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Wednesday night notes: Dolphins draft chatter; Tannehill; UM recruiting; Two UM assistants speak; Heat; Panthers

A dozen notes on a Wednesday night:

### This is one of the types of subplots that makes sports so interesting: Most recruiting services say the best recruit in this UM class is cornerback Tyler Byrd. And who’s the person charged with taking him away from Miami?

Larry Scott, Miami’s interim coach for the final six games last season. Scott, now Tennessee’s tight ends coach, has been courting Byrd, and Byrd has agreed to take a visit to Knoxville this week. Tennessee began pursuing Byrd vigorously after Scott joined the staff, not a coincidence.

Based on what Byrd has said, Scott apparently isn’t doing any negative-recruiting against Miami. That’s not surprising; Scott is a classy guy.

Another factor that has UM feeling a bit anxious: Byrd lives with Volunteer running back commit Carlin Fils-aime and considers him a brother. Fils-aime has been committed to the Vols since July and will join Byrd in Knoxville this weekend.

UM must hope that Byrd doesn’t fall in love with the Tennessee coaching staff and the UT campus this weekend. Byrd has said Tennessee has a lot of ground to cover to reach Miami’s level in his eyes.

### UM, with no offensive linemen committed, learned this week that four-star guard Johncarlo Valentin canceled his visit to UM this weekend. But according to Canesport, three-star Orlando-based Tre Johnson (an Illinois commit) will visit.

### UM lost out on Virginia-based three-star defensive back J.J. Givens, who picked N.C. State today.

### New receivers coach Ron Dugans, appearing on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline with Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey, said Stacy Coley made a “great decision” coming back to school and “is going to be a great leader…. Lawrence Cager has done a great job. Braxton Berrios has done a really good job. Darrell Langham has talent.”…. In recruiting, he said he’s looking for toughness at his position: “They’ve already called us prima donnas at that position.”….  Dugans previously coached the Dolphins’ DeVante Parker at Louisville and said: “Everything you threw his way, he was going to snag it. I’m excited for the kid. I know how hard he’s worked.”

### New UM cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph, the only former Canes player on the assistant coaching staff (besides head coach Mark Richt, obviously), said on Hurricane Hotline than UM will play “a good amount of man to man. It’s going to look like we’re doing something but not.” (In other words, disguising.) He said that’s what NFL top five defenses do.

Rumph said he likes “long corners, anyone similar to me. There’s tremendous support for our corners. We’re not going to leave you on an island 90 percent of the time.”

### Rumph said defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has emphasized what others before him have said about recruiting: “Coach Diaz wants to lock down South Florida… I feel like no one is going to tell me no… Who’s going to tell me no?”

### Dwyane Wade joked Tuesday that people use the word “vintage” when he plays as well as he did this week, when he scored 28 against Chicago and 27 against the Nets.

Wade, who turned 34 on January 17, is the oldest player to score at least 25 points on two consecutive days since Kobe Bryant (at age 36) on November 18 and 19, 2014. For more on Wade, check out Ethan Skolnick's column on the home page.

### Found it funny today that LeBron James said he never met Heat minority owner Ranaan Katz. In fact, Katz told me James routinely came to Katz’s courtside seat to shake Katz’s hand and hug Katz’s wife. But Katz said he doesn’t know if James knew his name. (Please see the last post if you’re not familiar with the Katz/James controversy of the past 24 hours.)

### As NFL cap guru Joel Corry notes, Ndamukong Suh cannot refuse a contract restructuring that would reduce his cap number from $28 million to $10 million next season. His contract gives Miami the right to automatically convert his base salary into a signing bonus and the Dolphins intend to do that.

The Dolphins could ask Ryan Tannehill if he’s willing to do the same, which would cut his cap number from $11.6 million to $4.7 million. But the Dolphins prefer not to restructure Tannehill if they can clear enough money with restructuring Suh and executing other moves. They’ll revisit the Tannehill idea if they believe it necessary.

### As we first reported Sunday (and The Palm Beach Post reported today), Miami will keep a 4-3 defense. That means the Dolphins would like to add a natural mike linebacker to upgrade on Kelvin Sheppard, with the knowledge that they can move Koa Misi back there as a last resort if their search turns up empty.

The best player at the Senior Bowl this week might be Reggie Ragland, a standout at middle linebacker for Alabama the past two seasons. Ragland, whom Mel Kiper projects to go within a few picks after the Dolphins’ selection at No. 8, will play outside linebacker Saturday at the Senior Bowl.

“I just want to show I can cover, rush the passer,” Ragland said, via The Detroit Free Press. “I want to show I can do a multitude of things at the next level. I know I can play inside and play that, but I want to also show I can play outside, too. If a guy goes down, I want to show I can go out there and play it, too, so we don’t miss a beat.”

Former Browns GM Phil Savage, now executive director of the Senior Bowl, said Ragland “has the size of a [middle linebacker], but he’s got the speed of a [weak-side linebacker],” Savage said. “He’s a good combination linebacker that’s playing off the line of scrimmage, can key and diagnose and then take off and run to the perimeter and make plays.”

Ragland had 6.5 tackles for loss,  7 pass breakups, 6 QB hurries and 2 forced fumbles.

### Pressed by WQAM’s Orlando Alzugaray about why the Dolphins don’t automatically bring in legitimate competition for Ryan Tannehill, Mike Tannenbaum reiterated today: “My belief is we can win with him. If there is the right opportunity to add another quarterback, we would certainly consider it.”

Tannenbaum mentioned backups Logan Thomas and Zac Dysert but didn’t mention free agent Matt Moore during the WQAM interview. (Tannenbaum did mention Moore during an earlier media session in Mobile.)

### ESPN’s Todd McShay ranks UCLA linebacker Myles Jack the eighth-best player in this draft, right where Miami picks.

“He's the highest-rated linebacker on my board -- and he's coming off a torn ACL in September,” McShay said. “An explosive athlete who moonlighted as a running back for the Bruins, Jack holds up well in space and displays easy change-of-direction skills. He has shown the ability to cover bigger receivers in the slot and has excellent awareness and instincts in coverage.”

### This stat from Elias speaks to how moribund this Panthers franchise was for years, and how good this team is: This is the first time in the Panthers' 22-year history that they have won three consecutive games with each victory by at least a three-goal margin. They beat last year's Stanley Cup finalists on consecutive days, 4-0 again Chicago on Friday and 5-2 against Tampa Bay on Saturday, and defeated Toronto 5-1 on Tuesday.

The Panthers have 63 points after 49 games. They’ve had more than that at the same juncture only once before --- 67 in 1996, when they made the Stanley Cup finals.

If you missed it, check out the last post for a full UM recruiting update... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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