February 02, 2015

Coach L on Angel, Louisville, etc...

Checking in with a very hoarse UM basketball coach Jim Larranaga Monday morning as he prepares team for Tuesday night game vs. No. 10 Louisville. The 23rd-ranked Canes lost back-to-back games to Georgia Tech and FSU, and will probably fall back out of the Top 25 after rejoining the rankings last week. Here's what he had to say on the ACC teleconference:

On the week: "It's been a rough week for our team.''

On the team mood: “Kids are pretty resilient. They bounce back pretty quickly. I think it’s harder on the coaches. But it’s hard on everybody. Nobody likes to lose. Everybody wants to win.’’

On inconsistency: “The whole key is consistency and we’ve been a team that’s very, very capable on some night, but because of our inconsistency, some nights we don’t play well at all.’’

On Angel Rodriguez shooting 33 percent overall and 29 percent in ACC games: “Some of it is shot selection. Some of it is he’s got too much responsibility. He needs his teammates to step up and play a little better themselves so he doesn’t end up having to take and make every big shot. One of our problems is we don’t have an inside presence, like most of the teams in our league have. Tonye Jekiri is a very good defender and rebounder, but he’s not someone we can just throw the ball to and he’s going to score with his back to basket. In fact, we don’t have a back to the basket player. So defenses are able to extend and put more pressure on us on our 3-pt shooting. We haven’t shot the three particularly well, neither Sheldon nor Angel. Defenses are now playing them a little differently than earlier in the season.’’

More on Rodriguez: “He needs help form his teammates. What made him so successful early is Sheldon was also playing great, and so was Manu, making all kinds of shots. What opens it up for Angel is when Manu’s on one wing making threes, and Sheldon’s on the other wing making threes. That opens it up for Angel to do his thing. We’ve gone thought a stretch where we’re not making threes, and it puts pressure on all of them, not just Angel, but Sheldon, Manu and Davon, too.’

On who can step up and make big shots at crunch time: “Some teams you absolutely know which guys are going to get the ball at the end of games. We don’t really have that. Angel is 5-11. It’s not so easy for him. Even if he beats his man, it’s hard to score over the big guys.’’

On facing No. 10 Louisville Tuesday: “They’ve very different. They press. They have four or five different presses. They play zone, man to man. What’s hard on us, we only have this one day to prepare. I’d like to have 2-3 days to go over what we want to do.’’

On whether he uses Snapchat in recruiting:  “My assistant coaches do. I don’t use it myself. My communication is through texting and phone calls.’’

By Michelle Kaufman

 

February 01, 2015

Miami Beach morning with Kaaya, Kamalu, other Canes -- on flag football, Super Bowl & Deflategate

   Gorgeous Super Bowl Sunday in Miami Beach.

   Got back from the “JAFCO Bowl’’ at Flamingo Park, organized by 16-year-old Jake Sokol, the Ransom Everglades student who five years ago initiated the annual flag football tournament between Miami-Dade County youngsters as his Bar Mitzvah project to benefit JAFCO – the Jewish Adoption and Family Care Options non-profit organization that provides services to abused and neglected children in South Florida.

    Sokol and the young players seemed to have great fun Sunday, but not as much fun as the six Hurricanes who did community service and repped the University of Miami in coaching them up.

    The Hurricanes represented: quarterback Brad Kaaya, offensive lineman Hunter Wells, receiver David Njoku, defensive tackle Ufomba Kamalu and walk-ons Grant Coffman (kicker/punter) and Collin Alford (running back).

   “Every one of these kids love UM,’’ said Sokol, who said the game has raised about $25,000 since its inception. “It’s just a great charity and a great thing to see these players represent the University of Miami in doing something for the community.’’

   Kaaya ran back and forth on the field as if his future hung on every play. Midway through the event, Kaaya already had lost three members of his flag football team.

Kaayaflagfb

   “One broke his finger,’’ Kaaya said, “one tripped another kid and got kicked out, and then the other one didn’t show up. We’re getting blown out right now, so we’ve got to come back. I’m real competitive. I hate losing anything.’’

    Said Kamalu: “I’m just coaching kids, showing them plays. This is my first time doing this. When the kids make big plays we’re so invested in it. It’s just so fun coaching them.’’

Photo 2

   So, now the most pressing subject of the day: The Super Bowl.

   I asked Brad Kaaya, “Tom Brady or Russell Wilson?”

   Kaaya: “Tom Brady. In the game today, Tom has played in a lot more of these, so I’m thinking Tom.

   “Overall, Tom. I mean, he makes more happen. Whereas Russell Wilson, he’s still a good quarterback, but a lot of times I feel like the guys he has in place around him often times can really help him out a whole lot. Tom Brady, over the years he’s made it happen. He’s had six different receiving corps and he still makes it happen.’’

    Kaaya said he’s picking the Patriots to win but “it’s going to be a really good game. I think it should be.’’

   Kaaya said he’ll probably watch the game with all his “boys.’’

   Greg Golden, “Coach Golden’s nephew,’’ Kaaya said, has “a real nice ’’ TV setup for viewing games, though he said he wasn’t sure where he’d watch the Super Bowl.

   Kamalu said he wanted the Seattle Seahawks.

   “They make plays,’’ he said. “They have a lot of playmakers on offense and defense. I think they’re going to find a way.’’

   Njoku predicted the final score Sunday would be 31-26, Seahawks.

   Wells is going with the Pats.

    Photo 4

   Finally, on “Deflategate, ” the recent NFL controversy involving the New England Patriots being accused of underinflating footballs used in the AFC Championship against Indianapolis, Kamalu and Wells called it, basically, a bunch of hot air.

    “Does it really matter, two PSI’s? How does it matter? Two PSI’s is not that much – if it were five or something, alright.”

    Wells: “A deflated ball is not going to help them tackle. Deflategate. They trying to say it’s like Watergate? Come on!”

    Lots of laughter – and a morning well spent.

    SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

  

One of Hurricanes top recruits Scarlett decommits; Williams in play as replacement at RB

The wild ride that is recruiting strikes again.

St. Thomas Aquinas four-star running back Jordan Scarlett, the second-highest rated player in Miami's 2015 recruiting class before Sunday's news, decommitted from the Hurricanes following his visit to Florida State this weekend. He announced the news on Twitter.

Rated the 12th best running back in the country by 247Sports composite rankings, Scarlett (5-11, 222) was one of two highly-touted running backs in UM's class -- an important need after the loss of Duke Johnson, who is foregoing his senior season to enter the NFL Draft.

A scout told me Sunday Scarlett had tried to commit to the Seminoles on an unofficial visit early in the process "but they wouldn't take it" at the time. Now, after his official visit to Tallahassee and the decommitment of another running back in FSU's class it appears the Seminoles do have space for Scarlett.

Scarlett said at the U.S. Army All-American game his commitment to the Hurricanes was about 85 percent. He visited UM on Jan. 16 then followed it up with visits to Florida (Jan. 23) and then Florida State (Jan. 30). He said on Twitter he will choose between FSU, UF and Miami and announce his final decision on FoxSports Monday.

"Even without Scarlett Miami still has one of the best backfields in the ACC," a scout said this morning. "[2015 commitment] Mark Walton [out of Booker T. Washington] is a Reggie Bush, Duke Johnson type back and he can come in and split carries with Joe Yearby. Gus Edwards, who has improved a lot, can be your big physical back with Trayone Gray providing depth. And, they could still end up adding Dexter Williams to this class."

Williams, a four-star running back out of West Orange High in Winter Garden, Fla., was once one of four running back commitments in Miami's class along with Walton, Scarlett and Westminster Christian four-star running back Jordan Cronkrite. Williams told Canesport Sunday he will choose between the Hurricanes and Notre Dame at 11 a.m. on Signing Day.

"I'm still going back and forth in my mind with both of them," Williams told Canesport. "Both have great programs, great tradition, they both have great coaches, a great environment, great academics. They are both really great schools."

Miami Hurricanes 2015 Recruiting Class      
Early Enrollment (5) POS School HT WT Stars POS/Rk
Jaquan Johnson  S Miami Killian 5'10 182 4 13
Jerome Washington TE Mercer County CC 6'5 260 3 1
Scott Patchan DE Bradenton IMG Academy

6'5

237 3 22
Jahair Jones OT Brooklyn ASA College 6'5 310 3 12
Charles Perry LB Royal Palm Beach, Fla. 6'1 205 3 31
Commitments (13) POS School HT WT Stars POS/Rk
Mark Walton RB Miami Booker T. Washington 5'10 179 4 10
Bar Milo OT West Hills Chaminade, CA 6'6 270 4 19
Tyree St. Louis OT Bradenton IMG Academy 6'5 300 4 31
Lawrence Cager WR Calvert Hall College, MD 6'5 195 3 40
Charles Perry LB Royal Palm Beach, Fla. 6'1 205 3 31
Michael Jackson CB Birmingham Spain Park, Ala. 6'2 190 3 56
Terrell Chatman WR Baton Rouge Central, La. 6'3 180 3 69
Richard McIntosh DE Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons 6'4 270 3 43
Jamie Gordinier LB Red Bank Catholic, N.J. 6'4 235 3 42
Brendan Loftus OT Tallahassee Godby 6'7 270 3 88
Hayden Mahoney OT Malvern Prep, Penn. 6'5 280 3 94
Ryan Fines DT Bradenton IMG Academy 6'4 305 3 58
Tyler Gauthier OT Venice, Fla. 6'5 305 3 112
Robert Knowles S Miami Edison 6'1 185 3 105

January 29, 2015

Just announced: Miami Hurricanes and FSU Seminoles will play Oct. 10, 2015 in Tallahassee

 

   In 2014, the Miami Hurricanes got thrown into the furnace by not only playing their first football game on the road, but playing it against a talented Louisville team making its debut in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

   The ACC released its 2015 composite schedule Thursday, and next season the Canes can breathe a bit before they face their first ACC opponent – defending league champion Florida State on Oct. 10 in Tallahassee.

   UM opens Sept. 5 at home against Football Championship Subdivision member Bethune-Cookman (9-3), travels up the road Sept. 12 to FAU (3-9) in Boca Raton, hosts Nebraska (9-4) on Sept. 19 and rests with a bye week Sept. 26.

   After their first road game at Cincinnati (9-4) for a Thursday-night, ESPN telecast  Oct. 1, the Canes can start really sweating.

  Miami (6-7, 3-5 ACC) will meet FSU more than a month earlier than it did this past season. The Seminoles were 13-1 in 2014 after losing to Oregon in the College Football Playoff semifinal on New Year’s Day.

   The Canes will have nine days to prepare for the Seminoles, who defeated them 30-26 Nov. 15 in the final three minutes at Sun Life Stadium.

   After FSU there’s Virginia Tech (7-6) on Oct. 17 and Clemson (10-3) on Oct. 24 at home. Then the Canes play at Duke (9-4) on Halloween, return home Nov. 7 for Virginia (5-7) and go to UNC (6-7) on Nov. 14.

   The end of the season will be tough, with Orange Bowl champion Georgia Tech (11-3) coming to Sun Life on Nov. 21 and UM finishing the regular season at Pittsburgh (6-7) in the cold on the day after Thanksgiving – Friday, Nov. 27.

    UM’s 2015 opponents had a combined 97-58 record in 2014.

    Of the teams they will face next season, the Hurricanes lost to Nebraska, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Virginia and Pittsburgh. They defeated Duke, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech and North Carolina.

    FAU athletic director Pat Chun told the Miami Herald late last year that the three-game series between the teams is part of a “two-for-one’’ contract. “Two games at their place [UM] – in 2013 and 2016 and home [at FAU] in 2015. Part of the deal is there is no change of funds in the contract for the home game at our place in ’15.

   “The biggest game in the history of our stadium will be for sure Sept. 12, 2015, and our campus is excited to host our neighbors from the south,’’ Chun said.

    Game times have not yet been assigned.

 

Miami Hurricanes 2015 Schedule

 

Saturday, Sept. 5 -- Bethune-Cookman.

 

Saturday, Sept. 12 -- AT FAU.

 

Saturday, Sept. Sept. 19 -- Nebraska.

 

BYE WEEK Saturday, Sept. 26

 

Thursday Oct. 1 -- AT CINCINNATI

 

Saturday, Oct. 10  -- AT FSU*

 

Saturday, Oct. 17 -- Virginia Tech*

 

Saturday, Oct. 24 -- Clemson*

 

Saturday, Oct. 31 -- AT DUKE*

 

Saturday, Nov. 7 -- Virginia*

 

Saturday, Nov. 14 -- AT UNC*

 

Saturday, Nov. 21 -- Georgia Tech*

 

Friday, Nov. 27 -- AT PITT*

 

 * ACC game

  SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN   

January 28, 2015

Miami Hurricanes legend Michael Irvin to angry football fans: "Calm'' your "asses down''

So by now, we all know that Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin's nephew Tim Irvin (Miami Westminster) committed this month to play at Texas -- then decommitted from Texas and switched to Auburn -- instead of for the Hurricanes or his other finalists. Michael wanted his nephew to, reportedly, follow his heart.

On Tuesday, at the Super Bowl's Media Day, UM great Michael Irvin was asked by NBC-6/WQAM sportscaster Adam Kuperstein his thoughts on the UM football program sticking with coach Al Golden and his not making any changes in his coaching staff (after a 6-7 season and major fan wrath).

"I thought it was the right move, and guys, I've said this over and over again and I'll say it here again: Al Golden -- Coach Al Golden -- has earned this opportunity, has earned the right to see this through. With what he's done, to jump there and fight, that was not his fight, and he stayed through the fight. He recruited well and he kept us in the fight.

* He had us up to, I don't know, ranked as high as fifth last year.

"We started a freshman quarterback. Where's the smarts? Tell me this: Where's the smarts in saying, 'Hey freshman, we know we started you. We know you learned a lot. But right now we're going to snatch all of that from under you and make you start all over again next year.'

"It would be absolutely stupid, absolutely ignorant to do it to him, so it would be absolutely the right thing to let this man get one more year to finish and make it right. Building a championship takes time and there's a process to it. And we're in the midst, I think, of a very good process. 

"And I surely hope that people, in Miami, can calm their asses down and let the process see itself through.''

Irvin has repeatedly said that Golden deserves another season to steer UM in the right direction after staying with the Hurricanes through the NCAA mess.

*As far as Irvin saying Miami was ranked as high as fifth last year, I'm thinking he meant 2013 (otherwise, he's clearly out of touch), when the Canes were ranked seventh by the Associated Press after a 7-0 start. They then lost to FSU (lost Duke Johnson in the process) and collapsed from there to finish 9-4. 

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

January 26, 2015

Make it five 2016 commitments for Canes in 48 hours with addition of Flanagan LB Devin Gil

The Miami Hurricanes keep picking up commitments for their top-ranked 2016 signing class. If only that Signing Day wasn't 53 weeks away.

Monday, less than 48 hours after picking up four commits on Junior Day, UM added another in Pembroke Pines Flanagan's Devin Gil (6-1, 200).

Unranked among recruits by 247Sports, Gil was the Falcons' third-leading tackler last season (64, six for loss) and had three interceptions and 1 1/2 sacks while playing both outside linebacker and safety.

"[UM] saw the way he played on the ball at safety, saw him down in the box when my son Devin [Bush] got hurt," Flanagan coach Devin Bush Sr. said. "It shows you the type of versatility you're going to get. They offered Gil last week. Temple and Miami are his only offers. The kid grew up liking Miami. I guess he got real excited about it after he was there Sunday. Right now, they got him listed as an athlete. The kid is so versatile he can play anywhere for them."

Bush Jr. and Stanford Samuels, a 2017 recruit and cornerback, also have Hurricane offers according to their coach. Flanagan reached the Class 8A state semifinals last season before losing to Columbus.

"I give everybody a shot with my son," Bush Sr. said. "My son is completely wide open. Because of where I went [Florida State] that's not a deterrent. The idea is to pick the best place for him. Devin has about 30 offers. Stanford has a lot of big SEC offers."

Bush Sr. said he's not sure why Gil isn't more highly regarded. But he expects everyone to start jumping on him as he nears his senior year.

"Just versatile," Bush Sr. said of Gil. "Talented, talented kid."

UM back in Top 25

They're baaaaaaaaack. In the Top 25.

By Michelle Kaufman

mkaufman@MiamiHerald.com

The 31,000 fans at the Carrier Dome apparently weren’t the only ones paying attention as the University of Miami men’s basketball team knocked off Syracuse Saturday afternoon. Voters in the Associated Press and USA Today polls put the Hurricanes back into the Top 25 on Monday. They are ranked No. 23 in both polls.

UM had broken into the Top 25 on Nov. 24, got as high as No. 15, slipped to No. 18 on Dec. 15 and then dropped out after losing to Eastern Kentucky. But ever since the ACC season started, the Canes have been gaining respect. They had big wins at Duke and at Syracuse, home wins over Boston College and North Carolina State and their two losses were in double-overtime to undefeated No. 2 Virginia (19-0) and by five points to then-No. 12 (now No. 8) Notre Dame.

The Canes (14-5, 4-2 ACC) face Georgia Tech at home Wednesday at 9 p.m. Coach Jim Larranaga said re-entering the Top 25 doesn’t change the team’s approach to the game. He does not want his players wrapped up in rankings. But he recognizes that being a Top 25 team has long-range benefits.

“(It’s significant) as far as getting name recognition out there, having others think we’re good,’’ he said. “We’re always going to think we’re good. But it’s earning respect from other people that’s always been important. It helps in recruiting to have high school players and coaches think you have a good program, and the way they judge that is, `Who’d you beat?’’’

 

 

Hurricanes pick up four 2016 commitments, look to hold onto key '15 recruits & finish strong

The Miami Hurricanes on Sunday picked up four big commitments for its 2016 Signing Class, which climbed back to No. 1 in the overall team rankings according to 247Sports.

UM picked up verbal, non-binding agreements from Gulliver Prep four-star defensive end Joseph Jackson (6-4, 229) and three-star safety Cedrick Wright (5-9, 180), Lakeland Lake Gibson defensive tackle Keyshon Camp (6-3, 250) and Coral Gables running back Amir Rasul (6-1, 200).

Here's how UM's 2016 class looks now on paper.

2016 Commitments POS School HT WT Stars Rank
Sam Bruce WR St. Thomas Aquinas 5-8 160 4 3
Dionte Mullins WR Miami Gulliver Prep 5-11 179 4 12
Shaquille Quarterman ILB Orange Park Oakleaf, Fla. 6-1 225 4 3
Jack Allison QB Palmetto, Fla. 6-5 185 4 7
Zach McCloud OLB Lake Worth Santaluces  6-3 215 4 16
Joseph Jackson DE Miami Gulliver Prep 6-4 229 4 16
Ahmmon Richards WR West Palm Beach Wellington 6-2 172 4 55
Cedrick Wright S Miami Gulliver Prep 5-9 180 3 18
Michael Pinckney ILB Jacksonville Raines 6-2 215 3 12
Amir Rasul RB Coral Gables 6-1 200 0 0
Keyshon Camp DT Lakeland Lake Gibson 6-3 250 0 0

While UM's 2016 class continues to thrive, the Hurricanes are looking to strengthen their 2015 class currently ranked 20th by 247Sports and ESPN and 22nd by Rivals.com with a little more than a week to go before National Signing Day on Feb. 4.

The Hurricanes remain at 19 commitments after hosting three non-committed visitors over the weekend -- three-star defensive tackle Kevin Scott (Los Angeles, Calif.), Delray Beach Atlantic three-star defensive end Shelton Johnson and three-star quarterback Evan Shirreffs (Jefferson, Ga.).

Scott told 247Sports' Ryan Bartow the UM visit was "amazing" but remains wide open with Miami, USC, Purdue, San Diego State and Ole Miss (his final recruiting visit this coming weekend) all in the running. Johnson (6-5, 220) is expected to choose Florida State and will make his last visit there this coming weekend. It's unclear yet if Shirreffs, who doesn't have an FBS offer but has intrigued schools like Miami because he had a stellar senior season, received an offer during his visit.

So what's left to sort out for the Hurricanes from here on out? A handful of visitors are expected this final weekend including Ohio State commitment and Plantation American Heritage star quarterback Torrance Gibson, a U.S. Army All-American. There's no telling yet how serious he's considering Miami, but he's scheduled to make the trip to Coral Gables along with talented four-star receivers Daylon Charlot (a former Alabama commitment) and Georgia commitment Jayson Stanley, three-star defensive tackle T.D. Moton, a former Alabama commitment who might still end up in the SEC at either Texas A&M or Mississippi State and little-known 6-7, 250-pound defensive end Simi Moala from Los Angeles. Moala also has a Fresno State offer which is close to home.

There are other previous visitors considering Miami. Here's a list and look at who the Hurricanes have a shot at landing before National Signing Day.

Key UM Targets POS School  HT WT Stars Rank
Marcus Lewis CB Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga 6-1 187 4 8
Antonio Callaway WR Miami Booker T. Washington 5-11 185 3 46
Kendrick Norton OG Jacksonville Trinity Christian 6-3 305 3 26
Fred Johnson OT Royal Palm Beach 6-6 301 3 147
Kevin Scott DT L.A. Bishop Mora Salesian 6-5 280 3 65
Shelton Johnson DE Delray Beach Atlantic 6-5 220 3 20
Evan Shirreffs QB Jefferson, Ga. 6-5 195 3 60
Davante Davis CB Miami Booker T. Washington 6-3 200 4 29
Austrian Robinson DE Trinity-Pawling School, N.Y. 6-6 255 3 34
Rasheem Green DT Junipero Serra Gardena, CA 6-5 275 5 5
John Houston LB Junipero Serra Gardena, CA 6-3 211 4 6
Quart'e Sapp LB Alpharetta Milton, Ga. 6-1 200 4 14
Arden Key DE Lithonia Charter, Ga. 6-5 230 4 4
Mohamed Barry OLB Loganville Grayson, Ga. 6-1 210 3 71

A couple of notes on a few of the players mentioned above:

> Lewis said after his visit to UM the Hurricanes were his leader. Kentucky, also a finalist, will make an in-home visit this week along with Miami. The Hurricanes badly need another high-quality cornerback in this class considering Artie Burns, Corn Elder and Antonio Crawford will all be juniors next season and Tracy Howard a senior.

> Callaway, who visited West Virginia this past weekend, told me last week he's completely torn. Alabama is supposed to get his last visit and he said he's intrigued by how the Tide used former Miami Northwestern star Amari Cooper. UF, Callaway's favorite team growing up, could be a factor if they push harder than they have to now.

> Johnson is supposed to take his last official visit to the Gators this coming weekend. Considering teammate and Hurricanes recruit Charles Perry is already a part of this class and he loved his visit to Coral Gables Miami has a strong shot. What hurts Miami? They've already got six offensive linemen in the class.

> UM coaches -- including Al Golden -- visited both Green and Houston at home last week and neither eliminated Miami from contention. Both, though, are expected to stay on the West Coast barring a surprise.

> Sapp (6-1, 200) named Miami one of his four finalists last week along with Tennessee, Michigan State and North Carolina. He's taken official visits to Tennesse, considered the favorite, and Michigan State. Will he give Miami his last official visit? If he does that's a positive sign. If not, he's probably not coming here. Miami badly needs help at linebacker. Barry visited Nebraska this past weekend and told reporters there he was blown away by his visit. 

So, as it stands, this is what Miami's current class looks like with 19 commitments after the de-commitment of Pompano Beach Ely receiver Therrel Gosier last week.

2015 Class      
Early Enrollment POS School HT WT Stars Rank
Jaquan Johnson  S Miami Killian 5-10 182 4 13
Jerome Washington TE Mercer County CC 6-5 260 3 1
Scott Patchan DE Bradenton IMG Academy 6-5 237 3 22
Jahair Jones OT Brooklyn ASA College 6-5 310 3 12
Commitments POS School HT WT Stars Rank
Mark Walton RB Miami Booker T. Washington 5-10 179 4 10
Jordan Scarlett RB St. Thomas Aquinas 5-11 222 4 12
Bar Milo OT West Hills Chaminade, Calif. 6-6 270 4 19
Tyree St. Louis OT Bradenton IMG Academy 6-5 300 4 31
Lawrence Cager WR Calvert Hall College, Mary. 6-5 195 3 40
Charles Perry LB Royal Palm Beach, Fla. 6-1 205 3 31
Michael Jackson CB Birmingham Spain Park, Ala. 6-2 190 3 56
Terrell Chatman WR Baton Rouge Central, La. 6-3 180 3 69
Richard McIntosh DE Ft. Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons 6-4 270 3 43
Jamie Gordinier LB Red Bank Catholic, N.J. 6-4 235 3 42
Brendan Loftus OT Tallahassee Godby 6-7 270 3 88
Hayden Mahoney OT Malvern Prep, Penn. 6-5 280 3 94
Ryan Fines DT Bradenton IMG Academy 6-4 305 3 58
Tyler Gauthier OT Venice, Fla. 6-5 305 3 112
Robert Knowles S Miami Edison 6-1 185 3 105

The Hurricanes aren't home-free on all 19 of these commitments. Although U.S. Army All-American receiver Lawrence Cager said Sunday he's now 100 percent committed to the Canes after his official visit this past weekend, a handful of UM commitments are spending the final recruiting weekend of the year at other schools.

Scarlett is heading to Florida State. Walton is scheduled to go to Louisville after spending this past weekend at West Virginia. St. Louis said he's taking his final visit to Florida and Chatman is giving the Hurricanes one final hard look this weekend. Chatman took visits to TCU and Arizona State and is strongly considering both of those programs before making a final decision. As it stands, UM has just two receiver commitments.

January 23, 2015

UM apologizes for fan shoving NC St. player

During Miami's 65-60 win over NC State Thursday night, a UM fan shoved Wolfpack player Anthony Barber. It was captured on video. UM athletic director Blake James released this statement:

After tonight’s game I was made aware of an incident involving one of our fans and a North Carolina State University student-athlete. First I want to apologize to the student-athlete involved, Coach Mark Gottfried and North Carolina State University.  This type of behavior is not representative of the University of Miami or our athletic program, and will not be tolerated. We will review the video and discuss with the ACC the appropriate actions in addressing this issue. 

 

January 21, 2015

Coach L kicks players out of practice

Most interesting nuggets out of Wednesday afternoon presser with Coach L and Sheldon McClellan:

1. Coach L did not like the energy of some players at yesterday's practice, so he made them run and then he kicked the entire team out of the gym and told them to go home. "He was pretty angry,'' McClellan said. "Rarely have I seen him like that. It wasn't the first time he was mad at us, but it was the first time we've been sent home.'' They plan to show up hungrier today because "We don't want to make coach mad.''

2. Coach L said fans should expect to see more of 6-10 Spaniard Ivan Cruz Uceda against NC State Thursday night than they saw of him vs. Notre Dame. The Wolfpack pack some heavy players in the paint, so Jekiri, Uceda, Sherman and Thomas will play a big role.

3. The Canes have had trouble guarding the perimeter, and they will be tested big time against NC State guards Trevor Lacey (17.1 ppg) and Ralston Turner (13.7), whom Coach L called a "Ray Allen kind of player'' who looks for a moment of daylight and launches threes.

4. Coach L said NC State (which beat Duke, as did UM) is "Maybe the most talented, athletic team in the league. Their backcourt is as hard to guard as any in the country.''

5. Coach L on Angel Rodriguez's 1-for-10 shooting against the Irish: "Some nights you have the juice, sometimes you don't.''

BY Michelle Kaufman

Former Hurricane Calais Campbell provides UM with $1.6 million gift, largest ever by former player

Former Hurricane Calais Campbell, NFL Pro Bowler with the Arizona Cardinals and founder of the CRC Foundation, made a gift of $1.6 million to the University of Miami's athletic department Wednesday to fund The Calais Campbell Football Defensive Lineman Endowed Scholarship.

The endowment marks the largest gift from a former UM student athlete ever, a little more than the recent $1.5 million gift from former running back Ken Hunt the school announced. 

“Calais’ generosity will create opportunities for young men for years to come and on behalf of the University, I want to express our gratitude for his commitment to Miami,” UM athletic director Blake James said in a statement released by the school. “Calais is an incredible man and along with his family, understands the importance of education and the impact a positive environment can have on a student-athlete.  We are excited by the benchmarks set by Ken Hunt and now Calais, which will serve as catalysts for former student-athlete giving in the future.”

The Calais Campbell Football Defensive Lineman Endowment will fund a full scholarship annually, in perpetuity, to a defensive lineman on the Hurricanes football team. In recognition for this historic gift, the defensive linemen meeting room in the Hecht Athletic Center will be renamed The Calais Campbell Defensive Line Meeting Room.

An all-ACC defensive end, Campbell recorded the ninth best single-season sack total in Hurricanes history with 10.5, on his way to being named the Hurricanes’ 2006 team MVP. Campbell was a four-year letter winner, and graduated in 2008 with a degree in advertising and marketing.

“While running through the smoke as a Miami Hurricane will always be one of the great honors of my life, I am equally as proud of the education I received while a Hurricane student-athlete” Calais Campbell said in a statement released by UM. “Through my parents, I learned the value of earning a degree and through the University of Miami I was able to achieve it. The University of Miami continues to strive for the best in both academics and athletics, and it’s my honor to be a small part of that effort.”

Campbell was himself the named recipient of an endowed scholarship from Robert and Connie McGee, longtime supporters of UM athletics. 

“The McGees were very inspirational in my life and I’m honored to now stand beside them as a fellow donor to Hurricane Athletics,” Campbell said. “I hope that through this gift I can inspire others to think about how they can continue to positively impact the lives of Hurricane student-athletes, just as the McGee family has done for many years.”

Campbell and the McGees formed a strong bond during his time at UM, and they remain close today.

“Our family has enjoyed attending University of Miami football games for many years. When we lost our son, Shane, at age 13, we created an endowed football scholarship in his memory,” Bob and Connie McGee said in a statement released by UM.  “Our first recipient was Calais Campbell. It was a wonderful experience to meet Calais as an incoming freshman and to watch him grow as a player and a man.

"Our relationship with Calais has helped us both understand the impact that a scholarship can have on a young person’s life. Calais is an exceptional young man. We are so pleased that he has decided to carry on the tradition of investing in the young men who will play football at University of Miami by giving an endowed football scholarship. We feel that our family’s scholarship has come full circle,” they added.

In 2008, Campbell was selected 50th overall in the second round of the NFL draft by the Arizona Cardinals, and has continued to excel in the NFL, becoming a Cardinals team leader and being named to his first Pro Bowl. Campbell has twice won the Cardinals “Man of the Year” award for his work in the Arizona community through his CRC Foundation.

With Campbell's gift, the school announced it has surpassed $106 million toward its fundraising campaign known as Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami.

January 20, 2015

Canes 'definitely' in it for Booker T. star receiver Antonio Callaway after official visit

Booker T. Washington receiver Antonio Callaway, a four-star prospect who was one of 17 official visitors at the University of Miami last weekend, said Tuesday the Hurricanes are among the three finalists he will chose from on National Signing Day.

"I narrowed my list down to Alabama, Miami and West Virginia," Callaway said Tuesday afternoon after he visited the Miami Herald office to pose for his All-Dade First Team selection photo. "Sometimes my heart tells me Miami. Sometimes it tells me Alabama. And sometimes it tells me West Virginia. Wherever I feel comfortable that's where I'm going to go. But right now, I'm totally undecided."

Callaway (5-11, 185) said he'll visit West Virginia this coming weekend and then Alabama on the weekend of the 30th. The Florida Gators, once thought to be the front-runner for Callaway, have dropped out of the picture he says.

Callaway, who grew up a Gators fan because his favorite player was Percy Harvin, said he had a great relationship with former UF assistant Travaris Robinson. But since Robinson left for Auburn, Callaway said, his relationship with Florida hasn't been the same.

"I barely hear from them," Callaway said. "From the new staff, I haven’t even heard from them at all. Coach [Jim] McElwain will send me a picture of their old players. That’s the most I hear from them. I write them back and won’t get a response."

At this point, Callaway said, the Hurricanes "definitely" have a shot at signing him.

"Even though I was injured and missed eight games they didn’t slack off recruiting me or nothing," Callaway said of UM's coaches. "They recruited me the whole time the same way."

What did Callaway think of his official visit to UM last weekend? "I loved it," he said.

"I hung out with Tyree Brady, got a chance to kick it with him. We were friends from down south [in Homestead]. I got to meet Brad Kaaya, some of the other players. He was telling me it was a good program, just come in and work, be humble and stuff is going to go in your favor."

What are UM's coaches telling Callaway? "The same thing [as Alabama and West Virginia]. They said I could come in and play as a true freshman."

Callaway said playing time is important to him. He wants to have a role.

What else matters to him? "Family," he said. "What is it going to feel like outside of football?"

Callaway said he liked the atmosphere at Miami and the camraderie between players.

Now, he'll head to Morgantown and Tuscaloosa the next two weekends to see if it feels the same or even better there.

"I don’t really know much about Alabama, but I know from the looks of it, it will be a good fit for me," Callaway said. "I know Coach Lane Kiffin is a great coach."

Callaway said Alabama assistants Mario Cristobal and Billy Napier have been telling him they envision his role a lot like Amari Cooper's down the road. Cooper, a Miami Northwestern star, passed on the Hurricanes three years ago and became a star at Alabama and is expected to be one of the top receivers taken in the NFL Draft this coming May.

How is West Virginia assistant coach Jajuan Seider selling the Mountaineers to Callaway? "He tells me that they don’t really have what they need on the outside," Callaway said. "He said if I come in and work hard I can start because they need an outside receiver."

Callaway said whichever school he ends up signing with will get a hungry player looking to leave behind his mark. He did that this season at Booker T. Washington before tearing his meniscus and missing the final seven games of the season. In seven games, he finished with 31 catches for 818 yards and seven touchdowns. 

The oldest of five siblings raised by a single mother, Callaway said he looks up to his cousin, Arizona Cardinals rookie receiver John Brown, who worked his way into being a third round pick after being a three-time All-American at Division II Pittsburg State.

"My cousin John Brown, his story is almost like mine," Callaway said. "His brother got killed. He used that as motivation to go on. We come from the same type of struggle down in Homestead."

Callaway said he's looking forward to a bright future in college next season.

"A new beginning," Callaway said of what his decision on National Signing Day will mark. "That’s really the start of changing around my life and where I want to go."

Miami Hurricanes baseball season approaching, with UM quarterback Malik Rosier officially on roster

Baseball season is closing in, and I, for one, am happy about that. 

Great kids, and the heart of the Hurricanes' batting lineup -- ACC Rookie of the Year Zack Collins in the 3 spot, David Thompson at cleanup and sophomore outfielder Willie Abreu the likely No. 5 hitter -- appears to be a terror for opponents. 

The Canes open the season Friday night, Feb. 13, at home against Rutgers, with a double-header on Feb. 14 and the series finale on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 15.

Collins was recently named to the Perfect Game Preseason All-America first team, with reliever Bryan Garcia a third-team selection. They also were recognized by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.

On Tuesday, UM made its debut in Perfect Game's top 25 at No. 10.

According to the UM release we just received, the ranking was Miami’s third top 15 mark of the preseason; Collegiate Baseball Newspaper slotted Miami at No. 14 in its preseason poll released in December, while D1Baseball rated Miami No. 15 in its rankings released Monday.

Miami, which finished 44-19 in 2014 and earned one of 16 NCAA postseason Regional host sites, ended the season atop the ACC with a 24-6 record in conference play. Head coach Jim Morris' team also took home their second ACC Regular Season Championship in program history en route to a top seed at the ACC Baseball Championship in Greensboro, N.C. 

The Hurricanes, who in 2014 extended their postseason streak to a college baseball-record 42 consecutive years, return a number of key contributors from last season both on the mound and in the field.

Collins was named 2014 Baseball America National Freshman of the Year, left-handed pitcher Andy Suarez was the highest drafted college player (second round, Washington Nationals) in the nation to return to school, while Garcia earned NCBWA All-America honors after delivering a dominant season as the team's closer.

 Also note that quarterback Malik Rosier, a rising redshirt freshman in football, is now officially on the baseball roster as an outfielder and will wear No. 28. He's listed as 6-1 and 208 pounds .Word is that Rosier, who will continue to play football, has been impressive so far in early practices. He's fast, too.

Malik rosier

UM's recruiting class was ranked No. 2 nationally by Perfect Game, highlighted by speedy freshman outfielder Carl Chester, junior college transfer George Iskenderian (likely the opening-night third baseman) and outfielder Justin Smith.

The Hurricanes will open the season with the First Pitch Banquet on Feb at the Marriott Miami Dadeland. The Canes will host FanFest and its annual Alumni Game at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field at 4 p.m. Feb. 7. Admission to FanFest is free.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

January 15, 2015

On second thought, Elder and Jones stick to football

UM basketball coach Jim Larranaga, tickled to see a crowded interview room after the Canes' huge road upset over No. 4 Duke, opened by announcing that, upon further review, football players Corn Elder and D'Mauri Jones decided to stick to football and not play for the basketball team.

"Despite how excited myself and my staff were about having Corn Elder and D’Mauri Jones join us, those guys realized the amount of work they have to do academically and still with football, and the time commitment was just going to be way too much, so neither will be with us any further. Corn was with us two practices, D’Mauri just watched, and realized, `Well, maybe I need to just concentrate on the football.'’’

(My translation: Perhaps they realized just how serious college basketball is, how skilled the players are, how hard the practicees are, and it would be hard to just dabble in it. It requires a bigger commitment than they have time or energy to give)

--Michelle Kaufman

January 14, 2015

Scarlett still committed to the Canes, but going into final three visits with an open mind

St. Thomas Aquinas running back Jordan Scarlett can see the recruiting finish line and the truth is he can't wait to get there.

Committed to the Hurricanes since July, the U.S. Army-All American and consensus four-star recruit opened some eyes late last month when he told reporters in San Antonio his commitment to UM was "85 percent."

Wednesday afternoon, I caught up with Scarlett at Aquinas after he posed for his Miami Herald All-Broward County First Team photo and asked him where he stands with UM with only three recruiting weekends left before National Signing Day on Feb. 4.

This weekend, Scarlett said he's going to visit Coral Gables. Then, he'll be off to official visits in Gainesville and Tallahassee the following two weekends. 

I asked Scarlett what he's looking for on the visits. His response: "I'm just hoping to see how the lifestyle is at all those schools, and see what's going on."

What made Scarlett go from a 100 percent Canes commitment to 85 percent? 

"How their season went," Scarlett said. "It wasn't the best season out of all my options of the schools. And I just feel like I don't want to miss on an opportunity of taking visits and seeing what's out there."

Booker T. Washington star Mark Walton, UM's other elite running back in its 2015 signing class, has developed a friendship with Scarlett this season. Last week, Walton told me the comments made by Duke Johnson's mother shortly after the bowl game (regarding how half the team would transfer out if not for NCAA rules) rattled a few recruits. Did it do the same to Scarlett?

"That didn't really rattle me at all because that's just the parents' point of view," Scarlett said.

Scarlett said he and Walton have talked often throughout the recruiting process. What has Walton's message been to Scarlett? 

"We just talk about how it's going to be there, how we're going to be a good 1-2 punch, how things are going to be great," Scarlett said. "Hopefully it all works out."

I asked Scarlett if he worries at all about coaching changes at UM? Does possible coaching changes after the 2015 season (assuming Golden and his staff fail) enter is decision-making process at all?

"No. Not really," he said. "The coaches don't really make a factor in the school for me. I'm going to play football and get my education. The coaches are great people, but I wouldn't make my choice on that."

What did Scarlett like about UM to begin with? "It's a home school, they have a great education, and they run the ball. So it's a great opportunity for me," Scarlett said. 

What has been UM's message to Scarlett throughout the recruiting process? "That's it's the place to be," he said. "That I should stay home and bring Miami back."

Is that something that still entices Scarlett? "Yes," he said. "That's why [I'm still committed to them]."

So are these trips basically to see if things might be better at UF and FSU? "Yeah," Scarlett answered.

What does Scarlett like about Florida and Florida State? "Florida is a good school. I feel like it's going to be a great school coming up because it has new coaches. I want to see what the coaches and the school is like," he said. "Florida State has just been a school of mine, part of the recruiting process since the beginning. They're a great school."

Scarlett said former Hurricanes coach Randy Shannon is his new recruiter for the Gators. 

"I didn't know him before this," Scarlett said. "He's just saying he's the new guy and he just wants to show me how much of a good opportunity it is up there and to give Florida a chance."

So is Scarlett still "85 percent committed" to Miami? "Yeah," he said. 

Scarlett said he's not planning anything special for Signing Day or some big announcement before hand. He said he's going to sign his National Letter of Intent on Signing Day and be done with the whole process.

So whoever gets Scarlett's fax is where he's going, I asked him. "Pretty much," he said. 

Miami Trustee Bob Mann gives $1 million bucks, says he's also disappointed in football, but wants to "help build the program up''

   As I said in my last post, Bob Mann is a very generous person.

   I spoke with him today about being that generous when so many understandably disgruntled football fans are saying they won’t renew their season tickets or give any more money to Hurricanes athletics until changes are made in the football program, which finished 6-7 this past season.

  If you hadn’t heard, Mann, 68, a UM alum and Trustee, gave $1 million to establish the Robert A. Mann Endowed Fund for the Department of Athletics.

 The gift will support UM football, basketball, baseball and emergency needs for all student-athletes as determined by the athletic director and is “in support of Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami.’’

UM said Mann’s gift means as of now, the athletics department has raised more than $104 million toward its Momentum2 goal of $125 million.

 Mann has been very generous financially and otherwise over the years to support Hurricanes athletics – and other areas of UM as well. He said he chooses to keep giving, despite being upset about football’s downward trend.

“The contribution is to help build the program up,’’ he said. “There are so many needs. I continue to give every year anyway. A lot of people do. We’re really happy with the basketball program and some of the other programs are doing well and we’re all looking for the football program to turn around again.

  “Everything in football seems to go in cycles, whether it’s Ohio State or Alabama or Oklahoma. All these schools have up or down periods . I just know that everybody in the university is committed to winning. And I’m sure the resources will be there at the university to do it. So much has gone into athletics in the last decade.

   “Over the last year we put $2.5 million worth of high definition scoreboards in the BankUnitedCenter and that was to increase the fans’ experience.”

  Mann, an avid football fan who attends all the games, including the Duck Commander Independence Bowl, said he believes it’s a misconception that the administration does not care about football.

   “I think the person who wants to win more than anyone else is Donna Shalala. She’s a very competitive person. We all want to win. Losing is not fun.

   “I think fans will be very happy with what they see in the future. There will be a commitment by the administration to athletics and things will only get better.’’

    SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN  

Robert Mann endows Miami Hurricanes athletics fund with $1 million gift

  

Bob Mann is generous, and willing to support the Hurricanes through rain or shine. He has given plenty of money to his alma mater, and in particular, athletics. On Wednesday, UM announced that he has gifted $1 million to create an athletics fund to support football, basketball, baseball and "emergency needs for all student-athletes as determined by the Director of Athletics.'' 

Here’s the release from UM:

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami Athletics Department announced today a gift of $1 million from UM Trustee and alumnus Robert Mann to create the Robert A. Mann Endowed Fund for the Department of Athletics.

This endowment gift, which will support Hurricanes Football, Basketball, Baseball and emergency needs for all student-athletes as determined by the Director of Athletics, is in support of Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami. With this gift, the Department of Athletics has raised over $104 million towards its Momentum2 goal of $125 million.

“Thank you to Bob Mann for his longstanding generosity, commitment and leadership to University of Miami Athletics,” said UM Director of Athletics Blake James. “Bob is a trusted friend to our program and we are grateful that our dedicated student athletes will forever benefit from Bob’s generosity and leadership.”

A Cleveland native and longtime Golden Cane, Mann has generously supported scholarships and facilities in both Athletics and at the School of Communication. Mann, B.A. ’70, serves on the University’s Board of Trustees’ Athletics Advisory Committee and is the Chair of the Visiting Committee of the School of Communication. Bob’s past contributions to Athletics include supporting the construction of Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field, the Robert A. Mann Auditorium in the Schwartz Center for Athletics Excellence and many years of generous discretionary support for UM Athletics.

Recognized for his unwavering commitment to his alma mater, Mann was named Henry King Stanford Alumnus of the Year in 2008.

Blake James explains why 'Fire Al Golden' and 'Bring Back Butch' posters taken from UM students last week; plus other nuggets on Marlins Park, indoor practice facility

In case you missed it, a frustrated Hurricanes fan holding a poster board with a 'Fire Al Golden' message made his way into the view of ESPN cameras Monday afternoon in Dallas, site of this year's national championship game.

Fire Al Golden poster boardScreen shots of the 'Fire Al Golden' poster -- when it was visible on TV during afternoon shows like The Herd with Colin Cowherd (you can spot it just over Tim Tebow's right shoulder in the photo here) -- made its way around social media rather quickly before the game. 

Some UM students like Willy Herrera, a 22-year old senior studying accounting and finance in Coral Gables, are saying they wish they could express themselves in a similar way on campus, but claim they aren't being allowed to. Twice last week during men's basketball games (against Virginia first and then Boston College), Herrera said he and friends had 'Fire Al Golden' and 'Bring Back Butch' signs snatched away from them by UM staffers Jesse Marks (Associate Athletic Director for Development) and Alfonso Restrepo (Assistant director of Development).

I reached out to Herrera after the Virginia game (after a prominent former UM player reached out to me privately to let me know what happened to Willy and others) to get the details. Then I asked athletic director Blake James last Thursday (shortly after the press conference to announce UM's new deal with Adidas) if he thought the school was impeding on freedom of speech rights of Hurricanes fans and students displeased with Golden.

"It's a policy at the stadium that there aren't any signs [allowed in]," James responded. "So it wasn't that it was 'Bring Back Butch' or 'Fire Al' or anything like that. The policy at the BankUnited Center is that there isn't any signs allowed in. And that's for a variety of reasons.

"Obviously if you're sitting behind someone and they're holding up a sign the whole game you can't see the game. And so the environment we create is to allow the fans to enjoy the game. Like most facilities, rarely do you allow things that are going to hamper the experience of others around them."

During Donna Shalala's tenure the school has conveyed to students through various messages the administration supports their rights to freedom of speech and other civil liberties. James was adamant last Thursday the actions taken by UM staffers wasn't censorship.

"Obviously we want to recognize the freedom to express your opinions and it wasn't something that was done on that front," he said. "It's our policy that signs aren't allowed in that facility. Again, I'm not sure how they got by the security. If they had it hidden or how it was done. But, that is something that is a policy there at that facility."

James said UM doesn't make the policy at Sun Life Stadium, but the rules at the BUC are the same as the ones for Canes baseball games on campus.

"I'm pretty sure they don't allow signs or umbrellas in Sun Life Stadium," James said. "Again, most stadiums aren't going to allow you to bring things in that are going to hamper the viewing enjoyment of others around you."

Obviously there are quite a few others who enjoy the Fire Al Golden posters like Herrera, who grew up a Canes fan and graduated from Miami Columbus High before coming to UM.

"It's not the act of [my poster board] being taken away," Herrera said of why he's upset. "We're not allowed to say anything, and at the end of the day it is a school and it's for the student first. We also pay our athletic fee every year. A lot of us could argue what we pay for isn't what we expected when we decided to go and pay our athletic fee. A lot of these people who make these big decisions are in politics and are used to listening to constituents. It's just frustrating that we're trying every way of being heard and no one listens to us. Athletics is a big part of student life, a huge part of athletic experiences. Why can't we express ourselves?"

MORE QUESTIONS FOR BLAKE JAMES

I spoke to James for 10 minutes one-on-one about a variety of other issues last Thursday. Here is a short Q&A of the topics covered:

Q: It feels like there's been overwhelming constant negativity from fans regarding Al Golden being the football coach. What's your message to the fan when there is a level of vitriol we haven't seen before?

"We all want the same thing. We all want to see the program win and I'm confident -- and you spoke to Al -- Al wants to win. I know there's some out there that question if he's the right one out there to do it and if he can do it, and I still feel that he is the guy that can get it done. The only thing I would say is 'Hey that's what we all want.' We all want to see this program winning ACC championships because if you're doing that you're going to have a chance to win the national championship.' And we all know that's the end goal. Let's get an ACC championship and then let's have an opportunity at the national championship. So, it's really just to try to give -- as with any one of our programs -- give them the support they need and give them the resources to be successful.

"That's part of this [Adidas] deal. It's going to give me greater ability to give them resources they need to be successful. Whether it's the facilities we've done over the last couple years -- the student athlete training table, practice fields. We're going to put lights up out here within the next few months. It's putting all those things in place to allow us to have success. I understand people are unhappy about us being 6-7. But Al's not happy about being 6-7. I'm not happy about being 6-7. I think we just have different views on how do we get back to the top. And mine let's support and invest. Obviously others have different thoughts."

Q: Have you spoken to Al about changing his assistant coaches?

"Al and I talked about those sorts of things. But that's something I trust him to make the judgement on. We brought that conversation up and that's something that he constantly has to do. He has to do that every year. Obviously in a year that you're 6-7 it becomes a much more targeted area I think. As is the head coaching position when you go 6-7. I recognize that's what people are going to want to talk about right now. It goes into his evaluation every year. Whether you're winning a national championship or going 6-7 there's things you're going to need to change for next year. Because if you sit in the same spot everybody is going to pass you by. So it's Al's job to constantly evaluate his program and make sure we're doing the things we need to do to progress. Because you always need to make progress regardless of what you're record is. So those are things that I leave to him. But my challenge to him was evaluate everything and make the changes you need to make and then tell me what you need on resources so I can get us to where we need to be. We need to be winning the Coastal. We need to be going to the ACC championship, and again we need to be back on the national stage. And we're on the same page with that. And that's my commitment to him to get him back to that spot."

Q: I've had a couple Golden Canes boosters reach out to me and they've said the you and administration have told them there will be changes after Signing Day. What's been your message to them? What have you tried to convey to them?

"My message is the same to everyone whether it's a Golden Cane or anyone else is. I want to give them their resources. Any one of our programs. Obviously, football is the one that's the big one and football is the one that's been talked about the most. For me, it's just continuing push them to evaluate, push them to make sure I'm giving them the resources they need, and then continuing to look at our facilities and our infrastructure to see what we can do better. We need to get lights on our practice field. We need an indoor practice facility and I'm excited about what the Dolphins are doing with Dolphins Stadium. I think that will enhance some things too and should help create a better gameday environment for us."

Q: What can you tell us about the new gameday experience for Canes fans might be like with all the changes being done at Sun Life?

"The Dolphins are going to have a press conference on that. I'd rather just comment after that press conference just not to say anything."

Q: But it's going to be a better experience?

"Yeah. I would say with everything they've shared with me I'm confident our fans will feel it's a much better game day experience."

Q: Where are you in terms of season tickets sold for 2015?

"We still haven't even started because we're still waiting for the Dolphins to finalize everything. Once they finalize everything then we'll send out our renewal notices. We haven't sent out our renewal notices, which is again off schedule for us. Normally we would have already sent those out. Given this construction project it looks like it's probably going to be February when we send stuff out that normally would have been out by now."

Q: In terms of an indoor practice facility at UM how close is that to becoming a reality?

"We're working on it. It's hard for me to say how close we are. We're working on identifying the right spot for it. I think once we find the right spot the institution and our supporters, are in-line and recognize the need for it that we're going to be able to make it a reality. Right now, it's finding the right spot. Then it will be lining up the funding for it. But I'm confident we're going to make that happen."

Q: Marlins Park hosted its first bowl game. Any chance you might play a game there at some point? Maybe against FIU?

"I think it would be hard. We signed a deal with FIU and [athletic director] Pete [Garcia] had mentioned maybe we could look at doing something like that. Sun Life Stadium is our home filed and to go play somewhere else in our own market -- if it's not on a permanent basis -- I don't think it would make sense for us. But I'll continue to monitor what they're doing at Marlins Park. And if there's something we ever felt would be a fit for us we'd investigate the possibilities."

January 12, 2015

Q&A with UM basketball coach Jim Larranaga on Hurricanes football players Corn Elder & D'Mauri Jones

Here’s the full Q and A between Miami Herald UM basketball writer Michelle Kaufman (first two questions) and Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga, and me and Larranaga (final question) during today’s Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball teleconference, as the Canes prepare to play at Duke on Tuesday night.

Please read the previous Eye On the U blog entry for more information about former Tennessee high school star point guard/ current UM cornerback Corn Elder, and UM receiver D’Mauri Jones. Both attend UM on football scholarships.

Jones has one catch in his career, this past season against FAMU, for 13 yards. Elder played extensively in football, and is expected to have an even bigger role next season. Both are rising juniors.

 Q: Two football players are coming over to help. Do you see them being practice players or contributing on the court and how good are they at basketball? Have you watched them play?

 Coach Larranaga: “I’ve really not watched them play. Corn Elder was an outstanding high school basketball player in the state of Tennessee. He was going to play last year and got injured, had surgery, so he didn’t. D’Mauri Jones I’ve never seen play at all.

   “Right now, game preparation is so important and we want to have as much depth as we possibly can, so we’d like to have a scout team that can just be the opponent, so that these young guys – especially our freshmen – can just focus on being Miami and don’t have to bounce back and forth between what we call our white team and green team. So we’ve added a group called our black team, and they’re the ones that become the opponent, so the white and green team can really prepare for our next game.”

Cornelder

 Q: When can they start practicing?

 Coach Larranaga:  Corn Elder was able to start yesterday [Sunday], but D’Mauri Jones is still waiting for NCAA clearance. He’ll either be ready today or Wednesday. They will not be traveling to Duke.”

D'Mauri Jones

 Q: Is there a possibility that either or both could play this season. For that to happen -- if they should play – would that have to be cleared by Al Golden?

 Coach Larranaga: “Before Corn and D’Mauri ever came to my office to talk to me, which was yesterday, I called Al and told him that those kids had expressed interest. And Al was very, very cooperative and said it was fine with him. He felt it was good for them to stay very, very active. As far as my relationship with Al Golden, it’s terrific. He’s been wonderful and very supportive of our basketball program and he said if these guys can help them practice for games, you know, go for it.

   “As far as playing in a game is concerned, our first thought is we are going to put them on the scout team and have them help us prepare for games. Beyond that I can’t tell you because honestly I haven’t seen them play. But we already have a very strong starting unit and five guys off the bench who are very capable of helping us. So, it’ll be very, very challenging and it would take some unusual circumstances before either one of them would actually get into a game. They would have to work their way onto the green team.”

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN