With a spring roster that includes five returning cornerbacks on scholarship (and just two with with any meaningful experience), the Hurricanes plan to add at least several corners in the 2017 recruiting cycle.
That’s why they were pleased when Christopher Henderson, of Miami-Columbus High, committed last week.
“I chose Miami because it’s right at home and I feel like I’ll fit right in,” Henderson told Scout.com. “Nothing is better than dominating in your own city. I wanted to make a decision today because I know their situation at defensive back, and the coaches feel I can make an impact my freshman year.”
Henderson (6-foot-1, 175 pounds) is rated a four-star recruit by Scout, which ranks him the No. 150 player overall for 2017.
“Chris is a great player,” Columbus teammate Trajan Bandy said in an interview with 247Sports. “He is long and he is blazing fast. He has crazy make-up speed. He can play man-to-man. He is everything you are looking for in a cornerback.” (Bandy, by the way, said UM isn’t showing him much interest.)
Henderson, who also played running back and wide receiver at Columbus, is rated the No. 16 all-purpose athlete in the country by Scout and No. 41 by 247Sports. Rivals and ESPN, both of which consider him a three-star recruit, have not ranked him at his position.
He chose Miami over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Cincinnati, among others. He earned his UM offer when he attended an Al Golden camp last June. He was named MVP of defensive backs at the camp.
The Hurricanes’ 2017 class, which includes 10 commits, is rated No. 1 in the ACC and No. 3 nationally by 247Sports’ composite ratings. It also includes three-star cornerback NickRoberts, of Orange Park-Oakleaf.
“I just wanted to see what more offers would come in,” Perry told Scout, explaining his decision to drop his commitment.
Miami is still very much interested in Perry. Running backs coach and offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, Perry told 247Sports, “tells me I am their guy.” Perry said in an interview with Scout that Miami and Tennessee are his two favorite schools.
But he isn’t the only quarterback UM is after.
According to 247Sports, Miami has extended offers to four-star recruits Bailey Hockman, Davis Mills and Chase Brice, all from Georgia; four-star Alabama native Jake Bentley; four-star Baylor commit Kellen Mond (IMG by way of San Antonio), and three-star prospect James Blackman, who plays up the road at Glades Central.
Mark Richt, who has traditionally favored drop-back passers, signed four-star JackAllison in January. Returning starter BradKaaya has two years of eligibility remaining.
Perry (6-3, 170), who plays at Ocala-Vanguard High, is rated as the eighth-best dual-threat quarterback in his class by 247Sports, which rates him as a three-star recruit. ESPN has him 11th and a four-star.
Scout ranks him as a four-star recruit, 244th overall in his class and 21st among all quarterbacks. Rivals considers him a three-star and has not rated him.
Asked by Scout what he likes about Miami, Perry said: “I love coach Richt as a coach. He knows how to talk to you. He’s going to keep it real. The rest of the staff has been keeping it real as well. I love the city. It’s a beautiful city.”
Tennessee, he said, offers a “spread offense, and another beautiful city.” Auburn is an option because it runs a spread offense, “like my high school,” and “puts a lot of guys in the league,” Perry said.
According to 247Sports, he threw for 2,510 yards, 33 touchdowns and three interceptions on 58.2 percent passing as a junior.
The event, which runs from 7 a.m. to noon at UM, is a chance for NFL draft-eligible players to show their stuff in front of representatives from professional teams. Miami’s pro day usually draws scouts, coaches, and management from most NFL franchises.
Those parties, credentialed media and other guests are invited, but the public is not.
Players partake in undergo physical tests, such as the 40-yard dash, vertical leap, and bench press, as well as on-field, position-specific drills.
Five Hurricanes, including cornerback and potential high-round pickArtie Burns, were invited to participate in the NFL combine, which runs Tuesday through Monday, Feb. 29 in Indianpolis. The others are safety Deon Bush, defensive tackle Ufomba Kamalu, linebacker Raphael Kirby and receiver Rashawn Scott, all of whom are seniors.
In addition to that group, other Hurricanes who will likely participate in pro day include receiver Herb Waters, cornerback Tracy Howard, linebacker Tyriq McCord, defensivetackle Calvin Heurtelou, safety Dallas Crawford.
Artie Burns was widely pegged as a second- to third-round pick, but day before the NFL combine cranks up, Mel Kiper Jr. said he thinks Burns could go higher.
“I think he’s a late 1, early 2,” the ESPN analyst said Monday on a conference call. “Burns is a guy that is going to be very high. I wouldn’t be shocked if [he is drafted] anywhere between 25 and 35 to 40.”
Burns, the lone Hurricanes player from 2015 to declare early, is one of five teammates participating in the NFL combine, which runs Tuesday through Monday in Indianapolis. Burns (6-1, 197), a former track star, has the speed to impress scouts this week. It’s his game film that could hamper his stock. In the mock draft he released last Thursday, Kiper slotted Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves, Ohio State’s Eli Apple, Virginia Tech’s Kendall Fuller and Clemson’s Mackensie Alexander as first-round picks. Burns was not.
Last month, DraftInsider.net’s Tony Pauline pegged Burns as a third-rounder. Multiple NFL scouts have told UM they believe Burns has first- or second-round potential. As of Monday, Burns was rated seventh among cornerbacks by NFLDraftScout.com and a second- to third-round pick.
However, Kiper said Burns is as talented as the aforementioned potential first-rounders, albeit a bit raw.
“He’s a little too physical in college for the NFL,” Kiper said. “By that I mean you’re going to get penalized. You have your hands, too, in the face of the receiver, have to be able to back off a little bit to handle what the NFL is asking you to do. I want to see if he can adjust to that — what works in college doesn’t work in the NFL with the rules the way they are.
“Artie Burns, though, is a tremendously talented player. His skill set is arguably as good as any of these guys.”
Burns led the ACC with six interceptions last season. Part of his reason for leaving early is to provide for his family, which was struck by tragedy last October. His mother, Dana Smith, died suddenly at 44, leaving Artie and his two younger brothers.
Kiper said safety Deon Bush should be the next Hurricane taken after Burns – “he’s more of a mid-round pick” – and he doesn’t expect any other UM players to be taken before Day 3 of the draft, which includes Rounds 4-7.
The NFL combine begins Tuesday in Indianapolis and five players from last year’s Hurricanes team have been invited to participate.
Cornerback ArtieBurns, safety DeonBush, defensive tackle UfombaKamalu, linebacker RaphaelKirby and wide receiver RashawnScott will try to impress NFL scouts at the event, which runs through Monday, Feb. 29.
They’ll also try to beat some of these guys listed below.
The following are the top Hurricanes performers in every combine event, according to results posted on NFL.com (2006-15) and NFLCombineResults.com, which dates to 1999. The latter website, which says it gathers and cross-checks data from NFL.com and major media outlets, has results for 91 Hurricanes players in the last 17 years.
The cornerback blazed down the track in 4.28 seconds in 2011, tied for the fourth-best time of any combine participant and four-tenths of a second slower than the record 4.24 posted by East Carolina running back Chris Johnson. Van Dyke’s time is the fastest by a defensive back in combine history.
Bench press: Ereck Flowers
The left tackle earned some first-round money at the 2015 combine, putting up 37 reps (of the standard 225 pounds) on the bench press. That’s tied for 28th all-time. It’s also one better than Vince Wilfork put up in 2004. Flowers was taken ninth overall by the New York Giants.
Vertical jump: Rocky McIntosh
The 6-foot-2, 242-pound linebacker got 42.5 inches off the ground in 2006, tied for the 10th-best leap in combine history (and best ever by a linebacker). McIntosh, a second-round pick (35th overall) by the Washington Redskins, had an eight-year career. Note: NFLCombineResults.com lists Santana Moss as having a 42-inch leap, and McIntosh at 41.5, but we’re going with the official league result.
Broad jump: Andre Johnson
He stretched his 6-2, 230-pound frame a long way at the 2003 combine, clearing 132 inches to set the mark for all Canes. Johnson was drafted third overall by the Houston Texans in 2003 and has made seven Pro Bowls. He is currently ninth in NFL history in both receptions and receiving yards. Honorable mention goes to Olivier Vernon, who posted a 122-inch broad jump in 2011, an impressive mark for a 6-2, 261-pound defensive end it’s seventh-best of the 59 Hurricanes who have broad-jumped at the combine since 1999).
Three-cone drill: Graig Cooper
The running back performed this change-of-direction drill the fastest among Hurricanes, going 6.66 seconds in 2011. Phillip Dorsett (6.70 seconds) came close to running him down in 2015. Cooper’s time is sixth-best all-time among running backs.
20-yard shuttle: Edgerrin James
At the first NFL combine in 1999, James set a mark for Hurricanes that still stands. No one has come close to his 3.88-second shuttle; the closest was Cooper (4.03) in 2011. His mark is fourth-best among running backs in the event’s history.
60-yard shuttle: Brandon Harris
The cornerback’s 11.31-second time in 2011 is the best-ever by a Hurricane, according to NFL.com’s data (which goes back to 2006; NFLCombineResults doesn’t have data for this event). Harris was drafted in the second round (60th overall) by the Houston Texans. He spent three seasons there and last saw game action in 2014 for the Tennessee Titans.
Honorable mention: Pat O’Donnell
Put up record numbers for a punter in 2014, with a 4.64-second 40-yard dash, 23 reps on the bench and a 30.5-inch vertical. His bench press was better than 19 running backs, 21 defensive linemen and all 37 wide receivers at that year’s combine. The 6-4, 220-pound Palm Beach Central alum was the only punter drafted, taken in the sixth round (191st overall) by the Chicago Bears. A total of 15 punters have participated in the combine since the first invitee, in 2012.
Largest and smallest
The tallest Hurricane in combine history is defensive end Calais Campbell, who measured 6-feet-6.7 inches in 2008. The heaviest is offensive tackle Carlos Joseph, who weighed 345 pounds in 2004. That’s 175 pounds heavier than Roscoe Parrish (2005) and Bruce Johnson (2009), each of whom weighed 170 pounds. The shortest is Sinorice Moss, who stood 5-8 in 2006.
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: