April 14, 2016

Look who's going after Brad Kaaya at University of Miami Spring Game


So, Brad Kaaya is the quarterback for the Green Machine (my nickname) in Saturday's University of Miami Spring Game at 2 p.m. at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

Jack Allison, Malik Rosier, Vincent Testaverde and Evan Shirreffs are the quarterbacks for the Orange Crush (yes, my nickname).

How can the Orange team possibly beat Kaaya?

Hmmm. Keep in mind that D-linemen Chad Thomas, Quan Muhammad R.J. McIntosh and Kendrick Norton are coming after him, as are LBs Jermaine Grace, Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney

Here are the Green and Orange rosters for the Spring Game.

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See you there!



Another former Miami Hurricanes star came back Thursday to watch practice

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Yet another former Hurricane showed up at UM football practice Thursday morning, the last spring session this year before the spring game at 2 p.m. Saturday at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale (gates open at 11 a.m., but parking area opens at 8 a.m. for tailgating).

This time the player was Kelly Jennings, who came with his son, 3-year-old Kaleb -- his only son of four children.

More than 200 former Canes football players and coaches are expected to be at the spring game on Saturday. Click here for my story on the old-school Canes coming back to support the young guys.

Jennings, 33, a former Canes cornerback, was redshirting his freshman year when Miami won its last national title in 2001. He was drafted in the first round by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2006 NFL Draft. He is one of more than 50 Hurricanes who have visited practice this spring, most, if not all of them, enamored of UM's new head coach Mark Richt.

  "It's very different being back,'' said Jennings, a financial advisor in Ridgeland, Mississippi. "I don't think I've been back here since 2008, 2009.''

   Jennings said he's in Coral Gables for the Football Alumni Social on campus Friday night, an evening that includes a dinner/social for old and new players and coaches to mingle.

  "I love it,'' he said. "That's always been a staple for the University of Miami, getting guys together. I'll tell the players that even though I know the last few years have kind of been up and down, I still have faith in them, still have the U bleeding through me. I'm looking forward to a new year with coach Richt.

  "Love him. Personally from what I saw at Georgia, what I know of him as a person, that's who I was rooting for when everything was shaking down.''






April 12, 2016

Miami's Manny Diaz happy with D-line, but said back end "failed spectacularly'' Saturday

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University of Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has not minced words this spring, which concludes Saturday with the spring game at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

On Tuesday, Diaz, who also coaches the linebackers, gave his assessment of the defense during the scrimmage at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach. 

Basically, he liked the disruptiveness of his defensive line and thinks his defensive backs are poor tacklers, giving up lots of big plays.

Quarterback Brad Kaaya threw for 232 yards and three touchdowns, with 16 of 21 passes completed.

"We played faster than we played in the first scrimmage,'' Diaz said. "We were a little less tentative, a little less timid, which makes sense.'' So, I thought [there was] a little bit more disruption. But the biggest disappointment, really the thing we made the biggest deal about the entire spring, is leveraging the football and tackling.

"I thought in the back end we were very poor tackling. We've got some guys that are hard to tackle, but the way that we're trying to teach it, it's obvious we're not ready for prime time yet. We have to continue to improve on that. And some of the guys we have just may not be able to. You know, I mean, we've told them, 'Those who will tackle will play.'''

 Said Diaz: " The encouraging thing was that I thought the plays we made behind the line of scrimmage... You know this defense is predicated on two things: making negative yardage plays and not allowing big plays.

"I thought we succeeded in one and I thought we failed spectacularly in the other.''

Wide receiver Stacy Coley, who stretched Tuesday early in practice but apparently did not participate much, if at all, had catches of 40 and 47 yards. Tailback Trayone Gray had a 36-yard touchdown run, and tight end David Njoku had a 46-yard touchdown. 

Diaz wouldn't even clarify who he thought was the best cornerback, "let alone second and third.

"That position has got to continue to really improve and all those guys know it. Corn [Elder] knows he is the most experienced but he's got to play at a much higher level for us to have any chance to slow anybody down.''

Diaz said he was "very encouraged with the guys up front.''

Defensive ends Al-Quadin Muhammad, Chad Thomas and Demetrius Jackson each had two sacks. Tackle R.J. McIntosh also had a sack, as well as corner Sheldrick Redwine.

"I think we've got some guys that are hard to block, that can make plays on their own, that can make plays even when you don't have to manufacture plays for them,'' Diaz said. "So, that's encouraging. Obviously, it's really hard to be good defensively if you're not good on the defensive front. I think Coach [Craig Kuligowski] has done a great job with those guys in getting them to play hard and get their feet across the line of scrimmage and not think.''



April 09, 2016

Miami QB Brad Kaaya's deadly arm showcases scrimmage; WR Coley hurt

The second spring scrimmage is in the books for the MIami Hurricanes, and once again, quarterback Brad Kaaya was the star of the day on offense, completing 16 of 21 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns. Many of his passes were absolute beauties and long balls -- right on the money.

Kaaya's top target, an obviously extremely talented Stacy Coley, hurt his right hamstring after a 47-yard catch-and-run toward the end zone. He fell to the ground and grasped his right hammy, grimacing in pain before being attended to by trainer Vinny Scavo. That was it for Coley, who later stood on the sideline with a large bag of ice on his hamstring. He still led the day in receiving yardage with two catches for 87 yards.

Coach Mark Richt said it "looked like he tweaked his hamstring a little bit. I don't think it's too severe, which is good... "Stacy's had a great spring so far. I'm sad that he had that happen to him because he's really played well and he's a guy that's been a playmaker for this team for a while now, not just since I've been here. He's a very good football player. He's been very coachable and teachable and I'm sorry that happened to him.'' 

Fortunately for Kaaya, he is not allowed to be tackled in spring ball. Otherwise, the poor guy might be bruised and battered. He was sacked several times playing behind the first-team offensive line of left tackle Trevor Darling, left guard Kc McDermott, center Alex Gall, right guard Danny Isidora and right tackle Tyree St. Louis, who might have started getting tired just as the D-line revved up.

"Yeah, there [were] a few,'' Richt said, when told Kaaya got sacked multiple times. "Lot of times the pocket was real pretty, and some times it wasn't so nice.''

Give some credit to the defensive line, who, along with the defense, had a real surge in the second half with some nice push up front. Defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad had two consecutive sacks (the first of which he shared with D-end Chad Thomas, who also had two sacks, along with Demetrius Jackson's two sacks) during the scrimmage.

And bravo to safety Robert Knowles, who had the only two interceptions Saturday -- one for a touchdown, the other caught in the end zone. 

The only other possible injury was to Mark Walton, who played first-team tailback Saturday and had five catches for 12 yards, including a spectacular one-handed grab for a 6-yard touchdown. He rushed three times for 40 yards, to Joe Yearby's 10 carries for 63 yards. 

Just before the scrimmage ended and after Walton's touchdown, he had ice put on his left elbow. It might just be that he was sore. We'll know more next week. 








April 08, 2016

Notre Dame, ACC: Irish agreed to travel to Miami to play baseball series, but ACC nixed it.


A Notre Dame athletics official said Friday that the Irish were willing to travel to Miami to play the weekend baseball series that now will be attempted beginning Saturday with a doubleheader in forecasted snow and freezing temperatures in South Bend, Indiana -- but that the Atlantic Coast Conference nixed the idea.

ACC Senior Associate Commissioner Kris Pierce, the conference's baseball administrator, told the Miami Herald on Friday that both Notre Dame and the University of Miami requested to switch the series to Miami and for the games not to count toward conference standings, but that the ACC denied the request.


Pierce said that game sites cannot be changed "based on a predicted weather forecast, which is not unlike what we deal with every single weekend. Obviously this one deals with snow and cold temperatures, but usually the predictions involve rain.

"Without Notre Dame's facilities being deemed unplayable, we don't have the ability to switch the site of the series.''

Notre Dame Athletics Communications Assistant Director Russell Dorn, who is the school's primary contact for baseball, told the Miami Herald in an email, followed by a conversation, on Friday that Irish coach Mik Aoki "addressed the team Wednesday afternoon about it and was fully on board.

  "He followed up with a team group message that evening that said basically that we were going to go ahead as if we would charter to Miami Friday but there were some hurdles still left to clear. The one big hurdle being the ACC office, who denied the request for the series to be switched.''

   UM had offered to pay for Notre Dame's travel expenses. UM coach Jim Morris at first thought the Irish did not want to come to Miami.

  Said Dorn: "Guys were OK with it. Coaches were OK with it. At the end of the day, we want to play the series, but the ACC made the decision.''

  The No. 2 Hurricanes (24-4, 10-2 ACC) arrived in South Bend on Friday, and are scheduled to play a double header against the Irish (16-11, 6-6) that begins at 1 p.m. Saturday, with a 1 p.m. Sunday finale. 

  The forecast for Saturday in South Bend calls for snow and temperatures that range from the low 30s at 1 p.m. to the high 20s by 9 p.m.

   Sunday's forecast calls for "ice pellets" in the morning but temperatures rising to the low 40s by 1 p.m.


April 07, 2016

Hurricanes Coach Mark Richt saw giant Bryant McKinnie and thought, 'Maybe, just maybe, he's a recruit.'

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Former Hurricane 2001 national champions Bryant McKinnie and Phillip Buchanon attended University of Miami football practice Thursday, the 11th spring session that precede's Saturday's 2 p.m. open scrimmage at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach (gates open at 12:30 p.m. and it's free to fans).

Here's what football coach Mark Richt, who is still getting to know former players and those involved with the program, said he thought when he saw the extremely large-bodied McKinnie, 36, who is 6-8 and weighed 355 when he played in the NFL: 

"Man, I didn't know for sure who McKinnie was. I knew he was coming, and I kind of forgot. Because we went over the list and we're going and I look back and I see this big dude standing next to [offensive line] Coach [Stacy] Searels and I'm thinking, 'Maybe, just maybe, he's a recruit!' 

"I was thinking, 'Man, he looks like he really likes it here.' Turns out it's Bryant McKinnie -- which is nice. There aren't many human beings that look like him. I said, 'You're the biggest human being I've ever seen that looks athletic.' Because I've seen some big people but not big people that look like athletes like him, man. I would have loved to play behind him.''


Buchanon was a star cornerback at Miami. Both players were chosen in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft.

McKinnie told the Miami Herald after practice that he enjoyed the visit, and chipped in a few pointers to the players.

"I thought they did pretty good,'' McKinnie said. "From what everybody was telling me, there has been a big improvement from the start of camp. You have to remember, they're still learning the system, and that takes time.

"Coach Richt was pretty cool. He's looking for the team to do some big things.''

McKinnie said he was "excited'' to be back.

"It feels like they're a little more welcoming,'' he said. "Even the O-line coach was saying, 'Come down as much as possible. Come watch film with them. Give them some tips.' They're welcoming for us to come and share our knowledge.''

Richt was told the former players seem to like what they've seen and was asked how important it is to get validation from old-timers such as McKinnie, Buchanon and several of the players who have visited practice this spring.

 "I'll be honest with you,'' Richt said, "I hope they like what they see. But we're not going to do things to get people to like us. We're going to do the right thing because it's the right thing.''



April 05, 2016

Miami Hurricanes coaches showing tons of love for early-enrollee linebackers

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No doubt about it. University of Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and head coach Mark Richt are enamored over the Baby Canes early enrollee linebackers.

Shaq Quarterman (pictured above) said that he's first-team middle, Michael Pinckney started the scrimmage at first-team weakside and Zach McCloud played third-team strongside behind starter Jermaine Grace and backup Charles Perry.

“All three of those linebackers have really adapted well,’’ Diaz said. “They’re all very mature individuals. They’re all really good learners. You can tell that they were all very well coached in high school. So, more than anything they have been unfazed stepping onto to this field.

“You can also see they have no burden of the past. They’re undefeated and they’re excited to see what being a Miami Hurricane is all about.’’

  He pretty much repeated himself later with more praise for the three early enrollee linebackers: “They’re all mature beyond their years, they’ve come in and have not been daunted by being on the field with guys three or four years old than them when you imagine they should all be in English 12 right now reading The Great Gatsby or something…

“And they’re all physically what you want at linebacker. They can all run, hit. They all show really good toughness. It is a major blessing for our program not only that they’re here but they enrolled early so they can get these 15 days and be a factor for us in the fall.’’

Richt said he talked with the defensive staff on Monday about every player and how they’re doing because he spends so much time with the offense. Richt stressed that it helps the newcomers because the plays are new to everybody, and so they’re installed at a  slower pace.

When asked about the young linebackers, Richt said, “They made I thought the top two plays in the scrimmage.’’ The first play he talked about was middle linebacker Quarterman, who, “stuck his hat on the ball. He was the one that caused that fumble that was a scoop-and-score. It was textbook the way he approached, great football position. He struck the runner and his hat was right on the ball, popped the ball out.

“…Then later in the scrimmage, they had an all-out blitz on, and [Michael] Pinckney, he’s on the blitz, and then we throw the screen and then he turns and runs like a madman and he clips the heels of the back who would have easily got a first down and maybe even a touchdown. It was like third-and-eight, third-and-nine and that thing is about to go a long, long way, if not a touchdown, and because of his effort he clips him just in time to keep them short of the first down, force a punt. Maybe a play like that can win the game. Both those plays. It’s nice to see those kids come in and make that kind of impact right away.’’

Other Richt nuggets:

***“The [wide receiver] that I think is the most ready to play every down [behind Stacy Coley] and do the right thing and do it well is Braxton [Berrios].’’

***”I see Malcolm [Lewis] making a push toward being a very reliable receiver right now.’’

*** WR Darrell Langham and Lawrence Cager “they have got the ability but they’re still developing, still learning what to do. ..They’re big men. So they’ve got to play big.

Right now they’re not playing big. They’re playing like they’re about 6 foot. In reality they’re about 6-4, 6-5.”

I asked Diaz if he thought it helped the youngsters that this staff is the first college coaching staff they’ve had.

Diaz: “In some ways. I think there’s always an unlearning process. A lot of things aren’t all that different but [it] may just be a different way you describe how to do something. Certainly when you do come in with a blank slate you don’t have to unlearn, so that may help them out a little bit.’’



April 04, 2016

Miami Hurricanes baseball jumps to No. 2 in the nation


One day before the Miami Marlins open their season, another Miami baseball team earned some uplifting news.

The University of Miami (23-4,10-2 for first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference) rose one spot to No. 2 in the nation in Baseball America's Top-25 rankings -- behind nemesis Florida (27-3), who handed the Hurricanes two of their four losses in late February.

 I'm sure that coach Jim Morris, who earned his 1,500th overall victory as a college coach and 1,000 victory at Miami recently, loves where his team stands right now.

The top eight teams go to Omaha, Nebraska, for the College World Series in June, and it appears the Canes are sweeping their way toward America's Heartland. 

Miami swept previous No. 9 North Carolina this past weekend and now-No. 21 Clemson March 25-27.

The Canes begin a four-game road trip Tuesday at Florida Gulf Coast, followed by a weekend series at Notre Dame (15-11, 6-6). 

BoydsWorld.com had Miami's RPI beneath Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina, but it's obvious they'll jump North Carolina and now-No. 8 South Carolina went 1-3 this past week for a 24-5 overall record. 

What's really impressive is the way UM has been overcoming deficits to win these games. That's what the Canes teams in the late 90s and early 2000s used to do regularly. 

How about Zack Collins now hitting .416 with 31 RBI and a .688 slugging percentage? 

Leadoff hitter Carl Chester is hitting .392, Brandon Lopez follows with .346, Johnny Ruiz with .337 and Edgar Michelangeli with .301.

And the UM bullpen is coming through as well. 

One more thing: Miami has 19 errors this season compared to 47 for opponents.

Now, about those Gators... If UM keeps playing the way it does, no doubt the two teams will meet again in 2016.



April 02, 2016

Notes and numbers from the first Miami Hurricanes spring football scrimmage

 To complement our full recap on today's first spring scrimmage, David Furones, one of the reporters who interviewed  University of Miami football coach Mark Richt afterward, provided these additional scrimmage notes:
**In addition to Stacy Coley’s 94 yards with a touchdown to lead all receivers, Richt noted that he had another 40 or 50-yard reception called off due to offensive pass interference.
Responding to a question regarding a previous statement on lack of speed from the wide receivers, Richt said the scrimmage didn’t do much in getting him to change his mind.
“We still need speed,” Richt said. “We have some speed, but I can promise you we need more speed.”
**It was a surprise to find that defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad did not register any tackles in the scrimmage.
“There were probably a few times where there would’ve been a sack,” said Richt, noting quarterbacks don’t get tackled to the ground in the spring but instead play gets stopped by an official if it’s apparent a defender would bring down the passer if contact were allowed. “I tell the officials to err on the side of letting the ball get thrown, so he might’ve been much more disruptive if he could have actually hit the quarterback. That’s true for all those defensive ends.”
**Richt felt the first-string offensive line was “pretty even” against the top defensive front after the two unites battled back and forth in previous practices. He said Kaaya would’ve been sacked on two or three of his dropbacks while he got off 21 attempts.
“It’s not just line play. It’s backs blocking and protection, as well. Sometimes the QB just doesn’t get rid of the ball fast enough. Usually the sacks are on the quarterback in my opinion,” Richt said. “Two practices ago, the defense splattered the offense. The practice before that, the offense was like, ‘Hey, here they go!’ and the very next practice the defense took control.”
**While the scrimmage was closed to the public and media, plenty of invited high school coaches were on hand. 
The scrimmage also served as an effective recruiting tool as several recruits watched. 
Confirmed recruits who attended included committed Gulliver running back Robert Burns, committed Southridge wide receivers Daquris Wiggins and Mark Pope, St. Thomas Aquinas cornerbacks Al Blades Jr. and Asante Samuel Jr. Killian offensive lineman Delone Scaife tweeted out that he got a scholarship offer from the Canes on Saturday.


March 31, 2016

Hurricanes OL coach: "Tell every tackle in America, if he wants to play, come to Miami.''

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So, who's the backup quarterback?

According to what he said Thursday, University of Miami coach Mark Richt doesn't know.

 Redshirt sophomore Malik Rosier had that 20-for-29 performance for 272 yards and two touchdowns in the miracle-eight-lateral victory at Duke, making most of us assume that it's Rosier's job to lose. But Richt is going by what he sees every day.

Richt said Brad Kaaya is the definite No. 1, but when asked Thursday about separation behind Kaaya, the coach said, "I'm just trying to evaluate that. That's why I'm giving them all as far an opportunity as I can. Because I don't know the answer.

Behind Kaaya, apparently in no particular order, are Rosier, redshirt freshman Evan Shirreffs, redshirt sophomore Vincent Testaverde and freshman Jack Allison.   

  "Clear-cut, Brad's No. 1. After that, I really don't know.''

Richt will likely know more after the first scrimmage of spring on Saturday, which is closed to the media and public and will be held at Greentree Field. He said he'll divvy the snaps "probably similar to what I've been doing, which is Brad with the 1s, the other guys rotating between the 2s and 3s. It'll probably be the same exact role.''

 When asked Thursday what he wants to see the offense accomplish in the scrimmage, Kaaya said, "Just to be able to funtion at a high rate without things being scripted, without a set period. ...Guys are pretty excited but we still have to kind of stay even-keeled in that aspect. Just because it's a scrimmage and guys are trying to earn spots, you can't just go overboard and try to make the craziest plays. You've just got to focus and do your job. That's what I have learned from the last two years of scrimmages.''

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 Some revealing words from offensive line coach Stacy Searels on Thursday (not in any particular order):

Who has impressed you the most? Who are the two or three guys who have really picked it up and are working hard?

"Danny Isidora. Danny Isidora is by far performing the best right now. Kc [McDermott] has had some good days -- they've all had some really good days. But the most consistent over the long haul has been Danny."

Searels said from left to right, his starters thus far are Trevor Darling at tackle, Kc McDermott at guard, Alex Gall at center (with Nick Linder out for the spring after surgery), Isidora at right guard and Tyree St. Louis at right tackle (Sunny Odogwu is also out after surgery). 

 "I'll be glad when [tackle] Sunny [Odogwu] and Nick Linder get back,'' Searels said. That will certainly add to our depth."

 When told it appears that each of his Canes are mostly sticking to one position rather than playing multiple ones, as they have in the past:

"The more positions you play the more valuable you are, because you want to play the next guy up, but we've tried to stay with a set five right now."

In recruiting, how important is it going to be to get tackles?

"Tell every tackle in America, if he wants to play, come to Miami. We need him. We need more tackles. We definitely need more tackles. You can always take tackles. They play inside when they're young and they move outside. Or I've had a lot of guys that come in as true freshmen and play at tackle. We like the long tackle bodies that can play multiple positions."

So,how have the O-linemen been looking?

 "You know what? [There have been] days they've been really really good and there have been some days we've been really, really bad. We're looking for more consistency. I like the effort of Danny Isidora -- he sticks out. He's doing everything we ask. He's playing hard. He's leading. We need more guys to join his group. We've got some good young talent, but we've got to grow up."

Is technique the biggest thing you have to stress in spring?

"No. It's everything: Assignment, alignment, technique, effort. Just continuing to get people to do things on a consistent basis."


   Lawrence Cager seems to appreciate Richt saying last week that the Canes are lacking in speed at wide receiver, making the cornerbacks not work hard enough. 

   "I think he was just trying to light a fire to make us work harder and get better each day,'' Cager told me Thursday. "I don't take it as criticism because Coach Richt is a very loving guy and I think he's just trying to get us to work harder and work on our speed so we can run away from those defenders easily.

    "I think it did work. We came out and showed them today."

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  Redshirt junior running back Gus Edwards said he's ready to compete fully in Saturday's scrimmage.

     Edwards, who said he is 6-2 and 235, said he's completely healed after sustaining a Lisfranc fracture at a preseason fall camp scrimmage last year and missing the season.

  "I tore the ligament between the top of my [left] foot,'' he said Thursday. "It was painful.''

  He said he was "very limited" the first three months after surgery. I couldn't do a lot. After that I came out here just running straight ahead. No quick moves.

  "They put like five screws in there and a metal plate.''

   Edwards said the screws and plate have since been removed and he'll be full go Saturday.

   Out of Tottenville High in Staten Island, N.Y., Edwards was the Canes' third-leading rusher in 2014, rushing for 349 yards on 61 carries, a 5.7-yard-per-carry average. He scored six touchdowns. 

   When Richt was asked about Edwards on Thursday, he said "he had a couple runs two days ago where we really gave him a lot of space and he didn't finish the run the way we want runs to be finished. Obviously coach [Thomas] Brown made a point, because when he did get some space [Thursday], he was running hard, like he needs to -- knocking people back at the end of runs, which was good.

   "He's got ability, he's just got to really practice hard every snap.'' 




March 28, 2016

Old-school Miami Hurricanes, including Mark Richt, to address UM Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony


Where are you going to be Thursday night?

If you're a Miami Hurricane fan, hold the night to attend the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Jungle Island.

It's always a blast for fans of all ages to meet and greet some of the most heralded Hurricanes from all UM sports, including, of course, football. 

Pictured above: 2011 inductee Santana Moss and his children, 15-year-old Santana, Jr., and 6-year-old Savion.

I saw Santana and his children at practice Saturday, and covered Santana when he was inducted in 2011. Santana can't make it to the ceremony this year, but he called it an amazing honor to be inducted, and said "It's great to see those guys go into the UM Hall of Fame. Willis was a guy who waited his turn, and you see what he did in his career,'' Moss said. "Me and Joaquin came in together. He was tremendous to our offensive line, such a leader, so smart. And Kellen Winslow, I didn't get a chance to play with him, but I watched him and he tore up the field out here.''

This year's class is again an impressive one, including former UM hoops star Will Allen, who has become even more of a giant off the field, receiving the 2008 MacArthur Foundation's "Genius Grant.'' In 2010, Time Magazine named him to its list of "The Word's 100 Most Influential People.''

Your football stars being honored are running back Willis McGahee, tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. and offensive tackle Joaquin Gonzalez.

The other inductees: Megan Bradley of tennis, Tamara James of women's basketball, San Diego Padre Jon Jay and former swimming coach Charlie Hodgson.

Football coach and former UM quarterback Mark Richt will make the opening statements, and you know what kind of reception he'll get.

And Richt's standout quarterback Brad Kaaya will be presented with the 23rd Annual Walter Kichefski Endowed Football Scholarship.

So you'll have old and new (and in some cases, old being the same as new) Canes on hand. 

This is a rare and really fun opportunity to see the athletes and former athletes and all people connected to the Canes in a relaxed, happy setting.

There are still some tickets left to purchase, though many have been already. The cost is $100 a ticket (or $1,000 for a table of 10). Cocktails are at 6 p.m. and the dinner begins at 7. 

Please call UM Sports Hall of Fame executive director John Routh at 305-284-2775 for information or to purchase a ticket. You can also call ticket chairman Ken Lancaster. Both of these men will guide you in the right direction.

The website to check out is http://www.umsportshalloffame.com/






March 26, 2016

Two defensive backs coaches: twice the fun, double the education

Canes coach Mark Richt said Saturday that the reason Miami has two defensive backs coaches -- safety coaches Ephraim Banda and cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph -- is because that's "just how [defensive coordinator] Manny Diaz "wanted to set his staff.''

Said Richt:  "If he wanted one DB coach and 2 D-line coaches, then that’s what we would have done. Manny feels like he can handle the linebacking corps. There’s no question Coach Kuligowski can handle the front four. So that gives us two more full-time coaches on defense. The reality is you have four DBs at a time --  always two corners and two safeties; but sometimes you’ll be in nickel [and] now you’ve got five in there; sometimes you’re in dime and you’ve got six in there. That’s one guy trying to coach that many. It’s really nice having two guys in there."

Rumph said of the two-coach concept: 

"It allows me to be really creative and real hands on with six guys. I don’t have a room full of guys so I can really focus in on the task at hand. I know the college game has changed. It was new for me to see corners and safeties coaches. We’ve adapted well. Coach Banda and I make sure we meet twice a week together and we meet individually as much as we can. We’re constantly working to make sure the terminology what we’re saying and doing the corners and safeties understand each other. Coach Banda has been in this defense for three years."

Any safeties cross-training at corner? "Not yet. I would love to have Jaquan Johnson over there at corner because he is just so athletic. But for now he’s learning the defense. I think I’m going to work some of the safeties at some corner with some press work, but other than that we’re just going to stay corner/safety as of now."

And this from safety Rayshawn Jenkins on the two-coach system: "It’s way better because we can cover more stuff and get different techniques and get the different experience from the two coaches. Coach Rumph played in the league and coach Banda, he played in college so we get two brains in one."


March 23, 2016

Coach L's connections helped him get UM job

Hi from Louisville's KFC Yum! Center!

Among the MANY things Coach Larranaga talked about today was how he got the UM job five years ago. Here's what he said:

"When I accepted the head coaching job at Miami, it had always been a dream of mine to coach  in the ACC. There are very few opportunities, especially for someone in his 60s. When the Miami job opened up, I called a couple of my friends in Miami who are very successful businessmen and very tied into the university, they're alums, and they know all the people on the board of trustees and they know the president, and they put in a good word for me.

"And then Doc Rivers recommended me and (former U.S. Secretary of Education) Arne Duncan recommended me. Donna Shalala was a big Democrat, so Arne helped me there. Shawn Eichhorst, the athletic director, was from Wisconsin and went to law school in Marquette, so Doc Rivers' recommendation was unusually important.

"When my staff and I got there, we felt like `All right, we have a challenge. There are a lot of things we're told that we probably couldn't accomplish. The first was we'd never be able to beat Duke or Carolina. Second, we'd never be able to win an ACC regular season or tournament. Third was we'd never be able to draw a crowd.

Well, we have a winning record against Duke and we're batting .500 against the Tarheels.

We've won an ACC Tournament championship and regular season championship, and we're not selling out every game. So, we've accomplished an awful lot, but we still have a major goal in front of us, and that major goal, was to build a team that could win a national championship."

---Michelle Kaufman.

March 22, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


 Richt's impression Tuesday of the offensive line?

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

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



March 19, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Richt on his team's speed:

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


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

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


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

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


March 16, 2016

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

-- Enjoy the Madness....Michelle Kaufman

March 14, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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









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

March 11, 2016

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doherty is native of Andover, Mass.

March 10, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or not? 

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

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

Any thoughts by U readers?