July 22, 2014

"#WelcomeToTheU'' tweeted Brennan Carroll, signaling a new Miami Hurricane commitment

Ah, those "Welcome To The U" tweets that pop up on Twitter every now and then. Each is a not-so-secret code that a new young football player has pledged his verbal (and non-binding) commitment to the Miami Hurricanes.

Canes' receivers coach and national recruiting coordinator Brennan Carroll authors those tweets that likely bring every social-media crazed UM fan to life. He doesn't put the recruits' names because of NCAA rules, but the kids themselves usually broadcast the information via social media.

This afternoon it was long and lean Wellington High School receiver Ahmmon Richards -- Class of 2016 -- who posted on Twitter that he was "Verbally committed to the "U."

 Richards, 16, is a four-star player who was recruited by Carroll and according to 247Sports.com is the seventh of seven four-star commitments in the 2016 class, which 247 ranks No. 1 in the nation. He is one of four receivers in that class and reportedly chose UM over offers from Georgia, Louisville, Marshall, FAU, West Virginia, Tennessee and Florida -- among others.

He is listed as 6-2 and 172 pounds.

Anthony Chiang, who covers high school football for the Palm Beach Post, said Richards caught 29 passes for 468 yards and three touchdowns last season as a sophomore. He also had four interceptions and returned one kickoff for a touchdown.

"I committed to coach [Al] Golden and [Brennan] Carroll,'' Richards told Canesport.com on Tuesday. "They were really excited, said that it was a win for them to get another great player in that class.

"Coach Carroll is a down-to-earth guy, really cool, the kind of guy I like.''

Carroll's corresponding tweet included an old-time photo of former Cane Dwayne Johnson, now immortalized as "The Rock,'' standing next to Carroll "circa 2001"

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

July 21, 2014

Al Golden talks to Miami Herald in a fireside (without the fire) chat today. Some of what he shared...

   GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Miami Hurricanes coach Al Golden was kind enough to give each of the three South Florida dailies that cover the team one-on-one time today before he meets with the entire media in the early evening.

There was a fireplace beyond our chairs, so I'd like to think of it as a fireside chat.  

  Just to get a few topics out of the way for those wondering... At some point in our chat, I asked him, "Were you offered the Penn State job?"

   "I'm never going to comment on those things,'' he told me. "Never.''

   Understood. I followed with, "What was that short window of your life like last year?"

   Golden: "I'm just not going to comment. I just don't want to get involved in that. Professionally I just think...(he pauses here) The year before, rumors were circulating about this thing or that thing. I just don't want to get involved with that.''

   I let it go.

   I also asked him about former UM linebackers Alex Figueroa and JaWand Blue and their rape-related case. He definitely would not touch that one in any specific way.

   "Ultimately I'm responsible for all 114 student-athletes on the team and making sure that they're conducting themselves in a manner consistent with the University and our mission. But more importantly this goes beyond that in terms of their families and our families and society and issues that we're dealing with in colleges.

  "We do a lot to educate them as a team and try to give them examples, help teach them the lifeskills, but more importantly support the lifeskills their parents gave them and sent them to us with. But at the end of the day it's my responsibility as a head coach.''

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

   Have you replaced Blue and Fig's scholarships yet? "No.''

   Are there two empty scholarships? "There may be.''

   Are you bringing in somebody from the outside to replace them? "We're always looking to improve the roster. We don't have anybody in mind at this point.'' 

  Look for Tyriq McCord to play a lot of linebacker again this season.

  Who's the quarterback? I asked.

   "xxxx xxxx!'' Golden said. He didn't divulge.

   On senior QB Ryan Williams, recuperating from a torn ACL: "Ryan is doing great. He's as good as anybody that suffered the injury he has. We don't know what that will mean though in terms of when he will be integrated back into action but whenever that is it will be the earliest possible because of how much progress he has made during his rehab. ...I am not prepared to give any kind of medical word on when he'll be cleared.''

   On redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen: "He's had a really good summer. He's growing up physically. He has matured. He's developing. He just looks a lot different, a lot more confident. He has put in a lot more time and has been focused.

   On graduate student/Kansas transfer Jake Heaps, who is eligible to play immediately: "We brought him in because he's 23 years old. He's married. he started 30 games in college and he gives us maturity, he gives us experience and he's exactly what we thought he would be. Very bright. Very focused. He's clearly in a little bit different place in his life than many kids that may be freshmen and sophomores. He's already been through it. He's competing very well right now. I'm very pleased with Jake.''

Would you hope Jake starts so Kevin can get one more year learning if he needs to? “We’ll see. I don’t predetermine it. We’ll go from 4 quarterbacks to 2 very quickly in terms of who we’re going to focus our reps on in camp. But right now Malik Rosier and Brad Kaaya have really benefitted greatly from being at both summer sessions. They’re both very bright and they’re both going to be excellent leaders. A little bit different style for both.

"Brad is a big presence in the pocket – 6-4, 6-5, 220-something pounds. Great work ethic, can really see it. so I’ve been very impressed with him. And Malik, big strong arm and bright. Most people think he’s a runner just because he’s athletic. But he’s athletic in the sense Stephen [Morris] was. He can move and create but he doesn’t really look to run all the time although he can run. He’s a very good athlete."

 

Golden: "[QB] Gray Crow moved to H-back."

Me: Why?

Golden: "It’s just how it worked out. It’s a position we feel he can help the team at, just the way it shook out at the quarterback position. I don’t think he’s disappointed. Gray has always been a team player. He loves the University of Miami. He’s a great teammate and a great guy to have in the locker room."

  Would you like to redshirt Brad and Malik? 

  "I don’t know. Those guys have been out there in 7 on 7s and 1 on 1s and all that and we haven’t seen them in practice or scrimmage settings. We’re going to let it play out on the field. We’re going to give them an opportunity to compete. They’ve been competing all summer. I think a lot of their teammates are impressed with their knowledge and with their work ethic and with their poise. I want to see what we have before we decide to redshirt them."

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

Some other topics we discussed: 

 * Incoming freshmen WR Darrell Langham and ATH Treone Gray have not yet arrived at UM, but Golden said he expects them in camp.

* S Rayshawn Jenkins, who was injured during the spring, "is doing the best he's been and we expect him cleared for full activity and training camp within the next week,'' Golden said.

* CB Nate Dortch "has left the team,'' Golden said. Note: He played in six games last year, mostly on special teams. 

* Speaking of special teams, UF Gators transfer Justin Vogel, who shares the jersey No. 16  with QB Heaps, "is doing a really good job'' at punter, Golden said. The way it's looking now, according to Golden, is it's between Vogel and Ricky Carroll, though kicker Matt Goudis will also work there.

* Golden agreed with me that freshman Braxton Berrios has the "it'' factor. "He's just about 100-percent right now'' in terms of his knee surgery rehab. "He's already cutting and doing all that. It's just one of those deals where he just finds a way. He's very resourceful, whether it's special teams or slot receiver, he finds a way to get things done.''

* What does Golden think of DT transfer Michael Wyche: "He's strong,'' the coach said. He's at 348 pounds now, Golden said, and he wants him at 335. "He's got a great personality. He's very grateful. Every time you turn around he's speaking to kids. We're glad he's a Hurricane.''

* Coach said the Canes played with 80 or 81 scholarship players last season and he expects the same this season.

* Coach said he expects to sign "probably 25 or 26" in the 2015 signing class.

* I asked Golden about Ray Lewis III. If you recall he was suspended for the bowl game.

Golden: "He's making progress. He's got to continue to mature and settle in. Hopefully he's continuing to improve. Like a lot of kids his age, it's time to grow up and time to mature and make sure to prioritize your day, think about why you're here and what you're trying to get accomplished and what are your goals and what are the team goals. Hopefully, he'll continue to move in the right direction.''

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

Miami Hurricanes picked by media to win the ACC Coastal Division & face FSU in league title game

The Miami Hurricanes were voted by the media on Monday to win the Coastal Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference and face defending national champion Florida State in the ACC title game.

The Seminoles, in the Atlantic Division, were predicted to win the ACC championship on 104 of 112 ballots cast. 

Miami's 26 first-place votes placed third among Coastal Division teams, but the Hurricanes' 614 total points led overall. Duke, the defending Coastal Division champion, received 33 first-place votes and 597 overall points.

Not one of the 112 ballots cast voted for Miami to win the ACC title.

Virginia Tech was voted to finish third in the Coastal (571 points, 23 first-place votes), followed by North Carolina (570 points and 27 first-place votes), Georgia Tech (322 and one), Pitt (319 and two) and Virginia (142).

 The Canes also were picked to finish first in the Coastal last season and in 2006. Last year Miami finished 9-4 overall and 5-3 in the ACC (tied for second), while Duke (10-4 and 6-2) lost to FSU 45-7 in the league title game.

 In 2006 the Canes were 7-6 overall and 3-5 in the conference, with Wake Forest beating Georgia Tech in the ACC title game.   

FSU, which went 14-0 last season, was also voted to win the ACC in 2011 and 2012 -- and in each of its first 14 seasons after joining the league (1992-'05).

Predicted to finish behind FSU in the Atlantic: Clemson (660 points and three first-place votes), Louisville (564), Syracuse (368), NC State (326), Boston College (301) and Wake Forest (136).  

The media predicted Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston would be The ACC Player of the Year.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

July 20, 2014

Duke Johnson: ankle pain only when he overdoes it, on Blue & Figueroa's rape case: "I was disgusted;'' and on Al Golden's Penn State saga.

Greensboro, N.C. -- Had a quick chat this morning with running back Duke Johnson of the Miami Hurricanes. He looks great and seemed happy to be here at the Grandover Resort for the 2014 ACC Football Kickoff.

We'll get Duke in-depth, as well as Canes linebacker Denzel Perryman, late this afternoon. Their interviews end at 5 p.m.

 Johnson, listed as 5-9 and 206 pounds, looks rock-solid (and you can only imagine how that also pertains to Perryman, a man who prides himself on his physique and strength) and ready to go. Johnson already is on the Watch Lists for the Doak Walker Award (I'm a voter, by the way), Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year Award.

 Duke rushed for 920 yards and six touchdowns in eight games before breaking his right ankle Nov. 2 at Florida State. He averaged 174.1 all-purpose yards. The year before he finished with 947 yards and 10 touchdowns in 12 games. Think he's itching to reach 1,000?

 Regarding his ankle, here's what he told me: "I'm 100 percent. I barely feel it. I feel good.''

 When asked when, if ever, he feels pain on it, he said, "Sometimes I feel pain when I'm doing too much and have a long day -- when I do more than one workout. When I do overtime, when I go the extra mile after practice. It's just pain, just tightness. Not really sharp pain, more like tightness of the ankle. You get off of it, ice it, heat it and stretch it out.

 "I used to sprain both my ankles, little sprains here and there.''

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

Johnson was adamant about former teammates JaWand Blue and Alexander Figueroa, both linebackers arrested and charged with sexual battery July 8 after admitting to Coral Gables police they got a 17-year-old new UM student intoxicated and raped her on campus.

Johnson's reaction: "I was disgusted. Yeah, they’re my teammates and yeah they were my teammates and we hung out and talked. But there’s a certain line you don’t cross and there are certain things you don’t do and when you do I become the enemy. I become the guy that just can’t associate with you.

"When the story came out I was more wanting to reach out to the girl and her family and make sure she was OK. Because that’s a family that just sent their daughter to college and that’s a fear of all families when they send their daughters to school. It hit homes with me because I have a goddaughter, I have a sister -- Autumn is 2. No matter how close you are with someone that’s not something that should ever be acceptable.

"I have not talked to them. I think the AD [Blake James] and Coach Golden made the right decision [to dismiss them permanently from team] but at the same time that was over their heads anyway. Once you get into the laws’ hands, there’s nothing they could do anyway. I feel like at the end of the day they would be off the team regardless."

Though there was a team meeting after the rape charges, Johnson said the team met with coaches. He was asked if UM conducts any seminars or lifeskill classes preparing them for social situations that could arise in college and how to cope.

"No,'' he said. "My mother taught me. It’s just something you learn growing up."

Does he  think the players should be given any type of education on that?

"No. Everybody is not like that. It was just a couple of kids. I don’t think there are that many guys who need a class for it. I think when older guys start drinking, they're able to handle it on their own and they understand the law. They know what’s right and what’s wrong."

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

 Duke on Al Golden's situation with Penn State and what it would have been like for the team if he left to become the coach there:

"It’s hard to say now what it would have been like, but obviously we would have had to move on and take the next step. We were on break at the time and just enjoyed our break, took our time off and hung out and relaxed. We weren’t bothered by it because if he left it was out of our control. If he stayed it was out of our control. The decision wasn’t up to us so there was nothing we could do. I think there was a time he did talk about it with us. but I didn’t even see the point. At the end of the day he had to make the best decision for his family."

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

 Before the interview was ended I quickly asked Duke about new senior quarterback transfer Jake Heaps.

 "He's a smart quarterback,'' Johnson said. "I like him. He's a bit undersized but he makes up for it with his smart decisions and quick release. He's an older guy so he can read coverages well. He knows what to throw and when it's open.''

 But Johnson quickly added as he was whisked away for another interview: "But Jake just got into our system, so...''

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

 

July 18, 2014

MLB 2nd-rounder Andy Suarez does the unexpected & returns to the Canes -- & other UM baseball news

I just looked back at a blog I wrote last month before going on vacation and saw the title: "Could Miami Hurricanes get back LHP Andy Suarez? Doubt it. But he still hasn't signed with Nationals."

Well, as of 5 p.m. today (Friday, July 18th), the improbable became true -- and Suarez will return to play for the Miami Hurricanes in 2015.

We spoke on the phone as the clock struck 5 and the signing deadline for Major League Baseball passed. Same old Andy: low-key, polite and very pleasant -- just a nice young man who is looking forward to returning to Coral Gables for his redshirt junior season.

Did he make the right decision? We'll know in another year. But he said he is "positive'' he did.

Bottom line, according to Suarez: The Nationals did not offer him more than the slot value of $987,800 for his place as the 57th overall pick.

He did not tell me their offer.

"I wasn't going to sign for slot and we didn't agree in negotiations,'' he told me. "And that was it pretty much. I feel like coming back is a good decision for me. I'm going to get my degree (in  criminology, with minor in psychology) and I'll be a junior so I can still negotiate.

"I'm feeling stronger than ever, really good, and hopefully it stays the same throughout the year.

"I know for sure I made the right decision. It's a win-win for me. 

"I'm really excited. We have unfinished business to take care of. I feel like this could be our year to make it to Omaha. We'll have some veteran hitters coming back next year and a lot of guys will do their jobs."

  Suarez, 21, is 6-2 and now 205 pounds. He had a 6-3 record this past season with a 2.95 ERA in 109.2 innings. He struck out 87 batters and walked just 15. He graduated from Christopher Columbus High and lives with his family in Miami.

He said he talked to the Nationals earlier this week. "They said they were just going to offer me slot and I told them I wasn't going to sign for that,'' he said. 

From the Washington Post online Friday: "The Nationals signed first-round pick Erick Fedde with a bonus worth just over $2.5 million, a deal that softened the blow from the Nationals’ inability to sign their second round pick."

Fedde is a right-handed pitcher who was selected 18th in the first round.

  UM coach Jim Morris was naturally ecstatic to get Suarez back. We spoke by telephone just after 5 p.m. because Morris wanted to be sure he was getting Suarez back.

  "He told me at 2:40 p.m. but I wasn't going to comment until afterward,'' Morris said. "I don't know if I have ever said this early who our starting pitcher would be on opening night. I don't know who the No. 2 pitcher is, but I know Andy Suarez is No. 1.

"Everything is special about Andy. He's a great kid, outstanding student and he throws the best pitch in baseball -- a strike. He has an outstanding breaking ball. He throws his curveball, slider and changeup for strikes."

 Suarez's fastball ranges from the low 90s to 95 mph.

The Canes finished the season 44-19 and lost to Texas Tech in the championship game of the Coral Gables Regional. They were 41-17 in the regular season for a .707 winning percentage, third only to national seeds Virginia (.772) and Florida State (.741) -- both fellow members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Miami won the regular-season ACC crown with a 24-6 league record (.800).

Morris said he wants to keep All-American closer Bryan Garcia as his closer next season, and wants to keep Cooper Hammond as the set-up reliever.

Right-handed pitcher Andy Honiotes, from Geneva, Ill., is coming off Tommy John surgery and will be on the roster next season as a redshirt freshman.

Also, Michael Mediavilla, a 6-5, 200-pound left-handed pitcher/first-baseman out of mater academy, will come to the Canes after being drafted last month in the 40th round by the Reds. He graduated from Mater Academy. 

Carl Chester, a 6-0, 185-pound outfielder who was drafted last month in the 38th round by the Brewers, also will play for UM next season. He's from Longwood, Fl and graduated from Lake Brantley.

 And 6-2 infielder George Iskenderian (Don Bosco Prep graduate in 2012), who played his freshman season for South Carolina and then transferred to Indian River State (drafted in 34th round recently by the Cardinals), will be joining the Hurricanes as well. 

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

 

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July 10, 2014

Perryman makes Nagurski Award Watch List

Hurricanes senior Denzel Perryman, already on the watch lists for the Bednarik award and the CFPA Linebacker of the Year award, was one of 81 players named to the 2014 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List Thursday, an award given annually since 1993 to the National Defensive Player of the Year.

Past Hurricane winners of the Nagurski Trophy include defensive lineman Warren Sapp (1994) and linebacker Dan Morgan (2000).

Players may be added or removed from the watch list during the course of the season. The Football Writer's Association of Amercin and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 20. The  Nagurski  winner will be chosen from those five finalists who are part of the 2014 FWAA All-America Team. The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet will be held on Dec. 8 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte.

Pittsburgh tackle Aaron Donald won the award last season.

July 08, 2014

Canes net two huge commitments from St. Thomas Aquinas

The Miami Hurricanes netted a pair big recruiting commitments Tuesday night from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale.

The first was Jordan Scarlett, a 5-11, 210-pound running back in the Class of 2015 ranked by 247Sports.com as the 11th best at his position nationally.

The other was Sam Bruce, a 5-8, 160-pound receiver in the Class of 2016 ranked by 247Sports.com as the 7th best at his position nationally.

Our Safid Deen has more on Tuesday's big Hurricanes recruiting story on our High School Sports Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This story was updated throughout the day as information became available

McDermott (Rimington), Walford (Mackey) join growing list of Canes on preseason watch lists

Tis the season to be named to College Football Award Watch Lists.

Tuesday, it was Shane McDermott and Clive Walford who became the latest Miami Hurricanes to receive some preseason recognition.

McDermott was one of 66 centers named to the 2014 Rimington Trophy Fall Watch List, an award presented annually since 2000 to the nation’s top collegiate center in NCAA Division I FBS. Miami’s Brett Romberg won the Rimington Trophy in 2002 after contributing the Miami’s 34-game winning streak from 2000-2002. He never allowed a sack at center and led an offensive line that helped produce three 1,000-yard rushers – James Jackson, Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee.

Walford, meanwhile, was one of 40 players named to the John Mackey Preseason Watch List, an award given annually since 2000 to the nation's top tight end. It's the second year in a row he's on the list. Kellen Winslow II (2003) is the only Hurricane who has won the award.

McDermott, a Lake Worth, Fla. native, started 11 games at center in 2013 for the Hurricanes. A third-team All-ACC selection by the league’s head coaches, he helped anchor the offensive line that paved the way for a Hurricanes offense that averaged 425.8 yards of total offense and 33.8 points per game.

Walford played in all 13 games in 2013, making 12 starts at tight end. He finished the season with 454 receiving yards and two TDs on 34 catches, finishing second on the team in receptions. The Belle Glade, Fla., product had a streak of 27 consecutive games with at least one reception snapped Nov. 23, 2013, against Virginia. He later eclipsed the 1,000-yard career mark against Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

The winner of the Rimington Trophy is selected by determining the consensus All-America center pick from three prestigious All-America teams: Walter Camp Foundation, Sporting News and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). The Rimington Trophy presentation will be held Jan. 17, 2015, at Rococo Theatre in Lincoln, Neb.

The Mackey winner is selected by vote of the John Mackey Award Selection Committee and will be announced Dec. 10, and then presented live Dec. 11 at The Home Depot Collegiate Football Awards Show.

MIAMI HURRICANES ON 2014 PRESEASON AWARD WATCH LISTS

> Anthony Chickillo, DE: CFPA Defensive Line Trophy

> Stacy Coley, WR/KR: Paul Hornung Award (most versatile); Maxwell Award (College Player of the Year)

> Ladarius Gunter, DB: CFPA Defensive Back Trophy

> Duke Johnson, RB: Maxwell Award (College Player of the Year); CFPA Running Back Trophy 

> Shane McDermott, C: Rimington Trophy (nation’s best center)

> Denzel Perryman, LB: Bednarik Award (College Defensive Player of the Year); CFPA Linebacker Trophy

> Clive Walford, TE: John Mackey Award (Outstanding collegiate tight end)

July 07, 2014

Canes' Coley, Johnson named to Maxwell Award watch list; Perryman to Bednarik watch list

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.

July 03, 2014

Cardinal Gibbons defensive lineman Richard McIntosh commits to Hurricanes

Cardinal Gibbons defensive lineman Richard McIntosh became the 17th commitment in the Miami Hurricanes' 2015 recruiting class Thursday.

And it was hardly a surprise for his football coach Mike Morrill.

"He kind of indicated before I left on vacation last week he was going to commit on or about the Fourth of July," Morrill said. "Miami was on him early and they did a very nice job. They were very thorough. I think it's going to be a great fit for him."

McIntosh, ranked a three-star recruit by both Rivals and 247Sports.com, is as big and athletic a player Morrill said he's ever coached. Last season the Chiefs lined McIntosh at defensive end, tight end and wide reciever.

"He was over 270 pounds last I saw him," Morrill said. "He played probably about 240 last fall and then played basketball this winter. As soon as basketball ended he recommitted himself to the weight room and he really got big. But he's still growing. He's 6-4 1/2, about 270, 275 now.

"He's such an athletic kid, has tremendous feet. We even put him at quarterback in short yardage last season. I think in the playoff game we went short yardage against Immokalee and I think he got a first down, maybe even scored a touchdown. We're not afraid to put him anywhere on defense or offense."

McIntosh is the fifth player from Miami's immediate backyard to commit to the Hurricanes and the fourth from Broward County. His younger brother, Dion McIntosh, is a standout running back in the 2016 class Miami is also pursuing. 

Six former Canes to compete in NBA Summer League; Perryman on CFPA watch list

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.

July 01, 2014

Canes announce basketball series with Gators; Chickillo, Gunter named to CFPA watch lists

For the first time since 2009, the Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators will meet on the hardwood as both schools have agreed to a home-and-home men’s basketball series. Florida will host the first game Nov. 17, while Miami will host the return game at BankUnited Center during the 2015-16 season.

Florida leads the all-time series 45-22. November’s nonconference matchup will be the first meeting since March 20, 2009 – a 74-60 loss at Florida in the second round of the NIT. The Canes haven’t hosted the Gators since Dec. 22, 2005 – a 77-67 Florida win. Miami last defeated Florida on Dec. 4, 2004, a 72-65 win in Gainesville. 

Miami finished the 2013-14 season with a 17-16 overall record and the Hurricanes are 66-36 in three seasons under head coach Jim Larrañaga.

The Canes welcome nine newcomers to the 2014-15 roster, which includes six recruits – Kamari Murphy, Ja’Quan Newton, James Palmer, Omar Sherman, Joe Thomas and Ivan Cruz Uceda – along with two Big 12 transfers – Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan – and redshirt freshman Deandre Burnett, who sat out the 2013-14 season with an injury.

CHICKILLO, GUNTER ON WATCH LIST

Miami Hurricanes seniors Ladarius Gunter and Anthony Chickillo have been named to the 2014 College Football Performance Awards Lineman Trophy Watch Lists at their respective positions.

Gunter, a defensive back, started the Hurricanes' first 12 games in 2013, missing only the Russell Athletic Bowl due to injury. He recorded 46 tackles (36 solo) with two TFL, six pass break-ups and three interceptions. He was named ACC Defensive Player of the Week for Oct. 7, 2013, after returning an INT 30 yards for a TD in a win over Georgia Tech. He was then named ACC Specialist of the Week for Oct. 21, 2013, after returning a blocked FG for a TD in a comeback road win at North Carolina.

Chickillo started all 13 games at defensive end for the Hurricanes in 2013, recording 46 tackles, 7.5 tackles-for-loss, 3.5 sacks and seven QB hurries. Chickillo has started 34 consecutive games for the Hurricanes over the span of the last three seasons.

Miami's Leonard Hankerson won the 2010 CFPA Wide Receiver of the Year Award and Pat O'Donnell won the 2013 CFPA Punter of the Year Award.

June 30, 2014

Canes slugger Zack Collins talks making Team USA, becoming sixth player in UM history to be named Baseball America's Freshman of the Year

Monday turned out to be a pretty special day for Hurricanes slugger Zack Collins.

First he was one of 24 players selected to the USA's National Collegiate Team. Then, he became the sixth player in Hurricanes history to be named National Freshman of the Year by Baseball America.

"Starting off a Monday like this is always good," said Collins, who spoke with The Miami Herald by phone Monday afternoon.

Which achievement ranks higher?

"That's hard to say, but I would have to say making the national team," Collins said. "Before I came up here [to Cary, N.C. for tryouts] I told a couple friends that it's just an awesome feeling when you put on this jersey. It's kind of weird how when you put it on it gives you this electric feeling."

Collins, a Pembroke Pines native who starred at Plantation American Heritage High School, has chalked up plenty of accolades this summer. He was named 2014 Freshman Hitter of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers’ Association (NCBWA), 2014 ACC Freshman of the Year, and pulled in Freshman All-America honors on three teams. Collins (.298, team-leading 11 homers, 54 RBI) and freshman right-handed pitcher Brian Garcia (7-4, 1.75 ERA, 15 saves) both earned Baseball America Freshman All-American First Team honors on Monday.

Collins, though, is the first Hurricane to win the Freshman Player of the Year award since Chris Hernandez in 2008. Past Hurricane winners include Alex Fernandez (1989), Pat Burrell (1996), Kevin Howard (2000) and Ryan Braun (2003).

"That's a huge accomplishment. I never thought the way I started off my year it would have ended like this," Collins said. "It's just an amazing feeling for me knowing all the talent out there that I was named Freshman of the Year. I don't even know what to say."

Collins said he's looking forward to playing with Team USA this summer and making trips to Cuba and the Netherlands. He played on the 16-under National Team and won a gold medal in Mexico.

"It seemed like every time I was on the younger teams tryouts I was always looking up to the college team. And now I'm on it. It's just an awesome feeling," Collins said. " think I'm looking forward to going to Cuba the most because being from Miami there's a lot of people from Cuba and they always talk about how awesome it is over there. Just to go there and see the culture and where a lot of people come from in Miami is going to be pretty fun. I haven't really heard about any players in particular, but I know Cuba always has some tremendous players. Yasiel Puig once played for Cuba, Yoenis Cespdedes, all these guys played for their national team. It should be pretty fun."

Collins is also already looking forward to next season. He said losing to Texas Tech in the final game of the Coral Gables regional left him and his teammates quite hungry.

"I went to Miami to win a championship and that's pretty much the main goal for everybody on our team. We're definitely going to make it to Omaha next year," Collins said. "I think what we learned was how no matter what type of team you are in the regular season you have to be on your best once you make it to the playoffs. Because once you get there anybody you play is going to be really good."

Canes' Zack Collins selected to USA Collegiate National Team

Hurricanes freshman catcher Zack Collins has earned one of 24 roster spots on the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, and will travel to both the Netherlands and Cuba as part of the team’s annual summer tour.

He hit .333 with Team USA during the Red, White and Blue Tour through the Coastal Plain League, where the team finished with a 6-1 record. He hit two home runs, scored six runs and drove in six more during the seven-game tryout stint to successfully earn a place on Team USA.

Collins is the 23rd Hurricane to make the team – the second-most of any program in history – and his selection marks the 20th year a Hurricane has been chosen, marking the third-longest stretch for any program all-time. His selection also makes it back-to-back years for Miami with a member on Team USA; lefthanded pitcher Chris Diaz was selected for the tour in 2013.

Collins was named 2014 ACC Freshman of the Year and ranked among the ACC leaders in nearly every offensive category. Collins batted .298 for the season with 11 home runs, 54 RBI and a slugging percentage of .556.

The Pembroke Pines native connected on 14 doubles and three triples, had an on-base percentage of .427 in his 58 starts. The third-team All-ACC selection tied for the team lead with 114 total bases this spring.

The Collegiate National Team opens its series against Chinese Taipei at 7:05 p.m. on July 1 at the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. The teams will play again on July 2 at Keeter Stadium in Shelby, N.C., on July 3 at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, N.C., and on July 4 and 5 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, N.C.

Team USA will then host a three-game set against Japan July 6-8 in Thomasville, Wilson and Wilmington, N.C., before traveling to the Netherlands for Honkbal-Haarlem Baseball Week, July 11-20. Following that tournament, the U.S. will head to Cuba for a five-game friendship series, July 23-27.

June 27, 2014

Former Krop standout, Niagra forward Joe Thomas signs financial aid agreement to play for Canes

Joe Thomas, a 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward, has signed a financial aid agreement to play for the Hurricanes, coach Jim Larrañaga announced Friday.
 
"Joe joins us at the perfect time," Larrañaga said in a statement released by the school. "We needed a front court player with experience and a fifth-year senior was exactly what my staff and I hoped for. He provides us with some size and strength and rebounding toughness."
 
Thomas, a fifth-year transfer from Niagara University,  will have one year of eligibility with the Hurricanes, beginning immediately. At UM, Thomas will be reunited with former Miami Krop High  teammate and point guard Angel Rodriguez.
 
Thomas averaged 3.4 points and 2.7 rebounds in 30 games last year during his redshirt junior season at Niagara. He led the Purple Eagles in blocks, and his 54.8 field goal percentage was second-best on the squad.  

As a prep player at Krop, Thomas averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and four assists as a senior. He and Rodriguez led the Lightning to a 26-6 record and its first trip to the Class 6A state Final Four.

Thomas joins eight new players on Miami’s 2014-15 roster. Five are recruits: Kamari Murphy, Ja’Quan Newton, James Palmer, Omar Sherman and Ivan Cruz Uceda. Two are Big 12 Conference transfers –  Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan. Redshirt freshman Deandre Burnett sat out last season with an injury.

> Earlier this week, UM announced the team had an accepted an invitation to participate in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational hosted by the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Monday, Dec. 22. The Canes will take on Providence.

June 26, 2014

Canes QB Ryan Williams says he's had no setbacks since ACL surgery, still targeting Week 1 start

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."

June 24, 2014

Morris extended through 2018, DiMare named coach in waiting

The University of Miami and head baseball coach Jim Morris on Tuesday agreed to terms on a three-year contract extension through the 2018 baseball season and named longtime assistant coach Gino DiMare the coach in waiting.

Morris, who has been at the helm of the Hurricanes program since November 1993, led Miami to its second ACC Regular Season Championship in program history this past spring.  Among the most successful head coaches in college baseball history, Morris has guided Miami to over 900 wins in his 21 seasons in Coral Gables.

"We are ecstatic that Coach Morris has agreed to remain at the helm through the 2018 season," said Director of Athletics Blake James.  "What Jim has built at Miami is unprecedented, and the success speaks for itself.  This extension is well earned."

DiMare is entering his 16th season as an assistant at Miami, following a stellar playing career at UM and a professional career with the Boston Red Sox organization.  DiMare has been instrumental in the Canes success, overseeing recruiting and serving as the hitting coach for many years.

"Gino possesses all of the ingredients of successful head coaches," James said. "I have no doubt that he will continue to bring conference and national championships to Coral Gables.  As Jim leads our program through 2018, we have a plan in place for a smooth transition and continued excellence, and I couldn't be happier that Gino will be our next head baseball coach."

"Coach Morris has been a tremendous leader for our baseball program for many years, and I will be honored to serve with him for another four," DiMare said. "I am profoundly humbled by the opportunity to take over such a storied program from a legend, and I am confident that we will continue the proud Miami baseball tradition." 

Morris has led Miami to 21 straight appearances in the NCAA postseason and 11 trips to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. The Hurricanes’ college-baseball record 42 straight postseason appearances is the longest active streak for any Division I sports program nationwide.  Morris, who ranks fourth among active Division I coaches in career victories, has been named National Coach of the Year on three occasions. Including his time at Georgia Tech, Morris ranks eighth all-time in Division I victories.

"I am humbled and honored to continue to serve the University for four more years," Morris said.  "We have had an outstanding run but there is more work to be done and more championships to be won.  I want to thank President Shalala and Blake James for their belief in what we are doing and I am excited for Gino to get this opportunity."  

June 23, 2014

Hurricanes land commitment from one of the country's top 2016 quarterbacks

The Hurricanes picked up a commitment from one of the nation's top-rated quarterbacks Monday night. But they've got wait another two years before he can suit up for them. 

Jack Allison, a 6-5, 200-pound pro-style passer from Palmetto, Fla., pledged his commitment to UM on Twitter Monday night, two days after attending a football camp at UM.

Allison is considered the top quarterback prospect in the state in the 2016 class -- ninth overall among pro-style passers according to 247Sports. He had offers from Alabama, Missouri, South Florida, Tennessee, and UCF.

Allison finished his sophomore season throwing for 1,778 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions and led his team to the state playoffs. 

The Hurricanes also picked up a commitment from 2016 linebacker Michael Pinckney (6-1, 215) of Jacksonville Raines over the weekend. 

Miami has 13 commitments as part of the 2015 class including one quarterback -- Tampa Hillsborough's Dwayne Lawson.

Here is a link to Allison's highlights.

June 18, 2014

QB guru who tutored Aaron Rodgers believes Jake Heaps headed for monster year with Canes

If numbers never lie, new Hurricanes quarterback Jake Heaps appears to be nothing more than a former blue-chip recruit gone bust.

In four years, Rivals' No. 1-ranked pro-style quarterback in 2010 has gone from breaking Ty Detmer's freshman record at BYU for touchdown passes in a season (15) to the third-worst rated FBS quarterback in the country a year ago who lost his starting job on a 3-9 Kansas team.

It sure looks ugly and makes you wonder, 'Just how desperate is Al Golden for quarterback help?' But at least one man doesn't see this as a desperation move by the Canes. He sees it as a smart decision on both sides. 

Meet Taylor Barton (@TaylorBarton12), a former quarterback at the University of Washington who was on the field as a backup when the Hurricanes steamrolled the Huskies 65-7 en route to the national title in 2001. Barton is now a quarterback coaching guru in the Pacific Northwest, who runs the Barton Football Academy in Oregon and Washington.

Barton has not only coached Heaps since the sixth grade when his parents used to drive him 3 1/2 hours each way on the weekends over to Portland, Oregon for two hour camps. He has also tutored some of the best players to come out of the region including Super Bowl winning quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Jake Locker, Joey Harrington, Kellen Moore, Kellen Clemens and Derek Anderson among more than a dozen alumni who have reached the NFL. 

"We’ve been working together for a long time. Jake's one of my all-time favorites if not my favorite to come through," Barton said. "He’s a great kid, great competitor. I would say Jake epitomizes exactly what you think of when you picture the ideal quarterback. He’s not the big 6-foot, 5-inch quarterback. He’s not a guy who is going to blow you away with size or arm strength. But he does all the little things the right way. That stuff adds up to big things. That’s why he’s been so successful and that’s why I think he’s going to have a monster year next year at Miami."

It's hard to equate success to what Heaps has done at the collegiate level over the last three years. After completing 57.2 percent of his 383 passes for 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions as a freshman at BYU in 2010, his numbers went south along with his playing time in 2011. So he transferred to Kansas where Charlie Weis, who had tried recruiting him to Notre Dame, promised big dreams and a big payoff in his pro-style system after sitting out the 2012 season. 

Barton said the reason things fell apart at BYU are pretty simple. The Cougars changed their offensive coordinator and their scheme. "The next year after Jake left that coach ended up getting fired," Barton said. "I think that can lead you to the conclusion maybe he wasn’t put in the best position that year."

So why the struggles at Kansas? The Jayhawks pretty much stunk, Barton explains.

"You can look at maybe his completion percentage [49 percent, 125th out of 129 passers], but that doesn’t tell the whole story," Barton said. "I went back and looked at film in one game where he had four straight passes where he hit the receiver in the hands and they dropped it. Statistically that’s an incompletion. But from a quarterback’s standpoint all you can do is drop back, find the open guy and throw it to him. You can't run the route and catch it too. So there were a lot of things that get pinned on the quarterback."

Barton said Heaps has never been one to "point the finger at everybody else."

"He hasn’t been perfect. He’ll be the first to admit that," Barton said. "Every QB wishes they could have some reads back or throws back. But for the most part I think he’s been put in some situations where the odds were stacked against him. And I think that’s why he’s so excited about this situation and why I’m so excited about this situation for him. Because this is the first time he’s going to a program with superior talent, a tremendous coaching staff and a tremendous system. He doesn’t have to be the featured guy -- just get the ball in the athletes’ hands and let them make the plays.

"He hasn’t had that since he was in high school [at Skyline High in Seattle where he won three state championships]. And I think that’s why he’s going to end up having one of the biggest years and being one of the biggest surprises in the country next year."

When Heaps found out at the end of this past spring he wasn't going to be the starter at Kansas, he decided to transfer and immediately reached out to several schools at both the FBS and FCS levels. UM was one of the first schools respond. Barton said when Heaps took an official visit to Miami a month and a half ago, he was scheduled to meet with offensive coordinator James Coley for an hour. They ended up sitting down for six and breaking down the Hurricane's offense on a greaseboard.

"If anyone can do it I think Jake has the advantage," Barton said of picking up the Hurricanes' offense quickly. "I guess the silver lining in going through the path he’s gone he’s seen several different systems. There’s not much you can throw at him he hasn’t heard, seen or understands. I know Coach was very impressed with Jake’s intellect and knowledge of the game. Jake was excited. He came back saying he gets the concepts, loves what he’s doing and he thinks he’s going to thrive in it."

Heaps, who spoke with me for about 30 minutes Tuesday evening, said he received the complete playbook from UM "once things became official." But he's been preparing himself with the notes he took for weeks. He's set to arrive in Coral Gables on June 28th where he will immediately begin working with his teammates. He said he plans on living out of his suitcase until his wife, Brooke, a dental assistant, arrives in late August.

"The offense at UM is similar to different things I've done in the past," Heaps said. "The offense I ran at BYU my first year, and in some ways the offense I came to run at Kansas as far as making protection calls and changes at the line."

Listed at 6-1, 210, Heaps' height won't be an issue, Barton promises. Neither will mobility (he was sacked 23 times at Kansas).

"Guys are always a little bit smaller than they mention anyway, but he’s right around that 6-foot mark," Barton said. "He’s not going to walk into a room and have everybody say that’s Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. But one of the QBs who came through our academy was Kellen Moore. We sent him onto Boise State and he ends up being the winningest QB in BCS history. And he was 5-11. The guy who won the Super Bowl was 5-10 ½. The game has really changed at the position. Look at what Johnny Manziel is doing. He’s barely 6-feet tall. I think Jake has enough size.

"As a QB people overvalue height. You’re never throwing over lineman anyway. You’re throwing through lanes. Maybe back in the day that was more important. But the evolution of the game it has become a lot less about height and a lot more about athletic ability and being able to make quick reads and get the ball in your playmakers hands and that’s what Jake does tremendously. If the line gives him time, he can make reads and pick anybody in the country apart.

"Now, if the pocket collapses he’s not going to be a Marcus Mariotta or a Colin Kaepernick and break off a 70-yard TD run. That’s not his style. But he is athletic enough and fast enough where he can pose a problem for a defense. He can get that 8, 10, 12-yard gain and move the chains and be enough of a threat to keep a defense honest."

When it comes to arm strength and comparisons, Barton sees a bit of Drew Brees in Heaps.

"With Jake he’s probably in that 60-65 yards throwing it down field," Barton said. "But when it comes to what he does best -- the thing Jake is superior to when it comes to all the guys that I’ve worked with or seen – it's timing and anticipation. To get to the higher level that becomes more important than arm strength.

"You see a lot of guys that have a very strong arm, but they wait until a receiver is open. When you get to the higher levels, playing a Florida State, their defensive backs are fast too. They’ve already broken on the ball. The great quarterbacks throw it to a receiver before he’s open. So when he turns around or when he comes out of his break the ball is there. That’s what Jake does. What he lacks for in arm strength he makes up for in being so smart, reading the coverage and being able to anticipate the throw and get it to the receiver before he’s out of the break."

> What the Hurricanes could end up getting in Heaps in the long run is a 2-for-1 quarterback special. According to Barton, UM recently offered 2016 top-rated quarterback Jacob Eason of Lake Stevens, Wash. and camper at the Barton Football Academy.

"It very easily could be a situation with them signing Jake he could very well easily step in and be the starter and then with Jacob Eason he could end up stepping in at Miami and being the starter in two years," Barton said. "He’s a kid who is going to graduate early and end up somewhere in spring ball. He has a chance to be the best to ever come out of this region. He is going to be a guy that plays in the NFL for 12 to 15 years. He’s the real deal."

June 16, 2014

Waiting for Heaps: UM's other five QBs -- including injured Ryan Williams -- working hard to stay ahead.

Jakeheaps

While transfer Jake Heaps gets ready to arrive in Coral Gables to begin a one-season tenure with his third college football team, it's life as usual for the other five scholarship quarterbacks.

Redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen, recently arrived true freshmen Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier, third-year sophomore Gray Crow and fifth-year senior Ryan Williams are doing what it takes to prepare for what they hope will be a meaningful season. 

Kevinolsen"It comes with the position,'' Olsen's father and former high school coach, Chris Olsen, told The Miami Herald by phone Monday, when asked how his son was doing in light of the news of Heaps coming to compete for the job. "It is what it is. As far as Kevin goes, he's fine."

There were only two spring practices remaining, not including the annual spring game, when projected 2015 UM starting quarterback Williams tore the ACL of his right knee during a scrimmage. Suddenly, Olsen, a highly touted four-star recruit out of Wayne Hills (N.J.) High School, was thrust into the position of being the main man before he had ever thrown a pass in college.

Olsen, who had his share of struggles in his first year at UM, was doing well and had improved a great deal, according to teammates and coaches. But he had a disappointing showing in the spring game (as did Gray Crow), completing 7 of 21 passes for 65 yards, with no touchdowns and an interception.

Crow was 9 of 20 for 63 yards, with no touchdowns and an interception.

 "He's there the whole summer, taking summer school classes, going to workouts -- the whole thing that everybody does,'' Chris Olsen said. "All you can ask for is an opportunity to go out and play. It will all work out in the end.''

  Ryanwilliams
Meanwhile, Williams, who earned his undergraduate degree in December in sports administration, has been rehabilitating his knee daily and still has a goal of returning for the September 20 Nebraska game.

"I can't believe how fast he's bounced back,'' Jayne Williams, his mother, told the Herald today. "He was driving and off his crutches two weeks to the day of his surgery (which was Wednesday, May 9). 

"His spirits are unbelievable and he has such a great mindset. We were in New Orleans a month ago and we were in the French Quarter and he was walking around for hours. He said he's not in pain. He's doing fabulously.''

Jayne Williams said her son took it in stride that a new fifth-year senior quarterback would soon be arriving. Remember, Williams, too, transferred to UM from Memphis after starting there his freshman year.

"I feel like UM would have been doing itself an injustice if they didn't at least bring someone in with experience while Ryan is rehabbing,'' Williams said. "[Heaps] also has played and he's older than the other quarterbacks. That will make Ryan work twice as hard. That's the kind of kid Ryan is. He doesn't get upset in that kind of way.''

One big similarity between Heaps and Williams: both are married. 

 Williams' wife Deanna is expecting their first child -- a son -- on August 5th, the day fall camp opens. But she said the baby is so large (already over five pounds), that she doubts she'll last that long.

Heaps, a Mormon married to a former BYU student (he started 10 of 13 games as a freshman at BYU), transferred to Kansas after his sophomore season and played one disappointing season for Kansas (128 of 261 for 1,414 yards and eight touchdowns, with 10 picks). Kansas, however, had a bad offense all the way around, including its offensive line, which at least partly (or more than partly) allowed the less-than-mobile Heaps to be sacked 23 times.

 From everything I've read, Heaps is smart and a really good person with leadership qualities and a strong arm. He has publicly said he will get his degree this month, and thus, be able to play immediately at UM as a graduate student.

 He was rated the top quarterback in the nation by Scout.com and No. 1 pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com when he graduated from Skyline High School in Sammamish, Washington.

"I am excited for the opportunity to play my last year of college football as a Miami Hurricane!" Heaps posted on Twitter and Instagram. "Ready to get to work!"

This will be a compelling fall camp, and with Williams possibly in the mix early in the season, the storylines will be plentiful. If Williams can get back in the game sooner than later, he is going to do everything possible to play after waiting three years behind Stephen Morris.

I'm on vacation until football gets going with the ACC Football Kickoff (media days) in late July in Greensboro. Until then, Manny Navarro will be manning the blog while he also covers the Marlins.

Everyone have a happy and healthy summer.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

June 15, 2014

UM gets quarterback transfer from Kansas (via BYU) - but he doesn't have to sit out

From UM:

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Kansas QB Jake Heaps has signed a financial aid agreement and will transfer to the University of Miami, head coach Al Golden announced Sunday.

Heaps spent his junior season in 2013 with the Jayhawks, earning second-team Academic All-Big 12 honors. He was voted as one of the team captains. He played in 11 games, starting nine, and threw for 1,414 yards with eight TDs.

(Note from me: He also threw 10 interceptions along with the eight touchdowns, and had 49-percent accuracy).

The 6-foot-1 product from Sammamish, Wash., began his college career at BYU, where he played in 2010 and 2011. As a freshman in 2010, Heaps set every BYU freshman QB record, including passing yards (2,316), touchdowns (15) and wins (6). He was named New Mexico Bowl MVP and was later named honorable mention Freshman All-America by College Football News.

As a sophomore in 2011, he threw for 1,452 yards and nine TDs in nine games, making six starts. He sat out the 2012 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules after transferring to Kansas.

*******************************************************
Note: Heaps should be able to play immediately without sitting out another season, per NCAA rules, if he earns his college degree this month from Kansas and can take graduate courses at UM.
"I am very grateful for the opportunity given to me by Coach [Charlie] Weiss to play football and earn my college degree,'' Heaps said in an Associated Press story that ran Friday. "My wife and I have truly enjoyed being part of the Jayhawk Community. We have made lifelong friends through this experience.''

So, if Ryan Williams, recuperating from a torn ACL, doesn't return as quickly as he hopes (by Nebraska game September 20), the Canes now have an option in Heaps if Golden is intent on redshirting Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier, and Kevin Olsen or Gray Crow don't work out.

You would think that highly touted Olsen, who had a disappointing spring game, would know the offense enough and pick up his play enough to earn the starting job. But at this point who knows?

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN


June 11, 2014

6-9 forward Kamari Murphy transfers to Miami from Oklahoma State; will sit out the 2014-15 season

 Per University of Miami:

  Hurricanes head coach Jim Larrañaga has announced the signing Kamari Murphy to a financial aid agreement to play men’s basketball for the University of Miami.

"We were looking for a forward with great athletic ability," said Larrañaga. "Kamari, at 6-foot-9, can run and jump and is as good an athlete as you will find, but what is most impressive is his versatility both offensively and defensively. He can defend multiple positions and he can play both forward positions. We needed additional scoring and rebounding up front and he can provide that. He is a great addition to our program."

KamarimurphyMurphy, who played two seasons at Oklahoma State University, will sit out the 2014-15 season, then will have two years of eligibility with the Hurricanes.

As a sophomore with the Cowboys in 2013-14, the 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward started 21 of his 33 games, averaging 6.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.2 blocks in 25.9 minutes per outing. In his rookie campaign, Murphy started his first 15 collegiate games and grabbed six rebounds in the semifinal game against Kansas State at the Big 12 Championship.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Murphy attended Lincoln High School before playing ball at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.). At IMG he averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds and three assists for a team that finished 28-2 against prep schools and was ranked among the top-five nationally. He was ranked No. 10 on HoopScoop's list of top fifth-year players in 2012. As a senior at Lincoln, he averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds per game, helping the Railsplitters to the PSAL Class-AA title game as a senior and the Brooklyn regular-season crown and borough title. At that time he was ranked by HoopScoop as the No. 6 player in New York.

Murphy joins seven new players to Miami’s 2014-15 roster, which includes four recruits – Ja’Quan Newton, James Palmer, Omar Sherman and Ivan Cruz Uceda – along with two other Big XII transfers – Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan – and redshirt freshman Deandre Burnett, who sat out the 2013-14 season with an injury.

 

 

Miami Hurricanes baseball coach Jim Morris gets three-year contract extension through 2018

Imgres
    After leading the Hurricanes to their best regular season since 2008, University of Miami baseball coach Jim Morris has been awarded with a new contract that extends his head-coaching duties through 2018.

   Our Barry Jackson reported the news late last night.

   Morris, 64, had one year remaining on his contract, which would have taken him through the 2015 season. That contract extension was done in September 2009.

   “I love coaching,’’ Morris told the Miami Herald in mid-May, when asked about his future status and what he would say to critics that wanted him ousted after seeing UM go three consecutive seasons without winning a regional – one of those, in 2012, as the host. “I’m not doing things a lot differently than I did 10 years ago. We have better players this year. We had a great recruiting class.

   “You know what? I drive a Cadillac. And these guys are Cadillacs.’’

   The Hurricanes finished the season 44-19. They got to the championship game of the Coral Gables Regional, but lost to Texas Tech, now in the College World Series. They were 41-17 in the regular season for a .707 winning percentage, third only to national seeds Virginia (.772) and Florida State (.741) – both fellow members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

    Miami won the regular-season ACC crown with a 24-6 league record (.800).

   Morris has led the Canes, who have qualified for the NCAA tournament a national-record 42 consecutive years, to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, 11 times since he began coaching at UM in 1994.

    He brought national titles to Coral Gables in 1999 and 2001.

    But UM has not been to Omaha since 2008, and last year Morris was hospitalized with pneumonia during the NCAA tournament and said he doesn’t remember anything from that period. He said he’s in perfect health now, and doesn’t plan on hanging up his cleats anytime soon.

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

June 10, 2014

Could Miami Hurricanes get back LHP Andy Suarez? Doubt it. But he still hasn't signed with Nationals.

Seven Miami Hurricanes were drafted this past weekend in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft: pitcher Andy Suarez (second round, Washington Nationals), pitcher Chris Diaz (fifth round, Atlanta Braves), outfielder Dale Carey (seventh round, Washington), pitcher Bryan Radziewski (ninth round, Houston Astros), pitcher Javi Salas  (10th round, Milwaukee Brewers), left fielder Tyler Palmer (21st round, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) and second baseman Alex Hernandez (40th round, Houston Astros).

Six of the seven have, or are expected to in the next day or so, sign, and most are heading out this week to their prospective leagues.

AndysuarezOne is holding out for now: Suarez (6-3, 2.95 ERA).

He told me this evening that he has not signed a contract, and that if he doesn't by the July 18th signing deadline, he would gladly come back to the Hurricanes.

"I'm still negotiating,'' Suarez said. "If the Nationals and I don't make an agreement I'm going to end up coming back. I really don't know what's going to happen. It would be exciting [to play pro ball], but if it doesn't happy I don't really mind coming back. It would be a good thing.''

 Suarez, 21, a Miamian who graduated from Christopher Columbus High, just completed his redshirt sophomore season at UM, and has two years of eligibility left. MLB's assigned signing value for the 57th overall pick (Suarez) is $987,800.

Hard to believe he would come back.

If he signs with the Nationals, he'll join teammate Dale Carey in the New York Penn League's short season with the Auburn Doubledays.

"He has leverage, I don't,'' said Carey on Tuesday. "I am so excited. I cannot wait."

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

Tylerpalmer
Tyler Palmer
is flying out tomorrow for Orem, Utah, to play short season advanced rookie ball with the Orem Owlz in the Pioneer League. 

"It was pretty funny,'' Palmer said of the moment he was drafted. "I was watching the draft and a super regional and getting kind of nervous. In the 15th or 16th round I left my house in Pembroke Pines and drove to Chick-fil-A -- on my way my phone started blowing up. As I was in the drive-through ordering my food, then paying for it, I get a call from a scout with the Angels.

"'Congratulations, we drafted you,' he said. I picked up my food, called my parents and brother and they were all ecstatic."

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

   Bryan Radziewski told me tonight that he signed with the Astros today and will play for the Tri-City Valley Cats of Albany, N.Y., in the New York Penn League: His roommate? Alex Hernandez.  

  "It's definitely going to make the transition for me a lot easier,'' B-Rad said. "I haven't been away from home before. It's a lot more responsibility, but UM prepared us to be responsible.''

  Hernandez, 22, of West Palm Beach, was the first player taken in the 40th round -- the final round of the draft. "It was pretty nerve-racking because I'm a senior and it was pretty much do or die.''

   So, Hernandez and his parents, girlfriend and brother tried to relieve the stress by going to a movie. "An old friend of mine texted me saying, 'Better late than never,' Hernandez said. "I thought, 'What is this guy talking about?'

  "I went on Twitter, refreshed it and my name popped up. I saw that I got drafted before the movie started. They all started screaming and hugging me. We left.''

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

Chris Diaz said he's heading to Rome, Ga., to play for the Rome Braves. "This is something I've wanted to do my whole life,'' Diaz said. "I can't wait to start.'' 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

 

June 06, 2014

It's over for now. Canes pitchers Andy Suarez, Chris Diaz, B-Rad, Javi Salas & OF Dale Carey drafted.

Sometime before the sun set: Bryan Radziewski called me to make sure I knew that pitcher Javi Salas was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 10th round.

He told me all the guys were making plans to go celebrate. Salas said they all might gather in his "very big'' backyard, two blocks from campus.

"It's been a great ride,'' Salas said. "Obviously we started the season with high hopes and came a little short. But this is a great reflection of the program and coaching. Miami prepared us for this moment.''

5:45 p.m. Friday: I was on the phone with Dale Carey, when he shouted, ""B-Rad just went in! Awesome!"

  That was a cool moment. "B-Rad" is Bryan Radziewski, the left-handed redshirt junior who was just drafted in the ninth round -- 256th overall -- by the Houston Astros.

B-Rad was drafted by the Cardinals last year in the 29th round -- 875 overall -- but chose to return to the Hurricanes. Obviously a very wise decision. Not only did he earn his degree, he will have more money in his pocket and be that much better a player.

 Radziewski, from Miami and a graduate of Florida Christian School, went 8-2 this season with a 2.86 ERA. He struck out 111 batters in 100.2 innings and held opponents to a .228 average in 16 starts.

  He is in seventh place in the UM record books with a career 333 strikeouts.

  His patience and talent has paid off.

"Four years at UM passed in front of my eyes and now I'm ready to start a new chapter in my life. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can accomplish.''

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

5 p.m. Friday: UM's third player, outfielder Dale Carey, was drafted in the seventh round -- 214th overall - by the Washington Nationals. He will be joined by fellow UM player and new Nationals' draftee Andy Suarez.

 Carey led the Hurricanes with a .305 batting average this past season, with a team-leading 16 doubles. He also had seven home runs and 29 RBI and 16 steals and was the only Cane to start all 63 games. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 21st round in 2010, so he has improved his stock big time.

"I was sitting down and eating and I heard my dad scream and my name announced,'' Carey said. "That 'Oh my God! I just got drafted!' feeling came over me. I couldn't wait to hear my name called -- so stressful. Finally, relief.''

Couldn't be happier for him!

 

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

3:30 p.m.: UM's second player (and pitcher), left-hander Chris Diaz, was drafted by the Atlanta Braves 163rd overall (fifth round).  Diaz, the Atlantic Coast Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year, was Miami's Friday-night ace this past season. He was not drafted out of Miami Gulliver Prep.

 He is from Florida City.

Diaz finished 9-1 with a 2.41 ERA, and was Miami's first, first-team All-American (Louisville Slugger)  since Yasmani Grandal in 2010.

  The Hurricanes won every 2014 regular-season game started by Diaz. His only loss came in the NCAA regionals.

 Diaz was not drafted out of high school.

Also, Archbishop McCarthy left-handed pitcher Brian Gonzalez, who signed with Miami, was the Baltimore Orioles' first overall pick today -- 90th overall, third round. 

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

 University of Miami left-handed pitcher Andy Suarez, who was drafted in the second round (57th overall) after 11 p.m. yesterday to the Washington Nationals, is naturally elated to be turning pro. Needless to say he didn't sleep much last night.

   He told me just now in a phone interview that he absolutely made the right decision to become a Hurricane when he was drafted in the ninth round out of Miami Columbus High.

   "Definitely worth coming to UM,'' Suarez, 21, told me. "It was always a dream of mine to play baseball at Miami. When I got drafted out of high school I still didn't know that much about baseball. But Coach [Jim] Morris and [pitching coach] J.D. [Arteaga] and all the older guys helped me mature and taught me so much. 

   "I just wanted to go to school, get an education and get ready. College helps you mature as a player and as a person.''

   Suarez, a 21-year-old who just completed his redshirt sophomore season, finished his season 6-3 with a 2.95 ERA. He pitched nine innings four times this past season, including a complete-game shutout against Bethune-Cookman in his final start May 30 during the Coral Gables Regional.

   "It was very disappointing to finish the way we did,'' Suarez said. "It wasn't how we wanted to end up. I'm sure next year the're going to bounce back and go further.''

   Suarez said he first learned he might be drafted soon when he got a text from a scout -- not from the Nationals -- "saying, 'Congratulations!' And I was like, 'What?'

   "I was at a friend's house and was checking on my phone. When the Nationals' scout called me and told me, I got over 100 text messages and phone calls congratulating me in the next 15 minutes. My phone just blew up.

   "I am honored to be taken so high in the draft.''

    He said he doesn't know anyone on the Nationals, but he was happy it is an "MLB East team so I get to be home a lot if i get a chance to make it.''

   I asked Suarez what's it like to almost be a millionaire (the slotted signing bonus for a player taken at his spot is nearly a million dollars). His dad is a local truck driver and his Cuban-born mom is a pharmacy technician. They are a hard-working family, but not a rich one.

    "It feels great,'' he said about the projected money. "I'm not going to try to spend it on anything except helping my family out. I'm sure I'll get them presents.''

    He has one older brother and a younger brother and sister that range from 15 to 23.

   Suarez said he needs one more year at UM to get his bachelor's degree in criminology and psychology.

   "If it doesn't work out with the Nationals,'' he said, "I'd come back to school.''

    Day 2 of the MLB Draft has just started. More UM players will go today, for sure.

   Some of them that might be taken in the remaining rounds of the draft, that continues through Saturday: pitchers Chris Diaz, Bryan Radziewski and Javi Salas; and outfielders Dale Carey and Tyler Palmer.

   "I'm supposed to go today as far as I know,'' said Radziewski, "but anything could happen. I'm just happy for Andy. There's no one who deserves it more. He turned down a lot of money to come to school, came closer to his degree and learned a lot. I know he wouldn't trade any of it for the world.'' 

   Every one of those young men are class acts.

    Good luck to them all.

    SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

June 02, 2014

IT'S OVER: Texas Tech Tops Canes 4-0, Wins Regional


TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards


After the Miami baseball team kept its season going with a win in an elimination game Monday afternoon, Hurricanes coach Jim Morris told his team they were going to "win the second game.''


They didn't, however, and now Miami's season is complete.


The Hurricanes put one runner in scoring position and failed to score in Monday's 4-0 loss to Texas Tech in the championship of the Coral Gables Regional at Mark Light Field.


Miami topped the Red Raiders 2-1 in 10 innings earlier in the day but couldn't get the second win.


"We were the home team, I thought we were going to win,'' Morris said.


Texas Tech (43-18) moves to an NCAA Super Regional for the first time in its program's history and are two wins away from the College World Series in Omaha.


The Hurricanes end 44-19 as they failed to get out of the regional round for a fourth straight year. Miami hasn't been to the CWS since 2008.


"It's very disappointing,'' said leadoff hitter Dale Carey, who walked three times in the championship game. "We fought hard in the game and all season. I'm proud of us.''


The Hurricanes got plenty of pitching during this regional but not enough run support.


In Monday's championship game, the Hurricanes first hit didn't come until the fourth inning as they were almost completely shut down by starter Cameron Smith.


"I didn't even know I was going to pitch,'' said Smith, who pitched a three-hitter despite complaining about stiffness in his left arm. "But I told coach I wanted the ball. I had to go and prove myself from my last outing. I put my team first and played well behind me.''


Miami was shutout by the Red Raiders for the second time since losing 3-0 on Saturday.


The Hurricanes hadn't been shutout all season before Saturday; it happened to the Hurricanes twice in the regional as Miami's bats went cold as Miami went 4-3 since clinching the ACC regular season title two weeks ago.


"They did a great job against us,'' Morris said. "It's a hard thing to explain at any level, whether it's here or high school or the major leagues and everywhere in between. It's hard to explain why the bats go cold. We've scored a lot of runs. But their two lefties ate our lunch.''


The Hurricanes scored 13 runs in its five games in the Coral Gables Regional -- although 10 of those came in Sunday's blow out of Bethune-Cookman.


In three games against the Red Raiders, Miami put two runs across with both coming in Monday's extra-innings win.


Monday, Miami's pitching was strong in both games.


Closer Bryan Garcia started the resumed game (Tech was leading 1-0 when the game was postponed because of weather on Sunday night) and pitched three no-hit innings.


In the second game, starter Derik Beauprez gave Miami four solid innings as he didn't give up his first hit until there was one out in the fourth.


Miami replaced Beauprez with submarine reliever Cooper Hammond.


The freshman from Venice got into a little trouble with one out as back-to-back singles put runners on the corners. Hammond then struck out pinch hitter Todd Ritchie (after he failed to bunt Devon Conley home from third and got Bryant Burleson to fly out to left.


Texas Tech did its damage in the seventh, with Ryan Long reaching after being clipped by a pitch and Tim Proudfoot singled.


Conley bunted to move the runners, but Miami catcher Garrett Kennedy overthrew Alex Hernandez covering first. The ball sailed into the right field bullpen and the Red Raiders got the only run they needed. Tech tacked on a second run on a sacrifice fly from pinch-hitter Alex Humphreys.


Miami, meanwhile, didn't do much to threaten. The Hurricanes rarely got the ball out of the infield and put just one runner (Johnny Ruiz in the seventh) in scoring position.


So, when Tech scored two on a single from Zach Davis in the top of the ninth, the game was all but over.


"They have a great pitching staff,'' outfielder Tyler Palmer said. "Every guy they threw at us kept us off balance, stayed ahead in the count, threw for strikes.''


In the elimination game, the Hurricanes quickly tied things up as they came into the eighth down 1-0.


The Hurricanes got back-to-back singles from Palmer and Zack Collins to start things off with Palmer coming home on David Thompson's grounder to third.


In the top of the 10th, Miami had runners on the corners with one out when Thompson lofted a fly ball that landed just down the right field line. Thompson's double brought Palmer in from third to make it 2-1. Miami had bases loaded with one out in the 10th but couldn't put any more across.


With Garcia dealing, it didn't matter as he put the Red Raiders down in order in all three innings pitched.


"We knew if we won the first game, we had a good chance,'' pitcher Javi Salas said. "We battled all season long, had a tough stretch at the beginning and really came along.''


CANES WIN: Hurricanes Top Texas Tech 2-1 in 10; Regional Title Game Starts at 4:10


TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards


The Miami Hurricanes baseball team stayed alive on Monday afternoon, beating Texas Tech 2-1 in 10 innings.


Miami's win forced a championship game of the NCAA's Coral Gables Regional. That game is scheduled to start at 4:10 p.m. on Monday.


Had Miami lost on Monday afternoon, its season would have been over.


Miami trailed the Red Raiders 1-0 when the game was halted because of weather on Sunday night. The game was resumed on Monday afternoon with one out in the top of the eighth inning.


It didn't take Miami long to tie things up.


The Hurricanes (44-18) got back-to-back singles from Tyler Palmer and Zack Collins to start things off with Palmer coming home from third on David Thompson's grounder to third. Texas Tech third baseman Ryan Long threw home, but Palmer slid without catcher Tyler Floyd applying the tag.


In the top of the 10th, Miami had runners on the corners with one out when Thompson lofted a soft fly that landed just down the right field line. Thompson's double brought Palmer in from third to make it 2-1. Miami had bases loaded with one out in the 10th but couldn't put any more across.


With closer Bryan Garcia dealing, it didn't matter. Garcia pitched all three innings in Monday's opener to get the win. Garcia put the Red Raiders down in order in all three innings pitched.


Follow me (@GeorgeRichards) for updates on the title game.


June 01, 2014

Hurricanes 5 minutes away from Coral Gables Regional baseball showdown with Texas Tech

Good evening from Alex Rodriguez Park, where the gray clouds are indeed ominous. 

The Canes, who finally broke out the bats against Bethune-Cookman this afternoon, are on the field being announced now for their do-or-die 7 p.m. showdown with the Texas Tech Raiders.

UM defeated Bethune-Cookman 10-0 this afternoon, eliminating the Wildcats and leaving just the Canes and Red Raiders in the regional.

If Texas Tech (42-18) beats UM tonight, the Red Raiders will claim their first NCAA regional championship and advance to a super regional next weekend.

If UM (43-18) defeats Texas Tech tonight, the teams will meet again in a winner-takes-all regional championship game at 7 p.m. Monday.

The Canes finally broke out their bats in the first game, garnering 10 hits, including ACC Freshman of the Year Zack Collins' two home runs that drove in five runs. Now Collins is tied with Mike Papi of Virginia with 11 home runs. 

And left-handed senior pitcher Bryan Radziewski was spectacular in allowing only three hits in nine innings for the shutout. Radziewski raised his record to 8-2 and lowered his ERA to 2.86.

UM still hasn't used many of its relievers, and the ones who have thrown have been used sparingly. Closer Bryan Garcia hasn't even pitched this tournament.

"Our bullpen is in great shape,'' Morris said after this afternoon's victory. "Woodrey threw an inning and a third last night and Cooper [Hammond] threw a little bit. [Javi] Salas is going to pitch tonight. ..We need a good outing out of him. I'm very confident he could pitch and do the things he needs to do. He's a senior and a guy that needs to get it down and step up.''

Pitching for Texas Tech: right-hander Ryan Moseley (1-2, 3.86 ERA)

If UM wins tonight, I, unfortunately, will have to miss the championship game Monday night. My son is graduating from high school at 7 p.m. I'll have my phone charged up and ready to go!

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

May 31, 2014

Breaking news: If you are a Miami Hurricanes baseball fan, a blog that will make you happy.

First, the No. 5 national seed Florida State Seminoles fell 6-5 to Alabama on Saturday in the NCAA baseball regional in Tallahassee.

Next, the No. 2 national seed Florida Gators fell 5-2 on Saturday to North Carolina.

What the Florida loss means for the Miami Hurricanes: If the Canes win their regional at Alex Rodriguez Park, they will be one of eight teams around the country to host the next round of the NCAA tournament -- the super regionals. If Florida and Miami both ended up winning their regionals, Miami would have had to go to Gainesville for the super regional.

However, the Canes, who beat Bethune-Cookman 1-0 Friday night, are losing 2-0 to Texas Tech heading to the bottom of the third.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

Batter up! Next games in Coral Gables Regional drawing near (& UM OF Willie Abreu likely to sit with hamstring injury)

    Day 2 of the NCAA Coral Gables Regional is upon us, with No. 4 seed Bethune-Cookman (26-32) ready to face No. 3 seed Columbia (29-19) at 2 p.m. Saturday. The team that loses is eliminated from the tournament.

    The top-seeded Hurricanes (42-17) defeated Bethune-Cookman 1-0 in a doozy of a pitchers' duel late Friday night.

    The Canes will take on Texas Tech (41-18) at 7 p.m. Saturday in the winners' bracket. Tech defeated Columbia 3-2 in the ninth innings on Friday afternoon.

      Bethune pitcher Montana Durapau was amazing, as usual, last night against MIami. Here were his late-night comments after the game:

Q: Montana, you were matching Suarez—only difference was that he was able to keep his pitch count low. What were the Canes doing to cause this to happen?

Durapau (held UM to no runs and 3 hits in seven innings, but threw 109 pitches): I don’t think it was anything they [the Canes] were doing per se, I just fell behind. I should’ve just attacked, attacked, attacked, but you just have to make the best of it and that’s what I tried to do.

Q: Montana, when you came out of the game, what were the thoughts going through your head after you just pitched 7 shutout innings? Do you feel like the momentum was on your team’s side that some thought you were going to win?

Durapau: Oh, for sure. I have all the faith in the world in my guys. As a starter, you just try and give your team the best opportunity to win and you do that as long as you can. I had faith in our bullpen—I wasn’t mad coming out of the game. We have a job to do—we have to fire guys up and just stay in the game.

Q: How would you say that you being able to win here earlier in the season helped your pitching today—if at all?

Durapau: You know, I faced Miami a couple of times: two starts against them, two wins. You get to see the hitters so many times, you get to see holes, you see things you can exploit—that only helps you as a starter.

Here's Bethune-Cookman coach Jason Beverlin's reaction to game:

Opening Statement

What a great couple of baseball games—both games—coming down to the last inning, both of them. Hats off to all the teams in this regional. I thought everyone played extremely well, and that’s the way baseball is supposed to be. It’s nip and tuck in this part of the year and coming down to the last inning and executing that last inning. What a great day of baseball.

Some Q and A with Beverlin:

Q: How disappointing was this knowing what a great pitching effort Durpeau had?

A: Yeah, he was unbelievable; he has been all year. I’ll put him up against anybody’s number one…he’s pitched that way no matter where we go—we could go play Washington, Miami—it doesn’t matter. All the teams in our league, he’s the same guy and he deals—that’s what he does. And that’s the bottom line. It doesn’t matter what conference, what team—he pitches the same way, and it’s good. But it is disappointing, there’s no question, but I’m not disappointed in the way we played at all. I thought we hit the ball pretty well. His pitch count was low, and he obviously did a good job of getting out of trouble and making pitches when he had to—no question. But with the approach we had, because he has good breaking stuff and he was able to bury his slider late in the count, we were trying to get to him early, and that’s where we got some of our hits but also got a lot of our outs and kept his pitch count down for him.

Q: What was the reaction of the players after the game coming so close to upsetting the #1 seed in the regional and having it end the way it did?

A: No question, they’re disappointed and rightly so. I’m disappointed, but I’m definitely not disappointed in the way they played. I told them to play that way tomorrow. That’s the way I want them to play, and I’m very proud of the way they went about their business and played the game. We just didn’t get a big hit when we needed it, but that’s baseball—it happens.

Q: It was a very clean game until the last inning—the right fielder with a blunder and that pitch at the end. When you talk about that, is that uncharacteristic for your team?

A: I thought we played great defense like you said until that last inning. We made a couple mistakes the last inning but like I said, I’m very proud of the way we played. It just so happens that was the same inning and the last inning, so it is what it is. But overall, I think we played excellent defense and did a good job.

 Q: What is it about your team that has you guys stepping up to the challenge?

A: What I try and pass on to our guys is regardless of who we play, you’re going to play to win the game. That’s why we play—that’s why there’s a scoreboard. There’s no moral victory- hey, we kept it close and lost- no, they’re disappointed we lost because they played to win the game today. I don’t care who we play, if it’s the number 1 team in the country or the #1 team in the regional, we are playing to win—not just to make a good showing. I think they really take that to heart, and that’s why you see what you see. They do a good job of not being intimidated and playing the games to try and win regardless of what the name on the other jersey says

 Miami Players: Winning pitcher Andrew Suarez (complete game shutout victory), David Thompson (he scored the winning run on a wild pitch with two outs in the ninth)

Suarez on his night:

I felt like all of my pitches were working and my command got better as the game went on. I was leaving some down the plate and they were getting some hits and then after that I just worked on keeping the ball low.

Suarez on the complete game:

It feels good, finally getting the win once I go nine innings.

David Thompson on the last play:

I thought it was a strike the catcher just missed it and ran home, plain and simple.

Thompson on what was said in the middle of the 8th:

Our captain, Tyler Palmer, brought us together and he was just telling us ‘this is our season, our season is on the line’. We struggled all game, we struggled through the ninth inning but we found a way to win. And that’s what he was telling us, we just have to find a way to win no matter what.

Thompson on the win:

It was awesome. It’s just a blessing to be back out on the field. You know I didn’t play that well today but I found a way to get on base and we just, Andy pitched a heck of a game and we just found a way to win. It was an amazing feeling.

Thompson on Bethune-Cookman’s Durapau

I wouldn’t say we were trying too hard. He was a really good pitcher and he just  pitched well against us the last time we played them and he pitched well against us today and he kept us off balance all game.

UM coach Jim Morris (Note that he says freshman right fielder Willie Abreu will likely sit out Saturday night's game with a hamstring pull.)

Opening Statement

First of all I’d like to congratulate in particular Durapau for the pitching performance. It was an amazing game pitched by both guys. Both guys pitched just as good as Suarez pitched and I don’t know about Durapau but he can’t be any better. He’s pitched good against us his whole career, thank goodness he’s a senior. We knew it was going to be a tough outing because he has beaten us twice before so he’s outstanding and they have a really good club and they’re well coached and its just a great win for us, huge win. You just have to find a way to win and that was a crazy way to win it but that’s a huge win.

Morris on the offense, Suarez:

We hit and ran once and hit it up the middle and it was a force out and got caught trying to steal a base one time to try to get someone in scoring position. He had to try to make something happen because as a normal rule he’s a guy who’s not going to beat himself and he’s just an outstanding competitor. Suarez of course had a great game and I know some people were asking me about pitching him, he’s probably our top draft pick come the 5th of June and that’s because of the way he pitched tonight. He’s pitched some gems, our first complete game of the year. We always go to our bullpen and try to save our guys until NCAA tournament time to even consider going with them a complete game and he would have gone another inning because he threw 94 pitches and he wanted to stay in the game and we would have let him throw one more inning so it was a great outing. We played some good defense and of course Lopez go the big hit right center to get David Thompson to third, don’t want to forget that and all the things that happened tonight.

Morris on B-C reliever Scott Garner

His ERA is five something and he comes in and strikes out the side and I’m thinking why in the world his ERA is five something to be honest with you. So it was a crazy thing and I know I was checking, we were checking pitch counts all night hoping that Durapau’s pitch count got over 100 and got out cause I’ve seen him pitch. Suarez did a great job of keeping his pitch count down all night.

Morris on  play of Abreu:

Well he’s just struggling. He’s got a hamstring pull and its bothering him to play a little right now and I think he probably needs to rest and get well because he’s been a great player all his life. He’s a USA Baseball guy that’s played in every level, at the top of the level. He was drafted and turned down a lot of money to come to school. He’s just struggling a little bit which is reflected by the fact that he’s still bothered by that pulled hamstring. I’ll probably give him the day off tomorrow too.

Morris on deciding to start Suarez Friday:

It’s the same way we do it every year. I’ve been here for 21 years and we’ve never thrown my ace one time, opening day. Our pitchers Suarez is very good, B-Rad is very good and Chris Diaz is an All-American so all three of them are very good. It can be anybody on a given day and I was more worried about getting a run than our pitching. We’ve don’t that every time since I’ve been here for 21years. Being the one seed if were 1 seed then we haven’t started our number one starter. 

 Thanks to UM and Taylor McGillis for the transcription.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

  

May 29, 2014

UM baseball coach Jim Morris wanted very badly for the Heat to win Wednesday. Can't blame him...

   University of Miami baseball coach Jim Morris, a fan of many sports, was watching the Heat game with extra interest Wednesday night.

  Morris wanted the Heat to win as much as any Miami fan – probably more.

   Because Miami lost to Indiana, the Heat are back home to play the Pacers at the AmericanAirlinesArena at 8:30 p.m. Friday for what could be the deciding game in the NBA’s Eastern Conference finals.

   Morris’ top-seeded Hurricanes (41-17) open their NCAA Coral Gables Regional play at 7 p.m. Friday against No. 4 seed Bethune-CookmanUniversity (26-31).

   Morris told me he has already talked to folks who have season tickets for the Heat and Hurricanes. He said they told him they'll be at the Heat game Friday night and back at Alex Rodriguez Park on Saturday for the double-elimination regional. 

     “I hope we have a great crowd,’’ Morris said during a news conference Thursday afternoon. "Last night I was pulling really, really hard for the Heat. And now they’re matching up against us… And that does make a difference in this city. It’s a big city but it makes a difference. These people have finally figured out what basketball is all about.

   “When I came to Miami I had a TV show. The basketball coach did not have one, just to give you a comparison. They’ve really caught on fire the last couple years and it does make a difference. Hopefully we’ll have a great crowd for everybody. It would be a fun atmosphere to be in.’’

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

   Miami left-handed junior Chris Diaz was named a Louisville Slugger first-team All-American Thursday. Diaz is 9-0 with a 2.31 ERA. The Canes won every 2014 regular-season game started by Diaz.

    Diaz, who has a career record of 18-6 with a 2.25 ERA, is the 10th Hurricane in UM history to be named to the Louisville Slugger first team.

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

   Get well soon to Columbia ace pitcher David Speer (7-2, 1.86), who had emergency appendectomy surgery on Monday and is unable to play in the regional with his Lions. Speer is a senior, and that has to be a heartbreaker for the left-hander and his team. He’s also the Ivy League Pitcher of the Year, having led the nation with four shutouts.

   The No. 3 seed Lions ( 29-18) will go with right-handed sophomore George Thanopoulos (5-2, 2.81) to face No. 2 seed Texas Tech (40-18) at 2 p.m. Friday at Alex RodriguezPark.

     SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

     

  

   

May 27, 2014

News: UM Canes will start LHP Andy Suarez to go opposite Bethune ace Montana Durapau on Friday

University of Miami baseball coach Jim Morris will start left-handed redshirt sophomore Andy Suarez (5-3, 3.22 ERA) in the Hurricanes' Coral Gables Regional opener at 7 p.m. Friday.

 Suarez will pitch opposite Bethune-Cookman ace Montana Durapau (11-1, 1.71).

Morris said he wouldn't announce any future pitchers until he sees who he's playing and who would best match up.

Durapau, a right-handed senior from Deltona, Fla., has faced Miami three times in his career. He beat the Hurricanes 7-3 this past March 11th, allowing three runs -- two earned -- on nine hits and two walks in eight innings. He struck out seven.

Durapau also beat the Canes 5-3 on April 3, 2013 in Coral Gables. He allowed two earned runs and struck out seven in seven innings. 

In 2012 as a sophomore, Durapau pitched three innings of relief in a game that UM won 5-4. However, Durapau did not allow a hit and struck out four batters in his stint.

As for Suarez, his last start was Wednesday in the ACC Tournament opener against Georgia Tech. UM lost that game 6-3, but Suarez got a no-decision (Cooper Hammond got the loss) in that game, Suarez allowed three earned runs on nine hits and a wild pitch in 6.1 innings. He allowed no walks and struck out five. He also made an error.

Suarez usually is the second-day weekend starter for UM, with Chris Diaz usually the Friday-night pitcher. But Diaz pitched last Thursday in UM's second game of the ACC tourney, and "he had some problems with his index finger,'' Morris said Monday.  Morris said Diaz had problems throwing his knuckle curve "because of not being able to put pressure on it,'' and therefore not being able to locate his pitches.

Morris said "he's fine now.''

Said Morris on Tuesday: "I'm very confident in all our pitchers and we feel this is the best rotation for us.'' 

Of course, we actually don't know the tournament rotation for the Hurricanes yet, but we will soon enough.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

Just in from Miami Hurricanes' women's basketball program: Zach Kancher named assistant coach

FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI SPORTS INFORMATION STAFF...

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Head women’s basketball coach Katie Meier has announced the hiring of Zach Kancher as the newest assistant coach for the University of Miami women’s basketball team.

Highly regarded within college basketball circles, Kancher comes to Coral Gables with over a decade of experience ranging from the high school level to the highest level of Division I women’s basketball.

“Zach is an absolutely tremendous hire for us,” Meier said. “I felt very challenged trying to find a coach to replace Carolyn Kieger. It was a very big hire for our program. The challenge was to find high basketball IQ with a tenacious personality and a great court demeanor—and I think we found all of that in Zach. I also think he’s going to help us recruit the northeast, which he’s done for many years. His track record as a head coach and his proven success going to the Final Four with Maryland, he really adds a lot to our program and it’s something that we are very excited about. I have so much respect for Coach Frese and the Maryland staff and that’s a big reason why Zach was at the top of our list.”

Kancher has spent the previous three seasons (2011-14) as the Director of Scouting and Player Development for the University of Maryland, where he helped the Terrapins reach the NCAA Sweet 16 or beyond each year.

“I’m extremely grateful to Coach Meier for granting me this opportunity to become a Hurricane,” Kancher said.  “She runs a first-rate program that has won an ACC Championship in the last five years.  The ACC is a fantastic league for women’s basketball and Miami has proven to be a perennial championship contender. I can’t express how fortunate I’ve been to have learned from Coach Frese at Maryland and the experience I’ve had in the past three years—reaching a Final Four and winning an ACC Championship. I will hopefully be able to replicate that success at Miami, and I couldn’t be any more excited.”

In his role under head coach Brenda Frese, Kancher was responsible for scouting report generation of opponents including full breakdowns and analysis, analytics, and personnel tendencies.

“Miami made a terrific hire in Zach,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “He will have an instant impact on their program like he did ours. He’s a dynamic guy who is really passionate about the game and life in general. We are really proud of what he did here at Maryland and look forward to seeing him grow in his role at Miami.”

Prior to his time in College Mark, Md., Kancher coached two seasons as the top assistant at Division II Goldey-Beacom College, and in his final year also took on the role of recruiting coordinator while guiding the Lightning to a CACC Championship and NCAA tournament appearance.

His first stop in the collegiate ranks came at the Division III College of Mount Saint Vincent, where he was the head coach and assistant athletic director for operations and facilities.  In his lone season at Mount Saint Vincent, Kancher led his team to the ECAC-Metro Quaterfinals, to the Skyline Conference Semifinals, and to the Hudson Valley Athletic Conference Championship.

In his first coaching stop, Kancher spent four seasons at The Shipley School, spending two as the assistant boys coach and two as the head varsity coach. In 2006-07, The Shipley School went 22-6 under Kancher with appearances in the Pennsylvania Independent School Finals and the Friends School League Finals.

Kancher spent his undergraduate years as a practice player for the women’s basketball team at The George Washington University from 1999-2003, while earning his bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in creative writing.

Currently, Kancher is working towards his master’s degree in sport administration from Canisius College. 

For more information on the women's basketball team, follow @MiamiWBB on Twitter. 

 

May 26, 2014

Miami to face Bethune-Cookman at 7 p.m. Friday in Coral Gables. Also coming: Columbia, Texas Tech.

As expected, the Miami Hurricanes were not named one of eight national seeds Monday for the NCAA Division I baseball tournament coming this weekend to 16, four-team regional sites around the nation.

However, the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee graced the Hurricanes with one of the least intense regionals.

Coming to Coral Gables this weekend: No. 4 regional seed Bethune-Cookman (26-31, 208 RPI) of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference; No. 3 seed Columbia (29-18 and No. 35 RPI) of the Ivy League; and No. 2 seed Texas Tech (40-18, No. 17 RPI) of the  Big 12.  

 The No. 1 regional seed Hurricanes (41-17 and No. 15 RPI) will face Bethune-Cookman at 7 p.m. Friday (according to ESPNU) at Alex Rodriguez Park, with Columbia vs. Texas Tech opening the Coral Gables regional at 2. 

  Miami is 1-1 this season vs. Bethune-Cookman. On March 11 UM lost 7-3 to Bethune. A week after throwing the second perfect game in program history, Javi Salas was thrashed for six runs in the game's first inning. Bethune's Montana Durapau allowed three runs -- two earned -- on nine hits in eight innings. He walked two and struck out seven.

  Durapau (11-1, 1.71 ERA) is expected to start against UM Friday. UM coach Jim Morris said he is still deciding who to pitch Friday.

 UM defeated Bethune 10-1 on April 2. Salas earned the victory in relief.

 Bethune-Cookman got into the NCAA tournament by winning the MEAC Tournament last weekend.

 The Hurricanes have not missed the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship since 1972 – a stretch of 42 consecutive seasons - and own an all-time record of 117-43 (.731). Miami’s all-time mark in the postseason is 178-91 (.661).

 “It’s a credit to our administration to give us an opportunity to compete at that level, to our players and our coaches to be able to keep that string going,” head coach Jim Morris said of the program’s postseason streak. “It’s an amazing thing."

Second-seeded Texas Tech finished the regular season with a 14-10 record in the Big 12 and have played UM only once, losing 13-0 to the Canes on May 23, 1998 in the Coral Gables Regional.

Third-seeded Columbia made its first trip to Coral Gables in 2013, when Miami won back-to-back games. The Ivy League champions finished 2014 with a 15-5 league record.

 The Coral Gables regional is opposite the Gainesville regional, with No. 1 regional seed and No. 2 national seed Florida hosting tough competitors in perennial powers Long Beach State (the No. 2 regional seed at 32-24), North Carolina (the No. 3 regional seed at 34-25) and the College of Charleston (the No. 4 regional seed at 41-17).

 If any team other than Florida in the Gainesville regional wins the Gainesville regional, and UM wins its regional, UM would host the next round's super regional.

However, if Florida wins its regional, and UM wins the Coral Gables regional, UM would travel to Gainesville for the two-team super regional.

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

May 25, 2014

Miami Hurricanes baseball named NCAA regional host for 25th time -- extends postseason consecutive berths to nation-leading 42 years

   The NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament is returning to Coral Gables.

   The University of Miami baseball program learned Sunday night that it will host an NCAA regional at Alex Rodriguez Park for the first time since the 2012 season and 25th time in school history.

   Though the NCAA will announce at noon Monday (ESPNU) UM’s three regional opponents and the full field of 64 teams for the tournament, Sunday’s announcement means that UM has extended its nation-leading streak to 42 consecutive NCAA postseason berths in baseball.

   The regionals will be played next weekend, beginning May 30.

    Included among the host sites are Florida (40-21) in Gainesville and Florida State (43-15) in Tallahassee.

   The Hurricanes (41-17) hosted Stony Brook, UCF and Missouri State in 2012, but fell in the regional and never made it to the super regional round.

   Last season UM traveled to Louisville and also was eliminated in the regional.

   The Canes likely eliminated their chance of being named one of eight national tournament seeds by losing two of three games this past week at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

    Each of the eight national seeds has the advantage of hosting a two-team super regional should it win its regional. Should UM win its regional but not be named a national seed, the only way the Canes would stay at home for a super regional would be if the national seed in the corresponding bracket is eliminated in its regional.

   The last time the Canes traveled to a super regional was in 2010 at Gainesville, where Miami lost to the Gators.

The 16 Regional Round sites and hosts: Miami (41-17, 24-6 ACC), Coral Gables, Fla.; Virginia (44-13, 22-8 ACC), Charlottesville, Va.; Florida State (43-15, 21-9 ACC), Tallahassee, Fla.;  Florida (40-21, 21-9 ACC), Gainesville, Fla.; Indiana (42-13, 21-3 Big Ten), Bloomington, Ind.; Louisiana-Lafayette (53-7, 26-4 Sun Belt), Lafayette, La.; Oregon State (42-11, 23-6 Pac-12), Corvallis, Ore.; Vanderbilt (41-18, 17-13 SEC), Nashville, Tenn.; Ole Miss (41-18, 19-11 SEC), Oxford, Miss.; TCU (41-15, 17-7 Big 12), Fort Worth, Texas; Louisiana State (44-14-1, 17-11-1 SEC), Baton Rouge, La.; Oklahoma State (45-15, 18-6 Big 12), Stillwater, Okla.; Cal Poly (45-10, 19-5 Big West), San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Rice (40-18, 23-7 C-USA), Houston, Texas; South Carolina (42-16, 18-3 SEC), Columbia, S.C. and Louisville (45-15, 19-5 The American)., Louisville, K.Y.

     SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

   

May 22, 2014

Hurricanes football roster (updated Thursday) has 11 new scholarship players, including QBs Kaaya and Rosier, 2 new walk-ons -- & 2 deleted from roster

The Miami Hurricanes football team had its roster updated Thursday, with 11 new scholarship players, two walk-ons -- and two deletions.

The deletions: scholarship cornerback Larry Hope, who would have been a redshirt freshman in 2014; and walk-on quarterback Garrison Lassiter, the former minor-league baseball player with the New York Yankees organization who gave up baseball to come to college and give football a try. 

A UM spokesman said he had no additional information on Hope and Lassiter. Hope played in two games last season and had three tackles. Lassiter never played.

Here are the new 11 (and their jersey numbers), taking summer classes and getting ready for fall ball:

No. 7: S Marques Gayot of Lake Worth Park Vista Community High.

No. 9: DE Chad Thomas of Miami Booker T. Washington.

No. 12: QB Malik Rosier of Mobile, Ala., Faith Academy.

No. 15: QB Brad Kaaya of West Hills, Calif., Chaminade-Madonna.

No. 22: DB Kiy Hester of Wayne, N.J., DePaul Catholic.

No. 57: DE Mike Smith of Miami Northwestern.

No. 68: OL Nick Linder of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas.

No. 82: WR Tyre Brady of Homestead South Dade.

No. 92: DL Courtel Jenkins of Wayne, N.J., DePaul Catholic. 

No. 95: DL Anthony Moten of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas.

No. 44: DE Demetrius Jackson of Miami Booker T. Washington.

Here are the walk-ons:

No. 16: P Justin Vogel by way of UF and before that, Tampa Berkeley Prep.

No. 24: K Michael Badgley of Summit, N.J. High.

No. 43: FB Tyler Odems of Manassas, Va., by way of Dean JC (I'm told he didn't play) & Osbourn Park High. 

Practice expected to begin Aug. 5th.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

 

After bad start, Hurricanes set to meet Clemson at 7 p.m. in next round of ACC baseball tournament

After a bad start, the No. 1 seed Hurricanes will meet No. 5 Clemson at 7 p.m. Thursday in the 2014 ACC baseball tournament. The game will be broadcast on the ACC's Regional Sports Networks with an ESPN3 simulcast. 

The Hurricanes, winners of 27 of their past 30 games until Wednesday, became just the second top seed in the past 29 Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournaments to lose their opening tournament game.

 Georgia Tech made a late comeback to defeat the Canes 6-3.

 The Hurricanes (40-16) took early leads of 1-0 and 3-1. Georgia Tech (34-24) scored two runs in the seventh, two in the eighth and one more in the ninth.

Andy Suarez allowed nine hits and three earned runs in 6.1 innings, and also had an error that got things started for the Yellow Jackets.

Reliever Chris Hammond took the loss in 1.2 innings, giving up two earned runs on three hits. He's now 5-1.

"We've been hot lately," said UM outfielder Dale Carey, who went 3 for 4 with a home run and two stolen bases. "Just because we dropped one today doesn’t mean we can’t start another streak. That’s what we're planning on doing."

  The good news for Canes fans is that UM swept Clemson April 25-27 in South Carolina. Those scores, in order, were 5-2, 3-2 and 10-2. UM's usual rotation during those weekend starts: Chris Diaz, Andy Suarez and Bryan Radziewski. ACC Co-Pitcher of the year Diaz (9-0, 2.32 ERA) is slated to start today.

  This is a round-robin format, with the winner of Pool A (UM, No. 4 Duke, No. 5 Clemson and Georgia Tech remains) playing the winner of Pool B (No. 2 seed FSU, No. 3 Virginia, No. 6 Maryland and No. 7 North Carolina) at 1 p.m. Sunday for the championship.

In other games, FSU beat UNC 7-1; and Clemson beat Duke 5-3.

 On Thursday, Maryland was scheduled to play Virginia at 11 and Duke was set to play Georgia Tech at 3 p.m., before Miami's matchup.

  Miami has off Friday, before resuming Saturday at 11 a.m. against Duke.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

May 20, 2014

Hurricanes ready to take on winner of (today's) Georgia Tech vs. Wake Forest at 3 p.m. Wednesday

After an amazing regular season, the Hurricanes will enter the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament at 3 p.m. Wednesday needing to stretch their success to ensure being awarded a national seed for the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament that begins May 30.

After winning two of three from North Carolina, the Canes, who have won 27 of their past 30 games, actually dropped in the NCAA RPI from No. 10 last week to No. 12. Go figure. As much as the people who decipher those factors take into account how UM's opponents do, which, like in football, affects how they are viewed, keep in mind that Miami has a nation-leading 15-game road winning streak going. That is mighty impressive. So are four road sweeps -- just one fewer than the rest of the conference had combined going into this past weekend.

But regardless of being No. 10 or 12 in RPI, Miami (40-15, 24-6 ACC) needs to have a good showing at the ACC Tournament that begins today for the Georgia Tech (32-24, 14-16) vs Wake Forest (30-25, 15-15) and North Carolina (32-23m 15-15) vs NC State (32-22, 13-17) matchups that will determine the final two tournament teams.

UM will meet the winner of the Georgia Tech-Wake (3 p.m. Tuesday) game at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

The Canes lost two of three at Georgia Tech this season -- the last game a 3-2 score decided in 10 innings.  Miami has not played Wake Forest this season.

"This tournament is huge,'' ACC Co-Pitcher of the Year Chris Diaz told me in a phone interview Monday. "It's the time of year when the best teams make it to Omaha. We're not just trying to win a couple of games here. We're trying to get a ring here, too.''

The Canes have not lost a game that Diaz has started since May of 2013 at this tournament. Diaz, a left-handed junior, is 9-0 with a 2.32 ERA.

Zack Collins earned ACC Freshman of the Year on Monday. Not bad for a guy who started the season 0 for 17 and 1 for 27 -- and ended up with a .285 average, with 46 RBI, eight home runs and a .520 slugging percentage.

"It's an awesome feeling,'' said Collins, from Pembroke Pines. "Obviously when you have that start... there are things going through your mind -- is it the college pitching or is it you? I just kept doing my best and knew it would come one day.

"It's almost like a fairytale ending to the regular season to get these awards when you start like I did. Now it's time to win the ACC tournament, get a national seed and go to Omaha and win a national championship.''

 The ACC tourney, at NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, N.C., uses a round-robin format, with the winner of Pool A (the No. 1 seed Canes, No. 4 Duke, No. 5 Clemson and winner of Georgia Tech-Wake) facing the winner of Pool B (No. 2 seed FSU, No. 3 UVA, No. 6 Maryand and the winner of Tuesday's UNC-NC State game) for the ACC championship at 1 p.m. Sunday.

  On Monday, Memorial Day, the NCAA will name the 64-team field for the Division I Baseball Tournament -- including the top eight seeds (national seeds). The day before, the 16 sites that will host the first-round regionals will be announced. UM will almost surely be awarded a regional in Coral Gables.

   National seeds are guaranteed to host the second round of the tournament -- the super regionals -- if the win the first round.

   In addition to Collins' and Diaz's honors Monday, FSU's DJ Stewart (.362, 47 RBI, .588) won ACC Player of the Year.

   Brian O'Connor of Virginia (43-11, 22-8) won ACC Coach of the Year -- over Jim Morrris, who brought the Hurricanes from 13-12 early this season to 40-15 and a regular-season ACC title. What Morris and Gino DiMare and J.D. Arteaga and weight-training-and-conditioning coach Brian Gabriel and assistant Rich Witten did to keep this team focused and finishing the way they have, to me is deserving of Coach of the Year for Morris

   ACC coaches vote for the honorees but are not allowed to vote for their own players (not sure about themselves).

   Diaz was the only UM player to make the All-ACC first team, with outfielder Dale Carey (.295), starting pitcher Bryan Radziewski (7-2, 3.14) and closer Bryan Garcia earning second-team honors.

  Collins, outfielder Willie Abreu (.299) and pitcher Andrew Suarez (5-3, 3.15) made third-team All-ACC.

   An oversight, in my opinion, was leaving left fielder Tyler Palmer off one of the All-ACC teams. Palmer finished with a .304 average with 31 RBI (only behind Collins team-wise), a .441 slugging percentage (only behind Collins) and a team-leading 18 stolen bases (sixth best in ACC).

    SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

May 16, 2014

David Thompson makes impressive return to Miami Hurricanes baseball lineup after major surgery

Young athletes -- at least this young athlete -- have incredible healing power.

Less than two months after Miami Hurricanes infielder David Thompson had surgery to remove a rib and repair a situation that caused a blood clot in his right arm, the former Miami Westminster Christian star is back in the UM lineup.

Thompson, who had surgery March 24 to address his physical ailments caused by venous thoracic outlet syndrome, was in the lineup to start at first base and hit eighth Thursday night at home against North Carolina -- until the game was postponed because of torrential rain.

That game was rescheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, followed by the regularly scheduled 7:30 p.m. game at Alex Rodriguez Park.

Thompson's .328 batting average still leads the team. He started all 19 games in which he played this season, playing much of the time at third base -- though that position has been solidified by freshman Johnny Ruiz, another medical marvel who returned to the lineup last week after partially tearing the right labrum of his shoulder.

The No. 7 Canes, 38-14, lead the ACC with a 22-5 league record.

UNC is 31-21 and 14-13.

We talked to David, a sophomore, this past Tuesday, when he just needed the OK by team doctor Lee Kaplan to be cleared to play. As always, he was upbeat about his chances.

"I feel like I'm ready to go,'' Thompson said. "I'm hoping I can play this weekend. Whatever my role is, even if it's a pinch hit, I hope I get the opportunity.''

 He said it's been "real tough'' not being on the field with his teammates as they went from 13-12 the day of his surgery to winning 25 out of the next 27 games. "But at the same time it's fun to see some of the young guys step up and start making a big impact. I hope I can come back and help us win some games.''

Thompson conceded he's "definitely not as strong,'' which is to be expected.

"My arm is not as strong as it was before, but that will come back with time,'' he said. "But my body feels good and I'm ready to get out there. I still get sore a little bit, especially in my neck where they went in for the surgery, but that is expected to happen after the surgery I had.''

According to the Mayo Clinic, venous thoracic outlet syndrome is defined as "a group of disorders that occur when the blood vessels or nerves in the space between your collarbone and first rib (thoracic outlet) becomes compressed. This can cause pain in your shoulders and neck and numbness in your fingers.''

Here's hoping David makes a smooth transition back. He deserves it.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

May 12, 2014

Senior Dale Carey named ACC Player of the Week as Canes continue to surge nationally in baseball

Once again, the Hurricanes are making news on the national baseball front as senior center fielder Dale Carey was named ACC Player of the Week on Monday, the same day that UM saw its highest rankings in all the polls.

 UM is ranked fourth by Collegiate Baseball, seventh by Baseball America and 12th in the USA Today coaches' poll.

The Canes are now 38-14 overall and 22-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, having won 25 of its past 27 games and a nation-leading 15 consecutive away games.

UM is coming off its fourth consecutive ACC road sweep, with Carey making a big contribution to the effort.

Carey, from Marietta, Ga., led the team with a .429 batting average (6 for 14) in three games against the Blue Devils. He hit his first career grand slam in Saturday's 9-1 win and led UM with six RBI for the weekend. He also finished 3-for-3 in stolen bases.

In the series finale Sunday, Carey hit a game-tying RBI single and started another game-tying rally later with a double.

The senior is the only Hurricanes who has started all 52 games this season, going 2-for-3 with two walks and an RBI single in a 7-2 win over Florida Gulf Coast.

The Canes have the best record in the ACC, and end the regular season against ACC foe North Carolina (30-21, 14-13) with a three-game set Thursday through Saturday at Mark Light Field. 

After that it's the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C., and then the NCAA tourney that should begin with UM hosting a regional.

For those who haven't come to a game, I'd highly suggest it. It's a really nice, low-key, kid-friendly atmosphere and the fans are among the best I've seen in college sports.

See you Thursday.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

 

May 10, 2014

7th-round UM Cane Seantrel Henderson "quintessential underachiever,'' says Polian; QB Stephen Morris & WR Allen Hurns go undrafted.

The Canes end up with three players drafted this year: Offensive guard Brandon Linder in the third round to Jacksonville Jaguars, punter Pat O'Donnell in the sixth round to the Chicago Bears and offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson in the seventh and final round to the Buffalo Bills.

Naturally, the networks talked at length about Henderson, who was suspended multiple times at UM for what he eventually admitted was because of marijuana smoking. Then it was revealed by ESPN's Adam Schefter last week that Henderson tested positive for marijuana while at the NFL Combine.

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper, Jr on Henderson: "This kid was the no. 1 guy. He was who everybody wanted coming out of high school. He was supposed to be the next Jonathan Ogden – that type of player coming out of the prep ranks. If he can stay focused, if he can just be all football and no other problems, then he can be a factor in the NFL. But he got pushed way down, beyond where any player with his physical prowess should be."

ESPN's Todd McShay on Henderson: "For 6-7, 331 pounds he runs pretty well. He’s got power. And when he’s on his game, he’s dominant. He could have been a first-round pick if he had done all the right things right. Even if he had done things right the last six months he may have been a third, fourth-round pick. He falls in the seventh round for one simple reason: you can’t trust him. Maybe this is the wakeup call he needs."

ESPN analyst Bill Polian on Henderson: "...He is the quintessential underachiever. You’ve got to make a decision as an organization, do you want an underachiever in your building or don’t you? They took a chance and we’ll find out. He’s got one chance and one chance only."

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock: "Here's a situation where a kid has more God-given natural ability than you can even believe and he took all that ability and because of all the issues off the field turned himself from a first-round pick to a seventh-round pick. I wish the kid well. I hope Buffalo is able to help him grow up. I'd like to see nothing more than this kid grow into and mature into this massive talent that he has, and become a really good guy.'' 

 As for undrafted free agent quarterback Stephen Morris and wide receiver Allen Hurns, they will join Linder and former UM offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch with the Jacksonville Jaguars. UM reported they signed contracts with the Jaguars.

 I talked to Stephen Morris' dad, Colin Morris. As expected, he was disappointed. "It's been a very tough day,'' Colin Morris said. "But thankfully, he's getting ready to head off to another city and start working with another team. I know that Stephen is very excited about going to Jacksonville.''

 Also signing free-agent contracts, according to UM, were linebacker Jimmy Gaines (Buffalo), defensive tackle Justin Renfrow (Arizona Cardinals), fullback Maurice Hagens (Atlanta Falcons), tight end Asante Cleveland (San Francisco 49ers), guard/center Jared Wheeler (Carolina Panthers), safety Kacy Rodgers II (Kansas City Chiefs), defensive end Shayon Green (Miami Dolphins), safety A.J. Highsmith (San Francisco), defensive tackle Curtis Porter (Oakland Raiders).    

 

    

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

How's this for a twist? First Canes player taken on Saturday in NFL Draft: punter Pat O'Donnell.

Miami Hurricane Pat O'Donnell of Lake Worth, yes, PUNTER Pat O'Donnell, just got selected by the Chicago Bears 191st overall -- the 15th pick in the sixth round -- in the NFL Draft.

I've said it numerous times (and so has UM coach Al Golden): O'Donnell is a beast.

O'Donnell played his first three seasons for Cincinnati before transferring to the Canes and being allowed to play immediately because of the exemption graduated senior transfers get from the NCAA. He was a graduate student.

He's the first UM player taken in Saturday's final day of the draft and the first kicker of any type taken in this draft -- and he's an amazing athlete.

O'Donnell, 6-4 and 220 pounds, earned All-America honors from USA Today and set Miami's single-season record by averaging 47.1 yards per punt that ranked second in the nation en route to being named a 2013 All-ACC selection.

At the NFL Combine, O'Donnell's time of 4.62 seconds in the 40-yard dash tied former USC kicker David Buehler from 2009 as the fastest 40 for a kicker or punter since 2006. O'Donnell also did 23 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press -- more than six tight ends, 19 running backs, 21 defensive linemen and all 37 wide receivers.

In the final regular-season game of 2013, O'Donnell earned ACC Player of the Week honors. 

Against Pitt, O'Donnell kicked four punts for a 44.2-yard average, including three kicks inside Pitt's 20-yard line. However, his biggest play occurred on the opening kickoff, when he forced a Pitt fumble which was recovered by UM's Garrett Kidd. That forced fumble resulted in a touchdown by Stacy Coley.

It's almost impossible to believe he wasn't even named among the SEMIFINALSTS for the Ray Guy Award. 

Not that any of it matters now. Be assured that O'Donnell will be an NFL success.

Meanwhile, quarterback Stephen Morris, receiver Allen Hurns and tackle Seantrel Henderson still wait.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

My interview with Brandon Linder (he's giddy with joy) after being drafted by Jacksonville Jaguars.

 

  (AFTER MIDNIGHT) -- Former Miami Hurricane and new Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Brandon Linder and I just had a phone conversation.

  To say he's happy is an understatement.

   "A Florida boy, born and raised, and he’s staying home,’’ Linder, from Southwest Ranches in Broward County, said about himself. 

    “Crazy, right?,’’ said Linder, who was drafted 93rd overall -- the 29th pick in the third round -- on Friday night and leaves for Jacksonville Sunday. “I’m so happy right now. It was me and my family sitting down, no real expectations, and I get a call from Jacksonville and didn’t even know they had traded up with the Patriots to get a pick. I was ecstatic. My family and I were going crazy.''

   Linder, a guard who also played some tackle, will be coached by his former offensive coordinator at Miami -- Jedd Fisch. It would be hard to finda nicer, friendlier, more intelligent peson than Jedd Fisch, by the way. Linder is truly lucky. Fisch is a talented teacher and good man.

   “I can’t wait to get there and get to work. Coach Fisch is my guy,'' Linder told me. "He coached me for two years and I couldn’t be more excited to be working with him.

    "It’s been a crazy day. I talked to Jedd on the phone. He said, ‘Congratulations, we’re excited to have you as a Jaguar,’ when they were passing the phone around. I was at a loss for words. I can’t believe the opportunity I’ve been given."

   Linder said Jags’ general manager David Caldwell was the first person who spoke to him, then head coach Gus Bradley and then Fisch.

   "I didn’t know they traded up so when I heard it was the Jaguars I really didn’t know what was going on. Then someone on the phone said they traded up.

   “My parents were just sitting there filming me.’’

   Linder said he and his brother Nick, a fellow offensive lineman who will be joining the Canes as an incoming freshman next week, gave “each other a big hug.

   "This is just a childhood dream for both of us. I’m sure he’ll be accomplishing this down the road. He’s my best friend and my biggest fan and I’m his biggest role model. And we’re just in a complete state of happiness.’’

   Linder said he’s gotten so many text messages he hasn’t been able to read through them all. He said he is rooting for his draft-eligible teammates to be taken Saturday.

   “They’re going to be great picks for anybody that takes them,'' he said. "I know what great talents they are and can’t wait to see where they end up so I can cheer for them.’’

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

May 09, 2014

Big congratulations to OG Brandon Linder, who gets picked in 3rd round by the Jacksonville Jaguars (and his former offensive coordinator, Jedd Fisch)

     All was quiet on the University of Miami football front Friday night at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and across Hurricane homes everywhere – until the silence was broken at about 11 p.m.

   That’s when the first UM name was called in the 2014 NFL Draft.

   That pick: offensive guard Brandon Linder to the Jacksonville Jaguars, whose offensive coordinator, Jedd Fisch, previously coached the 6-6, 312-pound Linder at Miami.

    Linder was selected 93rd overall – the 29th player taken in the third round – when the Jaguars gave up Nos. 105 and 179 to the Patriots to draft the Hurricane from Southwest Ranches in Broward County.

   “Crazy, right?,’’ said Linder, who leaves for Jacksonville Sunday. “I’m so happy right now. It was me and my family sitting down, no real expectations, and I get a call from Jacksonville and didn’t even know they had traded up with the Patriots to get a pick. I was ecstatic. My family and I were going crazy.

 

   “I can’t wait to get there and get to work. Coach Fisch is my guy. He coached me for two years and I couldn’t be more excited to be working with him.’’

       Linder, who also has played tackle, not only will be staying home in Florida, he’ll have a chance to protect the top quarterback taken in the draft, No. 3 overall pick Blake Bortles from UCF.   

    “Congrats to my boy @BrandonLinder65!’’ tweeted UM quarterback Stephen Morris, also awaiting his shot to become an NFL player. “love ya bro!’’

    And this tweet came from senior Hurricane defensive end Anthony Chickillo: “Congrats to my brother linder! Proud of him man, great player even better person.’’

    UM extended its streak of 40 consecutive years with an NFL Draft pick.

     The selection marked the first Hurricane taken as high as the third round since 2012, when defensive end Olivier Vernon went to the Dolphins and linebacker Sean Spence to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

   Last year UM had cornerback Brandon McGee go in the fifth round to the St. Louis Rams and Mike James to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the sixth.

    Linder was a four-year starter at Miami, with 37 consecutive starts to end his career.

   NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said last week of Linder: “The more coaches get involved, the more they like Linder. He’s not as physically gifted as some players in this draft, but he’s smart and he’s tough. He could climb.’’

    No other Hurricane received that magical phone call to warn him that he was about to realize his dream.

    Some flirted with the prospect of 6-7, 335-pound right tackle Seantrel Henderson going as high as the third round until it was reported Monday by ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Henderson tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Scouting Combine – and that NFL teams were notified of such last week.

   That dropped Henderson’s worth, leaving Linder and Saturday’s hopefuls that include Morris, receiver Allen Hurns and punter Pat O’Donnell.

         Linder said last week that he’d be happy no matter when he gets drafted. “It’s all about the opportunity I’m given,’’ he said.

   His father, Kent, said Friday that Brandon would be home for the draft with his younger brother Nick, an incoming UM freshman offensive lineman who also played at St. Thomas Aquinas.

   “I’m kind of one of those guys who doesn’t get excited,’’ Kent Linder said. “I mean I freak out inside and I let it out without it being seen. I’m optimistic but I’m also realistic. We’ll see where he ends up.’’

      Morris’ dad, Colin, said Stephen would spend the weekend in Sunny Isles with his family.

   “We’re just going to hole up in our place,’’ Colin Morris said. “He’s really excited. We all are. It’s tempered with a great deal of uncertainty as you can understand and imagine.’’   

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

Busy weekend for UM. What's in store tonight? Football on tap (& baseball, tennis & graduation)

It's hoppin' now at the U, where 70 Hurricanes student-athletes participated in graduation ceremonies Thursday and Friday at the BankUnited Center. Fifty of those students received their bachelor's degrees Friday, and some, who will complete their degree requirements this summer, were allowed to participate in the ceremonies.

UM reported that all 18 teams were represented with a least one spring graduate. Track and Field led all teams with 15 graduates, followed by football with eight (A.J. Highsmith, who earned his undergraduate degree in December, got his masters Thursday. Seniors Jimmy Gaines, Kacy Rodgers II, Maurice Hagens, Asante Cleveland and Tyrone Cornileus earned their bachelor's degrees. Redshirt juniors Jon Feliciano and Sean Harvey also received their undergraduate degrees).

   Guard/center Jared Wheeler said he expects to receive his bachelor's in mechanical engineering in a few weeks.

   Over at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center on UM's campus, the 12th-ranked women's tennis team defeated Boston University 4-0. It's on to the second round of the NCAA tournament at 2 p.m. tomorrow for the Canes, who will face No. 18 Oklahoma. 

   The Sooners defeated Wichita State in the first round Friday morning.

       In baseball, Javi Salas, Sam Abrams, Brad Fieger, John Lawroski, AJ Salcines, Bryan Radziewski and Adam Sargent all earned their bachelor's degrees and took part in Thursday's grad school commencement so they could be on board a 9:50 p.m. flight out of Miami International Airport -- headed for Durham to face Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Duke. 

   The Hurricanes (35-14, 19-5 ACC) who have won 22 of their past 24 baseball games, take on Duke (30-18, 15-9) beginning at 6 p.m. tonight for a three-game series. They are ranked eighth by Baseball America and fifth by Collegiate Baseball and will return home Sunday to prepare for their final regular-season series -- at home against North Carolina.

   But while the Canes play tonight, my focus at 6 p.m. will be on the NFL Draft, as the second and third rounds get played out on television for the world to see. Tomorrow at noon the fourth through seventh rounds will be televised.

  There's a decent shot that nobody from UM gets drafted tonight. Guard Brandon Linder, quarterback Stephen Morris, tackle Seantrel Henderson, receiver Allen Hurns and punter Pat O'Donnell are the Canes widely regarded as having the best chances at getting drafted. But most, if not all, are projected to go tomorrow. However, despite all the analysts and gurus out there, the draft is unpredictable at best.

The Canes I've talked to are staying home to watch the draft with their families. It can be a long, torturous process, so family is always best.

There are also several Hurricanes who likely won't get drafted, but nonetheless hope to get their NFL shots through signing free agent contracts. They include Asante Cleveland, Curtis Porter, Jimmy Gaines, David Gilbert, Shayon Green, Maurice Hagens, A.J. Highsmith, Tyrone Cornileus, Justin Renfrow, Luther Robinson, Kacy Rodgers II and Jared Wheeler

   Either way, be assured that all of them will get increasingly nervous as the hours tick away. And all of them, I'm sure, are excited. After all, this is what they've been dreaming about for years.

   "All I really want is a shot,'' said safety A.J. Highsmith.

  "It's kind of crazy how fast it's picked up,'' Stephen Morris told me and a group of reporters at UM Pro Timing Day when I asked him how fast these past four years have flown. "You come here as a freshman and don't really think about the NFL. Then in your sophomore and junior years it's kind of in the back of your head.''

   He said that this moment was basically in his mind all senior season.

   "Now it's here and you have the opportunity to do something you've been dreaming of.''

   Guard/center Jared Wheeler, who graduated from Plantation American Heritage and is from Hollywood, also will be with his family this weekend. 

   "Of course you're a little nervous because there are 32 teams and you don't know which ones are going to pick you up,'' Wheeler told me. "So you get anxious. There are so many possibilities, but in the end I'm excited because I'm ready to get started. Someone is going to pick me up and I'm going to have a chance to start a new career.''

   I talked to Stephen Morris' dad Colin yesterday. He said Stephen would be with his family in Sunny Isles watching the draft.

   "We've always had plans ever since he graduated and put up the Miami Hurricanes' shoes that he was going to work really, really hard and get ready for the draft knowing that he'd be hanging out with his family during the draft,'' Colin said. "We're just going to hole up in our place. He's really excited. We all are.

   "It's tempered with a great deal of uncertainty as you can understand and imagine. We don't know where he'll go, but this last week he's heard from 20 teams I'd say. But you never know. You know how the draft is a very fluid event. But he has received such positive feedback from teams. We're just hoping he goes real quick.''

   I also talked to Linder and his dad Kent. Brandon will be at home in Southwest Ranches in Broward with his younger brother Nick, an incoming UM freshman offensive lineman who also played at St. Thomas Aquinas.

   "I'm kind of one of those guys who doesn't get excited,'' Kent Linder said. "I mean I freak out inside and I let it out without it being seen. I'm optimistic but I'm also realistic. We'll see where he ends up.''

   "I think it really hasn't hit me yet, but you can never tell with Allen because he's real humble,'' said Erica Wilson, Hurns' mom. "But our family is all excited because they've all flown in from everywhere. We have at least 50 to 60 family members who flew in to celebrate with us.'' 

   When I asked her if Allen was nervous, she said, "No. He's done a lot of smiling. I know that much.''

    In a perfect world, they all would realize their dreams. Here's hoping that in one way or another, they all do.

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

May 07, 2014

NCAA: Miami Hurricanes get five teams honored for being in top 10-percent in Academic Progress Rates

 Released this evening by UM:

 Five University of Miami teams were publically honored for being among the top 10 percent in Academic Progress Rates (APR), the NCAA announced Wednesday.

 Men’s basketball, men’s diving, women’s swimming, and men’s and women’s cross country were recognized with APR Public Recognition Awards. It marks the third straight year that women’s cross country received an APR Public Recognition Award and the second straight for men’s basketball. It was the first honor for women’s swimming.

 Miami’s five APR awards are tied for the most in program history. The Hurricanes won five in 2012 and have won at least three in each of the last four years.

 Miami has received 30 public APR awards in 11 sports since the program was instituted nine years ago – women’s golf (2006, 2011, 2012, 2013), indoor men’s track & field (2009), outdoor men’s track & field (2006, 2008, 2009), men’s cross country (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2014), women’s cross country (2012, 2013, 2014),  women’s swimming (2014), men’s diving (2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2014), football (2010, 2011, 2012), men’s tennis (2011) and men’s basketball (2013, 2014).

 “Our Hurricanes student-athletes consistently demonstrate their ability to achieve excellence in the classroom and in athletics,” said David Wyman, Associate AD for Academic Services. “This recognition is not only a tribute to them, but to the faculty of the University of Miami that valiantly serves to inspire and educate our students. We are all tremendously proud of this accomplishment.”

 The Academic Progress Rate, a multi-year rate based on the most recent four years of data, is a real-time measure of eligibility and retention of student-athletes competing on every Division I sports team. The most recent APR scores are based on scores from the 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years. This year marks the 10th year of APR data for most teams.

 In the fall of 2011, the Division I Board of Directors approved tougher academic standards, including setting a new standard that teams must meet to participate in postseason competition. The goal of the NCAA’s academic performance program is improvement, not punishment. Not only does the program ensure accountability for student-athletes, teams and institutions, but also it provides fairness by considering individual circumstances per team and school. Under the revised penalty structure, the Division I Board of Directors has set a cut score of 930 (out of 1,000) as a threshold for teams to meet or face possible sanctions. As was also the case a year ago, no sports from any ACC institutions are subject to penalties from this year’s APR release.

 Among its 2013-14 membership, the ACC’s 15 current schools had 77 combined teams recognized, the most from any Power 5 conference.The ACC was one of only two of the Power 5 conferences to see all of its 2012-13 schools have at least one team recognized.

UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI’S APR PUBLIC RECOGNITION AWARDS

2006 (4) – Women’s Golf, Men’s Track & Field (Outdoor), Men’s Diving, Men’s Cross Country
2007 (2) – Men’s Cross Country, Men’s Diving
2008 (2) – Men’s Cross Country, Men’s Track & Field (Outdoor)
2009 (4) – Men’s Cross Country, Men’s Diving, Men’s Track & Field (Indoor and Outdoor)
2010 (1) – Football
2011 (4) – Baseball, Football, Men’s Tennis, Women’s Golf
2012 (5) – Baseball, Football, Men’s Diving, Women’s Cross Country, Women’s Golf
2013 (3) – Men’s Basketball, Women’s Cross Country, Women’s Golf

2014 (5) – Men’s Basketball, Men’s Diving, Men’s and Women’s Cross Country, Women’s Swimming

 

 

May 05, 2014

Report: Seantrel Henderson failed drug test at NFL combine

Citing multiple league sources, ESPN reported Monday morning former Miami Hurricanes right tackle Seantrel Henderson tested positive for marijuana use at the NFL scouting combine. 

It's hardly surprising news. The 6-8, 339-pound former USA Today Offensive Player of the Year told The Miami Herald in January before the Senior Bowl marijuana played in a role in his three suspensions at UM.

Last month, Henderson failed to complete his UM pro day workout for scouts. His agent said he was dehydrated and felt sick. He was also eight pounds heavier than he was at the combine.

Henderson, who started 26 of the 43 games he played in at UM, is ranked the 14th best offensive tackle prospect by NFLDraftScout.com and projected to be a third day pick in this week's draft. 

May 02, 2014

Miami Hurricanes president Donna Shalala takes over as chairwoman of ACC Council of Presidents

This was released earlier today by UM:

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala has been appointed as chairwoman for the Atlantic Coast Conference Council of Presidents effective immediately.

 President Shalala, who was to take the position July 1, transitioned early after Charles Steger announced that he was stepping down as President of Virginia Tech.

 "The Council of Presidents has shown tremendous leadership in positioning the ACC for the future, ACC Commissioner John Swofford said. "I appreciate President Shalala beginning her tenure a few months early and I know she will continue the positive momentum through her energy and guidance. I want to thank President Steger for his outstanding service this past year."

 All 15 member institutions are represented on the council.

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

May 01, 2014

NFL Network's Mike Mayock to me on Seantrel Henderson: "First-round talent that I don't think is going before the fourth round.''

I just asked NFL Draft analyst Mike Mayock of the NFL Network who he thinks will go for the Hurricanes in next week's draft, in particular offensive linemen Seantrel Henderson and Brandon Linder, quarterback Stephen Morris and receiver Allen Hurns. Here are excerpts of what he told me on a national conference call:

"I think those two offensive linemen are heading in different directions. I think the most gifted player on their team is Seantrel Henderson but he's had off-the-field issues and on-the-field inconsistencies. He is a first-round talent that I don't think is going before the fourth round -- and that's probably where he'll go, somewhere in the fourth round.

"...The guard, Linder, the more the coaches get involved, the more they like Linder. He's not as physically gifted as some players in this draft, but he's smart and tough. He could climb -- a lot of people thought he was a sixth or seventh-round pick. I tihnk he's going in the fourth or fifth round, and this is a pretty good guard draft.''

On Morris: "He's got a very strong arm. I like the kid, the person... Had some inconsistencies this year...I think he's a late draftable, probably will go in the fifth or sixth round.''

On Allen Hurns: "Is a guy that for me doesn't have any one outstanding trait as a wide receiver... He doesn't stand out in a wide receiver class that's very deep. He's going to be a late pick or a priority free agent.'

Please see Barry Jackson's Sports Buzz blog for Mayock's comments about the Dolphins and non UM issues."

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN