Late addition to 2015 signing class CB Terrance Henley will replace Antonio Crawford

Sometimes a scholarship spot just opens up.

HenleyIn the case of Pompano Ely cornerback Terrance Henley, a senior who didn't get the qualifying ACT test score he needed until National Signing Day, one finally did this week down at the University of Miami. Friday afternoon, the 6-foot, 170-pound senior became the latest addition to the Hurricanes 2015 signing class when he faxed over his signed national letter of intent to the UM offices.

Although UM has yet to officially announce his signing, it's expected Henley will take the spot of senior cornerback Antonio Crawford, whose mother told Canesport Friday her son had been granted his release. UM's sports information department said Friday at 3:30 p.m. it had no official news regarding Henley or Crawford as of yet. 

As for Henley, he was happy.

"It's been a very emotional time of late," Henley said. "When I found out I passed my ACT on Signing Day I was extremely happy, tears of joy. But when me and [assistant principal Malcolm] Spence called schools and they told me they were full I felt like giving up. Mr. Spence just told me to be patient, my time will come. And it came. Miami said they had an opening because one of their seniors left."

Henley was an unranked, no-star recruit according to 247Sports. But he said he was always on UM's radar, having shined at their camp with one of the fastest 40-times (4.5 seconds). A two-year starter at Ely, Henley said he intercepted three passes as a senior and six as a junior.

"I had about five or six other offers," Henley explained. "All the colleges asked me for my scores and I didn't have the scores. So basically my offer was just sitting there and other players kept filling that spot. James Madison, UAB, FIU, Temple, Tennessee State, Miami and Southwest Baptist were the schools who recruited me and told me I had offers."

Henley, who runs track (he said his fastest time in the 100 meters was 10.7 seconds), said he will be enrolled at UM this summer.

"Like I told the defensive coordinator [Mark D'Onofrio], I'll play wherever they can put me to try and get us a championship," he said. "I've always worn orange and green -- from high school to pop warner with the Pompano Chiefs. Miami was always my favorite school growing up."

Henley's younger cousin is one of the area's top 2017 recruits -- Cardinal Gibbons receiver Leroy Henley, an All-Broward First Team selection with 52 catches for 730 yards and eight touchdowns in 2014. Miami is hot on his trail. 

"The thing with me and my little cousin is we always wanted to play together," Terrance said. "By me going to Miami most likely, like 99 percent likely, my little cousin is going to end up coming to Miami too."

As for Crawford, he ends his career with 58 career tackles and two starts. He was in the rotation at cornerback and played a lot, but apparently unhappy with his role.

"I wanted him to stay, told him to stay, but it's his decision," Crawford's mother Shawanda Rogers told Canesport. "He said he wants to play somewhere else, wants to be a starter, doesn't want to be second [string]. He just feels that he's going to try to play somewhere else."

Here's what Crawford tweeted out this afternoon.

> Meanwhile, UM picked up its fifth Class of 2017 commitment Friday when Miami Norland offensive tackle Kadeem Telfort (6-6, 310) announced on Twitter he was committing to the Canes.

Telfort wants to follow in the footsteps of former Norland grad Ereck Flowers, who is expected to be UM's first first round pick since 2007.

January 12, 2015

"Money Mot'' named Natl Player of Week

UM guard Adrienne Motley, nicknamed "Money Mot'', was definitely on the money last week, and it didn't go unnoticed. She was named ESPN-W National Player of the Week after scoring a career-high 32 points against No. 4 Notre Dame and 22 against Virginia Tech. She shot 68 percent against the Irish and had eight rebounds against the Hokies.

The Canes are 13-3, 3-0 ACC, and surely will break into the Top 25 today. Now, if only they could get more fans -- and students -- to show up at their games.

--Michelle Kaufman

January 09, 2015

Catching up with Coach L...

It’s always fun to attend Coach Jim Larranaga’s press conferences because he is loquacious, has great perspective, loves to teach basketball to anyone who cares to listen, and often goes off on interesting tangents.

Here are some snippets from Friday’s media gathering, as the Canes (10-4), coming off a heartbreaking double overtime loss to Virginia, prepare to face Boston College (7-6) at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

On the starting lineup for Saturday’s game: “We’ll change the lineup.’’ For 13 games, the starters were Angel Rodriguez, Manu Lecomte, Sheldon McClellan, Joe Thomas and Tonye Jekiri. Against Providence, Omar Sherman started instead of Thomas. Coach L mentioned that during the Virginia game, he liked the lineup of Rodriguez, McClellan, Jekiri, DeAndre Burnett and Omar Sherman. Will he go with those 5? Stay tuned.

On Katie Meier, whose UM women’s team stunned No. 4 Notre Dame 78-63 Thursday night, the first time in 62 games the Irish lost to an unranked team: “Katie Meier was the second person I spoke to at UM when I took the job. (Athletic director) Shawn Eichorst was the first. I said I’d like to speak to Katie Meier. She was National Coach of the Year, already led UM to an ACC title. She has a great understanding of what a coach has to do in every category from relationship-building on campus to relationships with high school and AAU coaches, basketball strategy, recruiting, public relations. She is very, very well-thought of. Everybody that is familiar with the women’s side of the game is familiar with Katie Meier and the incredible job she has done here.’’

Asked to switch gears to his team, he broke into a smile and joked:  “Can’t we stay on the women’s team?’’

On overcoming the Virginia loss: “It was very painful after the game Saturday night. It was painful all day Sunday. By the time we practiced on Monday, the pain had changed to anger. I was angry, not at our players, not at my coaches or myself, just angry we lost. I wanted to use that angriness to fuel myself and my team.’’

On the new partnership between UM and Adidas: “It creates some excitement coaches are sharing with the players. (Kids asked how they will benefit) Instead of just white, green, orange, black uniforms, we’re gonna have retro uniforms, gray uniforms. We’re gonna outfit you, more travel outfits…because players, just like all of us, like gear.

“My wife has 500 pairs of shoes, not as many as my players have in sneakers.

On how the Adidas deal affects recruiting: “How do we take that announcement and put that to good use and create an advantage for ourselves in the recruiting process? One thing I’ve shared with our point guard recruits is take a look at the NBA, who’s wearing Adidas, three of the best -- Damian Lillard, Derrick Rose and John Wall. They’re in Adidas. We’ve had Shane (Larkin), Angel (Rodriguez) and now Sheldon (McClellan), great guards. If Adidas is good enough for them, there’s no reason you can’t come to UM and have that same kind of success.’’

On when the obsession with sports branding began: “It started around 1967. Almost every college basketball team was in canvas Converse. First school I can remember not wearing canvas Converse was UCLA, and they were winning national championships wearing Adidas. Those shoes became very popular and kids started buying them. Shoes of champions. Nike took that idea and said, `Hey’ let’s get some college kids in our Nikes. They created an advisory board of college coaches and paid them and provided their universities with product. Free shoes. The AD was benefiting, coach was hugely benefiting, lining his pockets with cash, players were benefiting with free multiple shoes.

“When I was in college, you bought your canvas Converse. No one gave them to you. You had one pair all season. Now kids wear a pair for a week.''

By Michelle Kaufman

November 25, 2014

November 24, 2014

January 05, 2014

Canes top recruit Chad Thomas happy Golden is staying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 04, 2013

Report: Incoming UM quarterback Kevin Olsen charged in one-car crash

BY SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN, sdegnan@MiamiHerald.com

Kevin OlsenThe University of Miami’s quarterback of the future, Wayne Hills, N.J., High School senior and soon-to-be graduate Kevin Olsen, was charged with “leaving the scene of an accident after he smashed his car into a vehicle in his hometown of Wayne” on May 25, according to court records reported Monday by The Wayne Patch local newspaper. 

Olsen “was additionally charged with failure to report an accident and careless driving” after the incident was witnessed by a bystander who said the quarterback “crashed his car into a tree and drove away,” according to the Wayne Patch. 

After checking out the damage, the report said, Olsen hit another car “parked on the road” in the neighborhood while leaving the scene. 

According to the paper, the police report said Olsen’s face appeared to have blood on it and that he “appeared to be under the influence of something.” 

He is reportedly scheduled to appear in Wayne Municipal Court on June 20. 

Olsen’s older brother Greg was a tight end for the Hurricanes and now plays for the Carolina Panthers in the NFL. Kevin Olsen is scheduled to report to UM to begin his collegiate career this summer.

The university said Tuesday it was unaware of Olsen's legal situation. "We are still trying to gather information about what happened," said Chris Yandle, UM's director of communications for athletics.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Tampa Bay Times, Lara Cerri

March 21, 2010

Canes beat Gators 77-64 in second round of Women's NIT

Hey guys, Andre Fernandez here. Here's an update from the Canes' women's NIT game against the Gators:

In front of several of its women's basketball alumni, the Canes kept their season going with a 77-64 victory against the Florida Gators Sunday afternoon at the BankUnited Center.

UM won its second postseason game in a season for the first time in school history. The tournament expanded to 64 teams this season. It is the Canes' first trip to the Round of 16 since the 2005-06 season.

And UM will host again.

The Canes will play North Carolina A&T Thursday night at 7 p.m. at the BankUnited Center.

UM dominated the game and had four players score in double figures.

Shenise Johnson posted a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Canes, but Charmaine Clark had 16 points, Diane Barnes had 13 and Riquna Williams had 15.

The Canes also dominated on the boards, finishing with a 43-31 edge and 15-10 on offensive rebounds. The only thing that kept the game close was UF's three-point shooting. The Gators made 9 of 26 from beyond the arc, but Miami countered by making 7 of 22 from three-point range.

May 14, 2009

Can the Canes get back to Omaha?

Mid May has traditionally been the time of year on the South Florida sports calendar when the UM baseball team suddenly begins to draw interest from folks that didn't really care about them except during those early season FSU or Florida series.

Kyle Bellamy and Yasmani Grandal celebrated an ACC title last year. Now, they're just hoping UM can get hot and make it back to Omaha. Right about now is when coach Jim Morris and his team begin popping up on nightly sports telecasts, and the fairweather fans who no longer have the Heat or Panthers to watch in the playoffs -- or are tired of the up-and-down struggles of the Marlins -- begin wondering how their team is doing in the old "ping league." Even UM football diehards who are glued to Canesport's football recruiting wire will lift their heads up from their computers for five minutes to ask: How many weeks until Omaha?

It's what Morris and his team has gotten us South Floridians accustomed to. They've spoiled us really. What we expect is for the most reliable team in the sports market -- the one that always has that hefty national ranking, the slew of big home run bats, and that combo of left-handers who bring the heat -- to be ready to deliver excitement for about three weeks, to have us on edge and suddenly yearning for that sound (PING!)

Sorry to break it to you casual observers, but the forecast for the pinging Canes doesn't look good. Unless the Canes turn it around big time and in a hurry, the milkshake guy at The Light has served his last Omaha Express. And fans who were hoping to watch Scott Lawson do his stanky leg dance are going to have to hope TV cameras catch it.

Earlier this week, I caught up with the Canes before they left Wednesday in must-win mode for their final regular season ACC series at Wake Forest. Miami, ranked 24th by Baseball America, has gone 8-10 over the past month. The Canes have had plenty of icky losses. North Florida beat them. Bethune-Cookman took two of three from them last weekend at The Light no less.

Players know the only way they'll get to play at home again is if they get hot and stun everyone at next week's ACC Tournament in Durham. So can they do it? And more importantly, can they get back to Omaha? Ask closer Kyle Bellamy that question and he might spit venom at you.

“Of course we can get hot,” said Bellamy who with a 3-1 record, 1.15 ERA and 14 saves has been the only consistent arm on the staff Miami has had all season. “We were No. 2 in the nation for awhile. We’re definitely capable. We just have to get that mentality back we had when we swept the Gators in Gainesville and we took 2 of 3 from FSU. I think we just need to get that chip back on our shoulder – the one we had when were trying to prove to everyone we were a pretty good team."

The problem for Miami is that it's going to take more than an attitude adjustment. It's going to take a major overhaul. Only three hitters -- Scott Lawson (.348), Chris Hermann (.314) and Jason Hagerty (.313) -- are batting better than .300. While ace Chris Hernandez has gotten his act together (he's now 6-3 with a 4.24 ERA after a horrendous start), No. 2 starter David Gutierrez is still looking for his first win since March 7th.

Morris had loftier expectations when the season began despite the fact he lost three first round picks and a boatload of talented players from a team that went 53-11 and entered the College World Series last year expecting to win a fifth national title. But despite the recent setbacks Morris hasn't lost hope. Heck, if Fresno State did it last year why can't the Canes?

“We’ve proven we can beat some of the best teams in college baseball and we’ve proven if we don’t go out and play well we’re not going to win,” Morris said. “We’ve put our backs against the wall no question about that. But I know we can respond. I think we’ve swung the bats really good against some good teams, and any team in the Top 25 has a chance to get hot this time of year. Fresno State was 82nd last year and they won it. We have a lot of young players who can grow up quickly over the next few weeks."

As it stands, even if Miami were to win next week's ACC Tournament, the likelyhood remains they could be on the road in the regionals because the NCAA isn't likely to grant more than two in-state teams the right to host. Both the Gators and Seminoles are ranked higher than UM at the moment and both have had much better regular seasons to this point. As it stands, Baseball America projects Miami will be making the trip to Gainesville.

That doesn't bode well for UM. When the Canes have reached Omaha in the past, they've usually done it playing at home. Of their 23 trips to the CWS, only four were achieved by winning a regional on the road (2006, 1996, 1989, 1984, 1974). Morris said this team in his eyes compares a lot to his 2002 team, which won a regional in Gainesville, but then loss a heart breaker to South Carolina in the Super Regional a week later.

“It’s very important for us to host regionals,” Bellamy said. “There was a lot of inspiration we got our own fans last year in those tight games. Sometimes traveling and being in the airplanes and the hotels can wear on you. Hosting Regionals would definitely be a huge lift. Hopefully, it’s not too late and we can turn it on.”

JUST A FEW QUICK NOTES...
> After spending the past month on Marlins detail, I will be going on the road with the baseball team to Durham next week. So, if you want to talk baseball while I'm there, shoot me some questions on the blog or email. I'll probably be live blogging the games.

Eduardo Clements > This week with the Marlins on the road and Clark Spencer on the beat, I got a chance to make my rounds to a few local high schools to catch up on the recruiting front. For those of you interested, I posted three videos -- including an interview with Booker T. Washington running back Eduardo Clements.

While I'm still very skeptical UM will be able to get any of the Tornadoes' top recruits, you should know the Canes at least have a new constant presence on campus. Tim Harris Jr., the son of former coach Ice Harris and a star in track at UM, has begun his high school coaching career this spring at Booker T. He's coaching the quarterbacks. That alone should help Miami stay in contention for Clements, receiver Quinton Dunbar, and defensive end Lyden Trail, who recently picked up an offer from USC.

> As for Miami Springs highly-touted receiver Willis Wright, Miami has definitely offered Wright and is intered in him. But they aren't nearly as interested as Florida State, which has already had five coaches come down to meet with the 6-3, 200-pound receiver in the past year. Miami Springs coach Alex Pacheco told me Monday Wesley McGriff visited the school last year, but no one from UM has been out there yet this spring. Wright got his formal offer from UM in the mail. Physically, Wright is one of the most impressive receivers I've ever seen in Miami-Dade. I'd throw him in the same category as Aldarius Johnson, Dwayne Bowe and Andre Johnson.

> For those of you still on edge over Frank Haith's chase of John Wall, Miami is definitely in the race for the nation's top available recruit. The people I spoke to this week on Wall's behalf told me UM is in his top three and under serious consideration. Wall, by the way, is apparently considering stretching his decision making process past the May 20th deadline.

> In case you missed it, our live weekly Q&As on MiamiHerald.com have been shut down until the start of football season. I'm now doing Marlins Q&As on Tuesdays at 2 p.m. If you want to shoot me questions, feel free to email them to me or place them on the blog. I'm thinking of starting up a Monday Mailbag session if I get some good questions from you.

April 28, 2009

Wall gives UM high marks after visit

The Miami Hurricanes took their best shot at the nation's No. 1 available basketball recruit this weekend. So, did staying on South Beach and hanging out with Jack McClinton this weekend convince future NBA Lottery star point guard John Wall that UM could be the place he spends one year before collecting a multi-million million dollar paycheck at the next level?

John Wall Let's just say the Hurricanes might now really be in the mix. After reading several interviews Wall gave various media outlets in the time since his visit, it appears at the very least Miami made an impression.

“Now they are up there," Wall told Scout.com's Evan Daniels. "I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t really considering them that hard, but I hadn’t taken a visit there and I didn’t know how it was going to be and how the coaches were. After I took the visit it really opened my eyes up."

“I feel like I like the school better than I did before,” he said. “I had Miami on my list but I never really considered them. I didn’t know how it was. I knew it was going to be nice in Florida, but didn’t know how it was school wise and that all the players from different sports get along great.”

“From talking to coach [Frank] Haith, I really got a chance to sit down and talk to him one-on-one for a few hours and we watched some film and I just felt like it was a great place.”

Great place? Sure, we've heard that before. But could UM really be the final destination? That remains to be seen. This week, Wall told several reporters he would cut his list of finalists -- Miami, Kentucky, Florida, Duke, Baylor, N.C. State, Memphis -- down considerably before making a final decision.

"I'm going to sit down this week and really talk it out," Wall told TheDevilsDen.com "I think I will have it down to two or three schools by the end of the week. After that I can concentrate just on those schools and make a decision I'm comfortable with."

What will he be considering?

"There's just a lot to think about, really," Wall told TheDevilsDen.com. "Do I want to leave home for a year? I mean you can't control where you get drafted, so this would be my last year at home. Which coaches do I fit well with? Which teams? How do I like the campus? That kind of thing. There's just a lot to think about."

You got to give coach Frank Haith some credit. At the very least, he not only got the nation's No. 1 available player to visit UM, but make them sound great, too. And believe me, other recruits listen.

April 24, 2009

Lamar Miller is scary fast

Lamar Miller hasn't had a conversation with a University of Miami coach since he attended the spring game last month. It's not because Miller is mad at the Canes, or the Canes are mad at Miller. They're still definitely in love. It's because Miller has eyes on something else -- winning the state title in the 100 meters.

Lamar Miller Thursday afternoon, I caught up with the Killian High running back at the District 16-4A track and field meet down at Southridge High School. He looked a little different from the last time I saw on National Signing Day when he wore a black suit and an orange and green Canes tie. This Miller was 10 pounds lighter, right around 208 he says, and wearing a pair of black track and field tights to go with a determined attitude. "I really want to win a state championship," he told me before the race. "I don't like losing at anything."

Miller proceeded to win his next race moments later by doing what he often does on the football field -- blowing past his competitors. At the horse track, he would have won by at least two lengths. It wasn't his best time (10.79 seconds), but it got him one step closer to where he wants to be in two weeks -- the FHSAA state track and field championships in Winter Park.

Miller finished 11th in the state last year and currently has the 25th fastest time (10.73) this season in the state according to flrunners.com. Normally, non-track officianados would think that's not that impressive. But when you look at who is in front of Miller this year (it's probably one of the fastest years in state history) and how his career best compares (10.56, which he ran as a junior) to other Hurricanes and football greats, you come to appreciate the great open field speed Miller possesses for someone who stands 6-feet and weighs close to 210 pounds.

Remember how in awe we were of the speed slender Canes receiver Travis Benjamin showed us this past season? His fastest 100-meter time at Glades Central was 10.72 seconds. Remember little, speedy Sinorce Moss and how he would blow past guys in the secondary? His career best in the 100 meters at Carol City was 10.96. Devin Hester -- the guy with the 100 speed rating in John Madden's video game -- his fastest at Riviera Beach Suncoast was 10.87 seconds. Miller (timed at 4.32 in the 40-yard dash as a junior) has not only run faster than those speedy Canes in the 100 meters, but Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (10.61) too. The fastest any Hurricane has run in 100-yard dash? Little-used former cornerback Terrell Walden (10.65).

The point is there aren't many guys who have come to UM with that type of long-range speed. Even Sam Shields, who was timed at a UM record 4.2 seconds earlier this week in the 40-yard dash, turned in his fastest 100-meter time of 10.82 seconds at Sarasota Booker.

One glance over state record books shows you it's not easy for football players who take a beating in the fall to make the speedy transition to track in the spring. Many usually pass on it to give their legs a rest, while others have competed in the sport or used the training to make themselves faster. But the guys who win the big races are usually those who aren't getting slammed into by linebackers and 300-pound defensive lineman. Miller, obviously, isn't one of those. His focus was to lead Miami-Dade County in rushing and his team deep into the playoffs (which he did). But like the five guys I mentioned before, he has that extra special gear and the ability to pull away from the pack, which makes it exciting to think what he could do with the ball in his hands in the open field this fall.

For comparison, current Florida Gator Jeffrey Demps owns the state record with a 10.37 100-meter dash time. He nearly broke under 10 seconds at the U.S. Olympic Trials is by far the fastest high school football player the state has ever produced. Miller will likely be trying to beat a pair of future Gators when he gets past next week's regionals at Traz Powell Stadium. Among the speedy runners in front of him expected to make the final eight-man field -- receiver Andre Debose (10.63) from Sanford Seminole and 2010 cornerback Demar Dorsey (10.55) from Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson. Another big name expected to participate in the race, future Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson (10.44) from Deerfield Beach. All will be trying to chase down one of the country's future Olympians in Dentarius Locke (10.35), who is headed to Tennessee on a track scholarship.

With freshman running back Mike James already in camp and making noise on the depth chart and veterans Graig Cooper and Javarris James back, there likely aren't going to be enough balls to go around in 2009 for Miller to get much of an opportunity to show what he can do in the backfield. But in the kicking game, he could prove to be extremely valuable. In his three varsity seasons at Killian, he returned nine kickoffs back for touchdowns. "Kick returns, I'm very comfortable with those," Miller said. "I've been doing that my whole career. Punt returns? I got to work on those. But I like getting the ball, seeing an opening and hitting it full speed."

Miller plans on doing just that when he gets to UM in the summer, which he says he should do because he's "already gone through the clearinghouse with an ACT score of 20" and because his GPA will get a boost from 2.57 to somewhere around 2.7 to 2.8 when he graduates at the end of May. "I got 2 A's, 3 B's and 1 C on my last report card," Miller said. "My GPA should move up even more on my next one."

But first, before prom and before he starts taking classes at UM shortly after, there's a state title to contend for on Saturday May 9th. "I feel very confident I'm going to win," Miller said. "I have great competition. I know that. But that just drives me even more. I'm working hard on dropping that time, getting aster. I'm going to do it. You'll see."

March 28, 2009

Spring game thoughts

FORT LAUDERDALE -- It's hard to really measure this spring game since I came away feeling like we only saw about 25 percent of UM's playbook, and about half of the expected starters were kept out with injuries. That being said, Eye On The U will still provide you with what we learned from Saturday's spring game, who impressed, who didn't and what was said after it was over.

GAME BALL: Running back Damien Berry. He didn't do go up against the first team defense, but Berry Damien Berry was still by far the most impressive individual performer of Saturday's game. His 54-yard touchdown run and backflip into the end zone was the most impressive play of the day. For a guy who made the move from safety to running back last season and spent all of last year on the scout team (where he earned Scout Team MVP), Berry impressed me with his breakaway speed on several runs, including his toughness to not only take on safeties head on, but barrel over them. With a healthy Javarris James, Graig Cooper, Lee Chambers and Mike James, Berry is probably fifth on the depth chart at running back. But injuries happen -- like they did this spring. And it's good know when given the chance Berry is going to run hard.

IMPRESSED ME AWARD: OK, so Taylor Cook isn't going to exactly win a Heisman anytime soon. But Saturday, he looked like the clear-cut backup to Jacory Harris. Granted, it was against the second team defense. But at one point, the 6-7, 232-pound redshirt freshman completed nine passes in a row, showing us he can get into a rhythm and handle the short-to-mid range passing game if needed. He completed 11 of his 14 attempts for 103 yards and led UM on a 15-play, 71-yard scoring drive before giving way to Cannon Smith at the 11, who capped the drive with a 1-yard TD pass to John Calhoun. Coach Randy Shannon said afterward none of the backups separated themselves and that he'd have to watch the film. But the film won't lie. Cook has improved and is definitely the front runner to be Jacory's backup. 

SHANNON SAID: "Very happy [with how the spring went]. We went through the spring adding in a new offense, new defense, and you watched the players come out today and they executed a lot of great things. You see a guy like Damien Berry run the ball pretty well. Mike James did a lot of good things. Taylor Cook, the guy came in and worked well with the twos but also came in late in the game and got another touchdown with the ones. You're starting to see the team gel a lot and do the things we want to get done... We're a whole lot better. We've got more players. We feel we've done a great job in recruiting – our numbers are up. My first year and second year we played a lot of freshmen. Now these freshmen are sophomores, and you can see the difference from last year to now. And guys coming in like Mike James, Brandon Washington, Olivier Vernon – those guys coming in are going to make a difference in next year's season because of what they've learned."

EYE OPENING STAT: Jacory Harris and the first team offense didn't score. It was by far their worst day of the spring. But the first team defense had a lot to do with it. Harris was only 9 of 16 for 141 yards and an INT. Graig Cooper, who took all the first team carries, had just four yards on seven carries. The secondary did a nice job winning several one-on-one battles despite giving up a few long pass plays. There were four pass breakups in all, including ones by Chavez Grant, Brandon Harris and Sam Shields. Randy Phillips had an interception on a deflected pass batted away by Harris.

Spring Game highlights, stats

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Greetings from Lockhart Stadium where the Canes are set to kickoff the spring game at 10:30 a.m. If you don't have CSS or don't have a radio (WQAM will broadcasting it), I'll be here to provide you with highlights throughout.

In case you hadn't heard or haven't paid attention this spring there are a few guys out for today's game: RB Javarris James (wrist), RB Lee Chambers (shoulder), OL Joel Figueroa (shoulder), LB Colin McCarthy (shoulder), TE Dedrick Epps (knee), DT Allen Bailey (undisclosed), DE Adewale Ojomo (wrist), DE Eric Moncur (groin), WR Travis Benjamin (knee), CB Brandon McGee (hand) and K Matt Bosher (shoulder). 

> Looks like you can add linebacker Ramon Buchanon to the injured list. He's out, too.

> The format for the game today (the scoring system): Offense (TD - 6 pts, FG - 3 pts, PAT - 1 pt, Cross 50-yard line 1 pt, 1st down 1 pt) and Defense (TD -  6 pts, Fumble recovery 2 pts, INT 2 pts, 3-and-out 1 pt).

> First team offense: QB Jacory Harris, RB Graig Cooper, FB Patrick Hill, WR LaRon Byrd, WR Kendal Thompkins, TE Richard Gordon, LT Jason Fox, LG Orlando Franklin, C A.J. Trump, RG Harland Gunn, RT Matt Pipho. 

> First team defense: DE Olivier Vernon, DE Marcus Robinson, DT Josh Holmes, DT Joe Joseph, LB Jordan Futch, LB Daryl Sharpton, LB Sean Spence, CB Brandon Harris, CB Demarcus Van Dyke, S Randy Phillips, S Vaughn Telemaque.

FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS

> Backup running back Damien Berry scored the only touchdown of the first half when he broke free on a 54-yard run versus the second team defense. Berry did a backflip as he crossed the goalline. Berry has nine carries for 88 yards thus far. He also had a pair of impressive runs on third and fourth downs. He picked up a first down on third and six when he barreled over safety Joe Wylie on 3rd and 6. Then, on fourth and 1, he broke free for a 17 yard run to the 50-yard line.

> Kicker Jake Wieclaw converted a 41-yard field goal, but missed a 22-yarder right before the half. 

SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS

> Backup quarterback Taylor Cook leads the offense on a 15-play, 71-yard scoring drive. He hands the ball over to Cannon Smith with the offense on the 11-yard line and Smith finds John Calhoun for a 1-yard touchdown pass on fourth and goal.

> Freshman Mike James scores the scrimmages final touchdown on a 3-yard run late in the game.

TEAM STATISTICS

> First downs: 17 (6 rushing, 11 pssing, 2 penalties). Rushing: (33 attempts, 158 gained, 27 lost, 131 total). Passing: (38 attempts, 26 completions, 275 yards, 1 INT). Offensive plays: 71. Net yards: 406 (5.7 avg). Return yards: 25. Fumbles-lost: 1-0. Interceptions: 1-25.

INDIVIDUAL STATS

> RUSHING: Berry 14-114, 1 TD, 54 long; M. James 6-14, 1 TD, 7 long; P. Hill 4-4, 3 long; Cooper 7-4, 6 long; A. Johnson 1-0; J. Harris 1-(-5).

> PASSING: J. Harris 9-16, 141 yards, 1 INT, Long 33; Cook 11-14, 103, 34 long; C. Smith 6-8-, 31, 1 TD, 8 long.

> RECEIVING: Collier 5-65, long 26; A. Johnson 4-23, long 8; Calhoun 3-13, 1 TD, long 5; Thompkins 2-45, long 34; Byrd 2-43, long 29; M. James 2-13, long 15; Adderley 2-11, long 7; Berry 2-11, long 7; Hankerson 1-33; Byrne 1-7; D. Johnson 1-7; Gordon 1-4.

> FIELD GOALS: Wieclaw 1-2 (made 41, miss 22)

> INTERCEPTIONS: R. Phillips 1-25

> FUMBLES/LOST: Cooper 1-0

> DEFENSIVE STATISTICS: Grant 3-2-5, 1 PBU; Nicholas 0-4-4; K. Robinson 1-3-4; Futch 1-2-3, 1 TFL, 1 PBU; Spence 2-1-3, 1 TFL; Vernon 2-2-4, 1 sack (-5); B. Harris 3-1-4, 1 TFL, 1 PBU; R. Hill 1-4-5; Regis 1-0-1; Wylie 4-1-5; Smith 0-5-5; Wesley 1-2-3; Telemaque 1-0-1; Van Dyke 4-1-5; Campbell 1-1-2; Shields 1-1-2, 1 PBU; Forston 1-3-4, 1 TFL; A. Brown 1-1-2; Lewis 1-0-1; Holton 2-0-2, 1 TFL; Phillips 1 INT; ; Sharpton 3-1-4; M. Robinson 0-1-1.

March 16, 2009

Haith: Alabama interest "just a rumor"

(We now interrupt the Bryce Brown announcement watch party for a basketball update from the University of Miami. We hope this does not ruin your afternoon).

UM men's basketball coach Frank Haith met with reporters Monday for the first time since his team was blown out in the first round of the ACC Tournament, denied an invite to the NCAA Tournament and rumors of his possible interest in leaving the program for Alabama surfaced late last week. Before getting to any questions from the media, Haith put an end to the questions about the latter first.

Frank Haith denied the rumors he's interested in the Alabama opening. "Obviously I've heard the rumors about me looking at other jobs, or people being interested in me and that's just what they are -- rumors," Haith said. "I'm not going to give that any time, each time my name is mentioned with a job. I want to get that out there first so we can move on to something important which is us being in the post-season four out of five years."

Interested or not interested, false rumor or simply the first sign UM's head coach is testing the waters, Haith will still have another game to coach Wednesday night in the NIT. And he made it perfectly clear he's not happy the fourth-seeded Hurricanes (18-12) will have to do so on the road while the BankUnited Center gets rented out to host other events. 

According to Haith, UM made a last ditch effort to find another venue in South Florida to host Wednesday's game against fifth-seeded Providence (19-13). But just like earning a trip to the Big Dance two years in a row, UM couldn't find a way to get it done. Oddly enough, Kentucky, whom UM beat earlier this season, was in the same dilemma with Rupp Arena being rented out. But the Wildcats will still be hosting UNLV because another venue, Memorial Coliseum (where the men played until 1976), is available. 

Haith said he thought his team, which finished tied for seventh in the ACC standings with a 7-9 record, would have likely been a 2 or a 3 seed with an opportunity to host two games in the tournament had BankUnited Center been available." 

"I don't know what to say. It's disappointing," Haith said when asked how he felt about having to play on the road. "We don't have a venue. It is what it is. I think our seeding was hurt because we don't have a venue to play in. It is what it is."

Among other topics discussed...

MCCLINTON'S KNEE: Haith said the team made sure to get Jack McClinton's sprained left knee checked out before he returned to practice last week. According to Haith, it's a grade one sprain with "stretched ligaments." Haith said it's up to McClinton to shake himself out of the nagging injury. The 6-1 point guard returned to full practices shortly before the ACC Tournament kicked off in Atlanta last week. He struggled with only nine points in the loss to Virginia Tech.

"It's a fine line there. I don't think he can play well unless he practices, in terms of getting a feel for it," Haith said. "He did practice the day before the ACC Tournament game. He did well. But I think he needs that practice to go out and play. We practiced yesterday and he went. I think Jack needs practice to play well."

Dwayne Collins has averaged just six points in his final nine games this season. DISAPPEARING DWAYNE: There have been a lot of disappointments this season on this team, but none has been bigger than Dwayne Collins, who never lived up to his role as the team's No. 2 scorer behind McClinton. Haith sounded like a coach who has tried everything with Collins and simply has no idea what else to do with him.

Collins broke double figures in scoring only once after scoring 18 points at N.C. State on Jan. 27. He had 10 points at Georgia Tech in the second to last game of the regular season, the only time he scored more than 9 in UM's final 10 games.

"Dwayne has made some improvement in his game," Haith said. "He's a better player. It's just been the consistency thing. I don't know how to... we've tried everything to make him more consistent. 

"He was 3 for 11 at the Georgia Tech game. He had a lot of touches. He was active. He played hard. He just didn't make shots. I just want him to play hard. That's the key thing, just play hard. He'll get his touches if he plays hard and is running the floor. He'll get his touches. There's moments when feeding the post and the posting up isn't working. We've emphasized getting the ball to Dwayne. But when you add in the fact he's shooting the ball sub 60 percent from the free throw line, sometimes those attempts don't show up. He's getting touches, he just has to produce.

It wasn't just Collins' lack of scoring that hurt, but his overall aggressiveness. He has a total of eight blocks this season, 24 less than his sophomore season and five fewer than freshman Julian Gamble, who played 550 less minutes than Collins.

"It goes back to his assertiveness, aggressiveness," Haith said. "There's no reason Dwayne Collins should only have eight blocks. We just want Dwayne to be more active. He's capable. It's just, I don't know. We need more of that. Yesterday at practice, he was swatting everything. I can't figure it out. But hopefully he can here at the end of the year.

> If the Canes are able to beat the Friars Wednesday, Haith said UM would likely end up playing either at 11 a.m. Saturday or Monday night at 7 in primetime TV game against top-seeded Florida, which should cruise past Jacksonville Wednesday.

> In case you missed it, the UM football team will be off for spring break until next Monday, March 23rd. The spring game is at Fort Lauderdale's Lockhart Stadium on March 28th. 

March 10, 2009

Telemaque itching to be next playmaker in secondary

Jacory Harris' pass was off target and tight end Daniel Adderley was not in position to yank the ball down. Neither was safety Vaughn Telemaque, but that didn't matter.

Vaughn Telemaque had three interceptions in a sectional championship game his senior year at Long Beach Poly Still stumbling a bit from the bump he received from Adderley, Telemaque put his right hand out in an attempt to make a play on it. With the ball zipping away from him and toward the back of the end zone, the 6-1, 195-pound redshirt freshman  got just enough leather to bat it back towards his upper body. It turned out to be the only interception and blemish of Harris' near-perfect day Saturday during the first scrimmage of the spring. In the longrun, it was  a meaningless interception in a meaningless practice game. But it might have been just the first play, the first sign Telemaque is just as good as advertised.

You might not remember this, but after the Emerald Bowl Randy Shannon gave Telemaque possibly the highest praise he's given any player since taking over the team in 2007. Not only did Shannon say the loss of the 6-1, 195-pounder last fall hurt his team badly, he compared Telemaque to one of the best Hurricanes' safety ever -- Ed Reed. It wasn't what you expected to hear from Shannon who rarely makes comparisons of that magnitude, much less about a freshman who played in three games before a shoulder injury sidelined him for good. Saturday, though, we saw the first real reason why Shannon can't seem to hide his true feelings of excitment for the kid from Long Beach Poly.

"It's a pretty big compliment," said Telemaque, who said he hadn't heard that Shannon had compared to Reed. "It's nice to hear that. But I just want to keep on working, going as hard as I can. I want to play to the best of my abilities."

Despite seeing the majority of snaps with the first team already this spring, Telemaque still has a long way to go in his development. Defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff and veteran cornerback Chavez Grant both say Telemaque has big play potential, but needs to be a little more committed to his playbook. "He's not quite what Jojo Nicholas is right now. Jo is more of a bookworm than Vaughn," McGriff said. "But Vaughn is one of those guys whose smart without the film study. We're just always on him to come watch more film."

Said Grant: "If he gets his mind right, he'll be special. Sometimes we tell Vaughn 'Your lazy.' He's kind of got this little attitude about him. We got nothing against him, it's just to make him better. He's going to be great. He’s a ballhawk, he can come up and hit. Once he learns the defense, has it down, he can be special."

Miami's secondary was anything but special last season. The Canes tied a school low for interceptions with four. As a senior at Poly, Telemaque had nine interceptions of his own, including three in the state championship game. McGriff said Telemaque brings the kind of attitude he wants his corners and safeties to have -- a big play mindset.

"I think this year with the guys being older, getting Vaughn back in the mix and just having the opportunity to train them an additional spring and fall, we should be in position to get more turnovers," said McGriff, whose secondary produced only two of those picks -- one by freshman Brandon Harris and the other from the NFL-bound Bruce Johnson.

"Turnovers are like a disease. Once you get one, it's contagious. I think in order for us to get an abundant number of turnovers and interceptions we got to start early in the season so guys become risk takers. They need to take that step out on the edge and stop playing cautious and go get those tunrovers. I would say our guys were being too cautious last year. I think our guys tried to be too sure. There a lot of times I told them, stop trying to be exact, stop trying to be perfect and go play football. I think last year they just were trying to learn the scheme and be sure. In this game, just like life, you can't be too sure about anything. You just have to go out and play it, win those one-on-one battles."

ESPN senior writer Bruce Feldman believes Telemaque will make those big plays and soon. He named Telemaque as one of the Top 10 newcomers in college football this spring. Telemaque said being a gambler on the field is something that just has always come natural to him.

"I like to make big plays, that's the kind of safety I am," he said. "I need to get some interceptions and big turnovers. If I don't, I feel like I'm not helping the team. I know we only had four [interceptions] last year. But we’re going to change that real soon. We've got a lot of athletes ready to play and make big plays along with me."

The fact Telemaque is even at UM is a bit stunning considering where he's from. California and USC usually scoop up all the big talents at Poly, a perrenial power that has produced talents such as baseball stars Tony Gwynn and Chase Utley to football stars like Willie McGinest and Desean Jackson. Telemaque said while USC wanted him badly, it was always a life long dream to play for the Canes, a team he grew up admiring from a far and noticed for the first time when UM won the national title at the Rose Bowl back in 2001.

Little by little, he says, he began falling in love with Miami's style and swagger more and more. That could explain part of the reason why he showed up to his recruiting announcement on local cable television sporting a Sonny Crockett-like white blazer and sunglasses.

Vaughn Telemaque "Overall, I’m just enjoying the life in Miami," said Telemaque, who said he still keeps a part of Cali with him when he skates around UM's campus on his longboard. "I like the swagger out here because it's a lot like out there, just a little different. The ocean water is warmer. The beach here doesn't have basketball courts like out on Venice Beach. But I still love it out here."

Fans would love it if Telemaque can bring the big play back to Miami's secondary. At least through one spring scrimmage, he already has. "Fans can expect big plays and excitement," Telemaque said. "I want to bring that back to The U. I want to bring it back in a fashionable way, in a team way. I just want to make people proud that we’re The U by going to play hard, make plays and win everytime I'm out there."

March 02, 2009

Dunbar just the start at Booker T?

Unless you forgot to pay your monthly subscription to InsideTheCanesportTimes or were out enjoying two days off on South Beach like I was this past weekend (leading my best friend's bachelor party), you probably know by now the Canes picked up their third football "commitment" of the 2010 class Sunday in Miami Booker T. Washington receiver Quinton Dunbar.

Booker T. Washington receiver Quinton Dunbar committed to UM on Sunday. Monday night, I caught up with Dunbar and Booker T. receivers coach Andre Brown (who handles most of the recruiting talk between colleges and the Tornadoes). Dunbar, a 6-3, 177-pound All-Dade First Team selection last season, is obviously a nice get for the Canes and a tremendous talent. But the bigger story is he might just be the first of a handful of talented Booker T. players in the 2010 class who decide to make their way down the road to UM from Overtown next February. 

"The first thing I thought when I got back this weekend and heard Quinton had committed was 'Alright, whose next?," said Brown, who coached current Canes Davon Johnson and Thearon Collier at receiver at Booker T. "It's obvious having Ice over there [former Booker T. coach Tim Harris] helps Miami a lot. They're very aware what we've got coming out in our next class."

What Booker T. has next season is arguably the best class in Miami-Dade County, which by all accounts is absolutely loaded with talent. Dunbar is rated the 13th best player in the county according to our Larry Blustein's Pre-Spring Top 30 list. Other Booker T. players included on the list: talented running back Eduardo Clements (7th), defensive end Lynden Trail (18th), receiver Ted Meline (20th) and offensive lineman Jose Jose (24th). Brown said UM has already offered all of them, except Meline. 

Clements, the MVP of the Class 4A state championship game in 2007, is the prized recruit. At 5-11, 175-pounds there isn't a more complete running back in South Florida in my opinion. I've been told UM considers him its No. 1 running back target for 2010 and another reason coach Randy Shannon doesn't feel so bad about losing out on Bryce Brown. "He's just as good a pass catcher, if not better than Bryce and has played against tougher competition his entire life," one recruiter told me. "Miami wants him badly."

The Canes were the first school to offer Clements and according to Brown, who is Clements brother-in-law, it means a lot. But the roadblock for UM appears to be Florida State, whom Clements grew up rooting for. According to Brown, the Seminoles decided to finally drop Clements an offer Monday. "He's a Florida State guy at heart," Brown said. "The situation is going to be real tough. We've had a lot of family gatherings to talk about everything, but we're allowing him to make up his own decision."

As for Dunbar, consider him about as sound and committed a Canes recruit as there can be. He grew up rooting for UM and living down the street from the Orange Bowl. He wears No. 5 because his favorite player, Andre Johnson, wore it (he said Shannon already promised it to him after Javarris James leaves). His second cousin is UM cornerback Chavez Grant. And, his best friend is Collier. Brown said he expects Dunbar, who has a 3.0, to be a full qualifier.

"The thing that makes Quinton special is that he has just a great knack for getting to the football," Brown said. "When that ball is in the air, he gets into attack mode. He might not run a 4.3, but he has great game speed. We're going to work a lot on catching the ball and knowing what to do in open space. He can get better at route running too. But it's utilizing head fakes, those hips so he can be more like Larry Fitzgerald after the catch."

THIS AND THAT

> Got to give some props to the UM baseball team for their series sweep of Florida this past weekend, especially the 16-2 pounding the Canes delivered on Sunday. It marked the first time under Jim Morris UM swept the Gators in Gainesville, and it helped move UM up in the polls. The Canes are now ranked as high as eighth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll (there are too many college baseball polls). David Gutierrez, by the way, earned ACC Pitcher of the Week honors for his seven scoreless innings in Saturday's 2-1 win.

> Among my many phone calls Monday, I caught up with one of the weekend's heroes in left fielder Jonathan Weislow. I don't want to give away too much about Weislow, but there might not be a player whose gone through more excruciating injuries than this guy. It's a good story I'll share with you later this week as UM kicks off a 12-game homestand against Rhode Island on Tuesday at 6.

> It turns out Jack McClinton will not have his jersey number retired this weekend after all. Coach Frank Haith said during his weekly ACC teleconference with media on Monday morning that UM wants to be bring Jack back next season and honor him during another game. It's a smart move. Saturday's noon tip-off against N.C. State is going to be emotional enough. Not only will it be senior day, but if UM beats Georgia Tech Wednesday then the Canes will have the opportunity of getting back to 8-8 in the ACC (likely what they need to reach the NCAA tournament). The last thing you want is an extra distraction at a time like this.

> ESPN's Joe Lunardi has the Canes still in his bracketology report. Right now, Lunardi (who hit on all 65 invitees last season) has UM seeded 12th and facing UCLA in the first round. I think the highest seed UM will get if it wins out this week and wins at least one ACC Tournament game is 10th. But I'd like to ask Lunardi, who is supposed to have a teleconference with the media Wednesday, what he thinks the best case scenario for Haith and the Canes is if they accomplish that or better to get in.

> Since some of you have been asking, I finally got around to uploading several audio bites from spring practice, baseball and basketball from the last two weeks. Just visit the usual place to find them.

February 16, 2009

Questions abound for UM baseball at start of '09

The 2008 Miami Hurricanes had one of the best lineups in all of college baseball, a talented collection of power hitters who could light up the scoreboard and send balls flying out of the park on a nightly basis.  Barring a few unexpected surprises, coach Jim Morris knows his 2009 Hurricanes will not be that kind of team when they their new season at their newly reconstructed and renamed ballpark Friday night against Rutgers.

So what will the Canes do to win games this coming season? Morris is banking on pitching, defense, timely hitting and being the complete opposite of what his lineup was last year -- a successful small ball unit.

Despite the loss of six first-day MLB draft picks, Jim Morris says the goal for 2009 is to get back to Omaha "We're not going to be a team that hits for power like last year," said Morris, whose 2008 team belted 106 home runs and drove in 517 RBI en route to compiling the fifth highest winning percentage in UM history with a 53-11 record before sputtering in Omaha. "Our team last year bunted the least of any team since I've been at Miami. This team might be one that bunts more than anybody. We got to sac bunt. We got to be very fundamentally sound. We got to play good solid defense. We’re not going to be a big inning club – unless I’m surprised."

Expecting the Hurricanes to duplicate what they did a year ago with the number of superstars who left would be insane. One look at the roster tells you all you need to know about how much work the Canes have in front of them. Of the team's top 11 hitters, only four are back. Gone from UM's lineup: 78 of team's 106 home runs and 358 of the team's 517 RBI last season.

There are several All-American candidates back: shortstop Ryan Jackson (.360, 50 RBI, 4 HRs), left-handed ace, freshman pitcher of the year Chris Hernandez (11-0, 2.72 ERA) and budding relief pitcher and newly annointed closer Kyle Bellamy (6-0, 1.86 ERA). But aside from those three, there are simply a lot of questions. Morris could not complete a lineup when asked about it on two different occassions Monday, instead giving reporters a rough draft of where some guys will likely be playing.

"This is probably the team where I have the least number of starters returning in my college career," said Morris, who had three players (first baseman Yonder Alonso, second baseman Jemile Weeks and pitcher Carlos Gutierrez) taken in the first round of the June draft and three more (outfielders Dennis Raben and Blake Tekotte and third baseman Mark Sobolewski) take on the first day.

"With that said, I keep telling myself and reminding myself when we lost [Pat] Burrell, [Aubrey] Huff, [Jason] Michael and [Alex] Santos that the next year nobody gave us a chance and we won it [1999]. That’s how I go to sleep every night. This club is like that club. It’s a very young club, even though we did have a few more veterans returning in 1999 than we do this year. It’s still exciting."

> The first four spots in the order appear to be locked in at least according to what Morris told us. He said he envisions freshman Nate Melendres leading off and playing center field followed by JUCO transfer Scott Lawson batting second and playing second base, Jackson batting third and playing short and JUCO transfer Chris Hermann hitting cleanup.

After that, it gets a little hazy. Morris mentioned senior Jason Hagerty (who could play first base, catcher or left field) next, followed by freshman Harold Martinez (a corner infielder) and catcher Yasmani Grandal in the seventh or eight spot. It looks like senior Dave DiNatale (the team's top returning power hitter with nine home runs and a .295 average) will be starting in right field. Ther other spot -- left field -- is a coin flip. Morris said senior Jonathan Weislow, used primarily as a pinch-runner last season and with six career starts, would likely get the first crack at the spot Friday. But Hagerty and senior Ryan Perry, a utility player, would also get a look.

"There’s going to be a lot of combinations to try and figure out how to get those guys in there," Morris said. "We got to get our best nine players in the lineup."

THE PITCHING STAFF

Pitching coach J.D. Arteaga seems a little less worried about his group, which obviously returns one of the best in the country in Hernandez. Despite the loss of No. 2 starter and left-hander Eric Erickson (who will miss the season recovering from Tommy John surgery), Arteaga told me he's confident UM will find somebody very good to fill his spot in the rotation.

Right now, it looks like last year's alternate starter, senior right-hander David Gutierrez, is ready to assume the role. Gutierrez went 5-0 last season in seven starts with a 4.75 ERA. "After that we have a group of freshman that I feel are going to be very good, just guys who haven’t done it yet," Arteaga said. "But the ability is there without a doubt."

Arteaga mentioned four guys with the potential to fill the next two spots. They are: redshirt freshman left-hander D.J. Swatscheno, freshman left-hander Danny Miranda and freshmen right-handers Kevin Youst and Travis Miller.

“Danny Miranda and Kevin Youst are the same pitcher,” Arteaga said. “One is left handed and one is right-handed. Both have outstanding changeups. They both locate their fastball very well. Both are very competitive. The change is up what really sets them apart from other guys. DJ is a little different. He’s a left-handed power guy, who was the highest ranked left-handed pitcher in the state before he had an arm injury. We’re just getting him healthy, getting him ready. I think before they’re done they will all have very good careers here. It’s just a matter of getting them going.”

The closer's role as I mentioned earlier will belong to Bellamy. But it's not a position he has locked in. "He closed a few games last year," Arteaga said. "But it’s a big jump. Just because you had a great year as a setup guy doesn’t mean it’s going to translate. Pitching the eighth inning and the ninth inning are two completely different animals. He did it in the ACC championship game. He has done it. I have confidence he’s going to do it."

If Bellamy struggles, his most likely replacement would be newcomer and JUCO transfer Taylor Wulf. The 6-0, 235-pound junior right hander was a starter as a sophomore at Alvin Community College, but was a closer as a freshman. He has strong curve ball as a strikeout pitch and has the full backing of Arteaga. "He's got the mentality for it," Arteaga said.

> I'll have more to share with you in the coming weeks from baseball including interviews with the Canes' three biggest newcomers: the Texas trio of JUCO players, who are being counted on heavily to deliver right away. Plus, some good stuff from Ryan Jackson and Ryan Hagerty.

February 12, 2009

Challenging start to '09 schedule

The ACC has finalized its schedules for the start of the season. And your Miami Hurricanes have about as tough a four-game stretch to begin the season as anyone in the country. Here it is: 

  • Sept. 7 at Florida State (ESPN)
  • Sept. 17 Georgia Tech (ESPN)
  • Sept. 26 at Virginia Tech 
  • Oct. 3 Oklahoma 
  • Oct. 10 Florida A&M 
  • Oct. 17 at Central Florida
  • Oct. 24 Clemson 
  • Oct. 31 at Wake Forest 
  • Nov. 7 Virginia 
  • Nov. 14 at North Carolina 
  • Nov. 21 Duke 
  • Nov. 28 at South Florida 

So what are your thoughts about the tough early stretch? Are you worried the Canes could start 0-4? Or, could this work in their favor because they'll be catching some teams early on?  Here's a link to all of the ACC schedules released Thursday at 11 a.m.

Hurtt recaps '09 recruiting, sets 2010 goals

Clint Hurtt just turned 30. He's got a daughter, a fiancee and a passion to stock the University of Miami football program again with talent as Randy Shannon's recruiting coordinator. Hurtt proved he's one of the best in the country at his job last week when he earned honors as a Rivals.com Top 25 Recruiter for the second year in a row. 

UM recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt One could argue Hurtt has the easiest job in the country with the type of talent he can pluck in a rich backyard consisting of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. And, that's pretty much what UM did to land ESPN's No. 1 recruiting class in 2008 (grabbing a boatload of talent from nearby mythical national champion Miami Northwestern and Class 4A state champion Booker T. Washington). But a look at UM's 2009 recruiting class (rated 11th by Rivals, 7th by ESPN and 19th by Scout.com) demonstrates how Hurtt can also do a fine job pursuing talent when the local area is having a down year. Of UM's 19 recruits in 2009, only six have roots in South Florida.

What Hurtt and his staff did mostly this past year was go out into the backyard of their in-state rivals (national champion Florida, USF and UCF) and pluck some of the state's best players. While Hurtt had his hand involved in all 19 recruits, he said he really either shared or handled the recruiting load by himself on eight recruits.

"The one thing I don't want people to get the wrong idea about is I did any of this by myself," Hurtt said Wednesday -- a week after putting together his third class at UM. "We have a great team of coaches who did a great job putting our class together."

Maybe so. But Hurtt deserves most of the high-fives. He and receivers coach Aubrey Hill combined to land UM's top recruit and his teammate -- safety Ray Ray Armstrong and defensive end Dyron Dye -- at Sanford Seminole. They also worked together on keeping defensive end Olivier Vernon from Miami American from straying to Alabama or Florida State. WIth the help of Micheal Barrow, Hurtt went into North Carolina to get defensive tackle Curtis Porter.

Jamal Reid catches a touchdown pass in the Under-Armour All-American game But Hurtt's best work -- aside from helping Joe Pannunzio convince tight end Billy Sanders to come back to UM on the eve of NSD -- was what he did in Gator Country by himself. He kept defensive tackle Luther Robinson from Fort Pierce Westwood from leaving UM for a late Gators push, he grabbed running back Mike James early from Polk County, and made sure he was first in line for cornerback Jamal Reid at his tiny high school in Lafayette, Fla.

Hurtt shared a lot of stories with me about UM's 2009 class, but it's Reid's recruitment he seems most proud of. Because, according to Hurtt, if the program was still recruiting the way it did a few years ago, the Canes probably would have been late getting in on Reid. Instead, they knew all about him before anyone else.

"One of the first things I told Randy we had to do when he made me the [recruiting] coordinator was we have to go into every high school in the state, every school no matter how big or how small," Hurtt said.

"You know as well as I do when you are wearing The U in some parts of this state, you get a funny look. This kid is 80 miles from Tallahassee and 45 from Gainesville. When I started making my way around everybody in this little town was telling me I got to go see Jamal Reid. Mind you this is the spring of his 10th grade year, the kid is coming off two 1,000-yard receiving seasons, 13 combined INTs. The first thing I do is make sure we're the first ones to fax that scholarship offer Sept. 1st. It made all the difference in the end when everybody else wanted him once he was an [Under-Armour] All-American."

> Going into every school in the state and making evaluations much earlier than previous UM staff's did aren't the only changes Hurtt has made as recruiting coordinator. In an effort to make sure the staff no longer wastes its time on high-level, out-of-state recruits UM has long odds of getting, Hurtt said he's implemented a rule.

"I call it the one-hour rule," Hurtt said. "If the kid lives more than an hour from a major airport, we really aren't going to bother because it's probably not worth it. Most parents aren't going to drive very far to then got on two flights to come see their kids play when they've got a bunch of other schools closer to them. That doesn't mean we won't go after a special kid who we might have a connection with. In recruiting nowadays, it's just so important to eliminate mistakes in a signing class. You can't make mistakes or it will set you back big time. You got to go after the best players, but the guys who fit your system, fit the character you want. You need to give those guys the attention instead of spreading yourself thin."

Shayon Green > Hurtt praised all of UM 2009 recruits, but we did talk specifics about a few players. For starters, he's very excited about getting Shayon Green, a 6-2, 230-pound defensive end/linebacker from Tift County, Ga. Hurtt said getting Green helps UM immensley, especially after the Canes signed eight linebackers a year ago, but lost out on the two (Zach Kane and Antonio Harper) who figured to play middle linebacker. Hurtt said Green was brought in to fill those losses and said he feels Green will make an impact down the road. "He's extremely explosive, plays hard and has a high IQ," Hurtt said. "That's what you want in a middle linebacker. He's going to be great on special teams this year."

> Hurtt is very excited about the defensive players Miami brought in, especially the guys in the secondary. He said Prince Kent and Ray Ray Armstrong -- both Under-Armour All-Americans -- have the size Miami has been looking for a safety. And he promises that is what both will play. He said both Reid and Brandon McGee, who have great hips and long arms, will be impact cornerbacks.

> As for the offensive recruits, the first name out of Hurtt's mouth was tackle Jermaine Johnson, who sat out last season (his second out of high school). "We got five offensive linemen and were very happy with that," Hurtt said. "We're definitely happy we got Jermaine. He's a kid who is ready."

> One thing Hurtt is very excited about is the 2010 class in South Florida, one most recruiting experts believe will be the richest area in the country this fall. "Dade, Broward, Palm Beach is always loaded," Hurtt said. "But this coming year, it's absolutely loaded. Arguably you can say its going to be better than '08. Why? Because despite all the athletes we produce around here, South Florida always has a shortcoming on offensive linemen. There are a ton of instate linemen. Not just good linemen, special linemen."

> Hurtt said UM will have between 22-23 scholarships to use for next year. Like he did a year ago, he laid out the slots for me: 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 3 TE, 4 OL, 3 DL, 3 LB, 3-4 DBs and possibly a kicker.

So far, the Canes have commitments from two 2010 recruits -- both are defensive tackles. Jacksonville Raines' Louis Nix, a Rivals five-star recruit, and Miami Northwestern's Todd Chandler, Miami-Dade's No. 2 recruit. By NCAA rule, Hurtt isn't allowed to discuss any of the players UM is going after, but he told me the Canes have already offered scholarships to between 30-35 players locally.

> I don't have a complete list of who those players are, but I've been able to confirm through conversations with high schools coaches, players and my friend Larry Blustein who many of those kids already are. The hotspot? Defending national champion St. Thomas Aquinas. The Canes have already offered four Raiders scholarships -- center Brandon Linder (Broward's top recruit), running back Giovanni Bernard, kicker Mike Palardy and safety Brian Robinson. There are plenty more players UM is chasing in Broward, but so far it looks like Boyd Anderson defensive back Demar Dorsey is the only other 954 player with a Canes scholarship offer to date.

Lamarcus Joyner In Dade, Miami has high interest or offers already out for: CB Lamarcus Joyner (Columbus), WR Michael Lee Harris (Northwestern), RB Eduardo Clements (Booker T. Washington), K Oscar Diaz (Booker T. Washington), DL Corey Lemonier (Hialeah), DL Calvin Smith (Hialeah), OL Torrian Wilson (Northwestern), RB Jakhari Gore (Columbus) and QB Jeffrey Godfrey (Miami Central).

In Palm Beach, UM is after Pahokee receiver Joshua Jones, tight end Zach Allen, Royal Palm Beach's receiver Chris Dunkley, Palm Beach Central center Shane McDermott, Dwyer tight end Gerald Christian and running back Matt Elam, and Delray Atlantic athlete James Lewis.

"The guys we have offers out to so far are the can't miss guys," Hurtt said. "But we're still very much watching film and following guys closely."

Here's my official toast to the next 11 months and three weeks before the next National Signing Day.

February 11, 2009

Days of Our Bryce update

For those of you starving for updates in the University of Miami's quest to sign the nation's No. 1 recruit (or as I like to call it the latest chapter of Days Of Our Bryce), there has been no better interview with Brown in the past two months than the one Rivals.com writer Jeremy Crabtree conducted Tuesday.

Although you can get all the info mentor Brian Butler would like for you to know over at potentialplayers.com, nothing beats hearing the man, the myth, the 18-year old legend discuss his recruiting situation himself.

If you want the Cliff Notes version: Brown doesn't sound like he's coming to Miami anymore... his meeting with UM offensive coordinator Mark Whipple didn't go so well... he swears he really isn't doing this for attention.

For the complete interview, here is what Bryce told Rivals.com.

February 09, 2009

Tuberville says Lovett will fit in perfectly

I have to admit when I first heard rumblings this past weekend the University of Miami was seriously considering hiring John Lovett as its defensive coordinator, my first thought was someone was joking about former SNL comedian John Lovitz.

Turns out, there really is a John Lovett. So who is he? As soon I received word this was becoming official, I started making a few phone calls this afternoon to find out. So, what is beyond Lovett's resume and the more than 25 years he's spent coaching college football? What is the most interesting thing I learned about Miami's next defensive coordinator?

Tommy Tuberville He knows how to get out of tough situations. For starters, before he even began coaching, Lovett, 58, used to drive 18-wheeler trucks in New York City, delivering furniture. Can you find a tighter place to get out of than that? Former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, who hired Lovett at Mississippi and then took him with him to Auburn, shared his insight into the Lovett's hiring with me. Lovett's wife Carol and Tuberville's wife have been best friends for years. 

Tuberville said a similarly good relationship is what UM coach Randy Shannon said he was looking to build with his next coordinator when he called and inquired about him a few weeks ago.

"We hardly talked football to be honest," said Tuberville, who after being fired at Auburn told me he plans on taking a year off from coaching and will likely do some work with ESPN. "Randy just told me he was looking for somebody who would fit in -- fit into the community and understand the ACC. Being a defensive head coach, which I am, you got to be on the same page with your coordinator. There has to be a good relationship there. I think Randy and John are going to be a perfect fit."

Why? Because according to Tuberville, Lovett runs the same system Shannon learned under Jimmy Johnson, a 4-3 defense which lets speed take over. "John is going to run the same old 4-3 we used to," Tuberville said. "He'll mix in a few eight man fronts a little bit, be diverse in everything. Some odd man front. He knows the zone blitz game. He's been around it all."

Lovett, who moved up the ranks from walk-on to co-captain, is a stickler on technique according to Tuberville. "Everything he's going to do is going to be sound," Tuberville said. "He's very aggressive, likes to blitz. The greatest thing about that move is that he understands that league, been around it a long time now."

Another plus according to Tuberville, Lovett is also a very good recruiter, who is personable. Tuberville said Lovett is a specialist in the northeast and knows how to pull kids out of New Jersey, New York and the Washington, D.C. area. 

"I know he's very excited about it," Tuberville said. "I didn't have to convince him at all. Miami is a unique school with unique players. I think its a great situation. I think they've got it going in the right direction. They've upscaled recruiting and brought in a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball. John is coming in with high expectations, high goals."