March 22, 2016

Dad (Mark Richt), son (Jon Richt) & even granddaughter (Jadyn): Day 4 of UM spring practice

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University of Miami football coach Mark Richt was asked Tuesday how confusing it is when he's in a meeting room with his son, quarterbacks coach Jon Richt, and players say, "Coach Richt...''

"I think most people are calling him Coach Jon,'' the head coach answered, before adding the quote of the day: "It's CMR on my underwear and CJR on his.''

Whether it's "Coach Mark Richt'' or "Coach Jon Richt,'' boxers or briefs, both Richts are leading this year's crop of Hurricanes quarterbacks.

Jon Richt, 26, has the quarterback coach's title, but make no mistake that dad, 56, is the boss.

There are times, Jon Richt said, when asked about any confusion over the "Coach Richt'' acknowledgments by players, that father and son both turn their heads.

"When he says, 'Yes,''' the son said, "I kind of just let him take over.''

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Backup quarterback and former baseball outfielder Malik Rosier, who quit baseball to concentrate full time on football, said he misses baseball "a lot.''

"I try to keep a good relationship with a lot of the guys,'' Rosier said Tuesday. "I seem them every so often. When we have a big game I'll text them. I mess with [Jason] Heyward. I was like, 'Heyward, if I come out to the game, you've got to hit me a home run.' They fully support me and from their side I can see they're doing great and I'm ecstatic for the way they've been playing lately.''

Rosier said since Jon Richt is a lot younger than his dad, "he can get more personal with us. I've talked to him one-on-one, just about, 'Yo, can you stay after practice and help me out with my footwork?' and he'll stay after and he'll help me. So, Coach Richt is more like structure and Coach Jon Richt is more like he's more compatible with us because he's at that younger age. The way they're coaching, I feel like it balances out perfectly.''

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Starting quarterback Brad Kaaya is working exclusively with the first-team offense, while the other are rotating backup reps with various teams. Last week, Rosier said, the order was Rosier, Evan Shirreffs, Vincent Testaverde and Jack Allison.

Jon Richt said newcomer Allison is getting lots of reps and doing well, but that he has to get used to playing under center, which he didn't do last year.

Mark Richt praised Shirreffs as a very good student both on and off the field, and said he came back from spring break most prepared in his footwork.

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Mark Richt said the team had a better day offensively. "We're starting to come closer to the execution that we need, or at least close enough to say, 'Hey, see how close we are to getting it right?' Execution is not easy offensively, especially when we're defending a very talented bunch of guys, guys that are bringing some good blitzes and twists and things of that nature.''

Richt said some players on defense got a bit overly aggressive today by tackling when they were not supposed to tackle. "It's understandable that everybody is hyped up and ready to go,'' Richt said, "but we've got to learn to practice against each other and go with the tempo that we choose. We'll have days that we tackle and days that we don't and today was one we were not supposed to.''

The coach said defensive coordinator Manny Diaz "grabbed a couple guys and just took them off the field immediately and gave them up-downs on the sideline to remind them, 'That's not the way we want to do it.'''

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 Richt's impression Tuesday of the offensive line?

"If you asked me after last practice it wouldn't be very pretty,'' he said. "But today they came back and fought and they had a much better day. By no means are they there but I just thought they played more physical today, which they've got to do. They seemed to know their assignments just a little bit better. We slowed down a little bit on the installation to try to help everybody. We talk about the defense playing fast but you've got to think fast and play fast offensively, too. And if you're thinking too much it's hard to get it right.''

Here's a photo I took today of 20-month-old Jadyn, Mark Richt's granddaughter and Jon's daughter:

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SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

March 19, 2016

Miami Hurricanes go full-pad throttle on Day 3 of spring football

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The Canes put on the pads Saturday morning for Day 3 of spring football practice at Greentree Field.

We only watched 10 minutes of various drills that began about 45 minutes after practice started, and what I saw were coaches who were very verbal and hands-on, expecting the players to focus intensely and give maximum effort from start to finish.

“First day of pads,’’ yelled offensive line coach Stacy Searels as UM’s big guys lined up for a drill in which they made menacing, growling sounds as they ran. “Better start getting your minds right.’’

The first-team offensive linemen Saturday: left tackle Trevor Darling, left guard Kc McDermott, center Alex Gall, right guard Danny Isidora, right tackle Tyree St. Louis.

The second-team O-linemen: left tackle Bar Milo, left guard Hayden Mahoney, center Hunter Knighton, right guard Tyler Gauthier, right tackle Jahair Jones.

The three others, left to right: Justin Goldberg, Tyler Grimsley, Brendan Loftus.

“Play faster! Play faster!’’ Searels screamed. “Explode out of there!”

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Coach Mark Richt said he is "learning a lot'' about his new team. "I like what I saw from the defense today,'' Richt said. 'They are really playing fast and being aggressive. Offensively, we're still learning more assignments and trying to coordinate where every single guy has to do it right, so the offense struggled a little bit. Now, they finished pretty good at the end -- they made some really nice plays in the teamwork part.''

Richt said the tempo wasn't as quick as it had been the first two days of practice. He said he wants the Canes to "play really hard, play really hard every down, play together...'' And if they don't, they pay the price with extra drills until they get them perfect.

"We didn't run to the hoop as fast as we should as a team and so we went ahead and got to conditioning afterwards... We're running some sprints at the end,'' he said. "If a guy doesn't do it just perfect then the whole team has got to do one more. We're supposed to run eight and we might have to run 16,might have to run 14, something like that, because this guy didn't have his hand behind the line, or this guy didn't finish, or this guy didn't break down when we asked the team to break down.

"One guy had his hand on his knees and we told him not to do that. There's certain stances around here. We got it right, and coaches are being demanding and the players do respond. You know they're tired, it's hot. But that's when you've got to play well, when you're tired.''

Richt on his team's speed:

"We've got team speed or at least it looked like it today. They were really penetrating and doing a good job of getting after the quarterback on the pass rush. There were two or three picks today on guys just really doing a good job of breaking on the ball and using their quickness, speed and skills.''

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I asked running back Joe Yearby what the biggest difference is at practice between last year and this year:  "I'm enjoying it now," he said, "that's the only difference."

Yearby on new playbook: "It's not tough at all, because the coaches are making sure we know everything before we move on ho the next install."

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Receiver Lawrence Cager on what he needs to improve on this year: "Speed and explosiveness. Coach [Ron] Dugans has been trying to get everybody bigger, faster and stronger.''

Receiver Darrell Langham said he went from 220 pounds last year to 236 pounds now.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

March 16, 2016

The Madness Has Begun in Coach L's Old Stomping Grounds!

Hello from the Dunkin' Donut Center in Providence, where the Hurricanes did some dunkin' and laughing at their opening practice for their NCAA Tournament opener Thursday against Buffalo (6:50 p.m. TNT)

Why were they laughing? Because a longtime Providence fan brought a Friars Legends trading card of Jim Larranaga, back in his playing days. He had a security guard take the card into the locker room for Coach L to sign it. An assistant coach intercepted it, showed it to the players, and they got a real kick out of it. This is what he looked like back then, when they used to call him "Larry.'' Check out the sideburns. And read this story I wrote back in 2013 about Larranaga's playing days with the Friars. Lots of memories around these parts for Coach L. (read more below the photo)

CoachLyoung

Larranaga was asked Wednesday about coming back to his old college stomping grounds.

"I graduated from Providence College in 1971, haven't been back here in a little while, but it's very, very nice to be back in Friartown,'' he said. "I saw one of my former teammates over at Alumni Hall where we played our games. We had a very nice practice over at Joe Malabey Court..the place looks great. I wish some of that stuff was in place when I was playing. In fact, I rally wish I had a chance to play in the Dunkin' Donuts arena."

He reminisced about his favorite restaurant from his college days -- the Newport Creamery. And his favorite milkshake there was the "AWfulAwful -- awful thick, awful good. I lived on those on college. Didn't have much money to go eat at a fancy restaurant."

Larranaga also talked about turning down his alma mater when they offered him the coaching job in 2008. He said it was a goal of his to coach at Providence, and he interviewed for the job in 1985, when they hired Rick Pitino. IN 2008, two years after Coach L led George Mason to the Final Four, Providence came calling again. "But I was going through some things personally that the timing was just not right,'' he said. "I was very, very torn. I came very, very close to accepting the position and would have been very, very excited to be a the head coach here. But eventually I had to make a decision based on family responsibilities to stay at George Mason."

-- Enjoy the Madness....Michelle Kaufman

March 14, 2016

Mark Richt: 'If somebody can beat out Brad Kaaya then we're going to be a better team'

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First of all, nobody is going to beat out quarterback Brad Kaaya.

Second of all, new coach Mark Richt, as well as everyone else, knows it.

But Richt has the right attitude and he certainly wants his Hurricanes battling all out for every spot on the field.

When spring football practice starts at 9 a.m. Tuesday on Greentree Field, every position, Richt said, "is wide open.''

Added the coach: "If somebody can beat out Brad Kaaya then we're going to be a better team.''

The practices are closed to the public except for the April 9 scrimmage at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach and the April 16 spring game at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

The first scrimmage on April 2 at Greentree Field is closed to the public and media.

Richt said his first spring depth chart will be based on the recent offseason conditioning "mat drills.''

"We learn a lot through the matt drills,'' Richt said last week during a taped interview on Hurricane Hotline. "Just because you can do the mat drill well doesn't mean you're a great football player. There are guys that are drill masters so to speak and maybe aren't the best football players. But more times than not if a guy shows coachability in mat drills he's going to be coachable on the field. If a guy shows ability to change directions on the mat, probably going to be a pretty good football player that has the ability to change directions on the field.

"If he can endure a little bit of physical discomfort and keeps pushing hard through when he's fatigued, he tends to be able to do that on the football field. We're kind of getting a "pecking order'' of what we think we're seeing just through the mat program. 

"The depth chart in the beginning is going to be just a way to get started. It's not going to be anything anybody should get too excited about one way or another -- players, parents, media or fans. it's just a way to line up and start repping the guys. It's probably the first true indication of where we will probably be after the first scrimmage."

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 Richt  spoke of the Hurricanes being "in good shape'' with the quarterback position, but said he wouldn't be sure of anything until he watched them "throw and function after a meeting of installing things, because part of the battle is the physical part of having the fundamentals and having the ability to throw the ball and be accurate. But the decision-making process is just as important or maybe even more important to a certain degree. Can he take what I'm telling him in the meeting to the practice field? Can he function the way I'm asking him to function? Can he make the progressions the way I'm going to ask him to do that? Will he learn to throw the ball away when there's nothing there? It will take a little while to really know what we've got.''

Richt was asked on WQAM how many quarterbacks he'd play with. (For spring there will be Kaaya, Malik Rosier, Vincent Testaverde, Evan Shirreffs and newcomer Jack Allison)

"Quarterback? Usually one guy,'' he responded. "Maybe you'll get a guy in there for a series or two, three. Tight ends, receiver, the same. O-line you don't sub a lot usually.

"The biggest thing these guys want to do is prove they deserve the right to play. Earn the playing time the way you practice, the way you prepare, quite frankly the way you live your life off the field, too. I don't want to be dependent on a guy that's not dependable.

"I want these guys to do the right things off the field, too, and not be a guy that's just hanging on academically. I want them achieve at a high level all the way around.''

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 Finally, involving the installation of plays, Richt said he is "starting from scratch in a new system offensively, defensively and special teams. "But a lot of things we're doing offensively they've already done,'' he said on WQAM. "It just may have a different name. How we call it may be a little bit different.'' There will be six days of installation on offense, the first day being Tuesday.

"when I feel like they've got it figured out, then we'll go to Day 2 of installation. I'm more of a guy that wants to take my team and make sure they get it before we go on to the next thing. I want them to have confidence. If spring practice ends and we've only gotten to Day 5, so be it.''

 Richt said he wants to keep the scrimmaging and offense vs. defense simple.

"I don't want coaches to try to compete against coaches,'' he explained. "I don't want to try to outscheme each other in spring ball. I want to line up in certain basic sets and let's see who can play football. I don't want there to be a trying-to-trick-somebody mentality.

"We've got to see if these guys can just play ball. What happens if you put too much scheme in, a guy is confused and now you don't even know what he can do. 

"I don't want to see him confused. I want to see him knowing what to do and see what they can do when they're certain, and then we'll figure out game plans throughout the season. We don't need to win the spring game, so to speak, against each other."

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miami Hurricane Tyriq McCord: arrested linemen Trevor Darling, Jahair Jones never in middle of road

March 11, 2016

Official: Matt Doherty back at Miami as Hurricanes' Director of Player Personnel

Great hire in every way for the Miami Hurricanes. Following is the release from UM: 

Mattdoherty

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami football program announced today the addition of Matt Doherty as the team’s Director of Player Personnel.

Doherty, who graduated from Miami’s School of Business Administration in 2008, returns to The U after he spent the 2015 season as Recruiting Coordinator under Jim Harbaugh at the University of Michigan.

"I'm very excited to be able to add Matt to our support staff,” said Head Coach Mark Richt. “His expertise, work ethic, and love for Miami will bless our recruiting operation."

During his time in Ann Arbor, Doherty was instrumental in helping the Wolverines land the nation’s No. 4 overall recruiting class according to Rivals.com.  He also helped the Wolverines land the country’s consensus No. 1 overall prospect in Rashan Gary.

“This is an incredible opportunity, and I am so grateful to be back in South Florida,” Doherty said. “The University of Miami is the most special place in the world to me. I am so excited for Canes fans to see what Coach Richt has in store for this program. It’s time to get to work.”

Before departing to Michigan, Doherty spent four seasons with the Miami Hurricanes football program, including one as the Director of Player Personnel. Doherty initially joined the Hurricanes’ staff as the Coordinator of Football Operations in February 2011.

Before joining the Hurricanes, Doherty spent the 2009-10 season as a scouting assistant with the New England Patriots, where he contributed to the evaluation of both professional and collegiate prospects, and aided in preparations for the NFL Draft.

Doherty is native of Andover, Mass.

March 10, 2016

How will Miami Hurricanes football coach Mark Richt respond to arrest news?

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So, the case against UM's two football players who were arrested will not be prosecuted by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office -- although one of the players (Trevor Darling, pictured above) still has to go to court and go through the same process that his teammate Jahair Jones (pictured below) did Thursday. Darling's case should be resolved the same way.

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The bottom line, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, is that the charge was not correct for what the police officers said UM offensive tackles Jahair Jones and Trevor Darling did -- which allegedly was not following "a lawful command" by police officers who, according to the arrest affidavit, told them to "remove themselves from the roadway" because they were supposedly "impeding traffic and placed themselves in a dangerous situation.''

Basically, these guys apparently did not "resist officer." They might not have obeyed the "lawful command,'' but they were arrested (at least it says this on Darling's report) "without incidence.'' 

Jahair Jones' case was not prosecuted because he stayed overnight at the Guilford Knight Correctional Center and thus was taken Thursday to misdemeanor bond court, where his case was not prosecuted.

But since teammate Trevor Darling bonded out, he did not appear in court Thursday and will have to be scheduled for the same type of appearance, at which his case should be dropped, too.

Legally, this is nothing, and these guys are fine. I don't really know Jahair, but my experiences with Trevor have been all positive. What I've seen is a nice young man with a really good family.

I am wondering, however, how new football coach Mark Richt will handle this. 

Is he thinking this is his chance to set a precedent with a punishment that will teach the others that no matter what, they can't put themselves in situations like this?

Or not? 

Here is athletic director Blake James' written statement from earlier Thursday regarding the situation: "I am aware of the reported incident involving two student-athletes last night and we are still gathering information. I have very high expectations for all of our student-athletes, as I know Coach Richt does for his team, and any misconduct will be addressed.''

Just glad for both young men that this happened before spring practice, and not before fall camp.

Any thoughts by U readers?

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

March 08, 2016

Miami track and field qualifies seven for NCAA Indoor Championships

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Not only is University of Miami director of track and field/cross country Amy Deem the US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's South Region Women's Indoor Head Coach of the Year (phew, say that a few times quickly), it's pretty obvious her athletes are special, too.

The two go hand-in-hand, naturally.

Deem, named the coach of the year on Saturday, led the UM women to their first ACC Indoor title since 2006. The UM women earned 14 All-ACC honors, including nine first-teamers.

Seven UM track and fielders -- six of them women -- will represent the Hurricanes at the 2016 NCAA Indoor Championships on Friday and Saturday at the Birmingham Crossplex in Alabama.

The athletes who have qualified: Dakota Dailey-Harris (women's high jump), Carlos Mangum (men's weight throw), Ebony Morrison (women's 60-meter hurdles), Alysha Newman (women's pole vault), Precious Ogunleye (women's weight throw), Tiffany Okieme (women's weight throw) and Shakima Wimbley (women's 200-meter run).

Wimbley was named the 2016 ACC Women's Indoor Track Most Outstanding Performer after winning gold medals in the 200 meters, 400 meters and 1600-meter relay at the ACC Indoor Championships. She is ranked 13th nationally in the 200 with a time of 23.20 seconds.

 ESPN3 will stream the meet live starting at 6:25 p.m. Friday and 4:55 p.m. Saturday.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

 

March 07, 2016

Sound the sirens: Miami Hurricanes "SQUAD17" recruiting class just got better

March 04, 2016

Matt Doherty returns to the Miami Hurricanes as recruiting guru

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On Friday morning, Matt Doherty's Twitter handle said @MDohertyBlue.

As of Friday afternoon, it said @MDohertyCANES.

 Doherty, University of Miami Class of 2008, has returned to lead the Hurricanes' recruiting efforts after spending the 2015 season as the University of Michigan's recruiting coordinator under Jim Harbaugh, according to a source familiar with the situation.

 Doherty, 30, was formerly Miami's director of player personnel and coordinator of football operations under Al Golden

UM has not officially announced the hire.

He's a talent that the Canes hated to see get away. Doherty's recent Michigan signing class was ranked fourth nationally by Rivals.com and fifth by 247Sports.

But now he's "home.''

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

February 29, 2016

Miami football confirms signing of athletic financial aid agreement by Texas transfer Adrian Colbert

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The University of Miami confirmed Monday that Adrian Colbert, a 6-1, 206-pound safety who plans to earn his undergraduate degree at Texas in May, has signed an athletic financial aid agreement and will transfer to UM and play his last season with the Hurricanes.

Because of NCAA rules allowing players who have graduated to transfer for their final season, Colbert will be eligible to play immediately in 2016.

Colbert, who visited UM this past weekend, was a four-star recruit out of Mineral Wells High in Texas. He committed to former Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz -- now the Miami Hurricanes' defensive coordinator -- as part of the 2012 signing class.

Colbert announced on social media in mid-February, per burntorangenation.com, that it was time for him to begin "the next chapter of my life's story. After graduation in May, I will be attending a new institution to further my education and continue my football career. ...While this is extremely difficult, I am certain that it is the right choice for me and looking forward to the future..." 

Colbert redshirted his first season and got most of his playing time in 2013 and '14. He played in all 13 games both of those seasons, making four starts at safety as a sophomore and playing mostly on special teams as a redshirt freshman. According to the Texas statistics, he played in 12 games last season but did not register any numbers.

He had 26 total tackles for his career and an interception in his first career start against North Texas.

UM is losing safeties Deon Bush and Dallas Crawford. UM's top safeties are seniors Rayshawn Jenkins (52 tackles, three interceptions, four pass breakups, one fumble recovery) and Jamal Carter (48 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery), and sophomore Jaquan Johnson (26 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble).

 So blessed for the opportunity to continue my career at THE U. We got work to do, and it will come. #ACCTAkeOver pic.twitter.com/mM6EpQ7g9e

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

February 25, 2016

Hurricanes linebacker Marques Gayot leaves the football program

Marquesgayot

THIS JUST IN FROM THE MIAMI HURRICANES, ONE DAY AFTER TIGHT END JEROME WASHINGTON LEFT THE PROGRAM. GAYOT HAD A SEASON-ENDING NECK INJURY LAST SEASON.... THE NECK INJURY LIKELY DERAILED HIS CAREER...

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – University of Miami junior linebacker Marques Gayot announced today that he has elected to leave the Hurricanes’ football program in order to pursue other opportunities.

Gayot saw action in three games, tallied 7.0 tackles (5.0 solo), 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks this past season. He missed the final 10 games of the year after he suffered a season-ending injury during practice.

As a freshman, Gayot played in six games and saw a majority of his action on special teams.

He arrived in Coral Gables following a successful playing career at Park Vista High School in Lake Worth, Fla., where he was named Defensive Player of the Year by the Palm Beach Post

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

February 23, 2016

Miami Hurricanes legendary quarterback Jim Kelly addresses basketball crowd

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Watching the Miami vs. Virginia basketball game from Suite 9 on Monday night was UM quarterback legend Jim Kelly, who was surrounded by several former Hurricanes teammates, including new Miami football coach Mark Richt and Coral Gables Police Chief Ed Hudak.

Kelly received a rousing ovation when he was introduced midcourt at halftime. He thanked fans for their prayers when he was battling cancer and dealing with the illness and death of his son, Hunter.

""I am so excited about where our football program is headed,'' Kelly told the crowd. "To have a guy like Mark Richt leading the charge, can't ask for anything better.''

Later, from Suite 9, Kelly told the Miami Herald the following:

“I got like six of my former teammates here, it’s just awesome,’’ Kelly said. “This is my family and UM will always be my home. I am so excited about the direction we are going with Mark Richt leading the charge now. You can’t ask for anything better…He brings character to the organization, commitment to recruiting. There is a lot of competition out there with recruiting now, more than just Florida and Florida State.

“I think the good Lord that Howard Schnellenberger came up to me before that Penn State game and told me I was going to be the quarterback that day because if not, he might be in my shoes and I might be in his. He was that good of a quarterback, and I was just lucky.”

MICHELLE KAUFMAN

February 22, 2016

Former Miami Hurricanes quarterback Jim Kelly attending tonight's UM basketball game

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I once wrote that former Miami Hurricanes quarterback Jim Kelly was "one of the toughest men on the planet.''

I still believe it.

 A UM spokesman just confirmed that Kelly will be at tonight's Hurricanes' men's game, when the No. 11 Canes take on No. 3 Virginia at 7 p.m. at the BankUnited Center on campus. Kelly will be introduced to the crowd at some point of the game.

Kelly, who was backed up at quarterback in college by new Canes football coach Mark Richt, is a truly inspiring human being. To get an idea of the horrifying ordeal he has gone through, read this story I wrote about a year-and-a-half ago.

Kelly was at a local charity event Sunday in Broward County, and told the Palm Beach Post that he was hoping his former teammate could get the U back to the top.

Hurricanes fans around the nation are hoping the same.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

Miami Hurricanes football Pro Day set for March 30 at Greentree Field

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The University of Miami's "Pro Day,'' the Hurricanes' version of the NFL Scouting Combine, has been set from 7 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, March 30, at Greentree Field on campus.

The event, which annually draws head coaches and/or coaching personnel from pretty much every NFL team, is closed to the public and is only open to credentialed media and guests.

Expect almost all of the Hurricanes' NFL Draft-eligible players to be there as they take part in running the 40-yard dash, on-field drills and lifting, vertical and other physical testing that is done separately inside UM's weight room.

Five players have been invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, scheduled from Tuesday through next Tuesday, Feb. 29, in Indianapolis. 

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. talked today on a teleconference -- and answered one of my questions about the Hurricanes, including Artie Burns, a possible late first-rounder, according to Kiper. Read that here.

 Usually, the Hurricanes invited to the combine show up at the UM Pro Day, but often limit what they do -- especially if they do well at the combine. Here's our story last year from UM Pro Day.

 Sometimes, if they don't do as well as they had hoped at the NFL Scouting Combine, they participate in those events at the UM Pro Day.

The other Canes invited to the combine are safety Deon Bush, defensive end Ufomba Kamalu, wide receiver Rashawn Scott and linebacker Raphael Kirby (still rehabilitating from knee injury, so not expected to do many, if any, physical drills).

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper: Miami Hurricane Artie Burns late 1st-rounder

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Five Miami Hurricanes were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine

Cornerback Artie Burns

Safety Deon Bush

Wide receiver Rashawn Scott

Defensive end Ufomba Kamalu

Linebacker Raphael Kirby

Mel Kiper, Jr. of ESPN answered a question of mine during an NFL Draft/combine-related teleconference Monday afternoon. I asked Kiper about the Canes invited to the combine and his analysis of who might get drafted and why.

He answered by saying that he wouldn't be surprised if Burns, the only Hurricane to enter the draft after his junior season, gets drafted late in the first round.

Kiper's response:

Artie Burns is the main guy – this is your corner. He’s a little too physical in college for the NFL. By that I mean you’re going to get penalized heavily if you’ve got your hands and you’re too in the face of the receiver. You’ve got to be able to back off a little bit and be able to handle what the NFL is asking you to do. I want to see if you can adjust to that. But what works in college doesn’t work in the NFL with the rules the way they are.

“So I would think Artie Burns, though, is a tremendously talented player. His skill-set is arguably as good as any of these guys. I would put him in the late first round. He was in the mix for several teams. I’ll wait on him a little bit until after the combine, but I think he’s a late one, early two.

Bush [is] more of a mid-round pick. But of all the players you mentioned, most of them are Day Three picks. Burns is a guy that is going to go very high. I wouldn’t be shocked if he went anywhere between 25 and 35 to 40.’’

 NFL.com rates the 6-0, 197-pound Burns, out of Miami Northwestern High School, with the highest grades among the Hurricanes. Burns led the ACC with six interceptions this past season, most by a Hurricane since Sean Taylor's 10 in 2003.

 The NFL Scouting Combine runs from Tuesday through Feb. 29 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

February 19, 2016

Take me out to the ballgame - Miami Hurricanes start season tonight

Thomaswoodrey

Spring is in the air today at Alex Rodriguez Park's Mark Light Field -- even if it's still winter.

The Miami Hurricanes open their season at 7 tonight against Rutgers.

The Canes, ranked as high as fourth in the preseason by Collegiate Baseball (and sixth by Baseball America among other polls) are naturally excited about getting in front of their home crowd and starting their quest to return to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

Last year Miami (50-17) was the No. 5 national seed going into the NCAA regionals, but got eliminated by Florida once they got to Omaha.

Left-handed senior Thomas Woodrey (7-2, 2.88 in 2015) will make his first opening-night start tonight.

"We've been fortunate enough to have good weather to play in,'' Woodrey said, "but playing each other has gotten a little boring. We're ready for some outside competition.''

Rutgers, in the second year of Big Ten play, had a poor season last year, finishing 19-35-1 and 7-17 in conference play. Tonight, left-handed senior Howie Brey (3-7, 5.58) is scheduled to pitch for the Scarlet Knights. 

Despite Rutgers' showing last season and the fact that the Knights are coming from New Jersey, where it has been down to 2 degrees recently, UM coach Jim Morris said Rutgers always plays tough at Miami. Last season the Canes swept Rutgers in a four-game opening series.

"Rutgers is a school that has a nice indoor facility, so they work very hard inside and they normally come in here and make no errors,'' Morris said. "They're a blue collar team. They play hard and they're ready to play and excited to get out here in the sunshine. 

"Our guys are, too."

As already reported, UM dismissed pitcher Derik Beauprez (3-2, 5.62) for a violation of team rules, and its top pitcher from last season, Andy Suarez (9-2, 3.48) has graduated and was drafted. Also, this week, right-handed senior Enrique Sosa had surgery to repair a tear in his pitching shoulder and is out, likely redshirting this season.

 

The Canes have two standouts in the bullpen, right-handed junior sidearm pitcher Cooper Hammond (5-1, 2.25) and preseason All-American, right-handed junior closer Bryan Garcia (6-2, 2.50). They're looking for some other arms to fill the gap left by left-handed freshman All-American reliever Michael Mediavilla, who will start against Rutgers Saturday night.

Morris told the Miami Herald he'll probably go with the same batting order he went with in the Alumni Game last Saturday: 1. Carl Chester (center field), 2. Chris Barr (first base), 3. Zack Collins (catcher), 4. Jacob Heyward (left field), 5. Willie Abreu (right field), 6. Johnny Ruiz (shortstop), 7. Edgar Michelangeli (second base), 8. Peter Crocitto (designated hitter), 9. Romy Gonzalez (third base).

Hoping all the draft-eligible players, including Willie Abreu, who has had an emotional past nine or so months, gets off to a strong 2016 campaign. 

Keep your eye on Gonzalez, as this will be his first game in college. He's out of American Senior High.

Usual shortstop Brandon Lopez, a talented senior who hit .303 last year but has started the season suspended three consecutive seasons, is suspended for as many as six games for violating team rules.  If the suspension is cut to four games, then Lopez would be back for the Florida series that begins a week from tonight. The Gators are the country's consensus No. 1 preseason team.

"It's pretty crazy to believe the season is already starting,'' Garcia said.

Mark Light Field is at the corner of San Amaro Drive and Ponce de Leon on campus in Coral Gables.

Tickets tonight are $8 for general admission and $14 for chairback seats. Seniors (65-older) and youth (12-under) get in for $6. 

The game will also be broadcast on ESPN3 and WVUM 90.5 FM. Sunday's game will also be broadcast on 560 WQAM.

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

February 17, 2016

Sam Bruce leaves St. Thomas Aquinas after gun-photo incident

Sambruceinaction

Here's our story regarding news on Sam Bruce and a photograph in which he was holding a gun (photo confirmed by his lawyer)...

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Sam Bruce, one of the top high school football signees in the country, a standout receiver and cornerstone of the University of Miami's recent recruiting class, withdrew from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday following an incident that allegedly involved Bruce holding a gun in a photograph.

According to a source familiar with the situation, Bruce used the photo of himself with a weapon as part of an ongoing dispute with an older, former Aquinas male student over Bruce’s ex-girlfriend. The source said the photo ended up in the hands of the former student, who then called police and Aquinas.

When the Herald called Fort Lauderdale police, which has jurisdiction over Aquinas, a public information officer said there was no incident report filed regarding Bruce, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, except for one involving a car accident in 2014.

Reached separately by The Miami Herald on Wednesday morning, Bruce's parents insisted their son was not in trouble. Bruce's mother, who said she withdrew Sam from school Tuesday, then directed the Herald to speak with family attorney Frank A. Maister of Fort Lauderdale.

"All is well with Sam," Bruce's father, Sam Sr., said. "He was here with me last night. All is well  with my son. Don't listen to those people. I'm the father of Sam Bruce Jr. All is well with my son."

Added Bruce’s mother Tracye Wilkerson: "I withdrew him from St. Thomas. He's not in trouble. Everything is fine with Sam."

Maister, the lawyer, said he saw the photo, and that Bruce was holding a gun, but there was “no indication of where and when the picture was taken,’’ and “no certainty’’ it was a real gun. Either way, Maister said, Bruce did nothing illegal.

“Yes, I’ve seen the picture,’’ Maister said. “He’s 18 years old. He has an absolute right to possess a firearm under the second amendment of the Constitution. Totally legal. And there’s no certainty it’s a real gun. It might very well be a BB gun. There’s not a story here. He’s a great kid. He’s got a great family.

“…There was a dispute between Sam and a much older guy about a girl. And this 25-year-old guy, who I’m sure is the source behind all of this, threatened Sam, is what happened.’’

When asked if the 25-year-old was the girl’s boyfriend, the lawyer said, “I don’t know, but this is his feeble attempt to try to upset Sam and try to get back at Sam at the same time.

Sam is not in any trouble. He’ll be enrolled somewhere else within 24 hours.’’

The lawyer was asked why Bruce withdrew from Aquinas if he’s not in trouble.

“I think it was a desire to do what’s best for Sam at this point,’’ Maister said. “He wanted to remove himself from even the potential of any issues.’’

Added Maister of Bruce and the former girlfriend in question: “I don’t think she’s involved in this in any way to be honest. I think they’re great friends. No words were sent or said to anyone.’’

Maister said that though it is not illegal to be shown holding a gun in a photograph, that it “is a private school’s prerogative to set their rules. You asked me if this is a school thing. I can only guess. I do know private schools can make their own rules. There is no crime here.”

The Herald called Aquinas athletic director George Smith, who was in meetings Wednesday according to the athletic department secretary. Smith did not immediately return the calls.

Another source with knowledge of the situation said Bruce, an Under-Armour All-American who is rated as the seventh best receiver in the country by Rivals.com, has had a history of maturity issues and "has a lot of growing up to do."Bruce

Earlier this season, before leading the Raiders to back-to-back Class 7A state titles, Bruce was held out of a third round state playoff game in late November for what head coach Roger Harriott described then as "an internal matter."

As for his future, Bruce needs to enroll at another high school to complete his senior year and graduate before he can qualify to get into UM. Wilkerson told the Herald last month her son had a 3.2 grade point average and was fully qualified.

Miami assistant athletic director for communications Tom Symonds said UM was looking into the matter involving Bruce, but as of now "he's scheduled to be on the team as part of the 2016 signing class."

Symonds said Bruce is expected to enroll at UM in May.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

MANNY NAVARRO

 

 

February 16, 2016

Miami Hurricanes starter Enrique Sosa has tear in pitching shoulder

 

Enriquesosa

University of Miami starting pitcher Enrique Sosa, a 5-10, 180-pound right-handed senior, has a tear in his pitching shoulder and is out indefinitely while he rehabilitates. Sosa, from Panama City, Panama, was UM’s No. 3 starter last season, recording a 7-5 record and 4.35 ERA in 80.2 innings.

    Canes baseball coach Jim Morris confirmed on Tuesday, media day, that his starting weekend rotation would be filled by all lefties: Senior Thomas Woodrey in the home opener against Rutgers at 7 p.m. Friday; 2015 Louisville Freshman All-American Michael Mediavilla at 7 p.m. Saturday and junior Danny Garcia at 1 p.m. Sunday.

   “Battling” for the mid-week starts, Morris said, are right-handed freshman Andrew Cabezas of Coral Gables High and right-handed sophomore Jesse Lepore of Beverly Hills, Florida.

   In other UM baseball news, junior catcher Zack Collins of Pembroke Pines was named to the preseason watch list for the 2016 Golden Spikes Award. The preseason watch lists features 50 of the nation’s top amateur players from high school and college. Collins started 66 of 67 games last season and hit .302, with 15 home runs and 70 RBI.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

February 15, 2016

Derik Beauprez kicked off Miami baseball team; starting shortstop Lopez suspended

Derikbeauprez
 

The Herald also learned that starting shortstop Brandon Lopez has been suspended and will miss the first several games of the season, possibly as many as six.

Additionally, sophomore reserve outfielder Justin Smith is suspended indefinitely.

A UM spokesman confirmed the information Monday afternoon, saying all three violated team rules.

This is the third consecutive year that Lopez, a senior, has started the season suspended – at least one time because of academics. If his suspension is for more than four games, Lopez would miss part of the Florida series, scheduled for Feb. 26-Feb. 28 at Alex Rodriguez Park in Coral Gables.

The Gators are ranked No. 1 in the nation.

UM, which begins its season at home Friday with a three-game series against Rutgers, declined specific comments regarding any of the players.

The loss of Beauprez (3-2 in 2015) — a powerful 6-5, 230-pound righty from Cherry Hills Village, Colorado — is significant because he would have been a factor in Miami’s bullpen, if not a midweek starter. Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 25th round out of Cherry Creek High, he had 19 appearances last season, with four starts. He pitched 32 innings, walking 21 and striking out 29. He finished the season with a 5.62 ERA.

Starting on opening night for Miami will be left-handed senior Thomas Woodrey, likely followed by sophomore lefty Michael Mediavilla on Saturday and left-handed junior Danny Garcia on Sunday. 

Lopez’s suspension will also hurt. He hit .303 last season, with nine doubles, two triples and 23 RBI and had three three-hit games in the postseason. A likely replacement for Lopez in the opening series is junior infielder Johnny Ruiz.

Smith saw limited action last season, hitting .237 in 24 games, with three starts.

The Hurricanes, ranked as high as No. 4 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 6 by Baseball America, finished last season 50-17, earning their first berth in the College World Series since 2008. They won one game in the CWS, but lost two, including the elimination game, to the Gators.

Also, you'll notice a lot of beards this season, as Canes baseball is allowing facial hair.

Susan Miller Degnan