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March 16, 2017

Tales from Tulsa: Ja'Quan Newton hopes to shine in Oklahoma like his dad did

By Michelle Kaufman

TULSA, Okla. -- University of Miami guard Ja'Quan Newton will have extra motivation to play well against Michigan State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night.

His father, Joe Newton, plans to be in the stands at the BOK Center, and he is somewhat of a legend in parts of Oklahoma. Joe Newton was a star guard at Central Oklahoma University and was named the 1998 Division II National Player of the Year. He averaged 26.1 points, 5.6 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 3.4 steals per game.

Newton he is looking forward to facing the Spartans -- especially with his father in the audience.

"I love this building, love the court," Newton said after the Canes' first practice on Thursday. "Court has an extra bounce to it, the rims are soft, basketballs are perfect, I like it. We're all really excited to play. Everybody's loose. Watching all these other games on T.V. .. I can't wait to get out there."

Familiar Face: When Baylor walked onto the BOK Center floor for practice at the end of UM's practice session, one player stood out to Hurricane players -- former UM guard Manu Lecomte, who transferred after his sophomore season. The Belgian guard wanted more playing time, didn't want to sit behind Angel Rodriguez, so he left to play for the Bears. He sat out last season, and has been a key player this season, as the Bears went 25-7, tying a school record for wins in a season. Lecomte averaged 12.4 points per game and ranked fifth in the Big 12 in three-point shooting percentage (42.2) and eighth in assists (3.9).

Lecomte missed out on UM's Sweet 16 run last season, so he is eager to play on Friday against New Mexico.

"This is my first NCAA Tournament game," he said. "I know there's a lot of motivation even though this is the team's fourth straight time. It's all new to me, so we're all really hungry."

Winning Starts: Miami has won its opening NCAA Tournament game in each of its last three appearances, and advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2013 and 2016.

Perfect attendance: Michigan State is making its 20th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance under coach Tim Izzo, the nation's third-longest active streak. The only two teams that have made more Dances in a row are Kansas (28) and Duke (22).

Scouting Report: UM coach Jim Larranaga said some of the Michgan State players remind him of players in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"When we showed our players videotape of Lourawls Nairn, Jr., and told them his nickname is TumTum, we showed a tape of him and then compared him to John Gillon of Syracuse because the first time we played Syracuse, Gillon torched us with his speed and quickness and ability to score in the open court.

"Then we talked about Miles Bridges and the great player he is and compared him to a Jason Tatum of Duke, of how well he can score from three-point range but what a great athlete he is and how he can score in a variety of ways.

"And then we compared Nick Ward to a Kennedy Meeks, a premier low-post player, a tremendous offensive rebounder, tremendous jump hook shooter. Kennedy is right-handed. Nick Ward is left-handed. But there's a lot of similarities."

Izzo on UM: Michigan State coach Tom Izzo compared Miami to Wisconsin.

"I compare them a little bit to Wisconsin of old days, but Miami will run and is more athletic. But they have the ability to control tempo, and we'd like the tempo to be high. Tum brings that. We're going to try to push it."

March 09, 2017

January 03, 2017

Joe Yearby becomes third Miami Hurricane in a week to announce he's entering the NFL Draft


   Last year he was the hometown starter and star.

   This year he was the backup.

    University of Miami junior running back Joe Yearby, a father of two young children and a former high school All-American out of Miami Central High, will forgo his senior season to enter the NFL Draft.

    Under a new coaching staff, Yearby was supplanted by sophomore Mark Walton, who started all 12 regular-season games and rushed 192 times for 14 touchdowns and 1,065 yards (5.5 yards-per-carry average) – the Atlantic Coast Conference’s fourth leading rusher.

   Yearby still played in every game, but was given about half as many carries: 99 touches for 592 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season. He averaged 6 yards-per-carry going into the bowl.

    He had three carries in the Russell Athletic Bowl, good for 16 yards.

    Last season, in 13 games, Yearby totaled 1,002 rushing yards and six touchdowns, adding 273 receiving yards and another two touchdowns.

   His career rushing numbers before the bowl game: 2,103 yards and 14 touchdowns on 376 carries for a 5.6-yards-per-carry average.

  “After discussing this decision with my family and friends, I have decided that it would be in my best interest to enter the 2017 NFL Draft,” Yearby said in a released statement. “These past three years have been truly memorable, and I will never forget my time here at the University of Miami, a place that has shaped me into the person I am today. Miami has been and always will be my home and I look forward to remaining a part of the South Florida community for years to come.”

    Yearby’s son is 5 and his daughter will soon turn 2, and he likely needs the money to help raise them.

   On Nov. 26, the night of Miami’s final regular-season home game against Duke, Yearby posted a photo of himself, quarterback Brad Kaaya and offensive tackle Kc McDermott on Instagram, with these words: “Last Home Game As a Cane.’’

   The post later disappeared.

    “I spoke with Joe earlier today and he made me aware that he planned to declare for the NFL Draft,” UM coach Mark Richt said in a statement. “I was able to thank Joe for everything he did for our program. I wish him the very best!”

Returning next season will be tailbacks Walton, Travis Homer, a rising sophomore; Trayone Gray, a junior who redshirted this season while rehabbing from a torn ACL; and if he doesn’t transfer, a scenario that a UM source said was being considered, soon-to-be senior Gus Edwards.

  When asked last week if he’d rather Yearby stay for another season than enter the NFL Draft early, Walton said, “We always want things, but sometimes guys gotta do something for themselves. …I wish he’d stay again to play with us, but sometimes you’ve got to do things on [your] own. He’s a hell of a player – quick, explosive. He’s all of it, a great player.’’

Brad Kaaya to enter NFL: "I am proud to say that I will always be a Miami Hurricane."


The University of Miami’s record-breaking quarterback has played his last game as a Hurricane.

     Kaaya, who has the all-time UM passing record with 9,968 career yards in three seasons, will enter the upcoming NFL Draft, the university announced Monday night.

    "While I am looking forward to pursuing my future enceavors, I am going to miss our fans, media, students, administrators, coaches, families, and most importantly my teammates, who were with me through the good times and the tough times,'' Kaaya said in a UM press release. "Attending a University this far from home wasn't the easiest transitions initially, but this program provided me a home away from home ever since my arrival in 2014. Since then I have registered as a resident of Florida and am proud to call Miami my long-term home. I plan to be involved with the University of Miami moving forward as I pursue my degree in communications. I also will give back to this university and South Florida community, two places that had such a positive impact on my life. I look forward to watching Coach Richt and his staff, and our team do even bigger and better things for years to come.

"This was one of the toughest decisions of my life, however, I have zero worries that the U will indeed be back. No matter who is under center next season, I have no doubt in my mind they will have the platform and the resources around them to bring a major championship back to Coral Gables. Miami will forever hold a special place in my heart and I am proud to say that I will always be a Miami Hurricane.''

    Although disappointing for most Hurricanes fans, the news was mostly expected. Some folks close to the program believed the 21-year-old junior had been leaning toward turning pro early for at least the latter part of the season, despite not being projected by NFL Draft analysts as a first-rounder.

    ESPN’s Mel Kiper said last month that Kaaya should return for his senior season, projecting him to go in the third round, “maybe second’’ if he had a great pro day workout. did not have Kaaya last month in its top-40 draft projections, but Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller in his latest mock draft early this week had Kaaya going to the New Orleans Saints in the second round at No. 43 overall -- one spot after UM tight end David Njoku (No. 42 overall to Buffalo Bills), who also declared early.

    Miller projected Kaaya as the fifth quarterback to be taken. 

   Kaaya is incredibly smart and poised. Needs to work on footwork but he has starter traits and wiring.

   Kaaya ended his junior season completing 261 of 421 passes (62-percent) for 3,532 yards and 27 touchdowns, with seven interceptions.

    In his final five games of 2016, Kaaya threw 14 touchdowns and had just one interception. With his 22 attempts and 14 completions in the first half of Miami’s Russell Athletic Bowl victory against then No. 14-West Virginia, Kaaya became the program’s all-time career leader in both categories – and finished his final game with a flourish, throwing for 282 yards and four touchdowns .  

    His career numbers: 720 completions of 1,188 attempts for 9,968 yards and 69 touchdowns, with 24 interceptions.

    Kaaya took his share of pounding during UM’s four-game, mid-season slide, and likely wants to protect his body for his NFL career.

    The last UM quarterback to be drafted was Ken Dorsey to the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round of the 2003 NFL Draft.

    “I’ve got some soul-searching to do,’’ Kaaya said after he was named Most Valuable Player of the Russell. “Got to talk things over with Coach [Mark] Richt, [quarterbacks] coach [Jon] Richt, some of my teammates, some of the guys who are coming back next season, and then talk to some of my former teammates as well, some of the guys who have left. Get some opinions, talk to a couple of mentors of mine, just gather all the information and then make a decision from there.

    “…Regardless of if I’m here or not next season, I think this team is headed to greatness. There are a lot of good things going on, and a lot of progress has been made. This team will be good regardless of what happens over the next few days.’’

    Kaaya was asked after the bowl if there was anything left for him to do at UM.

    “Definitely,’’ he said. “I think it’s every kid’s dream when they get to college to win the national championship….”

    Now, the biggest question to face the Hurricanes: Who will be Kaaya’s successor?

   Battling for the job will be backup Malik Rosier, a redshirt sophomore who threw four passes (two completions) for 32 yards in six games this regular season heading into the bowl game. Rosier, who is quick and loves to run, has rushed twice this year for 65 yards.

   Rosier, who quit UM baseball before last season to concentrate on football, delivered a clutch performance against Duke when Kaaya had a concussion, completing 20 of 29 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.

   Other quarterbacks expected to compete for the starting job next season are Evan Shirreffs, a redshirt freshman who played sparingly with no stats on Nov. 19 at North Carolina State; Vincent Testaverde, a redshirt sophomore who had not gotten game action in the regular season; and freshman Jack Allison, a former consensus four-star prospect who played on scout team this season.

    UM also is expecting two newcomers: four-star commit N’Kosi Perry, out of Ocala Vanguard and rated among the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation; and three-star commit Cade Weldon, out of Tampa Jefferson and the son of former FSU quarterback Casey Weldon, who was coached by Richt when he was an assistant at FSU.      

   The 6-4, 215-pound Kaaya, out of Chaminade Prep in Los Angeles, earned the UM starting job as a true freshman in 2014 after former quarterback Ryan Williams tore his ACL the previous spring. Kaaya threw for 3,198 yards and 26 touchdowns with 12 interceptions his first season, earning Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year.

    In 2015 as a sophomore he threw for 3,238 yards and 16 touchdowns with five interceptions.

   Thank you to everyone who was a part of my journey, I will be a Miami Hurricane for life!


December 27, 2016

Separate bathrooms just in case, but UM and WVU coaches say teams' verbal sparring no big deal


Football players will be football players.

   Both head coaches going into the Russell Athletic Bowl indicated Tuesday during the bowl luncheon that the verbal sparring between the teams at a charity event Monday was no big deal.

   But just to make sure, some UM assistants were manning the hallways at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, site of the luncheon, as players from both teams were getting up often to visit the rest room.

   West Virginia was assigned to one bathroom at one end of the large hallway and Miami, the other, an assistant explained.

    Mountaineers coach Dana Holgerson was asked if the flaring tempers and obvious distaste for one another made him concerned that the game could get out of hand.

   “That is football,’’ Holgorsen said. “It happens. So, we had a great time [Monday at Give Kids the World Village in Kissimmee]. It was a special place.

   “Anytime you get two football teams together, there are going to be some things. So it is going to get chippy. That is just the way it is.

   “Pregame is going to get chippy. I am going to guarantee you that. I think both teams understand that and are going to behave themselves and no do anything illegal.

   “But trash talk, that pretty much happens every single game, so it is not surprising to me.’’

   Here’s what UM coach Mark Richt had to say about off-field chippiness leading to it onfield.

   “I like it when the blood gets pumping. If that helps a guy get his blood pumping, that’s good.

  “I’m not into a bunch of trash-talking and all that. I am into doing your job. But doing it with some energy, if it creates a little energy, that is not the worst thing that can happen.

   “But as you said, you don’t want it to turn into some type of personal foul or bigger. It can be a bigger mess, too, if it gets way out of hand. But I don’t anticipate that happening. I don’t think that will happen.

   “I have talked to a lot of our players about what happened, and I don’t see anybody that’s just frothing at the mouth – they’re mad at whatever. I think it is just kind of typical stuff. I don’t think there is anything that big.’’


December 26, 2016

Dancing, laughing, playing -- and a little trash-talking -- at 'Give Kids the World Village.'


   KISSIMMEE – University of Miami safety Jamal Carter and his teammates crisscrossed and high-stepped with an engaging youngster that kept up with them on a sunny Monday in Central Florida. 

   Receiver Braxton Berrios clutched two UM teddy bears, seeking just the right little ones to surprise.

   Quarterback Brad Kaaya chilled with backup Malik Rosier playing video games, and offensive tackle Sunny Odogwu did a little of everything, including embracing former Hurricane cornerback Antonio Crawford – now a West Virginia Mountaineer.

   During a week mixed with business (football) and pleasure (all of it), the Hurricanes and their West Virginia counterparts spent part of the day at Give Kids the World Village.

   The 79-acre village in Kissimmee houses more than 140 families with children who have life-threatening illnesses and gives them trips to several nearby theme parks.

    “When the kids get to interact with these players who are healthy and the epitome of strength and determination, it kind of gives our families a little extra push,’’

 said Give Kids the World spokeswoman Sylvia Oliande.

     “This means a lot,’’ Berrios said. “One of my baby cousins went through something and was hospitalized most of his life. So, it really hits close to home. I know where some of these families have been.

    “It’s nice to give back.”

     “Everyone has their problems,’’ senior cornerback Corn Elder said, “but this is something that is definitely life-changing. Some of these kids, they don’t know what can happen the next day. It just makes you appreciate life a lot more.’’

    A little boy who was blind used a cane to help him navigate and his hands to feel the fresh flowers decorating the walkway. His parents introduced him to 6-5, 316-pound West Virginia offensive lineman Adam Pankey.

   “We’re Miami fans,’’ said the boy, “but you’re being nice.’’

   Pankey laughed.

   But it wasn’t all humorous.

   Although during the event, several Canes could be seen chatting with Mountaineers and even competing in games together, tension escalated as the players got ready to board their buses. A few WVU players began taunting some Hurricanes.  

     A UM chaperone said the West Virginia players did the baiting, but the last thing anyone wanted was a physical altercation.

   UM receiver Stacy Coley was especially livid and tried to return to the scene. A Miami chaplain calmly, but in no uncertain terms, prevented him from going back. Coley couldn’t shake his anger, but finally walked onto the bus.

   Despite the shaky ending, the day was mostly a success.

   “It’s really eye-opening,’’ said UM middle linebacker Shaquille Quarterman, who “had a blast’’ riding the carousel with a young girl. “I see it as a tremendous blessing for them to get to make my day. But you know, they see it as us making their day.

   “I’m just happy I can do something for the community, especially this community.’’


December 23, 2016

Mark Richt's newest comments on Brad Kaaya and David Njoku re NFL Draft


Mark Richt went on WQAM today for an interview with Joe Rose.

Suffice it to say that the part everyone was waiting for was when Rose asked Richt regarding junior quarterback Brad Kaaya and redshirt sophomore tight end David Njoku, "Have you had a chance to talk to them about [what their NFL Draft decisions will be] after this game? Or are you waiting until after this game to have that big 'Should I stay or should I go' discussion?"

"We’ll wait till it’s over,'' Richt replied. "Those guys, really and truly, they want to finish this season well. Then they have to figure out what they want to do. I’m probably more curious than they are sometimes. Brad, especially, well both of them are focused on this game. Let’s play this thing and do the best we can for everybody. I’m really appreciative of the approach they’ve taken with it."

Can you get a feel by their body language or the way they’re acting as well? Rose asked. 

 "No, I would say they’re enjoying this moment but you never.. I mean, they enjoy it anyway so I can’t tell,'' Richt said. "They’re working hard. They’re wanting to have a great finish of this year and we’ll just see what happens."

Njoku is expected to announce his intention to turn pro after the bowl game. The general feeling among those close to the program is that Kaaya is also leaning -- perhaps leaning very heavily -- toward entering the draft. We'll find out soon enough.

Kaaya recently set the all-time UM passing yards record. He now has 9,686 career yards in three seasons.

 The Hurricanes arrived in Orlando Friday to continue preparing for the Russell Athletic Bowl. Many of them car-pooled and some were trying to arrive early enough to take in a theme park. Miami (8-4) is staying at the Rosen Plaza Hotel. West Virginia (10-2) is at the Renaissance Orlando Resort.

   The Russell Athletic Bowl kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Camping World Stadium.



December 19, 2016

Adrian Colbert thankful to be back, and Canes thankful to have him for bowl game


He began his career as a Texas Longhorn safety and has ended it as a Miami Hurricane cornerback.

University of Miami graduate transfer Adrian Colbert has had his share of challenges along the way, but has persevered, overcome them and is expected to play against West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl despite undergoing two unrelated surgeries this season.

First came knee surgery in early September and then came surgery in early November to repair a broken right forearm sustained against Notre Dame, a game in which Colbert excelled.


"It's been great, phenomenal,'' Colbert said of his season in Coral Gables. "I can't say anything bad about my experiences. I've had the trials with being injured twice in the season and only being able to play possibly six games. But I've cherished every moment I've been out here. Every day. It's been a blessing with this staff and these players."

Thanks to an exceptional attitude and intensive rehabilitation, Colbert is back, and he has the scars to show it, including a long one on that forearm.

 "It was just repetition, repetition and just grinding it out and enduring the pain that I was suffering that whole time of [physical therapy]. It builds character. I got a bunch of scars and it all tells a story and it's just a blessing from God that I could come back from so many injuries that have been critical in my life.''

UM coach Mark Richt said on Monday that Colbert is "doing great.''

"I don't see any reason why he won't play,'' Richt said. "I know Adrian kept his mind in it the whole way. He kept in condition the whole way. He was working very hard from the very beginning to play in this game. He knew the timeline would allow him to, if he was ready.

"He prepared. He's ready to go.''

Added Richt of what Colbert has shown prospective NFL teams: "He has show that he'll be physical. He has shown that he can run fast. He has shown that he'll play special teams. He has shown ball skills. He has gotten their attention. 

"One way or another, he'll end up in an NFL camp. I'm certain of that.''

 Colbert was asked what the bowl game means to him. This season, in six games played and three started, he had 18 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, an interceptions and three pass breakups. 

"This bowl game means everything to me,'' he said. "I lost the last two bowl games I played in...These boys deserve to get a championship bowl win. These coaches do, too. They come in and they grind us out and then they weed out all the bad seeds and they grind us and grind us and grind us until we show our toughness and we show we want to win.

We deserve it.''



December 14, 2016

Miami Hurricanes Mark Walton, Brad Kaaya, Shaq Quarterman, Corn Elder and on and on...


   Not only did sophomore running back Mark Walton win the University of Miami’s Most Valuable Player award, his 55-yard sprint down the middle for a touchdown in UM’s 51-28 victory against Pittsburgh was named the top play of the regular season.

   The Hurricanes (8-4), who will begin practicing Thursday for their Dec. 28 matchup with No. 14 West Virginia (10-2) in the Russell Athletic Bowl, had their Canes Football Awards Show on Sunday night at the Maurice Gusman Concert Hall inside the Frost School of Music.

   The Miami coaches gave out 23 annual player awards.

   Walton led the team in rushing (1,065 yards) and touchdowns (15).

    Quarterback Brad Kaaya won Offensive Player of the Year (3,250 yards and 23 touchdowns), with cornerback Corn Elder winning Defensive Player of the Year (69 tackles, 12 pass breakups, a forced fumble and fumble recovery).

    All-ACC punter Justin Vogel (44.2 yards per punt) was named Special Teams Player of the Year.

   Senior safety Jamal Carter won the Plumer Award for Leadership, Motivation and Spirit, while junior kicker Michael Badgley and seniors Elder and Danny Isidora won the Melching Leadership Award – voted on by the team.

  Defensive tackle Kendrick Norton and Walton earned the KellyUTough Player of the Year Award.

   Other award winners: Hard Hitter: Carter and fullback Marquez Williams; The Mariutto Family Scholar Athlete: receiver Braxton Berrios; Community Service Man of the Year: Demetrius Jackson.

   Strength Training Athlete: Malcolm Lewis and Zach McCloud; Albert Bentley Most Valuable Walk-Ons: Jordan Butler and Malik Mayweather.

   Nick Chickillo Most Improved Players: safety Rayshawn Jenkins, tight end David Njoku and linebacker Michael Smith.

   Walt Kichefski Hurricane: linebacker Shaquille Quarterman.

   U of Miami Sports Hall of Fame Unsung Hero: defensive tackle R.J. McIntosh, tight end Chris Herndon and Berrios.

   Training Room Comeback Player of the Year: linebacker Darrion Owens.

   Captains Awards: Elder, Isidora, Kaaya and Vogel.

   Scout Team Player of the Year: Offense – Austin Pfenninger; Defense – Teddy Stavetski and Dewayne Washington; Special Teams – Sam York.

   Newcomer of the Year: Offense – receiver Ahmmon Richards; Defense – Quarterman; Special Teams – Travis Homer.

   Behind Walton’s 55-yard touchdown rush against Pittsburgh, Quarterman’s 17-yard fumble return for a touchdown at Georgia Tech was voted the second best play and Njoku’s flip into the end zone against Pittsburgh was voted the third best play.


December 06, 2016

Double scoop of UM hoops today...

By Michelle Kaufman
Hurricane basketball fans get a double-header today with a morning women's game and an evening men's game. Here are the details...
No. 14 UM women vs. Loyola Chicago
When: Tuesday, 11 a.m.
Where: Watsco Center
Records: UM (7-1), Loyola Chicago (0-7)
Scouting Report: A crowd of 4,100 schoolchildren will attend the game for Elementary School Day. The Hurricanes have won seven games in a row, including a 66-56 win over Old Dominion on Sunday. Jessica Thomas scored 21 points, and Keyona Hayes added 18.
UM men vs. South Carolina State
When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Watsco Center
Records: UM (6-2), SC State (2-5)
Radio: 1360KAT-AM
Scouting report: The Hurricanes are coming off back-to-back wins over Rutgers (73-61) and Wofford (74-57). The last time these two teams played, in 2009, Miami made 15 three-pointers in a 91-54 victory. South Carolina State's JJ Richardson scored 25 points in his last outing.

December 05, 2016

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


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.


December 04, 2016

Mark Richt on WVA, recruiting rules, early NFL Draft guys, Canes' sched, ending bowl drought...


Mark Richt's Russell Athletic Bowl teleconference highlights:

He seems very pleased to be facing West Virginia, and I don't blame him. A victory over a strong 10-2 team that is ranked 14th in the AP poll would firmly put UM in the final rankings. 

It's a really good matchup, and I'm looking forward to covering it.

Some Richt comments from our interview:

*** On voting his Hurricanes No. 20 in the final Coaches' Poll: "I think we're a quality team that deserves to be ranked. That ranking will probably be proven right or wrong I guess after this bowl game.''

*** On WVA: "I'm very excited about this opportunity to play in Orlando and to play in the Russell Athletic Bowl. I haven't talked to any of the players. I talked to a couple of the coaches, because we've been doing a little bit of recruiting today. I know everybody is loving this opportunity. We're playing a great football team in West Virginia, a team that just got 10 victories this season. Coach [Dana Holgerson] has done a great job there. Orlando itself is a great town and a great place to have a bowl, because the players usually have a lot of fun things to do. The coaches' wives and kids have a ball too. The coaches tend to work hard in bowls, and don't do a whole lot of the fun stuff, but it'll be a great challenge and a lot of fun for us."

*** On recruiting rules: "We're not allowed to have contact with [prospective] student-athletes during the bowl practices. I think they can be at your bowl practice, but you can't have contact with them. There may be some guys at those practices...we cannot make tickets available to the bowl game either. If they do end up at the game, it'll be somehow other than us providing that opportunity. I hope a lot of them come and watch the game, if nothing else because we're in the state and we're having success. I think that will be good enough.

"Even if they make it to a practice, I think, as far as I can remember, we've never been able to have any contact with them at this time of year. It's usually a dead period. You can't have that kind of contact. But if they can come and watch, that's what we've done in years past."

***On whether he's had conversations with current players deciding on declaring early for the NFL Draft: "We've begun the dialogue. It's a process. It's not a one-time, sit-down conversation. It's more trying to get a feel of where they are and also have them understand the process I've always gone through as head coach - to just let them know that my goal is to help them get as much good, critical information that they can get from the NFL clubs... It's kind of a business decision, but it also becomes an emotional decision too because there are still a lot of things to play for - a possible championship in the future, national awards and the opportunity to get your degree...those are some of the things they'll be weighing when trying to decide what's best for them."

***On UM's schedule this week in terms of working out or practicing:

"They've been lifting, running. The coaches have been recruiting this past week and this week will be more of the same, just making sure we finish strong academically - all the focus is on that. There will be times when they'll be able to slip out and get a workout in. We won't start practicing until our final exams are over. We're debating whether or not to have one this weekend coming up during official visits. We may have a very short, sweet practice Saturday. We haven't finalized that yet. But if we don't, the first one, I believe, will be the next Thursday."

 ***On how important it is to end the UM bowl drought (last bowl victory was 2006 against Nevada): "It's very important. Our guys know that. Obviously every guy in the room, whether they've been there one year or three or four years, they haven't had the victory at the end of the year. I know they're all hungry for it. I know I am, too. Obviously, West Virginia will be also.''


November 29, 2016

Hurricanes to face the Aggies home in Miami and "Home of the 12th Man''


Personally, I love these non-conference matchups against Power 5 teams. Not sure how you all feel.

Our Barry Jackson broke the Texas A&M vs. Miami future matchups earlier this month, but the release the University of Miami just sent out is below the beginning of my game story from the last time Miami played at home against Texas A&M, in the Orange Bowl, on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2007:


The Hurricanes had a collective out-of-body experience Thursday night.

Their fans are probably still floating.

In a performance not seen around these parts for a long, long time, a fierce University of Miami defense finally found its other half -- the offense -- on national television in a rocking Orange Bowl.

Quarterback Kyle Wright completed 21 of 26 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns and Sam Shields added 117 yards on six catches to lead UM to a 34-17 victory against No. 20 Texas A&M.

"I'm pleased with the victory, " said UM coach Randy Shannon, who was nonetheless upset his third-team defense gave up the final 10 points of the fourth quarter. "[But] it's not all about Kyle Wright. I'm trying to get you guys to understand. It's not Kyle Wright. It's this football team. You take all the receivers -- you take Sam away, you take Lance [Leggett] away, you take all those guys, would it be about Kyle? Understand, this is a team. Kyle did a good job. He gave us the best opportunity to win.

"But let's talk about what the offensive line did tonight, the pass protection, running the football. Let's talk about Sam Shields. Lance Leggett came up with another big play. Darnell Jenkins made some plays. The tight ends caught the ball. It's not all about Kyle, and I'm not going to put it on Kyle."

It was the Hurricanes' second victory against a ranked team in nine attempts since a victory at Virginia Tech in November 2005.

Oklahoma, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Florida State and Louisiana State left the Canes dazed and damaged.

But on Thursday, the Aggies became UM's first unexpected victim since 18th-ranked Boston College in the 2006 regular-season finale. This game, however, was far better for the Hurricanes, who eclipsed 30 points for just the third time in their past 20 games -- and held the nation's sixth-ranked rushing offense to 98 yards.

******************************* Below is the UM release just sent out...

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami and Texas A&M University announced a home-and home-series for the 2022 and 2023 seasons on Tuesday.

The first matchup of the two-game series will begin on Sept. 17, 2022 when Miami heads to College Station, Texas. The Aggies will return to Miami on Sept. 9, 2023.

“These games will provide a tremendous opportunity for our student-athletes, coaches and fans to compete at home against a top program and to experience a fantastic gameday environment in College Station,” said Deputy Director of Athletics Jennifer Strawley. “I am thrilled that we were able to finalize a series against an outstanding program like Texas A&M.”

The Hurricanes and Aggies have played one another just three times. The two teams took part in a home and home series back in 2007 and 2008. The Hurricanes captured victories in both of those contests, winning 34-17 in 2007 and 41-23 in 2008.

The first game was held in 1944 in Miami with Texas A&M defeating the Hurricanes.

Miami’s matchup with Texas A&M adds to an already impressive list of future opponents, which include games against Notre Dame (2017), LSU (2018), Florida (2019) and Michigan State (2020 and 2021).

November 26, 2016

Game Day: Hurricanes meet Duke in regular-season finale at Hard Rock Stadium -- and reasons to go


The final regular-season game of the season is upon us, and it's another beautiful day in MIami. Some reasons to attend today's 3:30 p.m. UM (7-4, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) vs. Duke (4-7, 1-6) finale at Hard Rock Stadium:

*** It's Senior Day, and the Hurricanes will honor 18 student-athletes who have persevered despite some ugly times -- a coaching change that followed UM's worst loss in history (58-0 to Clemson last season) and three years of probation that ended Oct. 21.

    The seniors, both scholarship and walk-ons, to be honored today: Gage Batten, Kevin Carroll, Jamal Carter, Wyatt Chickillo, Adrian Colbert, Stacy Coley, Standish Dobard, Corn Elder, Frank Gabriel, Alex Gall, Danny Isidora, Rayshawn Jenkins, Hunter Knighton, Malcolm Lewis, Austin Pfenninger, Justin Vogel, Michael Welch and Marquez Williams.

*** To honor a team that did not quit this season, despite a horrible October with four consecutive losses. Miami has now won three straight and is going for its fourth. If the Canes win today (a louder stadium would help), it would be the first time since 2002 that a UM team has ended the regular season with four consecutive victories. Do that and a nicer bowl awaits.

*** To honor a coaching staff that has done wonders in 2016, grooming an exceptionally young team -- particularly on defense -- to likely contend for bigger and better things in the future.

*** To possibly be watching some talented underclassmen at home for the last time. It's no secret that junior quarterback Brad Kaaya and redshirt sophomore tight end David Njoku are contemplating entering the NFL Draft. Some believe that junior defensive end Chad Thomas also might enter the draft.

*** To possibly witness Kaaya pass for at least 276 yards today, which would move him past Ken Dorsey for first all-time on the Miami career passing yards list. What a feat that would be.

*** To celebrate the closure of the long, nightmarish Fidel Castro saga with so many loyal Cuban-American Hurricanes fans.


November 21, 2016

University of Miami Coach Mark Richt: 'Let's send our seniors out in style this Saturday!'

IMG_0287 (1)

Unlike his predecessor, University of Miami football coach Mark Richt (above, right, with assistant athletic director for communications Tom Symonds) is gung-ho when it comes to rallying the fans for what he believes is a good cause.

And one of those causes is Miami's final regular-season game Saturday against Duke at Hard Rock Stadium.

Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

"Calling all CANES!!'' Richt posted Monday afternoon on Twitter. "Let's send our seniors out in style this Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium! Kickoff 3:30! Be early for the SRs!! UFamily!"

 Earlier in the day, Richt told WQAM on his weekly radio show that he knows "the fans are going to honor our players and especially our seniors'' Saturday. "We've already played two Senior Day games,'' he said, "one against Virginia and one against NC State and we won both of those. So we've got to win one more of those games and send our guys off the right way.

  "It's bigger than you think.''

 Calling all CANES!! Let's send our seniors out in style this Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium! Kickoff 3:30! Be early for the SRs!! UFamily!

After three consecutive wins, the Canes are 7-4 overall and 4-3 in the ACC's Coastal Division. Duke is 4-7 and 1-6.


November 16, 2016

Freshman safety Cedrick Wright suspended by Miami Hurricanes


University of Miami freshman reserve safety Cedrick Wright has been suspended for the North Carolina State game, Miami reported Wednesday afternoon in a written statement.

The school did not specify why he was suspended, though a source said he has "not been a model citizen" this season.

Wright, a 5-9, 180-pound former three- and four-star recruit from Homestead and Miami Gulliver Prep, played mostly on special teams this season. He has participated in nine games, including last week at Virginia, and has six tackles.

 Wright is friends with former UM receiver Sam Bruce, who was dismissed from the team last month. Wright and freshman tight end Jovani Haskins were with Bruce in a parked car near campus when Bruce was charged with marijuana possession. Bruce was the only one charged. 


November 15, 2016

UM hoops may land 5-star recruit

By Michelle Kaufman

The University of Miami basketball team could land 5-star guard Lonnie Walker on Wednesday, the final day of the Fall early signing period.

Walker, a 6-5 guard from Reading (Pa), has narrowed his choices to UM, Arizona, Villanova, Syracuse, and Kentucky. And word is he is leaning toward Miami and Arizona.

Walker is rated a Top 20 player in the Class of 2017 by several recruiting sites. Stay tuned.

Miami's Kc McDermott still at first-team left tackle at Tuesday practice, with Trevor Darling present

Kc McDermott 8-6-16

The Miami offensive line did a great job against Virginia last Saturday, with Kc McDermott -- the former left guard who shifted to left tackle to take over for the injured Trevor Darling -- still at left tackle during Tuesday's practice for North Carolina State (5-5, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Thus, sophomore Tyler Gauthier stayed at left guard Tuesday, Alex Gall (he got his first start at center at Virginia) was still at center because usual starter Nick Linder had shoulder surgery and is out for the rest of the season and Danny Isidora (right guard) and Tyree St. Louis (right tackle) were at their usual positions.

Darling, who has a knee injury, practiced with the second team.

We don't know how healed Darling is, but either McDermott is still at left tackle because Darling isn't totally healed or he's there because coach Mark Richt liked the new lineup.

Either way, this will be a stout defensive line the Hurricanes (6-5, 3-3) are about to face on the road. The Wolfpack is ranked 23rd nationally in team sacks, 27th in tackles for loss and 20th in total defense (allowing 344.4 yards per game).

The Pack also is ranked fourth in rushing defense, allowing only 99.4 rushing yards a game.

This week will be a tall task for any O-line lineup.

We'll talk to Richt in a bit at his weekly press conference.




November 12, 2016

Game Day: Miami at Virginia, where UM coach Mark Richt likely could have been


 CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA --  Game Day, on a beautiful, crisp day in Charlottesville, where temperatures will be in the mid-50s at kickoff and dip into the low 30s at night (when we're still working in an outdoor press box. Brrrr).

   The Canes were favored by 10 1/2 points, a lot for a road game at a place where they've lost their past three games dating to 2010.

    Before he was hired at Miami, Mark Richt was courted by Virginia a couple of times during his coaching career, including this past year after Mike London was let go -- and obviously before Bronco Mendenhall was hired by the Cavaliers.

   Here's an exchange Richt had with a reporter on the Atlantic Coast Conference teleconference this week:

   Reporter: "Sorry to bring this up again, but seems like you've been mentioned with Virginia a number of times over the years..." 

   Richt: "Well, it was funny. After I left Georgia, within about 24 hours, there was a lot of contact by a lot of people, universities, just to at least gauge some kind of interest in me and see if I had interest in them.

"I was actually going to take some trips to visit some places other than Miami. When I got down to it, I had a heart-to-heart with my wife. We basically said, this Miami opportunity, being my alma mater, being a team that has a chance to do great things, you knew it wasn't going to be open next year. So, I said, 'I'm going to start there, and if I like what I hear, then we'll jump on it.'

"As it turned out, we really liked what was happening. That's why we just ended up kind of exclusively talking to Miami once that thing happened. There were some thought about other schools. Virginia, you know, I actually interviewed for that job 15 or 16 years ago. Just a beautiful place, a beautiful school. If Miami wasn't there, it would have been interesting to us as well.''

          Richt's  interview for the Virginia head coaching job came just before he got the offer from Georgia. “Me and my wife, we were very impressed,’’ he said of UVA. “I can’t say for sure what would have happened,’’ he noted, referring to if Georgia not come calling. “My brain doesn’t remember for sure if I was even offered the opportunity.’’

   Last year, after Richt was fired from Georgia, rumors circulated that he was seen eating lunch in Charlottesville.

   “No,’’ he said. “Must have been somebody else who doesn’t look very good eating lunch, that day.’’


November 10, 2016

Miami center Nick Linder out for season after surgery. New: Courtel Jenkins won't travel to Virginia.


The Hurricanes (5-4, 2-3 ACC) released their injury report Thursday for the Miami at Virginia (2-7, 1-4) football game at 2 p.m. Saturday in Charlottesville, and it's bad news.

Center Nick Linder is out for the season after surgery for a shoulder injury. Senior Alex Gall will get his first start at center Saturday.

Left tackle Trevor Darling, whom coach Mark Richt said yesterday would play Saturday, is suddenly "doubtful'' with a "lower-extremity'' injury. But Darling is expected to travel to Charlottesville. 

Defensive end Demetrius Jackson, who sustained a left-knee injury at North Carolina and has missed the past three games, is expected to play Saturday. But he is not expected to start, leaving Chad Thomas and Trent Harris as the starters.

"I think the guys love and respect him, but I think they feel that way about most of their teammates,'' Richt said of Jackson after practice Wednesday. "It's always good to have a guy back and just add more energy to the group, add more depth to the group. It's thin right now.''

Also new: The Miami Herald learned Thursday evening that defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins will not travel to the game, though the reason was not revealed. Jenkins, who has played in seven games, has 3.5 tackles for loss and eight total tackles.   

Here is the injury report:


LT Trevor Darling – Lower Extremity


CB Adrian Colbert – Upper Extremity

Out for Season

C Nick Linder – Upper Extremity