July 07, 2015

Kaaya named to Maxwell watch list

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 30, 2015

Donor gives UM $1 million to help fund football scholarship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 25, 2015

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

Taylor Gadbois' days as a Miami Hurricane are over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 12, 2015

CANES-GATORS: Getting it started in Omaha

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

OMAHA, Neb. -- The Miami baseball team plays its first game in the College World Series since 2008 on Saturday night.
Much has changed in the capital of college baseball since -- most notably the venue.
The previous time Jim Morris' squad was here, the CWS was played a few miles away at Rosenblatt Stadium.
On Friday, Miami took the field at TD Ameritrade Park (which opened in 2011) for the first time but saw some familiar faces in orange-and-blue jerseys.
The Hurricanes (49-15) square off against longtime rival Florida (46-19) in the marquee game of Saturday's opening day in Omaha.
Florida and Miami have been playing each other in baseball since 1940, a span of 240 games but Saturday (8 p.m., ESPN) is not only the first between the two in Omaha, but the first-ever meeting outside of the state of Florida.
"This is the World Series and you're excited to be here so it doesn't matter who you are playing,'' said Morris, who is making his 12th trip to the CWS in 22 seasons with the Hurricanes.
"It does add an interesting twist to it, playing Florida. But we've played Florida State out here, too, so it's not something where in-state rivals haven't played out here before.''
Both teams come to Omaha on quite a roll with the Hurricanes earning a No. 5 national seed as they have won 19 of their past 21 games.
Fourth-seeded Florida is considered the tournament favorite -- the Gators are aiming for their first national championship in the sport -- after winning nine straight and 13 of its past 15 including a two-game rout of Florida State in the Gainesville Super Regional.
Miami has won four national championships and is in Omaha for the 24th time. This marks Florida's ninth trip to the CWS and fourth since 2010.

"Walking out of that tunnel, it's pretty special,'' said Florida starter Logan Shore (9-6), who only threw nine pitches against Miami on Feb. 20 before leaving with a hip flexor injury.
"I'm pumped for this. We haven't played a team from outside Florida since the SEC Tournament. Go figure, we play Miami in the first game in Omaha. It's always special to play an in-state rival, there's always added hype to it. But Omaha does enough on its own. We're not just here to beat Miami, we're here to win the whole thing. Miami is just that first stepping stone for that.''
The Hurricanes counter with ace Andy Suarez (9-1) who was scheduled to face Shore in February but missed his start against the Gators after suffering a oblique strain during warmups in the visiting bullpen at McKethan Stadium.
"Just looking around this place, this is a big deal,'' Suarez said.
Natural postseason foes, the Hurricanes and Gators have done a nice job of keeping one another away from Omaha over the years.
Most recently, it has been Florida putting the brakes on Miami's annual run to Nebraska.
Since the Hurricanes last trip here in 2008, Florida ended Miami's season in the regional or super regional round three times (2009-11) as the Gators won 11 of 15 meetings between the two during that span.
Over the past seven seasons, Florida has won 19 of 27 against Miami.
Most recently, the two have split six games with each winning two of three at home (Miami won the series in 2014, Florida in 2015).
"Both programs are very good, very competitive,'' Morris said. "I expect a good baseball game like we played the first three this season. Those were great games to watch although it was freezing.''
Sophomore outfielder Willie Abreu said it is odd to play Florida in Nebraska but that the hard-hitting Hurricanes are ready for the challenge.
"It seems kind of crazy. We could have played them just up the road,'' Abreu said.
"This is the place to be. This is a great team and we're excited to play them. Miami-Florida is a big rivalry and we're excited to play it out on the biggest stage in college baseball.''
-- It was overcast and a bit chilly on Friday (Florida and Miami practiced with the threat of rain and temps in the mid-60s). Saturday's forecast: More rain. Hopefully the two games (Virginia plays Arkansas in the opener at 2 p.m.) get in without a hitch.



June 09, 2015

Hurricanes top baseball recruit Kep Brown looks like he's headed to Coral Gables, not the minor leagues

If the Major League Baseball Draft is a nervous time for players consider it twice as hard on college coaches.

That's because as much as Jim Morris wants to see his juniors and seniors make a splash and get paid, he also wants to hold onto the one he's recruited. Barring some huge surprises, that should happen with Miami's next recruiting class.

Of the six players in the 2015 class, only one, Wando, S.C. power-hitting outfielder Kep Brown, was taken during the first two days of the draft. The Cardinals took Brown in the 10th round Tuesday with the 311th overall pick, meaning Brown will sign for the $149,700 he's slotted for according to Baseball America (the Cardinals can offer him more, but it's unlikely) or head to Coral Gables.

Brown, who went down with a season-ending achilles injury in April, hinted to a few news outlets Tuesday he's already decided what he's going to do and it sounds like he'll be wearing orange and green.

“It was a stressful, emotional couple of days,” Brown told the South Carolina Post and Courier. “It didn't go how we had planned, really, but to hear my name called did give me chills. It was awesome.

“We've got a pretty good idea of what I'm going to do,” he said. “But I probably won't let that go public for a bit longer, just out of respect for the Cardinals.”

UM's other five recruits are all local players who have yet to get drafted: Coral Gables right-hander Andrew Cabezas (6-3, 0.39 ERA, 81 Ks), American third baseman Roman Gonzalez (.410, 4 HR, 26 RBI), Westminster Christian right-hander Isaiah Musa, Florida Christian right-hander Alex Valverde and Terra Research Institute right-hander Frank Bartow

On the flip side, UM has already had three of its best players taken. 

Pitcher Andrew Suarez was taken with the 61st overall pick Monday. Third baseman David Thompson was taken by the Mets in the fourth round with the 119th overall pick and second baseman George Iskenderian was taken by the Brewers in the seventh round with the 211th overall pick. Suarez is slotted at $1,010,100 (slightly more than he would have made if he signed last year), Thompson at $474,800, and Iskenderian at $195,700. 

By the way, before Tuesday, the Hurricanes hadn't had three players taken within the first 211 picks of the draft since 2009 when Jason Hagerty (144th overall), Ryan Jackson (159th), Kyle Bellamy (163rd) and Chris Herrmann (192nd) were taken within the first 192 picks. 

June 08, 2015

Canes' Andrew Suarez gets taken 61st overall by Giants

Hurricanes ace Andrew Suarez was taken with the 61st overall pick in Monday's MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants.

It's four spots lower than where Suarez (9-1, 2.96 ERA) was taken a year ago by the Washington Nationals. Suarez turned down nearly a $1 million signing bonus to head back to school and get his degree. But odds are he's not going to pass on the money he's due now to come back for his redshirt senior season.

Suarez is starting for the Hurricanes Saturday in Omaha against the Florida Gators.

Suarez said Monday he was going to sit at home and watch the draft.

June 07, 2015

Play it again Sam! In other words: SAM-MY! SAM-MY! SAM-MY!

If you went to sleep by 3:30 Saturday afternoon and just woke up, the indomitable Miami Hurricanes are going to the College World Series -- by virtue of their 10-3 victory over Virginia Commonwealth University, fueled by a most unlikely hero named Sam Abrams.

That was the third time I've seen the Hurricanes in a joyous pileup in a victorious super regional deciding game, and the two previous times the Canes (49-15) won the national championship at the College World Series.

The third time could also be the charm, if No. 5 national seed UM can get past some equally talented competition. Eight teams get the chance, and UM was the first to qualify.

 On Saturday, UM will meet Florida (49-16) in the opening game of the College World Series. The Gators beat the Canes with one-run victories in 2 of 3 in Gainesville at the season's opening road series Feb. 20-22. Miami beat Florida 7-2 in the middle game.

Keep in mind that it was absolutely freezing that weekend, and UM's left-handed ace Andy Suarez pulled a muscle and couldn't pitch. Suarez will be ready to go at the College World Series.

  Back to the walk-on Abrams, a 23-year-old gem of a young man who barely pitched in his three previous seasons at Miami and earned his master's degree in accounting while basically sitting on the bench.

Call him what you like: "KAbrams,'' as AP writer Tim Reynolds coined, or the "Hebrew Hammer,'' as my son-in-law texted, or "Get-out-of-a-Jam Sam,'' as Abrams' dad, Chris told Miami Herald correspondent David Furones.

But just make sure you add "winner'' to the bunch.

The right-handed, walk-on Abrams replaced struggling left-handed starter Thomas Woodrey with bases loaded, no outs and a 3-3 score in the third inning Saturday.

Keep in mind that Abrams pitched a total of 2 2/3 innings in 2014 and 1 2/3 innings in 2013, and was cut during tryouts before his 2012 sophomore season (He tried out again and obviously made it).

So, back to bases loaded: Abrams, a sidewinder with a ball that has plenty of movement and very little speed, struck out the first batter.

Crowd of 3,680 roars.

Abrams struck out the second batter.

Crowd roars.

Abrams got the final batter that inning to fly out to a pumped right fielder Willie Abreu, the Hialeah kid who smacked a home run in the ninth inning to punctuate the victory.

In all, Abrams gave up a measly single in a career-high four innings pitched. He struck out four and didn't walk anyone. He got the win in the biggest game of his life. 

Absolutely amazing if you consider the atmosphere and what was at stake.

I don't know if Sam, who will forever be in the hearts of Hurricanes fans, will pitch again. But I do know Saturday will be one of his life's highlights. How could it not be?

Sam told us he couldn't believe that "what happened my sophomore year ended up working out perfectly. It's a dream come true honestly.

"I had already applied to other schools. I was planning on where I was going to live and I was actually working at an accounting firm,'' he said. "I decided that this isn't what I want to do anymore. I didn't want to keep [working at the accounting firm] until I got done with college, so I decided to come back and it worked out perfectly.''

Sam's family -- his dad, his 25-year-old sister Alexa, his mom Lisa Goldstein, and his bubbly, chatterbox little brother Dylan, 12 -- were all there cheering him on. They've been coming to games for many, many years. 

"Me and my sister used to come to the games with my dad,'' said Abrams, a Miami native. "In '99, when they won the championship, that was the first year we came. [Alexa], she's crying, freaking out because she can't believe I'm actually in this moment. It's amazing for all of them to be here.

   "My little brother has told me every single tweet that has been tweeted about me already. My little brother is kind of crazy. A lot of people see him running around here, so he probably has all of [the tweets] favorited and will show them to me later.''

I talked to Dylan, who couldn't have been more excited, as the crazed crowd repeatedly chanted "YOU'RE NOT ABRAMS!!!"  to the unfortunate VCU relief pitcher.

"I'm SO proud,'' Dylan told me. "Sam's dream was always to play here. I'm shocked. I had to sit somewhere else because my mom freaks out and makes me nervous.

"I was thinking, 'Is Sam going to break Omaha or is he going to make Omaha?"

Now Dylan -- and the rest of the college baseball world -- knows the answer.

"He's going to make it!'' Dylan told me.

That, he did.



June 04, 2015

Just out: Hurricane Club reaches annual fundraising goal of $9.9 million

From the University of Miami....


‘Building Champions’ campaign reaches another milestone

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- The University of Miami's Hurricane Club announced Wednesday it has surpassed its annual fundraising goal of $9.9 million to the Student-Athlete Excellence Fund.

“All of our Hurricane Club members are truly Building Champions for Hurricane Athletics,” said Director of Athletics Blake James. “I would like to thank all of our loyal Hurricane Club members for their generosity and dedication in supporting our athletics programs and, most importantly, our student-athletes who represent our great university in a first-class manner.”

The Student-Athlete Excellence Fund provides the funding for scholarships, facility improvements and operational support needed to achieve excellence in 18 varsity sports, and provides opportunities for 400+ student-athletes to excel in the classroom, competition and life.

“Collectively, our Hurricane Club members continue to rise to the occasion and go above and beyond in support of UM student-athletes,” said Associate Athletics Director for Development Jesse Marks. “We truly appreciate every Hurricane Club member supporting our efforts in Building Champions at Miami.”

Raising $9.9 million is one of the many recent accomplishments reached by the Hurricane Club under its Building Champions campaign.  In 2014, the Hurricane Club reached an all-time high in membership with over 8,000 members—representing an 85% increase in membership since 2010.

“While we have made great strides in growing our Hurricane Club Membership base, there is still work to be done,” Marks said. “Costs of educational and athletics scholarships continue to rise annually, and the need is very real for all Hurricane fans to support the Hurricane Club at every level.  We must continue to increase the support for our dedicated student-athletes.”

To join the Hurricane Club and help it reach its goal of 8,300 active Hurricane Club members for 2015, please visit www.umbuildingchampions.com.  An annual membership begins at the Sebastian Level for just $50.

To learn more about the Hurricane Club, please visit www.uhurricaneclub.com or call 305-284-6699.  

Remember Colin McCarthy? He messaged me on Twitter this a.m. with news.



   Colin McCarthy, one of UM’s many talented linebackers of the past, messaged me this morning on Twitter that he “is officially retiring today.

   “Thank you for all your support along the way,’’ McCarthy wrote to me just after 5 a.m. “It’s been a good run…’’

   What a nice person and an accomplished middle linebacker who made quite a name for himself with the Tennessee Titans before major left-shoulder surgery last August –the same shoulder on which he had surgery while playing at UM – put him on the injured reserve list all last season and apparently led to his decision.

      He sustained the last shoulder injury in the Titans' 2014 preseason opener. He also sustained a concussion while playing through a high-ankle sprain in 2012.


     In just his second season in the NFL, McCarthy was voted as the team's defensive captain -- a big honor after starting seven of his 13 NFL games as a rookie.

   McCarthy, a former All-State linebacker who starred at Clearwater Catholic, turned 27 on May 30th.

   He received his undergraduate degree in business management from Miami, and was with the Hurricanes for five seasons. His last season was 2010, also former coach Randy Shannon’s final season.

   When I think of Colin I think of that exciting interception return at Florida State in 2007 that sealed an amazing UM comeback victory. He keeps that football in a trophy case in his home.

    His career numbers with the Titans: 19 starts in 36 games, 161 total tackles, five pass deflections, three interceptions, one touchdown, three forced fumbles. 

    His senior season at UM, Colin led all defenders with 119 tackles. he had 10.5 tackles-for-loss, four quarterback hurries, a sack, forced fumble and interception.

   I wish him all the luck in the world, but I have a feeling he doesn't need it. 




TALLAHASSEE -- Just when it seemed as though Kirby Freeman couldn't play any worse, he saved the University of Miami's season.

With starting quarterback Kyle Wright on the sideline after injuring his left knee and ankle in the first half, Freeman lofted a 13-yard pass to tight end Dedrick Epps, who fell in the right corner of the end zone to stun most of the 82,728 in attendance at Doak Campbell Stadium and put UM ahead 30-29 with 1:15 left.

Then, to ensure the victory and put the few thousand Miami fans in an absolute frenzy, Colin McCarthy's 27-yard fumble recovery 11 seconds later made it 37-29 and capped one of the most exciting games of a rivalry rife with them.

Suddenly, a UM team that appeared to be spinning out of control is confident and feeling as exuberant as it has all season. Now 5-3 and 2-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Hurricanes need to win one of their last four games to qualify for a bowl berth.

"Everybody said it wasn't going to be a big game. Well, you know what? ABC is happy, we're happy -- Florida State might not be as happy," said UM coach Randy Shannon, who was serenaded by fans with chants of Ran-dy Sha-nnon as he walked into the tunnel toward the locker room.

Seconds later, Freeman approached the tunnel and the fans sang his name as well.


June 01, 2015

May 30, 2015

'When you get in the losers' bracket, it's all about battling inning after inning...'






Opening statement...

“When you get in the losers' bracket, it’s all about battling inning after inning. It gets a little difficult sometimes. We’ve had times this year that we’ve hit and not pitched [or we have] pitched and not hit, just some things like that. [It was] one of those days. We ran into a really fine lefthander in Reid Love for East Carolina and he was absolutely outstanding. He hit the outside corner really well. He kept the ball down, threw three pitches really well, mixed them up and he really was kind of eating us up there for a while. Then, our man Chris Mourelle was a surgeon today. He just stayed after them and kept throwing strikes. I think in like six out of eight innings he got the leadoff hitter out, kept them from being able to do things because they’re third in the country in bunting base hits. They did get one right there.

He just did a great job for us and then when he came out, Danny Dopcio, our closer, came in and just threw some really, really nice pitches and did a great job. Eighth inning, obviously Edwin Rios gets a base hit leading things off. He’s running on three-two count to stay out of the double play. Brian Portelli gets a nice base hit sending [Rios] to third. Josh [Anderson] comes up hits a nice pitch, really used his top hand well, drove the ball to left, left-center field for the first run. Of course, JC Escarra hit a long fly, got our man to third and then [Austin Rodriguez] got a nice base hit to give us that second run. It was a good baseball game, no doubt. There were two really good pitchers that went head-to-head.”


On this being FIU’s first NCAA Regionals win in 14 years and the importance of that for the program...

“It’s always about the players. It’s always about the student-athletes. Like I said, we have guys up here like Josh Anderson, who’s been with us for three years. It was a great feeling last Sunday to be able to get into the Regional because we hadn’t been in it with this group of players. Guys like Julius Gaines, who’s been here for four years, [Edwin] Rios three years, Chris [Mourelle] has been with us for two years and been good just about every time out. It’s just a great feeling for the players because that’s who wins baseball games. The pitchers pitch, the hitters hit and the fielders field. It’s just a good feeling for those guys I know. I feel really proud of those guys for sure.”


On if being in a lot of games like this gave them confidence that they would get it done...

“Yeah, I think close games like that, that we’ve faced this whole year, we’ve kind of just kept coming at them, kept coming at them and finally put those runs on the board.”


On the difference between East Carolina’s pitchers, Reid Love and Joe Ingle...

“I think Love was coming at most of the middle of our lineup with off-speed [pitches] and Ingle, he’s a freshman, he was coming at us with fastballs up in the zone, and you just jump on those.”


On whether they thought the team that scored the first run was going to win it...

“We kind of knew. We just had to put one up on the board just because we had Mourelle pitching—he’s lights out—and [Danny] Dopico, we knew they couldn’t touch him.”



On if being in a lot of games like this gave them confidence that they would get it done...

“Yeah, when it’s a close game you got to just keep throwing strikes and going after hitters, and hopefully your hitters will get behind you and score some runs, and we did, and we won a ballgame.”


On his Sunday win at East Carolina last year and if he got confidence from that game...

“Yeah, they had a couple different players last year, but it’s pretty much the same team. I didn’t try to do anything different, just attacked them the same way I did last year and stay successful.”


On getting out of the jam in the sixth inning...

“Well, it started with a man on first and second [and they] bunted them over. You got to make sure you get that out—Josh did. And then the next hitter, I’m not going to say I tried to strike him out, but that’s what I wanted, ultimately, or a pop fly, or something to not move runners over, and then the next guy, just let him get out. That’s what happened.”


On if there was a particular pitch that was working well for him today...

“Not really. I threw a lot of fastballs today compared to most days, but in that case, my slider got in. But, I was pretty much throwing everything, everything was working.”

May 25, 2015

Canes path back to Omaha won't require leaving home

The path back to Omaha for the Miami Hurricanes won't require leaving home.

For the first time since 2008 -- the last time they played in the College World Series -- the Canes (44-14) are a national seed in the NCAA Tournament. UM is seeded fifth overall, which means if they win their double-elimination regional tournament this coming weekend they'll be home for Super Regionals.

Miami, though, will first have to get past a regional field which includes bitter rival FIU (29-29), who won the Conference USA Tournament, Ivy League champion Columbia (31-15) and American Athletic Conference champion East Carolina (40-20). 

Should the Canes advance, they'll host the winner of the Dallas Baptist Regional. 

Friday's UM-FIU game will be played at 7 p.m., after Columbia-East Carolina matchup at 1 p.m.

UM and FIU haven't faced each other since April 23, 2008. FIU won that game 6-3.

May 21, 2015

Not hard, not soft -- this LB lists himself as a "medium'' Miami Hurricanes commit in the world of recruiting

University of Miami 2016 commit and Fort Pierce Central linebacker Greg Simmons was at the Coconut Creek-South Dade spring game on Wednesday night and in an exclusive interview with me (David Furones) listed himself as a “medium” commit.

In the growing world of football recruit commitment levels, Simmons describes a medium commit as between soft and solid, so not as shaky as a soft commit but not as firm as a solid commit.

Another school really making an impression on Simmons, the 6-2, 221-pounder who plays both middle and outside linebacker on top of defensive end for his high school team, is Nebraska.

“Nebraska’s hitting hard. That’s probably one of the hardest that are recruiting me,” Simmons says. “They say my chances of playing early are real. I just take that in consideration. They only have two linebacker commits and they’re both outside, so they want me to join bad.

“When I take all five of my visits, if I like it, I like it. Anything can happen.”

Simmons spoke on what made him want to commit to the Canes in February.

“It was a dream of mine since I was a little kid,” he says. “When you grow older, your mind starts to change, but I still love Miami with all my heart.”

Simmons grew up a “huge” Hurricanes fan, dating back to watching Sean Spence and Graig Cooper when he was younger.

He says he’s being recruited by linebackers coach Hurlie Brown and describes him as “a pops figure to me and a linebacker coach I’d like to play for.”

While Brown is like a father figure to Simmons, he is motivated to excel in football because he wants to do it for his real father. He says his dad could’ve been an NFL talent, but during college, he had to go back home to take care of his mother, who was ill at the time, and cut his career short.

Other schools creeping in for Simmons’ services are Michigan, Maryland, West Virginia and Oklahoma.

Simmons sees himself making a final decision sometime between the end of his senior season and Signing Day 2016.


May 19, 2015

Miami Hurricanes golfer did something really cool Monday


Congratulations to Daniela Darquea, who last night qualified for the US Women's Open Golf Championship. 

Here's the release that UM just sent out...

BRADENTON, Fla. – University of Miami sophomore golfer Daniela Darquea made a bit of history Monday evening at Bradenton Country Club as she qualified for the 2015 United States Women’s Open Golf Championship.

 Darquea posted a two-round total of 139, posting rounds 68 and 71 en route to sharing medalist honors. Qualifier         

 “I’m super excited. I’m speechless,” Darquea said. “I’m really looking forward to competing in the U.S. Open. It was a very long and difficult course and when the wind blew that made it really tough.”

 The Quito, Ecuador native shined as she carded six birdies. The Bradenton Sectional Qualifier featured over 70 competitors on the challenging par 71 course, which measured over 6,300 yards.

 “I’m not surprised that Dani qualified for the U.S. Open,” said head coach Patti Rizzo. “Dani is a great player. I’ve always said that every part of her game is strong. I’m sure she’ll do great in the Open. She is on the perfect path to the top. She is one of the players that I really thought in my 10 years of coaching could really make it big.”

 The 70th U.S. Women’s Open Golf Championship will be held July 9-12 at Lancaster Country Club in Lancaster, Pa. Darquea will compete in the U.S. Open as an amateur.

 Darquea’s bid to the U.S. Open adds to an already impressive 2014-15 campaign where she was one of 12 golfers selected to the ACC’s all-league team.

 During the 2014-15 campaign, Darquea posted a team-best scoring average of 73.29 and led the squad with 90 birdies.

 In addition, Darquea finished in the top 15 in seven different events, including a winning performance at the Briar’s Creek Invitational. Darquea tied for eighth at the 2015 ACC Championship after she carded a three-round total of 214.

 The U.S. Women’s Open will be aired live on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports. ­­




May 18, 2015

Miami Hurricanes lead all ACC baseball programs with eight players selected to All-ACC teams

The University of Miami baseball program not only led the ACC with the best overall record of 42-13, it led with eight players selected to the 2015 All-ACC teams, announced Monday by the ACC.

The Canes, who enter as the No. 2 seed at the 2015 ACC Baseball Championship beginning this week, had three-first team selections, one second-team selection and four third-team selections.

The first teamers: junior third baseman David Thompson, who also earned ACC Player of the Week on Monday after an amazing four-win week in which he hit five home runs and 12 RBI; designated hitter Zack Collins and second baseman George Iskenderian.

David thompson

Thompson is the nation's RBI leader with 78, led the ACC with 19 home runs and was named one of 35 semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy. Collins finished the season batting .310 with 14 homers and 60 RBI -- second most in the ACC. Iskenderian finished the regular season hitting an ACC-best .391 and starting all 55 games.

Junior left-hander Thomas Woodrey, who ended the regular season with a 6-2 record and 2.62 ERA, was UM's second-team selection. Woodrey earned ACC Pitcher of the Week Monday after he pitched a one-hit, complete-game shutout against Georgia Tech -- the first for UM since 2003.

The third-team All-ACC selections are sophomore outfielder Willie Abreu, sophomore closer Bryan Garcia, senior catcher Garrett Kennedy and redshirt junior pitcher Andy Suarez. Abreu hit .297, Garcia ranked fourth in the ACC with nine saves, Kennedy hit .361 and Suarez finished 7-1 with a 2.95 ERA.

No. 2 seed UM opens the ACC tournament at 3 p.m. Wednesday against the winner of a play-in game Tuesday in Durham, North Carolina, between No. 7 seed Virginia and No. 10 seed Georgia Tech. UM's opener will be on RSN/ESPN3 and on 560 WQAM and WVUM 90.5 FM.

Here's some interesting info on the Hurricanes from my final regular-season game coverage this past weekend. Click on this!


May 17, 2015

Sights and sounds of Hurricanes' first day of college life

It's a day that every college football player will forever cherish and remember -- their first with their program of choice.

UM welcomed 13 members of its 2015 recruiting class and one walk-on Sunday as they get set to begin the Summer A session at UM on Monday.

The newcomers join five other members of the class that enrolled early and arrived at UM for the spring semester. Those were safety Jaquan Johnson, defensive end Scott Patchan, linebacker Charles Perry, tight end Jerome Washington and lineman Jahair Jones.

Running back Mark Walton, expected to break into the backfield rotation as a freshman and eventually become the feature back of the offense, walking into the Schwartz Center in the morning.


Some of the larger newcomers -- offensive linemen Brendan Loftus (Tallahassee Godby), Hayden Mahoney (Malvern Prep in Pennsylvania), Tyler Gauthier (Venice), Tyree St. Louis (IMG Academy) and defensive tackle Ryan Fines (IMG) -- are seen in this short video:

Not included is offensive tackle Bar Milo, a teammate of starting quarterback Brad Kaaya in high school at West Hills (Cal.) Chaminade. He arrived later Sunday night.

Robert Knowles, the safety out of Edison, takes the cake as the incoming freshman with the best hair.


Knowles' teammates in the secondary but at corner, Sheldrick Redwine and Michael Jackson pictured here.

Sheldrick Redwine

Michael Jackson

The incoming freshmen got together with returning players, shaking hands and formally meeting their new teammates.

Here are the numbers the newcomers will wear:

4 - Mark Walton

20 - Robert Knowles

21 - Terrance Henley

22 - Sheldrick Redwine

28 - Michael Jackson

37 - James King

62 - Hayden Mahoney

74 - Tyler Gauthier

75 - Brendan Loftus

78 - Tyree St. Louis

79 - Bar Milo

80 - Richard McIntosh

94 - Ryan Fines

*UM also added linebacker John Tauber (48), a teammate of St. Louis, Patchan and Fines at IMG who will walk on to the team.

For a full album of all the new arrivals by HurricaneSports.com, click here.

May 16, 2015

When the others ran away from the U, this proud Hurricane, who arrives Sunday, ran toward it



  While the other 2015 running-back recruits eventually sprinted away from the University of Miami, Mark Walton ran toward it.

  On Sunday, Walton, a graduate of Booker T. Washington High, will be part of a group expected to total 16 -- including a walk-on and UF transfer Gerald Willis -- to report to the Hurricanes for the start of their college careers.

 Walton's high school stats: 1,472 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior. According to UM, he finished his career with 2,769 yards and 45 touchdowns, and chose Miami over Auburn, Florida State, Tennessee and South Carolina. 

 "His desire to be successful is unquestioned,'' said former Booker T. Washington coach and current UM running backs coach Tim "Ice" Harris, per UM, on National Signing Day. "No matter the situation, he's willing to put his team on his back. He is a guy that plays at another level.''

  Walton, nicknamed Deuce because of his No. 2 jersey, will not be wearing that number, as fellow tailback Joseph Yearby wears it (not to mention safety Deon Bush). 

 Mark told me he asked for Phillip Dorsett's No. 4, but was waiting to see if he'd get it. Not a bad number to wear.

 Walton's favorite all-time Hurricane is Edgerrin James, another super player to emulate.

 "I'm very excited about going to the University of Miami, my favorite college,'' Walton, 18, told me earlier this week. "It's my dream school. I just can't wait to get down there.''

 Walton said he has gained 11 pounds and now weighs 194 on his 5-11 frame (he told me he grew, as they had 5-10 on his bio). He said he has been working out regularly at UM with his new teammates all spring. He said he was given a partial playbook and has been studying it.

"I love all the running backs there,'' Walton said. "And Brad Kaaya, that's one of the best quarterbacks in college football. That will make my job easier.''

Walton said his roommate will be James King, a linebacker out of Booker T.

I asked Walton what he believed his role would be this season, with Duke Johnson now in the NFL and UM badly needing to compensate.

"My role is just going out there and competing with guys at my position,'' Walton said. "Whatever the outcome is, play my role, just be humble and grind and work.''

 Walton said he has "a great relationship'' with coach Al Golden. "He's a great guy,'' Walton said. 

As for the negativity around the program after a 6-7 season, Walton told me it motivates him.

"You've got to realize those weren't the people inside the university who really want to change the way people view the University of Miami,'' Walton said. "I don't see that at all. The only negativity was out on the street.

"I just tell them, 'Keep watching. We're going to grow as the year goes by.'

"The negativity just fuels me. We're going to make changes and achieve things.''

Hopefully you saw my Miami Herald story earlier this week on the Baby Canes arriving Sunday and starting summer school. Here it is, with a list of the players expected to report Sunday:   Out of high school and into the U 








May 15, 2015

Miami Hurricanes announce football game time for Nebraska Cornhuskers -- and two other 2015 games

How does 3:30 p.m. sound to you for Nebraska at Miami?

The Hurricanes announced three game times and four television slots today for three of their football matchups.

The Nebraska Cornhuskers will come to Sun Life Stadium (gulp -- I swear I almost wrote "The Orange Bowl'') on Sept. 19 for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff. The game will be aired on either ABC or ESPN.

UM's 2015 opener against Bethune-Cookman is at 6 p.m. on Sept. 5 and will be aired on ESPN3.

And UM's first trip outside the state will be Oct. 1 at Cincinnati with a 7:30 kickoff on ESPN. 

Miami's final game of the season at Pittsburgh the day after Thanksgiving (Friday, Nov. 27) will be aired on either ABC or ESPN.


May 08, 2015

Canes humiliate New York Institute of Technology 26-0



    Memo to the Miami Hurricanes: Skip the batting cages Saturday night.

   In an embarrassing display of dominance, the University of Miami scored 20 runs in the first six innings Friday at Mark Light Field and continued to roll to a 26-0 victory over New York Institute of Technology.

  The No. 17 Canes (36-13, 19-8) produced their most runs since May 2, 2003, when they beat Pace 27-1.

   “Wild and crazy game,’’ said UM coach Jim Morris. “A very complete game for us. Sometimes you get rolling and it’s tough to stop.

    “I don’t remember many times in my career I’ve seen games like this, to be honest with you.”

   Morris said he began to “empty the benches pretty much” in the fourth inning, at the end of which UM led 17-0. “Every hitter we had went into the game.’’

   The Canes hit four home runs: a two-run shot to center by Zack Collins in the second, a grand slam to right by Garrett Kennedy in the third and two in the sixth – a solo boomer by Jacob Heyward and two-run shot by David Thompson.

   UM has now won six consecutive games, four of them shutouts. Over those six games (Florida State, Pittsburgh three games, Bethune-Cookman and New York Tech), Miami has outscored its  opponents 82 to 8.

   “We went into it not knowing what type of team they were,’’ Collins said. “I’m not saying because of the score they’re a bad team or anything, but we just played hard and hit the ball and pitched well and played defense well.’’

   NYIT (14-28), which had six hits, used four pitchers who combined for  250 pitches.

   Thomas Woodrey (5-2) pitched five innings for the win, with Jesse Lepore and Daniel Sayles each going another two.

   The Canes, who are done with their school year, face NYIT again at 7 p.m. Saturday and conclude the weekend series at 1 p.m. Sunday.

   “It feels good to be able to finish strong and now be able to focus solely on baseball,’’ said Kennedy, who earned his degree Thursday in business law.

   Added Collins: “It’s awesome to just come out here and play ball and that’s all you have to worry about.’’


May 04, 2015

After Hurricanes sweep, Zack Collins earns ACC Player of Week honors

Sophomore finished sweep with three HRs, nine RBI


GREENSBORO, N.C. – After powering No. 12 Miami to a weekend sweep over Pittsburgh, sophomore slugger Zack Collins was recognized with ACC Player of the Week honors Monday.

Collins led Miami to its fifth sweep of the season, totaling nine RBIs over three games with three home runs. He hit .385 in the Hurricane’s first ever trip to Charles L. Cost Field.

His only hit in the first game of the Saturday doubleheader was an eighth-inning leadoff triple that proved to be the tying run, while he connected on a grand slam and had five RBI in Game 2 – his best output of the season.

A sophomore from Pembroke Pines, Florida, Collins ended the weekend in prolific fashion, recording the third multi-home run performance of his career with two homers and four RBI in a 9-3 win.

Collins has hit four home runs over the past four games, and now ranks second on the team in both homers (nine) and RBI (36). His slugging percentage (.515) is second-highest among all regular starters, while his 22 extra-base hits also rank second-most

The honor was the second-career recognition for Collins, who was named ACC Freshman of the Year and Baseball America National Freshman of the Year in 2014.

Collins is the third Hurricane to be recognized with weekly honors from the conference this season, joining third baseman David Thompson (twice) and lefthander Andrew Suarez (once).