|8 years ago||'04 #5481|
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his story appeared in the April 20 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
After finishing his final 40-yard dash attempt, Miami cornerback Bruce Johnson lets his momentum carry him to the far end of the Hurricanes' practice field. There, in the shadow of a parking garage, he glances back at the school's pro day setup. What he sees are the unmistakable signs of the end of an era. Aluminum bleachers, once bulging with 100 scouts reeking of rental-car living, are not even half full on this late-February afternoon. The large section roped off for agents contains only seven people, four of whom are university employees. In the nearly deserted area behind the end zone—which most years overflows with family, friends and students—a woman with her back to the field talks on her cell about her cousin's canine-allergy medication. The VIPs, once a who's who of NFL royalty, are limited to a pair of big-name former Canes: Panthers linebacker Jon Beason and Cardinals running back Edgerrin James, who wrapped Johnson in a hug before the day began and implored him to "represent the U."
As Miami's best pro prospect, Johnson, 22, does in fact perfectly embody the state of the Hurricanes, who have gone 12—13 since 2007. Undersized (5'9") and a step slow (40 time: 4.42), the soft-spoken Johnson is ranked as the draft's 25th-best corner by Scouts Inc. and will likely be a late-round pick. That means that for the first time since 1994, the program dubbed NFLU won't have a player taken in the first round, ending a streak that changed both college and pro football. The last year a Hurricane wasn't selected in one of the first three rounds? Try 1986. "I guess it's kind of a sad day," Johnson says after his workout.
In many ways, Miami is a victim of its own success—it became so good at producing NFL players that everyone stole the school's formula. Dennis Erickson, who took over for Jimmy Johnson, cranked up the pipeline while winning national titles in 1989 and 1991. The coach wooed players to his program by promising what they really wanted: a paved path to the pros. Unlike most college teams then, Miami became NFL-friendly, giving scouts ample access to game film, prospects and facilities.
That open attitude most noticeably manifested itself in a souped-up pro day that had the intensity of a bowl game and the star power of South Beach. While the Canes performed the same drills and underwent the same measurements as prospects elsewhere, they did them in front of stands packed with family, recruits and ex-players. The day was a can't-miss event rather than an obligatory exercise. Allured by the hoopla and wealth of talent, all 32 NFL teams sent their GM, their coach or often both, and a few dispatched up to seven scouts. "It was like a festival, a celebration," says Titans GM Mike Reinfeldt. "You knew there'd be so many good players you might discover someone you weren't even looking for."
The results are staggering. Over the past 14 years, Miami produced more first-round picks (33) than any other school, beginning with defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who went 12th overall to the Bucs in 1995. (Ohio State ranks second, with 25 over the same period.) The following year, picking 26th, the Ravens selected Ray Lewis. The pipeline reached its peak after the Hurricanes won the 2001 national championship. Over the next three drafts, 23 players from the title team were selected, including 11 in the first round. It was a group of players—featuring safety Ed Reed, wide receiver Andre Johnson and running back Clinton Portis—who set new standards for speed, attitude and pro-level preparedness. "You knew what you were going to get with a player from Miami," says Giants GM Jerry Reese. "Tough guys who played hard and loved football."
There are whispers in the scouting community, punctuated by Vince Young's breakdown in Tennessee, that players at many high-profile programs are coddled, soft and illprepared for the next level. That was never a concern with the Hurricanes, and it's one reason why no school had more players on NFL opening day rosters last year than NFLU (44). Under Miami's system—one that Reed has called The Crucible—hardened players from rough urban high schools are pushed to the limit, not just by coaches and teammates but by past generations of greats. In the main hallway inside the team's facility is a massive wood display that has the feel of an altar, honoring all the former Canes now playing in the NFL. Many of those alums, like Reed and Portis, work out at the school during the off-season and make a habit of staying in touch and mentoring the current Canes with tough love. Word is passed down that there are no promises or guaranteed roster spots at the U. Each week the best play—period.
Few players represent the self-perpetuating, competitive furnace better than Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey. As a Cane, if he ever felt practice lacked proper pop, he'd run downfield and cheap-shot a defensive back, sparking a brawl. Drafted 14th overall by the Giants in 2002, Shockey pushed himself hard in order to live up to predecessor Bubba Franks (taken 14th by the Packers in 2000), while setting a good example for Kellen Winslow (sixth by the Browns in 2004). "That's why we're NFLU," says Johnson. "If you don't make plays, they will sit you, forget you and move on to the next guy, just like in the NFL."
Of course, as Johnson has discovered, the scouting game is just as ruthless. As Miami waned, so did interest in its players. The burnout started when coach Butch Davis took his scouting smarts to the NFL after the 2000 season. Although successor Larry Coker led the team to title games in 2001 and 2002, he ultimately couldn't restock his ranks quickly enough to keep up with all those Canes going pro. By the time the team fell out of the national rankings four years later, several key components of its can't-miss recruiting formula were no more. The crumbling Orange Bowl no longer impressed prospects; the school instituted much tougher admissions standards; a focus on national recruiting cost the Canes their monopoly on talent-rich South Florida. Perhaps most critical of all, there's nothing unique about Miami's pro day or scout-friendliness now. It's the standard. "The playing field leveled," says Lions coach Jim Schwartz.
Getty ImagesRemember the days when Miami regularly produced NFL talent like this guy?
That's made Miami an optional stop, not a must-see, on the scouting calendar. Only a dozen or so teams showed up for this year's pro day, including reps from the Lions, Giants and Titans, all of whom have shown interest in Johnson. Even late in the draft, a prospect from NFLU is a worthy choice.
And Johnson, even at 167 pounds, represents what teams are looking for in a second-day pick. He plays with fluid hips that allow him to change direction and accelerate with power in the open field, where he craves contact. "That's the dog in me," he says. "That f!ght, that's the U right there."Sitting on a high-jump pad, Johnson slowly unties the fluorescent-green cleats he wore during his workout. As is the Miami tradition, he plans on passing the shoes to a younger teammate, maybe even one of the recruits in the Hurricanes' freshman or sophomore class, who are expected to restart the school's first-round streak in 2011 or sooner. Finally, it appears, third-year coach Randy Shannon is turning the program back around.
A linebacker on Miami's 1987 title team, Shannon has put together three straight top-10 recruiting hauls the Erickson way, by focusing on local talent. In fact, eight members of the 2008 class, widely considered the nation's best, played for prep power Northwestern High, located just a few miles from Miami's campus. "The future is bright," Miami AD Kirby Hocutt said in January.
In the meantime, it's up to Johnson to represent. As he stuffs the cleats into his bag, students walking past on their way to class recognize him and yell out, "Bruuuuuuuce!"
He waves back, but without looking up. Instead, his eyes remain fixated on the tongue of the neon cleats, labeled by the manufacturer with a 40 time—4.2—that he'll never come close to running. Not that it matters.
Teams already know what they're going to get.
|8 years ago||'04 #5482|
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Intruders breaching UM's local recruiting wall
Cover your eyes Canes fans, or just turn away. What you are about to read might burn your eyes and cause your blood pressure to rise. Consider this your final warning.
Outsiders are beginning to make serious recruiting inroads into South Florida. Did you hear me? There's been a breach in the Great Wall of Canes. The green and orange protective layer that used to shield the hearts of players born in the area codes of the 954 and 305 is beginning to disappear like the ozone. And if the University of Miami isn't careful, the hole could get bigger. The intrduers could end up becoming permanent residents.
No, I'm not hitting the Hurtt Alert button because the Gators picked up their first commitment from a Miami-Dade player since 2005 in Ransom Everglades linebacker Gideon Ajagbe earlier this week. I'm sounding the Shannon Siren because I'm starting to hear a change in the voices of the kids from just around the corner. I'm starting to get the feeling the Miami magnet -- the one that always seemed to yank kids in South Florida naturally toward Canes nation -- is losing its pull.
Thursday, The Miami Herald hosted a media day for local 2010 recruits. We filmed interviews, took pictures and I got a chance to sit down and talk with many players (and their coaches) who are part of what is expected to be a loaded local signing class this coming February. One by one, I heard the same answers from the recruits I've heard for years. Hialeah defensive end Corey Lemonier, running back Jakhari Gore, Booker T. Washington offensive lineman Jose Jose and Miramar receiver Ivan McCartney all told me they grew up huge fans of the Canes. But what was different listening to these recruits was that there was no longer that overriding sense that their childhood love for UM is going make the Canes the team to beat in the end. What I sensed was a greater awareness from our local players, that there are more choices out there and just because you are from Miami doesn't mean you have to play for the Canes. It sounded to me like many of them have been listening to the other guys.
And the fact local players are beginning to realize that, should scare the heck out of the University of Miami. It may only be the second week of April -- 10 months before anything becomes official on the next National Signing Day. But there are serious signs the old Miami mystique is evaporating. The truth is outsiders have been working hard to make advances for years, and they aren't just knocking on the door anymore. They're busting through it and really are getting into the mind of local players once considered untouchable.
How else can you explain how a player like Booker T. Washington running back Eduardo Clements (the top RB on UM's board) has Georgia as his leader despite the fact his former high school coach works at UM and three of his former teammates are in Coral Gables? How else can you explain why receiver Quinton Dunbar, who committed to UM last month, decided recently he made a mistake and was reopening his recruiting? What started out with the University of South Florida stealing Monsignor Pace's Kayvon Webster on National Signing Day last February is beginning to smell a lot to me like just the start of a fire.
Don't take my word for it. Listen to the kids themselves. The first school out of Lemonier's mouth Thursday was Florida. He said the Gators speak to him more than any other team. Same for about 20 other kids. With two national titles in the last three years, the Gators have the attention of both Dade and Broward -- something they couldn't achieve before. Even FIU is gaining steam. Miami Springs receiver Willis Wright and 2011 recruit Rakeem Cato both told me, "Mario Cristobal is the truth. He recruits you the way you are supposed to be recruited. We can believe him when he says we can go to FIU and be stars there."
Believe me, I'm not relaying this message so guys like Canesrule and FIUFanatic come over to the blog,(which they will) beating their chest and telling the Greens and SarasotaCanes of the world I told you so (which they will). I'm just saying as a guy who has stood on the recruiting fence for 13 years in South Florida, the enemy is moving in and the battles aren't going to be so easy to win anymore. Consider it a warning.
> For those of you interested in watching some of the interviews we conducted, look for the Recruiting Report in our video section to pop up over the next couple of weeks.
BLOG NOTICE: I know many of you have been wondering why I haven't been posting many blogs lately and why I didn't participate in this Tuesday's Q&A. Here's the answer: The Herald moved me late last week onto the Marlins/Baseball beat. It's the result of the loss of four other sports writers following budget cuts last month.
For now, during the offseason, I'll focus more on the Marlins and local recruiting. I'm going to try and stay on the Canes beat as much as I can between those a.ssignments. But I've got to tell you expect a slow down in production until news happens or football resumes in August. As it stands, other than Canes baseball, it's going to be pretty quiet around UM for the next few month outside of recruits making early commitments. One thing I'd like to do, though, is welcome topical questions through my email as news happens. I'm still going to be talking to sources at UM every now and again to provide you with fresh stuff. But during the down period, I'll welcome topics you guys would like for me to address. It will at the very least keep the blog going.
|8 years ago||'04 #5483|
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Too early to sound Dade County alarm
> Posted by Shandel Richardson on April 13, 2009 04:31 PM
Last week the Florida Gators did something they hadn't in a few years.
They picked up a commitment from Dade County. When Ransom Everglades linebacker Gideon Ajagbe announced he planned to sign with the Gators, it marked the first time it had happened since 2005.
It had to happen sooner or later, but no way will this affect the success the Hurricanes have had recruiting their home turf. In fact, the ONLY things that will factor in this is UM having a poor 2009 season (and by poor, I mean really poor) or a coaching change.
Until then, the Hurricanes will remain king in Dade County. Always have been, always will be.
"The bottom line is there's so many kids down there this season," said Jamie Newberg, a recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. "No. 1, [Miami] is not going to get them all. There's only so many they can get. They're going to recruit Broward, Palm and other parts of the state. But having said that, the kids they target [in Dade], they are going to get nine out of 10."
Folks will argue the `Canes need to place a barrier around Dade County, and keep everyone. This is like thinking a poodle can keep burglars from breaking into homes. It's just not going to happen.
The fact Gideon (who by the way still has 10 months before his decision becomes final) chose the Gators is no surprise. Newberg said that's been his choice all along. He won't be the last to leave the area once the likes of USC, Ohio State, Michigan and West Virginia grab their share. It's unrealistic to say the Hurricanes can keep them all.
"People want (coach Randy Shannon) to put up the fence around [Dade] but there's too many players down there," Newberg said. "It's absurd to think that."
Shannon has surrounded himself with former area coaches who have strong local ties, including Michael Barrow, Tim Harris and Corey Bell. None are exactly involved in the recruiting process, but let's be honest, their presence plays a factor. That alone should help keep the Dade pipeline going. It's not like they have failed in terms of recruiting, save for a couple local departures.
Just look at the last two recruiting classes.
In Newberg's words, the Hurricanes have "killed" the competition.
And they will likely continue to do so.
A few thoughts:
-I posed the question to FSU writer Andrew "Tha" Carter and UF writer Jeremy Fowler, both of the Orlando Sentinel. Here are their responses:
Fowler -- "It will be difficult to say the Gators have truly penetrated Dade County unless they score at least three high-profile guys in a 24-month recruiting cycle. So far that hasn't happened despite Urban Meyer making a strong push in the area the last two years. It's been five years between Miami Coral Reef's Dorian Munroe signing in 2005 and the recent commitment of 2010 prospect Gideon Ajagbe of Coconut Grove. The Gators have no problem plucking players from Broward. But Dade still evades."
Carter --"All in all, though, I think the consensus among the FSU fanbase is that it should be doing a better job of recruiting South Florida, and Dade County in particular. It does seem like it's been a while since FSU signed a player from that area who went on to do big things. I think there once was a perception that FSU had a pipeline to South Florida, especially before Chuck Amato left to take the head job at N.C. State. Since Amato returned to FSU, though, I don't think that pipeline has been reestablished."
> Discuss this entry
|8 years ago||'04 #5484|
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Is there REALLY trouble on the recruiting front?
I want to start by saying I'm a fan of Manny Navarro's work. As far as University of Miami football coverage goes, this guy rolls up his sleeves and gets knee-deep in it. No local beat writer covers the Canes like Navarro. He's has my respect.
Whereas this blog is editorial-style, with long distance thoughts from a long-time, opinionated Cane, Manny's reporting helps fans keep better tabs on the day-to-day regarding all things The U. No one is pretending to be something they're not.
Being that this site is all about giving opinions, let's throw another out there for discussion -- Manny's Friday rant was off base, out of character and definitely jumped the gun.
What is the point of a mid-April piece about 'intruders' breaching UM's local recruiting wall - two months after Signing Day and ten months from the next one? Navarro claims that UM's hold over local talent "is beginning to disappear like the ozone" and says that he's hearing change in the voices of local players and their affinity for the Canes.
Ten months from now we'll find out the fate of Corey Lemonier, Jakhari Gore, Jose Jose and Ivan McCartney. All grew up Miami fans and according to Navarro, all could wind up elsewhere because all lack some cult-like adoration for the hometown program.
Godforbid some high school seniors want to explore and see something outside their beloved 305 or 954 area code.
I don't get the 'sky is falling' tone of Navarro's piece. Not now. Not when things at Miami are looking better than they have in half a decade. The Canes finally have a playmaker and leader at quarterback. A slew of talented wideouts. A stable of running backs. Depth on the defensive line. Talent at linebacker. Potential in the secondary. A veteran offensive playcaller and a capable defensive position coach that will work with a defensive minded head coach.
With an exciting season around the corner, why in God's name is Navarro sweating what some teenagers are saying regarding a decision they'll make almost a year from now?
Ten months is a lifetime to a high school senior; especially a big time football recruit. Opinions change like the weather and these kids are all about following trends, being easily influenced and even more so, talking a big game. They're kids. C'mon now, what did ANY of us really know when we were seventeen? Not a fraction as much as we thought.
Navarro asks why Booker T. Washington running back Eduardo Clements is favoring Georgia, despite the fact his former high school coach is now on UM's staff and three of his former teammates are at The U.
The Knowshon Moreno train has left Athens and the Bulldogs have both Caleb King and Richard Samuel waiting in the wings, as well as a few lesser known backs. King and Samuel come highly-touted, but rather inexperienced.
In Miami, it's the Graig Cooper and Javarris James show for at least one more year. Also waiting in the wings, Lee Chambers and newbies Mike James and Lamar Miller. Not to mention, out of nowhere safety-turned-running back Damien Berry, who tore up spring ball.
Two legit prospects at UGA versus a few proven entities and some new super freshman at UM? Might the depth chart have more to do with Clements' waning interest than some conspiracy theory that Miami's wall around South Florida is crumbling?
Same to be said for local receiver Quinton Dunbar, a recent Miami decommit from a few weeks back. Is this really an indictment on UM or simply another kid who reexamined the depth chart? Sounds more like Dunbar is trying to avoid an uncomfortable Bryce Brown-like moment and realizes an early commitment isn't the best call if he's truly looking elsewhere.
Leonard Hankerson, Aldarius Johnson, Travis Benjamin, Thearon Collier, LaRon Byrd and Davon Johnson all made a mark in 2008 and now Kendal Thompkins and Tommie Streeter are on healthy for 2009. That's eight receivers Dunbar is looking up at depth chart-wise if he signs with Miami in fall.
Definitely not the place if you're not in the mood to compete or expect the promise of immediate starting time.
Former wideout Jermaine McKenzie -- a four-star prospect a few years back -- recently left the program because of an influx of talent at Miami and inability to crack the depth chart. Others feel the depth at receiver sent Andre Dubose to Florida, instead of to Miami with high school teammates Dyron Dye and Ray Ray Armstrong.
When hearing that, is it a big deal of Dunbar, a three-star, also seemed to flinch when sizing up the current crop of talent and reopened up his recruitment? Furthermore, what's the point of committing early anyways? Word is hardly a bond when talking about athletes and their supposed "commitment" to a university. I don't know of many committed relationships where one party is allowed to keep their options open, while being wooed by other prospects.
The recruiting game is a joke and this double-talk from the mouths of babes means absolutely nada.
There's a lot of football to be played between now and February 2010. The entire schedule and bowl season, actually. I promise everyone that Lemonier, Gore, Jose and McCartney do their fair share of flip-flopping over the next ten months. Let's see how hot Clements stays on Georgia if their two new backs light it up this fall and clog up the depth chart. Let's also wait and see Clements' reaction if the hometown Canes have a breakout season. Same with Dunbar. Will these guys really want to look elsewhere and miss out at a shot at playing for the hometown team?
According to Manny, Miami isn't the s3xy pick right now. Some kids are fawning over the style and dare I say 'swagger' of former Cane Mario Cristobal over at FIU -- 1-11 two years ago and 5-7 last season.
Let's see how things play out for the Golden Panthers this year and let's measure the growth of both local programs after the season. February is a long way away and not only can a lot change between now and then, you can bet that it most certainly will.
Kids were loving on Greg Schiano and Rutgers after a big time run in 2006, but the tide quickly turned a year later and hasn't been the same since. Perception becomes reality, but as we know with high school kids, perception changes on a dime.
Let's discuss all these supposed zzzzzs in the recruiting armor after year three of the Randy Shannon era, not before. The present is too bright to 'worry' about what some high school phenoms might or might not do. The current crop of Canes are the ones who need to win games and ensure future players get on board and keep the tradition alive.
Focus on the kids who are here, not the game players who are stringing you along for the ride.
|8 years ago||'04 #5485|
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Has Randy Shannon's "seat" ever been cold?
> Posted by Shandel Richardson on April 7, 2009 12:51 PM
CORAL GABLES _ Last week Rivals.com compiled a list of coaches who were under the most pressure this season.
Among them was UM coach Randy Shannon.
Rivals.com analyst Mike Huguenin, a former Orlando Sentinel editor, writes, "There are numerous coaches on the hot seat, the hottest other than [Notre Dame's Charlie] Weis' is the one under Miami coach Randy Shannon."
The question I have is has Shannon's seat ever been not hot?
It just seems he's been sitting on a flammable chair since taking over for Larry Coker. Is it fair? Probably not. But the whispers were there before he even coached one game because most felt Shannon wasn't the school's first choice. If Shannon were passed over, he was likely headed elsewhere, perhaps to be an NFL a.ssistant or something. The hire was a way to keep around one of the country's most successful defensive coordinators.
That novelty quickly wore off, as the sounds of the critics only magnified after a 5-7 record his first season. Last year's 7-6 finish was hardly enough to satisfy a rabid fan base and an administration that fired Coker after going 59-15 six seasons.
Shannon has downplayed all the "hot seat" talk by giving a similar answer to anyone who has asked if he has concerns about job status.
"I'm fine with that," Shannon said before spring practices began. " I got a job. My job is to win here. Everybody's always worried about, `Well is he going to get fired?' I don’t look at being fired. … The next year we’ve got to be better. That’s the key.”
The fact the Hurricanes are still trying to turn things around is probably because the program was in worse shape than many figured, but Shannon's coaching will take most of the blame from the public (Outsiders fail to remember it took Butch Davis six seasons to return UM to the top of college football.)
And that public reaction, meaning from fans and boosters, is likely the reason Shannon is still awaiting a contract extension. Anyone who doesn't think this can affect an administration's decision is crazy. Because it does. Athletic director Kirby Hocutt has publicly supported Shannon, and said he expects him to be around for a while. I believe him.
Unfortunately, in this serious business of college athletics, words only go so far.
|8 years ago||'04 #5486|
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The Boys are Back in Town...And Offensive Line Recruiting
by Dan Stein
12 April 2009
The subject of today’s blog is offensive line recruiting. I know, I know, this excites you all very much.
However, before I continue, I need to tell you a story about my little brother, Billy Stein (consider him the latest addition to the cast of characters).
Billy goes to Ole Miss and is, how should I say this, Fratty.
Any way, Billy came down to visit this weekend and he and I did our typical thing: drink beer, wear shorts that are shorter than most, talk about baseball, visit the baseball stadium, annoy girls and play Tiger Woods Golf 2003 for Playstation 2 (I made him cry for Mom, of course).
Anyway, Billy was very excited when he showed up (that is, he was excited to make it in to town after being delayed 3 hours in Shreveport having to suffer through 2 Checkers Prime Rib burgers upon landing in Miami).
He was also happy about a new girl in his life, which lead to the following conversation:
Dan: “What are the chances this lasts longer than 2 weeks?”
Bill: “About as good as the chances of Miami playing for the ACC Title this year.”
D: “That bad, huh?”
B: “I am the MacGyver of not closing.”
The point of the story?
Miami football has gone through such a downturn that my brother, who was born and bred on the ‘Canes and whose school last celebrated a National Title in 1962 is able to make jokes at the program’s expense.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Larry Coker Era.
And now, on to the hog mollies (which are vital to recovering from the funk which allows the students at a second rate SEC school to kick us while we are down):
Miami actually has two linemen committed at this point, so we will first look at them.
Shane McDermott, Palm Beach Central High
McDermott (don't confuse him with the actor) is a nice center prospect that fires off the ball. He is a little underweight at 266 lbs. according to Rivals, but at 6’3” he can put on healthy weight. He is a smart player and could be an immediate contributor.
Johnathan Feliciano, Western High
Feliciano is a mauler in his videos, but his competition appears to be weak. Either way, at 6’4” and 283 lbs. with apparent athleticism, he is a good take for this class that projects at tackle. Also, the story of Feliciano waiting for the coaches at the team bus after the Spring Game to ensure that his tape would end up in their hands should endear him to ‘Canes fans and message boarders for years to come.
The following prospects are the kids who Miami is known to be recruiting or can be expected to target. Offensive line is the hardest position to recruit, and the one where the most “sleepers are found”, so keep in mind that this list compiled in May is nowhere close to complete or comprehensive.
Brandon Linder, St. Thomas Aquinas
Linder is a national recruit and has a top three of Florida, Notre Dame and Miami. He is in Miami’s backyard, but STA has not been the type of pipeline that Northwestern or Booker T. Washington has. This will be one of the biggest battles of the season for the ‘Canes. Linder projects at center, guard or tackle depending with whom you talk to and is a 4 star player according to Rivals.
Jose Jose, Booker T. Washington
The rotund one from down the road is being recruited by the ‘Canes at center according to many. He is 6’2” and 355 lbs. according to Rivals, so he has some work to do to get in shape. However, he is explosive off the line and could work his way in to a Miami uniform.
Chaz Green, Jacksonville
Green is a tackle prospect that the ‘Canes would love to steal from Gator country, but consider it a long shot at best.
Tavadis Glenn, Jacksonville,
The Rivals 4 Star recruit has stated that he loves the ‘Canes and is good friends with UM commit Louis Nix. He expects to play offensive line in college, although he plays both ways in high school.
Torrian Wilson, Miami Northwestern
Wilson is the latest in the Northwestern Pipeline that has supplied the ‘Canes with linemen such as Vernon Carey, Marcus Forston, Ben Jones and Brandon Washington. He is a 4 Star player at Rivals and one of Miami’s top targets.
Perry Meiklejohn, Westminster Christian
He is a good sized prospect with good feet and a mean streak that coaches will see more of before deciding whether to offer or not.
Jonathan Ragoo, Monsignor Pace
Ragoo is huge at 6’7” and 360 lbs. He is also playing at another Miami pipeline. However, I am leery of guys this big after the Ian Symonnette Era.
That is it for today’s post. Stay classy, like this guy.
15 April 2009
After more than a year of telling my brother to check out my blog, he finally did when he heard tale that his name had come up as a main topic. He responded with the following e-mail (I told you he is Frat-tastic; I took the liberty of editing some of his work, as indicated):
Billy's Pet Peeves
Putting Bread in the Toaster and not Getting Toast:
I like my toast medium; that means I like it brown but not burnt. I wait for three minutes by a device made by a *edit* and all I get in return is a warm slice of bread when it pops back up. Then, of course, if you stick the bread back your toast burns like a California forest in July after just twenty seconds. Travesty!
Stepping in Dog *Edit*:
Hey who isn’t a fan of enhancing the already rank smell of your hundred dollar shoes by stepping in *edit*? Every part of this scenario is terrible. From the initial plop-and-slide of stepping, to the agony of the smell when you were thinking “it may just be a random mud mound in the middle of an asphalt parking lot”. The dog owner in the Beta house is somewhere giggling at the prospect of me stepping in the colossal log his Labrador left behind. But I know who you are man, and rest a.ssured I’m going to *edit* you in the heart.
The Ole Miss Hook Up:
The Miami Hurricane Offense:
If I had a dollar for every time I said Brock Berlin was the man when I was fifteen, I would have had some bare pockets. However, that Cajun from northern Louisiana looks like a Greek God compared to Miami’s ensuing K-phase.
Watching Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman try to read a defense was more painful than the *edit*. These two were some terrible offensive captains, and in being so, made me cry more times than an Emo reading an Edith Wharton novel.
Truthfully, this year was not much better. I gave Jacory Harris the benefit of the doubt every chance I had this year. But the last three minutes of the bowl game, whichever irrelevant one it was, said it all about the Miami offense. Harris did not make too much of an effort to move the ball down the field and put it in the end zone (this has not looked like much of an objective for the Miami offense since their last Orange Bowl win in 2004; and its messing up my universe).
Miami has a tradition unlike that of my school, Ole Miss. At Ole Miss we have the Grove (not to be confused with the Thursday night destination in Coral Gables) where we treat each game like the Kentucky Derby. Girls in pearls and dresses, and me in my baby blue slacks with a white shirt and pastel tie.
Miami has a history of winning championships; I don’t think I need to drop any one of the million names that seemingly played there. But who ever would have thought Ole Miss, whose last National Championship was won in 1962 when lynching was encouraged legally in Mississippi, would look to be in better shape than the Mighty U?
In closing, everything I just said makes my skin boil in rage.
And as to the question of Courtney Cox vs. Jennifer Aniston, I’m holding firm, no pun intended, on Maureen McCormick.
So, there you have it loyal readers: Billy Stein.
Also, time for a shameless self plug. I am the President of the Undergraduate Honor Council, which works on campus to promote the values of honesty, responsibility and integrity at the University of Miami. This week is Academic Integrity Week. This is a schedule of the events. I highly recommend those that are left to everyone.
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Excerpts from CSS special on the canes April 12th.
Randy Shannon interview quick notes:
Randy said that the offense will be much more creative than his other years at the U. He also said that the key to this offense this year is getting the playmakers the ball. In his words, "whoever is hot that game will get the ball. Its that simple.". The reporter then asked him about the rumors of him not being as up tight this season as he has been in the past. His response was that every coach is firm on rules, its just that he was more vocal to the public about his rules and punishments. He went on to say that because the team now knows what he expects from them, he dont have to be as stern because he now has there respect. When asked what attracted him to whipple, he said that he was impressed with the fact that at UMASS and Brown, whipple had an offense that produced 2 different 1000 yards rushers and a quaterback that through for 3000 yards in the same season. That is true balance. Whipple did this at Umass and at Brown.
Jacory Harris interview quick notes:
The reporters first question to Jacory was how did the spring go this year and how does it feel knowing that he is the starting quaterback now. He said that things went very good and that he has more confidence now knowing that the position is his. He went on to say that he can now take more chances and just be free instead of having to watch over his shoulder about losing his position. He aslo reitterated the fact that the team has crowned him the leader of the team by saying that eveyone looks at him like a big brother, even the upper classman. His last answer of the interview was, " The nucleus of the team is coming back, defensive starter and offensive starters, so expect a good season." This answer came from the question, What should the fans expect for this season.
John Lovett interview quick notes:
Reporter- What type of defense will you run? His response was, " What we are going to try to do is build on what they were already doing here. Every since Coach Shannon has been here, they have run a 4-3 scheme. We are going to develope that a little bit more and bring it up to speed with the new offenses that teams are now running. He said that he is going to keep the termanology the same and he will adjust to them. She asked him what was his main concerns, and he said that the depth at linebacker was his main concern. His other main concern is depth at safety. The reporter asked what do we need to do to get more big plays. His response, "We need to see the ball thrown better from the back. We are going to run alot of different combination coverages to get alot of pressure on the quaterback. We are also going to run things to force him to whole the ball longer. We will get alot of sacks."
Mark Whipple interview quick notes:
Reporter: What can hurricane fans expect to see from a whipples offense.
Whipple: Touchdowns I hope, I guess we all hope. We will try to eliminate all of the turnovers. We will score touchdowns. We will be balanced and really focus on getting the ball in the endzone.
Reporter: Talk about Jacory Harris
Whipple- He has a lot of talent. He can definitely throw the ball, but he really has a great understanding of the game and has a good presence. He really has the chance to be a great one and one of the best to come out of the university of miami.
Reporter: What are you most excited about by being back in the college world?
Whipple- Being able to teach. Being with the kids. The goal here is to win national championships and thats what we intend to do. Its been done 5 times and thats what I am excited about. The vision is there, the goal is there, and the standard is set. There is no grey area about that. Thats what Im most excited about.
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Randy Phillips interview quick notes:
Reporter: This is your fourth defensive coordinator since you have been here at the U. Tell us about the system that coach Lovett is implimenting.
Phillips: Its going real good. Coach Lovett is very enthusiastic and he has a great scheme.
Reporter: How tough was it on you to have to sit out after being injured last year in the Texas A&M game?
Phillips: The toughest thing was having to sit out knowing that his teammates needed him out there on the field. The recovery part is long and humbling
Reporter: Talk about the secondary in particular on where you feel like your strength's and weaknesses are.
Phillips; I think that we very strong all through the secondary. We have a lot of veteran corners that are coming back and alot of young boys coming in at corner that can play. In the safety, we have myself and JoJo Nichols coming back and Vaughn who did real good in the spring. I think we are going to be solid back there.
Reporter: What should hurricane fans expect to see defensively on the field this year?
Phillips: You can expect to see a great defense with alot of hard hits, alot of turnovers, and the defense scoring plenty of touchdowns.
Lyrone Byrd interview quick notes:
Reporter: A great group of wide receivers coming back this year. Talk about the talent that you guys have in that unit.
Byrd: Its so diverse. We can hit you in so many areas. You have Benjamin, a 4.2 guy, Collier, a shifty guy, Hankerson who is a big target, Tommy Streeter who is a serious deep threat.
Reporter: Talk about the playbook with coach Whipple.
Byrd: We we first got it, it was kind of hard and everyone was confused. He brought in alot from the NFL so it was kind of hard for us to pick up on it but once he broke everything down and started explaining the concepts, we began to understand it alot more.
Reporter: Talk about the stable of running backs that you guys have this year.
Byrd: You got Greg Cooper and Jarvaris James who have been doing their thing since they were freshman. And then you have Mike James who have been tearing things up. Everyday he breaks at least a 50 yard run.
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Jason Fox interview quick notes:
Reporter: How is the offensive line coming along?
Fox: Its coming along pretty well. We have improved alot. We still have some ways to go but we have all summer and the fall to get ready for the beginning of the season.
Reporter: How are the younger guys coming along?
Fox: It is like night and day from since the time that they got here up until now. Guys are doing a real good job.
Reporter: What are your goals for this year?
Fox: My goal is to win a national championship. Its my goal and everybody elses goal. And we are not going to change our standard. We want to win the ACC and then a National Championship.
Sean Spence interview quick notes:
Reporter: How did things go particularly for the linebackers this spring?
Spence: I think we went out there and got alot done on the linebacker side. We had guys out there flying around and just making plays.
Reporter: You had a great freshman year here at miami. How do you build on that for your sophmore year?
Spence: I go back at look at film from last year and I just try to improve on things and just get better. Im working on the little things.
Reporter: Its going to be a challenge right away kicking off the season at Florida State. Is that a good thing?
Spence; Yeah! Its a very good thing. Guys like myself came to miami to play in big games like this on a huge stage in front of large capacities.
Part II of Randy Shannon interview quick notes:
Reporter: Lets move on to your side of the ball. Miami has been known throughout the years for having that swagger on the defensive side. What can fans expect? Are we going to have that back?
Shannon: Yeah. Yeah. We are going to have it (swagger) back. Coach Lovett has been doing a great job with the defense and he has been around alot of football. The players like what he is doing and he has that good sense of humor with the players. They joke around with him but when it is time for him to get stern, he's stern. The players really respond to him.
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After arriving five minutes into the game and already staring down the barrel of a 4-0 Florida State lead, we turned our attention to making FSU Leftfielder/Pitcher Mike McGee’s life a living hell at the Friday night baseball game.
Let’s just say we were unsuccessful, as his two home runs and double were enough to silence his doubters.
However, what truly endeared McGee to us (take off your white wig) was during the eighth inning, when McGee made a play just in front of our seats. As he jogged back to his position we asked him a very simple question: “Jennifer Anniston or Courtney Cox?”
Expecting the typical straight ahead glare very common of baseball players who are trying to “stay in the game” and “be professional”, Scarpa and I were both surprised and charmed when McGee yelled back to us “Jennifer Anniston bro!”
Needless to say, Scarpa and I have a new, collective bromance.
While all this was fun, the point of this blog post is not to make you laugh. Obviously, we take our self much more seriously here at Stein on the Sidelines.
So we will continue with our breakdown of the 2010 recruiting class. Up today is the wide receiver position.
Quinton Dunbar, Booker T. Washington
Dunbar, at 6’3”, 170 lbs. according to Rivals, is a tall and lanky downfield threat. He already has committed to the ‘Canes and then rescinded that commitment, but most consider him a ‘Cane lock. Rivals has him as a 4 star player.
Ivan McCartney, Miramar
Chad Johnson’s cousin “Sticks” is in my opinion the top receiver in South Florida. He is the total package, and many think he is Miami’s to lose. He is 6’3”, 180 lbs. and a 4 star player according to Rivals.
Michaelee Harris, Miami Northwestern
Northwestern’s latest wide receiver prospect is considered to be a solid but not spectacular player, they type that all teams need. He will naturally get compared to Aldarious Johnson, but he is not big enough for that. Rivals has him at 6’, 167 lbs.
De’Joshua Johnson, Pahokee
Johnson is “The Muck’s” annual smurf that does nothing but make plays, following in the footsteps of players like Travis Benjamin, Martvaious Odoms and Nu’Keese Richardson. He is considered a Florida State lock, but Miami is working hard on him. Rivals has him as a 4 star player and listed generously at 5’11”, 150 lbs.
Chris Dunkley, Royal Palm Beach
Dunkley is a battle between the Gators and ‘Canes, and may be the most electric player in Florida. Most a.ssumed he was heading away from home, but Miami is very much in the picture. Rivals has him at 4 stars and 5’10”, 164 lbs.
Joshua Reese, Miami Central
Reese, like Harris, is solid but not spectacular. He is the type of player that has typically ended up at USF or West Virginia, but Miami likes to take players from Central, so he may be a strong Plan B receiver if the ‘Canes miss out on Johnson and Dunkley. Rivals has him at 4 stars and 6’1”, 172 lbs.
Willis Wright, Miami Springs
Wright is a playmaker at both receiver and safety. He is down to UM and FIU, and many think he is headed to FIU to get a chance at receiver, while Miami wants him at safety. Rivals has him as 6’2”, 185 lbs.
Others to Keep an Eye On: Kenny Shaw, James Louis, Teddy Meline
That is the rundown for the receivers.
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2010 Recruiting: Running Backs
by Dan Stein
1 April 2009
Today, we continue the introduction to the class of 2010 with a breakdown of the running back class, featuring a lot of South Florida studs.
Last season, the 'Canes took two running backs, Mike James and Lamar Miller. James has already showed that he has a bright future. Miller is expected to make an impact as a kick returner and possible out of the backfield upon arrival.
Given that the 'Canes have a solid stable in place and will lose only 1-2 to graduation means that Miami will get to be choosy with their scholarships at this position.
Eduardo Clements, Booker T Washington High School
Clements is regarded as the most complete back in South Florida and one of the tops in the nation as a 4 star player at Rivals. He has the combination of burst, size and speed that coaches love at 5'10" and 185 lbs. and can catch the ball out of the backfield. He has been rumored to be Florida State's to lose, but has declared Georgia his leader. With Miami in his backyard, nothing will be finalized until signing day.
Jakari Gore, Columbus High
Gore, the cousin of former Hurrican and current 49er superstar Frank Gore, is on the smallish side but is a beast with the ball in the open field. Many think he will be a scatback/slot receiver at the next level, in the mold of a Devin Hester type. He is the type of guy that you get the ball 10-12 times a game and let him do the rest. Rivals lists him as a 4 star player at 5'10", 170 lbs.
Gio Bernard, St. Thomas Aquinas
Bernard, who's older brother starred at Oregon State, is one of the top handful of backs in Florida this year. He is well coached at St. Thomas Aquinas and measures in at 5'9", 198 lbs. He has been rumored to be headed to the West Coast for college, but Miami is reportedly hard after him. Rivals has him at 4 stars.
Brandon Gainer, Miami Central High
Gainer is listed at 6', 194 lbs. by Rivals and was one of Dade's top rushers as a junior last season. He will not blow anyone away with raw ability but is a grinder that will be productive. Is apparently a heavy lean to FSU, but again, he is in Miami's backyard.
Devon Wright, Taravella High
Wright is somewhat unknown at this point to the casual observer, but coaching staffs across the nation are taking notice. He is unlisted on Rivals, but other indications have him at 6'1" 195 lbs. and equally adept at running back as safety. Wright will blossom this year, and the 'Canes may take him as a bigger compliment to a scat back.
Other local players to take note of include Southwest Miami's Hosey Williams, Northwestern's Corvin Lamb, Pace's DeAndre Johnson and ArchBishop Carroll's Jeff Scott. Also, the 'Canes are after another runner out of Wichita, 4 Star Joseph Randle. However, the 'Canes have offered him as a defensive back, and may cut bait altogether after the Bryce Brown fiasco.
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Recruiting: 2010 (Insert Law and Order Chime Here)
by Dan Stein
Now that the spring game is over, it is time to turn our attention to recruiting for the next month or so. This is shaping up to be a loaded year in South Florida, and this will probably be the most balanced of Randy Shannon’s recruiting classes to this point, with the emphasis most likely being on cornerbacks and offensive linemen.
I will begin a position by position summary of the prospects you should know at this point at the most important position of all, quarterback.
This year, Miami will certainly take one and probably two quarterbacks. After taking only A.J. Highsmith last season, Miami may not have to leave the state to take two this year.
This is also the position that we know the least about right now. There has not been much news about Miami and any of the prospects listed here aside from the players that have attended Miami camps and made statements publicly about the ‘Canes. However, this is a pretty good idea of where the ‘Canes stand on their recruiting board presently.
Jeffrey Godfrey, Miami Central High School
Godfrey seems to be the number one signal caller in South Florida this season, although he is at maximum 5’11”. Still, Godfrey has a cannon and will lead a loaded Central team this season with fellow Miami targets Josh Reece and Brandon Gainer. Godfrey is currently a 4 star player on Rivals despite his lack of height.
Christian Green, Tampa, FL
Green is a dynamic athlete at 6’2” with a listed 4.4 forty according to Rivals. Scout actually lists him as a receiver, but Green is regarded as one of the best recruits in Florida at any position. He is from Tampa, so one would naturally a.ssume that if UF wants him he is theirs. However, Green is high on several SEC schools as well as Miami, and the Gators already have stud QB recruit Trey Burton in the barn. Green could be a nice addition for Miami, and the pair of Green and Godfrey would give Miami two guys who can chuck it and run it with equal aplomb. Rivals ranks Green as a 4 star player at this point.
Turner Baty, St. Thomas Aquinas
Baty is a transfer from California who will take over the top high school team in the nation. He likes the ‘Canes, but Miami will probably wait and see how he performs in South Florida with so much talent around him before they make a decision one way or another on him. He is a solid 6’2” and 200 lbs. according to Rivals.
Michael Strauss, Gulliver Prep
Strauss is a scrappy competitor who I watched in the Gulliver’s state title game loss this past December. I thought he had a lot of work to do if he wants to be a Miami-caliber quarterback, but it would not surprise me if he worked his way to an offer. He is not the most physically gifted, but there is a bit of a nasty streak to him, which I like.
Others to keep an eye on: Brandon Doughty (Coconut Creek, FL), Brandon Hill (Audubon, NJ)
Tomorrow, I will take a look at the LOADED running back position.
Also, this is a debate that I have been having with my friends for a while now: Who is the most popular athlete on Earth?
I know that Tiger has all the money (and easily the best looking girl), but does that make him the most popular? Is Beckham really representative of soccer? What about Michael Schumacher? Formula 1 is popular everywhere but America, and he is the Michael Jordan of the sport. Or is it Kobe Bryant, the rockstar of the China Olympics? Maybe a Wild Card like Yao Ming or Michael Phelps?
More importantly, is this girl hot or not?
These are the questions I want answers to. Anyone that reads this (and there has to be someone out there reading this), please let me know what you think.
Until I have found my answer, I will continue to search, like Kentucky fans are still searching for an answer to this.
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ACC Spring Football Power Rankings
ACC Spring Football Power Rankings
Slide 1 of 14
TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 06: Tech fans celebrate after the Virginia Tech Hokies score in the third quarter against the Boston College Eagles in the 2008 ACC Football Championship game at the Raymond James Stadium on December 6, 2008 in Tampa, Florida. Virgin
Spring is finally here and it's never too early to start talking ACC football.
Seems like a good enough reason for spring Power Rankings and team-by-team breakdowns.
The ACC was as competitive if not more so than any league in the country last season, sending a staggering 10 teams bowling.
The scary thing is 2009's version could and probably should be even more competitive.
Virginia Tech will enter the season as defending Atlantic Coast Conference Champions for the second straight season.
Also, for the first time in 16 years both the ACC Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year return in Georgia Tech's Jonathan Dwyer and Boston College's Mark Herzlich.
They'll all have to work though if they'd like to retain their respective titles.
Yes, this season should be another step forward for the ACC, which should finally get the respect it deserves on a national level.
Now to the power rankings:
12. Duke Blue Devils
Sorry, Blue Devil fans. Although Duke took steps in the right direction last year, they're still bringing up the rear in the ACC.
In just his first year with the Blue Devils, David Cutcliffe matched the combined win total of Duke's previous four seasons.
However, four wins is nothing to write home about. It is progress though for Duke, and they should take yet another step forward this year.
The Blue Devils will miss the services of talented receiver Eron Riley and linebacker Michael Tauiliili who led the ACC last year in tackles.
On the plus side, one of the better quarterbacks in the league, Thaddeus Lewis returns, as well as 2007 team leading rusher Re'Quan Boyette, who sat out all last year with a knee injury.
Returning sack leader defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase and linebacker Vincent Rey, should help anchor the defensive unit.
Don't expect the Blue Devils to take a step back this season.
11. Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia fans have to be excited about the prospect of quarterback Jameel Sewell returning to the field and bringing back four of five starters on the offensive line.
Not so much, though, about the loss of leading rusher Cedric Peerman and last season's top four receivers: Kevin Ogletree, Maurice Covington, Cary Koch and tight end John Phillips.
Losing three of your starting linebackers is never fun, either.
Though I would be cautious to deem Sewell some kind of savior before the season even begins, he could very well reemerge as a solid quarterback.
Running back Mikell Simpson will tote the rock for the Wahoos and could turn some heads if he works hard enough.
With the addition of new offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon's spread offense, UVA could be a surprise team.
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10. Boston College Eagles
Boston College has been one of the most consistent teams since joining the ACC and has played in the last two ACC Championship games.
However, this season will likely be more of a down year for the Eagles.
BC fans should be thrilled about ACC Defensive Player of the Year linebacker Mark Herzlich returning to lead the defense, and sophomore running back Montel Harris showed his skill in eclipsing 100 yards in three of the Eagles' last five games.
Expecting a third straight trip to the ACC Championship is probably a little unreasonable though.
The loss of big-time players on defense like B.J. Raji and Ron Brace, as well as linebacker Mike McLaughlin, who is out indefinitely after tearing his Achilles' tendon, won't help the Eagles' cause.
Add a young and unproven quarterback as well as a new coaching staff to the mix and you've got the Eagles probably looking at a rebuilding year.
That being said Boston College is consistently consistent and has a knack for overachieving.
9. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Wake Forest's question marks lie on defense and wide receiver. The Demon Deacons will be without top pass catcher D.J. Boldin and another starting receiver in Chip Brinkman. However, the real area of concern for the Deacs is on defense.
Wake will have to replace seven starters on the defensive side of the ball, including a phenomenal corner back in Alphonso Smith and a simply irreplaceable talent in linebacker Aaron Curry, who may be the best player in this year's NFL draft.
That being said, it's not all doom and gloom for Wake.
The offense should improve just about everywhere, with maybe the possible exception of the receiving corps.
Talented quarterback Riley Skinner returns behind an offensive line that should be better.
Behind him, the Demon Deacons should also improve with a deep rotation of running backs featuring Brandon Pendergrass, Josh Adams, and a player to watch in Kevin Harris.
Furthermore, Jim Grobe is an excellent coach who can X and O with the best of them so Wake fans have no reason to sulk.
8. Maryland Terrapins
Maryland was a somewhat baffling team at points last year, losing inexplicably to Middle Tennessee State and getting shellacked 31—0 by UVA, but then turning around and toppling four ranked teams, including a 26—0 win over then-No. 21 Wake Forest.
If the Terrapins want to contend for an Atlantic division crown, they'll have to win the games they're supposed to win.
They'll also have to replace three starters on the offensive line, talented speedster receiver Darrius Heyward—Bay, and four starters from Maryland's defensive front seven.
The good news? Senior quarterback Chris Turner, who passed for 2,516 yards and 13 touchdowns last year as well as talented running backs Da'Rel Scott and Davin Meggett, who teamed for over 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, all return.
If first—year defensive coordinator Don Brown can put together a solid defense to go along with what should be a productive offense, the Terrapins will definitely be around in the end.
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7. Clemson Tigers
Clemson was unanimously viewed as a disappointment last year after beginning the season ranked No. 9 in the nation and ending with a record of 7—6, which was inflated by two wins against FCS teams The Citadel and South Carolina State.
The beauty of spring though is it signifies a new beginning, and Clemson will surely like to start anew.
No more Tommy Bowden, James "Thunder" Davis, Aaron Kelly and Cullen Harper, along with a new offensive coordinator, will give the Tigers a different look this season.
However, Clemson fans will be glad to get back offensive playmakers C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford.
They'll also be familiar on defense with nine starters back from a defense that finished in the top 20 nationally in both scoring and total defense.
Defensive end Da'Quan Bowers could emerge as a star this season.
In any case, Dabo Swinney and the Tigers will put last season in the past and focus on putting together the best possible team to contend in the Atlantic this season.
6. NC State Wolfpack
After dropping six of their first eight games, the Wolfpack got hot and won four of the last five.
A big part of that late-season success was due to the emergence of Russell Wilson, who became the first freshman quarterback to earn first—team All—ACC honors.
Wilson will return as arguably the best quarterback in the ACC to lead the Wolfpack.
On offense NC State will have to replace both starting guards, John Bedics and Meares Green, as well as leading rusher Andre Brown.
Defensively, there's not too much change though they will lose two starters in the secondary.
However, the Wolfpack will get 2006 leading rusher Toney Baker back after two injury-plagued seasons.
He will share the load with running back Jamelle Eugene in the backfield on what should be an improved offense overall.
NC State should be much better this year and will be legitimate contenders for the Atlantic crown
5. North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina took some huge steps forward last season in Butch Davis's second year as the Tar Heels' head coach.
Their eight wins doubled their 2007 total, they made their first bowl appearance in five years, and they cracked the Top 25 for the first time in seven years.
The Tar Heels should continue their rise in '09, though it likely won't be as drastic.
UNC returns nine starters on defense, tied with Clemson for the most in the ACC.
They'll also get back talented quarterback T.J. Yates, who missed seven games last season after injuring his ankle in a game against Virginia Tech.
Running back Shaun Draughn who led the team last year 866 rushing yards, will be a player to watch.
Fellow running back Ryan Houston will also be a big part of the ground game, as Greg Little will move to wide receiver.
It's not all good news for the Heels though. A large part of the reason for Little's move to receiver is the departure of North Carolina's top three receivers from last year.
Superstar Hakeem Nicks will be irreplaceable and Brandon Tate will be missed for multiple reasons including his dangerous return abilities.
Yes, losing Nicks and Tate isn't fun but North Carolina has a lot of confidence in their defense, ground game, and quarterback T.J. Yates. They should be better overall in '09.
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4. Miami Hurricanes
Talent isn't something Miami fans should be worrying about in 2009; they've got plenty.
It's whether that young talent will be able to jell in time to survive an early season schedule that would make the other team in green from Miami sit up.
The Canes' first three games are against arguably the three best teams in the ACC, including road trips to Florida State, the always friendly Lane Stadium, and one at home against a Georgia Tech team that dismantled them by 18 points last year.
They begin the non—conference portion of their schedule with a walk in the park when the Oklahoma Sooners come to town. Yeah, just kidding.
A 2—2 record to start the season would be impressive enough.
Don't tell that to the Miami Hurricanes though. With new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple's creative pro style offense and a bunch of young talented receivers for up—and—coming quarterback Jacory Harris to throw to, the Canes feel they can play with anyone.
They just might be right.
3. Florida State Seminoles
There hasn't exactly been much good news coming out of Tallahassee for Seminoles fans recently, especially if you're a wide receiver enthusiast.
Most of Florida State's offensive firepower from last year is gone and on top of that receivers meant to fill starting roles like Rod Owens, have been suspended.
Last year's leading rusher Antone Smith is also gone and the defense will have to find replacements for six starters including star defensive end Everette Brown.
Lou Groza Award winning placekicker Graham Gano will also be sorely missed.
So why is Florida State ranked so high?
It begins up front where the Seminoles return all five starters on the offensive line.
They should make things a lot easier for a very smart quarterback in Christian Ponder and running backs Ty Jones and Jermaine Thomas.
Florida State has talent at wide receiver, it's depth they're lacking. Bert Reed, Jarmon Forston, Louis Givens, and Richard Goodman will try and offset the loss of play—making receivers Greg Carr and Preston Parker who was dismissed among others.
On defense, cornerback Patrick Robinson and defensive end Toshmon Stevens are emerging as defensive leaders.
Florida State still isn't where they want to be as a program, but Seminoles fans can still expect a successful season similar to last year's.
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2. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech fans have plenty to be excited about in '09 as they'll return the starters at every skill position.
The Yellow Jackets should continue their dominance on the ground with Paul Johnson's triple—option spread offense.
Running back Jonathan Dwyer is an exciting player to watch; he'll be defending his ACC Offensive Player of the Year Award.
Quarterback Josh Nesbitt doesn't have to be Colt McCoy, but he needs to improve as a passer for Georgia Tech to progress.
Throwing for two touchdowns and five interceptions to go along with a 43.9 completion percentage, just won't cut it, especially if the Yellow Jackets get behind.
Although most of the defense returns, three veteran starters from the defensive line are gone.
Defensive end Derrick Morgan remains from that group. Safety Morgan Burnett will join him as the leaders on defense.
Georgia Tech will be a legitimate contender for the ACC crown this season.
And if you still don't understand Paul Johnson's offense, the GTG's can break it down for you. Just Google "The Perfect Option."
1. Virginia Tech Hokies
Virginia Tech fans will see a very familiar team in 2009, as 16 starters return from last year's squad.
They were one of the youngest teams in the country last year and still managed to win an ACC Championship as well as the Orange Bowl.
The Hokies will surely miss phenomenal corner back Victor "Macho" Harris and star defensive end Orion Martin, but the seven starters returning should be more than enough to keep Bud Foster's consistently stellar defenses among the best in the nation.
Cornerback Stephan Virgil, linebacker Cody Grimm, and defensive end Jason Worilds will be all over the field in '09.
On offense, Virginia Tech should have one of the best backfields in the country this season with elusive quarterback Tyrod Taylor, emerging star running back Darren Evans, and highly touted red—shirt freshman running back Ryan Williams.
Virginia Tech struggled at times moving the ball through the air last year, but should look better this season with a year of experience under their now sophomore receiving corps. The return of speedster Brandon Dillard won't hurt, either.
With almost every educated mind in the college football world pegging Virginia Tech as a top 10 team and potential national title contender, it's easy to see why Hokie Nation is so excited.
However one thing is clear: nothing will be easy in this year's ACC.
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Miami Hurricanes Looking to Sure Up Secondary, Offensive Line
Miami University football coach Randy Shannon thinks his Hurricanes can turn things around this season after a 7-6 year.
But several things have to fall into place.
"We will have to see,"said Shannon,entering his third season as the 'Canes coach. "I don't know if we are experienced enough or tough enough."
One reflection as to why Miami finished 7-6 last season was,in sum, a lack of talent.For the first time in the last 16 years the Hurricanes the Hurricanes will not have a player selected in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft.
And, while the Hurricane supporters have a genuine liking for their coach, he understands too that Miami football has not been up to the elete standards they once held.
The quarterback situation and a blethera of running backs appear as team strengths.
Harris has taken over the quarterback spot after splitting time last season with now transferred Robert Marve. A year ago the signal caller did play in 13 games and threw for 1195 yards while completing 60 percent of his passes. Freshman Taylor Cook has won the back-up job,while classmate Cannon Smith is listed at No. 3.
"He looks real improved," Shannon said. "And he's become the leader for us that we've looked for."
Javarris James (4.2 ypc) and Griag Cooper (841 yards,4.9 yards per carry) were the workhorses of last season and they both return but will have to compete with sophomore Damien Berry and Mike James. Berry ran for 114 yards on 14 carries during the Hurricanes' spring game and he is listed as the third team RB.
Lamar Miller will report in the fall, too. Miller ran for 17.48 yards and scored 22 touchdowns at Miami-Kilian. In the fall, Lee Chambers,who had a great game vs Cal in last season's bowl game, will also join the frey in the candidate pool.
"We have put in new offenses and defenses," added Shannon, mentioning new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple and new Miami defensive coordinator John Lovett. "We have all been doing alot of learning. I'm pretty pleased with where we are right now."
The Hurricanes wideout and slot positions were extremely unique in that the leading UM receiver totaled 332 yards. But, the good news is there is help on the way AND the 'Canes did have TEN ball-catcher that averaged 10+ yards per catch.
Aldarius Johnson had 332 yards and a 10.7 ypc,while Thearon Collier grabbed 26 passes and averaged 12.5 per grab. Deddrick Epps, a solid blocker at his TE spot, averaged 16.3 per catch.
Tommy Street, a 6'5" freshmen who gives UM a true high-jumping,deep-running Wideout and Kendall Thompkins,who is a trademark wideout following many of the greats at Miami Northwestern High School, will bolster a group that is already strong.
Brandon McGee, the 10th ranked defensive back in high school football last season,joins a group(secondary) that must live up to their potential. In fact the four interceptions that the 'Canes came up with last year, tied a school "record."
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1 comments Last one added 13 days ago — Leave a Comment
Andrei 13 days ago
I liked the time, effort and background work that you put into your article. I could tell you really did lots of research. While I have never written a story for the Bleacher Report I always enjoy the stories written. I am a huge Miami Hurricane fan who attended the Spring game last week and saw first hand some of the things that you wrote about. Just a little constructive criticism. Just spell check your article before sending it out in the future. Elete is (elite) and blethera is (plethora). They were some other slight issues, like Eric Moncur went to Carol City High and at the end of the article you had the DE's and DT's inverted. I am not an editor by any means, but enjoyed your article and just thought I would mention these things to you for your future articles. I always use spell check and/or a dictionary whenever I write/type anything up just to be safe. Again, I hope you don't take it the wrong way, I just had to let you know. I look forward to reading more of your articles in the future (on whatever subject, topic or team). Best of luck to you. Go Canes!!
Lowell, I liked the time, effort and background work that you put into your article. I could tell you really did lots of research. While I have never written a story for the Bleacher Report I always enjoy the stories written. I am a huge Miami Hurricane fan who attended the Spring game last week and saw first hand some of the things that you wrote about. Just a little constructive criticism. Just spell check your article before sending it out in the future. Elete is (elite) and blethera is (plethora). They were some other slight issues, like Eric Moncur went to Carol City High and at the end of the article you had the DE's and DT's inverted. I am not an editor by any means, but enjoyed your article and just thought I would mention these things to you for your future articles. I always use spell check and/or a dictionary whenever I write/type anything up just to be safe. Again, I hope you don't take it the wrong way, I just had to let you know. I look forward to reading more of your articles in the future (on whatever subject, topic or team). Best of luck to you. Go Canes!! Edit Comment Cancel
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|8 years ago||'04 #5499|
$12,859 | 0
Hurricane Offense Gets Whippled Into Shape by New Offensive Coordinator
Finally, someone has brought creativity back to The U. His name: Mark Whipple.
For the last thirty years, the University of Miami has long been known for bringing not only swagger to games but an offense that can put up 40+ points on any given Saturday.
However, over the last five years those numbers have been in steady decline, barely touching the mid 20's as of last year.
Luckily, Miami has also been blessed with being known for a fast, aggressive, and turnover driven defense that has hid the blemishes of Miami's lack of offensive production.
However, when Randy Shannon, Miami's defensive coordinator for much of that time, was promoted to head coach, that defensive Band-Aid was ripped off. This exposed not only how much Randy Shannon's creativity on defense meant to the U, but just how far Miami's offense had fallen off since its last national title in 2001.
This lack of production from the offense and Pop Warner style of play led Randy Shannon to make the move every Hurricane fan needed: hire a creative, proven, NFL-minded guy named Mark Whipple.
Whipple comes to Miami with tons of experience at every level. He has won national championships at the Division 1-AA level while also setting records for scoring and offensive yardage.
He has spent the last five years in the NFL—most recently for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
So with this new playbook, how has Miami looked?
Well, by all accounts during spring practice Miami is doing something they have not done in the past three years: throw the ball deep and score some points off those throws.
According to Whipple, Jacory Harris, the clear starting quarterback, is very consistent and has a ton of potential. Harris has stated on numerous occasions how this offense reminds him of the offense he played while winning a national championship with several of his current Hurricane Teammates at Northwestern High School.
Harris stated that the offense is wide open, allowing him to put the ball in the hands of his playmakers quickly and often, in turn keeping defenses guessing and allowing the offense to dictate the pace of the game.
During the spring game held this last Saturday at Lockhart Stadium, it seemed nearly every past Hurricane great showed up to see what Whipple is cooking up.
About 10 percent of the Hurricanes playbook was brought out in the spring game.
The Miami offense executed by rushing for over 157 yards and Jacory Harris completed 75 percent of his passes for 141 yards.
According to the Miami Herald, there were multiple plays of over 30 yards. Of course, there were some interceptions and mishaps but overall Miami should give fans something to finally cheer about beyond a defensive touchdown this year
Get used to the idea of Miami as an ACC national champion contender because the winds of change are coming in the form of a Hurricane.
|8 years ago||'04 #5500|
$12,859 | 0
is Randy Shannon Hearing Tommy Tuberville Whispers?
Most schools might give a coach five years to build a program and get his feet under him. Miami is not one of them.
Entering his third season and building on a 12-13 record, the whispers that Randy Shannon may not be the man to fix the program will turn into shouts by season's end if the 'Canes don't show very significant improvement.
What may make the hot seat even hotter is that Tommy Tuberville has shown some interest in the job at Miami. In case you don't know your coaching history, Tuberville has three national championship rings in a drawer somewhere he earned as an a.ssistant at Miami.
"I don't wish anybody bad will. Something is going to happen somewhere. There are some places I'd coach and some I wouldn't. I want to go somewhere where they are committed. You've got to get everybody on the same page. If you can't get everybody on the same page, it's not going to work," said Tuberville recently.
Translated—I wouldn't consider going to Wyoming or some such place. I want a big job at a big time school where I will be loved and revered and not have to worry about boosters or former coaches trying to stab me in the back.
What is the future of the Miami Head coaching spot?
* A. Shannon pulls it out and survives
* B. Tuberville comes in after this season
* C. Miami goes in a different direction
vote to see results
Clearly the powers that be fondly remember Tuberville and are impressed by his resume, and why shouldn't they be?
After leaving Miami with three national championship rings, he took over Ole Miss and led them to three bowls in four years—a feat not since repeated. Then his record at Auburn speaks for itself, including an undefeated season.
Boosters already lobbying for Tommy are pointing at Shannon and saying that promoting an a.ssistant to this job just didn't work. Yes, they got a decent coach for a cheap price, but they also are getting the results they paid for and that's just no bargain.
So the question is not so much would Miami want Tuberville—of course they would. The question is, why would Tommy give up a job with ESPN and the easy lifestyle to dive back into coaching?
In a word: ego.
At Miami, Tuberville would have the national stage he desires, he would suddenly become a huge fish in a small pond of coaching talent in the ACC, and lastly he wouldn't have to work as hard in recruiting as he had to at Auburn.
Let's face it, if you can't recruit in Florida you can't recruit anywhere.
Tuberville would like nothing better than to take over a program like Miami and lord his success over the same people that he felt never appreciated him at Auburn.
There are just two things that remain to be seen.
Can Shannon turn Miami around enough this year to salvage his job? Most think no. And will Tuberville take a shot or two at Shannon should he get the chance with his television gig?
All these questions are what makes football season so much fun.
There are so many "games" going on behind the scenes that are as interesting as the contests themselves—and it never ceases to be entertaining.