February 04, 2014

Previewing Signing Day for the Hurricanes

SIGNING DAY COVERAGE

> The Hurricanes' 2014 recruiting class stands at 26 players (nine early enrollees, one signee and 16 commitments) on the eve of National Signing Day. UM remains a player for a handful of other recruits, though none of them are currently projected by experts to pick UM. 

- J.C. Jackson, CB, Immokalee (8 a.m. announcement)
- Treon Harris, QB, Miami Booker T. Washington (9 a.m. announcement)
- Travonte Valentine, DT, Hialeah Champagnat (10:30 a.m. announcement)
- Lorenzo Featherston, DE, Greensboro, N.C. 
- Lamont Gaillard, DT, Fayetville, N.C.

> If you want to know who has officially signed with the Hurricanes on Wednesday UM’s official football Twitter account (@MiamiHurricanes) will provide updates as the National Letters of Intent are received and processed by the school's compliance office.

> HurricaneSports.com will post video highlights, bios and digital trading cards when each player makes it official. UM assistant coaches will also be interviewed on camera for the website to talk about the Canes’ 2014 additions.

> UM was one of 13 schools selected by ESPN to be featured throughout the day. Coach Al Golden and assistants will be interviewed during ESPN’s 16-hour coverage on ESPNU.

> Fans who would like to receive mobile text alerts every time a Canes recruit signs a National Letter of Intent Wednesday can do so by texting GOCANES to 90561.

> Football play-by-play radio voice Joe Zagacki, and color analyst Don Bailey Jr. will host a live 30-minute Signing Day show at 3:30 p.m. on FOX Sports Florida statewide. That precedes Al Golden's press conference with the rest of the South Florida media at 4 p.m, which will be streamed live on HurricaneSports.com.

> UM is not having a signing day event for fans, but the first 1,000 fans at the men’s basketball game vs. No. 18 Pitt Wednesday night will receive a limited-edition trading card set featuring the 2014 football recruiting class. The trading card set will include early enrollees Trevor Darling, KC McDermott, Trent Harris, Juwon Young, Braxton Berrios and Joseph Yearby in addition to the recruits who sign Wednesday.

February 01, 2014

Canes OT recruit Reilly Gibbons flips to Stanford

If you looked at the picture on his Twitter account before Saturday it sure looked like Reilly Gibbons couldn't wait to become a Hurricane.

Reilly Gibbons' old Twitter photoBut apparently those plans changed. According to Scout.com National Recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg, Gibbons took an official visit to Stanford this weekend and has flipped his commitment to the Cardinal.

Listed at 6-6, 292-pounds and rated a three-star recruit by 247Sports.com, Gibbons had been committed to UM since April.

Corey Long, editor-in-chief of Fuel Recruiting and based out of the St. Petersburg area, was stunned to hear the news. He knows Gibbons and his family well and thought for sure he was headed to Miami. Ultimately, though, Long believes Gibbons -- a very strong student when it comes to academics -- was probably persuaded by Stanford's law school program.

"The crazy thing is if he didn’t go to private school he probably would have enrolled at UM in January," Long said. "Losing an offensive tackle is one you never want to lose, you'd prefer a guard or center if you had to lose one. But at the same time they can replace him next year. At the end of the day I don’t think it’s going to break their class. If he played defensive tackle that would have been a bigger loss. But offensive tackle, I think they’re all right."

UM is returning three starters and four other experienced offensive linemen and already has two incoming Americans Kc McDermott and Trevor Darling -- enrolled. Under-Armour All-American center Nick Linder of St. Thomas Aquinas is UM's third offensive lineman commitment. His older brother Brandon Linder started more than 40 games in his career for UM.

> Here is a link to a story by Tampa Bay Times writer John C. Cotey on Gibbons.

Dade, Broward coaches say Canes doing good job recruiting backyard

Here is a longer version of my Sunday story with more quotes and content collected over the past two weeks from interviewing local high school coaches in the Dade-Broward area about how the Hurricanes are recruiting their backyard. I interviewed more than a dozen head coaches and assistants across both counties... 

Miami Norland coach Daryle Heidelburg, who won a state title two years ago with current Hurricanes Duke Johnson and Ereck Flowers, endured a rough 3-7 football season in 2013.

And yet, even though his roster wasn’t littered with major 2014 recruits, Heidelburg said he still heard from University of Miami coach Al Golden often – via email or a text. He also said he had a UM assistant coach at his school every opportunity NCAA rules allowed for colleges to make visits and contact.

Same deal for Columbus coach Chris Merritt, Cypress Bay coach Mark Guandolo and a number of other coaches in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, who didn’t have one of the 246 seniors UM offered a scholarship to according to 247Sports.com.

The coaches of the 30 local seniors who did have offers – like at Booker T. Washington, Central, American Heritage, South Dade, Northwestern, St. Thomas Aquinas, Champagnat and Deerfield Beach – said UM coaches recruited those players as hard as anybody else in the country, with assistants Michael Barrow and Hurlie Brown taking the lead on most.

“I personally don’t see how they can do a better job recruiting South Florida than they already are,” said Merritt, who had U.S. All-American safety Deon Bush sign with UM two years ago. “You’re talking about the most recruited, talent-rich area in the country. There’s no way you’re going to get them all.”

Yet, come Wednesday, when fax machines get busy sending and receiving signed National Letters of Intent, the natural instinct for all UM fans will be to look at the recruiting rankings and begin taking account of the big timers Golden was able to keep home and the ones that get away.

This year’s Dade-Broward class is as rich as any in recent memory with 13 of the state’s top 30 consensus players calling Dade or Broward home, most of whom were All-Americans. UM’s backyard yielded only six top 30 recruits in 2013 (Miami signed Stacy Coley and Artie Burns) and seven in 2012 (UM landed five: Johnson, Flowers, Bush, Tracy Howard and Jelani Hamilton).

This year, UM has five of the state’s top 30 recruits committed including four locals: Booker T. defensive end Chad Thomas, Aquinas defensive lineman Anthony Moten and Central running back Joseph Yearby and offensive lineman Trevor Darling. The fifth, Palm Beach Central offensive tackle Kc McDermott, is already enrolled at UM along with Yearby and Darling.

Overall, Miami’s class is ranked eighth nationally by ESPN, Scout and Rivals and 11th by 247Sports.com. And 11 of UM’s 26 commitments hail from Dade or Broward.

“I think Miami has done a good job down there, but I wouldn’t say a great job,” said Chris Nee, who covers recruiting in the state of Florida for 247Sports.com. “You see a guy like Johnnie Dixon [from Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer] who they really valued, [Champagnat defensive tackle] Travonte Valentine, [Homestead receiver] Ermon Lane, who early in the process they really valued. Missing on those guys, that doesn’t make you a better football team and it’s going to cause disappointment.

“But it’s not like they’re not putting in the effort. They were in it late for Dixon, Valentine and a few others. It’s just a matter of you have to close. And that’s the big thing with Golden. He’s improved that program. But for them to take the next step they have to close on those guys. They have to get those kids to make them a better program.”

Central running back Dalvin Cook (Florida State), American Heritage running back Sony Michel (Georgia), Chaminade defensive tackle Khairi Clark (Florida) and undecided recruits Lane and Valentine (he’s still considering UM, but LSU is the favorite) were all players Miami was in on early and hard. Assuming they all get away, they’ll join a list of recent UM big misses that include linebacker Matthew Thomas (FSU), running back Alex Collins (Arkansas), receiver Amari Cooper (Alabama), linebacker Keith Brown (Louisville) and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville).

Outspoken Hurricanes fan and rapper Luther Campbell, who has deep ties to Miami’s innercity and was named defensive coordinator at Norland earlier this week, thinks UM coaches are doing a good job recruiting locally but said they need to “be a little more aggressive and take the approach as if they’re from out of town.” In the end, Campbell said players like Lane and Cooper grew up wanting to be Canes and had to be convinced to go elsewhere.

 “I don’t think there’s a lot of coaches pushing kids away from Miami – because you can’t tell a parent not to send a kid to Miami,” Campbell said. “I just don’t think Miami goes the extra mile. These other schools are like vultures. They come in hard to the park, Pop Warner games, coaches who raised these kids, track coaches, they come in and find out about everything. They’re sitting in there having breakfast where the parents eat. You got guys like [Alabama assistant Mario] Cristobal, T-Rob [Travaris Robinson] from Florida hitting these guys up on Facebook every day.”

Heidelburg agrees, and said he’s told Golden with “brutal honesty.” Heidelburg said he’s also stressed to Golden how other programs are beating UM to the punch when it comes to offering kids early in the process.

“In my last conversation with Coach Golden he explained to me they don’t just throw out offers,” said Heidelburg, who has a 2015 defensive back in Carlton Davis the Canes are very interested in but have not yet offered (South Carolina, UNC, Kentucky and Arkansas have). “Golden wants Miami’s offers to be valid. They have a strenuous process of selecting kids. But I told him it might hurt them at times because the kid remembers who was in on them first and early.”

Nee points out, though, the Hurricanes appear to be getting more aggressive of late in terms of early offers and already have 119 out for the 2015 class -- including 52 in state and 21 locally.

Booker T. Washington coach Ice Harris said not offering his son -- star quarterback Treon Harris -- a scholarship early is the only mistake UM made this season. Last year, Harris was upset when UM pulled its offer from highly-touted offensive lineman Denver Kirkland (Arkansas) late in the process. But he said the fences have long been mended, and credits Barrow and former Hurricanes coach Randy Shannon (assistant at Arkansas) as being the two recruiters who have been at his program the earliest and most often over the last year.

Champagnat’s Mike Tunsil and American Heritage’s Mike Rumph, a former Hurricane, were the only local coaches interviewed by The Miami Herald who thought Miami could have done a better job evaluating and recruiting other players on their state championship teams. But when it came to recruiting the players UM did go after from those schools – Michel and Valentine -- “Miami did its due diligence,” Tunsil said.

“I think Coach Golden does a great job making a strategic plan and sharing his positional philosophy with coaches and letting people know who fits what they’re looking for,” said former University School coach Roger Harriott, who was hired by FAU in late December. “Some of our guys just didn’t fit what they were looking for the last two years. But that doesn’t mean the relationships were bad. Al and I texted each other after every game. They were recruiting and had offers out for our 2015 and 2016 kids.

“If you ask any coach around South Florida, all of Miami’s coaches have done a great job cultivating great relationships. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s always going to look like you’re letting kids get away. But they’re doing a good job. Sometimes it’s just a kid’s decision to leave.”

JUCO DT Wyche tweets he's going to stick with Canes

Good news for Hurricanes fans this Saturday afternoon.

Junior College defensive tackle Michael Wyche, who two days ago said he was re-opening his recruiting because an obscure ACC rule was delaying his entrance into UM, has decided to stick with the Hurricanes after signing a National Letter of Intent back in December.

Getting Wyche back on board is huge for UM considering the need they have at defensive tackle. The 6-4, 315-pound standout out of East Los Angeles College is considered the 12th best JUCO defensive tackle in the country this year by 247Sports.com.

With only three defensive tackles returning, Miami now has four lined up in its 2014 signing class and is counting on Wyche to come help the program immediately. UM now has nine early enrollees and 18 players committed to the 2014 class.

January 31, 2014

Hurricanes land commitment from Njoku; Valentine at home pondering decision coach says

Hurricanes assistant Brennan Carroll sent out the bat signal Friday to welcome Miami's latest football commitment: New Jersey three-star tight end prospect David Njoku.

The 6-4, 217-pound senior at Cedar Grove High visited UM last month and was a player UM had been trying to nail down. He was scheduled to visit Ohio State this weekend, but the backed off. He becomes the second tight end prospect to join the class. Georgia's Chris Herndon is the other.

Njoku also becomes the third prospect from New Jersey in the Class of 2014 to pick the Canes. UM coach Al Golden and many members of his staff obviously know the New Jersey area well.

LATEST ON TRAVONTE VALENTINE

Even though all signs are pointing toward LSU especially after he decided to pass on an official visit to UM this weekend, U.S. Army All-American defensive tackle Travonte Valentine hasn't ruled out the Hurricanes yet and planned to spend the next few days at home with his mother in Palm Bay trying to reach a final decision.

"Right now I would say it's probably 70-30 LSU," a Champagnat assistant coach close to Valentine said Friday morning.

Valentine told The Herald during a half hour interview on Tuesday he told UM coaches he would visit Coral Gables this weekend after Golden came to visit him at school. But after receiving a visit from LSU's coaches in his mom's home Wednesday night, the Champagnat assistant coach said Valentine and his mom decided visiting UM -- where he had been so many times unofficially -- wouldn't help the situation. He just needed to get away from it all, the coach said.

So what initially changed Valentine's mind about remaining committed to UM in the first place? Although Valentine reiterated to The Herald Tuesday the Al Golden to Penn State rumors last month played a factor, it appears scheme and the way LSU told Valentine he would be utilized has played a bigger role.

The Champagnat assistant said when Valentine returned from the U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio -- where he played in a 4-3 scheme -- he told coaches at Champagnat he might be better suited in LSU's 4-3 system instead of a 3-4/4-3 multiple defense at Miami. Valentine made reference to it Tuesday when asked if he liked one team's scheme over the other.

"Miami could change some things up, slim down the d-tackles a little bit," Valentine said. "Instead of playing like at 340, 350, I'd prefer to be 310, 315. LSU was telling me they could see me going down to 310, playing smaller, quicker, making tackles for loss."

The Champagnat assistant said he took Valentine down to UM to sit down and review film with Canes defensive line coach Jethro Franklin.

"He showed him all the film, how they use tackles in multiple ways, not just a nose guard," the Champagnat assistant said. "Golden, [Defensive coordinator Mark] D'Onofrio, Franklin, all of them were telling him he wouldn't have to come in and play heavy, they could make adjustments."

The assistant also said Valentine was a bit wary of how much pressure was going to be put on him at Miami, being someone expected to come in right away and deliver whereas he would have a little more time to ease his way in at LSU because of better depth.

Valentine said Tuesday he also felt closer to some of the former South Floridian players and Hallandale safety John Battle, at LSU 2014 commitment. Valentine also said he didn't feel the same connection to UM's recruits.

Asked Tuesday about Valentine and his wavering with UM, Booker T. Washington All-American defensive end Chad Thomas said he hadn't spoken with him and said he it didn't matter to him if Valentine chose UM.

"I ain’t no recruiter," Thomas said. "If he don’t want to go there, he don’t want to go there. That’s on him."

For what it's worth, Valentine said Tuesday his mother wasn't necessarily pushing him to stay close to home.

"She’s with me anywhere I go,"  Valentine said. "She’s with me through the long run. It’s not about a staying home situation."

Valentine is scheduled to make his college announcement during a small ceremony at Champagnat Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

January 30, 2014

WR Worton not taking official visit to UM; JUCO DT Wyche de-commits

The Hurricanes aren't exactly humming down the homestretch of this recruiting season.

Although it was nice to hear 2014 quarterback Brad Kaaya will be sticking with his commitment, the Hurricanes got some bad news Thursday whenJUCO defensive tackle Michael Wyche announced on his Twitter account he was de-committing from the program.

Wyche, a 6-4, 315-pound standout from East Los Angeles Junior College, had signed with UM last month but was being delayed entry because he was appealing an obscure ACC rule that requires players be enrolled three semesters at the same junior college. As our Barry Jackson wrote on his Sports Buzz blog, Wyche could have stayed committed to UM and enrolled here in May but apparently has chosen not to, at least at this point.

With U.S. Army All-American and local standout Travonte Valentine leaning heavily toward LSU, UM currently has three defensive tackles commitments: four-star St. Thomas Aquinas standout Anthony Moten, three-star junior college transfer Calvin Heurteleu (already enrolled) and three-star N.J. prospect Courtel Jenkins.

With only three returning defensive tackles in Olsen Pierre, Earl Moore, and Corey King, the Hurricanes badly need immediate help.

> Hurricanes offensive coordinator James Coley made a late push to get an official visit this coming weekend from South Dade receiver C.J. Worton, an All-Dade 1st team selection and former Florida State commitment. But it now appears that won't be happening.

"I’m finished with the visits," Worton told The Miami Herald. "For one, it’s my birthday today and there are a lot of people I'm going to be seeing. Two, my dad won’t be able to make it too. I wanted to take the trip with him. So, it looks like I won’t be going up. I haven’t ruled out the possibility of going onSunday just to go talk to Coach Coley.

"But there’s not really a big chance that plays a big factor. I just always enjoy his company and have a really good connection with him. I'll probably just go see him, hear what he has to say -- if even I even go Sunday."

Worton said although many people are predicting him to go to Florida he's completely torn between the Gators and West Virginia.

"I don’t have a leader," Worton said. "I’m torn between the two honestly. I love the schools, both coaching staffs. I love every aspect of each coaching staff. It’s going to be very hard. I’m going to tell the coaches either Sunday or Monday of my decision. Eventually someone has to have their feelings hurt. I don’t want to leave it up until Signing Day. I feel that’s disrespectful. Whatever school I choose will be Sunday or Monday and then I’ll go announce at school."

Kaaya ends speculation, tweets he is signing with UM

For weeks Hurricanes fans have been walking around with a bit of a knot in their stomachs, worried class of 2014 quarterback Brad Kaaya, committed to Miami since May, might end up opting to stay home somewhere out on the West Coast.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Semper Fi All-American, rated the seventh-best consensus pro-style quarterback in the country, ended those fears Thursday afternoon when he tweeted he planned to sign with Miami next Wednesday.

Kaaya had visited Boise State recently and was also being pursued by UCLA.

Boise State landed a commitment from Alex Ogle, a three-star quarterback from Jensen Beach, Fla., late Wednesday night.

The Hurricanes have two quarterbacks lined up in their 2014 signing class. Malik Rosier, a 3-star dual-threat quarterback from Mobile, Ala. is the other.

The Canes are also hosting Miami Booker T. Washington quarterback Treon Harris, a four-star recruit committed to FSU, this coming weekend. It's unlikely the Hurricanes will sway Harris to stay home.

> Two 2015 All-Broward First Team selections and highly-touted recruits Shawn Burgess-Becker and Calvin Ridley, who both attend Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, will make their college choices Sunday at 1 p.m. following a 7-on-7 practice. Miami is high on the list for both, who are listed as four-star receivers by 247Sports.com.

FYI, the Hurricanes have already offered 116 recruits in the 2015 class according to 247Sports.com including 52 in state, 21 from Dade and Broward Counties.

> Rapper Luther Campbell, who has long had ties to the University of Miami and many of the top innercity players in South Florida, was hired this week to be the defensive coordinator at Miami Norland. Campbell has coached at Miami Northwestern and Miami Central in the past. Although he's been critical of coach Al Golden in the past, he said he supports the program.

"I'm ready to go," said Campbell, who was with Northwestern until the middle of last season. "We got some young kids who were beat up last year, but they never laid down. [Norland coach Daryle] Heidelburg is one of the best offensive coordinators, head coaches and I'm excited. They got some kids. All the defensive backs, they got the best defensive back field in the county. I'm happy."

> Fort Lauderdale Dillard coach Lorenzo Davis said Randy Ramsey, an All-Broward first team defensive prospect the Hurricanes have made a late push for, has yet to decide if he's going to visit UM this weekend or not. Ramsey, a three-star recruit, recently committed to Arkansas.

January 29, 2014

Canes making late push for Dillard athlete Randy Ramsey, South Dade WR CJ Worton

It's never too late to try and use your home field advantage.

And apparently that's what the Miami Hurricanes and Al Golden are doing with a week to go before National Signing Day.

According to Fort Lauderdale Dillard coach Lorenzo Davis, Golden and UM assistants swung by the school on Tuesday to visit recent Arkansas commitment Randy Ramsey. And now the 6-4, 210-pound senior is pondering whether or not to take a last minute official visit to UM this coming weekend.

"Right now he and his parents are thinking about it," Davis said. "We’ll know something by [Thursday] evening. I don’t think it would be a bad thing to take a visit.

"He likes Miami. They’re the hometown team. They offered him a while ago and were trying to get him to visit, but he never would. Nothing wrong with going to look and see what it's like. He has a chance now not to have any regrets. There’s no loss just to go."

The Hurricanes apparently hadn't been after Ramsey hard enough and he wanted to see more of an effort on their part, Davis said.

Ramsey earned All-Broward First Team honors by the Miami Herald this season after racking up 20 sacks as an undersized defensive end. His future position in college remains up in the air. He's played cornerback, linebacker and rush end in the past.

"I think a reason a lot of schools were kind of holding back was because they were trying to figure out what position he was going to play," Davis said. "I was telling them all from the get-go just take him as an athlete. He did some amazing things for us this season."

> Another local player UM is hoping to get a visit from on a late push is South Dade receiver C.J. Worton, who recently de-committed from Florida State and is now entertaining offers from Florida, West Virginia and the Hurricanes. He told 247Sports its likely he'll visit UM this weekend.

“Well, I really haven’t had much contact with them, until recently I started talking to coach [James] Coley again,” Worton said of the Miami offensive coordinator. “He’s the one that originally recruited me to Florida State, so I always had a real good relationship with him. He just asked me how everything is going, I guess he heard I decommitted."

“He’s always wanted to coach me and he said wherever he was, that’s where he wanted me to go there...He’s very trust worthy, I trust him a lot. I know he will take care of me wherever I go and I know he wants to run his office through me.”

Worton told 247 it's like UM will get his last official visit because he feels like he owes it to Coley and his father has always been a big UM fan.

"I think it would be cool to try to get him to go if I end up do going," Worton told 247Sports. "I feel like that would be really cool for him to get up there and see the coaches and see the facilities. Since it’s so close, it’s an easy trip. I’m tired of all these plane flights and everything.”

Worton caught 42 passes for 1,052 yards to lead Dade County this season. His teammate, receiver Tyre Brady, is a UM commitment. Worton capped his senior year by hauling in six catches for 159 yards and 3 TDs in South Dade's Class 8A state championship victory.

Sapp takes aim at D'Onofrio, Golden, Canes defense

Everybody seems to have an opinion when it comes to Miami's defensive woes.

Wednesday, former Hurricane and Hall of Fame defensive lineman Warren Sapp made a guest appearance on WQAM's afternoon show with Adam Kuperstein and Channing Crowder and took his turn ripping Miami's defense.

“Don’t talk to me about Al Golden and whatever that D Coordinator’s name is,” Sapp said.

“Don’t ever hire someone that you can’t fire. That’s the golden rule. The D Coordinator is killing my school. That looks like no Miami defense in the history of our school.”

Former Canes cornerback Phillip Buchanan then chimed in too on Twitter.

Golden has defended D'Onofrio at every turn with Miami's defense and the last time he spoke with reporters in his end of the season wrap-up he did so again.

Here's a link to the Sapp audio on WQAM.

UM's early enrollee list expands to nine; which ones will help Canes immediately?

The Miami Hurricanes welcomed three more early signees to their 2014 signing class on Wednesday bringing their total to nine.

The three new players signed, sealed and on campus for spring semester are Miami Northwestern cornerback Ryan Mayes, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College defensive tackle Calvin Heurtelou and outside linebacker Darrion Owens of Orange Park's Oakleaf High.

They join the previous group of six already at UM: Miami Central All-American running back Joseph Yearby and offensive lineman Trevor Darling, Palm Beach Central All-American offensive tackle Kc McDermott, Winter Park All-American defensive end Trent Harris, All-American receiver Braxton Berrios of Raleigh, N.C. and outside linebacker Juwon Young of Albany, Ga.

Yearby and Berrios are injured and not expected to participate in spring football. Defensive tackle Michael Wyche, a JUCO standout at East Los Angeles College, signed with UM but hasn't received the necessary clearence from the ACC to start in the spring and is likely to enroll in May.

So who can likely help UM right away from this group? Charles Fishbein of Elite Scouting Services gave me his opinion on the eight players he's seen play in person (he never saw Heurtelou play).

- On RB Joseph Yearby (5-9, 180): “I definitely think he’s going to be a kid that comes in and plays right away. He’ll be the second-best running back on the team behind Duke. He’ll give you the same things Duke does. He’s not going to get hit hard. I think he’s going to be very good at the next level, runs with good pad level. Even if he doesn’t play in the spring, he’ll be able to give them something this year.”

- On OT Kc McDermott (6-6, 301): “Kc is a kid is I really think is going to be fighting for one of the tackle spots from Day 1. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he starts every game in his career at Miami. He’s an NFL kid, an instant impact player. He’s definitely further ahead than Ereck Flowers was as a freshman and he played and started right away. Kc is very polished, smart and is going to be a quick learner. What he’s going to be is what everybody hoped and expected out of Seantrel Henderson.”

- OT Trevor Darling (6-5, 330): “He’s a kid who was a four-year starter on a national championship caliber team that won three state titles. He was blocking as a freshman for Devante Freeman (now at FSU) and then the last three for Yearby and [Dalvin] Cook. He’s a big strong, physical kid. I think he can play guard or tackle. I would like to see him redshirt this year. But I think in a pinch he could be used at right tackle or guard if needed. He has a lot of logged minutes playing at a high level. All those snaps can only help you out. There’s just a lot of football this kid has played. He’s probably one of those guys if you had to throw him in there he could at least hold his own. He has NFL-type potential. Once he’s in a college weight room you don’t know how much stronger he’s going to get.”

- DE Trent Harris (6-2, 231): “He’s a kid that comes in at a position Miami need badly. I think he’s very similar to Al-Quadin Muhammad, Tyriq McCord as freshmen, a guy who can come in on third down and help. The fact he’ll be able to come in early will help him. He can get his feet wet. I think if they need him he could come in on third and 12 and get a sack. He’s not an everyday player right now. But he’ll get the benefit of what probably will be a redshirt year. If not, he should be able to play on special teams right away and in another year or two could be a very special player."

- OLB Darrion Owens (6-3 1/2, 216): “The first time I saw him was at Ed White High School as a sophomore safety. He’s probably more of a linebacker now. He’s going to give Miami something it hasn’t had and that is the potential to be a 235-pound guy who can run, play strongside linebacker, drop back into coverage, cover a tight end and help this defense. He has a lot of upside, probably one of the more underrated guys in their class and more potential than most of the guys they have. He kind of reminds me of Rocky McIntosh, a guy who played multiple positions for Miami. Rocky had the frame. This isn't a 6-1, 190 pound linebacker you hope to add weight to. Owens may be closer to 6-3, 6-4, with a long body built for the ability to put on more weight. You have that same thing with AQM and McCord, an Alex Figueroa, who is going to be a 240-pound kid at Miami."

- WR Braxton Berrios (5-9, 181): “He’s one of those kids I’ve only seen in 7-on-7 settings and film. But I can tell you he sees the ball well, catches the ball very well, runs good routes and is very competitive. On 3rd and 8, when you need that one receiver to keep the chains moving, he’s that kid. He can take a hitch route and take it the distance, too. Look at the kid Ryan Switzer at North Carolina.  I think Berrios is like him, a kid who can be explosive on special teams and in the red zone.”

- OLB Juwon Young (6-2, 235): “Another guy they need as far as a need position at linebacker. They’ve done a good job of finding talented kids from Georgia in the past like Eddie Johnson. It’s just a matter of keeping them in school. Young really provides Miami with more depth than anything else – especially on special teams. Down the road, I think he’ll be a pretty good player, a potential starter by his second or third year. He’ll be in the rotation then.”

- CB Ryan Mayes (6-2, 180): “The one thing he does is he gives Miami a corner with more size. He’s probably similar to Ladarius Gunter. He doesn’t have great top-end speed, but enough to hang with most receivers. He’s going to handle bigger receivers and be physical with them. When you face guys like Kelvin Benjamin at FSU or one of those big Clemson guys you need somebody to matchup with them. He’s definitely a redshirt candidate and somebody who has to get healthy, though. I think that’s a big reason he struggled as senior. He got hurt in the spring and never really recovered. The potential was there when he was a junior at Krop High, though. He’s good in man coverage.”

January 28, 2014

Valentine acknowledges his heart is with LSU and says UM "must show me something" on official visit

U.S. Army All-American defensive tackle Travonte Valentine got an early morning visit at Hialeah Champagnat from Hurricanes coach Al Golden and a couple of assistants on Tuesday.

Golden was there for two reasons: he wanted to make sure the 6-5, 325-pound Valentine was going to give the Canes an official visit this coming weekend and a shot to earn his signature on National Signing Day.

Mission accomplished.

Valentine, tabbed the 65th best 2014 prospect (regardless of position) according to 247Sports' composite rankings, said he assured Golden that he and his mother would visit Coral Gables officially this coming weekend. And he also said UM still has a shot to win him over, even though it's pretty clear LSU has his heart "as of right now."

"I don't know [what Miami has to do to change my heart]," said Valentine, who was wearing an LSU backback during a half hour interview at school with The Miami Herald Tuesday. "They just have to show me something."

That something is kind of difficult to put a finger on right now. Valentine, who de-committed from Miami late last month when the Golden to Penn State rumors were running rampant, knows he can come in and play early at Miami given the current state of the defensive line.

He also knows what Coral Gables is all about. Valentine said he's been down to UM so many times already he can't remember exactly how many unofficial visits he's made. So why does he feel the need to go there again this coming weekend?

"Just to have a good time with the players and the commits," he said.

Apparently Valentine hasn't done enough of that already. Valentine said while he's bonded with the coaches at UM, he hasn't felt the same "bonding experience" with Canes players and recruits. He said the reason his trip to LSU was special was because he did feel that bonding experience with a few former South Floridians who now call Baton Rouge home.

Valentine called that "a really big" factor.

"Team bonding," Valentine said when asked what he's ultimately looking for before making a final decision. "I want to bond with the team. I want everything to be good, a family situation when I get there.

"Like what I had this past weekend with [LSU freshman cornerback] Rashard Robinson [a Pompano Ely grad], [LSU freshman defensive tackle] Quan Bain [a University School grad] and [Hallandale senior safety and LSU 2014 commitment] John Battle. I have chemistry with them boys."

Valentine said he's already discussed rooming with Battle at LSU.

"Even though I can’t say I have that at Miami, I can have that [chemistry eventually] with guys like Chad Thomas, Anthony Moten, Mike Smith and Braxton Berrios," Valentine said. "We just have to build it."

When it comes to relationships, Valentine said he's been building a strong one with LSU assistant Corey Raymond since November. How is his chemistry with Canes assistant coach Hurley Brown? "It's pretty good," Valentine said. "Coach Hurley has known my stepdad since high school."

Valentine said Golden's recruiting pitch Tuesday was pretty clear cut. He brought up the history Miami has had with defensive linemen, and that he wants to have the opportunity to coach another great one. Valentine said Golden ended his pitch by saying: 'Let me coach you.'

How did those words make Valentine feel?

"Those were pretty big, decent words," Valentine said. "I felt like that’s something I have to think about."

Valentine promises he will and will do so before making his announcement on Signing Day. Champagnat coach Mike Tunsil said the school is planning to have its ceremonies around 10:30 a.m.

"I can never fault Miami for the way they've recruited Travonte," Tunsil said. "They did a great job recruiting him. I could never complain about that. They’ve been on him hard. They had the defensive coordinator, the d-line coach, the head coach over here. Overall, I think they could recruit our school better. But as far as Travonte, they’ve done great."

NEWS AND NOTES

> For those of you sweating over Chad Thomas' recruiting visits to Florida State last weekend and his upcoming visit to Alabama -- go ahead and stop.

The five-star All-American defensive end made it pretty clear Tuesday he isn't planning on breaking Canes hearts on Signing Day.

"There’s no suspense," Thomas said. "I’ve been throwing up The U since the first game of the season. I’m not really trying to build any suspense, get anybody wound up, rowdy. Miami coaches knew I was going to take trips. They've just told me to have fun –- not just too much fun."

Thomas, an aspiring musician when he isn't killing quarterbacks on the football field, has been looking at UM's Frost Music School since well before the Hurricanes ever offered him a football scholarship. As a student at New World School of the Arts in Miami, he's been playing the piano, tuba and a number of other instruments for years and dreaming of attending Miami's music school.

While he said seeing FSU's music school -- and having a long talk with former Seminole Myron Rolle -- were nice experiences last weekend, Miami is still his school.

"It's two different music programs," Thomas said. "They look more into the production side at FSU. Miami has a great production side too. But I think the production side and band side at Miami are both great."

Has Alabama talked to Thomas about music? "No. Just football," he said with a grin.

Is he 100 percent Hurricane? "Yes sir," Thomas said. "Alabama knows that. They're just doing their job recruiting me."

> Booker T. offensive coordinator Tim Harris Jr. said he believes Thomas and defensive end Demetrius Jackson will both sign with UM next Wednesday.

Jackson, a three-star recruit according to 247Sports, visited Arkansas last weekend after telling a few recruiting websites he wasn't taking any more trips and was solid to UM.

"Arkansas was the first school that offered him," Harris Jr. said. "It’s a big school, SEC school. It’s only right to go on an official visit like that. I’ve seen people have bashed him on his Twitter for it. People don’t understand he just wants to take a visit. Kids work themselves to get this point. Us as coaches we help them along the way, but those kids, this is their moment. At the end of the day I think he’s going to stick with Miami as well."

January 22, 2014

An early look at the Hurricanes 2014 football schedule with predictions

Are you ready for some Monday night football?

If not, get ready.

The Hurricanes are going to open the 2014 football season on the road at Louisville -- the team that just pounded them in the Russell Athletic Bowl -- on Labor Day night (Sept. 1) at 8 p.m. The game will be carried by ESPN. The Hurricanes will obviously be facing a brand new Cardinals team with a new starting quarterback and head coach. So it's tough to handicap the game now eight-plus months away.

UM's complete schedule -- which features 10 bowl teams and FAMU and Virginia -- was released at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Here is the rest of it with some quick analysis:

- vs. FAMU, Saturday, Sept. 6: Not a lot of time to recover from a road trip. Good thing is the Rattlers are coming off a 3-9 season and still in rebuilding mode. Canes should cruise in this one.

- vs. Arkansas State, Saturday, Sept. 13: The Red Wolves are coming off an 8-5 season in the Sun Belt and a win over Ball State in the GoDaddy.com bowl. Miami should be better than this team and coming off what should be a blowout win over FAMU will help.

- at Nebraska, Saturday, Sept. 20: Bo Pelini's team finished 9-4 thanks to a win over Georgia in the Gator Bowl. The Hurricanes haven't faced the Cornhuskers since beating them in the Rose Bowl in 2001 to win their last national title. Although the all-time series is tied 5-5, Nebraska is 3-0 versus UM all-time in Lincoln. Kansas State made most of us want to forget what happened the last time UM traveled to the Midwest to play a game. Here's to hoping the next trip is different.

- vs. Duke, Saturday, Sept. 27: The Blue Devils capped their best season in recent memory by finishing 10-4 and winning the Coastal Division. They thumped Miami up in Durham and finished ranked 23rd in the country after losing a shootout to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M 52-48 in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. If Miami doesn't win this game at home expect Al Golden's seat to begin to feel a little warm.

- at Georgia Tech, Saturday, Oct. 4: The Hurricanes have won five straight over Georgia Tech since Paul Johnson's team ran for 472 yards in a 41-23 win back on a cold November night in 2008. The Yellow Jackets finished 7-6 last season and lost to Mississippi 25-17 in the Music City Bowl. This one makes me nervous considering the Hurricanes had to pull out a 42-36 overtime win the last time they played in Atlanta.

- vs. Cincinnati, Saturday, Oct. 11: The Hurricanes haven't faced the Bearcats since cruising to a 38-12 win in Cincy back in 1998. Former Hurricanes assistant Tommy Tuberville (1986-93) enters his second year in Cicny coming off a 9-4 season and a loss to North Carolina in the Belk Bowl. The only time Cincinnati has beaten Miami? Way back in 1947. Cincinnati has 15 Floridians on its current roster including seven from Dade and Broward. Miami should also still be good enough to beat them.

- at Virginia Tech, Thursday, Oct. 23: The Hurricanes will have 12 days to prepare for the Hokies in what should be a huge Thursday night game in Blacksburg. Frank Beamer's team fell to 8-5 after its blowout loss to UCLA in the Sun Bowl. UM has only won two of the last eight meetings against the Hokies and have only won twice in Blacksburg in eight tries since 1995. Tough one.

- vs. North Carolina, Saturday, Nov. 1: Larry Fedora's team finished the 2013 season 7-6 after a blowout win over Cincinnati and Miami was forunate to come out with a 27-23 win in Chapel Hill last year. Believe it or not, UM has lost two of its last three at home to the Tar Heels. Another tough one.

- vs. Florida State, Saturday, Nov. 15: Miami will have two weeks to prepare for Jameis Winston and the defending national champions. It might not mean much if last year's Heisman winner is rolling. Florida State will be coming off a home game against Virginia the week before and have Boston College the following week after Miami. Those aren't exactly distractions. Toughest game of the year for Miami. FSU has won four straight in the series and seven of the last nine meetings.

- at Virginia, Saturday, Nov. 22: Finally a cupcake. At least we think. Virginia has never been an easy out for Miami. The Hurricanes are only 6-5 against the Cavaliers all time. UM has dropped two straight in Charlottesville.

- vs. Pittsburgh, Saturday, Nov. 29: Miami could be fighting for a spot in the ACC championship game -- or for a bowl berth if things don't go well -- heading into this week. The Hurricanes are 32-9-1 all-time against Pittsburgh, their former Big East rivals, thanks to a 41-31 win on the road last year. UM has won eight straight and is 16-1 against the Panthers dating back to 1984. No reason at least now Miami shouldn't win this game. Pittsburgh finished 7-6 last year and is coming off a win over Bowling Green in the Little Ceasar's Bowl.

> MY WAY TOO EARLY PREDICTION: Miami, with a new quarterback and a lot of young pieces on the defensive line, goes 8-4 with losses at Louisville, Nebraska, Virginia Tech and at home to Florida State.

January 20, 2014

From Miami to Los Angeles: 6-7, 327-pound lineman Malcolm Bunche leaves Miami Hurricanes for UCLA

So, the East Coast wasn't always great for Malcolm Bunche, whose playing time dwindled in 2013 for the Miami Hurricanes.

Now he's trying the West Coast.

Malcom is transferring to UCLA to play his final season at UCLA, his dad, Curtis Bunche, just told me.

Curtis Bunche said Malcolm will be playing tackle at UCLA, head coach Jim Mora and the other coaches told him, rather than guard. "Every single coach that contacted us lately said, ‘Are you kidding me, this kid with his measurables (6-7, 327 pounds) and his feet – he’s a tackle.'"

"I talked to Malcolm last night for quite a while and he was very impressed with his overall experience with the trip there to UCLA, the tour of the campus, his conversation with the head coach and offensive coordinator – and even more so his offensive line coach [Adrian Klemm]. He’s had several years of NFL experience as an O-lineman and has [three] Super Bowl rings [with the New England Patriots]."

 UCLA was 10-3 this past season and beat Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl, 42-12.

"Malcolm talked about the overall concept under Jim Mora being basically an NFL concept, an NFL approach. He had some time with an academic advisor regarding his pursuit to get his Master’s degree. He was gone the entire weekend.

 "His trip prior to UCLA was to Texas Tech on Friday during the day. He flew out Saturday to Los Angeles."

 Curtis Bunche said Malcolm called the UCLA campus "breathtaking.''

 Curtis said "there was no problem with his release at UM. Obviously UM tried to get him to stay. They went as far as calling his high school coach to ask him to get him to stay. You have to respect that.''

  But in the end, Bunche obviously realized he played minimally in 2013, and with only one season of eligibility left, he felt he needed a better opportunity.

 UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, a Heisman Trophy contender, completed 248 of 369 passes (67.2 percent) for 3,071 yards and 24 touchdowns, with 9 interceptions this past season.  But he was sacked 35 times.

 In contrast, the Hurricanes allowed 17 total sacks -- and that's including the four in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

  "They need an O-lineman to protect that Heisman Trophy candidate's blind side,'' said Curtis Bunche of his son.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

January 19, 2014

Duke Johnson says he doubts he'll be back for spring football; Miami lands 2015 commitment

The Miami Herald's Safid Deen, who covers recruiting for us, bumped into Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson at a South Florida Express 7-on-7 practice Sunday morning.

Johnson, whose season came to an abrupt end when he broke his ankle against national champion Florida State, covered a few topics including whether or not he thinks he will be back on the field for spring practice.

"I don't believe I will," Johnson told Deen. "But if anything changes, you'll see. But I don't really think so."

Johnson guessed he was about "a month and a half to two months" away from participating to on field activities. Johnson said he is lifting weights.

Johnson said the rumors about coach Al Golden leaving for Penn State earlier this month were exactly what he and the team believed them to be "rumors."

Johnson said Golden never spoke to the team about the rumors.

"We didn't feel the need to," Johnson said. "We looked at it as just rumor as that's what it was. Nothing took place that we know of. Nothing really happened. He's still here. There was no need to have a talk with us. We're moving on to our season and don't have time for distractions such as that."

> Canesport.com and InsideTheU.com reported Sunday that Miami received a commitment from 2015 offensive lineman Kevin Feder of Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey. Feder (6-9, 305) is rated a three-star recruit according to both sites.

> Both sites also reported 2014 commitment Demetrius Jackson, a 6-4, 220-pound defensive end from Miami Booker T. Washington "solidified his commitment" to the Hurricanes after taking his official visit this weekend. Jackson reportedly canceled an official visit he had planned for Texas Tech next weekend.

January 17, 2014

Miami Hurricanes linebacker Denzel Perryman admitted to University of Miami Hospital

We already know the good news: linebacker Denzel Perryman, the Miami Hurricanes' best player on defense, is returning to UM for his senior season.

The bad news as of Friday night: Perryman is in University of Miami Hospital feeling nauseous and sick to his stomach. He is expected to stay the night.

HERE'S THE UPDATE AS OF 7:15 P.M.: Desmond Perryman, Denzel's dad, just texted me that Denzel is OK. "It's just the flu and dehydration. He'll be fine.'' 

Desmond told me Denzel saw a doctor and was then taken to the emergency room by someone from UM this afternoon after feeling sick. "He might have a little virus because he was throwing up,'' said Desmond, who was on his way to visit his son.

Get well soon, Denzel.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

Grading Miami's recruiting class, roster as homestretch before Signing Day begins

We are heading down the homestretch here in recruiting. Thursday, the dead period ended and college coaches were back on the recruiting trail.

With three final weekends of visits left before National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb. 5., most of the best players in the country -- almost all already committed -- are playing the game and looking for nice weekend get-aways while building the suspense for their "big announcements." Personally, I hate what recruiting has become. I'm convinced most of these kids have made up their minds and only a select few are really on the fence with decisions. 

With that, I give you the rundown of how the Class of 2014 for the Hurricanes has been pieced together thus far. As you know, things change quickly in the recruiting world. All it takes is one tweet to send a fan base off the edge these days. Miami has 26 players currently "committed" to being a part of the incoming class and could add more or lose more in the coming weeks. The class ranks eighth according to ESPN; ninth according to Rivals and 10th according to 247Sports.

QUARTERBACK

UM reportedly offered 10 quarterbacks according to 247Sports.com and landed a commitment from West Hills Chaminade (Calif.) Brad Kaaya (6-4, 215) back in May. He’s considered the seventh best Pro-Style Quarterback in the country. Kaaya will visit UM this weekend (Jan. 17) and has maintained he’s a firm commitment to Miami. But he’s still being courted by Boise State and UCLA and there's a chance he could spurn UM late and stay on the West Coast. Miami has another quarterback commitment from Faith Academy’s Malik Rosier (6-2, 205) of Mobile, Ala.

Of the five dual-threat QBs Miami offered Rosier is ranked lowest by 247Sports (27th). Miami had a commitment from the higher-rated Alin Edouard (6-1, 180) of Hialeah High but stopped recruiting him. Edouard is now committed to Syracuse. The Hurricanes finally offered hometown star Treon Harris (5-11, 180, 9th best dual-threat QB according to 247Sports) of Miami Booker T. Washington a scholarship offer at quarterback and he will visit UM on Jan. 31. Harris is committed to Florida State.

> My take: Everything I hear about Kaaya is that he has an NFL arm and offensive coordinator James Coley loves him. Considering Kevin Olsen – last year’s big signee – was suspended for the bowl game it’s imperative Miami holds onto Kaaya. I have little doubt Ryan Williams will be Miami’s starting quarterback when the 2014 season starts, but the Hurricanes badly need a young passer to emerge as the season moves along. If not Olsen, then it has to be Kaaya. The fact Miami offered Harris at quarterback this late is almost comical. At what point during Booker T.’s national championship run did coaches finally say ‘That Harris kid is pretty good?’ He should have been offered at quarterback much earlier. Current recruiting grade: B+ (if Kaaya sticks around). Overall position grade heading into 2014: C

RUNNING BACK

UM offered 18 running backs a scholarship according to 247Sports.com and currently has only one committed – Miami Central star Joseph Yearby. The 5-9, 190-pound consensus 4-star tailback is rated eighth-best at his position and is already enrolled at UM. But this was a big year for running backs in South Florida and Miami not only missed out on two blue-chip talents -- American Heritage’s Sony Michel (5-star, Georgia) and Central’s Dalvin Cook (5-star, Florida State)– they also lost the top running back in Broward County, Deerfield Beach’s Brandon Powell, who made a last-second switch to Florida after Miami had already announced him as an early enrollee.

The Hurricanes now appear focused on trying to land JUCO running back De’Andre Mann (5-10, 205) of Salinas (Calif.) Hartnell Community College or Louisiana's Cameron McKnight (6-2, 220, 4.6-speed, 3-star Rivals). Mann, a backup to former Hurricane and current Miami Dolphin Lamar Miller, ran for a school-record 1,706 yards and 30 touchdowns this past season. Canesport.com reported Mann has nine offers including Kansas, Western Kentucky, Purdue and Hawaii. McKnight's other offers are Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe and Southern Miss.

> My take: I'm taking the approach that Miami only needed to land one of the big three (Yearby, Cook, Michel) in its backyard and pat them on the back for it. I’m not sure how many programs out there can land more than one Top 10 consensus running back each year anyway -- especially with Duke Johnson already in the backfield. But losing Powell at the last second to hated rival Florida was bad. Now the Canes are scrambling. Yearby, coming off a foot injury, will almost certainly see playing time in 2014. Miami definitely needs to sign at least two backs in this class, though. If they don't that's a big failure. Personally, I'd give Coral Gables High standout Gregory Howell (6-0, 204) a look. FAU and Minnesota have shown interest in him. He's been dominant in his three years as a starter in Miami-Dade County. Current recruiting grade: B. Overall position strength: B

RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

Homestead’s Ermon Lane (6-3, 193) was the highest rated of the 26 receivers Miami offered according to 247Sports.com. But he never seriously considered the Hurricanes and after de-committing from Florida last week appears headed to Florida State where he will take his final official visit on Jan. 31. Instead, Miami has ended up with three three-star commitments in Raleigh, N.C.’s Braxton Berrios (5-8, 170, No. 52 WR according to 247Sports), Darrell Langham (6-5, 190, No. 70 WR according to 247Sports) of Santaluces Community School in Lake Worth, Fla., and South Dade’s Tyre Brady (6-3, 187, No. 141 WR according to 247Sports) and a wildcard in Carol City’s Trayone Gray (6-2, 210, No. 59 ATH according to 247Sports). Two other receivers badly coveted and missed out on were West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman’s Travis Rudolph (6-1, 185, No. 6 WR according to 247Sports) who is headed to Florida State and Palm Beach Dwyer’s Johnnie Dixon (5-10, 187, No. 8 WR according to 247Sports) who is headed to Ohio State. FSU also took Brady’s teammate C.J. Worton (6-1, 175, No. 75 WR according to 247Sports). We’ll have to see who ends up having the better career between Worton and Brady. St. Thomas Aquinas four-star receiver Corey Holmes (6-2, 175) was the only other Dade or Broward County receiver the Hurricanes offered.

At tight end, Miami offered a dozen recruits according to 247Sports and landed a commitment from Chris Herndon (6-4, 230, No. 33 TE according to 247Sports) from Norcross, Ga. Canesport.com reported Miami is pursuing Cedar Grove (N.J.) tight end/receiver David Njoku (6-4, 217, No. 71 TE according to 247Sports). He already took a Miami visit in December and is still being pursued by Penn State, Ohio State and Temple.

> My take: Some kids just don’t want to stay home and I think that’s the case with Lane. Getting Rudolph or Dixon certainly would have been upgrades over what Miami ended up with. But Miami still went out and got three solid receivers to help fill a need. I just don't see a Stacy Coley in this group. Gray, whose grades have always been a concern, would instantly be the best receiver in this group in my opinion if he makes it into school without a hitch. With Tuesday’s news that 2013 signee Derrick Griffin is heading to Junior College, the Hurricanes will likely need at least one new addition to step in and help in 2014 alongside Coley, Herb Waters and Phillip Dorsett. As you know, Malcolm Lewis needs to prove he’s fully recovered from his 2012 foot injury and Rashawn Scott needs to prove he can avoid suspensions. At tight end, 2013 signee Standish Dobard (1 catch, 15 yards in 3 games) should have no trouble replacing the role of Asante Cleveland (3 catches, 23 yards, 1 TD in 13 games) as the team’s third tight end behind Clive Walford and Beau Sandland. That should make 2014 a redshirt season for Herndon and whoever else Miami signs. It would have been nice for the Hurricanes to nab local product Ravian Pierce (6-4, 215, No. 14 TE according to 247Sports) but that ended up as a victory for former Canes coach Randy Shannon and Arkansas. Current recruiting grade: B. Overall position strength: B+

OFFENSIVE LINE

The Hurricanes reportedly offered 30 offensive linemen according to 247Sports and did well landing early commitments from four much-needed prospects all in-state including three locally. Kc McDermott (6-6, 300, No. 3 offensive tackle according to 247Sports) is probably the best offensive player in Miami’s class and has a legitimate shot of starting at Miami from Day 1. McDermott along with three-time state champion and Miami Central standout Trevor Darling (6-4.5, 327, No. 8 offensive tackle according to 247Sports) are already enrolled at UM and on the team roster. St. Thomas Aquinas standout and Under-Armour All-American Nick Linder (6-3, 273, No. 56 offensive guard according to 247Sports) and Semper-Fi All-American Reilly Gibbons (6-6, 292, No. 28 offensive tackle according to 247Sports) will arrive in the fall.

> My take: Clearly the best part of Miami’s class on offense because there are no big misses and lots of quality. Two members of this group should help make up for the losses of four players in the rotation last season: starting right guard Brandon Linder (Nick’s older brother), starting right tackle Seantrel Henderson, key sixth man Jared Wheeler and Malcolm Bunche, who is seeking a transfer. Junior Hunter Wells, sophomores Danny Isidora, Taylor Gadbois and Alex Gall and redshirt freshmen Sunny Odogwu and Hunter Knighton are “the other guys” coming back alongside starting left tackle Ereck Flowers, left guard Jonathan Feliciano and center Shane McDermott (Kc’s older brother). Current recruiting grade: A. Overall position grade: B

DEFENSIVE LINE

Addressing the defensive line was clearly the priority for the Hurricanes in this class. According to 247Sports.com, Miami offered 33 defensive ends and 30 defensive tackles. Miami Booker T. Washington's Chad Thomas (6-5, 240, No. 3 weakside defensive end according to 247Sports), an Under Armour All-American, is widely considered the best defensive player in this class and is UM's only 5-star recruit. Teammate Demetrius Jackson (6-4, 220, No. 20 weakside defensive end according to 247Sports) has been flirting with Arkansas for a long time and is a late flight risk. He’ll visit UM this weekend where Miami hopes to solidify him. Winter Park’s Trent Harris (6-2, 231, No. 14 weakside defensive end according to 247Sports) is already enrolled at UM. Miami Northwestern’s Mike Smith (6-2, 210, No. 32 strongside defensive end according to 247Sports) has been committed to UM since June but will visit Louisville, a hub for former Northwestern standouts, on Jan. 31. 

At tackle -- a position Miami has long suffered at -- the Hurricanes have addressed immediate needs with two JUCO signees Michael Wyche (6-4, 315, No. 12 JUCO DT according to 247Sports) and Calvin Heurtelou (6-3, 304, No, 9 JUCO DT according to 247Sports) of Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College). Wyche is waiting on an ACC appeal to report and Heurtelou is working to arrive before Miami’s Jan. 23 deadline to register. Of the group of tackles, however, St. Thomas Aquinas Semper Fi All-American Anthony Moten (6-4, 292, No. 15 DT according to 247Sports) is the most highly-regarded. The Hurricanes also have Courtel Jenkins (6-2, 294, No. 76 DT according to 247Sports) of St. Anthony School in Jersey City, N.J. lined up to be part of the class. He’s been committed since June and had other offers from Maryland, Rutgers and Pittsburgh.

> My take: A big key here for Golden and his staff will be getting U.S. Army All-American Travonte Valentine (6-3, 338, No. 7 DT according to 247Sports) of Hialeah Champagnat back in the class. Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio and two assistants went to visit Valentine at school on Thursday. He de-committed after Golden flirted with the Penn State job after was already leaning toward leaving for LSU, where he will take an official visit (Jan. 24) before visiting Miami (Jan. 31). Locally, UM was in the running early for Chaminade Prep U.S. Army All-American Khairi Clark (6-2, 325, No. 17 DT according to 247Sports) before he committed to Florida in June. In the end, Miami went after the three best available pass rushers and three run stuffers in their backyard and currently have four of the six committed and could end up with five if Valentine comes back. Throw in two quality JUCO guys who can help right away and a defensive end who is already enrolled and it’s a very good haul. Considering the team lost six players to graduation – and only two starters (tackle Curtis Porter and end Shayon Green) Miami has clearly upgraded on paper overall. Current recruiting grade: A- Overall position grade (with signing class): B.

LINEBACKERS

The Hurricanes reportedly offered a total of 36 linebackers according to 247Sports and have three lined up to be part of the 2014 class. None of the three are considered elite, but the good news is two could be around for spring football. Juwon Young (6-2, 228, No. 59 OLB according to 247Sports) of Albany, Ga., is already enrolled at Miami. Darrion Owens (6-3, 216, No. 30 OLB according to 247Sports) of Oakleaf High in Orange Park, Fla. is still trying to enroll before the Jan. 23 deadline. Pompano Beach Ely’s Terry McCray (6-2, 215, No. 60 ILB according to 247Sports), expected to arrive in the fall, has a small ongoing romance working with LSU, which has taken kids from Ely in the past but doesn’t appear interested enough at the moment to take him. Miami is also still reportedly in the hunt for four-star Raymon Minor (6-3, 210, No. 18 OLB according to 247Sports) of Richmond, Va., who will take an official visit this weekend. There’s also a chance former 2011 signee Antonio Kinard could sign with Miami. But his JUCO coach at Arizona Western College reportedly doubts Kinard will finish school by July.

> My take: Locally and in the state it just wasn’t a very good year for linebackers. Three of the top six ranked among the Top 100 players in the state – Jacob Pugh, Kain Daub and Delvin Purifoy (three top 20 players) – are all headed to Florida State. The one local recruit in the state’s Top 100, University School’s Richard Yeargin, is headed to Notre Dame. Miami didn’t offer Yeargin according to 247Sports. The fact Denzel Perryman is returning to Miami downgrades my concern at linebacker from Category 5 problem to Tropical Storm. There are quite a few young guys who have to step up on this unit in a big way. It's time for Raphael Kirby, Alex Figueroa and Tyriq McCord to prove they can be dependable starters and not role players. Current recruiting grade: C+ Overall position grade: D+

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Miami reportedly offered 19 cornerbacks and 20 safeties according to 247Sports.com and have one corner and two safeties committed, none who will be around early this spring. Kiy Hester (6-0, 200, No. 19 S according to 247Sports) of St. Joseph Regional in Motvale, NJ and Marques Gayot (6-1, 205, No. 67 S according to 247Sports) of Park Vista Community School in Lake Worth, Fla. are the two safeties Miami got commitments from in December. Miami Northwestern’s Ryan Mayes (6-2, 180, No. 67 CB according to 247Sports) has been committed to the program since June. The Hurricanes had another commitment from Booker T. Washington’s Nigel Bethel (5-9, 173, No. 28 CB according to 247Sports) but he recently switched to Texas Tech. Locally, there were other talented players in Miami’s backyard available in the secondary. But Plantation High’s Chris Lammons (5-9, 170, No. 20 CB according to 247Sports) committed and de-committed from Florida and is now looking at South Carolina. Miami never offered University School’s Quincy Wilson (6-1, 196, No. 28 S according to 247Sports). But they did go after Miami Central’s Deatrick Nichols (5-10, 180, No. 56 CB according to 247Sports), who committed to former high school coach Telly Lockette at USF. The other potential big swing and misses: Immokalee’s J.C. Jackson (5-10, 180, No. 19 WR according to 247Sports), who appears headed to join Florida State’s class. Miami is now reportedly in late on Tampa Jefferson athlete Deoindre Porter (6-1, 180, No. 190 ATH according to 247Sports). He de-committed from USF and is scheduled to visit UM on Jan. 31.

> My take: Miami had a commitment from Dillard’s Dennis Turner (5-11, 175, No. 150 CB according to 247Sports) but had him as a wide receiver and not at cornerback like where his own coach said he would probably be better suited to play. Although the additions of Hester and Gayot are good pickups for Miami, the fact Lammons, Bethel and Nicholas are all leaving town has to irk you a little. The good news is Miami has a chance to make up for it next year. The secondary, led by juniors Tracy Howard, Deon Bush, Antonio Crawford and Rashawn Jenkins, sophomore Artie Burns and senior Ladarius Gunter is a solid top six. Depth, though, will be a concern unless some young players step up. Current recruiting grade: B-. Overall position grade: B-

January 14, 2014

Cetera Bunche on younger brother and soon-to-be UM transfer Malcom: "He's in the best situation that any 22-year-old college transfer could ever be in.''

I spoke to the older sister and briefly to the father of UM offensive lineman Malcom Bunche, who is transferring to a yet-to-be-determined university to play his final season.

Malcolm, from Newark, Delaware, earned his bachelor's degree in liberal arts last month, and thus will be eligible to play immediately as a graduate student. His father, Curtis Bunche, told me today that Malcolm earned a "mid-grade'' draft evaluation by the NFL Draft Advisory Board, but that he wants to get more experience on the college level.

"He worked really hard in the classroom but he just kind of felt like he wanted to see what was out there,'' said Cetera Bunch, his sister. "With degree in hand he's going to try a bigger school, definitely a public school.''

Bunche, 6-7 and 327 pounds, played both guard and tackle sparingly in 12 games this season, making his lone start at left guard in the season opener against FAU.

Bunche was rated as a four-star recruit, and attended Milford Prep in New York for one semester.

 In the recent bowl loss to Louisville, Bunche came into the game once during an extra point on special teams. In 2012 he started all 12 games at left tackle.

Cetera Bunche, a Miami-based personal trainer who ran track at Hampton University in Virginia, wouldn't divulge the schools with which he has been in contact, but suffice it to say that she hinted they were big-time, public-school programs. Florida State is out, since Malcolm is not allowed to transfer to any ACC school, or to any opponent of UM's for next season.

The Gators are out, too.

"I would never wear orange and blue,'' Cetera said. "We only have room for one set of orange in our closets, and that's orange and green. We love Miami. Our whole family loves Miami. Malcolm has a great relationship with [offensive line] Coach [Art] Kehoe. 

"They played him very minimally this season, but Malcolm doesn't play the blame game. He's actually grateful. What my parents have taught us is if you want things to change, change the way you do things. So this was a very mature decision on his part.

"He's in a really good situation. He's in the best situation that any 22-year-old college transfer could ever be in. He has a great opportunity to show the world his college potential -- again. He has a variety of choices.''

Curtis Bunche said his son ''loves Art Kehoe but told his dad, "Pops, I want to see what it's like at a bigger university.''

Curtis Bunche said Malcolm also told him: "I didn't play much this year and after the fourth or fifth game it taught me to be more patient and supportive'' of the other linemen.

Two veteran starters on UM's line -- tackle Seantrel Henderson and guard Brandon Linder -- just finished their senior seasons and will enter the NFL Draft. Guard/Center Jared Wheeler also is leaving after finishing his senior season.

The left side of UM's line should be set with rising junior tackle Ereck Flowers and rising senior guard Jon Feliciano returning. Shane McDermott returns at center.

The Hurricanes like guard Danny Isidora, who broke his foot early in fall camp and played in two games. So expect him to battle for the starting spot on the right side as a redshirt sophomore. Also on the line will be promising 6-8 redshirt freshman tackle Sunny Odogwu, as well as Hunter Wells, Hunter Knighton and Alex Gall.

Two early enrollees are considered key future linemen: tackle Kc McDermott of Palm Beach Central and guard Trevor Darling of Miami Central. Expected to arrive in the summer are commitments Nick Linder at guard/center and Reilly Gibbons

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

January 10, 2014

Hurricanes offensive guard Jonathan Feliciano announces he's returning for his senior year

  Welcome back to University of Miami guard Jon Feliciano, another underclassmen who said Friday he is staying for his senior season, joining linebacker Denzel Perryman and defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo and tight end Clive Walford.

Here's the release from UM regarding Jon.

 Miami Hurricanes offensive guard Jon Feliciano will return to school for his senior season, the Davie native announced Friday.

 “I am coming back (to Miami) because I believe in what Coach Golden, the staff and our team are doing here,” Feliciano said. “I think the program is rising at an all-time pace. With all the NCAA stuff behind us, we can come into a season without anything hanging over our heads.”

 Feliciano started all 13 games along the offensive line, making 11 starts at left guard and two starts at right tackle. An honorable mention All-ACC selection by ACSMA, he helped anchor the offensive line that paved the way for Miami’s offense to average 425.8 yards of total offense and 33.8 points per game.

 As a sophomore in 2012, he started all 12 games at left guard en route to All-ACC honorable mention from ACSMA. He has started 26 straight games on Miami’s offensive line and 33 of 35 career games.

 “I have some flaws in my game and that’s the reason why I’m staying for my senior season at Miami,” Feliciano said. “The coaches do a great job in finding weak spots in your game and making them your strength.”

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

Perryman's return big boost for Canes defense

Al Golden and Mark D'Onofrio got some much needed good news Friday.

Leading tackler Denzel Perryman is coming back for his senior season.

A family member of Perryman's told me a big reason he wanted to stay at UM was to get his degree. "It's important to his family and Cassie [his girlfriend]," the person said.

“I decided to stay because it is the best decision for me and my family,” Perryman said in a statement released by UM. “Ever since Coach Golden got here, I feel like this program is moving forward and will continue to rise under his direction.

“This coaching staff is dedicated to player development and getting us better. I’ve grown as a player and person each year thanks to them."

Perryman started all 13 games at outside linebacker for the Hurricanes in 2013, leading the team with 108 total tackles and 69 solo stops. He posted six games with 10+ tackles en route to first-team All-ACC honors from ACSMA and the league’s 14 head coaches. He also garnered All-America honorable mention from SI.com.

“Before this season, we hadn’t had a 9-win season in a long time,” Perryman said. “For those of us in my class who had never been to a bowl game because of the sanctions, it was a great feeling and I want to be a part of the next step forward.”

To take the next step forward Perryman is going to need a lot of younger players around him to develop. Miami is losing second-leading tackler and starting middle linebacker Jimmy Gaines to graduation and has received inconsistent play from the rest of its linebackers.

Junior Thurston Armbrister (6 starts, 33 tackles, 2 sacks), sophomore Raphael Kirby (13 games, 10 tackles, 1 sack), sophomore Tyriq McCord (13 games, 13 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 INTs), freshman Alex Figueroa (2 starts, 17 tackles, 1 sack), freshman Jermaine Grace (11 games, 8 tackles) sophomore JaWand Blue (2 games, 1 tackle) are who is returning alongside Perryman in terms of experience at linebacker. 

UM also brought in incoming freshman Juwon Young (Albany, Ga.) at linebacker on Thursday.

January 09, 2014

Is it over yet? CBSSports.com and ESPN.com reporting James Franklin to Penn State, but...

I still will completely believe it when it's a done deal.

However, CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman and ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy, both excellent reporters, are reporting through sources (I know, but nobody will ever say anything on the record) that James Franklin will be the next coach at Penn State.

Feldman said "there are still many details to be sorted out on both sides within the next 48 hours.''

McMurphy said that "Franklin is expected to accept an offer Thursday to become coach at Penn State.''

The headline for CBSSports.com: "Franklin to become next head coach at Penn State.''

The headline for ESPN.com: "James Franklin to Penn State.''

Also: UM has reported that in addition to new enrollee WR Braxton Berrios, offensive lineman Kc McDermott of Palm Beach Central and linebacker Juwon Young of Albany, Ga., has reported to the Hurricanes. 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

January 08, 2014

Good news for Canes: Anthony Chickillo returning -- and Al Golden/Penn State mystery continues

We've had no shortage of news.

On Tuesday, I learned that Anthony Chickillo had been projected by the NFL Draft Advisory Board as a fourth to fifth rounder and was mulling his decision about whether to turn pro early.

On Wednesday night, Chickillo tweeted, "To end all the rumors, I will return for my final season at miami, let's make it a good one.''

So glad Anthony is returning. UM needs him, and he needs the extra year to improve even more before he goes into the NFL. Anthony is a loyal Cane, but I'm sure he has been frustrated the past couple of seasons with the defense and how he plays both tackle and end. He's a team guy, and does what's asked of him.

Anthony, listed at 6-4 and 277 pounds, had 44 tackles this season, 7.5 tackles for losses, 3.5 sacks and two pass breakups.

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

GOLDEN UPDATE

   I think we could know by tomorrow, maybe Friday, who the next Penn State coach is.

   A private jet landed in Destin, Fla., and took off again and was expected to arrive in State College (Penn State) at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday (tonight). Some people I know thought Vanderbilt football coach James Franklin might be inside. Franklin reportedly has a home in that area. 

   However, here's the tweet that just came over Twitter:

NBC crew in State College says Pres Rod Erickson, AD Dave Joyner got off plane at airport, coming from Destin, FL, where James Franklin was.

No Franklin on the plane. But Penn State prez Rod Erickson was on it, and the AD. 

 I know Al was at UM this afternoon. Not sure how late he left.

   Also, a tweet from James Franklins' Twitter account tonight said: "Just got done my most important job, putting our girls 2 bed & making sure they know how much their dad loves them! Family first!" Hmmm.

   Earlier in the day, I asked UM athletic director Blake James if he could comment on the latest round of Golden speculation.

  "I stand by my statement I have made all along,'' James texted to me. "Al and I are in regular communication he is our football coach and I believe he will be our coach going forward. Thanks.''

  Stay tuned. Hope the mystery unravels soon. 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

Canes' spring game set for April 12th at Sun Life Stadium

The Miami Hurricanes’ 2014 Spring Football Game will be held Saturday, April 12, at Sun Life Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

In their third season under head coach Al Golden, the Hurricanes posted a 9-4 record and earned a berth to play in the Russell Athletic in Orlando. Miami’s six home wins in 2013 were the most in the Sun Life Stadium era and its most home wins since 2003.

Miami’s entire spring football schedule and events will be announced at a later date.

> Golden said during Tuesday's edition of Hurricane Hotline Miami will have 82 scholarships available for the 2014 season. The maximum is 85. The NCAA docked UM nine scholarships to be divided any way UM sees fit  over the next three seasons because of the Nevin Shapiro scandal.

January 07, 2014

U.S. Army All-American Travonte Valentine, coach want sit down with Golden

U.S. Army All-American defensive tackle Travonte Valentine dropped his commitment to the University of Miami last week when talk of coach Al Golden possibly heading to Penn State began to reach a fever pitch.

Tuesday, his high school coach Mike Tunsil said Valentine could end up rejoining Miami's class now that Golden has announced he's staying put. But the 6-3, 338-pound standout and his coach at Hialeah Champagnat want to have a sit down conversation with Golden to "make sure everyone is on the same page."

"Travonte just wants security," said Tunsil, who said he's handling all interviews for Valentine until he makes his final announcement on National Signing Day. "He's been saying UM for a long time. He loves UM. But for Coach Golden to go interview for another job was unsettling. 

"A lot of things can change when a coach leaves. Now that Golden is back he wants to find out why Golden [interviewed] and if he really is planning to be there for the long haul."

Tunsil said Valentine has communicated with Golden since he de-committed on Saturday after the U.S. Army All-American Game. But Tunsil said he hasn't spoken to Golden and will reach out to him this week if he doesn't hear from him soon.

"Travonte loves UM, the small class rooms like here at Champagnat," Tunsil said. "His mom is close to him here. It's all about sitting down with Golden and getting on the same page. He has a great relationship with their coaches, coach Hurlie Brown. He's not asking for any starting job to be promised or anything like that. He knows nothing is given. It has to be earned."

Valentine, ranked the eighth-best defensive tackle in the country by 247Sports, named LSU his leader after the U.S. Army Game. Tunsil said Valentine plans on visiting UM and LSU before he makes his final decision on Signing Day. He said Valentine could also end up visiting Alabama or Kentucky before then.

"He just doesn't want to go somewhere and then there is a coaching change," Tunsil said. "People have been badmouthing him on Facebook and Twitter since he de-committed. It really isn't fair to the kid. He just wants to see what's going on."

Tunsil said any rumors about Valentine having academic issues and not being able to qualify at UM aren't true.

"He's got the grades and the test score. It's always been a core class issue and he's been taking care of that with online classes and here," Tunsil said. "Travonte could qualify at any school in America except the Ivy Leagues probably."

Hurricanes Denzel Perryman and Anthony Chickillo are mulling NFL -- both received projected status

I just spoke to Denzel Perryman's father and he told me Denzel, who is still in Rhode Island with his girlfriend (and her parents) and their baby daughter, received a third-round draft grade from the NFL Advisory Board.

Denzel, a rising senior, is contemplating his decision.

Also, rising senior Anthony Chickillo, who has played defensive end and defensive tackle this season, has received a fourth-fifth round projection from the NFL Advisory Board, according to someone familiar with his situation.

Anthony also is contemplating his decision.

Denzel, listed as 6-0 and 240 pounds, started all 13 games at outside linebacker this season, leading the Hurricanes with 108 tackles, including five for losses and 1 1/2 sacks. He had one forced fumble.

Anthony, listed as 6-4 and 277 pounds, started all 13 games and finished the season with 46 tackles and 7.5 for losses. He had 3.5 sacks and seven quarterback hurries.

Denzel's dad would rather he stay in school and get his degree and play his final season, but he said he wants it to be totally Denzel's decision and that he will respect anything he chooses.  It's not a matter of Denzel's daughter not being provided for, because both of Denzel's parents have good jobs. I don't know his girlfriend's family. But I think everything points to a good, stable situation.

Both players will talk it over with their families, regardless.

Underclassmen must make their intentions known to the NFL by the Jan. 15 deadline.

If Perryman or Chickillo declare for the draft early, they would be the first underclassmen to do so since five did it after the 2011 season. Those were OL Brandon Washington, DL Marcus Forston, WR Tommy Streeter, DE Olivier Vernon and RB Lamar Miller.

Miller and Vernon both play for the Miami Dolphins. Streeter is now on the practice squad for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Washington played in one game for the St. Louis Rams this season. Marcus Forston is not on an NFL roster.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

January 06, 2014

Golden sticking by D'Onofrio, coaching staff for better or worse

No matter how loud Hurricanes fans might scream for change (or tweet for that matter), Al Golden doesn't appear to be a head coach ready to cut loose longtime friend and defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio.

The answer to Miami's defensive woes, Golden said during his press conference Monday, isn't blowing things up. It's keeping it status quo and letting Miami's young defensive players grow up and mature.

"Although we're not where we want to be there are so many little things I look at as the head coach that say the answer right now is not change. The answer is continuity," Golden said.

"The answer is continued progress with our young people, continued development. I would be lying to you if I said I wasn't excited about the talent we have coming back on defense. I am. I'm excited. We have a lot of play makers coming back. No. 2, we're adding 14 to 16 more recruits to that. I'm excited about that."

All the excitement Golden might have about his defense isn't going to change the fact that in D'Onofrio's three seasons here, Miami's defense has hardly resembled the Hurricanes of old.

With rival Florida State set to play in the national championship game tonight against Auburn, Miami fans are wondering how long they'll have to wait to see the Hurricanes have a national championship caliber defense to call their own.

Although the Hurricanes produced 12 more turnovers (27 total, 23rd most nationally) and six more sacks than they did in 2012 (29 total, 59th nationally), and they also cut down on the amount of points they allowed (30.5 per game in 2012; 26.8 in 2013), offenses continued to have their way with UM as 500-yard games became the norm down the stretch.

Golden, both on WQAM's morning show and again this afternoon, kept pointing to incremental growth and how the team "made more explosive plays" as signs of progress.

"We scored five touchdowns on defense. We blocked four kicks for the first time. Those to me are all positive trends," Golden said. "The other thing was we went from 31 penalties a year ago on defense to I think 10 playing all those young guys a year ago.

"Again, it's my decision, and my decision was that starting over for these young people is not the answer," he continued. "Continuity, continued progress, continue with the same position coaches and techniques and scheme was the better answer for me. I made that decision after careful evaluation.

"That doesn't mean we're not going to tweak our personnel or our uses of personnel and how we devise things, the quality control you go through in deciding what's best. A team is reborn every year. What was good for this past team may not be what's best for this team coming back. Whether its a different quarterback, a different running game. On defense we may have more -- especially with the kids coming in -- we may have more defensive backs than we've had in awhile. We can play more nickel for instance. Those are all things that go into consideration when you're making that decision."

Golden, who himself is a big part of the defensive game-planning, is banking on the turnaround he had at Temple once the Owls began to recruit better. When Golden and D'Onofrio arrived in 2006, the Owls ranked last in defense among FBS schools. By the time they left in 2010, Temple ranked 47th against the run, 14th in passing efficiency defense, 16th in total defense and 16th in scoring defense.

Will the same happen here?

Golden appears to be banking on it.

OTHER NEWS AND NOTES

> Golden said eight will arrive early and compete in spring ball: running backs Joseph Yearby and Brandon Powell, offensive linemen Trevor Darling and Kc McDermott, JUCO defensive tackle Calvin Heurtelou, linebackers Trent Harris and Juwon Young and receiver Braxton Berrios.

Missing from Golden's list of others who said they would sign with Miami early: JUCO defensive tackle Michael Wyche, linebacker Darrion Owens and defensive back Ryan Mayes.

Associate AD Chris Freet said Wyche signed a national letter of intent, but is not yet on the early enrollee list.

Canesport.com's Matt Shodell reported Monday Wyche is currently appealing an ACC rule that requires entering student-athletes to attend the same junior college for three semesters before transferring to a member school. Wyche has reportedly only spent two semester at his current junior college in Los Angeles.

> Golden said the reason receiver Rashawn Scott, quarterback Kevin Olsen and cornerback Ray Lewis III were suspended for the bowl game weren't at the bowl game was because they were suspended for conduct detrimental to the team. All three players remain on the roster, Golden said.

"Rashawn, that's a different situation," Golden said referring to previous suspensions by Scott. "Going into his senior year, it gets to a point where they have to be accountable to their teammates, family, themselves. In terms of Ray and Kevin, we really like both those young men. It was a violation of team rules. Both of them have moved forward, are excited to come back and we're excited to work with them."

Asked if any other players might be leaving the team, Golden said: "I don't foresee anybody leaving."

VIDEO: Al Golden press conference on Monday

Here is the video of today's press conference via the Hurricanes team website.

Entire first part, word for word, of Al Golden interview with Joe Rose regarding Penn State

Joe Rose: Coach, how are you?

Al Golden: “Good Joe, how you doing today.’’ (Joe Rose laughs a lot here)

 Joe Rose: What was your weekend like?

 Al Golden:  “Well, one of the reasons I released a statement yesterday was because speculation had grown so much that I thought I would be able to get to my press conference or even this conversation with you on Monday but I opted to release a statement so that we could move forward here.’’

 Joe Rose: Penn State comes down here. The search committee comes down to interview you. Obviously you went to school there. You were captain of the football team. You coached there. You did recruiting from there. Did you ever feel like when they were coming down, did you feel like you were ever close to taking the job? Could you just kind of help Canes fans out what your whole thinking process was?

 Al Golden: “The thing is, over the last couple years I haven’t responded to any of this speculation of any school. Last year I was in a recruit’s home and they had me going to another school. The biggest thing is I’m not a candidate for another position and I stand behind the statement I made yesterday. I was in the office Thursday and Friday evaluating every aspect of the program and I’m excited to move forward.’’

 Joe Rose: We’ll close it up. Obviously you’ve got a great reputation up there, Coach. I think everybody knows that. I understood if you did meet with them for those reasons. Hell, you met your wife there. I think you met your wife in the sports department up there. So, obviously it’s a special place for you. Was it ever, like, you had to be curious about the job, Coach, a little bit, yes?

 Al Golden: “Joe, I just can’t get, again, from a professional standout I’ve never discussed any other positions. As I said yesterday, I’m not a candidate. I’m excited to be here. I’m eager to welcome our guys back. We have incoming guys coming in Wednesday. The whole staff returns today. We’ve got a staff meeting here in a little while and we’re moving forward.’’

 Rose: “Were you aware this weekend of all the stuff that was out there both up in HappyValley and that area and down here and all the different reports on you?

 Golden: “I became aware of it with [athletic director] Blake [James]. There’s no way we’ll be able to get to this conversation. Obviously that’s why we released the statement. So, we’re moving forward and back at work today.’’

  SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

Al Golden was just on WQAM radio: Doesn't sound like he's making changes in his coaching staff

University of Miami coach Al Golden was just on WQAM with Joe Rose.

Basically, he didn't answer any questions about the Penn State job and he spent nearly 30 minutes talking about statistical trends and the improvements Miami made on offense and defense.

He said the worst part of UM's game has been third-down conversions offensively and defensively, the pass rush, time of possession (which relates to conversion problem).

The big thing we got out of this: Golden seems like he's not going to make many, if any, changes on the coaching staff. 

He was asked about Mark D'Onofrio and the first thing he said is "The trend right now is positive.''

Then he compared numbers from 2012 to 2013, and covered the improvements Miami made. He also talked about what needs to be improved.

He never talked specifically about any of his coaches.

So, Canes fans, I do not know this for a fact, as Al will be meeting with his coaching staff today and I can't predict the future, but it's pretty clear, again, that most coaches at the very least -- and almost definitely D'Onofrio is my guess -- will be returning.

Stay tuned, please.

I will start transcribing some quotes for you now and posting them on blog.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

January 05, 2014

Canes top recruit Chad Thomas happy Golden is staying

Booker T. Washington defensive end Chad Thomas said he first began hearing rumors about Al Golden possibly heading to Penn State when he played in the Under Armour All-American game earlier this week.

"I called Coach and asked him what was going on," said Thomas, widely considered UM's top defensive recruit.

"Coach Franklin, Barrow and Golden told me to just concentrate on the things I could handle and things would work out."

Thomas admits he was a little nervous, and although he considered himself "a 100 percent commitment to Miami," a potential coaching change would throw a curveball into the future plans for the entire recruiting class.

Thomas said when he found out Sunday afternoon Golden was staying he was happy and relieved.

"I know we have special class coming in and I didn't know what would happen if Coach Golden left," Thomas said. "I'm glad he isn't going anywhere. I know the rise back to the top is going to happen and it's going to be special. I want to be a part of it."

> Thomas said he was disappointed to see U.S. Army All-American defensive tackle Travonte Valentine de-commit from the program during the time of uncertainty. But he's hoping Valentine will now rejoin the class.

Golden ends silence, reaffirms commitment to Hurricanes

Hurricanes head football coach Al Golden released a statement Sunday, reaffirming his commitment to the University of Miami: 

"There has been much speculation concerning my future at the University of Miami. While I am flattered that our progress at The U during an extremely difficult period of time is recognized, I am also appreciative of just what we have here at UM and I am not a candidate for another position. We are eager to welcome our student athletes back to campus next week and visit with prospective student-athletes and their families beginning January 15."

Al Golden's silence a reminder this is all just business

Commitment.

That's the one word that gets thrown around more than any other in college football.

Yet, as we've come to realize, it means absolutely nothing. 

Al Golden used the word right after the Hurricanes got embarrassed by Louisville a little more than a week ago in the Russell Athletic Bowl. And he meant it. 

"I made a commitment to get it done and we're going to fight our asses off until we get it done," Golden said of returning the Hurricanes to dominance.

Now, less than 10 days later, we're sitting here wondering if he's leaving for his alma mater Penn State. So are his bosses, assistant coaches, players and recruits.

"We don't know anything yet," President Donna Shalala told the Miami Herald in an email.

Golden? Not a peep, which says his commitment and his loyalty is really only to himself and his family. 

We all know this of course. We're not naive. We all have priorities. If you were in Al's shoes and your alma mater came calling, offering more money, offering a heroes welcome, you would have to listen at least.

And maybe that's all this is. Maybe Golden won't be leaving anywhere. 

After all, Penn State is reportedly interviewing Mike Munchak and James Franklin today. Maybe Al isn't sure he'd be better off back where he met his wife Kelly. Maybe being the next Joe Paterno isn't his thing. Maybe he wants to jump from Miami to the NFL and aspires to be the next Bill Belichick.

Only Al and his people know.

What does Al want us to know? Nothing. His silence speaks for itself. It reminds us people in college football can use the word commitment one day and change their minds the next. All anyone is really going to do is what's best for themselves from one decision to the next. And there's nothing wrong with that. That's real life.

In the end, if Al stays at Miami, it's going to be hard for some to believe just how committed he really is to this program. And the truth is that's really what was maybe Golden's most likable quality wasn't it? The fact he was, in his words, "going to fight [his] ass off until we get it done."

That commitment to standing by Miami's side through the NCAA mess. We loved that. The idea he was going to dig his feet into the ground, recruit his butt off and take Miami back to the top. Many Canes fans -- after a 7-0 start and rise to a No. 7 ranking -- were completely buying in. 

Not so much anymore of course. They want his best bud, defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio, out of here. Get rid of him or you can go with him Al, many say. 

If Al leaves, which many outside the program seem to think he will, the next guy will be expected to pick up right where he left off. Since the Canes went 9-4 this year, the next guy has to secure that Top 10 recruiting class, and then win the Coastal Division. No excuses. To not accomplish that would mean failure. 

The good news for Hurricanes fans is that if Al leaves there are  hungry, interested coaches out there who could accomplish that.

Mario Cristobal would be the first person I would call. Yeah, Cristobal left for a better paying Alabama job after Al gave him one when FIU dumped him.

But can you imagine anyone "fighting his ass off" for Miami -- his alma mater -- harder than Cristobal? He still hasn't tasted that NFL money, still hasn't really proven himself. He would work to get to that point. 

And that's really what this Miami job has always been about. It doesn't pay enough to be a place where someone settles in for the long haul. It never has been. In it's most successful days it's always been the springboard to then next big, better paying job.

Some are saying Rob Chudzinski, Greg Schiano and Butch Davis would be great options. Tommy Tuberville might be too. But I'd call Mario first.

The only commitment you would need from Cristobal is what this program has really always been about and needed. That's a commitment to winning and winning big. 

January 03, 2014

Five Canes invited to the NFL Combine: QB Morris, OG Linder, OT Henderson, WR Hurns & P O'Donnell

Five Hurricanes were invited to the NFL Combine next month in Indianapolis. Here's the release we just received from UM.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Five Miami Hurricanes have accepted invitations to participate at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, while will be held Feb. 22-25 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The four-day combine will be televised live on NFL Network.

 QB Stephen Morris, OG Brandon Linder, OT Seantrel Henderson, WR Allen Hurns and P Pat O’Donnell will be among the more than 300 prospects evaluated by all 32 NFL teams. Linder, Henderson and O’Donnell will work out on Feb. 22, while Morris and Hurns will work outFeb. 23.

 Morris, a two-year starter under center and a 2013 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team member, finished his career ranked third in Miami history with 7,896 passing yards and 49 touchdowns. A 2013 All-ACC third-team selection, Morris is one of only two QBs in Miami history with multiple 3,000-yard passing seasons (Gino Torretta).

 Linder started all 13 games along the offensive line in 2013 and concluded his career with 37 consecutive starters. He was a second-team All-ACC selection and was named the team’s Offensive MVP at the end of the season. Henderson, a third-team All-ACC selection, played in 12 games along the offensive line, making eight starts at right tackle.

 Hurns enjoyed one of the greatest receiving seasons in program history in 2013. The second-team All-ACC receiver set a single-season school record with 1,162 receiving yards and finished with 62 receptions – the third-most in a single season. He finished his career ranked seventh in both receptions (121) and receiving yards (1,891).

 In his one season in Coral Gables, O’Donnell made a considerable impact, setting the school single-season record with a 47.1 yards-per-punt average. A first-team All-ACC choice and second-team All-America selection by USA TODAY, O’Donnell booted 23 punts of 50+ yards and downed 19 inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

 Miami, in its third season under head coach Al Golden, finished 2013 with a 9-4 mark and an appearance in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando.

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

Regarding Al Golden, still waiting for concrete news on Penn State. The coaches are on vacation this week, and it's a dead period recruiting wise.

Al has an afternoon news conference scheduled with the media on Monday. It was his regular end-of-the-year talk. We're all wondering if that will happen. 

Not confident it will at this point. 

We'll see.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

January 02, 2014

Miami Hurricanes coach Al Golden reportedly being courted by Penn State -- naturally

Did we really think that Al Golden could go a season without being named as a target for whatever FBS football program had an opening?

Of course not. 

However, the Penn State vacancy, now that Bill O'Brien has taken the job as the Houston Texans head coach, is one that Golden will undoubtedly ponder -- even if he is intent on staying in Miami. He earned his undergraduate degree from Penn State in 1991 and played tight end there for Joe Paterno. He was a team captain as a senior. 

The Harrisburg Patriot-News (pennlive.com) reported Wednesday, via a source, that Golden and Vanderbilt Coach James Franklin were both "names mentioned by a source close to the PSU program.''

  The article told readers to "expect Vanderbilt's James Franklin and Miami's Al Golden to top Penn State's football's wish list as the Nittany Lions search for the permanent successor to Bill O'Brien.''

  Penn State athletic director David Joyner told reporters Thursday that a six-member search committee intends to replace O'Brien as soon as possible, in "days, not weeks,'' pennlive.com reported.

   Golden is 22-15 in his three seasons at UM, including an extremely disheartening 36-9 loss last week to Louisville in the Champs Sports Bowl.

   Golden's current contract runs through Feb. 1, 2020.

We meet with him Monday for a post-season press conference. Should be an interesting session.

  As for Franklin, his Commodores (8-4) meet Houston (8-4) in the BBVA Compass Bowl at noon Saturday in Birmingham.

  SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

    

 

 

   

 

December 30, 2013

Google Hangout with Canes fans via SportsManias

I got a chance today to participate in my first Google Hangout with a trio of Canes fans and our friends at SportsManias.

Here is the recording.

December 29, 2013

UM Canes recruit Brandon Powell disappointed in bowl, but "excited'' about reporting to UM on Jan. 8

  ORLANDO -- I just got off the phone with University of Miami recruit Brandon Powell, a four-star running back who played for Deerfield Beach High School. Powell is graduating early to report to the Canes on Jan. 8th so he can start college and participate in spring practice.

He said he has cleared through the NCAA and just needs to get a copy of his transcript from DBHS after the winter break ends.

"I’m really excited because I start college soon and just to be on campus and get an early start, that can really help me,'' Powell told me. "It’s really beneficial. I get to learn the plays early, get a lot of reps, get bigger and faster."

Powell said he's 5-9 and weighs 170.

Powell watched the game on TV with his dad and grandmother.

"They started off the first series and it was good,'' he said, referring to the safety that occurred when Deon Bush sacked Teddy Bridgewater. "I was pumped up. But they couldn’t move the ball on offense and I thought ‘what’s happening?’ I thought they were going to crank it up after halftime but they just couldn’t do anything.’’

 Despite the disappointing  loss, Powell said he can't wait to begin his upcoming career with the Hurricanes.

"I committed to Miami because I feel like I can get on the field and play,'' Powell said. "After watching the bowl game and knowing that Duke [Johnson] is out, I feel like even more I can go out and help."

Powell, who said he also visited Tennessee, West Virginia and Nebraska, said he was most comfortable with the UM staff and players. He said he's "looking forward to learning from Duke Johnson and Dallas Crawford."

What message would he like to give to fellow recruits who were upset after the bowl game?

 "Al Golden knows what he’s doing. He’s getting all those kids from South Florida. He’s getting the program back.

   "Coach Golden plays freshmen." 

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

December 28, 2013

Walford, Perryman talk future; Golden talks championship timetable, evaluating coaches

ORLANDO -- Not a lot of positive to report after the 36-9 thumping the Hurricanes took at the hands of Louisville Saturday night here in the Russell Athletic Bowl. But a quick few bullet points before we get to the transcript.

 > Tight end Clive Walford said he's decided to return for his senior season. He led the Hurricanes with four catches for 82 yards tonight. 

> Linebacker and leading tackle Denzel Perryman, a new father, said he hasn't made up his mind yet if he's returning for his senior season.

"I was going to wait until pretty much after this game," he said. "Whatever kind of break we have I'm going to go home, sit down, talk to my family, make the best decision for me." 

Perryman said he hasn't heard back from the NFL advisory committee yet. "I sent them my evaluation paper I don't know how many weeks ago," he said. "It should come in either this weekend or next weekend."

He said he's going to wait for it before making his decision. What will be the biggest factor? "I don't know. I haven't thought about it yet," he said.

TRANSCRIPT

Here is everything UM coach Al Golden and quarterback Stephen Morris had to say post-game. You'll want to read the stuff specifically about Golden's time table for when he thinks UM will be back competing for national titles and how Louisville threw things at Miami they weren't prepared for. 

Opening statement: "Obviously disappointed we got beat in all three phases. There's no excuses. We didn't play well enough, give a lot of credit to Louisville they played really well, executed well. Again, it's my responsibility and disappointed in our execution in all three phases. I just -- as I just shared with the team. Despite that, just really proud of Stephen and this group of seniors and what they've been through and what they've endured in moving us forward from six to seven and from seven to nine wins. We're going to miss them greatly for all that they've contributed and obviously for their leadership through really tough three years. So go ahead."

Q: Did it kind of remind you of the Florida state game that you clearly were just against a football team that was significantly farther along than where you are right now?

COACH GOLDEN: Again, Gary, I appreciate the question but it's so hard to answer that without discrediting the guys in that locker room especially the seniors who have been busting their tail to keep us afloat and move us forward. I think everybody recognizes and I'm going to answer this honestly. Everybody recognizes that we're not where we want to be yet but we're scratching and fighting and clawing to get to where we want to be and keep moving forward. We've done it, you know, against terrible odds. I'm not going to discredit the guys we just played, but we have to get better and we're going to play these guys again in the near future and we got to be better.

Q: Al, what does have to change going into next season defensively?

COACH GOLDEN: "Again, we didn't give the defense a chance early in the game. I thought they were playing really well. They did a great job against the run. They were out there for too many plays and we didn't convert. I think we were 0 for seven at the half. Matt, there's a lot of things that have to change. We have to do better job coaching, we have to continue to build our program and just move forward and -- but, again, I think the defense was what was holding us in there in the first half and they were out there for too many plays." 

Q: Coach, did you see any of this in preparation, in bowl practice? Was there any sign the game would be like this?

COACH GOLDEN: No, obviously it's our first go round for the freshman, sophomores, and juniors. It's the first time going through this experience. Again, Stephen and Jimmy and Allen, they provided really good leadership for us. But, again, it's the first time. You got to go through it. We didn't want to play the way we played. We wanted to play better. There are going to be a lot of things from this week and from going into a site and learning how to handle the media and the crowd and all of those things that we have not had the opportunity to do. Again, I think our guys are going to find value in that and learn from that.

Q Coach, can you please tell us a little bit more about the significance of the senior class and how it's been in this program after you guys have been through?

COACH GOLDEN: Again, I don't think it's -- to go out on a limb and say they saved us. They could have cut and run. They kept us afloat, you know, and they saved us. I don't know how else to look at it. You know, that's about as hard as you get what they had to endure for three seasons. You know, again, it's not to our standard, let alone anybody else's expectations, but I'm not going to let that eclipse what these young men have done for the university of Miami and this program and the class they exhibited and to take somebody else's problem on and claim it as their own and have the resolve and the mental toughness to fight through. I'm proud of them.

Q Stephen, this question is for you, obviously today four sacks, most pressure you felt all season back there. Can you talk about the performance and this being your last game as a Hurricane?

MR. MORRIS: "Obviously it wasn't the performance I wanted to have being my last game but give credit to Louisville. They had a great defensive plan going. They were in the right spots at the right time. They came up with making the play. It's definitely something I want to work on, something it's been an issue for running on third downs we needed to do a better job on that. Over all my performance as a quarterback was not one of my greatest performances but you just learn from it."

Q Coach, you've been here three years, defensively there's been some issues with schematics. Are you going to reevaluate the whole staff and everything in the future now that the season is over or perhaps look to make any changes?

COACH GOLDEN: I'm going to evaluate the whole program, just like I do every year. It's not going to be any different. Again, there's things right now but in terms of moving the program forward, we're going to keep moving it forward. We're going to be resolute in that and we're not going to flinch with that. Again, at the end of the day, we're going to continue to recruit, continue to develop, but in terms of the young kids in our program and everything, I don't want to trade the young kids. I want to keep going. I want to keep moving forward. I just think overall, I think it's really important that every coach, every unit, every player, everybody is evaluated and I'll start that probably tomorrow.

Q Stephen, this might not have been the way you wanted to end your career here but has it fully hit you you've played your last game at the university of Miami and what is it you'll take away most of your time at the university?

MR. MORRIS: I think it will probably hit me tomorrow when I wake up and won't have a schedule from coach Golden and won't have a tech saying where I need to be. It's been a pleasure here, man. It's been a true blessing. I'm blessed to say that all these coaches have truly left such a great mark on my life. It's changed me to a better man. I'm proud to say. Football is a game of wins and losses. Unfortunately we didn't win how we wanted to win. Sometimes we lost the way we loss. I'm always going to be proud to say I'm a Cane.

Q How much did they change over the month in terms of blitz packages?

COACH GOLDEN: It was different.

Q Significantly different?

COACH GOLDEN: Yeah, no it was definitely different and then obviously you know when they got out to a lead and we never brought my pressure on the other side, which kept compounding the problem, Gary. So I don't think there's any question about it. Then you get to a point in the game where you're pressing and your trying to make some plays that you don't need to make. I don't think there's any question we didn't protect as well as we needed to protect. It's my responsibility.

Q Coach, this is for you and Stephen. I know it's not good right now, but the week in general, I mean, talk about how was the bowl experience for you/ 

MR. MORRIS: The bowl experience was very fun. Russell Athletic did a great job hosting the events for us. On top of that the week's practice was great. Even when we were in Miami we had tough physical practices which was great. Guys were excited to be here and when we got to the bowl site throughout the whole week everyone was focused and everyone invested a lot into this game. It's disappointing the way the game turned out to be but it's been a great experience.

COACH GOLDEN: I would say on above of the University of Miami we're grateful, the Russell Athletic Bowl and Orlando for just -- they did a tremendous job for our young people and especially given the fact that our guys hadn't experienced that since 2010. We're grateful.

Q Al, I think Teddy had over 400 yards passing in this game. What was he doing that just allowed him to be so effective tonight?

COACH GOLDEN: Number one, I think he made a lot of plays where he broke a tackle, you know, made a completion. He made some really, really excellent plays, just individual plays where it looked like we had him for a sack. It looked like we got him for a sack, he breaks the tackle and throws. There was a number of those, number of those plays, but obviously he's an excellent quarterback, he threw the ball well, but, again, you can't -- there's no excuses right now. He played well, he execute well. Their team executed well. We have to do a better job.

Q You spoke about a lot of the momentum you felt this month and obviously with everything that's gone on this season, what type of message does this game send the recruits?

COACH GOLDEN: Well, I don't know if it sends a message. I just think we're still building. We need help. Obviously the size of this class is an indication you know that we're bringing a big group in and there's a lot of room to help us. I don't think there's any question that those kids understand that. They understand that they can help us and there's room to help us and we're not in a situation right now where we want to be and those kids see themselves as guys that can help us get there. So I don't think that's going to change anything. We just got to keep moving forward.

Q Coach, you're going to have the opportunity to play Louisville again real soon. How are you going to play differently and what can you expect from that program over the next several years?

COACH GOLDEN: Again, I can't really speak to what direction they're going. All I can answer is what we need to do. Obviously we need to get back to work and see how we evolve with our personnel in the spring. Depending on when we play them, we'll make determination what our game plan is and what our personnel is. That's so far off right now. We're going to add 25, 26 guys to this team and obviously develop the young men that we have and decide what direction we want to go in all three phases in the off season and spring ball and we'll decide what the game plan will be.

Q Coach, you talk about the process all the time and now the cloud is removed from the NCAA do you have a time frame you expect to get this program back consistently top ten competing at a high level?

COACH GOLDEN: Well, number one, we just won nine games for the third time in a decade. I wish we had won ten, all right, but we're busting our tails right now to keep moving. There is no time table. Again, I take responsibility for everything, responsibility for everything in the program. At the end of the day today wasn't good enough. Again, I'm proud of the seniors and I don't want that to be diminished or lost here. We're going to keep moving this thing forward and it's hard for me to give you a time table. When my time table is wiped out on August 15, 2011. It's hard me to give you a time table. I made a commitment to get it done and we're going to fight our asses off until we get it done.

Q I was just wondering about you know what happens tomorrow? Do you meet with the under class men at all? Do the seniors just kind of walk away and that's the end?

COACH GOLDEN: We'll get the seniors back when they either, A, come back to school or when they start to work out to get ready and do those types of things. They know. We have a great relationship with the seniors, but tomorrow everybody is going to kind of go their own way. That's pretty traditional. We'll find an opportunity to get the seniors back and get them together, but we really did try to honor them as best we could at the banquet and just make sure before the game they understood how important they were and we just had another opportunity and we did that again.

Q Are you -- I guess you probably already talked to some of the juniors that are contemplating, perhaps, entering the NFL. How does that work now?

COACH GOLDEN: We have a great process in place where they get their draft reports. They had and will continue to have opportunities to speak to every entity that they need to, but as it relates to me. I'm just there for support. I am not part of that decision. I make sure that they get everything that they can get to make the best decision for them and their future and obviously if they need consultation from me, then I give it to them, just as we have a whole booklet of people that they can call and different people they can get information from to make the best decision for themselves.

QB Kevin Olsen, WR Rashawn Scott, CB Ray Lewis Jr. don't make bowl trip

ORLANDO -- The Miami Hurricanes were hurting at receiver coming into this game with sophomore Herb Waters out. 

They are minus another: junior Rashawn Scott. He was among a list of three players UM confirmed did not make the trip up to play in the bowl game.

The others: freshman quarterback Kevin Olsen, who had made previous road trips and dressed in uniform, and cornerback Ray Lewis Jr. 

UM has not given a reason as to why the three players are not playing. But they have confirmed they were left behind.

Scott has been suspended multiple times, including at the end of last season.

Olsen was charged with leaving the scene of a car accident before arriving at UM this summer. The report stated that Olsen “appeared to be under the influence of something.”

He and Lewis were both being redshirted this season.

Either way, it's never a good thing when you don't end up making a bowl trip with your teammates and you are healthy.

Russell Athletic Bowl live blog: UM vs. Louisville

ORLANDO -- The Hurricanes (9-3) hope to complete their first 10-win season in a decade with a win over 18th-ranked Louisville (11-1) at 6:45 p.m. tonight at The Citrus Bowl.

It won't be easy. Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a former standout at Miami Northwestern and once a UM commitment when Randy Shannon was coach, leads a potent Louisville passing attack.

Las Vegas lists the Cardinals as a 3 1/2 point favorite. With good reason, too. Despite facing a pretty weak schedule, Louisville is sound defensively. 

We'll be here to provide live updates as usual on Twitter and in our live blog. 

December 27, 2013

Who owns the edge? Miami vs. Louisville in Russell Athletic Bowl

ORLANDO -- Here is a breakdown of Saturday night's Russell Athletic Bowl game featuring Miami (9-3) and 18th-ranked Louisville (11-1). The Cardinals are favored to win by 3 1/2 points. 

> Here is also a link to my weekly segment with Orlando Alzugaray on 640Sports.com.

WHEN MIAMI RUNS THE BALL

Louisville coach Charlie Strong said the Hurricanes present the toughest challenge his defense has faced in his four years with the Cardinals. That's not exactly a stretch -- at least for this season.

The Hurricanes are the highest-ranked scoring offense (35.9 points per game, 25th nationally) and top rushing team (172.5 yards per game, 63rd) the Cardinals will face this season. Although Louisville ranks second nationally in run defense (86.25) and is allowing only 2.74 yards a carry, they've faced only two teams who rank better than 80th rushing: Cincinnati (68th) and UCF (79th). Both of those opponents had some success (160 yards average and three touchdowns each) against the Cardinals.

Can Dallas Crawford, Gus Edwards and Eduardo Clements find running lanes behind a big, beefy offensive line that averages 320 pounds? With Duke Johnson sidelined over the last four games, they haven't done it enough. Miami has averaged 121 yards on the ground. That ranks 109th. To beat Louisville, Miami will also have to be better on third down (37.8 percent, 85th). The Cardinals rank second nationally in third down defense (28.6 percent). Edge: Louisville.

WHEN MIAMI THROWS THE BALL

The Cardinals have allowed the fewest passing touchdowns in the country (eight) and rank eighth in passing yards allowed (171.7). Only Cincinnati, whom the Cardinals beat in overtime 31-24 in the regular season finale, managed to throw for more than 250 yards against them. Sophomore cornerback Charles Gaines leads the team with 11 pass breakups and five interceptions.

Miami, led by quarterback Stephen Morris and receivers Allen Hurns and Stacy Coley, has thrived with the big pass play. UM ranks second nationally with 35 pass plays of 30 yards or more. Louisville has allowed only 10 pass plays of 30 yards or more all season (tied for fifth-fewest).

What the Cardinals do best to stop offenses is sack the quarterback (39 total, fifth nationally). Senior defensive end Marcus Smith ranks second nationally in sacks (12.5) and junior Lorenzo Mauldin is 17th with 9 1/2. UM has allowed only 13 sacks on the season. Edge: Even.

WHEN LOUISVILLE RUNS THE BALL

About the nicest thing you can say about Miami's run defense (ranked 81st, 182.33 yards per game, 25 TDs allowed) is that it isn't as bad as last year's (114th, 217.92, 29).

Junior Dominique Brown (6-2, 216) and senior Senorise Perry (6-0, 187) are averaging five yards a carry and have combined to run for 1,414 yards and 14 touchdowns on a Cardinals rushing attack that ranks 80th (150.2 yards per game). It's likely Louisville could opt to give them more work than usual Saturday when you consider the Hurricanes have given up 821 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground over their last three games. Edge: Louisville.

WHEN LOUISVILLE THROWS THE BALL

For the first time since 2010, Miami's pass defense has produced more interceptions (18) than touchdowns allowed (13). Of course, Teddy Bridgewater, the nation's fifth moss efficient passer (70.2 completion percentage, 3,523 yards, 28 TDs, 4 INTs), could change all that Saturday night.

He's got six receivers with at least 22 catches this season. Bridgewater doesn't go deep as often as Morris does, but when he does 6-3, 209-pound junior DeVante Parker (46 catches, 743 yards 11 TDs) is usually his favorite target.

But for the most part, Louisville doesn't mind killing their opponents slowly. The Cardinals rank sixth in time of possession (33 minutes, 25 seconds per game). Miami's defense is used to being on the field a lot.  The Hurricanes rank 118th in time of possession (26:21). Edge: Louisville.

SPECIAL TEAMS

UM kicker Matt Goudis ended the season by shaking out of his funk with seven consecutive made field goals, finishing 13 of 17 including a season-long of 49 yards. Punter Pat O'Donnell had a special season, averaging 47.3 yards a kick including 20 punts of 50 yards or more.

Gaines has returned a kick (93 yards) and a punt (35 yards) for a touchdown this season and is hands down Louisville's most dangerous weapon in the return game. Cardinals kicker John Wallace hasn't had to boot many pressure kicks, but is 17 of 21 on field goal attempts with no makes longer than 39 yards. He has had three field goals blocked and punter Ryan Johnson (41.2 yards) has had one of his kicks blocked.

Louisville's punt coverage team is very good having allowed 15 total yards on 13 punt returns. Coley has a punt and kick return for a touchdown this season and should be aided by the return of Phillip Dorsett. Edge: Even.

COACHING

Strong hasn't faced many ranked opponents in his four seasons as coach, but he's 4-1 in those games. His team has trailed only once at halftime this season -- 13-10 against Houston -- before rallying for a 20-13 win.

Louisville will be Miami's third rank opponent this season. The Hurricanes beat Florida 21-16 back on Sept. 7 before the Gators went into a tailspin and then they were blown out at Florida State 41-14. Miami is 3-5 under coach Al Golden against ranked teams. Good starts are almost mandatory with UM going 17-1 when leading at halftime under Golden, and 3-13 when trailing. Edge: Louisville.

PREDICTION: Louisville 38, Miami 27

Al Golden's Russell Athletic Bowl press conference transcript

ORLANDO -- UM coach Al Golden met with reporters Friday morning to look ahead to Saturday night's showdown with Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville at the Russell Athletic Bowl. Here is the complete transcript.

Opening statement: "Obviously, very grateful to Russell Athletic Bowl and the Orlando community for just an incredible week and an opportunity for our young people and all of our families, our staff, our coaches, wives, our children, just an incredible experience and one that will create lasting memories, so we're excited. We've turned our focus here in the last 48 hours to really getting ready for a really, really good Louisville Cardinal team and excited about the opportunity to kick that ball off tomorrownight at 6:45, so with that I'll open up to any questions that you might have." 

Q: Coach, with a day until the game, what's the perception like with your players knowing that the University of Miami is back in a bowl game and they're this close to being on the field?

COACH GOLDEN:  Well, they're excited.  We've been excited, really, since we started our first practice, you know, probably more than three weeks ago now.  Our freshman, sophomores, and juniors were not able to experience this so -- and that includes everything.  That includes the bowl practices, that includes the travel, the unity and the bonding that occurs during these -- that can really only occur when you -- when you experience things like this.  And they've practiced with a purpose.  I think they've really earned our trust all week by being where you are.  You know, they really conducted themselves well and were accountable to each other and now it's really time to get focused in and get ready to play this game. 

I think we're in the right -- you know, we have a long way to go until we kick it off, but we're in the right frame of mind right now. 

Q: Coach, Teddy Bridgewater is such a dynamic quarterback.  What have you seen that you're going to do to try to stop him tomorrow night?  

COACH GOLDEN:  Well, I think you got to -- you can't let him throw in rhythm, so obviously you have to get pressure on him, you have to change up the rotation or the looks.  He'll pick you apart if you just stay in one coverage or if you don't put any pressure on him.  I think the thing about Teddy Bridgewater that he probably doesn't get enough credit for is his mechanics are tremendous.  Tremendous balance, tremendous mechanics and, you know, really well taught.  So he's got poise.  His completion percentage to interception ratio is phenomenal, so we have to find a way to get pressure on him and we have to, you know, obviously make some plays.  

Q: Coach, given the current competitive nature of college athletics, do you think the concept of the big three as it used to be, is that still attainable for obviously you guys and Florida and Florida State to be at that elite level on a regular basis? 

COACH GOLDEN:  Well, I mean, clearly Florida won championships.  I don't know exactly, I think I want to say six and eight, '06 and '8, and Florida State is playing for a championship this year.  We have to do our part.  We have to continue to build.  Obviously we've been encumbered a little bit more than we would have wanted to be the last two years, but we feel like we are moving the program forward and we do have an opportunity with a win tomorrownight to be the first team in Miami in a decade to win ten games. 

And given the circumstances and the adversity that we've dealt with, that would be a tremendous task and a great honor for our seniors.  So I don't think there's any question that can still happen and we intend to make it happen. 

Q: Can you talk about how the extra bowl practices have helped with recruiting and where you are now in terms of the 2014 signing class?  

COACH GOLDEN:  Well, there's no many different ways to look at it.  Number one, we didn't have the -- clearly we are one of the largest cities in the country in terms of cultivation and recruiting.  We have one of the best bases, but yet the last two years we didn't have the opportunity for those young people to come over and watch bowl practice and be around us the way they are now. 

We also didn't get this opportunity for a week long infomercial, if you will, that a lot of our adversaries had the chance to and then it was all compounded by the fact we were embroiled in something that brought a sensational element and we were dealing with a very difficult task.  So I think clearly the first two are in place now.  The third one has been eliminated, and just in the two weeks that I was able to get out, you know, we just have not, Manny, since we've been here -- and, again, you've covered us from the get-go.  You know, the first year was a transition year and we didn't have much time at all to go recruiting and then the second two years we were dealing with a very tumultuous situation. 

It's never felt like it's felt right now.  We feel like we're recruiting to a higher level right now.  We feel like the questions that we're getting from parents or coaches or young people, prospects are in line with what they should be.  They should be about our university, about our program, our systems, our philosophy, and I can't tell you how good that feels to be able to go just out and recruit without handcuffs on.

It's been -- it's again great.  This week has been great for us and can't wait to get back out on the road again. 

Q: Coach, you were talking about those inroads with recruiting. Sometimes Louisville is known as Miami north, 26 guys from the area.  In that regard, how important is this for the future with so many eyes in that area on this game? 

COACH GOLDEN:  Again, Coach Strong and his staff do a great job of identifying who they want to recruit and I believe the same for our staff.  The difference now for us is that we don't have to do it with one hand -- really two hands tied behind our back.  Again, whatever Louisville's philosophy is, their philosophy, I don't really worry about what anybody else is doing.  I don't worry about the ones you don't get.  I worry about the ones that you do get. 

The ones that you do get have to be able to play, have to be able to execute.  They have to be able to execute your philosophy on a daily basis.  And as it relates to the University of Miami, they have to attend the number one school in the state of Florida, a top 40 institution nationally.  So we're proud of that.  And so, again, we have so much -- I mean this with a great deal of respect for Coach Strong and Louisville, but I would say the same thing if you were talking about Florida or Florida State or any of our adversaries, especially in the southeast.  I don't negatively recruit.  I don't talk about the other team, ever.  We feel like we have one of the greatest products that there is in college football.  We've gone through a very, very difficult time and we're excited to go out and sell that again and be able to do that.  And so to be honest, I really don't worry about the other programs because we're in one of the greatest climates mats that there is in the nation.  We have one of the best institutions in the nation.  We've had more guys in the NFL than anybody.  We've got a great tradition.  We've played for more national championships than anybody over the last 30 years.  We've won more, and it's our job to get it back and we're going to do it and we're going to keep fighting.  And this is a big step obviously moving forward. 

Q: Coach, are there any -- I know you're seeing Louisville again next year in the regular season.  Are there any benefits at all preparation wise, spend some time looking -- how do you think they might have fared competitively in the ACC this year? 

COACH GOLDEN:  Again, I think, you know, Coach Strong, they're fundamentally sound as any team that we'll see.  I think they're going to do what they'll do.  I feel the same way about us.  We're going to do what we do. 

And whenever we meet again next year, you know, depending on quarterbacks, depending on personnel, depending on what direction both programs go in the spring and then obviously the way we start the season, it might change a little bit, but we are pretty much who we are and we're just going to try to get better at it.

I think the one thing that we sorely missed, and maybe I underestimated it, that we really missed were these bowl practices.  You know, to see Jermaine Grace and Jamal Carter and Artie Barnes, Gus Edwards and how much better they have gotten over this, you know, three and a half weeks or whatever, whatever it has been, this time of bowl preparation has been invaluable and clearly those young guys are going to benefit from it down the road.  We've missed that. 

Q: The second part was how do you think they might have fared?

COACH GOLDEN:  I think they're going to be an excellent team.  It's a great addition.  I'm sorry I didn't follow up.  I'm being blinded here by the light.  It's a great addition for the Atlantic Coast Conference, it really is.  It's making us stronger in every aspect, in every sport, but certainly from a football standpoint, from a men's and women's basketball standpoint, baseball.  It's going to make us really strong.  We're excited to have them in. 

You know, we have to do our part.  We have to continue to move and get better and that's going to help the national appeal of the ACC.  But certainly I think Louisville coming in is going to help us an the brand recognition now from Boston down to Key West is really going strong for us in terms of television sets and population density.  It's going to make us strong and I think Louisville is going to help us with that. 

Q: I wanted to get your thoughts on just Ladarius Gunter's progress.  The last time he was out there, it ended very scary for him.  You know, how has he just been working back from that injury and that situation and how did that impact all the guys afterwards? 

COACH GOLDEN: I think Ladarius -- you know, first of all, we have great medical staff and we're so much better prepared, all of us, in the sport now to handle any injury that may look significant as it relates to head or neck.  So we -- he ran through all the tests.  Certainly he missed the last game, but was really cleared the next week when we started practice.  And he's another young man that has gotten better and especially at the bowl side.  I think he's practicing with a purpose.  I think he understands the challenge ahead of him with Teddy and this great receiving core that we're going to face.  He's been really doing well.  In terms of the impact on the team, the team knows that we're going to always be smart with them relative to head injuries or, you know, the protocols that we have in place to make sure that we safeguard their health and put the student athlete welfare first.  I think our team trusts that and understands that, so I know they were glad that he was, A, okay, number one, okay, and then, B, that he was able to return to action and compete like he is. 

Q: Is there room in this state for the big four with the way UCF has been progressing? 

COACH GOLDEN:  Again, for you guys -- those are all the story lines for you guys.  I mean, I wished I lived in that world.  Sometimes I wish I did, but I don't live in that world.  I don't worry about any of those things.  I just think George has gone a great job.  George is a class act and he's done a great job and I'm happy for George.  

But, again, it's hard for me to understand, you know, without playing them or seeing them or being in the league, you know, what all goes into that, you know, other than, you know, you admire the job he's done from afar.

Really, with our student athletes, with our staff, with all that we've been through, we're just focused on Miami and moving Miami forward and I just can't tell you how good it feels to finally be able to do the things that you came to Miami for, A, go to bowl games, B, get your team better, C, recruit like you are at Miami and not, you know, being challenged by things that are -- circumstances out of your control. 

Q     Coach, as you've watched the film, who at Louisville kind of jumped off the screen and you believe is the next level talent?  

COACH GOLDEN:  There's quite a few.  Starting with Teddy -- you know, again, I can't say enough kind things about the young man and his maturity and probably the leadership that he provides to their organization, but he's such a good decision-maker and so good with his balance and his rhythm and those are the challenges for us, so certainly Teddy.  

But there's others.  I mean, wide receiver core is really talented.  Again, I got them all here, Parker Copeland, you know, all those guys do a great job, Eli Rogers.  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Marcus Smith on the other side of the ball, a very disruptive -- you know, 12-plus sacks, the TFLs that he has, very active, you know, active secondary, you know, Brown at middle linebacker, a big, strong physical kid who can run, so those are all some guys. 

But overall very balanced and offense.  You know, they'll rush for 150 and throw for 300, very balanced.  They do a great job with time and possession.  They convert on third down better than just about everybody that we've seen at over 55 percent.  On defense, you know, they're top ten on just about everything on defense.  I think the one thing that jumps off to me at defense is how disruptive they are.  Tackles for loss sacks and interceptions, very disruptive group.  And their experience, they have an experienced offensive/defensive line.  If you can get experience there, you have a chance to be good. 

Q:  I know you're limited in what you can say in terms of names and so forth, but in terms of early enrollees do you have a number now that you're thinking you're going to end up with? 

COACH GOLDEN:  No.  It's still evolving.  I would say safely eight, you know.  You probably have it in front of you more than I do.  It's probably about eight.  It may grow depending on what transpires here.  But, you know, we need that.  You know, we needed some guys to come in and offset some of the losses we had.  I'm excited for those young people that are coming in because it's going to give us an opportunity to challenge them and acquaint them to how we do things at the University of Miami and cultivate them into our philosophy and how we do things systematically and then obviously give them a chance to adjust to college life itself.  I'm excited about that.  

Q: Obviously you have a lot of commitments.  You've been rebuilding this class for awhile.  But this last month, are there any position areas that you're still hoping to address, or do you feel like you've pretty much shored up everything you've wanted? 

COACH GOLDEN:  No.  We still got some positions that we have earmarked.  I really don't want to get into the specifics of it, Manny, with all due respect.  You know, there's still some -- you guys really probably do a better job of just charting who we're recruiting.  That will tell you what we're still looking for. 

But because of, you know, some of the things that we imposed against ourselves in the last two years, we had a very small class last year.  That's not ideally how you want to build your team.  This class is going to be a large class.  It's kind of backwards.  It should have been the other way around.  But having said that, we're excited about this group and what they bring and I really feel like it has a chance to be our best class since we've been here.  It may be that way already, Manny, to be honest with you.

Q: Coach, with it being only a day away from the bowl game, what's your main message to the whole team?  Is it to make sure that they win?  Is it to make sure that they get out there and play? 

COACH GOLDEN:  Well, I think clearly we're prepared, you know.  We're prepared, but, you know, you can lose a lot of games in the final 48.  I think the most important things for our guys is to trust.  We have 120 years of bowl experience on our staff, but yet we have very few young people on our team that have been to a bowl game so now they have to understand how to stay focused and how to avoid the lobby and how to avoid all the -- because, you know, as the preparation dwindles, you know, as the game approaches, the amount of distractions increases. 

There's more people in town.  There's more family in town now since the holiday, you know, has ended, so now they really have to trust the formula that we have for them, win the final 48 mentally, and just really stay focused and eliminate the distractions.  That's easier said than done when you don't have a lot of guys on the team that have been there, so that's going to be our -- you know, in addition to what the message is to the team, it's going to be making sure we do that. 

Q: I'm going to try to take you to that world, so I apologize.  You're a hot commodity coach.  Charlie Strong is a hot commodity coach.  Having dealing with him, he is frustrated with answering questions and questions and questions.  How do you deal with it?  

COACH GOLDEN:  I'm going to have Charlie answer them.  Is Charlie coming back in?  I'll have Charlie answer them for me.  You know, we're in one of the greatest places that there is in college football and we've gone through a really hard time.  But it's hard to imagine, you know, places out there that you could, you know, sell, that you could present better than the University of Miami.  We know we're not where we want to be, but we know we're not where we were.  It was pretty dark days, as you remember.  Many of you covered it.  We were on the cover of Sports Illustrated two years ago.  For these kids -- and it wasn't because we were holding up a trophy.  They wanted to end the program.  I dealt with masses of media. 

My first training camp at the University of Miami, if you can imagine throngs of media three or four times the size of this.  Manny is over there shaking his head.  And the questions were are you going to have a team next year, and I couldn't believe it. 

But we had a lot of young men that stood with the University of Miami.  We had a lot of coaches and staff that stood with the University of Miami through really, really dark times, dark days and we're excited about moving the program forward.  We're excited about the experience this week and the opportunities that we have and all that we're doing.  You know, we just moved into a new football complex.  We just finished a new student center on campus.  There's never been a better time to be at the University of Miami in terms of the educational opportunities, in terms of everything that we can afford.  Young people in our college town of Coral Gables, South Miami, Coconut Grove, you know, but yet we have the diversity and culture that only a world-class city like Miami can bring.  So we haven't had the opportunity to really sell that and I'm looking forward to doing that here in January and thereafter.

UM Canes' No. 1 WR Allen Hurns (1,138 yards & about to break UM single-season receiving yards record) wearing a boot. We're told it's precautionary.

 

ORLANDO -- This is getting crazy.

In the words of Al Golden (but said by me): Are you kidding me?

Senior Allen Hurns, Miami's No. 1 receiver with with 60 catches for 1,138 yards and six touchdowns, is wearing a boot on his left foot. He was seen by our Manny Navarro in the past hour at the Russell Athletic Bowl Kickoff Luncheon.

Manny was told it is precautionary. And Manny said he was walking fine, which is great news for the Canes. But if someone is 100-percent fine they're not wearing a boot. We were told that Hurns practiced fully this week, so I have no idea of the specific situation.

You already probably know by now that Herb Waters, (on crutches) is out for the game.

Herb has 28 catches for 406 yards and five touchdowns.

And veteran Phillip Dorsett, supposedly full go after partially tearing a knee MCL, has only played in seven games and has 272 yards and two touchdowns.

Calling Stacy Coley!

Freshman Coley, a star in the making, has 30 catches for 559 yards and seven touchdowns.

Junior tight end Clive Walford also has 30 catches for 372 yards and two touchdowns.

I have a feeling Hurns, one way or another, is going to be fine in this game. But it's only a feeling.  

An already significant challenge for the Canes appears to be getting tougher.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

December 26, 2013

UM Canes LB Denzel Perryman on NFL decision: "I'm going to wait a little. ...This decision can change my life pretty much."

ORLANDO -- Just saw University of Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman with the other Hurricanes at the Russell Athletic Bowl's community service trip to Give Kids The World Village, a 70-acre theme-park-type village where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families spend a week.

  Wonderful, inspiring place. The Hurricanes -- and Louisville Cardinals -- were having a great time interracting with the children and their families, doing everything from hula-hooping to playing life-sized checkers (Curtis Porter was a blast playing checkers with an outgoing little girl) to lifting them for some fancy slam-dunking to dancing to a DJ.

  It was great to see the players in a nonfootball setting having so much fun and being genuinely sweet to the kids.

 "We put smiles on kids' faces,'' said UM junior linebacker Denzel Perryman. "We just made somebody's days. I have a kid of my own."

 Perryman's daughter is Ella Grace Perryman, born Nov. 12. He said he's learned from fatherhood "that you don't get that much sleep and pretty much you just have got to change diapers and have a nice little schedule of rotating.''

  And of course we asked him about his status as a Hurricane and if he has made up his mind about whether to enter the NFL Draft after this game.

   "I really haven't thought about that,'' Perryman said. "I sat down with [linebackers] coach [Micheal] Barrow, but I"m going to wait until literally after the bowl game to really sit down and think about all that. I'm going to wait a little. 

"I really haven't been thinking about that at all.

"It allows me to focus in and continue to do what I have to do. I don't want to make that decision, i'm going to leave and then my whole attitude changes towards the bowl game."

Perryman said that when he, and other like him, first come in the thought is often that they are going to play three years and then automatically leave. But now that he's facing that decision, he said it's much harder than he ever imagined.

"In past seasons, when you first come in you always have that thought, 'I'm going to be three-and-out; I'm going to be three-and-done.' And the decision comes for you to make it, it's kind of tough.

"When you first come in you're like , 'I'm going to leave, it's going to be easy.' but when you get in that situiatno, it's like 'wow. you know, like, this decision can change my life pretty much.''

Does everyone ask him whether he's going to leave early? 

"I get it a lot,'' Perryman said. "When people see me out, even my own family asks me what i'm doing."

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

what do you tell them? like, I honetstly don't know.

December 25, 2013

UM Canes TE Walford said he's deciding whether to turn pro. Said he will make decision bowl night.

ORLANDO -- Miami Hurricanes junior tight end Clive Walford is contemplating turning pro.

Walford, a 6-4 and 259-pounder out of Belle Glade Glades Central High, told The Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post today (Christmas Wednesday) after practice that he will make his decision "directly after the game.''

Walford is the father of a nearly five-month-old son, but he wouldn't say specifically whether that plays into his decision-making. He seemed unsure of what he would ultimately do, and did not reveal if he was leaning one way or another.

Walford redshirted his freshman year in 2010, sitting on the sideline while UM lost to Notre Dame in the Sun Bowl in El Paso. He played in all 12 games this season, starting 11. He has 30 catches for 372 yards (12.4-yard-per-catch average) and two touchdowns in 2013.

His career numbers: 36 games, 24 starts, 73 catches for 995 yards (13.6-yard-per-catch average).

Walford's streak of 27 consecutive games with at least one catch was snapped in UM's home win vs. Virginia on Nov. 23. He has had his share of drops over his career, but he's also clearly talented and has made his share of acrobatic catches. He runs fast, too.

Walford was a three-star rivals.com recruit. He had more than 400 receiving yards and six touchdowns as a Glades Central senior.

We asked him what the benefit of staying here another year would be.

"Me staying -- I could better my craft, learn more football because this is actually my fourth year actually playing football. There’s still a lot I need to learn. Just be, like, a certified leader for the team. Because there are going to be a lot of seniors and a lot of upperclassmen that are going to leave this year. If I stayed on the team I could be a major leader for the squad."

Walford said he has not gotten back his evaluation from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Underclassmen must declare to the NFL by Jan. 15. 

So, what would be the reason to leave, we asked?

 "It’s a lot of personal stuff. It’s a tough decision, but I feel like me bettering my craft and me investing in, like, a long term situation is what’s going to really determine what decision I make. I love my coaches here."

 I asked which way he was leaning. "I won't really say,'' he answered. 

He said he really didn't know.

He was asked if his decision would "go down to the wire?"

Walford: "It definitely won’t go down to the wire. I’ll make my decision directly after the game, whether I’m going to go or whether I’m going to come back. That night."

Any thoughts on whether he should go or stay?

As for junior linebacker Denzel Perryman, who also is a new father, he told us before the team left for Orlando that he would wait until after the bowl game to decide.

 Defensive end Anthony Chickillo told me Tuesday that he still hadn't received his evaluation from the NFL Draft Advisory Board.

* To follow up what I wrote yesterday (in today's paper), receiver Herb Waters is not expected to play in the Russell Athletic Bowl. He's still on crutches and coach Al Golden said he is doubtful. I'd say more than doubtful. 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

  

December 24, 2013

UM receiver Herb Waters on crutches today. Not a good thing with Russell Athletic Bowl on Saturday.

The University of Miami's third-leading receiver, 6-2, 188-pound sophomore Herb Waters, was seen on crutches today at The Citrus Bowl as his teammates wrapped up their practice session for the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Though UM coach Al Golden left practice without speaking to the media, It was confirmed that Waters did not practice today and yesterday. This is bad news for the Hurricanes for obvious reasons. The Canes will already be challenge by Louisville's No. 2 rushing defense and No. 8 pass defense.

We do not know for sure if Waters is out of the bowl game, but it doesn't look promising.

Waters, who was identified by Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post as having his "right knee in light brace'' as we watched players such as defensive backs Keion Berry and Nate Dortch and Corn Elder and of course running back Duke Johnson walk off with crutches as well, has 28 catches for 406 yards and five touchdowns this season.

Senior Allen Hurns leads Miami with 60 catches for 1,138 yards and six touchdowns. 

Freshman Stacy Coley has 30 catches for 559 yards and seven touchdowns.

Junior tight end Clive Walford also has 30 catches for 372 yards and two touchdowns.

 Waters' season-high day of nine catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns came at Duke on Nov. 16.

 His next-best showing was his 73-yard, two-touchdown receiving day at USF on Sept. 28.

The Homestead High graduate played in all 12 games.

 We knew about Duke and Corn and Nate, at least, and Keion has played in two games. Reserve linebacker JaWand Blue had a hard cast on his left arm, but he, too, has played in only two games.

  I also saw big offensive tackle Sunny Odogwu limping severely near the team bus. He has not played in any games this season and will be redshirted.

  As if this game wasn't a big enough challenge for UM, it just became even tougher.

 Hopefully for Miami, veteran receiver Phillip Dorsett, who partially tore the medial collateral ligament of his left knee at North Carolina on Oct. 17, is as game-ready as offensive coordinator James Coley told us he was yesterday.

  Dorsett needs to spring into big-time action.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

$450 Best Buy shopping spree, roller-coaster debut, injuries to be announced?

What would you choose from Best Buy if someone gave you a $450 gift card and said you have to spend it all in one shot tonight?

The Hurricanes had that opportunity Monday when they took off on team buses bound for Best Buy. We'll find out tomorrow, when we get our first player access, what some of them got.

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

Hurricanes freshman offensive tackle Sonny Odogwu is a 6-8, 318-pound native of Nigeria whose voice became squeaky high Monday.

UM sports information assistant director David Villavicencio relayed this quick story that had us all laughing.

He said that the normally outgoing Odogwu, whose deep, powerful voice can be heard near and far, walked into breakfast with a barely audible voice.

Turns out Odogwo had an especially exciting time at Islands of Adventure.

"Roller Coaster,'' Odogwu told the other Canes in a squeaky, high-pitched voice. "First time.''

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

Those of you who remember the Orange Bowl Stadium's west end zone will reminisce when you see Miami's end zone on Saturday looking identical to the one that used to grace the Orange Bowl. A giant UM helmet on each side of the end zone faces inward, with the word Miami painted in the midde. 

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

 There wasn't a lot of news out there today, but tomorrrow could be different. The players will be available, and Coach Al Golden said they were "working through a couple'' injuries "right now. Monday is kind of our loose day. If they can't go by tomorrow then we'll have to release it as such.''

 That doesn't sound very promising.

 Golden said defensive end Anthony Chickillo, who had worn a boot a couple weekends ago because of an injured toe, was fine and practicing. 

***********************************************************************************************'

Offensive coordinator James Coley indicated junior receiver Phillip Dorsett was ready to get back on the field full go. When asked if Dorsett was over the mental hurdle caused by the torn MCL he suffered against North Carolina in October, Coley said, "I did see it today. I saw it today for the first time, him pushing and running. He looked fast again. A little reckless out there, which is a good sign."

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

Who got better the past couple weeks since bowl practice began? Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio named linebacker Raphael Kirby, linebacker Jermaine Grace, cornerback Larry Hope and safety Jamal Carter.

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

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a Miami native who played at Northwestern High:

"I'm treating this game like any other game. No game is bigger than the next game. I go into every game with the same mindset of executing our offense, managing the offense and taking what the defense gives us.''

Louisville safety Calvin Pryor: "This would be a great win, coming off the Sugar Bowl win last year, and then having a chance to play Miami. If we can win, it would be a stepping stone for coach Strong and the program as we head into the ACC.''

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

 

December 23, 2013

Big Seantrel Henderson has accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl for the Miami Hurricanes

 

 

This just in from the U:

MOBILE, Ala. – Miami Hurricanes senior offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson has accepted an invitation to play in the 2014 Reese’s Senior Bowl, the bowl announced Monday.Henderson becomes the third Miami Hurricane invited to play in the game, joining teammates Stephen Morris and Brandon Linder.

 Henderson was a third-team All-ACC selection by the league’s head coaches and honorable mention by ACSMA. He played 11 games along the offensive line in 2013, making seven starts at right tackle. He helped anchor an offensive line that allowed Miami’s offense to average 446.8 yards of total offense and 35.9 points per game.

 The St. Paul., Minn., native will be the 66th Miami Hurricane to play in the Senior Bowl. The 2014 Reese’s Senior Bowl, which is played annually at Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium, will kick at 4 p.m. ET on Sat., Jan. 25 and will be televised on the NFL Network.

 No. 25 Miami (9-3) will play No. 18/16 Louisville (11-1) in the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28 in Orlando. The Hurricanes are vying for their first 10-win season since 2003.

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

About to leave for UM's first bowl practice. It's closed, so we don't get to see anything, but will be able to interview coaches afterward in the late afternoon. Players are off limits today.

Will be back later with updates.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

December 22, 2013

The Miami Hurricanes arrive in Orlando for the Russell Athletic Bowl. UM says everyone reported.

ORLANDO -- Russell Athletic Bowl week is finally here. 

The Hurricanes have all checked in, according to Chris Yandle, UM's assistant athletic director for communications. The players drove to Orlando, Yandle said, and all had to report by 3 p.m. They had the afternoon free. Some of the players spent the day at City Walk in Universal Studios.

There was no media access at their hotel or otherwise.

Tomorrow, the Canes (9-3) practice from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at The Citrus Bowl, where their game against Louisville (11-1) will be played at 6:45 p.m. Saturday. Practices are closed to the media, and only coaches will be available afterward. We were told the players will be on a Best Buy Shopping Spree that is closed to the media (I'd love one of those myself!)

The last time I greeted a Miami Hurricanes team for a bowl, it was in the airport of El Paso and guys like linebacker Jordan Futch and quarterback Jacory Harris and bowl head coach Jeff Stoutland (with a giant sombrero atop his head) were dancing with local women to the festive beat of mariachi musicians and colorfully costumed Viva El Paso dancers.

That was for the 2010 Hyundai Sun Bowl. El Paso is a border town that sits on the banks of the Rio Grande -- across the river from Ciudad Juarez in Chihuahua, Mexico. Juarez, known as the murder capital of the world, was off limits to the Canes and their Notre Dame counterparts, who got the same reception.

"A wonderful greeting, " Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said that day. "It certainly didn't disappoint in our first trip here as a team." 

Kelly's Irish and the Canes each came into the game 7-5, but as Canes fans painfully remember, the Irish beat Miami soundly, a 31-17 drubbing in which Harris threw three interceptions in his seven passes, before being replaced by current senior quarterback Stephen Morris. Current Canes coach Al Golden, who already had been hired, watched that game from a stadium suite.

Miami has not won a bowl since its 21-20 win over Nevada in the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl -- Larry Coker's last game as coach.

 Since then it's been three consecutive bowl losses.

Last I looked, Louisville was favored by 3 1/2 points. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will be nearly impossible to frazzle. Somehow, the Canes have to find a way with a defensive line that has not been particularly fearsome this season.

Weather update: It's clear and 77 degrees in Orlando now. The weather forecast for the game is partly cloudy, with 73 degrees as a high that day and 56 degrees as a low, and a 20-percent chance of rain. But that could change several times before Saturday.

Ticket update: Earlier this past week, Vivid Seats on the secondary ticket marketplace released its report on ticket prices for this year's NCAA bowl games, and cited tickets for the Russell Athletic Bowl as the 14th most expensive of all the bowls, with a median price of $98. "The Russell Athletic Bowl is a bargain compared to the BCS National Championship, however,'' Vivid Seats reported, "which currently has a median ticket price of $1,553.''

UM is staying at the Hilton Orlando and Louisville is at the Rosen Plaza Hotel. Louisville will practice at First Academy. The Cardinals' practices are also closed to the media and public. 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

December 20, 2013

UM fans: Here's your info re. Notre Dame vs ACC scheds (including #Canes) -- & UM baseball ranked 13th

 

FROM THE ACC:

    The Atlantic Coast Conference and Notre Dame Friday announced the annual football game schedule in which the Irish will face an ACC opponent beginning with the 2014 season through the 2016 season. The games are part of an agreement between the Conference and Notre Dame to play five ACC teams each year in football.

        Due to previous schedule commitments, in the first year of the schedule, Notre Dame will face four ACC teams.  But the Irish will then play six games against Conference foes in 2015 and thereafter, beginning in 2016, play five ACC teams each year.

        In 2014, Notre Dame will face Syracuse, in a game hosted by the Orange at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (Sept. 27), then will host North Carolina (Oct. 11) and Louisville (Nov. 22) and will also travel to face Florida State in Tallahassee (Oct. 18).

        In 2015, Notre Dame will host Georgia Tech (Sept. 19) and Wake Forest (Nov. 14) and play Boston College (Nov. 21) as part of the Shamrock Series in Fenway Park in Boston. The Irish will then will play at Virginia (Sept. 12), Clemson (Oct. 3) and Pitt (Nov. 7).

        In 2016, Notre Dame will host Duke (Sept. 24), Miami (Oct. 29), and Virginia Tech (Nov. 19) and will go to MetLife Stadium to play Syracuse (Oct. 1) and will then travel to NC State (Oct. 8).

        Beginning with the 2016 season, Notre Dame will alternate between playing three home and two away games one year with two home and three away games the next (2017).   

 

The Schedule

Year     Date                     Team                                   Site

2014:   9/27                at Syracuse                        MetLife Stad., E. Rutherford, N.J.

          10/11                North Carolina                 Notre Dame, Ind.

           10/18                at Florida State                 Tallahassee, Fla.

           11/22                Louisville                            Notre Dame, Ind.

 

2015:   9/12                at Virginia                           Charlottesville, Va.

9/19                Georgia Tech                     Notre Dame, Ind.

10/3                   at Clemson                         Clemson, S.C.

11/7                   at Pitt                                   Pittsburgh, Pa.

11/14                Wake Forest                      Notre Dame, Ind.

11/21                Boston College                 Fenway Park, Boston, Mass

 

2016:   Sept. 24                Duke                                     Notre Dame, Ind.

10/1                    at Syracuse                        MetLife Stadium, E. Rutherford, N.J.

10/8                    at NC State                          Raleigh, N.C.

10/29                 Miami                                   Notre Dame, Ind.

11/19                Virginia Tech                    Notre Dame, Ind.

HURRICANES BASEBALL UPDATE

   The University of Miami baseball team checked in at No. 13 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper annual preseason poll released Friday, marking the team’s best preseason ranking from the publication since 2010.

The Hurricanes return a number of key contributors from a team that finished 37-25 overall and earned the program’s college baseball-record 41st consecutive NCAA tournament berth in 2013. The Canes have not missed the postseason since 1972, marking the longest active postseason streak of any Division I program nationwide.

Miami will return its entire starting rotation in 2014, including Louisville Slugger All-American lefthander Bryan Radziewski and USA Baseball Collegiate National Team member Chris Diaz. The duo combined to make 30 starts this past season, and both finished among the top three in the ACC in earned run average.

Both Radziewski (29th round, St. Louis Cardinals) and senior righthander Javi Salas (38th round, Minnesota Twins) decided to return to campus after being selected in the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, while Freshman All-America David Thompson (.286, six home runs, 46 RBI) will help anchor a Miami lineup that returns seven starters from a year ago.

Joining the returning nucleus is a recruiting class ranked among the best nationwide. The group was rated No. 4 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 6 by Baseball America – its highest ranking from the publication since 2006. The Hurricanes have had classes ranked among the top 10 by both publications in back-to-back seasons.

Miami is one of six teams from the ACC ranked in the top 25 of the poll, joining Florida State, NC State, North Carolina, Virginia and Clemson.

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

December 19, 2013

Sixteen Miami Hurricanes -- 13 of them football players -- earned their bachelor's degrees Thursday

Congratulations to the grads. This just in from UM:

Sixteen University of Miami student-athletes earned their bachelor’s degrees Thursday during Fall Commencement ceremonies at BankUnited Center.

 Thirteen of the 16 graduates were football players – Malcolm Bunche, Eduardo Clements, Akil Craig, Shayon Green, Allen Hurns, Alex Irastorza, Paul Kelly, Brandon Linder, Sean McNally, Stephen Morris, Clive Walford and Ryan Williams. Green walked during the May 2013 Commencement exercises. Also graduating Thursday was Billy Sanders, who was a reserve tight end in 2010 and 2011.

 After a 9-3 season, the Hurricanes will play Louisville in the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28 (6:45 p.m., ESPN) in Orlando.

 Also graduating Thursday were soccer’s Jordan Roseboro and baseball’s Alex San Juan and Michael Broad. Roseboro was a four-year letterwinner for the Canes from 2009-12 and finished with six career goals.

 “Graduation Day is a celebration for not only our student-athletes and their families but for our whole community that has watched our Hurricanes give their very best effort in school and in their sport,” said David Wyman, Associate AD for Academic Services.

 San Juan played two years for Jim Morris’ team (2012-13), finishing his career with a .264 batting average, one home run and 18 RBI in 64 games. Broad spent four seasons in the outfield for the Canes, playing in 178 games and making 147 starts. Broad hit .273 with 15 home runs and 94 RBI.

 “Today we honor them for their commitment and contributions they made to our tremendous university and join them in celebrating their academic success,” Wyman said.

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Miami Heat team president Pat Riley gave the commencement speech.

To listen to Riley's speech, go to www.miami.edu and click on the link for commencement archive.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

December 18, 2013

Smiles abound at allCanes in Coral Gables as children go on shopping spree at event that honors the memory of former Hurricane Bryan Pata

The holiday spirit was in the air Wednesday at allCanes in Coral Gables. 

The 13th Annual Holiday Shopping Spree for Kids took place tonight at the retail store that centers around the Hurricanes.

The event, supported by the store, the Bryan Pata Memorial Fund and various local sponsors, invites about 30 local at-risk children to a catered meal, then gives each child a $95 gift card -- 95 was the number of former Hurricane defensive lineman Bryan Pata -- to spend for whatever they choose in the store. Pata was shot and killed in November 2006 by a yet-to-be-found assailant, and his brother Edwin comes to the event and talks to the children every year.

Each child was accompanied by a UM coach or family member.

The event is hosted by broadcaster Tony Segreto and included UM athletic director Blake James and his wife Kelly; tennis coaches Paige Yaroshuk-Tews and Mario Rincon; women's basketball coach Katie Meier; Kelly Golden, wife of the head football coach; and assistant football coach wives Lucia D'Onofrio, Kenia Coley, Shakiera Scott, Dee Kehoe and Amber Carroll.

   Sebastian the Ibis was there, as well as cheerleaders and members of the Miami Sunsations.

   I didn't get a chance to go this year, but talked to several people on the phone there.

   "It's great,'' said allCanes general manager Harry Rothwell. "The kids light up. Every child walked out full of food and with smiles on their faces.''

    "What  makes it special is you actually get to see the faces of the children and understand the impact it's making in their lives,'' Segreto said. "It's an empowering moment because you can be a part of something that at that moment makes a big difference. We live in a world where people are asked to give a lot -- you give a check or canned goods. You never see the delivery or execution of the dollar or food being given."

  Other comments from participants:

   *It's such a cool experience for these kids to be wined and dined,'' said football coach Al Golden's wife, Kelly, who brought their son AJ, 8, and daughters Addison, 7, and Gracie, 4. I was like, 'Today is about the other kids. Stay out back and eat pizza.'''

   Golden said the girls like T-shirts and the boys go for UM jerseys. "Or a lot of kids like backpacks or a miami watch.''

   Kelly James, wife of UM athletic director Blake James, said she loves the event and how the children are so happy and appreciative -- and somewhat entertaining as they peruse the store for gifts.

   "They're coming in and asking to buy for their mom and dad and siblings. I had one little boy tonight who wanted to buy for his dog. He got a little dog shirt and was trying to find out what size ne needed."

  Said her husband, Blake James: "It's the time of year when you want to be able to reach out and help those who might not have as much as others to have a great holiday season.'' 

 The children began their night with a catered meal from Milams' Markets, Crepemaker, Flanigan's and Big Cheese. They came from the Kendall Boys & Girls Clubs, the Police Athletic League, the Pata Memorial Fund and North Miami Boys & Girls Clubs.

   "I just think it's great that we're able to give back,'' said Yaroshuk-Tews

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN