Four Hurricanes named to watch lists for prestigious college football awards

Running back Travis Homer #24 of the Miami Hurricanes tries to get around the tackle of linebacker Matthew Thomas #6 of the Florida State Seminoles during the second half of an NCAA football game at Doak S. Campbell Stadium on October 7, 2017 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)

The preseason hype surrounding the Hurricanes continued Monday with Travis Homer, Ahmmon Richards, Jaquan Johnson and Shaquille Quarterman earning spots on watch lists for some of college football’s most prestigious awards. Continue reading “Four Hurricanes named to watch lists for prestigious college football awards”

A hello, from the Palm Beach Post’s new Miami Hurricanes beat writer

The Miami Hurricanes take the field during a game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Hard Rock Stadium on November 11, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Hello, Hurricanes fans.

I’m the Palm Beach Post’s new Hurricanes beat writer, taking over for Matt Porter — who brought you magnificent Hurricanes coverage for the past five years. Matt has moved on to cover the Boston Bruins for The Boston Globe.

The start of college football season is right around the corner, so let’s not waste any time. In today’s world of lists and quick hits, I thought it would be fitting to put together a “Five Things to Know” about myself to give you all a better understanding of where I come from before we get started on everything Hurricanes.

Here you go …

I was born and raised in Miami. I’m aware of the tradition the Hurricanes have established over the years. Growing up, I experienced it firsthand by going to games at the old Orange Bowl with my dad. I’ve sat in the West End Zone for Miami-Florida State games.  I know the Hurricanes — with a list of players from the tri-county area — represent South Florida better than anything else in sports. Side note: My dad nearly disowned me when I made the decision to attend the University of Florida after high school.

Before arriving to the Hurricanes beat, I covered high school sports, the Florida Gators and the Miami Heat for the Palm Beach Post. During my time on Palm Beach County high school sports, I covered current Hurricanes running back Travis Homer, linebacker Zach McCloud and wide receiver Ahmmon Richards. They’ve each improved a little bit since I last wrote about them.

I ran through the smoke at the Orange Bowl as a kid before a Hurricanes home game. Why, you ask? My Pop Warner football team was invited to do it.

I love Cuban coffee. I’m still not sure I can live (or write) without it.

Follow me on Twitter at @Anthony_Chiang and Instagram at anthonywchiang for Hurricanes news, updates and analysis. Also, check out and like The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Hurricanes page on Facebook. Do it now before you forget. Really, like right now.

Miami Hurricanes football: Can new faces boost UM’s cornerback, safety corps?

The Hurricanes are back on Greentree on Aug. 1. Let’s go position-by-position and tell you what we know, what we don’t know, and what we want to learn this month. 

2017 Miami Hurricanes Camp Preview Series
QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ST

Here at Canes Watch we sometimes delve into the personal quirks of Hurricanes coaches and players. If you know a little about the people you’re watching play a game on TV, it can make the experience more fun.

So here’s an idiosyncratic tidbit about new UM cornerback Dee Delaney, gleaned from his social media habits: he is grateful in a spiritual sense. On Delaney’s Twitter account, about 90 percent of his tweets or retweets — 381 of them, dating back to Jan. 29 — are directly related to his faith.

An example: From May 11 to May 22, around the time he was transferring to Miami, he tweeted 17 times. All but one of those posts was nothing more than the phrase “Thank you God,” sometimes punctuated by a period, sometimes by an exclamation point (the other tweet was a shared Instagram post from a fishing trip). Now, Delaney isn’t the only Hurricane with such a consistent Twitter game. Since taking over as coach in Dec. 2015, picky eater and highly competitive volleyball player Mark Richt has posted hundreds of tweets, and signed nearly all of them with, “U Family!”

If Delaney achieves his goals this season, said family will be grateful he became a member.

In January, Miami’s secondary was a primary concern. UM graduated do-it-all standout cornerback Corn Elder, starting safeties and reliable veterans Jamal Carter and Rayshawn Jenkins, and injured-but-impactful grad transfer cornerback Adrian Colbert.

Enter Delaney, with a push from Colbert, who helped convince him to pick UM. He was a two-time FCS All-American at The Citadel. He is considered a potential NFL draft pick, and is coming to Miami to raise his stock.

The Canes are thankful for him — and more thankful he’s not the only newcomer at defensive back worth tweeting about.

Malek Young intercepts a pass in the end zone at North Carolina State. (Getty Images)
Malek Young intercepts a pass in the end zone at North Carolina State. (Getty Images)

Projected depth chart 

Cornerback
3 – Dee Delaney – R-Sr. — 6-1, 193
12 – Malek Young – Soph. — 5-9, 180
2 – Trajan Bandy – Fr. — 5-9, 180

Safety
4 – Jaquan Johnson – Jr. — 5-11, 190
20 – Robert Knowles – R-Soph. — 6-1, 198
25 – Derrick Smith – Fr. — 6-2, 200

Safety
22 – Sheldrick Redwine – Jr. — 6-1, 195
30 – Romeo Finley – Soph. — 6-1, 205
5 – Amari Carter – Fr. — 6-2, 197

Cornerback
6 – Jhavonte Dean – Jr. — 6-2, 185
28 – Michael Jackson – Jr. — 6-1, 200

Numbers to know

UM graduates three of its four leading tacklers (Carter, 85; Jenkins and Elder, 76 each). Those players, along with Colbert (22 in eight games), and reserve Cedrick Wright (six; he left the team), represented 70 percent of UM’s tackling from defensive backs. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz publicly fretted early in the 2016 offseason about perimeter tackling; the group became quite good at it. This new unit will need to do the same.

The Hurricanes had opportunities for interceptions but struggled to catch them. They successfully hauled in eight picks (tied for 93rd in the nation), their lowest total since 2011 and tied for the seventh-fewest in program history.

Aside from Delaney (13 picks in three seasons at The Citadel), the only Miami defensive backs who have made interceptions are Johnson (two career; one last year against Florida State) and Young (one last year, at North Carolina State). Playmakers wanted.

UM ranked higher (46th) in passes defended. Paced by Elder (ACC-best 12 pass break-ups), it registered 51, 30 of them from the secondary.

Quote of note

“Dean, he can cover ground. He is a long, lanky cornerback. He has great speed. I think we’re very excited about him, and Dee Delaney as well. We know what he’s done at his previous school. I think it’s going to translate directly to [FBS]. He’s big. He’s a very big, strong corner. He can run as well. He has good technique, and it’s only going to get better with [cornerbacks coach Mike] Rumph.” — Senior wide receiver Braxton Berrios

Breakdown

A delightful addition

Delaney is a projected starter, and should do quite well at the FBS level. Teammates and coaches have raved about his size and potential physicality as an perimeter defender, and he has more than enough speed to hang with ACC wideouts. Like Colbert last year, he’ll be highly motivated to prove himself. He’s a perfect fit for the Hurricanes, who needed experience at corner, and have a wealth of talented defensive backs committed for 2018. Delaney as a one-year stopgap is ideal, especially if he becomes a shutdown force.

Dean of corners

Notable alumni from Blinn College in Texas include Cam Newton, Dede Westbrook, Michael Bishop, Josh Beckett and Chris “Birdman” Andersen. Miami hopes Dean, a Homestead native who transferred from Blinn, can make a name for himself. He was a three-star recruit out of Cincinnati in 2014, committed to Alabama before flipping to the Hurricanes, and reportedly runs a 4.3-second 40-yard dash. “I can’t really judge because I’m not out there but I hear guys talk about him,” Richt said at the ACC Kickoff. Per NCAA rules, coaches aren’t allowed to participate in most of players’ informal offseason training. “They say he can cover a lot of ground,” Richt said. “They say he’s really fast, can bait people a little bit, and when the ball is in the air, go attack with his speed and his ball skills. The guys are impressed with him.” Having his speed and length on the outside will help cover deep threats (and should challenge UM speedsters like Ahmmon Richards, Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley during practices).

Killian ’em

The defensive back who has proven himself most in Manny Diaz’ system is Johnson, a gifted, undersized playmaker who was used all over the place last season. He slides into a starting safety role and is considered by teammates to be one of the leaders of UM’s defense (he’s the guy in the middle of Miami’s pregame chanting). Redwine, a lengthy corner who played with Johnson at Miami’s Killian High, was moved to safety in the spring and looked comfortable. If he’s up to the task, he and Johnson could be UM’s starting safeties for the next two seasons, barring a charge from Finley, Knowles or Carter, the latter of whom arrived in January and impressed during spring drills.

Loose change

Young, who came on strong the end of last season, and Bandy, a four-star recruit from Miami-Columbus, are likely to have roles at nickel and dime backs, and will sub in as corners when Delaney and Dean need breaks. Jackson and [Ryan] Mayes, two speedy veterans, will at least be valuable special-teamers (update: UM announced Mayes’ departure). That seems to be Smith’s role, at least to start his career. The depth at both cornerback and safety is decent, and could have been a lot worse. If the secondary pulls its weight, UM could have one of the best defenses in the nation.

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Be sure to check the blog daily for news, analysis, photos, video and other fun things. You can also follow me on Twitter (@mattyports), Facebook (Post on Miami Hurricanes), Instagram (mattyports) and Snapchat (msp8888).