If I'm a University of Miami football recruit's mom or dad, I like this very much...

IMG_0446

This is great stuff. 

Love that Miami gets award with two high-profile, phenomenal academic institutions. 

Kudos to Al Golden and Randy Shannon, as well as the UM staff (not just coaches) that surrounded them. 

Above is A.J. Highsmith, who was a true freshman in the 2009 class and is now a pro personnel scout with the San Francisco 49ers. He's the son of UM great Alonzo Highsmith, and they're both smart dudes. I took the photo last week at the Duke game. 

Here's the release the Hurricanes distributed:

The University of Miami football program will receive the American Football Coaches Association’s 2016 Academic Achievement Award at the Honors Luncheon on Jan. 9 at the 2017 AFCA Convention in Nashville.

The Hurricanes shared the AFCA academic achievement award with Northwestern and Stanford. Miami, Northwestern and Stanford received the award after members from its freshman football student-athlete class of 2009 recorded a 100 percent graduation rate.

“I celebrate this award with our great University and the 15 young men that achieved it,” said Associate Athletics Director for Academic Services David Wyman. “This award is a testament to their leadership, excellence and dedication toward completing their educational journey.”

Miami will receive the AFCA Academic Achievement Award for the second time in program history. The Hurricanes’ first AFCA Academic Achievement Award came in 2009.

This year’s award marks the ninth time the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate (GSR) formula has been used to select the winner. From 1981 to 2007, the award was presented based on a formula used by the College Football Association and AFCA.

Since 2008, the criteria for the AFCA’s Academic Achievement Award is based on the highest NCAA GSR, at least 15 students in the GSR Cohort, and a Federal Graduation Rate of 75 percent or better.

The Academic Achievement Award was established by the College Football Association in 1981. The award recognized the CFA-member Football Bowl Subdivision institution with the highest graduation rate among members of its football team. When the CFA disbanded in 1997, the AFCA stepped in to present the award and conduct a graduation rate survey that encompassed all members of the FBS.  

The GSR is based on a six-year graduation window for student-athletes which is a change from the five-year window used by the CFA and AFCA. The GSR was developed by the NCAA as part of its academic reform initiative to more accurately assess the academic suc­cess of student-athletes. The GSR holds institutions accountable for transfer students, unlike the federal graduation rate. The GSR also accounts for midyear enrollees.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

September 20, 2016

September 14, 2016

Breaking News: UM hoops star recruit Dewan Huell arrested

By Michelle Kaufman

mkaufman@MiamiHerald.com

Dewan Huell of Norland High, the most celebrated University of Miami basketball recruit in recent years, was arrested for battery on Tuesday.

“I am aware of the reported incident involving Dewan Huell last night and we are still gathering information,” said UM athletic director Blake James. “I have very high expectations for all of our student-athletes, as I know Coach Larrañaga does for his team, and any misconduct will be addressed.”

Larranaga, reached by phone, said he just returned to town from recruiting and had not yet met with Huell.

"I just got back, and am planning to meet with Dewan and find out what happened," Larranaga said. "Dewan is a terrific kid and we will deal with this once we have all the information."

According to a police report obtained by Andy Slater of WINZ, Huell, 19, walked into his ex-girlfriend’s dorm room at FIU, found her in the closet with another man and attacked the man. Police say he grabbed the man by his shirt and dragged him out of the room, leaving him with scratches on his neck and chest.

Huell, who is 6-11 and 220 pounds, was to begin his freshman season with the Hurricanes next month. He was rated the nation’s No. 21 recruit by ESPN and played on three state championship teams with Norland. He averaged 19.2 points and 9.1 rebounds last season and was the Miami Herald 8A-6A Player of the Year.

-30-

September 12, 2016

Hot off the Press: UM Hoops Schedule!

By Michelle Kaufman

mkaufman@MiamiHerald.com

Yes, yes, we know it's still early in the football season, so nobody's really thinking basketball yet.

But the ACC released the men's basketball schedule on Monday afternoon, so stop gushing over Mark Richt for just one moment and mark your calendars!

Miami will play at Virginia on Feb. 20 as part of ESPN's Big Monday schedule, and will also play four other games on ESPN/ESPN2: vs. Notre Dame (Jan. 12), at Duke (Jan. 21), at Louisville (Feb. 11), and at Virginia Tech (Feb. 27).

The Canes also have two CBS games: Jan. 28 against North Carolina and Feb. 25 against Duke.

Among Miami's home opponents are NCAA runner-up North Carolina, Notre Dame (Elite 8), and Duke (Sweet 16).  The Hurricanes play road games at Syracuse, Virginia, Duke, Pitt, FSU, and Virginia Tech.

UM's first exhibition game is vs. Barry at the BUC on Nov. 2. The first conference home game is Dec. 31 against NC State -- yes, New Year's Eve, but 4:30 p.m., so plenty of time to party afterward.

"We need to defend our home court again this season," said UM coach Jim Larranaga. "Our fans helped create an electric atmosphere and we are looking forward to having that home court advantage again this year."

The full schedule:

Nov. 2 vs. Barry (exhibition), 7 p.m.

Nov. 11 vs. Western Carolina, 7 p.m.

Nov. 16 at UNF, 7 p.m.

Nov. 19 vs. Penn, 4 p.m.

Nov. 24 vs. Stanford, 2:30 p.m. in Orlando

Nov. 25 vs. Indiana State/Iowa State in Orlando

Nov. 27 vs. Florida/Gonzaga/Quinnipiac/Seton Hall in Orlando

Nov. 30 vs. Rutgers 7 p.m.

Dec. 3 vs. Wofford

Dec. 6 vs. South Carolina St, 7 p.m.

Dec. 16 vs. FAU, 7 p.m.

Dec. 22 vs. George Washington, 7 p.m.

Dec. 28 vs. Columbia, 7 p.m.

Dec. 31 vs. NC State, 4:30 p.m.

Jan. 4 at Syracuse, 7 p.m.

Jan. 12 vs. Notre Dame, 7 p.m.

Jan. 14 at Pitt, noon

Jan. 18 at Wake Forest, 8 p.m.

Jan. 21 at Duke, TBA

Jan. 25 vs. Boston College, 9 p.m.

Jan. 28 vs. North Carolina, 1 p.m.

Feb. 1 vs. FSU, 8 p.m.

Feb. 4 at NC State, 3 p.m.

Feb. 8 Virginia Tech, 9 p.m.

Feb. 11 at Louisville, TBA

Feb. 15 vs. Georgia Tech, 8 p.m.

Feb. 18 vs. Clemson, noon

Feb. 20 at Virginia, 7 p.m.

Feb. 25 vs. Duke, 4 p.m.

Feb. 27 at Va Tech, 9 p.m.

March 4 at FSU, 4 p.m.

March 7-11: ACC Tournament, Brooklyn, NY

May 09, 2016

Canyon Barry chooses UF over UM

By Michelle Kaufman

mkaufman@MiamiHerald.com

If only the University of Miami had a nuclear training reactor. Maybe then the Hurricanes basketball program could have signed College of Charleston transfer Canyon Barry, son of the former UM and NBA legend, Rick Barry.

Instead, the sharpshooter chose to pass up his father's alma mater and play his final year of college basketball at the University of Florida. Barry, the youngest of Rick's sons, is a two-time Academic All-American and graduating this summer with a degree in Physics. He plans to pursue a Master's Degree in nuclear engineering.

"These past few months have been pretty crazy since I made the decision to graduate and transfer," Barry said in a statement. "I have been contacted by numerous coaches from some of the top teams in the country.  I feel blessed and honored that they were interested in having me be a part of their programs...Ultimately, however, after much prayerful consideration, I have made my decision to attend the University of Florida next season and play for Coach Mike White as a Florida Gator.

"The University of Florida is a great fit for me for several reasons.  First, they have an exceptional Nuclear Engineering program and actually have one of the only nuclear training reactors in the southeast.  Secondly, I really like Coach White, his integrity, his honesty with me, and his style of play.  He and I both feel that I can make an immediate contribution... I met the players on my official visit and felt right at home in Gainesville. Lastly, I have family on both my mom and dad’s sides who live in Florida. My grandparents, aunts and uncles, and my cousins will all be able to see me play and cheer on our team."

Barry averaged 19.7 points per game his junior season, but was limited to 13 games because of a shoulder injury.

 

January 04, 2016

Alumnus Mike Rumph confirmed to be headed to UM as new CBs coach

            Mike Rumph was part of the last national championship team at the University of Miami.

            Rumph is headed back to his alma mater to try and help them win another one.

            Rumph, who spent the past three years as the head football coach at Plantation American Heritage School, is set to join the coaching staff at UM under new coach Mark Richt.

            CanesInSight.com first reported that Rumph has been hired as the Hurricanes’ cornerbacks coach, a position he played at UM and in the NFL.

American Heritage athletic director Karen Stearns confirmed that Rumph met with his team Monday morning to let them know he would be leaving. Rumph did not immediately return phone calls Monday morning to The Miami Herald.

“Mike called me last night and let me know he was leaving,” Stearns said. “It was an emotional meeting with the kids and obviously we’re sad to lose him, but we’re thrilled for him. It’s very exciting for him, for UM, and for all of us. It’s a great move.”

            Rumph starred at UM where he had six career interceptions and finished his college career on UM’s star-studded 2001 national championship team.

            Rumph, 36, played six seasons in the NFL and had stints with the 49ers, who drafted him in the first round in 2002 and later the Redskins and Rams.

            Not long after retiring following the 2007 season, Rumph went into coaching.

            Rumph became an assistant coach at Miramar Everglades in 2010 and later at American Heritage in Plantation.

In 2013, Rumph replaced former Miami Dolphin Jeff Dellenbach as the school’s head coach and guided the Patriots to back-to-back state championships and a regional semifinals appearance this past season. During that time, American Heritage went 35-6.

Rumph replaces UM defensive backs coach Paul Williams, who has reportedly been hired at the University of Illinois. Williams spent the past five seasons coaching at UM originally under former coach Al Golden.

October 26, 2015

Miami Hurricane recruits react to Al Golden firing

With the firing of Al Golden announced by UM Sunday evening, recruits reacted.

Wellington wide receiver Ahmmon Richards responded in the most extreme way. He decommitted Sunday night with this tweet.

*Three-star cornerback out of Hallandale Deion Jackson said the firing won't affect his commitment, but did say he felt the move was "stupid."

He added: "Golden was a good coach. He had chemistry with the team. He literally used to go on the field and work with the players himself.

"Golden brought a family together. He always used to say, 'This is not just a football program, it's a family.' Half of these college coaches don't care. They don't care. They don't even look some recruits in the eye when they speak to recruits. Golden did and always stayed on top of me with my grades and things like that.

"Other college coaches don't care about building chemistry. If you're good, they want you just to win."

*Jackson's teammate at Hallandale, running back Zack Moss, says the change doesn't affect his commitment.

"I didn't commit to the coaches," he says. "I just look at rosters, mainly my position."

*Lantana Santaluces linebacker Zach McCloud will take a wait-and-see approach. He doesn't have much time as he plans to be an early enrollee in January for the spring semester.

"To be honest, I'm waiting before I make any big decisions. My biggest concern in this process is my future with only three months to decide since I'll be an early enrollee," he says. "I'm not comfortable at the moment, still being patient, though. I want to make an informed decision."

*Four-star St. Thomas Aquinas wide receiver Sam Bruce, who was in attendance to watch UM's 58-0 debacle against Clemson and has also recently taken an Ohio State visit, when reached said: "No comment."

But Bruce later made his opinion known with the tweets below.

The latter of the two statements, of course, is in reference to UM wide receivers coach Kevin Beard who once coached Bruce at University School. 

*Fellow Aquinas wide receiver and legacy Cane commit Michael Irvin II voiced his displeasure with the decision earlier Sunday.

*Teammate at Aquinas and 2017 linebacker Tyler Dunning had no comment but did post this to Twitter.

*Dionte Mullins' mother posted this on Twitter, noting "#StillCommitted" at the end.

*2017 safety out of Jacksonville Bolles Ahman Ross said, "Committed to UM. I will, of course, evaluate the staff, but I am committed to UM."

*Four-star athlete Tyler Byrd out of Naples posted this.

*Nick Roberts, 2017 defensive back out of Orange Park Oakleaf, expressed similar sentiments in this post.

*Deltona assistant coach David Williams said of senior tight end/defensive end Evan Hinson: "We're staying committed on our end."

*Fort Lauderdale coach Richard Dunbar said of committed defensive end Jaquwan Nelson, "Jaquwan will stay committed to UM but will take all of his visits. Just not sure what the university is thinking at this point. That's very critical for him."

Dunbar is referring to whether the new staff that comes in will continue to recruit his three-star defensive end, which has recorded 66 tackles and 15 sacks on the year.

*The latest UM commit, 2018 wide receiver Daquris Wiggins, said: "I'm still committed."

DAVID FURONES

September 06, 2015

March 12, 2015

Pre-game scene @ACC Tourney

About 40 minutes 'til tipoff for the ACC Tournament quarterfinal between UM and No. 11 Notre Dame. Canes are the sixth seed, Irish the third.

A few pre-game scenes...

Ran across this super fan in the parking lot!

ACCBJ

Her name is B.J. Abolt, a retired auto tag agency owner who drove up with a friend from LaBelle, Fla., near Fort Myers.

They came up in a motor coach for the women’s basketball tournament and stayed for the men’s. Her brother and sister-in-law went to UM, and she adopted their team. She travels all over the country for UM sporting events. The license tag on her car back home is “CANES,’’ and the tag on her motor coach and Jeep is “2 4 U.’’

Why does she love the basketball teams so much?

“I grew up in Indiana with a basketball in my hand,’’ said Abolt. “I’m a big football fan, but now we have such terrific coaches that we’re involved with the basketball programs and it’s fun. This team, if they’re on, they can beat anybody here. Anybody.’’

She went on to rave about UM women's coach Katie Meier and men's coach Jim Larranaga, saying both are great teachers who make their players better.

A little while later, in the arena hallway, the Canes took over the hallway for some pre-game calisthenics.

ACCWARMUP

Good news for us reporters writing on tight deadline tonight...Duke is crushing NC State 77-51 with 2 minutes to go, which means the UM game should start earlier than last night's 9:43 p.m. tipoff.

Enjoy the game -- Michelle Kaufman

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.