February 17, 2014

Mark it down: March 29th, April 4th, April 12th. Those are your Miami Hurricanes football scrimmage dates.

Spring football begins for the Hurricanes a week from this Saturday, at 9 a.m. on March 1.

As has been customary the past few years, the Canes will practice the week leading up to UM spring break, and then resume until the spring game on April 12th at Sun Life Stadium.

UM says every practice is closed -- except for the three scrimmages.

The scrimmage days and dates: 1. Saturday, March 29, at noon at Greentree Field on campus.

2. Friday, April 4, at 6 p.m. at Cobb Stadium on campus.

3. Saturday, April 12, at 6 p.m. at Sun Life Stadium.

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From UM Sports Information:

 Miami Hurricanes placekicker Matt Goudisand defensive tackle Justin Renfrow were among the 67 players selected to the 2013 All-ACC Academic Football Team, announced Monday by Commissioner John Swofford. It was the first Academic All-ACC honor for both players.

To be eligible for consideration, a student-athlete must have earned a 3.00 GPA for the previous semester and maintained a 3.00 cumulative average during his academic career. A student-athlete in graduate school must maintain a 3.5 GPA. All 14 ACC schools were represented by at least two selections on the team. The ACC has selected an All-ACC Academic Football team every year since 1954.

The team was chosen from a pool of 122 ACC football student-athletes who were nominated by their institutions.

Goudis, a sophomore accounting major from West Hills, Calif., connected on 13-of-17 field goals and was a perfect 57-of-57 on point-after attempts in 2013. His 96 points rank eighth among kickers on Miami’s single-season list, while his 57 made PATs are the second-most on Miami’s single-season list. His streak of 57 consecutive made PATs is the longest single-season streak in program history and the sixth-longest career streak.

Renfrow, a graduate student in liberal studies from Morrisville, Pa., joined the Hurricanes squad during preseason camp in August. The Virginia transfer played in all 13 games, making four starts at defensive tackle. He totaled 36 tackles, one forced fumble and two pass break-ups.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

February 14, 2014

Opening night forecast for UM Canes baseball: clear, 65 degrees, hot pitching & hitting, cold milkshakes

Who's going tonight?

I'll be there for the Hurricanes' 2014 baseball opener against Maine. Looking outside my window and it's a gorgeous day (and likely night) for a baseball game at the Light. 

In addition to the usual Cuban chop-chop stand (yummy!) and the Mark Light milkshakes (yummy!) inside the stadium, fans can also enjoy some additions to the pregame fun every Friday night of baseball season -- a new UM initiative. UM is calling it Party on the Patio, and it begins at 5 p.m. There will be a steel drum band providing live music and high-top tables for food and beverage set up at the front of Alex Rodriguez Park, before you even enter the gate. You use your ticket to get into the park, then can go back outside and enjoy your food and drinks while listening to the music.

There also will be eye-black painting for kids.

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Fresh starts are always nice,and anxious to seeing if and how Chris Diaz has improved this season. It's frankly almost impossible to improve on a 1.64 ERA from last season, but if the Canes' young hitters are as good as we keep hearing about, his 7-5 record could take a nice boost.

"I think this team is different because we have a lot of ego players, like Willie Abreu,'' speedy center fielder Dale Carey told me. "We have guys who are going to learn -- the old Miami, the swag.''

Carey was rated by Baseball America as the 77th-best prospect in Florida last year. But Carey finished 2013 with a .192 batting average and only 12 RBI and one home run.

"It's disappointing but you learn from it,'' Carey said. "I took the whole offseason and stayed here and worked with the baseball summer camps. I helped teach. I took a step back and helped the kids and also I learned from the camps and gained 24 pounds. Last year at the end of the spring I was 183.''

Carey said last year's experience has just made him stronger.

"When things like that happen you always think about what you've done. Yeah, it humbled me and made me become a better person. This fall I hit .302 and i'm trying to build off that for the spring.''

Abreu, 18, is from Hialeah and graduated from Mater Academy. He was drafted by the Reds in the 14th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. He is a strapping 6-4, 225 pounds, with a huge smile and lots of exuberance.

"You weren't offered by the Reds what you think you deserved?" I said to Abreu

"No doubt. No doubt,'' he answered. "That's true. Of course. But there's no problem with coming to Miami. This is a great place with great people and a great place to play. I know Omaha is going to happen because we work hard and we're not going to give up,'' he said of the College World Series. "We're not going to stop for anyone.

"Can't wait for the season to start. It's almost here.''

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MAINE FACTS

The Black Bears finished 37-22 last season and won the American East Conference. 

From Maine's website: "Maine returns America East and ECAC Pitcher of the Year Tommy Lawrence (West Haven, Conn.). He set the school record for wins in a season with 11, finishing with an 11-3 mark. Lawrence posted a 2.32 ERA in 104.2 innings, striking out 78 batters on the season. Maine also returns Jake Marks (Sarnia, Ontario), Shaun Coughlin (Northford, Conn.) and Burk FitzPatrick (Berwyn, Pa.) who all finished with a pair of saves on the season. Heath is also expected to see considerable innings on the mound this season. 

 "Among the newcomers who are expected to make an immediate impact are Steven Adam (Tecumseh, Ontario), Jacob Gosselin-Deschesnes (Montreal, Quebec), Patrick Coughlin (Cambridge, Ontario), Skylar Marcado (Bronx, N.Y.), Jake Osborne(Burlington, Ontario) and Jeff Gelinas (Saco, Maine)." 

Here's what tonight's starting pitcher for Maine, Lawrence, tweeted today:

If you don't wake up with butterflies in your stomach on opening day then you may just not be human .. #gameday #goblue

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Miami is 61-12 all-time against the Black Bears, including a 6-2 victory last season.

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 IF YOU GO

 WHAT: UM baseball

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon Sunday.

WHERE: AlexRodriguezPark at Mark Light Field, corner of San Amaro Drive and Ponce de Leon in Coral Gables.

RADIO: WQAM 560 (Friday, Saturday) and WVUM 90.5 FM (All games)

ADMISSION: $8 (general)-$14 (reserved chairback); $6 children 2-17 and adults 55-older.

PROJECTED STARTERS: Friday – UM LHP Chris Diaz (7-5, 1.64 ERA) vs. Maine RHP Tommy Lawrence (11-3, 2.32); Saturday – UM LHP Bryan Radziewski (9-3, 1.75) vs. LHP Scott Heath (1-2, 15.63); Sunday – LHP Andrew Suarez (3-6, 3.95) vs. RHP Jake Marks (4-0, 3.16).

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

 

February 11, 2014

Canes hope to parlay talented recruiting class, loaded starting rotation into first Omaha trip since 2008

The Miami Hurricanes open the baseball season this Friday -- Valentine's Day night -- against the visiting Maine Black Bears, a team which won the American East Conference and finished 37-22 last season.

Every year Jim Morris says he's excited about his team and its chances to get back to Omaha for the College World Series. But this year it looks like the Hurricanes actually have the talent to deliver on those hopes.

UM landed its best recruiting class in years and has one of the nation's top starting rotations with junior left-handers Chris Diaz (7-5, 1.64), Bryan Radziewski (9-3, 1.78), Andrew Suarez (3-6, 3.95) and senior right-hander Javi Salas (5-5, 3.18) all returning.

The issue -- as it usually is lately with UM -- will be offense. The Hurricanes finished 11th out of 12 ACC teams in batting average (.257) and runs scored (278) last year. But that's where the freshmen are supposed to come in and help. 

First baseman Zack Collins (27th round draft choice in 2013) and right fielder Willie Abreu (14th round), two left-handed bats, are expected to help sophomore third baseman David Thompson (.286, 6 HRs, 48 RBI) provide more oomph in the lineup.

Collins (Plantation American Heritage) and Abreu (Hialeah Mater Academy)  grew up huge Hurricanes fans and close friends since the age of six.

Abreu said he used to sit along the third baseline at Mark Light Field and taunt opposing hitters and pitchers and called one of his coolest moments getting a foul ball he caught signed with by the late Ron Fraser. Collins said his thrill was getting on the field as a kid alongside Gaby Sanchez and watching former Canes catcher Yasmani Grandal launch a home run into the third deck of the parking garage.

Collins, by the way, says he's already put a few balls into the same spot Grandal did during practice. One UM coach said Collins has the kind of power Yonder Alonso did.

For more on the Canes baseball team check out the collection of video interviews from today's media day session. I've posted a couple of the best ones here.

February 10, 2014

VIDEO: Catching up with 2015 Canes recruit WR Emonee Spence of Flanagan

Last week we filmed our post-National Signing Day video at Flanagan High School and I got a chance to catchup with 2015 Canes recruit and star receiver Emonee Spence.

Here is what he had to say about being at Junior Day and the chances he'll sign with UM a year from now.

Spence by the way measured in at 6-2, 181 pounds at the Nike Sparq Combine Sunday in North Miami. He was clocked in the 40-yard dash at 4.75 seconds and had a Sparq rating of 77.76.

Here is a link to the unofficial results.

February 06, 2014

VIDEO: UM recruits Linder, Moten and Brady talk about becoming Hurricanes on Signing Day

February 05, 2014

Gray last Canes commit to sign officially; Golden talks about UM's signing class

 

He's in and the Hurricanes are done with their 2014 signing class for now.

 

Carol City's Trayone Gray became the last player to officially sign with the Hurricanes on Wednesday. UM announced his signing just as Golden was addressing the media in his signing day press conference.

 

"Gray's a guy who can play wide receiver for us. Gray's a guy who could actually play running back too," Golden said of Gray, who started at quarterback for the Chiefs. "He's another guy who came to camp and I fell in love with him after 10 minutes."

> Golden said not having to recruit with an NCAA cloud over head since October certainly felt different.

"There were some homes I left in December and I felt like I left something, like your cell phone. And then I realized I didn't have to spend three-quarters of the time explaining or defending the NCAA thing," Golden said. "It felt good to talk about our academics, the campus itself, our football program, our tradition, all the things we want to talk about that have been eclipsed because whatever coach just left or came after you - `the NCAA, they're dead.' So it feels good.

"Was it a little too late for this group? Pretty much, 85, 90 percent of this class was done by the middle of October when this came out and we weren't able to address it personally until December when our season was over. We'll reap the benefits of that moving forward."

> Golden said of seven defensive linemen and four linebackers UM signed to upgrade their front seven: "They'll make an impact."

Tops on the list  is five-star defensive end Chad Thomas. "An elite player, explosive pass rusher, brings speed on the edge, but yet is physical enough to take on a blocker a tackle or a tight end," Golden said.

"At such a young age he's so mature and knows what he wants," Golden continued. "He's very disciplined, not a guy you have to worry about. He's very structured already. This guy, he's inquisitive, he wants to learn about music but he shares an equal passion for athletics, for football. He's a young man that had everyone in the country offer him but decided to come down to our camp to get better. And you don't always see that."

 

Golden said Demetrius Jackson and Trent Harris "can go along" with sophomore Quan Muhammad and junior Tyriq McCord as strong side linebackers or rush ends.

"I feel much better about our depth there now that at any point last year," Golden said.

 

> Golden side at defensive tackle "is where we've probably made the most gains."

 

He called St. Thomas Aquinas standout Anthony Moten, listed as a 6-4, 292-ppound four-star recruit, "a premier player in the country at defensive tackle."

 

"I saw AJ last week and he was a shade under 300 pounds, so he'll come in ready made," Golden said. "We got to get him in condition. He'll come in during the summer and get him ready to go."

Moten said Wednesday he'd start off in the three technique and Golden mention "we'll add him to a position where Jelani Hamilton and Olsen Pierre play."

 

> Golden called the other three defensive tackles UM signed "nose tackles."

 

"Calvin Hertelou is here now at 324 pounds," Golden said. "He's going to give us the type of strength that we need. We're excited about his impact he'll have in the spring. Michael Wyche is a highly coveted player, someone we think will do an incredible job for us. Michael has a great perspective on life and kind of give us the leadership, be a guy will make an impact on and off the field. Courtel Jenkins is a young man we're excited about."

 

> Golden said he's excited about "just the sheer size" of his linebackers. Golden said early enrollee Juwon Young is 240 pounds and Darrion Owens is 6-2, 6-3, 230 pound-range. 

> Northwestern's Michael Smith, listed as a defensive end and  at 6-2, 210 pounds, will start out at linebacker Golden said. "He's a guy we obviously thought the world of," he said.

> Golden called Ely's Terry McCray a very sought after player. "He's a guy who is 6-2, 6-3, 228 pounds," Golden said. "Again, a very big group of physical linebackers."

> Golden said New Jersey athlete David Njoku is a big athlete, ex-wide receiver. "We'll see where he goes with his body," Golden said. "He's about 218 pounds now, about 6-4. He has the ability to be a guy we can move around from X to H and put him in space."

How might tight end Chris Herndon be used?

"Herndon is an H. Njoku is an X that can play at H," Golden said. "But Herndon is definitely an H. He's very similar to Clive [Walford] except he's going to come in a little bigger than Clive, 235, 238. We're excited about him. We were very close to taking another tight end, but Clive bailed us out. Getting a Y tight end is important in next year's class."

> Golden said he's grateful to quarterback Brad Kaaya and his family "for showing loyalty" after many schools came in after him after he had committed to UM early in the process.

"He's a fine young man now," Golden said. "He's 6-4, has a big arm. Everybody I knew out at the Semper Fidelis game said he had a big week and is very bright. He's a young man that came and visited us 11 months ago when we were starting spring ball and you could tell just how bright he is."

> Golden said quarterback Malik Rosier of Mobile, Ala. is a recruit "we should get to know because he'll be playing baseball for the Canes and Jim Morris in addition to playing football."

Golden said Rosier has big hands, a strong arm and excellent mobility. Golden said Rosier can throw the ball in the pocket real well, but provides an extra element to escape the pocket and make plays.

"Both of those guys are winners," Golden said.

> Golden said getting All-American offensive linemen Kc McDermott and Trevor Darling on campus early was huge.

"They are who we thought they were," Golden said. "It doesn't matter what anybody says -- the services, the stars. It's 'Are they what you though they were?' Trevor Darling and Kc McDermott are that. They'll be two young men that will be able to help us right away."

Golden said he's seen gains from them in the weight room since they enrolled.

Golden said UM may continue to add another offensive lineman in the class "because I'm worried about the numbers." 

"We don't have much room," Golden said. "We're basically at our max right now, maybe have one spot, maybe two. But offensive line is a position I'll continue to look at just because our numbers are not great."

> After signing only one running back -- Miami Central's Joe Yearby -- could UM be looking to add help there?

"I don't think so," Golden said. "Joe is not 6-foot, but Joe runs hard. Duke Johnson now is 202 pounds, and we're trying to get him to 205, 206. Joe Yearby is following Duke's footsteps and he'll get stronger and we have Dallas Crawford and Gus Edwards. The depth there is better than the last couple of years and I'm excited about that. I don't think we'll go after a big back, I really would rather save that for next year and get two running backs. We really like a lot of the running backs in next year's class and will bring two in [in 2015]."

> Golden said UM will release a list of who will miss spring practice next week. But  count on Duke Johnson, Yearby or freshman receiver Braxton Berrios to be on the list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jackson, Wyche officially signed by Hurricanes; Gray remains

The Hurricanes sports information department announced a little while ago that Booker T. Washington defensive end Demetrius Jackson and JUCO defensive tackle Michael Wyche have officially signed with the Hurricanes.

That now makes it 25 of UM's 26 commitments officially signed, sealed and delivered. 

Carol City athlete Trayone Gray remains the only recruit the Hurricanes have yet to officially announce as a signee. Gray signed his National Letter of Intent with UM this morning.

VIDEO: Chad Thomas, 5-star defensive end, talks signing with the Canes; Demetrius Jackson gets emotional

Here is what UM's top-ranked recruit, Miami Booker T. Washington defensive end Chad Thomas, had to say after announcing he was Coral Gables bound on Wednesday morning to our Andre C. Fernandez.

Be sure to check out how emotion his high school teammate and fellow Canes recruit Demetrius Jackson gets talking about signing with UM.

Hurricanes yet to announce official signings of three recruits

In case you haven't been paying close attention on National Signing Day, the University of Miami sports information staff has announced that 23 of the 26 commitments the Hurricanes had coming into Wednesday have officially signed with the program.

Who are three yet to be announced? Booker T. Washington three-star defensive end Demetrius Jackson, JUCO three-star defensive tackle Michael Wyche from East Los Angeles College, and Carol City three-star athlete Trayone Gray. All three are expected to be a part of UM's class and the two locals signed paperwork in front of reporters.

So what's the hold up? Could be a lot of things -- faulty fax machines, paper work might have something missing or there could be a red flag somewhere in UM's admissions.

We'll be sure to ask coach Al Golden about it if there isn't answer before then at 4 p.m. when Golden meets with the media.

Here is a link to where UM is posting its signees.

Signing Day goes on without many surprises -- good or bad -- for Hurricanes Wednesday morning

A year ago, Hurricanes coach Al Golden sat around the fax machine on National Signing with the knowledge that sooner or later the NCAA was going to come around to hand down penalties.

There were no such worries Wednesday -- just happiness -- as the Hurricanes reeled in their best signing class in Golden’s four years in Coral Gables.

Among the big fish UM reeled in: Miami Booker T. Washington five-star defensive end Chad Thomas and pass rushing teammate Demetrius Jackson, California All-American quarterback Brad Kaaya, three All-American offensive linemen and a quartet of talented defensive tackles led by 6-4, 287-pound Anthony Moten from nearby Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas.

“A lot better,” Golden told ESPN when asked Wednesday morning around 10 a.m. how this year’s Signing Day compared to last year.

“We’re excited. We had a chance to get through the NCAA investigation. We have a lot of kids that fill a lot of needs for us, particularly in the front seven, which we really think we did a great job there. Not to mention we just ended up getting Chad [Thomas] and Demetrius [Jackson] from Booker T., two really good pass rushers.”

The day could have gone even better had UM been able to pick up a couple of late additions. But alas, Booker T. Washington quarterback Treon Harris and Immokalee cornerback J.C. Jackson – who UM made strong late pushes for – both opted to sign with the Florida Gators.

Hialeah Champagnat defensive tackle Travonte Valentine, a U.S. Army All-American committed to the Hurricanes until January, opted to sign with LSU over UM.

“Not a surprise in the end, but still a crushing blow for Miami,” Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting, said of the 6-3, 338-pound Valentine. “That was the prospect they needed.”

Thomas, the 6-5, 240-pound Under Armour All-American who visited Alabama and Florida State over the last couple weekends, had UM fans nervous before making his announcement in front of family, friends and teammates inside Booker T. Washington’s auditorium.

"For the next four years I plan to be at... the University of Miami," Thomas said as he pulled out his Hurricanes jacket and put it on.

Golden told ESPN he was “absolutely concerned” Thomas might head to Alabama “until all the faxes” were in.

“I had a chance to talk to [his mother] Steph this morning. I was excited about that," Golden said. "Chad has been good. Obviously he’s valuable to us because he’s a pass rusher.

"So now we not only bring in some interior guys in [Michael] Wyche, [Calvin] Heurtelou, [Cortel] Jenkins and [Anthony] Moten, but we get the pass rushers we needed to get desperately in [Trent] Harris, Demetrius Jackson, Chad Thomas, Mike Smith, guys like that."

Jackson, 6-4, 225-pound athletic defensive end rated a three-star recruit, got emotional talking about his commitment to the Hurricanes. A basketball standout at Booker T., he only played football his senior season at the school. But he was impressive, earned All-Dade First Team honors and interest from Arkansas and Texas late.

“It means a lot man. Growing up right there on 17th and Overtown I never thought I would be going to the University of Miami and for football,” Jackson said. “It shows you God’s work. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Kaaya, a 6-4, 215-pound four-star quarterback from West Hills, Calif., woke up early in the morning out on the West Coast to be one of the first players to fax his signed national letter of intent to UM. Malik Rosier, a 6-2, 205-pound dual-threat quarterback from Mobile, Ala., also signed with the Canes.

"Both of those young men came to our camp," Golden said. "We had a chance to see them live and how they operate, how they conduct the huddle and really their football intelligence. Brad, at first is a 6-5 guy. Excellent pocket passer, really can step up, did a tremendous job in the Semper Fidelis [All-American] game. Malik has a big strong arm, another bright young man, a leader. Malik is a little more versatile, can pull the ball down and run. Those two guys are really guys we think can make an impact at playing time for us."

Kaaya wasn’t the first recruit to get his fax into UM. That honored belonged to St. Thomas Under Armour All-American center Nick Linder, the 6-3, 273-pound younger brother of former Hurricane Brandon Linder.

"To be the first one in and locked is exciting," Linder said. "The coaches told me to try to be the first one in it at 7 a.m. So I was here at 6:59 to send it through."

Being a leader like his older brother, who started more than 40 games in his career for UM, is important to him the younger Linder said.

"It's definitely who I want to be," Linder said. "I want to come in and make an impact and that's what I'm working for right now."

UM's class came into the day ranked eighth nationally by ESPN. Does Golden think UM will improve or possibly slip?

"I think will stay around the same," Golden said. "I think we signed 26 guys, maybe 27 when it is all said and done. But it’s really the quality of it. If you look at the offensive line with [early enrollees Trevor] Darling, Kc McDermott and Linder, we’re really excited about those young people.

"Joe Yearby, a great tailback from Miami Central. He fit a great need. We needed long receivers this year and we did that. [Darrell] Langham is 6-4 ½, Tyre Brady is taller than me at 6-3, [David] Njoku. Then we went into Georgia to get an H tight end, somebody that can move and get vertical in Chris Herndon. So, it’s a good group and a group we’re excited about it.

"And we topped it off on defense with the two safeties we ended up getting in Kiy Hester and Marques Gayot. It’s a really good day for the Miami Hurricanes. We’re really excited to move forward now without anything hanging over our heads."

Golden tells ESPN Signing Day has been a really good day for the Canes

Hurricanes coach Al Golden will address the local media at 4 p.m. today on the Hurricanes recruiting class. But he gave ESPN, on campus at 13 of the nation's premier schools, an interview moments after Chad Thomas and Demetrius Jackson announced their pledges to the Hurricanes.

How does this Signing Day compare to last year?

"A lot better," Golden said. "We’re excited. We had a chance to get through the NCAA investigation. We have a lot of kids that fill a lot of needs for us, particularly in the front seven, which we really think we did a great job there. Not to mention we just ended up getting Chad [Thomas] and Demetrius [Jackson] from Booker T., two really good pass rushers."

Was Golden concerned he might lose Thomas to Alabama?

"Absolutely concerned," he said. "Concerned until all the faxes are in. I had a chance to talk to [his mother] Steph this morning. I was excited about that. Chad has been good. Obviously he’s valuable to us because he’s a pass rusher.

"So now we not only bring in some interior guys in [Michael] Wyche, [Calvin] Heurtelou, [Cortel] Jenkins and [Anthony] Moten, but we get the pass rushers we needed to get desperately in [Trent] Harris, Demetrius Jackson, Chad Thomas, Mike Smith, guys like that."

The Hurricanes netted two quarterbacks -- Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier -- and Golden believes both can make an impact.

"Both of those young men came to our camp," Golden said. "We had a chance to see them live and how they operate, how they conduct the huddle and really their football intelligence. Brad, at first is a 6-5 guy. Excellent pocket passer, really can step up, did a tremendous job in the Semper Fidelis [All-American] game. Malik has a big strong arm, another bright young man, a leader. Malik is a little more versatile, can pull the ball down and run. Those two guys are really guys we think can make an impact at playing time for us."

UM's class is ranked eighth nationally by ESPN. Does Golden think UM will improve or possibly slip?

"I think will stay around the same," Golden said. "I think we signed 26 guys, maybe 27 when its all said and done. But it’s really the quality of it. If you look at the offensive line with [Trevor] Darling, Kc McDermott and [Nick] Linder, we’re really excited about those young people.

"Joe Yearby, a great tailback from Miami Central. He fit a great need. We needed long receivers this year and we did that. [Darrell] Langham is 6-4 ½, Tyre Brady is taller than me at 6-3, [David] Njoku. Then we went into Georgia to get an H tight end, somebody that can move and get vertical in Chris Herndon. So, it’s a good group and a group we’re excited about it.

"And we topped it off on defense with the two safeties we ended up getting in Kiy Hester and Marques Gayot. It’s a really good day for the Miami Hurricanes. We’re really excited to move forward now without anything hanging over our heads."

All-American DE Chad Thomas signs with the Hurricanes despite late visits to Alabama, FSU

It's official: Chad Thomas is a Miami Hurricane.

The five-star recruit and Under Armour All-American kept his word and signed with UM on Wednesday morning during a ceremony at Booker T. Washington High School in Overtown.

"For the next four years I plan to be at... the University of Miami," Thomas said as he pulled out his Hurricanes jacket and put it on.

Thomas had taken a pair of late visits to Florida State and Alabama and had UM fans nervous. But moments ago Thomas inked with the Hurricanes alongside teammate and fellow defensive end Demetrius Jackson.

Thomas is UM's top recruit on defense. 

"He's just now starting to really scratch the surface of where he can be talent wise," said Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting. "If he does what I believe he can he's a first round pick down the line. He's really a heck of an athlete. Long arms, a winner, who understands what to do down there in the trenches.

"You could look at Joe Yearby, Shane McDermott and Brad Kaaya and Chad as the best recruits in UM's class.

"Chad is going to be a part of their two deep right away. He has to be. He might be more of a pass down guy initially, but he'll be an every down player soon enough. He's up there with Al-Quadin Muhammad in terms of pure talent. They definitely have good quality players at the end spots now.

"I see a little John Abraham in Chad because of the way he runs after the passer. He's definitely a 4-3 defensive end, kind of like Michael Johnson from Georgia Tech who is now with the Bengals.”

Jackson, a first-year football player, was pushed hard by Arkansas and received a late offer from Texas. But in the end he decided to stick with the Hurricanes, too.

“First time I saw him was against Central. He's this basketball guy, swatting passes down like an NBA center," Long said. "He knows some basic go-to-stuff in terms of moves. What I like most about him is that as a defensive end, he uses his arms to disrupt the play even if he's not close enough for a sack. He's a really tough kid, smart kid. He's always looking to disrupt.

"I think he needs to redshirt because he doesn't have the experience. I don't think you can put the young man on the field as a true freshman with only one year of high school football. I'm not sure where his future is down the line either. He might be a linebacker. He's long enough. He's a very much unfinished prospect but the initial reports are really good.”

THE PROFILES
Chad Thomas, DE, Miami Booker T. Washington
> Measurables: 6-5, 240, 4.85 in the 40-yard dash, 310-pound bench press
> Twitter handle: @F5_Chad
> Commitment date: July 20, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: A five-star recruit ranked 26th regardless of position in 247Sports composite rankings, 5th in the state of Florida and third among weakside defensive ends nationally.
> Career highlights: Under Armour All-American tallied 72 tackles, 15 for loss and eight sacks his senior season in helping lead his high school to a mythical national championship and back-to-back state titles. Chose UM after taking late official visits to Alabama and Florida State.
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/1506372/highlights/32658377

Demetrius Jackson, DE, Miami Booker T. Washington
> Measurables: 6-4, 225, 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 34-inch vertical leap
> Twitter handle: @F5_Jackson
> Commitment date: Dec. 9, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 425th regardless of position in 247Sports Composite rankings, 59th in the state and 22nd among weakside defensive ends.
> Career highlights: Despite a late push from Texas and lots of tugging from Arkansas, Jackson, a first-year football player, kept his pledge to UM. As a senior he earned All-Dade First Team honors, racking up 73 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and seven sacks playing opposite of Chad Thomas.
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/2611977/highlights/53579378

Three-star TE Chris Herndon signs with Hurricanes

Three-star tight end recruit Christopher Herndon of Norcross, Ga. made it official with the Hurricanes moments ago.

Herndon (6-4, 230) is one of two tight ends who are in UM's 2014 signing class. The Hurricanes also received a late commitment from three-star David Njoku (6-4, 220) of Cedar Grove, N.J. last week. He already signed this moring. 

UM had four scholarship tight ends on the roster including incumbent starter Clive Walford (6-4, 259). The others are senior Beau Sandland (6-6, 255) and sophomores Jake O'Donnell (6-7, 250) and Standish Dobard (6-4, 261). 

As of 8:40 a.m. UM has 20 new additions officially in (9 enrolled early, 11 who signed Wednesday). Here are the profiles of the others I didn't post earlier.

THE PROFILES

Chris Herndon, TE, Norcross, Ga.
> Measurables: 6-4, 230
> Twitter handle: @Chris_Authentic
> Commitment date: June 22, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked as the 701st recruit nationally regardless of position in 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, 61st in the state of Georgia and 31st among tight ends.
> Career highlights: Camped at Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Florida State and then Miami and picked the Canes over offers from Western Kentucky and Mississippi State. Herndon hauled in 33 passes for 543 yards and six touchdowns as a senior. Had five catches for 45 yards in the state title game to help Norcross win a second consecutive state crown in Georgia.
> Quotable: "Even though I'll be nine hours away from home, The U is a big family, so it will be my new home," Herndon told gwinnettprepsports.com back in June. "You have to make decisions that take you out of your comfort zone."
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/1576082/highlights/51520495

 

Tyre Brady, WR, South Dade
> Measurables: 6-3, 187
> Twitter handle: @Tyre_Brady
> Commitment date: Nov. 16, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: A three-star recruit ranked as the 738th best overall according to 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, 102th best in the state and 109nd best among receivers. Attended Junior Day at UM and got a Florida State offer in March before UCF, Minnesota, Western Kentucky, FAU and Kentucky offered. UM became the seventh offer and after three unofficial visits Brady finally pulled the trigger on a commitment.
> Career highlights: An All-Dade Second Team selection as a senior Brady helped lead South Dade to its first state championship. He finished with 39 catches for 600 yards and 10 touchdowns and also shined on defense playing safety.
> Expert opinion: “He's another kid who is just really coming out for football, didn't play a lot before,” said Corey Long, Editor-in-Chief for FUEL Recruiting. “I like that he goes up and reaches for the football, gets it at the highest point. I like the fact he's an aggressive receiver. He's a little bit more advanced where he could play early if they needed him. But he's probably better off being redshirted. He's come a long way in a short period of time.” 
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/1685677/highlights/73648639

Terry McCray, LB, Pompano Beach Ely
> Measurables: 6-2, 215
> Commitment date: July 23, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: A three-star recruit, McCray is unranked in the 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, 166th overall in state of Florida and the 48th best inside linebacker nationally.
> Career highlights: Rolled up 101 tackles and 19 sacks and was selected All-Broward First Team as a senior by The Miami Herald. He had 113 tackles and 13 sacks as a junior. Received a UM offer in November of his junior year and visited UM unofficially three times before Tulane, Syracuse, Temple, Minnesota, Cincinnati, FIU and West Virginia all offered. He held out hope for a while Alabama and LSU might offer.
> Expert opinion: “He can make an impact on special teams early,” said Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief for FUEL Recrutiing. “I think he can be a rotational guy down the line, provide some depth. He's a good coach’s prospect in the sense where they can do different things with him. He'll be the kind of guy who will lead the team in special teams tackles, a good backup linebacker. The thing with their linebackers is he's one of the bigger more physical kids they've gotten. So he can help provide depth.”
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/1353525/highlights/111387627

Darrell Langham, WR, Lantana, Fla.
> Measurables: 6-5, 190
> Twitter handle: @DLangham7
> Commitment date: June 9, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: A three-star recruit ranked 510th overall regardless of position by 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, 74th in the state and 71st among receivers nationally. UM coaches fell in love with him and offered a scholarship after he attended their camp in June. The only other camp Langham attended before that was FAU.
> Career highlights: Earned All-Conference honorable mention by the Palm Beach Post in Class 8A. He had 20 catches for 326 yards and five touchdowns as a senior.
> Expert opinion: “I like him, think he's underrated in his class,” said Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief for FUEL Recruiting. “He's tall, has long arms, a raw kid,” said Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting. “You feel like he's a blank canvas where you can create something really special. Right now, today, off what I've seen, he's more of a red zone guy who can go up and get passes. I think you give him two years and you'll definitely have a big-time wide receiver. He's not as big as [Kelvin] Benjamin at FSU, but he reminds me of some of the big receivers I've seen around like Ramses Barden of the Giants. I think Langham can get there. He’s just a basketball kid who is still a little raw.”
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/748977/darrell-langham

Marques Gayot, DB, Lake Worth, Fla.
> Measurables: 6-1, 205, ran a 4.56 40-yard dash, 34 inch-vertical
> Twitter handle: @MgayotUM
> Commitment date: Dec. 13, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: A three-star recruit ranked as the 789th best prospect regardless of position by 247Sports.com composite rankings, 116th in the state of Florida and 64th among safeties. He had offers from Cal, Louisville and Bowling Green and committed to Louisville in April before de-committing in Decmeber and committing to UM a day later.
> Career highlights: Tallied 17 interceptions in his career including four as a senior at Park Vista Community School. Made All-Conference First Team in Class 8A for Palm Beach County.
> Expert opinion: “He can really get around,” said Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief for FUEL Recruiting. “I don't know what kind of hitter he is. But I think if he puts on a good training camp coaches will try and figure out how to get him on the field. He's a hard working kid.”
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1003985/marques-gayot

Canes swing and miss at Immokalee CB J.C. Jackson

The Miami Hurricanes made a hard push for Immokalee four-star cornerback J.C. Jackson.

But he's taking his talents to Gainesville according to early reports out of the Naples area.

Canes pipeline to Miami Northwestern remains strong as pass rusher Mike Smith signs

Miami Northwestern and the University of Miami have had a long, storied connection over the years.

It continued Wednesday when one of the best pass rushers in the county signed with the Hurricanes.

Mike Smith, committed to UM since June, signed his national letter of intent before gathering for a ceremony at school with friends and family and teammates.

Smith joins former Northwestern teammates and defensive backs Ryan Mayes (enrolled in January) and sophomore cornerback Artie Burns as current Bulls on Miami's roster.

“Mike's going to come in and chase the quarterback,” said Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting. “I haven't really seen him in any pass coverage. But I do think he's good at stopping the run and getting to the quarterback. I have to see how he is in pass coverage before we talk NFL potential.”

UM signed eight members of Northwestern's national championship team in 2008 including starting quarterback Jacory Harris, linebacker Sean Spence, offensive lineman Brandon Washington and standout receivers Aldarius Johnson and Tommy Streeter

But after that season UM didn't sign any Northwestern stars for four straight years, missing out on standout quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) and receiver Amari Cooper (Alabama) among others. Burns got the pipeline going again last year.

THE PROFILE

Mike Smith, DE/OLB, Miami Northwestern
> Measurables: 6-2, 210
> Twitter handle: @mikesmith_11
> Commitment date: June 22, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: A three-star recruit ranked as the 389th best prospect regardless of position by 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, 50th in the state of Florida and 31st among outside linebackers.
> Career highlights: Smith only ended up making one official visit – to West Virginia – after committing to the Hurricanes. He earned All-Dade First Team Honors (Class 8A-6A) two years in a row and netter 42 tackles, seven sacks and 51 quarterback hurries as a senior. As a junior he produced 73 tackles and finished second in Dade with 18 sacks.
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/2334571/highlights/63262353

Here's who signed their NLOI with the Canes and are officially in before 8 a.m.

So who here is the list of a dozen recruits officially in as Miami Hurricanes before 8 a.m.

#WelcomeToTheU Nick Linder - the first #Cane to fax in his NLI: http://t.co/p9BtpAlZBI pic.twitter.com/eiJ3lmI8nC

Aquinas All-American center Nick Linder first to get fax through; DT Anthony Moten ready to make instant impact

The Hurricanes will have a defensive tackle -- arguably their most talented in the 2014 class -- officially signed, sealed and delivered soon.

Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas seniors Anthony Moten (6-4, 292) and center Nick Linder, the younger brother of former Hurricanes offensive lineman Brandon Linder, faxed their National Letter of Intent over to Coral Gables moments ago as expected.

Linder was actually the first one through officially.

 

"To be the first one in and locked is exciting," Linder said. "The coaches told me to try to be the first one in it at 7 a.m. So I was here at 6:59 to send it through."

Being a leader like his older brother, who started more than 40 games in his career at UM through this past season, is important to him the younger Linder said.

"It's definitely who I want to be," Linder said. "I want to come in and make an impact and that's what I'm working for right now."

Moten was in the process of faxing his when I interviewed him over the phone at 7:30 a.m.

"I wanted to get it over with early," said Moten, once a Florida commitment. "I know i can come in and make an impact early, get some playing time. I'm at 287 right now. Coaches like my size and said I can come in and play the three technique and in different packages play the four and the five."

Moten is one of three defensive tackles UM brought in with this class. UM signed Junior College prospects Michael Wyche and Calvin Heurtelou, who are expected to come in and give returning senior starter Olsen Pierre some help and juniors Ufomba Kamalu, Corey King and Earl Moore a battle for playing time.

“He's played a lot of football, been starting for a long time at Aquinas," said Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting. "He's not the biggest defensive tackle, but a pretty good pass rusher. He definitely gives them an upgrade of skills at the tackle spot. Given how poorly they've recruited there in the past he's got to play. His NFL potential remains to be seen. I think Moten is a little different than Jelanie Hamilton. The potential is there for a lot of playing time so he'll have the opportunity to impress NFL scouts down the road.”

Aquinas will now have four players on UM's roster this coming season, the most from any high school on the team.

THE PROFILES

Anthony Moten, DT, St. Thomas Aquinas
> Measurables: 6-4, 292, 5.17 in the 40-yard dash, 26.9 vertical, 315-pound bench, 385-pound squat
> Twitter handle: @anthony_moten95
> Commitment date: Nov. 13, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 168th regardless of position in 247Sports Composite rankings, 15th among defensive tackles and the 24th-best recruit in the state of Florida.
> Career highlights: Once a Florida Gators commitment, Moten de-committed and eventually switched allegiance to the Hurricanes. Semper-Fi All-American had 40 tackles, 12 for loss and six sacks and was selected All-Broward First Team by The Miami Herald as a senior. He was selected All-State Third Team.
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/1241016/highlights/55484375

Nick Linder, OL, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas
> Measurables: 6-3, 273, 315-pound bench, 385-pound squat
> Commitment date: March 6, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked the 152nd-best recruit in the state in 247Sports Composite rankings, Linder is tabbed as the 53rd best offensive guard in the country.
> Career highlights: A two-year starter for the Raiders, Linder was an All-Broward First Team selection and played in the Under Armour All-American Game. He was the starter at center when Aquinas won the state championship in 2012.
> Expert opinion: “He's going to step in and be the next center,” said Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief at FUEL Recruiting. “He's not as big as his brother or have the same ceiling. But when it comes to giving direction on the line, he's a super smart kid. He can recognize things easy. His future is pretty much penciled in as the next center. He's a little small so he'll have to work to get his weight up. He's going to give you three solid years as a college starter.”
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/1240996/highlights/54165809

Pipeline to New Jersey grows as four-star safety Kiy Hester, three-star DT Courtel Jenkins, TE David Njoku sign with Canes

The Hurricanes continued to build their pipeline with the state of New Jersey Wednesday morning when four-star safety Kiy Hester and three-star defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins faxed their national letters of intent over to UM nice and early.

Hester and Jenkins are two of three New Jersey area recruits in the 2014 class and join redshirt quarterback Kevin Olsen, sophomore defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad and senior defensive tackle Olsen Pierre who made their way from the Garden State to the Sunshine State.

"It was just the players, the coaches being from Jersey, the family atmosphere," Hester told NJ.com back in December as his reason for picking the Hurricanes. "Al-Quadin Muhammad (class of 2014 Don Bosco recruit now at Miami), he played a huge role. I've known him since I was in eighth grade, so he was huge. And [defensive tackle] Courtel Jenkins was, too."

Miami needed to add depth at safety with juniors Deon Bush and Rayshawn Jenkins back as the only experienced men who have started and can play back there.

THE OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS

THE PROFILES
Kiy Hester, DB, Wayne, N.J.
> Measurables: 6-0, 200
> Twitter handle: @Hester_2k
> Commitment date: Dec. 15, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Tabbed as a four-star safety and ranked 288th regardless of position in 247Sports Composite Rankings, Hester is tabbed as the 18th best safety in the country and eighth among all prospects in the New Jersey area.
> Career highlights: A former Rutgers commitment, Hester had offers from Ohio State, Vanderbilt and took an official visit to Michigan State before visiting Coral Gables and falling in love. Attended DePaul High School and played mostly strong safety although he did see time at receiver. Finished with 56 tackles, a sack, five interceptions and 18 pass breakups at safety as a senior. Had 17 catches for 379 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver.
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIUGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/737623/kiy-hester

Courtel Jenkins, DT, Wayne, N.J.
> Measurables: 6-2, 294, 375-pound bench press, 400-pound squat
> Commitment date: June 6, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Listed as the 943rd recruit regardless of position in 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, 26th overall in the state of New Jersey and the 62nd best defensive tackle in the country.
> Career highlights: Racked up 74 tackles, 17 for loss with five sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble playing on both the offensive and defensive lines at DePaul High School. He earned All-County First Team honors. Jenkins had an early offer from Pittsburgh and took unofficial visits to Rutgers, Pitt and Maryland before camping at UM and receiving an offer last June. He didn’t visit any other schools.
> Mid-year analysis on Jenkins in NJ.com
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/892274/highlights/87627377

David Njoku, TE, Cedar Grove, N.J.
> Measurables: 6-4, 220, 4.47 in the 40-yard dash, 40-inch vertical, 285-pound bench press, 455-pound squat
> Twitter handle: @David_Njoku80
> Commitment date: Jan. 31, 2014
> Recruiting ranking: Rated a three-star recruit and tabbed as the 836th best player in the country regardless of position by 247Sports.com Composite rankings. He’s the 64th best athlete and 116th ranked recruit in the state of New Jersey.
> Career highlights: Played in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl. Once a Rutgers commitment, Njoku took official visits to Temple, Miami and UConn and had an offer from Ohio State that was eventually taken back before he committed to the Hurricanes late last week. He hauled in 40 catches for 981 yards and 11 touchdowns and ran 39 times for 334 yards and six scores. He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown as a senior.
> Of note: Njoku is considered a talented track athlete. Last year he broke his county record in the triple jump (47-8) and school record in the high jump (6-10)
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/90257/david-njoku

QB Brad Kaaya wakes up early to make sure he's one of the first Canes to fax NLOI over

Brad Kaaya told the L.A. Times on Monday his plan was to wake up and fax his signed national letter of intent over to Coral Gables and be one of the first recruits in for the Hurricanes.

Mission accomplished. Despite being three hours behind on the clock, UM's quarterback of the future woke up bright and early and posted on Twitter that he got it done.

As of 7:10 a.m., UM had yet to make the announcement official on its Twitter feed.

UM announced St. Thomas Aquinas All-American center Nick Linder was also one of the first to send his fax through.

Many recruiting experts predicted Kaaya, who received an early UM offer and committed to the Hurricanes back in May, would eventually opt to stay out on the West Coast. But despite overtures from USC, UCLA and Boise State, Kaaya kept his word.

“Through the process, you have to know the difference between who you can trust and who’s feeding you what you want to hear,” Kaaya told the L.A. Times on Monday.

Of the rumors of him straying from UM, Kaaya said: “I was wondering where are they getting these sources from and how credible can they be?”

With Stephen Morris gone, UM has three quarterbacks currently on scholarship and two they are adding as part of the 2014 class. Senior Ryan Williams, redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen and sophomore Gray Crow will be the only scholarship quarterbacks around in the spring. Kaaya is joined in the 2014 class by three-star Mobile, Ala. quarterback Malik Rosier.

“Kaaya is the QB of the future for this team,” said Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting. “He's got the tools, the arm, the footwork. He definitely has the escapability to get out of the pocket and make tough throws on the run. He’s an accurate quarterback.

"As a prospect he's a step up from the prospects they have there at UM now. If you look at Jacory [Harris] and [Stephen] Morris, they both had considerable weaknesses. Kaaya brings better tools to the table. If he had enrolled early he would have had a shot right away to start. He's better than Kevin Olsen and Ryan Williams. He's going to go in there and establish himself as the best QB on the roster by the end of the season. He's the best they've brought in under Al Golden. He reminds me a lot of Colin Kaepernick. He has real tools, a live arm, not as good of a runner, but escapes pressure well.”

THE PROFILE

Brad Kaaya, QB, West Hills, Calif.
> Measurables: 6-4, 215
> Twitter handle: @TrinidadBrad
> Commitment date: May 13, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Tabbed a four-star recruit and ranked 141st overall regardless of position in 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, 14th in the state of California and seventh among pro-style quarterbacks
> Career highlights: At Chaminade High, Kaaya completed 225 of 362 passes for 3,853 yards, 27 TDs and only six interceptions as a senior before being selected to play in the Semper Fi All-American Game. He ran twice for 14 yards and a touchdown. As a junior, he completed 126 of his 186 attempts for 1,875 yards, 13 TDs and 2 INTs. Despite some late love from UCLA and Boise State, Kaaya stuck to his Canes commitment.
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/1269507/highlights/66537379

National Signing Day: Canes live recruiting updates

Good morning it's National Signing Day. 

Fax machines will begin receiving signed National Letters of Intent beginning at 7 a.m.

The Hurricanes have 26 commitments: nine early enrollees, one signee waiting to enroll and another 16 who have pledged to sign with them today. We will track all the action in this Cover-It-Live blog -- including when signed letters of intent become official at UM.

The Twitter accounts for 16 of UM's commitments have also been linked to the live blog. Those are: RB Joseph Yearby, WR Braxton Berrios, DT Calvin Heurtelou, DE Chad Thomas, DT Anthony Moten, DE Demetrius Jackson, DB Kai Hester, QB Brad Kaaya, TE Chris Herndon, DE Mike Smith, DB Marques Gayot, WR Darrell Langham, TE David Njoku, DT Michael Wyche, QB Malik Rosier and WR Tyre Brady.

The blog will feature Twitter feeds from UM's official account (@hurricanesports), those of our reporters and others out on the scene to cover announcements live, and links to other blog items, video and analysis as it comes in.

While this blog will remain at the top of today's blog there will be individual news items posted throughout the day below it. You will see links to those items in the Cover-It-Live feed.

Below this I'll include a timeline of events as the day progresses.

SIGNING DAY TIMELINE

> 7 a.m.: Signed National Letters of Intent begin being received at colleges throughout the country.

> 8 a.m.: Immokalee CB J.C. Jackson is set to announce his decision and will choose between the Hurricanes and Florida Gators.

> 9 a.m.: National champion Miami Booker T. Washington will host its Signing Day ceremony. UM commitments Chad Thomas and Demetrius Jackson are expected to stay with Miami. Quarterback Treon Harris will choose between FSU, UF, UM and Auburn.

> 10:30 a.m.: Former Hurricanes commitment and All-American defensive tackle Travonte Valentine is set to choose between UM and LSU.

> 3:30 p.m.: A Hurricanes National Signing Day show hosted by UM radio personalities Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey Jr. will air live on FoxSports Florida.

> 4 p.m.: Coach Al Golden will address the media in a Signing Day press conference. UM will have interviews with assistant coaches and Golden throughout the day as Letters of Intent arrive on HurricaneSports.com.

February 04, 2014

A closer look at the Canes' early enrollees

With fax machines set to get rolling at around 7 a.m. Wednesday as National Signing Day commences here is one last closer look at the nine recruits already on campus at UM.

Joseph YearbyJoseph Yearby, RB, Miami Central
> Measurables: 5-9, 180
> Twitter handle: @JosephYearby
> Commitment date: Feb. 26, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 44th regardless of position in 247Sports.com composite rankings, seventh-best running back overall.
> Career highlights: Under Armour All-American ran for 5,308 yards and 63 touchdowns over his final three seasons in high school before breaking his ankle in the state playoffs.
> Expert opinion: “He's going to do whatever coaches as him to do and is a good guy to have in your program. He's going to do everything right and set the example. He's really established himself as one of the hardest workers in the class, a tremendous teammate and natural leader. His vision as a running back is really what is accelerated. The rest of his tools are above average. But his vision is what sets him apart from the pack.  If his ankle heals up as it's supposed to be he'll be Duke Johnson's backup in 2014. I look at him as a Pierre Thomas type of kid who is versatile, can catch the ball out of the backfield. He can also stay in pass protection and pick up a linebacker on a blitz. He's one of those do-it-all backs. To me he's the second best running back Al Golden has reeled in during his time there behind only Duke.” -- Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting
> LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2045472/joseph-yearby

Kc McDermott, OL, Palm Beach Central
> Measurables: 6-6, 301, 390-bench press, 415-pound squat
> Commitment date: April 2, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 45th regardless of position in 247Sports.com composite rankings, 3rd best offensive tackle overall.
> Career highlights: Under Armour All-American picked UM over Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida State, Florida and Ohio State
> Expert opinion: “I thought for most of the year he was the most talented offensive line prospect in the state, region probably. He’s got a lot of what you want in a tackle. He’s got long arms, strong, has a mean streak. He's technically sound. He's the type of kid that can be a part of the two-deep right away. I think he's the left tackle of the future. I definitely think he has high NFL potential. He's so strong in so many areas he's going to get his weight up a little bit more. He's going to be 6-6, 320. He's going to be in high demand in a few years. Overall the group of linemen UM is bringing in is one of the top five in the nation -- even without Reilly Gibbons.” Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1556140/kc-mcdermott

Trevor Darling, OL, Miami Central
> Measurables: 6-5, 330
> Commitment date: April 5, 2012
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 93rd regardless of position in 247Sports.com composite rankings, 9th best offensive tackle overall
> Career highlights: Under Armour All-American won three state titles and started for four years at Central. He chose UM over FSU, Florida, Clemson and West Virginia.
> Expert opinion: “When I saw him at the Under Armour game he was great. It looked like he developed physically really well, got a lot of bad weight off his body. He's an ox. I think he can play guard or right tackle for them. He's a heck of a run blocker, as good as you'll see. Just like Kc McDermott, he can come in right away and be a part of the two deep, step in on the right side within a year and start. I'm not sure Darling is a first rounder down the line like McDermott, but he's an early to mid-round pick down the line. I like offensive tackles who work from the bottom up. He's one of those guys.” Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/2488579/highlights/107818632

Trent Harris, DE, Winter Park, Fla.
> Measurables: 6-2, 231
> Twitter handle: @trentharris33
> Commitment date: July 29, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 265th regardless of position in 247Sports.com composite rankings, 14th best weakside defensive end overall
> Career highlights: Selected to the Offense/Defense All-American Bowl. As a senior registered 69 total tackles and 14 sacks. Chose UM over Alabama, UF, FSU, Georgia, Ohio State and Tennssee.
> Expert opinion: “He's not a big guy. I think he's probably going to take a redshirt year, be used more in a pass rush role if he does play. He needs to fill out. He's kind of a hard guy to evaluate. I definitely think he needs a redshirt then be used to rush the passer on passing downs. He has a ways to go. I don't think he has the sort of pass rushing skills Tyriq McCord and Al-Quadin Muhammad to play as a freshman. But he could develop.” - Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/1277678/highlights/63491375

Darrion Owens, DB, Orange Park, Fla.
> Measurables: 6-3, 216, 4.57 in 40-yard dash, 345-pound bench press, 460-pound squat
> Commitment date: June 22, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 367th regardless of position in 247Sports.com composite rankings, 46th in the state of Florida and 29th at his position
> Career highlights: Tallied 160 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions, five fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles as a junior and senior. Picked UM over Boston College, N.C. State, Maryland, Kentucky, Louisville, West Virginia, South Florida, Michigan, Rutgers, Purdue, Minnesota, Michigan State, Ohio State, Tennessee, Nebraska, Auburn and Georgia.
> Expert opinion: “ He's a big kid. They got him listed as safety still. He's more of a linebacker for them, might be a defensive end. He has good athleticism. I thought he was a bit undervalued in his class. He gives you tremendous range, long armed kid. I think his first impact will be on special teams. I think in 2015 he'll be used at safety and linebacker against spread sets. I think he's got a shot down the line at the NFL. He can run.” - Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1368104/darrion-owens

Braxton Berrios, WR, Raleigh, N.C.
> Measurables: 5-9, 181, 4.52 in 40-yard dash, 40-inch vertical
> Twitter handle: @HNYNUT_BERRIOS
> Commitment date: Oct. 12, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 374th regardless of position in 247Sports composite rankings, 52nd by position
> Career highlights: Under Armour All-American had 760 yards receiving an 10 touchdowns and ran for 1,142 yards and 23 touchdowns as a junior. He ran for 536 yards, 11 TDs in 2013 while being hampered by a foot injury. Chose UM over Oregon, South Carolina and Tennessee where he took official visits. Tore his ACL in the Under Armour Game and will miss the spring.
> Expert opinion: “He didn't stand out a lot to me at the Under-Armour game. He's not very big. He's not an outside guy. If Berrios is going to have success it’s in the slot. I'm curious to see how he fits in this offense frankly. Maybe he's a special teams guy, Wes Welker type. I look at the other receivers and I wonder how he's going to get on the field.” - Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/1540073/highlights/63359384

Calvin Heurtelou, DT, Scottsdale, Ariz.
> Measurables: 6-3, 304, 4.98 in 40-yard dash, 28-inch vertical
> Twitter handle: @_40Cal_
> Commitment date: Dec. 26, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 49th regardless of position in 247Sports composite Junior College rankings, 9th among JUCO defensive tackles.
> Career highlights: Originally from Spring Valley, N.Y. He took official visits to Rutgers, Tennessee and Missouri before signing with UM. Had 59 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, four sacks and two fumble recoveries at Scottsdale Community College
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/27931/highlights/79418375

Juwon Young, LB, Albany, Ga.
> Measurables: 6-2, 235, 4.5 in the 40-yard dash
> Commitment date: June 8, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 727th regardless of position in 247Sports composite rankings, 60th at his position.
> Career highlights: Registered 118 tackles and ran for 303 yards and 6 TDs as a senior. Decorated track and field athlete who competed in the shot put and discus. Picked UM over an offer from Ole Miss.
> Expert opinion: “He was one of the better prospects in north Georgia, which is an area where they are not as highly regarded as the kid on the south end of the state. For an outside linebacker, he's not a total sideline to sideline guy. But he does have range and is physically strong. I think he's strong enough to take on linemen and is a hitter. He's a guy that will put some weight on you. I'm not sure how good he is at pass defense.” - Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting 
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/2791019/highlights/111260376

Ryan Mayes, DB, Miami Northwestern
> Measurables: 6-2, 180
> Commitment date: June 25, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 969th regardless of position in 247Sports composite rankings, 142nd in state and 67 by position.
> Career highlights: Had 33 tackles, 2 INTs, 2 forced fumbles and 11 passes defended as a junior at Miami Dr. Krop. Picked UM over Syracuse.
> Expert opinion: “He’s a good size corner, but I see him as a rotational guy. I think he has a ways to go before you give him a starting role. With his size, he can be a rotational guy, who plays in nickel and dime packages. He's an early enrollee so he might have a role on special teams in 2014 if he doesn’t redshirt.” - Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2733971/ryan-mayes

Football led the Canes to top recruit Chad Thomas after music had already guided his heart to UM

Barring an unexpected, last second change of heart that would stun his family, coaches and even himself, Booker T. Washington All-American defensive end Chad Thomas said he plans on signing a National Letter of Intent with the University of Miami on Wednesday morning.

Chad Thomas 2“There’s no suspense,” said Thomas, days before taking his final official visit to Alabama this past weekend. “I’ve been throwing up ‘The U’ [with my hands] since the first game of the season. I’m not really trying to build suspense or get anybody fired up or rowdy.”

If Thomas, the only five-star recruit in UM’s recruiting class, doesn’t flip his commitment to Alabama or Florida State, he’ll be one of the few elite players in Miami-Dade County to stay with the first school he committed to. Of the top 10 players in the Dade according to 247Sports' Composite rankings, six have pulled back from a college commitment at least once during their recruitment.

Booker T. quarterback Treon Harris (Florida State commitment with interest in UM, Florida and Auburn) and Northwestern receiver Jojo Robinson (FSU commitment with interest in TCU, South Florida and Arkansas) could increase that number to eight if they sign elsewhere Wednesday.

There’s strong reason to believe Thomas won’t make it nine. That’s because he’s been in love with the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music since well before UM’s coaching staff fell in love him.

“I thought he was full of it when he told me he played all these instruments and was a musician,” Booker T. Washington coach Tim “Ice” Harris said.

“Then he started playing them in front of me, showing me his beats, breaking it down. I was impressed. Over the last two years every time we've been on road trips with the team, Chad would get on the big piano in the hotel we were staying at and everybody would stop to listen to him play. Now, I joke with him and say I want to be a music major too.”

Thomas, who helped lead the Tornadoes to back-to-back state championships and a national title this season, said he fell in love with music at the age of three while listening to his late grandmother’s gospel CDs. Thomas said as a toddler his grandmother bought him a toy guitar, and signed up him for piano lessons. By the time he was five, Thomas said he was performing songs such as ‘I’ll Take You There' by the Staple Sisters on the piano and playing various instruments from the tuba and trumpet to the drums and bass.

After his grandmother passed away when he was seven, Thomas, an only child, said he would often care for himself because his parents were too busy working. On the bus ride and walk home from school, Thomas said he would usually entertain himself by creating his own beats. By the time he was in middle school, Thomas said he convinced his father, Chad Sr., a computer technician, to buy him an MC-808 sound generator.

“I remember when he took me to Sam Ash to go get it,” said Thomas, who attended classes at the New World School of the Arts until coaches were finally able to convince him to attend classes at Booker T. his senior year. “It was over $1,000. I told my dad there had to have been something in his brain saying this is going to make him and me money in the future.”

Thomas, a fan of beatmakers Timbaland, Louis V and J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, said he's been trying to sell his own beats to musicians now for the last couple years. This past year, he finally found someone who was interested. It was local artist Lil Dred, the 20-year old son and rapper of former UM cornerback Nate Brooks. Since its release in October, their song “No Shone Remix” has been played more than 245,000 times on SoundCloud.

Thomas, who has produced other popular tracks titled ‘Thottie,’ ‘She Weak,’ and ‘Overtime,’ said he’s performed on some of his own tracks in clubs, parties and other places dozens of times. He said he’s split the money he makes off what he produces and performs "50-50" with his mother, Stefanie Jones, a school director a local day care.

“As a singer he’s more like a Drake type -- singing but with a rap feel,” said Booker T. Washington offensive coordinator Tim Harris Jr. “When it comes to instruments and music engineering, I think UM is ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in those fields. With his contacts in the music industry here in the city of Miami, that’s why it’s always been UM for Chad. He told me he had been checking UM out since he went to New World. Football wise, Chad knows he can play at any school he wants to. But music is so important to him.”

Said Thomas: "It's always been in my mind to go to school there. Football is my not for long. I can go down with a knee injury tomorrow, but I know I’ll always be able to move my fingers and play an instrument, click a mouse."

Thomas, who maintains a 3.3 grade point average and scored an 18 on the ACT exam (well within the guidelines to qualify for UM), said he didn’t begin playing football until he was 12 at Gwen Cherry Park because when he was young he had asthma and a heart murmur. Thomas said he had to convince his parents to let him play.

Now an Under-Armour All-American and tabbed as the third-best defensive end in the country by 247Sports, Thomas says he has so much passion and intensity for football he usually cries before games.

With the Hurricanes in dire need of help along the defensive line, Booker T.’s coaches -– who saw Thomas rack up 71 tackles and eight sacks this past season -- believe Thomas has the size and maturity to help UM as soon as he walks through the doors in Coral Gables come June.

“People around the country talk about the pride we have here in high school and optimist [football],” said Thomas, who said he’s had a green 1998 Ford Mustang parked in his mother’s drive way waiting to take him to college since last year.

“I know there’s a lot players who have that same pride at UM, but they’ve just got to put it all together and play like a team like back in the 80s. We’ve got to bring that love, that passion for the game, and fight to make each other better every day. And I believe we will.”

A shorter version of this story will appear in Wednesday's editions of The Miami Herald

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