May 01, 2015

OT Ereck Flowers becomes first Cane to go in top-10 of NFL Draft since 2005 -- WR Phillip Dorsett next first-rounder at No. 29.

The Hurricanes are seeing double.

  After a six-year, first-round drought followed a record-setting 14-year streak of at least one player taken in the opening round of the NFL Draft, the Hurricanes struck gold again Thursday night when hometown  offensive tackle Ereck Flowers was selected ninth overall by the New York Giants and receiver Phillip Dorsett of Fort Lauderdale was selected 29th.

  Before Thursday’s draft in Chicago, the last Hurricane to go in the initial round was safety Kenny Phillips at No. 31 to the New York Giants in 2008.

     The 6-6, 329-pound Flowers, who graduated from Miami Norland High and declared for the draft after his junior season, was always considered a talent. But his skill level jumped out to analysts and NFL teams after he returned to the playing field Nov. 15 against top-ranked and eventual national champion Florida State less than two weeks following knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. He led the Canes’ offense to 492 yards against FSU, stifling defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr.

   He started 29 games at Miami, including 25 of the past 26 at left tackle.

   The last Hurricane to go in the top 10 of the NFL Draft was cornerback Antrel Rolle at No. 8 to the Arizona Cardinals in 2005. The last Hurricane to go No. 9? 1987 DT Jerome Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles. Brown died at age 27 in a 1992 car accident.

   This is the first time since 2007 that UM had multiple players drafted in the first round.

   Flowers was the second offensive lineman, and second tackle, taken in the draft. 

  "I love this pick,'' said ESPN analyst Louis Riddick. "This is a powerful young man for the Miami Hurricanes. I think Flowers is going to add some pop to their running game. He'll improve as a pass protector the more he plays.

   "This is a nasty, physical, tenacious young prospect.  He's a prototype New York Giant.''

    Both picks will play for high-profile quarterbacks, Flowers with Eli Manning and Dorsett with Andrew Luck. Dorsett also joins former Canes receiver Andre Johnson and running back Frank Gore. His new coach is former UM defensive backs coach Chuck Pagano and his associate head coach is former UM offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, with former Canes tight end Alfredo Roberts the Colts tight ends coach.

   What the 5-10, 185-pound Dorsett lacks in size he made up for in speed, smarts, good hands and just about everything else. He wowed NFL scouts and coaches with his 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, then bettered that with a 4.25 at UM’s Pro Timing Day on April 1.

   Dorsett, scheduled to graduate UM next Friday, May 8,  led the Hurricanes with 871 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on 36 catches – a 24.2-yard-per-catch average.

       After he was drafted, Dorsett tweeted “Hard work pays off! No doubt I’m proud to be a Colt. Get my jersey >>’’ The arrow directed readers to a website selling his new Colts jersey for $99.99 – with the No. 1 on the front and back, and “Dorsett’’ across the back.

  His sponsor, adidad Football US, tweeted “It’s off to the races in Indy. Welcome to Indianapolis, @Dorsett_4. #teamadidas

  The draft continues at 7 p.m. Friday. Expect more Canes to be chosen then.

    SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

   

April 30, 2015

Remember little Carter Hucks? He's visiting Duke Johnson (but still doesn't know it) today for NFL Draft.

Carterhucks
  Remember Carter Hucks, 8, the third-grader from Charleston, South Carolina, who, thanks to the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, lived out a dream last October by spending a few days with the Miami Hurricanes?

 He and his parents are surprising him tonight with a visit to his favorite football player, running back Duke Johnson, as Johnson awaits the NFL Draft to learn where his football career will continue.

  "Carter doesn't know they're coming here,'' said Cassandra MitchellDuke's mom. "Duke is excited.''

  The NFL Draft begins at 8 p.m. tonight (first round) and continues Friday and Saturday.

 Diagnosed with Fanconi anemia -- a rare genetic blood disorder -- Carter underwent a bone marrow transplant in early November, and according to his mom, Jessie, is doing very well.

Carterhucksmugmarch2015

Carter turns 9 June 29th, has gained at least 10 pounds" and looks a lot different, a lot older,'' Carter's mom, Jessie Hucks, just told me from her car, where Carter is fast asleep.  Carter "is on an immunosupression medication that makes his hair grow more,'' she said. 

Jessie said Duke and Carter "have talked a few times'' and that Duke and his mother call to check on him.

"They've been super nice to our family,'' Jessie said. "So far, so good with Carter. We haven't really had any serious complications. He has to avoid certain social situations, so we pick and choose our spots. He can be around people if they're not sick. It's a balance. You don't want him to feel isolated, but you don't want to go overboard.''

Jessie said Derrick, her husband, told Carter they're going on a business trip for Derrick, and that the hotel doesn't have cable or Internet to watch the draft.

 "He has mentioned a few times that he's sad he's going to miss the draft and the [Mayweather-Pacquiao] fight,'' she said.

He'll be able to see it all at Duke's grandmother's home in Port St. Lucie, where Cassandra said tonight her family and some close friends are having a barbecue.

"We don't expect Duke to be drafted Thursday but we'll be here cheering for [UM offensive tackle] Ereck Flowers and [receiver] Phillip Dorsett and [linebacker] Denzel Perryman, who all could go in the first round,'' Cassandra said.

"On Friday it's an all-out party here.''

Jessie Hucks said Carter "will probably smile, laugh and say, 'Why didn't you tell me?!'" when they arrive at Duke's grandmother's.

"He doesn't like jokes pulled on him, but in the end he'll be very happy.''

Carterhucksmarch2015
 

 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

   

April 29, 2015

Miami Hurricanes Gone Fishin' (DO NOT DISTURB unless you want to draft them)

 

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You could hardly find nicer or harder working Miami Hurricanes than Shane McDermott  and Jon Feliciano.

Both Hurricanes were disappointed in how the season shook out -- 6-7, including a career-ending Independence Bowl loss to South Carolina.

Both were all heart, and plenty of grit.

Feliciano, a versatile 6-4, 323-pounder from Davie who started every game his sophomore, junior and senior season, made starts at left guard, right tackle and left tackle this past season. 

McDermott, a 6-4, 300-pound center from Hypoluxo, started all 12 games at center this past season. 

Now, like several others, they await the NFL Draft with with excitement -- and nervousness. 

So, what will the two be doing on Friday to help take their minds off the anxiety?

Fishing.

"Jon, my girlfriend and I are going fishing Friday,'' Shane told me. "It's grouper season so we're going for grouper. We'll spend the whole day fishing and it will help the time going by and we'll just see what happens.''

IMG_4528 (2)

 

On Saturday, both linemen will be with their respective families.

As for Kc McDermott, a Hurricane tackle going into his sophomore season, he's in the midst of taking final exams, big brother said. "I don't know if he'll be with me or not.''

I asked Shane if he thought any Hurricane would be a good pick.

"I think every one of my teammates will be worth it 100 percent,'' he said. "I don’t think there’s any other team out there that puts the work in like we do, and has the talent like we do."

 Both Feliciano and McDermott are slated to either go in the latter rounds or sign contracts as free agents. Both will definitely get an opportunity to make a team. The thing about the draft is you never know what's going to happen. People you think will go high go low. People you think will go low go higher.

"No one knows,'' Shane said. "It could go one way. It could go the other. Who knows? 

 I’ll always play with a chip on my shoulder and with a passion and love for the game. 

"This has been the dream of our whole lives and that dream is coming this weekend no matter what. It’s just what you make of the opportunity."

 AL GOLDEN JOINS A PANEL THAT INCLUDES MIAMI HERALD SPORTS WRITER MICHELLE KAUFMAN

   In case you're interested, the following seminar, as part of the "Ethics in Education: A to Z" conference, is open to the public from 4:10 to 5 p.m. Saturday at  Miami Senior High, (2450 SW 1 St., 33135). This lineup of panelists is unique and should provide insight into the influence of sports on schools at all levels. 

 4:10 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Touchdown!  Balancing Education With The Allure And Power Of School Sports

Moderator: Susan Mullane, Clinical Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Director for Sport Administration, Department of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences, University of Miami

       Panelists:

       Al Golden, Head Football Coach, University of Miami

       Michelle Kaufman, Sports Reporter and Columnist, Miami Herald; Soccer Mom

       Hon. Edward Newman, Miami-Dade County Court Judge, Criminal Division; former        

       NFL Player (Miami Dolphins)

       Was just told it's free to attend because it's the last session of the day.

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

April 22, 2015

Al Golden: Tyriq McCord & Malcolm Lewis have surgery; coach stays vague on Taylor Gadbois status

Hurricanes football coach Al Golden spoke to the media today for the first time since the spring game March 28.

The news was minimal, but here goes:

  When asked for an update on running back Gus Edwards' health (if you recall, he left the spring game early with a left-shoulder injury and was seen wearing a sling on UM Pro Timing Day on April 1), Golden completely avoided talking about Edwards. But he did talk about a couple other players.

...wanted to get an update on Gus’ health and how he’s doing since the spring game...

Golden: "The only two coming out of the spring that had any procedures were [linebacker Tyriq] McCord and [receiver] Malcolm Lewis. They both needed a scope and both of them are doing great. Everybody else is fully integrated right now or will be integrated in the case of [offensive lineman Taylor] Gadbois, [Safety Rayshawn] Jenkins, you know, by summer 1 [session]."

...also wanted to get an update on Taylor Gadbois, both his health and there have been some reports on his status and eligibility for the season. Any news?

Golden: "In terms of Taylor, as always, if there is anything else in terms of the players’ eligibility or anything like that, when we find out or when we can verify anything we release it. So that’s all I can say in terms of that. But Taylor will be fully integrated by Summer I it sounds like."

One of the two questions I asked: Other than Antonio Crawford, are there any players that have transferred or are in the process of leaving school for any reason? Are there any players who are in the process of transferring to Miami, including any seniors you expect will be graduated from other schools and come to UM for their final season?

Golden: "Again, with those cases all the time, when it's official and verified, then we will release it. But I don't anticipate either one of those situations. But again, it is this time of year. If a young man is unhappy with his playing time or that type of thing it generally comes up this time of year or something else presents itself that those transitions occur. If they do occur we will notify you and go that way."

 Life after Duke Johnson?

Golden: “I think it’s a great challenge for our guys. Gus Edwards had a really good spring. He’s got to continue to show the responsibility and accountability to be that guy. I think Joe Yearby is also a guy that’s competing for that, although he’s markedly different than Gus. Trayone Gray, Mark Walton and Walter Tucker will also be in that battle come the summer. Again, I’m anxious to see how it plays out. I’m happy with the direction that group is going, but obviously, they have a great challenge and hopefully they have something to prove here over the next four months.” 

Staff kind of looked at the season moving forward, knowing you don’t have a weapon like Duke. What have you kind of done throughout the spring to make up for that?

Golden: “We really haven’t changed who we are, philosophically. We’re very excited about Gus and Joe and Trayone Gray is very talented. He’s still learning the position but very talented. Mark Walton is certainly a talented young man coming in. So, we’re going to have the guys there. It may not be just one, it may be more of getting several guys the same amount of touches. But again, if one of those guys separates themselves as Duke did, then he’ll get the majority of the touches. But right now, we’re still in that phase of waiting to see one of them break out. If not, we’ll do it by committee. Either way, we’re fine with it. We’re excited about the direction that group is going.” 

 

You’ve spoken several times about your unhappiness with the penalties. Do you assess it from a coaching standpoint any differently now. Have you identified any kind of root cause? How do you work on this problem with this particular group?

Note. I just looked up that the Canes ranked 105th of 125 teams in the NCAA ranked for "fewest penalties" (93) and "fewest penalty yards per game (63.6).'' 

Golden: "I think we have worked on it in a number of ways. No. 1 identifying if there’s an individual that’s causing the majority of the penalties, and really drill down and make sure that individual understands the impact that that has on the game, look at the teaching mechanics of where the penalties are showing up and what can we do better – in other words line of scrimmage, anything that’s a line of scrimmage or procedural error; what can we do different about how we practice and we’ve made a lot of changes there; being more disciplined in every phase of our operation, not just on the field but in the classroom, in the community, in the complex, doing the little things, having more accountability and responsibility and then obviously having great leadership.

 "I think we’ve made a lot of changes. I’m pleased with the direction we’re going coming out of the spring in terms of we’re cognizant of it. We know what we have to fix and we also know the individuals that have created the majority of those. If that can’t change then obviously we have to make some changes to fix the problem. But there’s no question it needs to be fixed."

 

More to come with my online story.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

April 21, 2015

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

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

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

But that figures to change a week from Thursday. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 13, 2015

Julio Frenk to be UM's next president -- and to inherit a football program in need of resurgence

   Incoming University of Miami President Julio Frenk grew up in Mexico playing soccer and basketball. American football became entrenched in his life when he studied for his doctorate at Michigan – another high-profile program in the world of collegiate football.

   Frenk, 61, assured the audience at his introductory news conference Monday that he “indeed,’’ is “fully aware of the great tradition in athletics and in particular football’’ at Miami, that he is “talking with the community to understand their expectations and dreams for that part of the university,’’ and that he sees “athletics as an integral part of a comprehensive education.’’

    Frenk told The Miami Herald after his address that he went to “many, many football games at Michigan. When I was a student I almost didn’t miss any. I’m looking forward to it here.’’

     With current Miami president Donna Shalala retiring her position June 1 to become president of the Clinton Foundation, her replacement was highly anticipated by UM football fans intent on the program returning to its glory days.

    Frenk, currently the dean of the Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health and Mexico’s former Minister of Health, starts his job at UM on Sept. 1, but he met with head coaches for about 45 minutes Monday.

   “Very nice guy,’’ said UM baseball coach Jim Morris after the meeting. “He’s well rounded, he’s learning and I was told that he would be very positive toward athletics.’’

   UM athletic director Blake James called it “a great day’’ for Miami. Football coach Al Golden, under considerable pressure to win in 2015 after a 6-7 season and 11 losses in his last 19 games, said in a prepared statement that it was “a tremendous day’’ and that he expected Frenk to take the school “to even great heights.’’

   Before Frenk met with the coaches, basketball coach Jim Larranaga praised the hire.

   “He’s got an incredible background academically and in public health,’’ Larranaga said. “As a coach you hope that your administration is going to be very, very supportive of athletics, and from what I understand, he is.’’

   When asked if the direction of the sports program was an important component in the hiring of a new president, Richard Fain, the Royal Caribbean Cruises CEO who headed the presidential search committee, said, “Of course.’’

   “At the U,’’ Fain told The Herald, you can’t not have that be an important dialogue about the future of the university.’’

   Stuart Miller, CEO of the Lennar Corporation and chair of the UM Board of Trustees, said sports was “absolutely one of the priorities’’ in the search. “It’s part of our brand. It’s part of what defines the university across the country.

   “The fact that we’ve brought on a president that has such an open mind, a mind of inclusiveness, and recognizes all parts of the university gives me a great deal of confidence.’’

   Shalala brought UM through a long NCAA investigation and has taken much criticism for the school’s decline in football. She said she believes “UM fans should be excited’’ by Frenk’s hire.

   “First of all,’’ she said, “we have a great group of coaches for our athletics program, we’ve got stability and we’ve got big financial investments in the program.

   “I just think the best is yet to come.’’

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

   I talked to 104.3 FM The Ticket executive producer and on-air personality Brian London, and he said during today's "The Eric and Leroy Show,'' he "received dozens of texts regarding the hire.

   "The majority of texts from sports fans were positive,'' London said. "The majority of people we heard from were encouraged by Frenk's educational background and the benefit of expanding the school with research, and in fundraising as well. There were only a small minority of nasty texts. But some fans were concerned about Dr. Frenk's lack of experience wtih American football.''

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

 MIAMI HERALD QUESTION TO FRENK:  

Throughout this long process, how much have you acquainted yourself with Miami athletics, and in particular the football program, and what do you foresee your role being with football and athletics at Miami?

FRENK: "Indeed, I am fully aware of the great tradition in athletics and in particular in football here. Again, this will be a central part of my immersion process understanding the culture, understanding what was the process through which the University of Miami, including its athletic program has come to where it is now, and I’m talking with the community to understand their expectations and their dreams for that part of the university. I will say that I see athletics as an integral part of a comprehensive education. To me it is … a part of the educational experience of our students and I value that part of the educational experience of a comprehensive education. 

"But I look forward to understanding better and talking with many of the key players in more than one sense of the word player, and I will be meeting with the coaches later today in this visit and this will be a central part of that process of immersion and my process of learning more about the cultural, the history, the traditions and the expectations and dreams of this university."

 MIAMI HERALD: What sport, if any, do you enjoy most as a fan and perhaps, participant, or have you ever played any sports?

 “As anyone who looks at me can surmise immediately, I’m not the most athletic person. However I did play basketball when I was a younger person and I played soccer football. I was a goalkeeper. That served me greatly in the later stages of my political career, trying to keep goals away from my net.

 “I enjoy football very much, having started at the University of Michigan. I was there five years because I did a Ph.D. so I got moved closer and closer to the 50-yard line… I understand the position of president comes with already a very good position on the field and I look forward [to it]. It is a game I enjoy very much, and again, it’s part of my respect to the university and my conviction that this is a key part of a comprehensive education that I look very much forward to that part of my new job starting on Sept. 1."

  What are your thoughts on the new hire? My first impression is positive. I think he'll be very good for UM in general. As for the athletic program, the jury is obviously still out.

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

    

April 10, 2015

"It's all God's doing. You couldn't script it any better.'' Fans of Sean Taylor, here's info you'll want:

 

Photo (4)

 

AFTER A MEMORABLE EVENING COVERING THE UM SPORTS HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CEREMONY AT JUNGLE ISLAND (here's my story from induction ceremony) THE FOLLOWING PRESS RELEASE CAME TO ME TODAY. I THOUGHT SEAN TAYLOR FANS AND UM FOLLOWERS WOULD BE INTERESTED.

LAST NIGHT I ASKED PETE TAYlOR, SEAN'S DAD, ABOUT THE TIMING OF TIMMY LEE BROWN, THE FINAL DEFENDANT IN SEAN'S MURDER CASE, PLEADING GUILTY WEDNESDAY AND AGREEING TO SERVE 18 YEARS IN PRISON, GIVING SEAN'S FAMILY, AS OUR MIAMI HERALD WRITER DAVID OVALLE WROTE, "CLOSURE.''

"IT'S ALL GOD'S DOING,'' PETE TAYLOR TOLD ME BEFORE SEAN WAS INDUCTED INTO THE HALL OF FAME. "YOU COULDN'T SCRIPT IT BETTER.''

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

HERE'S THE RELEASE I JUST GOT:

   Book on Football Great & Cult Hero Sean Taylor to Be Released

(Friday, April 10, 2015 - Miami, FL)

     On the day after the late Sean Michael Maurice Taylor was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame, and two days after the final chapter in "justice for Sean" was written by the courts, coauthors Steven M. Rosenberg and Pedro "Pete" Taylor are thrilled to announce that the official launch date of their new book Going Full Speed, the Sean Taylor Stories will be April 16, 2015."

     On the football field Sean Taylor was feared by opposing teams. Off the field, he was loved by those who knew him best, not to mention his many fans. Tragically, Sean was killed in a home invasion gone very wrong. However, in the new book written by coauthors Rosenberg and Taylor, Going Full Speed is not just about being at the wrong place at the wrong time. It's Sean’s father, Pedro “Pete” Taylor's recollection of raising, training, then losing his superstar son.

    But Sean Taylor was no saint. “I want to give readers ‘the good, the bad and the ugly,’” Pete Taylor said. “There is no doubt these stories will keep you spellbound,” added coauthor Steven Rosenberg.

     Sean Taylor touched many lives. In Going Full Speed you'll be touched by stories from family, friends, teammates, coaches, the owner of the Washington Redskins and more. Pete Taylor and thirty-two others close to Sean share their favorite personal stories of the fallen superstar.

     "We interviewed names you know and some you'll learn about," Rosenberg said. "You’ll 'hear' from University of Miami Coaches Larry Coker, Curtis Johnson, and Don Soldinger and teammates Buck Ortega and Jon Vilma. From the Washington Redskins, Coaches Gregg Williams and Steve Jackson, teammates Santana Moss, Clinton Portis, e - Renaldo Wynn, and Lorenzo Alexander, and team owner Daniel Snyder share their favorite anecdotes of Sean as well," added Taylor.

    "But some of the most touching recollections of Sean come from family members, grandmother Connie Dingle and sister Jazmin Taylor," said Rosenberg. "Other stories are hilarious, some heartwarming, and some heartbreaking. So you may want to read this book with a box of tissues close by."

    Highlights of the book include: - revelations, Sean stories never before told; - life lessons, talks that would serve Sean – or frankly anyone – well in life; and, - training tips, things Pete Taylor taught Sean in order to get his body and mind ready for school and competition.

     Upon completion of the 22-month project, Pete Taylor said, "This is a dream come true. All I ever really wanted was to keep my son's name alive." This book is a must have for football fans, Sean's fans, student athletes, and parents of athletes. Going Full Speed, the Sean Taylor Stories is published by Authorhouse, and at first, it will be printed in hard cover only, and will be available at planned book signings, AuthorHouse.com, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and by request at book retailers everywhere.

     Additional versions will be released by year's end. Caution: Interviews were written just as they were spoken. Therefore, due to the occasional extreme language, this book is recommended for readers sixteen and older.

    Yesterday, Timothy Lee Brown, the last of the five assailants convicted for burglary and murder of Sean Taylor, pleaded guilty for his part in the crime and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.  Finally, this part of the 7-year ordeal is over for the Taylors.

    Pedro Taylor is currently the Chief of Police of Florida City, FL, a football coach, as well as trainer of athletes. Steven M. Rosenberg has transitioned to writing full-time after a 27-year career as the owner of an Advertising/PR Agency. He has completed one four-act comedy stage play and is currently working on his second book and two film scripts. Steven has homes in both Northern Virginia and South Florida. To keep up with signing events and more, please join the Going Full Speed Facebook page or follow Steve on Twitter at WillWork4Tweets.

April 09, 2015

Hall of Fame shindig tonight at Jungle Island -- star-studded cast of characters.

Maybe I'll see you tonight at the UM Sports Hall of Fame Banquet (6 p.m. cocktails, 7 p.m. dinner), always a fun time (despite my deadline) to meet some old-timers at Jungle Island.

If you haven't bought your individual tickets to see some amazing former athletes/coaches, it's too late. Sold out. If you're interested in corporate table that seats 10 for $1,000, you have until about 1:15 p.m. to call Hall of Fame executive director John Routh at 305-284-2775 and leave a message. He'll be checking them.

Here's my story from today's Miami Herald. 

Enjoy. And make sure to say hi.

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

Sean Taylor will be inducted posthumously Thursday into the UM Sports Hall of Fame, joining other greats such as NCAA and Olympic champion Lauryn Williams.

BY SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

sdegnan@MiamiHerald.com

     He was inducted into Gulliver Prep’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008, and less than a year later, honored again as Gulliver named its football field Sean Taylor Memorial Field.

    He was inducted into the Washington Redskins’ Ring of Fame

in 2008, becoming the 43rd Redskin to receive the distinction for distinguished contributions.

    Sean Taylor’s next great honor will come at JungleIsland on Thursday night, when he is inducted posthumously with another impressive University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame class.

    The hard-hitting safety died of massive blood loss at age 24 after being shot by an intruder in his PalmettoBay home in November 2007. He would have turned 32 on April 1.

    “Just to hear that his college has recognized him is awesome,’’ said Pedro “Pete’’ Taylor, Sean’s father, who serves as the police chief of FloridaCity and will receive the award for his son. “Sean would have been elated. When the University of Miami opened their doors to him, they let a young kid with big dreams become part of their family.

   “I’m truly grateful, and he would have been, too.’’

    Taylor (2000-03 letterman), who won a national title with the Canes in 2001, was selected fifth overall by the Redskins in the 2004 NFL Draft and led the NFL with five interceptions at the time of his death. At UM, he led the nation with 10 interceptions in 2003 on his way to becoming a consensus All-American and Jim Thorpe Award finalist. He joins a star-studded class that includes his UM teammate, linebacker great Jonathan Vilma (2000-03); and one of the most respected former Miami offensive coordinators (after winning two national titles as a player), current Indianapolis Colts associate head coach Rob Chudzinski (1996-2003 coaching).

    Fellow football greats Kevin Patrick (1990-93) and Rusty Medearis (1990-92, 94), both defensive ends; and linebacker Winston Moss (1983-86), who played defensive end during his early career, will be inducted, joining baseball star Alex Fernandez (1989), Kym Hope (basketball) and Chris Mantilla (Diving).

    Not to be outdone, Olympic great Lauryn Williams, one of the Hurricanes’ most decorated athletes of all time, will be enshrined Thursday.

   Williams (2001-04), a nine-time All-American, won the 100-meter NCAA national title in 2004 and left UM with seven school records. She went on to win the Olympic silver in the 100 meters at Athens in 2004, the Olympic gold in the 400-meter relay in London and the silver in the two-woman bobsled last year in Sochi – becoming the first American woman to capture medals in both the summer and winter Olympics.

   “The U is where it all started for me,’’ said Williams, who lives in Addison, Texas and has retired from competition. “I’m so grateful to the university for my whole career. It has been a very important part of me becoming who I am and grooming me to become this, I think, wonderful young lady – if I do say so myself.’’

      Williams attended UM with Taylor, and said that one semester the two grabbed lunch weekly, usually at Dadeland Mall before their workouts.

   “Sean was pretty goofy, but definitely not the flamboyant type,’’ she said. “More quiet than anything. We were teenagers, but we’d talk like old people who were so wise.’’

   Former Canes running back Clinton Portis, who was inducted into the UM Hall last year, played with Taylor at Miami and Washington. He was thrilled when he learned Taylor would be inducted.

   “Sean definitely deserves to be there,’’ Portis said. “He always wanted to be the best and that’s the way he played. It’s a huge honor for UM and his family.’’

   Portis described Taylor as “humble and quiet,’’ and said if Taylor were alive, his induction speech would be brief. “A short ‘Thank you’ and ‘Glad you guys highlighted my career,’ would be about what you’d get,’’ Portis said.

********************************************************************************8

  And here's yet another amazing Miami Hurricane athlete that made the news earlier this week. Via David Villavicencio of UM Sports Information: 

 Shakima Wimbley Named ACC POTW 

Sophomore earns third weekly honor of 2015 season

 GREENSBORO, N.C. – For the second consecutive week, the University of Miami track and field program earned an ACC Performer of the Week honor.

 Shakima Wimbley was named the Co-ACC Women’s Outdoor Track Performer of the Week, sharing the honor with Clemson’s Natoya Goule. The sophomore earned her third ACC Performer of the Week honor of 2015, winning the award twice during the indoor season. Wimbley also follows fellow sophomore Carlos Mangum as an ACC weekly honoree after Mangum was named the ACC Men’s Outdoor Field Performer of the Week following his record-setting hammer throw at FSU Relays.

 “There were a lot of great performances this weekend, so for Shakima to be named Co-Performer of the Week is a great honor,” Miami director of track and field/cross country Amy Deem said. “I am really pleased with her performance this weekend.”

 Wimbley set a new school record in the women's 400m, running a time of 51.50 to place second overall at Florida Relays and tie for the nation’s fastest time nationally. The sophomore from Ft. Lauderdale vaulted surpassed previous Hurricanes’ record holder Charlette Greggs’ time of 51.65 set in 2003. Wimbley also contributed to Miami’s 4x400m relay that ranks 10th in the NCAA. Running anchor, Wimbley rounded out a 4x400m relay that finished fourth at Florida Relays with a time of 3:35.49, seventh fastest in the East Region.

 “She struggled a little bit late in the indoor season,” Deem said “For her to open up with her fastest time ever and do it at Florida Relays, which is such a great environment with all the family, friends and Olympians there, I think it will do a lot for her confidence and goes a long way for her to fix some of the things that happened during the indoor season and continue working to have an exceptional outdoor season.”

 Miami will host its final home meet of the 2015 outdoor season, the Hurricane Alumni Invitational on April 10-11.

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

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

April 01, 2015

Run, Phillip, Run! (like the wind); Chickillo lean & mean; Denzel improves 40 (as did Duke), then pulls hammy

 

Photo 4 (2)

 You've got to appreciate former Hurricanes wide receiver Phillip Dorsett.

 Instead of ducking from running the 40-yard dash at UM Pro Timing Day on Wednesday after winning $100,000 from Adidas for his blazing 4.33-second time at the NFL Combine (second-best time among athletes at Indianapolis), he went full speed ahead and ran twice at Greentree Field.

  With representatives from all 32 NFL teams watching Dorsett, including Dolphins coach Joe Philbin and general manager Dennis Hickey, Dorsett's results paid off again -- if not in dollars now, then in dollars later.

 The 5-10, 184-pound St. Thomas Aquinas High graduate ran 4.27 and 4.25, according to a group of scouts who were timing him with stopwatches. Granted, it's not laser-timed, but it's incredibly fast nonetheless.

    Photo 3

      Why did you run again? he was asked. What did you have to prove?

"I would say nothing to prove,'' Dorsett said. "It was just me and my competitive spirit just coming out here and doing everything. Because I know everybody wants to see it. Everybody likes to see a guy go out and compete and do everything."

You think coaches respect that?

 "I would say they do,'' he said. "I got a lot of positive feedback, but that wasn't my thing going into it. I just wanted to do it. A lot of people told me, 'Don't run. Just do position drills.' But I knew I could do better, so I did everything.

"I felt like I ran a lot better today than I did at the combine. I didn't have a great start at the combine like I have been doing when I've been training. I felt like I had a good start today and improved.''

  I asked  the Dolphins' Hickey if the hand-held stopwatch makes a difference in his mind. 

 "Speed on film is what we look at,'' he said. "When we watch guys play with helmets and shoulder pads, those are the things that are important. The guys who run fast are great, but most important is what speed they play at. Time is a measurement, but you always judge it against how they play.

 "There’s a lot of talent here. They do a great job here and it’s a great program. It was good to see them in person.’’

 Inside during morning workouts, Dorsett said he jumped 38 inches on the vertical today, compared to 37 at the combine. 

He said he had dinner with the New Orleans Saints Tuesday night. "I've got some workouts coming up but I can't really tell,'' Dorsett said regarding any feelings about teams that might be interested in him. "I mean you never know, because I've heard stories about guys thinking that some team is going to draft them and they get drafted by a team that they never even thought would have drafted them. You never know how the draft is going to go so I can't really say.''

How cool would it be to be in your backyard and play with the Dolphins?

"That would be cool,'' he said, "would be real great. Being a Hurricane and I always was a fan of the Dolphins, too, it would be great. It would be a dream come true.''

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock called Dorsett's performance "fantastic,'' noting, as everyone else said, it was even more impressive considering he had a great combine and didn't have to do anything today to prove himself.

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

 Defensive end Anthony Chickillo looked amazing today. We didn't talk to him, but he looks as if he has dropped a lot of weight since the end of the season, and seemed extremely fit and muscular, but lean. He seemed quick in his drills.

  "Very twitchy, quick, fast,'' said tight end Clive Walford of Chickillo.

Photo 1 (2)

   Walford said he pulled a hamstring a week-and-a-half-ago but still opted to run routes. 

   It was fun, man,'' said Walford, who noted he was measured at 6-4 and 250 pounds this morning. "I knew all the teams would be here so I wanted to come out and show them what I was capable of doing. My confidence is very high because I put in a lot of work. You get what you put out."

   What teams has Walford talked to? 

    "The Saints, Falcons, Packers, Dolphins, Broncos, Chargers, 49ers, Ravens, Chiefs and Tampa Bay,'' he said. "Last night I had dinner with the Saints. That went great. I’ve got to meet with the Steelers today, and I think the Falcons and Packers."

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

  Linebacker Denzel Perryman measured in at 5-11, 239 pounds, running his first 40-yard dash in 4.67 -- considerably better than his 4.78 at the NFL Combine. But he pulled his hamstring on the second attempt. No worries. Perryman was in great spirits as usual, looking fit and confident.

   "Just a little hammy pull,'' Perryman said as he jogged past me. "I'll be alright.''

   He and fellow Coral Gables grad Jon Vilma, who was reporting for NBC Sports, hung out much of the day on Greentree.

     Photo 2 (2)

   "He just wanted to show everyone he could run a sub-4.7,'' Vilma joked of Perryman. "He'll be fine. Denzel is in a long line of tremendous linebackers to come out of Miami. We've all had great careers and I expect nothing but good things from Denzel.'' 

  Added Perryman: "Overall, we put on a good show.''

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

 Duke Johnson said he weighed in at 203 pounds and was measured at 5-9. His 40 times Wednesday, according to scouts: 4.47 and again 4.47 -- another better time compared to his NFL Combine best of 4.54. 

  He also improved his 33.5-inch vertical from the NFL Combine to what he said was 34 inches Wednesday.

  "I think I did well overall,'' Johnson said. "I wanted to improve my 40 time and catch the ball well.

 I wanted to do it for myself,'' Johnson added of his 40 time, "because I know I can do better, and I know I train too hard to run what I ran at the combine. I think my game speed speaks for itself. I wanted to make sure I come out here and show that I can do it."

   Photo 5

   Johnson and his fellow Hurricanes said they were impressed with quarterback Ryan Williams' performance Wednesday. Williams was set to be the starter in 2014 before he tore his ACL in early April. He threw one incomplete pass this season against Cincinnati.

    "I think Ryan came out here and showed he can throw the ball well. He can do timing routes with different receivers. He’s not throwing just to one receiver. He’s throwing to everyone, even guys he never threw to before. He came out and showed he can do it and why he should be given a shot at camp to make a team."

  Said Williams, who said he ran a 4.84 in the 40: "It almost makes me feel normal because that whole summer of all the training I missed just standing around and being hurt. Actually to be out here and be able to do everything with all the guys and not have to sit around and watch, definitely a lot more fun to do this stuff than to stand there.

"It definitely feels like it’s been longer than almost a year. It feels like it’s been a couple of years. It has been a long off-season and it was a long season. But I’m definitely happy to be healthy and prove that I’m healthy.

 Fellow quarterback Jake Heaps was also on Greentree performing.

 'I think Jake did pretty good,'' Williams said. "I thought we both threw the ball well. I think the receivers ran some good routes. We haven’t spent a lot of time together – Jake was training in Seattle, but he came down for the week. I thought we all picked up on each other pretty quick and looked good out there.''

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

 Some of the old-time Canes who watched and supported their younger fam included Andre Johnson, Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Lamar Miller, Frank Gore, Jacory Harris and Tommy Streeter.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

  

 

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

March 28, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is the best pass rusher?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miami Hurricanes running back Joe Yearby suspended for spring game

I learned earlier today from a source close to UM football that running back Joe Yearby, who so badly wanted to show what he could do on the field in the spring game, has been suspended for the spring game for violation of team rules. Also suspended: walk-on quarterback Isaac Hoza.

UM confirmed the news.

I was told by two sources, but not by UM, that Yearby was suspended for breaking curfew last night. Curfew was around 1030 p.m.

Yearby apparently said he was with his baby daughter, who I found out after the scrimmage was born sometime this winter -- not within the past few days. 

I feel for him, because he's a hard-working kid and really loves being a Hurricane. Coaches are now cracking down on players who miss curfew or are late. 

Yearby, who will be a sophomore next season, played in 12 games in 2014, gaining 509 yards and one touchdown on 86 carries. He also caught eight passes for 118 yards and a touchdown.

The Hurricanes could have used him today.

HERE'S FULL TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WE HAD WITH JOE LAST WEEK:

Excited about Spring Game?

 Very excited. Looking forward to it because everybody is really going to be paying attention to me because I didn’t do as much as I was supposed to do last year. So I’ve got a point to prove this year so that’s what my motivation is.

 What do you think the bearing of this game is on fall?

 It means a lot to me because if I do good in the spring game  people look at me as I can be a big contributor to the team. I could be able to take on the responsibility that Duke had left. I’m really looking forward to it.

 Do you think you had a quiet spring or do you think you performed like you can?

 I performed like I can but I still have room for improvement. I feel like I have a lot more to do.

 How do you think the RBs in general did this spring trying to replace Duke in his production?

 The running backs in the running backs room, we’re like a brotherhood. We work everyday. No matter what we’re doing on our off days we come in and watch film with each other. We do anything to that can make us better and possibly fill in the role for Duke.

 How do you think you did in scrimmage last week? Do you think you can make an impact in passing game in this offense?

 I’m looking to do anything to help the team to win, whether it’s passing or rushing or even blocking, I’m willing to do it so my team can be on top. 

Miami Hurricanes football spring game today at noon. Here's your info! See you there.

The Hurricanes conclude spring practice with the annual spring game at noon Saturday.

 Location: Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

 Lockhart is very, very close to I-95.

 The exit off I-95 is Commercial Boulevard. Take Commercial west and Lockhart will be on your right side in less than half a mile. 

 Current players will sign autographs on the field beginning at 10 a.m. A few former players will sign autographs afterward. There also will be interactive stations for kids.

Another great addition: The UM Sports Hall of Fame will Gino Torretta's Heisman Trophy and other memorabilia on display. 

Refreshments and merchandise will be sold.

Don't forget your sunscreen!

For you avid fans keeping score, this will be a simple offense vs. defense game.

There will be 12-minute quarters and a 10-minute halftime period. Here's the scoring format:

OFFENSE SCORING:


First down = 1 point

Field goal = 3 points

Touchdown = 6 points

PAT/2-point conversion = 1/2 points

DEFENSE

Defensive stop = 1 point

Fourth-down stop = 2 points

Three-and-out = 3 points

Turnover = 6 points 

 Everything should end by about 2 p.m.

SEE YOU THERE!

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

March 26, 2015

'Head crack,' heavy lifting and getting hyped for the spring game

    After the Hurricanes chanted, “Head crack, the U is back!’’ and “Coastal!’’ as they gathered en masse at the end of their final spring practice session Thursday before the spring game Saturday, they did some heavy lifting – as in 320-something-pounders reverently carrying other 320-something-pounders off the field.

    Photo (3)

   “I know that was tough,’’ said linebacker Jermaine Grace of 6-8, 322-pound redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Sunny Odogwu hoisting 6-4, 325-pound senior defensive tackle Mike Wyche. “Nobody wanted to carry him.’’

   Grace, who will be a junior next season, has some time to go before he gets carried off the field by underclassmen – a tradition during the final spring and fall practices. Until then, he said he’ll be doing his best to ensure that the Hurricanes get their swagger back – beginning with the spring game.

   “Basically, this spring game we’ve got to show everybody that the U is back, that we’re smart, fast and physical and we’re ready to play this season,’’ Grace said. “We’re going to come out hard, fast and just be able to put the U back on the map.’’

   The spring game kicks off at noon at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, with pregame festivities – including team autographs and interactive stations – beginning at 10 a.m. The event is free and open to the public.

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

 *** Receiver Braxton Berrios was back participating fully at practice Thursday.

*** Cornerback Tracy Howard (shoulder) did not take part in practice Thursday.

*** After practice, Grace explained that "Head crack, the U is back'' is "kind of our little speech and our little breakup that we do. We do it in the meetings, and we do it everytime we get a break. We say, 'Head Crack, the U is back.' So then everybody knows, even us, that Miami is going to be back on the map.

"Oh yeah, Coastal also. [Winning the] Coastal [Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference] is everybody's goal and dream right about now. That's our dream as a team, as a unit. The Coastal is our first thing that we're going to work on. Then it's the championships.''

What did Grace get out of spring practice?

"You know, really just the hard work it's going to take to be a dominant team this year. This year we're trying to go in, we're trying to basically bring the U back. We're trying to bring the swagger and everything back to the University of Miami. It's going to take hard work and dedication to, you know, bring it back because then everybody worked hard and paid the price to be the best. So that's what we want this year.''

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

Lockhart Stadium is off Commercial Boulevard, just west of I-95. Don't forget your sunscreen, and make sure you're well hydrated before you show up! It's going to be hot out there. Refreshments (and UM merchandise) will be on sale.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

March 24, 2015

Tyriq the Freak returns to practice after knee injury. One more practice before spring game.

Hurricanes linebacker Tyriq McCord participated fully at spring football practice -- and was jubilant about it -- Tuesday after injuring a knee March 6 in the first scrimmage.

McCord did not take part in last Saturday's second scrimmage because of what coach Al Golden described as an injury related to the bursa sac, but will compete in the spring game at noon Saturday at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

Photo 1 (1)

When asked if he felt strange knowing that spring practice is almost over, and it's still so early in the season, the 6-3, 242-pound soon-to-be senior pined about his time spent at UM as if he only had a few days left.

"My last spring game, that's crazy,'' he said. "It went by real quick. I was just 209 [pounds] walking in here yesterday. These four years go by so quick. I let them know that, too. Cause, you know, like J-Lew [Jeremy Lewis], a lot of the older guys, [Allen] Hurns, all of them boys, they told us that it's going to go by quick. I didn't listen to them either and look at me now.''

McCord was then told, 'But you have a whole 'nother season.'

"True, but look,'' he replied, pointing to clumps of facial hair. "I'm growing a little peach fuzz now. I had nothin' when I came in.''

McCord said his knee is "doing great. Just had a little stinger, had a little banger. It happened the first scrimmage and it was the beginning of the scrimmage on a little cut right there on the goal line. I kind of banged it up. ...Started to swell up real bad, so I got [the swelling] down and I'm feeling great now.''

McCord wore "a heavy sleeve'' on the knee. Just going to ice it down... right quick. But there's nothing wrong with it right now, so I'm feeling good.''

TRENT HARRIS BIGGER, STRONGER

*** Rush end Trent Harris said he has been with the first team all spring and that he and Al-Quadin Muhammad and Demetrius Jackson have been "pushing each other" to their limits. 

 Harris said strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey has helped him put on muscle and add weight.

   "I've been trying to eat healthy and cut down all the fats and of course get stronger and faster,'' said Harris, who noted he was 6-2 and weighs about 242 after coming in as a freshman at 220 and playing at 225.

    Photo (2)

   Last season, Harris played in 12 games and had 15 tackles, his most playing time on the defense and only tackle for loss coming against Florida A&M.  

  Finally, Harris was asked if he was looking forward to the post-practice barbecue set up on Greentree Field for recruits and players.

  "Oh yeah,'' he said with a grin. "I'm hungry. I probably lost a lot of weight today anyway, so I've got to get a few plates.''

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

Breathtaking week for nation's RBI-leader David Thompson: 2 doubles, triple, 4 HRs (2 grand slams), 13 RBI, 23 total bases.

What a refreshing, feel-good story for an outstanding young man. 

For the second straight week, University of Miami junior inielder David Thompson has been honored by the Atlantic Coast Conference as Player of the Week for his extraordinary hitting.

 Thompson, who plays third base and first base, sat out 32 games last season because of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, defined by the Mayo Clinic as "a group of disorders that occur when the blood vessels or nerves in the space between your collarbone and first rib (thoracic outlet) become compressed. This can cause pain in your shoulders and neck and numbness in your fingers."

A Miami Westminster Christian graduate, Thompson had to have a rib removed, which is obviously very painful. He still ended up hitting .278 with six doubles and 15 RBI for the season after hitting .286 with 46 RBI as a freshman.

Thompson shared his most recent ACC Player of the Week honors with FSU outfielder DJ Stewart.

Talk about an amazing four-game week. Thompson ripped four home runs over that span, including grand slams against Army and Wake Forest. He set a career high with seven RBI in Friday's victory over Wake Forest.

In doing so, Thompson helped lead Miami to an 18-7 record (6-3 ACC) and No. 13 national ranking by Baseball America.

Thompson extended his hitting streak to a career-best 14 games. He leads the nation with 39 RBI and ranks second in the ACC in home runs with eight, and has the second-highest league slugging percentage (.732) and second-most total bases (71).

The Hurricanes return to Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field at 6 p.m. Wednesday for a game against Florida Gulf Coast.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

March 21, 2015

Second Hurricanes' spring scrimmage in the books. Thanks to Al Golden for letting media watch.

Coach Al Golden surprised us all by letting us watch what was originally supposed to be a closed scrimmage Saturday.

It was the second scrimmage of spring, with the final one -- the spring game -- free and open to the public at noon next Saturday, March 28, at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

On a super hot and sunny day (surprise!) at Greentree Field, the Canes' offense and defense had their good and sometimes not-so-good moments.

Like Golden told us after the scrimmage, "There's no way to win as the head coach. It's just a question of watching guys getting great matchups.'' 

Thus, for every great play on someone's part, someone else on the other side missed making one.

Starting quarterback Brad Kaaya had an admirable effort considering he has been pretty sick with the flu all week, and still sounded kind of lousy and sickish when he spoke to us this afternoon.

Second-team quarterback Malik Rosier continues to look better and better. He runs an offense that is quicker-paced and takes advantage of his mobility and elusiveness. He can use his feet or his hands, and he throws a nice ball. He's very easy to like, as is Kaaya. Both guys are reflective and direct in answering our questions. Both are nice guys and have a nice touch on the field. Please keep in mind that UM's second-team defense is not nearly as good as its first-team defense. 

Kaaya completed 12 of 19 passes for 140 yards -- a 71-yard chunk of that going to tailback Joe Yearby on a screen play.

Rosier, who stayed behind in Coral Gables instead of traveling with the baseball team to Wake Forest for an ACC road trip, took advantage of his opportunities. Rosier completed 5 of 10 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns. Rosier's last two passes were TD passes to Malcolm Lewis. The first was for 26 yards and the last, for 45 yards.

"I'm kind of missing baseball,'' Rosier said, "but at the same time I'm keeping up. I heard DT [David Thompson] hit a two-run homer or a home run last night, which was great (actually, two home runs, including a grand slam), so I'm keeping up with the guys, but yeah, kind of a blessing in disguise being here and getting more time in with the ones.''

 Rosier said he knew he needed to stay behind because of Kaaya's flu this past week. "When Coach [James] Coley called me and said that Brad was out, it was clear that he needed me here to run the offense 'cause it's nothing against Vinny, but he just transferred from Texas Tech so the playbook's still difficult. Vinny's getting there, but yeah, Coach Coley needed me here, which actually paid off for me in the long run.''

Together, the QBs completed 17 of 29 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns.

Lewis had a nice day, catching four passes for 89 yards and the two scores -- 15 yards, 3 yards and the two TDs.

Gus Edwards got the first carry of the scrimmage and ended with 16 carries for 85 yards.

Yearby is looking really good these days, though we expect him to put on more meat as the months pass. He ran seven times for 34 yards and a 16-yard touchdown on the scrimmage's second series, led by Rosier. His touchdown was the 71-yarder, with the defense trying its best to catch him, but to no avail. 

Newcomer Vincent Testaverde, a walk-on transfer from Texas Tech, took part in two series. He threw two passes, both incompletions. But just before the scrimmage began, in 9-on-9 drills, threw a beauty of a deep pass to D'Mauri Jones near the left sideline.

Also of note: rising sophomore wide receiver Braxton Berrios made two great plays in this scrimmage before getting hurt in his midsection, apparently his ribs. Berrios' first catch was on a 56-yard screen pass from Rosier. He gracefully zigged and zagged around defenders on that one. Two plays later, Yearby rushed for his touchdown.

Berrios was at it again with a rugged catch in heavy traffic for 20 yards. He clutched the ball as if his life depended on it. He also went down on the play, injuring what appeared to be his midsection/ribs. He didn't play after that, standing the whole time on the sideline with a thick wrap or some type of padding over his midsection.

"He got the wind knocked out of him,'' Golden said. "Whether or not it turned into something with his ribs to be careful with, that's it. We're just being real cautious right now. I blew a couple of drives dead just because the play count was getting high. We've got to be careful this time of year. We're very grateful we came out of it good.''

Here's what Rosier had to say about Berrios' catch in traffic: "Yeah, it was kind of a scramble. We call it 'basic concept.' The line wasn't supposed to cut, so when they cut, the D-line got up really fast, so I tried to make a move. When I did, he turned the out route up and I threw it to him. It was a good catch. yeah, it was a great catch and I kinda feel bad I got him hurt. He was like, 'Naw, it's fine. It's part of football.'

 Defensively, the Canes registered four sacks, courtesy of tackle Anthony Moten, defensive end Trent Harris, safety Deon Bush and middle linebacker Juwon Young.

There were eight tackles for loss.

The leading tackler was strong-side linebacker Darrion Owens.

"I think we improved,'' Owens said, "but there's a lot of improvement to go to be a better team.''

Owens admitted he "should have'' caught Yearby on the touchdown reception. "I had him on that play,'' Owens said. "He's kind of fast. He just got outside me. It's something I've got to fix.''

Starting middle linebacker Raphael Kirby said the defense "started fast'' with "great energy'' and "finished well. We are a lot more comfortable, guys doing their job, just the accountability has really picked up over the last couple weeks. No mishaps, guys in their gaps and that's what's going to make us great.''

Kirby insisted that the first-team defense outplayed the first-team offense.

"We won,'' he said. "I know the ones beat the ones on the offense.''

Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said he didn't "want to sound like a broken record -- this is spring No. 5 -- but I always talk about spring being for the individual improvement, and summer and training camp being when the unit develops together. You're really focusing on individuals. You're trying to work different guys. The depth chart is being flipped back and forth. Certain guys are getting looks with the twos and ones, or the threes. We're focused on indivudals.''

So, which individuals looked good to D'Onofrio?

"You know what's hard?'' he said. "The one thing people may not realize, when we scrimmage against one another, when we go ones, twos, ones, twos, I don't get a break between the series. I'm just calling defense. There's no time to digest the previous series. So, for two hours straight I'm just calling defenses. Overall, I thought the first unit, just to the naked eye, did a really nice job. I thought they were locked in and played well. I thought the second unit started a little slow and finished a little better.''

 The ugly: a lot of penalties. We don't have official numbers, but we do know there were six penalties during the first two drives and eight penalties during the first three drives. 

 "It was just a little sloppy today,'' Kaaya said. "I made a few good throws. We just had too many penalties, too many [self-inflicted] penalties. A few offsides, a few holdings. The first-team offense would get in there and we'd make a 30-yard run and it gets called 15 yards back. That's tough when it's first-and-15. Pretty much every drive, every third down it would go from third-and-1 to third-and-9, or third-and-10, so it was hard -- or even third-and-15. It's hard to stay on schedule when it's like that.''  

 ** Sitting out of the scrimmage with injuries or recuperating from injuries were cornerback Tracy Howard (shoulder), defensive tackle Calvin Heurtelou (knee), linebacker Tyriq McCord (knee), offensive lineman Taylor Gadbois (knee), safety Rayshawn Jenkins (back) and defensive end Scott Patchan (knee) and offensive lineman Hunter Knighton

*** In the kicking game, Michael Badgely kicked a 42-yard field-goal attempt short, but on the mark; He then was given another chance, and kicked it wide right.

*** The only turnover of the scrimmage was a fumble by tight end Stan Dobard. Cornerback Artie Burns recovered the fumble.

*** The offensive line, as is usually the case, had some players rotate in and out at various positions. "For instance,'' Golden said, [Alex] Gall after two series went to center. [Hunter] Wells came in at left guard. Kc [McDermott] I know played right tackle and left tackle today. Danny Isidora played right guard and right tackle. Joe Brown some at right guard with the ones.

The starters, from left to right, were Trevor Darling, Hunter Wells, Nick Linder, Danny Isidora and Sunny Odogwu.

"We're not ready to settle in. But I thought it was a good effort. Those guys want to please, man. They want to work and that's going to be good for us.''

The Canes meet again on Tuesday for practice.

***  Jaquwan Nelson, a 6-4, 230-pound defensive end out of Fort Lauderdale high, on Saturday committed to UM’s Class of 2016. He is not rated by recruiting sites rivals.com and 247sports.com.

 

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

March 20, 2015

Ron Fraser to be immortalized by statue outside of ballpark he loved. Dedication 4/24 before FSU opener.

As the No. 17 Hurricanes (16-6, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) prepare to open an ACC weekend series at Wake Forest (first pitch set for 6 p.m. Friday), the good news has come down that the man who built the program will be immortalized April 24 outside the ballpark he loved.

Gives me goosebumps.

Ron Fraser, who led the Canes for 30 years from 1963-92 and died in 2013, will have his statue dedicated and unveiled before the series opener against Florida State. The ceremony will be free and open to the public on the DiMare Family Champions Plaza outside of Mark Light Field at Alex Rodriguez Park, with no tickets required to gain entrance.

The statue was primarily funded by friends and fans of Fraser, who never posted a losing season and won national titles in 1982 and 1985.

"The entire Fraser family is very excited about the dedication and unveiling of the statue on April 24,'' said Fraser's daughter, Cynthia, on behalf of the Fraser family, in a prepared statement issued by UM. "We are so grateful to the donors and the University for this wonderful tribute, and can't wait to see Ron Fraser back at Mark Light."

Added UM athletic director Blake James: "Ron Fraser touched the lives of thousands through his passion for baseball and for people. It is fitting that his immeasurable love for this community will forever be present at the entrance of our ballpark.''

Current UM coach Jim Morris, who won national titles at UM in 1999 and 2001, said Fraser "was not only the most influential person in college baseball history, but also the most influential in my own professional career. Having a statue in front of our park, honoring all that he did both on the field and off, is going to be something special for his family, our program and for our fans."

Tickets are expected to sell out for the FSU opener at 7 p.m. the night of the dedication. Go to CanesTix.com to purchase tickets.

This is one of those feel-good occasions you likely won't want to miss if you're a Hurricanes fan.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

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March 19, 2015

Brad Kaaya misses practice with the flu, opens door (in practice) for Malik Rosier

Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya has the flu, which allowed backup Malik Rosier to take most of the snaps in Thursday's spring practice session.

According to coach Al Golden and offensive coordinator James Coley, Rosier and Vincent Testaverde rose to the challenge.

"Yeah, it was really great -- I mean they really responded,'' Golden said. "Malik I thought ran it today with a lot of poise and precision. We didn't miss a beat there. Great opportunity for him to do what he did... Brad had a little case of the flu Sunday, Monday. We're holding him out and hopefully he'll be back by Saturday.''

Coley of Kaaya: "I think it hit the baseball team, knocked a couple of those guys out and definitely got on a couple of our guys and Brad's one of them. So right now he's on Pedialyte, resting and all that stuff.

"I thought Malik went in there and really looked good. I mean, he really did and he made, you know, there's errors that go on in practice that everybody makes, but he bounced back. He took charge. He made some real big plays with his legs and a couple real good throws. He's [got] a strong arm. He's a gifted athlete. He cares about the game.''

Rosier didn't speak to the media Thursday but did let a couple of us know that instead of traveling with the baseball team today for the ACC weekend series at Wake Forest, he would instead stay back in Coral Gables to participate in the scrimmage -- a wise move. Rosier has been used sparingly as a freshman center fielder in baseball, but he has impressive statistics. He's hitting .600 -- 3 for 5 -- with a home run and 3 RBI in four games.

Coley was asked if having the No. 1 quarterback out can sometimes be a blessing in disguise.

"Of course,'' Coley said, "because you get reps in doing things that really tailors to the next guy. A lot of the stuff that we have in tailors to whoever's the starter or whoever's in that starting role, or a group of guys in that starting role. Brad and Malik are two different guys, so Malik can do a lot of things that Brad can do, but he also brings another element to the game that Brad doesn't bring and you get to work on that a little bit at practice.''

Coley described Rosier as being "not just mobile but being explosive while being mobile. There's a big difference.''

When asked about Testaverde, the soon-to-be-sophomore walk-on who transferred from Texas Tech, Coley said he "took a bunch'' of reps Thursday. "I thought he played well. I still think he's learning the system. There are a lot of things that go into our spring setup. I think sometimes it hurts him a little bit just because there's a lot of extra work going on with other stuff. But I thought he threw some real nice passes there today.''

*** Here's what Coley said he's looking for in Saturday's second scrimmage (again close to the media and the public): "I thought execution was good in the last one. I want to see great execution. I don't want to see self-inflicting penalties or plays. You drive 90 yards and the ball bounces off a guy's helmet that doesn't turn around and it's an interception in the end zone. Or the ball slightly thrown backwards on a receiver just because your'e protecting him from a safety and he kind of closes his eyes and the ball bounces off his shoulders and it's an interception in the end zone.

"We don't want that, right? We don't want turnovers in the red zone. That's kind of what I'm looking at. I'm looking at, 'Hey, now finish the drive.' You know, great job converting third downs along the way. Maybe it was a screen or a big play that got you down there. Now finish the drive. I'm looking for more finish.''

 *** Quick Hits

***LB Tyriq McCord (knee) is getting closer to being cleared for practice, Golden said. "It's the bursa sac,'' Golden said. "It ruptured [and] put some fluid in the knee. Our guys have done a great job getting it out of there. They didn't want to put a needle in there, so they're working it out of there and icing it down. His mobility's coming back and his flexibility. So, hopefully, Monday.'' 

*** DE Al-Quadin Muhammad "is getting better,'' Golden said. "I think the biggest thing with him is he's really studying the game and he's not making the mental errors that he did as a freshman. He's playing faster because of it, so you're seeing that it's because he's got a quiet mind and he's playing with a lot of energy.''

*** Safety Deon Bush will continue to also practice at cornerback, Golden said. "I thought Deon practiced really well today,'' the coach said. "A lot more energy. Communicating well. Had a purpose about him. And he's mature enough to do both.''

*** Left tackle Jahair Jones, a 6-4, 335-pound junior-college transfer, was flattened in a one-on-one drill by defensive end Demetrius Jackson, a rising redshirt freshman who is a 6-5, 250-pounder out of Miami Booker T. Washington High.

   Golden said Jackson has "gotta keep coming. Quan [Muhammad] is a guy who hasn't made many mental errors and Trent [Harris] has really not been a mental error guys since he got here. He's gotta challenge them off the field in terms of study, film study and learning the defense and then just keep coming on the field. He's going to be fine. I really like Demetrius.''

 *** Former UM center Tyler Horn, whose last season was Golden's first in 2011, was among the former players who visited practice Thursday. Horn is a sales rep for Shadowman, a "moving tackling dummy so you can practice on the open field year round with or without pads,'' said Horn, who grew up in Memphis and now lives with his wife in Cape Coral. 

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   Horn said 29 FBS schools, including Oregon, Oklahama, Notre Dame and Clemson, use the Shadowman dummies, which each weigh 40 pounds. The bottom, inner-tube-like portion is filled with air and attached to a harness that fits around the player. The tall, dummy portion fits inside the inner-tube device and moves upon getting smacked, preventing concussions and other injuries.

  Cost: $950 for one and $2,400 for three.

*** Tailback Joe Yearby is still soft-spoken off the field, but he has become louder, "tougher,'' he said, and more aggressive on it. Yearby, who will be a sophomore in 2015, demonstrated his leadership Thursday by smacking an offensive guard "to get him going.

  "Just to let him know that we've got to go. I don't remember who it was,'' Yearby said while laughing. "I think he missed a block or made a wrong block or something."

  Yearby said he's "a little louder'' and "tougher'' because of former Hurricane Duke Johnson's absence. "I talk aggressive just to get everybody [going] so they can know what they're doing and what they've got to do.

  "Duke was the voice of the offense. I feel like I have to be the voice of the offense now that he's gone.''

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

March 17, 2015

News and notes from Tuesday as the Canes resumed spring practice; plus new depth chart

After enjoying a stretch of more than 11 days off for spring break, the Miami Hurricanes resumed spring practice Tuesday with a couple players fully healed from injuries (offensive tackle Kc McDermott and cornerback Tracy Howard), a new face in a red, non-contact jersey (linebacker Tyriq McCord) and a new depth chart.

Here's what was noteworthy from the first of five remaining practices before the March 28 spring game at Fort Lauderdale's Lockhart Stadium:

> No one on the team, it appears, got themselves into trouble over the break. "Did you hear anything," coach Al Golden responded when asked if the break ended without any surprises. "It was awesome."

Golden said he was pleased with the team's attitude and communication during the break. He said players were really mature in Monday's meetings and there was good tempo in Tuesday's practice. "Sometimes you have this transition and it’s a little slow," Golden said. "It wasn’t that. It was a good, tough practice."

> Golden said the injury to McCord, who is listed as the second team strong side linebacker behind sophomore Darrion Owens, isn't "anything significant, but it's something we're being careful with."

> McDermott, who will compete for the starting left tackle job after missing all but the first four games of the 2014 season with a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee, was a full participant for the first time this spring as expected.

"It was great -- definitely, a high adrenaline pump," the 6-6, 315-pound sophomore-to-be said. It wasn’t the best day I’ve ever had, but it was something to build off. I just want to keep it going, get back in the rhythm of things. No problems with my knee at all.”

He ran with the second team at right tackle behind Sunny Odogwu, who had been on the left side before the break. UM has been rotating lineman at different positions all spring. Sophomore Trevor Darling is the first team left tackle and newcomer Jahair Jones, who had been working at guard, is now backing him up.

McDermott said his goal is to be a starter by the spring game.

> Freshman defensive lineman Scott Patchan went through practice in a yellow, limited contact jersey -- an upgrade. He had been in a red, non-contact jersey for the first part of the spring.

> Golden said Odogwu, a liability all of last season, has to stop thinking and play fast. "His punch is better over the course of the spring, but we’ve got to get him to stop shutting down his feet," Golden said. "Sometimes he shuts down his feet on his pass protection. If we can get that figured out in the next five [practices], we’re going to be very happy."

> Senior Deon Bush was passed up on the depth chart at safety by Dallas Crawford, but Golden said part of that had to do with the hamstring injuries that caused him to miss some practices. Golden said the latest depth chart was based on "everything, but weighted" toward what happened in the first scrimmage. UM's second scrimmage is on Saturday.

> Golden said he's pleased with the way junior Gus Edwards, listed as the first teamer at running back, is asserting himself. But he wouldn't say he's the main back ahead of sophomore Joe Yearby just yet.

"There’s no question he’s not shying away from trying to be the guy, which is great," Golden said. "Because Gus is big sometimes people think he’s slow. He’s not slow. He might be a little bit longer strider down the field and not as agile, but he is fast. He can catch a screen and go, catch it out of the backfield and go. We’ve got to work on that part of his game."

> Sophomore Trayone Gray, who played mostly quarterback and receiver at Carol City High, fumbled Tuesday and admitted making the adjustment to running back hasn't been easy.

"I never had to run through the hole, try to break tackles because in high school I was an open field release, ran a read offense," he said. "It's been tough trying to keep my pad level down, getting my footwork down at running back."

Gray said he's been studying Steelers Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell. "We're the same size, same weight," Gray said. "I like to see how he runs, try to urn similar to him."

> Part of the changes the Hurricanes are implementing offensively (aside from more plays picked up from the Dallas Cowboys) is changing the pace to throw opponents off.

"We change up our pace a lot more now," said sophomore Alex Gall, listed as a co-starter at left guard. "We’ll go from a fast pace to a slow pace. We’re getting in the huddle more, just trying to move from the huddle to the ball real quick, just changing the pace is a real big thing for us right now.

Gray said the offense is "speeding it up a little bit, trying to catch the defense off guard, get more [explosive] plays."

"It's a little more tiring," Gray said. "But you catch the defense off guard you have less to worry about."

> Former Weston Cypress Bay kicker Jonathan Semerene is back with the team this spring. Semerene is the kicker who was seen on YouTube booting field goals from 70 yards out.

Golden said Semerene "was going through a lot in the fall and decided to step away" before returning.

"He’s a really good kid and we wanted to give him an opportunity to come back and we’re glad he is back," Golden said. "He’s got a strong leg. We’ve got to get him in shape so he’s more explosive and quicker with his leg. A lot of that is body composition and getting leaner and doing all those things. The strength staff will do a great job with him. He just joined us here."

March 16, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

FOOTBALL STAFF NEWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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