Five Hurricanes were chosen to participate in the NFL combine, which is Feb. 23-29 in Indianapolis.
Cornerback Artie Burns, safety Deon Bush, defensive tackle Ufomba Kamalu, inside linebacker Raphael Kirby and wide receiver Rashawn Scott were selected.
Of those, Burns is expected to be the highest pick in the NFL draft, April 28-30. He left school after his junior season, in which he led the ACC with six interceptions. He is widely projected to go in the top three rounds, and will likely test well.
An NFL personnel executive told NFL.com that Burns’ “tape is just average. Betting on the combine with him and he’ll test off the charts. He’s got the traits, but he’s not ready yet.” NFL.com’s scouting report said Burns is “extremely raw and undisciplined” and still in the infant stages” of reaching his pro potential but is a “premium athlete” with “length, speed and ball skills.” The NFL exec also noted Burns’ persona, which is bright despite his off-the-field hardships. Burns, 19, lost his mother suddenly last October. “He’s a good kid who has so much to deal with now that his mom has passed,” the exec said.
Regarding Bush, an AFC North scout said he projects as “a mid-rounder with very good special teams value but will need to be a backup box safety-type of player early in his career.”
NFL.com didn’t write draft stock reports on Kamalu, Kirby and Scott. None of those players are projected to be drafted by NFLDraftScout.com. Last month, DraftInsider.net’s Tony Pauline projected them to be late-round picks at best.
James said in October the terms presented by Florida Citrus Sports, the organization that would host the game, were attractive. Under deal proposed in October, UM and UF would receive an equal number of allotted tickets.
“Those are still the goals,” James said.
A spokesperson for Florida Citrus Sports would not say whether the deal was close and said the organization does “not discuss any of our business contracts publicly.”
UM beat UF 21-16 at Sun Life Stadium in 2013, the most recent of a 55-game series which began in 1938. The teams played every year from 1944 to 1987. The Canes lead the series 29-26 and have won seven of the last eight.
Miami has an away-and-home series with Notre Dame this year and next. It opens the 2018 season against LSU at billion-dollar AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Ideally for UM, Florida would fill its marquee non-conference slot for 2019. UM has an away-and-home slate with Michigan State in 2020-21.
What comes next?
“We haven’t made any decisions on that front yet,” James said, speaking via phone as he returned from a meeting of the NCAA’s Division I Football Oversight Committee in Indianapolis. He is the ACC’s representative.
Among the other items on James’ agenda:
An indoor football practice facility “remains a top priority for us,” James said. UM is still hoping to secure a big-money, groundbreaking donation. “I’m confident we’ll get a gift,” James said. “Everyone recognizes how important it is for the long-term success of our program.” UM continues to work with architects on the design, which will likely be constructed on UM’s current campus “given our limited land resources,” James said, “but until we finalize that, that’s still to be determined.”
James has often said he likes to have one new big-ticket item for the athletics department each school year. What’s coming this year? He wouldn’t say: “I’m sure we’ll have something to celebrate come August.”
Regarding the addition of a 2016 away game against Appalachian State (Sept. 17) – the widely held perception being Miami that has little to gain by playing Sun Belt teams on the road – James wouldn’t go into great detail. He did say the Mountaineers weren’t Miami’s most desirable opponent, but they were available.
“Scheduling’s a complicated thing,” he said. “It wasn’t our first choice. You have to fill out your schedule. We’re excited to go to App State and finish out our schedule.
“There are a lot of moving parts any time you schedule a game. Like I said, it wasn’t where we had targeted, but it was what was best for us when it came time to finish the schedule.”
Miami visited Conference-USA opponent FAU last year as part of a three-game series that took the Owls to Sun Life twice. UM hosts FAU Sept. 10 to finish the series. It is unknown if the sides will continue to play each other.
The Football Oversight Committee met as a follow-up to last month’s NCAA convention in San Antonio. What did it discuss? Not a whole lot of interest, considering last year at this time, the NCAA passed its sweeping cost of attendance measure. This year, James said, reducing time demands on athletes are “a big part of the conversation.” The council meets next in April.
(By the way: last year, then-Georgia coach Mark Richt was named the SEC’s rep — and only head coach — on the committee. He is no longer on the roster. An SEC spokesperson said the committee is searching for a replacement.)
Satellite camps are another pressing topic for the ACC, which has sought to end the practice (the SEC is also against them). At the NCAA convention, the conference brought forward a proposal to limit an institution’s summer camps to on-campus facilities or at those “regularly used by the program.” It will be voted on in April when the council holds its next meeting.
If the NCAA does not ban satellite camps then, they will be a hot topic at the ACC’s spring meetings, held in May at Amelia Island. The league will discuss whether it should permit its coaches to conduct out-of-area camps.
Semi-related out-of-state news: the head coach of Maryland high school powerhouse DeMatha Catholic posted a message saying Miami will be “represented” at its Feb. 27 coaching clinic.
Are we any closer to an ACC network? James said it was discussed at the ACC’s winter meetings last month and “all of us recognize the importance a network could play” in financial strength and marketing. However, he said, “I don’t know that we’re any closer. I would say the network remains a priority. With that said, I think we have a great partner in ESPN and I know the ACC conference will do a great job in positioning us for the future. If that’s with a [standalone] network, great.”
With that said …
Miami among the ACC’s leaders in broadcasting its sporting events. James said Miami will produce 103 events on ESPN programming this year, a major leap forward. “We’ve gone from last in the league in terms of [available programming] to – and I’ll find out in May for sure, but I believe we’re going to be first,” he said.
While football and men’s basketball are mostly produced by ESPN, Miami self-produces coverage of women’s basketball, baseball, home tennis, track, soccer and volleyball matches and sends feeds of the action to ESPN, which carries them on ESPN3.com and the WatchESPN app (sometimes, they can be seen on ESPNU or ESPN2). Swimming, rowing and golf are the only UM sports that cannot be seen on ESPN3.com.
So, in 2016, we’re at a point where you can hold a UM track meet in the palm of your hand. Not bad.
“It was an area we made a significant investment in. It’s been a great return for us,” James said.
Super Bowl 50 didn’t go quite how Greg Olsen hoped it would, but he still joined elite company among former Hurricanes.
Olsen, who caught four of nine passes thrown his way for 41 yards in a 24-10 loss to the Broncos, became the 77th Hurricanes alum to make the Super Bowl.
According to CBS Sports, no school has produced more Super Bowl appearances than Miami, whose players have made rosters of teams that played in the NFL’s title game 117 times. That beats USC (116), UCLA (108), Penn State and Michigan (both 104).
The Hurricanes who have made the most Super Bowl appearances are Ted Hendricks, Jim Kelly and Vince Wilfork, with four each. Hendricks is Miami’s king of rings, with four.
In the Super Bowl’s 50-year history, 40 Miami players have won championships. Including Olsen (and, sadly, Kelly), 37 other Hurricanes have appeared in the game or been on a Super Bowl roster and not won a ring.
On Sunday, Olsen had one of the longest receptions of a defensive-heavy game, turning a short pass into a 19-yard gain that set up Carolina’s first touchdown. In his fifth year with the Panthers, the 30-year-old broke the 1,000-yard barrier for the second straight season. He caught 77 passes for 1,104 yards — both team bests — and scored seven touchdowns.
It wasn’t a great day for former UM quarterback Ken Dorsey, in his third season as Carolina’s quarterback coach. Cam Newton (who was in his third season when Dorsey took over in 2013), went 18-for-41 for 265 yards, threw an interception and was sacked six times.
Another UM connection: Sunday was a nice day for pupils of new Hurricanes defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski, formerly of Missouri. Carolina defensive end KonyEaly tied a Super Bowl record with three sacks, made a one-handed interception and forced a fumble that allowed Carolina to pull within six points in the fourth quarter. His former teammate, Denver’s ShaneRay, forced a fumble.
The complete list of Hurricanes with Super Bowl experience:
Happy New Year! We’re back from vacation and refreshed. As a way of refocusing, let’s assess the most pressing issues the Hurricanes will sort out in the next few weeks …
What will the rest of Mark Richt’s staff look like?
(updated Monday evening with new hires)
The newly minted Hurricanes coach has announced his hire of a defensive coordinator (Manny Diaz), a running backs coach/co-offensive coordinator (ThomasBrown), a defensive line coach (Craig Kuligowski) and a special teams coordinator (ToddHartley). He also brought on an offensive assistant (his son, JonRicht), to fill an unspecified role.
The positions that appear to be open: quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends and linebackers. Richt has some flexibility with these spots.
Richt, who has stated his intention to call plays and work with quarterbacks, could name himself quarterbacks coach or use a graduate assistant for the role. He could retain wide receivers coach Kevin Beard, whose future is unclear. He could give additional responsibility to Diaz (who has coached linebackers before) or keep Al Golden‘s linebackers coach, Hurlie Brown.
Richt’s hires to this point signify a near-total housecleaning of Golden’s staff. Those who won’t be back include offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach James Coley (now Georgia’s receivers coach, according to FOX Sports), defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio, offensive line coach Art Kehoe, defensive line coach Randy Melvin, outside linebackers coach Kareem Brown and defensive backs coach Paul Williams (hired at Illinois). Additionally, multiple outlets reported longtime strength coach Andreu Swasey will not be back. It’s possible running backs coach Tim “Ice” Harris, whose position has been filled, could serve as a staff member.
The NCAA allows a program up to nine assistant coaches and two graduate assistants to recruit and participate in game-day coaching. There is no limit on non-coaching staff members.
Is anyone else leaving early?
Junior cornerback ArtieBurnsdeclared for the NFL draft after Miami’s bowl game. Two others, junior cornerback CornElder and redshirt junior safety RayshawnJenkins, also announced their plans to return. That leaves two players in question.
If they are leaving, junior wide receiver Stacy Coley and redshirt sophomore linebacker Al-Quadin Muhammad must state their intentions by the Jan. 18 underclassmen deadline. While it’s possible the deadline may pass without either doing anything – meaning they would be returning for another year – it’s more likely they will let it be known via an Instagram post, as Elder and Jenkins did.
How will the recruiting class come together?
Lot to watch here with Miami’s 2016 class, which is currently rated 18th nationally (third in the ACC) by 247Sports and 22nd (fourth) by Rivals.
Richt is after some of the top recruits in the nation, a select few former Georgia commits and several other players targeted by the previous staff. We’ll have more on this in the coming days. Business really picks up Jan. 14, when the NCAA’s dead period ends and coaches can once again visit recruits, and vice versa.
What we know now:
Three-star running back Jawon Hamilton decommitted Monday, after he was not contacted by UM’s new staff. The Hurricanes have four-star Travis Homer (Oxbridge Academy) in their class and are chasing four-star Devwah Whaley, a former Georgia commit, and according to Rivals, trying to lure former UM commit Zack Moss back into the fold. Florida State pledge Amir Rasul, a four-star prospect formerly committed to UM, told Rivals he is interested in Miami again.
Quarterback JackAllison, linebackers ShaquilleQuarterman, ZachMcCloud and MichaelPinckney and defensive end PatrickBethel plan to enroll at UM before Jan. 11, when classes begin at UM.
Quarterman and cornerback TylerByrd are playing in the Army All-American Bowl, which is Saturday at 1 p.m. (NBC). They will play on the East team with receiver AhmmonRichards (Wellington High) and defensive back JamelCook, both of whom are interested in Miami. Cook is currently committed to Florida State. Richards is uncommitted.
Allison, Bethel and UM-committed receivers Sam Bruce and Dionte Mullins played in the Under Armour All-America Game last Saturday. StateoftheU has a tweet-based recap here. The standout was Mullins, who made a ridiculous catch:
It was the first game of the season for Mullins, who was academically ineligible at Miami-Gulliver Prep as a senior.
Are the basketball teams really this good?
After the men beat Syracuse on Saturday, they improved to 12-1 (1-0 ACC). They are ranked No. 12 in the AP poll and No. 11 in the coaches poll. They are a four-seed in ESPN’s latest bracketology, a veteran group that has the makings of an ACC championship contender. Games this month at No. 5 Virginia and home against No. 15 Duke will help prove or disprove that theory. UM’s next tilt is Saturday against Florida State (5 p.m., ESPN2).
UM ranks 16th in offensive efficiency and 21st in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. Leading scorer Sheldon McClellan (15.9 points) has shot better than 50 percent in eight of his 13 games and leads ACC guards in shooting percentage (54.2). He is sixth among Division I guards in that category. Sophomore guard Ja’Quan Newton has been a spark off the bench, scoring 12 points per game in 21.8 minutes. Center Tonye Jekiri (8.8 points, 9.5 rebounds) has been his usual reliable self. Point guard Angel Rodriguez (11.8 points, 3.9 assists) has nights where he can’t buy a bucket, but is a major factor on defense (1.77 steals, third in ACC).
The women, ranked No. 22 last week, are 13-2 (1-1 ACC). Their losses are to No. 4 Baylor (by seven points) and to Virginia, which is 11-4. They can make noise against Jan. 24 against No. 15 FSU and a Jan. 28 game at Virginia Tech, which is currently 13-1.
New Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt hired Miami native Manny Diaz as defensive coordinator today, moving a step closer to filling out his coaching staff.
Diaz, the son of a former Miami mayor of the same name, spent the 2015 season as Mississippi State’s defensive coordinator, his second stint at the school. The Bulldogs went 9-4 this season, beating North Carolina State in the Belk Bowl.
“I’ve known him for over 20 years and I’ve watched him become one of the best defensive minds in the business,” said Richt, who added Diaz will run a 4-3 scheme in 2016.
Diaz worked as Louisiana Tech’s defensive coordinator in 2014, heading a unit that led the nation in forcing turnovers. Before that, Diaz was at Texas from 2011-13, and Mississippi State in 2010 for his first stint there. He also was defensive coordinator for four seasons at Middle Tennessee State, spending time coaching linebackers and safeties at the school.
Diaz, 41, who graduated from Florida State, said the chance to coach in Miami was too good to pass up.
“We knew it would take a very unique opportunity for us to consider leaving,” Diaz said. “God blessed me with a chance to return home, to coach in my hometown and to reunite with family. It is the kind of opportunity that comes along rarely in this business.”
Richt has yet to confirm if he has made any decisions on whether to retain offensive coordinator James Coley or Larry Scott, who served as interim head coach after Al Golden was fired.
EL PASO, Texas — Mark Richt‘s staff continues to take shape.
A report from Chicago-area reporter Dave Wischnowsky said Hurricanes defensive backs coach PaulWilliams will take the same role at Illinois. FootballScoop.com reported the same.
Richt was not expected to retain Williams, who came to UM with AlGolden. He was previously with Golden at Temple from 2006-10.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday that ToddHartley, who served as Richt’s director of player personnel and is currently interim special teams coordinator, will join Richt’s staff as a defensive assistant.
Hartley, according to a Sports Illustrated report, will be UM’s special teams coordinator and also coach tight ends or defensive backs. According to FootballScoop, JohnLilly, Georgia tight ends coach for the last eight years, turned down Richt’s offer to serve as co-offensive coordinator.
Hartley started his coaching career as a student assistant for Richt in 2006 and spent the next two seasons as a graduate assistant. He was interim defensive backs coach for the Bulldogs at the 2009 Independence Bowl, following the dismissal of (former UM defensive back and Richt teammate) Willie Martinez.
At Marshall (2010-14), Hartley spent two seasons as safeties coach and two more as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator.
Richt, who has opted to stay out of the spotlight as he settles into his new job at Miami, is expected to wait until after Saturday’s Sun Bowl to name a staff. He will not attend the bowl, which is 2 p.m. Saturday (CBS) in El Paso against Washington State.
Meet the new boss: Players had the opportunity to sit down individually with Richt last week, and the reports have been glowing.
“I think he’s a cool guy,” sophomore running back Trayone Gray said. “He’s an alumni [of UM]. He’s a players’ guy. … He’s big on football, but he’s worried about stuff outside of football: becoming a man, becoming better in life and doing the right things.
“He seems laid back, like he’s been here already.”
(You might say that.)
Freshman running back Mark Walton said he and Richt – who offered him a scholarship to Georgia – didn’t discuss football. “He didn’t want us to lose sight of our focus this year,” he said. “When January comes, he’ll be the head coach then.”
“I feel comfortable with the guy we have as our leader now. We can move forward,” Walton said.
Gray and Walton said they didn’t know anything about Thomas Brown, the Georgia running backs coach who will reportedly join Richt’s staff at UM. Walton said UGA wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon was his main recruiter at Georgia.
McClendon – who had a UM job offer, according to several reports – was on Wednesday named South Carolina’s co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach.
No decision: Juniors Artie Burns and Stacy Coley said they have not decided their futures. Burns, a cornerback, and wide receiver Coley have petitioned the NFL Draft Advisory Board for a projection, a source told the Post. Junior cornerback Corn Elder said he also done so. It is not known if linebacker Al-Quadin Muhammad, a redshirt sophomore, has put in for a grade.
Underclassmen have until Jan. 18 to declare for the 2016 draft, which is April 28-30.
Muhammad said Wednesday he did not want to discuss his draft decision. “I’m focused on the team ahead of us,” he said. Sitting at a press conference table alongside linebacker Tyriq McCord, Burns and Coley expressed nearly identical thoughts.
After they finished, McCord, a senior, waited a beat before deadpanning: “I’m thinking about coming back.”
In all seriousness, the 6-foot-3, 241-pound Tampa native said he’s hoping to make the most of his last opportunity to “show everybody that I can play football at the next level.”
Isidora OK: Interim coach Larry Scott said right guard Danny Isidora, who has been limited because of an undisclosed injury, “will be ready to go” for Saturday’s game. Isidora, a redshirt junior, has started 25 consecutive games, all but two at right guard. He started two at right tackle. Redshirt freshman Joe Brown has seen increased time at right guard during practices.
Former Canes ready: As you may remember, this week’s Dolphins-Chargers game means something to Denzel Perryman.
Perryman, who grew up in Coral Gables and played down the street at UM from 2011-14, was irked his hometown team passed him by in the NFL draft. The rookie linebacker plans to get it “on and popping,” as he told San Diego reporters in May.
Becoming a starter midway through the season, Perryman is tied for third on the team with 60 tackles (45 solo, six for loss) and has one sack and one forced fumble.
When the Dolphins play host to the Patriots on Jan. 3, another former Hurricane may be in enemy colors. New England claimed wide receiver Leonard Hankerson (2007-10) off waivers from Atlanta on Wednesday, adding a productive receiver to a banged-up position group.
Hankerson was placed on injured reserve earlier this month because of a hamstring injury, but that is now healed. He had 26 catches for 327 yards and three touchdowns in eight games with the Falcons before getting hurt. New England is waiting for Julian Edelman to recover from a broken foot.
Former UM tight end Asante Cleveland (2010-13), who was signed to the Patriots’ 53-man roster late last month, has played in the team’s last three games and has a 1-yard reception, the first of his career.
Meanwhile the Giants, who released former Canes safety Brandon Meriweather (2002-06) on Wednesday, are trying to figure out what to do at left tackle without Ereck Flowers (2012-14). Flowers left Monday’s game against the Dolphins because of an ankle injury. However, as he’s proven to the New York media, Flowers is a tough dude (UM beat reporters were well aware of this).
Henderson ailing: Former Hurricanes offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson is battling Crohn’s disease, the Buffalo News reported. Henderson, who played at UM from 2010-13, had been starting at right tackle for the Bills before he was listed on the team’s injury report with an “illness.” Crohn’s is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “an inflammatory bowel disease.” The Buffalo News report cited a source saying Henderson has lost nearly 20 pounds. Henderson (6-7, 331), a former five-star recruit, had a rocky UM career and struggled as a rookie but improved in his second season.
“I think it’s going to be great for us,” Olsen said of the Richt hire. “Obviously there’s a lot of guys from Georgia [in the NFL], and SEC being as big as it is down here [in Charlotte], and we’ve seen the success that he had and the ability he had to keep the program at a high level. That’s what Miami needed. They needed a national name and a national product. Hopefully he can bring some of those qualities and traits back to Miami and make them competitive again.”
Stat check: Cleveland’s Travis Benjamin is fourth in the NFL in punt return yards (296, 11.4 per return) and has a 78-yard touchdown … Olsen is the leading receiver among ex-Canes, with 969 yards and six touchdowns on 65 catches. Next up: Benjamin (867 yards, five touchdowns on 58 grabs) and Jacksonville’s Allen “Undrafted, For Some Reason” Hurns (863 yards, eight touchdowns on 84 receptions) … The Dolphins’ Lamar Miller (762 yards, four touchdowns on 151 carries) is outgaining Indianapolis’ Frank Gore (762 yards, four touchdowns on 210 carries) for the rushing lead among ex-Canes … Sack leader? Olivier Vernon of Miami (6.5) …
In the last two weeks, Richt has been recruiting and assessing his new team but has not addressed the media. Interim coach Larry Scott will coach the Hurricanes in El Paso and continues to speak on behalf of the team.
The last time the Hurricanes hired a coach, Al Golden watched his new team from a suite at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso. The Hurricanes lost that game to Notre Dame 33-17.
Injury updates: Right tackle Sunny Odogwu (knee) did not attend the media viewing portion of practice (first 15 minutes) … Fellow lineman Danny Isidora (undisclosed) was in a red (no-contact) jersey … safety Jamal Carter (hamstring) was in yellow (limited).
New day for DVD: Former Hurricanes cornerback (and all-around good dude) Demarcus Van Dyke was at practice. Van Dyke, who last played in 2013, said he may explore coaching at UM.
“If football doesn’t go the way I want it to go, I’m probably going to be a [graduate assistant] and start my coaching career,” he said.
Van Dyke, 26, signed a reserve/futures contract with the Minnesota Vikings in January and is now a free agent. He was drafted in the third round by the Oakland Raiders in 2011 and last played in 2013 for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
To be a graduate assistant, Van Dyke would have to re-enroll at UM. He earned his degree in liberal arts in 2010. His last game as a Hurricane was the 2010 Sun Bowl.
His thoughts on Richt?
“He’s a good coach, man,” Van Dyke said. “I talked to some guys at Georgia. [Running back] Sony Michel, I trained with him when he was in high school. He said [Richt] is a great coach. Real laid back. Wants the best for all his players. I think him coming to Miami [is] a good thing for us. I’m excited about next year.”