003
OL James Lee, Glades Central, 3-star

2002
OL Max Jean-Gilles, North Miami Beach, 4-star

October 26, 2015

Miami Hurricane recruits react to Al Golden firing

With the firing of Al Golden announced by UM Sunday evening, recruits reacted.

Wellington wide receiver Ahmmon Richards responded in the most extreme way. He decommitted Sunday night with this tweet.

*Three-star cornerback out of Hallandale Deion Jackson said the firing won't affect his commitment, but did say he felt the move was "stupid."

He added: "Golden was a good coach. He had chemistry with the team. He literally used to go on the field and work with the players himself.

"Golden brought a family together. He always used to say, 'This is not just a football program, it's a family.' Half of these college coaches don't care. They don't care. They don't even look some recruits in the eye when they speak to recruits. Golden did and always stayed on top of me with my grades and things like that.

"Other college coaches don't care about building chemistry. If you're good, they want you just to win."

*Jackson's teammate at Hallandale, running back Zack Moss, says the change doesn't affect his commitment.

"I didn't commit to the coaches," he says. "I just look at rosters, mainly my position."

*Lantana Santaluces linebacker Zach McCloud will take a wait-and-see approach. He doesn't have much time as he plans to be an early enrollee in January for the spring semester.

"To be honest, I'm waiting before I make any big decisions. My biggest concern in this process is my future with only three months to decide since I'll be an early enrollee," he says. "I'm not comfortable at the moment, still being patient, though. I want to make an informed decision."

*Four-star St. Thomas Aquinas wide receiver Sam Bruce, who was in attendance to watch UM's 58-0 debacle against Clemson and has also recently taken an Ohio State visit, when reached said: "No comment."

But Bruce later made his opinion known with the tweets below.

The latter of the two statements, of course, is in reference to UM wide receivers coach Kevin Beard who once coached Bruce at University School. 

*Fellow Aquinas wide receiver and legacy Cane commit Michael Irvin II voiced his displeasure with the decision earlier Sunday.

*Teammate at Aquinas and 2017 linebacker Tyler Dunning had no comment but did post this to Twitter.

*Dionte Mullins' mother posted this on Twitter, noting "#StillCommitted" at the end.

*2017 safety out of Jacksonville Bolles Ahman Ross said, "Committed to UM. I will, of course, evaluate the staff, but I am committed to UM."

*Four-star athlete Tyler Byrd out of Naples posted this.

*Nick Roberts, 2017 defensive back out of Orange Park Oakleaf, expressed similar sentiments in this post.

*Deltona assistant coach David Williams said of senior tight end/defensive end Evan Hinson: "We're staying committed on our end."

*Fort Lauderdale coach Richard Dunbar said of committed defensive end Jaquwan Nelson, "Jaquwan will stay committed to UM but will take all of his visits. Just not sure what the university is thinking at this point. That's very critical for him."

Dunbar is referring to whether the new staff that comes in will continue to recruit his three-star defensive end, which has recorded 66 tackles and 15 sacks on the year.

*The latest UM commit, 2018 wide receiver Daquris Wiggins, said: "I'm still committed."

DAVID FURONES

October 17, 2015

Rapid reaction: Canes beat Virginia Tech 30-20

Some quick post-game thoughts, notes and quotes from Saturday's 30-20 win over Virginia Tech: 

> KAAYA STEPPING UP: Brad Kaaya's performance was another example he's taking his game to the next level.

After throwing for a career-high 405 yards at Florida State in a tough 29-24 loss, Kaaya finished 19 of 30 for 296 yards and two touchdowns and did a pretty good job evading pressure when Virginia Tech threw it at him. He was sacked only once, but hit countless times.

Receiver Rashawn Scott, who caught both touchdown passes, said Kaaya is getting hit harder lately than he is.

"As a quarterback you've just got to be tough," Kaaya said afterward. "I wear my Kelly Tough shirt for a reason. I wore it today. I had it on last year at Homecoming. You've just got to be tough as a quarterback. As a quarterback there's a lot of things you can critique, but you can't really critique that. You're either tough or you're not. I have to sellout for my guys too. I know the receivers and the offensive line are all going to sell out for me. Joe Yearby is going to sell out on blocks. The receivers are going to lay out for me and I have to sell out and hang in there and make something out of nothing too."

Kaaya's season totals: 134 of 219 for 1,795 yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception.

That means he's on pace for 3,590 yards, 20 touchdowns and two interceptions. The 3,590 yards would finish second only to Bernie Kosar's 3,642 yards as UM's single-season record. 

> RUNNING GAME STILL FLAT: UM's running game continues to struggle. After being held to 20 yards on 19 carries by FSU last week, UM managed only 99 yards Saturday on 39 attempts, a unsightly 2.5 average. Joe Yearby averaged 3.2 yards per carry and Mark Walton averaged 3.1 yards per carry.

That's not good when you consider Virginia Tech came in with the 97th-ranked run defense in the country.

UM obviously switched things up on its offensive line, inserting Kc McDermott and Joe Brown into the starting lineup for the first time in their careers. They rotated with the previous five starters: Trevor Darling, Alex Gall, Nick Linder, Danny Isidora and Sunny Odogwu. But it's not paying off much.

Kaaya is still getting hit and pressured. He was sacked only once Saturday. But still... this isn't good. Clemson, by the way, came into this weekend ranked 18th in run defense and 40th in sacks (18). 

“I feel like we have the right guys We’re rotating the right guys, so I’m going to let them sort it out - who wants to start, who played really well tonight who needs to improve and all that," coach Al Golden said of line. " I feel like we have more guys certainly than we did five or six weeks ago. Kc [McDermott] is really starting to look like himself right now, his conditioning, everything that he’s doing. And Joe [Brown] is making a lot of progress. I’m not disappointed with other guys, we just wanted to continue to push it forward.”

> STACY BEING STACY: Stacy Coley followed up his breakout performance at FSU with a team-leading four catch, 63-yard effort against the Hokies. He also had a 15-yard run on a reverse. That's a good sign. 

> STILL GIVING UP EXPLOSIVE PLAYS: Defensively, the Canes didn't look pretty in the explosive plays department, giving up seven plays of 20 yards or more against the Hokies. They came in having given up up 25 plays of 20 yards or more this season (68th). So, they're up to 32 now. Last year, UM gave up 39 plays of 20 yards or (fifth fewest).

Clemson's offense came into this weekend with 28 plays of 20-yards-or-more. That ranks 48th nationally.

> TURNOVER KINGS: The Hurricanes improved to 16-1 in the Al Golden era when forcing three-or-more turnovers. They produced four Saturday -- two interceptions by Artie Burns, one by Juwon Young and a fumble recovery by Trent Harris -- after having none at Florida State and only one at Cincinnati.

The Canes came into the game Saturday ranked third nationally in turnover margin at plus 9. They are at plus-13 now. Western Kentucky entered the weekend leading the nation at plus-13.

> BURNS GOES INTO SEAN TAYLOR TERRITORY: Speaking of Burns, he's first defensive player at UM with five interceptions in a season since Sean Taylor had 10 in 2003. For more context, the entire Hurricanes defense in 2008 only had four, fewest in the nation.

“I’m just trusting my technique," he said when asked why he's having more success with interceptions. "I’ve been working on my craft over the offseason, getting better with ball control and stuff like that, and making plays.”

> LOSING KIRBY, GAINING YOUNG?: Losing leading tackler and defensive captain Raphael Kirby is going to hurt the Canes. But I wouldn't put it past sophomore Juwon Young in being more than capable of filling Kirby's shoes.

He entered the game with 6:54 to go in the third quarter, racked up four tackles and made a key interception that led to a field goal. His teammates seem to have a lot of confidence in him.

"He's going to probably be in the meeting tomorrow right there coaching them boys," receiver Rashawn Scott said of Kirby. "That's one thing -- the person behind him, he coached him real good. We trust him."

Young is pretty confident in himself too.

“I've got to be the captain," Young said. "That’s it. Point, blank, period. I’m the [mike] of the defense. I’m the quarterback of the defense, so I got to give the calls, the checks and all that.”

> PENALTY PROBLEMS: The Canes were flagged nine times for 81 yards in Saturday's win. It continues to be a problem, but Golden said he's left in the hands of his captains to handle from now on.

"That's on us," Kaaya said. "We were on them all week. We still had some penalties today and its something we have to correct. Coaches have already done enough with penalties and showing us film of stuff. At this point its got to be on us. They can't get out there with us and make sure we don't jump off sides. Coach can't run out there with us and say 'Hey Trevor [Darling] don't jump on this play.' It's got to be on us, it's got to be on the captains. 

"It's got to be on Nick [Linder], Alex [Gall], on Joe [Yearby], on Stacy [Coley] on Rashawn [Scott], just all the guys on the line on both sides of the ball. That last penalty we had in the red zone, we can't have that. I know Scotty was pumped up. I was pumped up too. But we can't have those in those situations. But we'll go back at it next week."

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes vs. Virginia Tech Hokies

Live Blog Miami Hurricanes vs. Virginia Tech: Oct. 17, 2015
 

October 04, 2015

Hurricanes-Seminoles set for primetime next Saturday

Thursday's loss at Cincinnati apparently wasn't enough to scare anyone making the TV decisions at ABC and ESPN away.

Late Saturday night, the network that decides the time slots and channels college football's biggest games are played decided it wanted the Miami Hurricanes (3-1) and 11th ranked Florida State Seminoles (4-0) on primetime next week.

UM and FSU will kickoff at 8 p.m. on ABC next Saturday in Tallahassee. FSU has won five in a row in the series and could put a crippling dent into Al Golden's future at Miami with another big win over the Canes.

Golden not only has been unable to beat FSU his first four tries, he's 4-7 against ranked teams and 10-15 away from Sun Life Stadium. Last year, the Canes let a halftime lead slip away at home as the Seminoles rode the legs of Dalvin Cook to a come-from-behind win in Miami.

September 23, 2015

UM football player injured in practice, airlifted to Jackson for 'precautionary reasons'

A University of Miami football player was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital Wednesday morning after being injured in practice, a Miami Herald source has confirmed.

The unknown player was hurt during a head-to-head collision in practice. 

Here's what UM released moments ago: "A University of Miami football student-athlete suffered an injury during practice and was transported to the hospital for precautionary reasons."

UM coach Al Golden was scheduled to speak during the ACC teleconference Wednesday morning at 11:50 a.m. but did not participate according to moderator Mike Finn "due to a situation."

Stay tuned for more details. 

September 22, 2015

The good, the bad and the ugly on offense for the Hurricanes through 3 games

There are plenty of reasons to feel good about the way the season has started for the Hurricanes offense:

> UM ranks 20th in scoring (41.7 points per game), 36th in total offense (472.0) and is tied for 11th in fewest turnovers (two).

> The Canes' young offensive line has allowed only three sacks (tied for 23rd fewest) and seven tackles for loss, tied for the fewest in the country with Toledo, Texas Tech, LSU and Navy. Left tackle Trevor Darling has given up two of those sacks. 

> Quarterback Brad Kaaya ranks 50th in QB rating (145.53), is completing 61.4 percent of his passes and has thrown a touchdown pass in 16 consecutive games dating back to last year. He's thrown five touchdowns compared to just one interception.

YEARBY'S EXPLOSIVENESS

Maybe the biggest reason to be excited: sophomore running back Joe Yearby has proven in his first three games as the starter to be just as explosive a weapon as Duke Johnson was.

Yearby is averaging 7.59 yards per carry, which ranks 10th in college football among players with at least 30 carries. He's averaging 10.3 carries per game and is pretty fresh after just a few games.

Last year, Johnson averaged 6.83 yards per carry and averaged 18.6 carries a game.

It's not just the running game where Yearby has been effective. Of the 99 players in the country with at least 42 touches from scrimmage, Yearby's 9.0 average per touch ranks second only to Georgia Southern's Matt Breida (9.8 yards per touch).

Last year, Duke finished 19th in touches (280) and tied for third in yards per touch (7.4) among the top 100 players nationally in plays from scrimmage. Only Toledo's Kareem Hunt (7.8) and Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon (7.6) averaged more.

Can Yearby handle more of a workload? We'll find out in the coming weeks. But with freshman Mark Walton having less success running the ball (4.43 yards per carry), the Hurricanes might not have much of a choice. Walton said after the FAU game he was having trouble finding holes and creases as easily as he would like.

THIRD DOWN/RED ZONE BLUES

As encouraging as all of those starts are, we know the struggles the Hurricanes have had on third down and in the red zone could come back to haunt them as the season progresses and the schedule gets tougher.

UM's third down woes are nothing new. They struggled on third down last year, too. Right now, the Canes rank next-to-last in converting (9 of 38, 23.68) among 128 FBS programs.

Even if you believe the idea that strategically the Canes are using third down simply as a setup for fourth down on certain parts of the field, UM is converting just 14 of 43 on what Golden refers to as "money downs." That's a 32.5 conversion percentage. That's not good to begin with, but even more troubling when you consider that happened against Bethune-Cookman, FAU and Nebraska, three of the worst defensive teams in the country.

Overall, UM hasn't had to face third down very much because they've been exceptional on first and second down. But against better competition you have to convert. The Cares are tied with Oregon, Florida State and Nebraska for having faced the 35th fewest. Each of those other teams, though, are converting at 36 percent or better.

It isn't just third and long the Canes are struggling in. UM has been in 3rd-and-3 or less 12 times. Coordinator James Coley has called for the run and pass evenly (six times each) and his offense has converted just three times (once passing, twice running) overall.

Last year, UM had 3rd-and-3 or less 52 times and converted at 50 percent running the ball (17 of 34) and 47.3 percent (9 of 19) when they decided to pass it. Gus Edwards ran it 12 times in those situations and picked up five first downs. Duke picked up first downs 11 of the 16 times he ran it in those situations. Yearby ran it three times in third-and-short and didn't pick up a first down.

Having a healthy Edwards would probably make things easier for UM's offense in short yardage situations. So far, Trayone Gray hasn't gotten many opportunities to fill Edwards' shoes. Might we see that in the coming weeks? Maybe. 

Kaaya, meanwhile, is 9 of 27 on third down (33.3 percent), the second-lowest completion percentage of any of the top 100 quarterbacks in the country with at least 14 pass attempts on third down. Only Kent State's Colin Reardon (6 of 21, 28.6 percent) is worse.

The staggering part of Kaaya's struggles is the fact that he simply can't connect with his veteran receivers on third down.

Fifth-year senior Rashawn Scott has been targeted a team-leading six times on third down and has only catch for nine yards -- when he fell a yard short of the marker against Nebraska and UM ended up settling for a field goal. Herb Waters is next on the list with five targets on third down and he doesn't have a single catch. Fourth-year junior Malcolm Lewis has been targeted twice on third without a catch as well. 

Meanwhile, sophomore Tyre Brady (2 targets) and freshman Lawrence Cager (1 target) have two first downs on money downs between them, both came through with big catches against Nebraska.

Where Kaaya has had most of his success on money downs is checking down to his running backs and tight ends. Walton (3 targets) and Yearby (3 targets including a fourth down catch) have converted on money downs four of the six times they've been targeted out of the backfield.

Standish Dobard has been targeted four times on money downs, he's cashed in once for a first down on third down and a touchdown on fourth down, both against Bethune-Cookman.

Last year, UM wasn't great on third down either. But at least Kaaya was connecting with his receivers on third down. He was 57 of 99 on third down (57.6) and produced 35 first downs in those situations.

Kaaya certainly misses his go-to receivers from last year. A look at the numbers on third down last year shows Phillip Dorsett had 12 catches including nine first downs (1 catch, 1 first down on 4th down) on third down. Clive Walford had 10 catches for eight first downs (1 catch, 1 first down on 4th down) and Duke Johnson had 14 catches for six first downs (5 catches, 3 first downs on 4th down) on third down.

If there's a reason for hope its the potential return of slot receiver Braxton Berrios. Last year, Barrios had five catches for 53 yards and five first downs on third down. He also had three catches for 33 yards and two first downs on fourth down.

TOUCHDOWNS NEEDED

The Hurricanes rank second nationally with 21 trips in the red zone, but they've gotten into the end zone only 10 times on those trip. That 47.62 touchdown percentage ranks 108th nationally. Last year the Canes ranked 105th (51.06 touchdown percentage).

Last Saturday against Nebraska UM was up 14-0 and about to go up three touchdowns when they had a first-and-goal situation at the Cornhuskers 3. But back-to-back runs by Walton netted just one yard before a false start penalty by left guard Alex Gall on third and goal moved the ball back to the six. UM ended up settling for a field goal when Kaaya failed to connect with David Njoku in the end zone on third down.

Had UM scored a touchdown in that situation or a couple of others when they were in the red zone they wouldn't have needed overtime to survive against Nebraska.

Running the ball better in the red zone would help. UM is averaging only 2.75 yards per carry in the red zone compared to 6.75 yards when they line up on the rest of the field. UM has run it 32 times in the red zone and thrown it 28 times. The Canes are 12 of 28 inside their opponents 20 (42.9 percent) passing compared to 52 of 79 (65.9 percent) when the line of scrimmage is outside the red zone.

So, the shorter field ultimately means bad results for the offense. That's something Coley and Kaaya have to address.

September 16, 2015

September 12, 2015

September 11, 2015

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes at FAU Owls

The Canes (1-0) are listed as a 17 1/2 point favorite heading into tonight's 8 p.m. kickoff at FAU (0-1).

The game will be broadcast on FoxSports1.

Stay tuned for our live blog later tonight.

Live Blog Miami Hurricanes at FAU Owls: Sep. 11, 2015
 

September 04, 2015

A series of notes/observations heading into Saturday's season opener for the Hurricanes

A series of notes and observations as the Hurricanes prepare to open the season Saturday against Bethune-Cookman:

> GOLDEN AND THE HOT SEAT: As much as Al Golden deserves heat for his 28-22 record (identical to Randy Shannon when he was fired), we need to recognize he hasn’t had the type of depth on the roster during his first four years on the job as he has now.

Monday, on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline, Golden noted this was this fall camp was the first time he had three full units per position in training camp and 80 scholarship players. Last year, Golden said, UM was operating around 69 to 70 scholarships.

Part of that are the NCAA sanctions. A bigger part of that are the staff's misses in recruiting. As I noted in a blog earlier this week, 30 of the 55 players on the depth chart released Sunday night belong to the last two recruiting classes (2014 and 2015).

You can look at it two ways:

One, it’s an indictment on Golden for having 23 of the 62 players who got into school and on the field in his first three signing classes either transfer on their own (DL Jalen Grimble, LB Gionni Paul, DL Corey King, DL Ricardo Williams, WR Robert Lockhart, RB Danny Dillard, DE Dwyane Hoilett, CB Vernon Davis, CB Larry Hope, DT Jacoby Briscoe, DB Antonio Crawford, WR Jontavious Carter, DT Dequan Ivery, DB Nate Dortch, TE Beau Sandland, CB Ray Lewis III) or get kicked out (LB Eddie Johnson, CB Thomas Finnie, OL Taylor Gadbois, LB Jawand Blue, DE Gabriel Terry, QB Kevin Olsen, LB Alex Figueroa).

Or two, the NCAA cloud kind of forced him to offer scholarship to some kids who didn’t belong here in the first place.

I fall somewhere in the middle of those two arguments to be honest.

Butch Davis, who also dealt with NCAA sanctions and plenty of losing, seemed to do a much better job stacking the roster with talent back in his day. Davis, by the way, went 31-15 his first four years on the job (against a weak Big East) but 0-4 against Florida State. His fifth season? He lost to Florida State again, but went 9-4 with a Gator Bowl victory and finished 15th in the AP poll. I would assume Golden, if he really deserves to continue as coach, should be expected to do about the same.

“If you finish on a bad note there's only one way to erase that, it's to go out there and do it,” Golden said Monday on Hurricane Hotline. “We've had a great team mentality all training camp. We just have to continue to do that."

> TOP CONCERN: It’s easy to spot the biggest question mark on the team: offensive line. With only 22 games of combined starting experienced back between three players, quarterback Brad Kaaya has his hands full entering the season. And he’s doing his part.

“When we go to the pass protection meetings, Brad gets up and runs the meeting,” Golden said on Hurricane Hotline Monday. “He points out 56 is the MIKE… it's created a cohesiveness and given him more opportunities to be a commander and not just a leader.”

Right guard Danny Isidora, who owns 13 of those 22 starts I mentioned early, told me last week we should expect to see a lot more rotation on the offensive line this season than we did a year ago when the only time backups got in were for injuries. Isidora, for instance, spent most of camp at right tackle, where Sunny Odogwu is slated to be the starter. Center Nick Linder, who started four games last year, has played a lot of guard and has two backups at center.

“I try to talk the guys, let them know what they got to do,” Isidora said. “Yeah, I started 13 games, but we have two other leaders. Nick Linder and Alex Gall, they're two good leaders too. We all try to coach the guys up. Me, Alex, Nick, we all try to coach the guys up, do the best we can. From a standpoint of experience, I feel like we kind of make up for the losses to graduation."

Miami recruited 11 offensive linemen in the last two years and many are highly touted. True freshmen Tyree St. Louis and Tyler Gauthier have both been very impressive in camp and will see playing time. Kc McDermott, injured last year, might not have won a starting job coming out of camp. But he’s UM’s best offensive linemen and that will probably show itself during the season. In other words, offensive line will be a concern early, but it may not be by seasons end.

> THE FRESH APPROACH: Golden said he expects nine redshirt freshmen and 12 true freshmen to play Saturday.

Here’s who you should be most excited about among that group from a few people who observed camp and shared their thoughts with me: running back Mark Walton, H-Back David Njoku, defensive linemen Kendrick Norton, RJ McIntosh and Demetrius Jackson, receiver Lawrence Cager, cornerback Sheldrick Redwine and safety Jaquan Johnson.

Of that group, I expect Cager to become a Kaaya favorite, a Tommy Streeter-like weapon in the red zone.  “Just very fluid, in and out of cuts,” Golden said of Cager, a 6-5, 215-pound U.S. Army All-American listed as the backup to fifth-year senior Rashawn Scott. “He can go up and get it. His catch radius, quarterbacks are very comfortable throwing to him. He can absorb the ball five feet in any direction.”

> WHAT ABOUT TIGHT END? Replacing Clive Walford’s passing game production won’t be easy and I’m not sure there is a tight end on the roster – Standish Dobard, Jerome Washington or Jake O’Donnell – who can do that. But Njoku and sophomore Chris Herndon, listed as H-Backs, could be the ones who end picking up the slack while the other three serve as blockers.

Both are Njoku and Herndon are athletic like Walford was and according to Njoku have lined up at various spots on the field throughout camp. “I'm at the Y, H and sometimes outside,” Njoku said.

Sounds like offensive coordinator James Coley wants to use his H backs to exploit matchups. Maybe that’s something he picked up from the Dallas Cowboys during his visit this spring.

“From terms of where I sit, I just want to see production,” Golden said of the tight ends/H Backs. “I don't care who gets it. Those guys have to add up to what Clive's production was. It's a very good group. It's a deep group. You can see Chris Herndon and David Njoku are kind of the same."

> DEFENSIVE SURPRISES: They may not be fan favorites like highly touted high school stars Al-Quadin Muhammad and Chad Thomas, but sophomore rush end Trent “Toolbox” Harris and sophomore linebacker Darrion Owens do get a lot of love from the coaching staff. And both appear poised to be future leaders of this defense.

"He's the type of guy that does everything you ask him to do,” defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said of Harris. “He's done nothing but gotten better since he got here.”

Senior Tyriq McCord told me he’s actually learning from Owens, who is listed as the starting strongside linebacker and is playing three positions, something D’Onofrio doesn’t do with anybody in his system.

“Just his toughness,” starting inside linebacker Raphael Kirby said when asked why Owens got the starting nod over McCord. “He sets edges, runs to the ball. He looks to make the play, does his job. He doesn't make MEs. He doesn't cost us yards. He's a great guy, great kid on and off the field. All those things tie into why he's had the success he's had."

> SPECIAL TEAMS: Don’t underestimate the value of walk-on kicker Jon Semerene earning the starting job on kickoffs. UM was putrid on kickoff coverage last season and it hurt them badly with field position. Golden said Semerene had four kickoffs in the team’s last scrimmage and three went deep into the end zone.

Also, having an experienced kicker in Michael Badgley and punter in Justin Vogel will help this team immensely. Badgley’s range has improved considerably. He made a 55-yard field goal into the wind in the final scrimmage according to Golden.

“Badge is nuts. I don't listen to anything he says because he thinks he can make every kick. He's always pointing to the ground, I can make it from here. I can make it from here,” Golden said. “You'd rather have him like that than the other way. He's courageous, he's tough. It's just nice to have a kicking game where we have veterans there."

Perhaps the best thing about UM’s improved depth is that starters on offense and defense won’t be so heavily relied upon to also play special teams. That, of course, led to some breakdowns on kickoff coverage.

> SAFE AT SAFETY: UM’s defense cut down on the number of big plays it allowed last season (76th in terms of plays 20 yards or more in 2013 to 5th in 2014). A big part of that was improved play at the safety position -- or the health of Deon Bush, who has finally learned not to injure himself while tackling.

I only expect better play from the safety position this season now that fifth-year senior Dallas Crawford has figured things out (Golden said he’s better on deep balls and making checks) and Rayshawn Jenkins ins healthy. Remember, UM made those improvements last year with former walk-on Nantambu Fentress making eight starts while Crawford tried to adjust after switching back over to defense from running back.

Now, UM has four legit starting safeties and a future star in Jaquan Johnson. Considering safety is the most important position in D’Onofrio’s defense because of the responsibility that comes with it (checks, etc.), I expect improvement on the defense – which means more turnovers and big plays.

September 01, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

It still is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 19, 2015

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

It was a presidential Wednesday morning at Greentree Practice Field.

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 07, 2015

July 07, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cost is $20 a person for unlimited bowling.

Call 305-699-3837 for more information.

Kaaya named to Maxwell watch list

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

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

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

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

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

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

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