Ah, Spring, that magical time of year when football seasons are played vicariously through practice reports. And Randy Shannon is ready to bust some heads:
This spring is going to be a different type of spring than we've been able to run at Miami. It's probably the first time we can really get physical. Finally our numbers are up. We can have a first and second team not depth chart wise, but two units going and three units going some places. You get to know where your team is at. Offensive line we have 11, 12 guys able to compete. In the past we may have nine, had to rotate guys. You feel good about that. The defensive line is the same way, running backs we have numbers, wide receiver we have numbers. The position you don't have numbers at is tight end. It's going to be very physical this spring, a very tough spring. We're really going to get after it.
It's also a bad but good situation to find out who is our No. 2 quarterback with Jacory not being able to participate, running plays. He will be doing drill work but won't be throwing the ball. We'll find out on developing a No. 2 guy, which is very key to the stage of getting you football ready.
Shannon said Colin McCarthy won't play middle linebacker full-time but may do second and long things there and third down things there. Shannon said Shayon Green will begin the spring as the main guy in the middle.
(McCarthy) and Sean Spence will start off as nickel guys (in the middle). As far as anything else there are no position changes.
What do you want to see from Adewale Ojomo?
He's matured a lot through this off-season. He sat out, he sees a lot of different things from a coaches standpoint that as a player he did not see. His weight is up to 255, 260, he's been running, lifting, looks strong like before. I'm excited to see where he's at. Ojomo plays with a lot of enthusiasm, excitement.
How much of an advantage does AJ Highsmith have for the No. 2 job being that he played a bit last year?
A slight advantage, but we always start from scratch. It's going to be a big challenge for him. He may line up with the ones on the first day, but everybody has to get better. You can't stay the same. He knows that, is excited about it. The other two quarterbacks are excited about it. Spence (Whipple) is excited about it and Stephen is excited about it. The NCAA gives us two hours a week to meet with the guys and we've been meeting with them. They're kind of biting at the bit. You want to a guy to manage the game, score points, and do what we ask offensively to get it done.
With Stephen Morris a newcomer, what do you want to see from him?
Just to go out there and be himself. That's all you can expect. The one thing you don't want is have guys try to be above and beyond what they're call of duty is supposed to be. You go out and do your job and you'll be successful. You try to do above and beyond the call of duty, you tend to make mistakes that way. Any great player at any position, they do their job.
How much does it help him being in early?
Anybody who has come in early at the University of Miami since I've been here has always found a way to contribute to this football team. He knows he'll have an opportunity, knows that has been the trend here at Miami. He's excited. All the guys (that came in early) are excited because they came in January and have seen the trend that if you come in January you contribute faster.
What would you like to see from Damien Berry?
The total package from him, the blocking, the route running. He has to now get better. He's improved every year he's been at running back, but now he has to take that next step of being THE guy. He's been a great team leader this off-season. He knows Mike James is back, you have Storm (Johnson) and Lamar Miller, guys just as good as he is. That's what makes a great football player, that he accepts those challenges but also doesn't make it a personal vendetta. Damien Berry says whatever I can do to help the team, let's get it done.
How is he as a pass protector, how did he do last year?
He did okay. Me, I want you to be exceptional. You know what? Running is easy, but if you're exceptional at blocking, pass protecting, those are the great ones. Take great running backs, everyone looks at the running part. But look at quarterbacks, the ones that have a runner and blocker, those are the ones most successful. NFL guys, the great quarterbacks, they always had great running backs (that were) great blockers.
Will Berry also do special teams?
Everyone does special teams.
Do you do special teams work this spring?
We'll work on some special teams things this spring because we have numbers now. When you don't have the numbers to do them there's no use to work on them. The numbers we have now will really help us out a lot.
Was there any thought to move spring ball back to let guys like Jacory get healthy?
Nope. You can't let one person dictate what you have to get done. You get your six weeks of lifting in, then get spring ball in, finish up. We look at it as a standpoint of get spring football in, find out who took that next step, but also if someone gets nicked or injured you can get them back in August. August is the key. One thing about us, the weather down here is not snow, so it will help us out a lot.
Who will miss some practice time due to track commitments?
ACC is this week. Travis (Benjamin), Demarcus (Van Dyke), Lamar Miller, Brandon Harris, Corey Nelms, Micanor Regis will be all in track. They'll be here tomorrow, the next day, then they go to track. Track is good for them, makes them very competitive, works on their speed. It's good for you. It all pays off. They'll go through spring practice and then will start back in track in April, May and June. They're staying in shape, are being competitive, and it's doing something they like. A track-football athlete can always come to Miami and we'll give them that opportunity to do it as long as their grades don't fall down.
Will Jamal Reid play baseball after spring ball?
After spring practice if coach (Jim) Morris lets him go yes. He was real good in baseball in high school, coach Morris asked me about him, said, `Could I get him?' But not right now because he has to learn the defense of what he's trying to get done.
What's the situation at middle linebacker?
It will be Shayon (Green), and Kylan Robinson will be at those positions. (CJ) Holton, (Tyrone) Cornelius, Sean Spence, Colin McCarthy and two walkons will be part of the practice things (in situations there). We're giving Shayon his opportunity to play that position. After 15 days of spring football we'll assess it and reevaluate what we need to get done.
What do you like about Shayon? He hurt his knee last year.
He blew his knee out early so you can't really give him a fair assessment. He's a hard worker, a big, big guy that has athletic ability, can run. You miss a year of football, now you have to re-teach the part about tackling, the coverages. Those are the intricate parts he missed that he has to catch up on. Will it come by in the first week? No. But he should get it by the second or third week because he'll get a lot of reps at it.
What's going on at left tackle - you have Orlando Franklin with experience there.
That's where he'll start off at, left tackle. And Ben Jones will be right (tackle). Then you have (Harland) Gunn), Brandon (Washington), Tyler Horn. Then you've got (Jared) Wheeler, (Malcolm) Bunche in the middle with Shane McDermott. Then you've got Jermaine Johnson, (Stephen) Plein and (Cory) White - so you've got numbers. It's a starting point on what you want to get done. And whoever develops - the one thing we won't do if we happen to get three offensive tackles that are the best guys on the offensive line, one of them will go in and play guard. I'm going to tell you that now. If the guards are playing best someone will go to tackle. We're not going to specify and say you're a right tackle, left tackle, we won't do that. We have the numbers to say whoever are the best five, those are the best five we're going to play no matter what position they are.
You have a couple of new coaches.
I worked with both of the coaches so it's nothing new to me. I worked with coach (Rick) Petri when I was here and he had Warren Sapp, Kenard (Lang), Kevin Patrick, Kenny Holmes and those guys who back then were very productive. It's great to have an opportunity to get him back at Miami. He's a proven commodity. Coach Cas (running backs coach Mike Cassano) has always been a great recruiter, great coach. When he was here the first year with Javarris James his job was to coach the running backs back then, and he did a great job. Also some family ties with coach (Mark) Whipple. They worked up there at UMass. All those things are an easy transition, you're able to get great coaches to be part of your program.
How big is it having coordinators back after having new ones last year?
It's great for us, having two coordinators that are back. You have some players understanding the full board of what we need to get done. The mindset is they can go in and know what to expect out of coach (Mark) Whipple and (John) Lovett. Last year (the coaches) didn't know anyone's athletic ability. Coach Whipple coming from the NFL to college, the speed difference you really don't know till you get involved. Then you go from the standpoint of coach Lovett, he's trying to recognize and figure out guys. Right now both have a good mindset of what our players can do after a year of going through the whole process of coaching offense, defense and evaluating.
What do you hope to see from Aldarius Johnson?
Not just him, all of them - all of them going into their third year, it's time for them to take that jump. The big-time players, their third and fourth year they really respond. Like (Leonard) Hankerson, his first two years everybody was down on him. But it's just the process of it. Now last year, his third year, he had a breakout year. A LaRon (Byrd), Travis (Benjamin), Aldarius (Johnson) talking about the receivers, and now it's time for Sean Spence to step up, Andrew Smith, Marcus Robinson. All of those guys who have been here two years, now it's their third year and you can see the improvement from their first and second year.
What do you expect from Tyler Horn?
It's about time for him. He's been around, has been on offensive line for a while. Now it's time for him to make that jump. By him getting in the weight room, getting stronger, learning, going through a lot of practice and game time a little bit, that's huge for him because he knows what to expect.
Your snapper and holder?
Shannon: Chris Ivory is back, will do both, and Billy Sanders has been working some at it. And one of the quarterbacks (will be the holder). You can run fakes with guys like that. Like the NFL, the third team guy has to be the guy doing that. All of them have been working hard at it.
Do you have one overall goal for this spring?
Get tougher. It's going to be physical football this spring. I want to see us take our next step on improving in a lot of different areas. We need to cause a lot more turnovers on defense, cut down on turnovers (on offense). Our running backs did not fumble the football last year, I don't think a receiver fumbled the football last year. So we do a great job running the football; we have to cut down on other aspects of it. And finishing is the biggest thing. Some games we finished strong; some games we didn't have that extra oomph that last two minutes of the game to get us where we needed to be. At the end of practice we'll put them in situations that `offense we need this done, defense we need this done.' And whoever doesn't get it done we'll know and we can evaluate on who we can really rely on at those critical times.
What do you want to see from Richard Gordon?
To be a tight end, be the guy he's supposed to be. He's a big, fast guy. Now he has to do it. He'll get a lot of reps at it. There's nobody else to substitute but him and Billy (Sanders). He's a fifth year senior, has graduated, now it's going to be him. We all have confidence in Richard because of what Richard's been doing in the off-season. When you see him do those things on his own, get out there with the quarterbacks on his own, that's a different Richard, not the same Richard as before. We've seen those things over last year when he couldn't practice, in the fall he couldn't practice because of his injury. You could see it as soon as the season was over with - he wanted to be back at it.
Is Micheal Barrow a position coach again?
He's the linebacker coach.
Why is he back coaching there?
It just depends on what we need at that time.
Did he get offered the job at Florida?
No, he didn't.
Does he want to be a coordinator down the road?
Every coach is different. Some coaches just want to be coaches, don't want the headaches. I remember talking to Norm Chow one time, because he's a real good friend of mine, we were just talking. And I always ask `Why would you not be a head (coach)?' He said, `Well, wherever I've been I always got paid good, got paid the head coach's money. So why even put up with the headaches? Let me be a coordinator, I make good money and I'm fine.' Some guys are like that. Some are eager to be a coordinator or head coach, and when you get in those positions it's not what you thought it would be. It depends on your personality.
Barrow is the kind of guy who could be a coordinator down the road?
It's up to him. Everybody is different. Coach Barrow has coached linebackers, D line. I've coached D line, linebackers, have spent time in the secondary, done different things. It just depends on what you want to get done. Coach (Bill) Young when he was here all he wanted to be was a coordinator; he doesn't want to be a head coach. That's just his mentality. And some great coordinators throughout college football, that's all they want. There are some great coordinators in the pro; all they want to do is coordinator. It just depends on the person. There are always some guys you may say could be a great head coach; maybe it's not in them to do it. You have to deal with the players, the media all the time, the outside distractions, alumni, boosters, fans, pros, corporate sponsors, salary cap, who you can get off the waiver wire. There's a lot to think about. It's all different. Coach Barrow has always been a great addition to this football program. We move him around to see what fits for us. He does a great job in recruiting and will do a great job at linebacker. That's the thing we always try to emphasize, where he can help us most. You try to see what you can improve every year.
What is Allen Bailey going to play?
Defensive end (assuming no injuries on the line). That's what he's going to play. Right now we have five defensive tackles, have our defensive ends.
What's the situation at defensive back?
We have everyone back. You got Ray Armstrong, (Jared) Campbell back, (Joseph) Nicolas back, Vaughn Telemaque back, Ryan Hill back off being injured, Brandon Harris, Van Dyke, Brandon McGee, have Corey Nelms. All those guys all played, so you're really not losing anybody. So you're not really losing anybody.
What do you want to see improve from that group, getting turnovers?
Turnovers from everybody, not just them.
Jamal Reid is a safety?
Does Corey Nelms have any real chance to play on defense?
He has a chance. That's the good thing about spring football. He has a chance. He proved himself. Look at it this way: (the best) guys off special teams usually become your real good players. That's a big-time correlation. You see a guy who really does well on special teams will eventually be able to help your program out.
But he's never played defense here, right?
No. He was an all-state corner coming out of New Jersey and he had some scholarships but opted (to come to Miami).
With Petri and Cassano, does it help that they know the culture here from being here before?
It always helps. It's a different type of kid that has always been at Miami, a type of special kid. It may not be the guy on everybody's radar, but it's going to be a kid that will work and do everything he needs to get done for you. It may not be a guy with all the athletic ability, but when it comes out he makes a lot of plays. A lot of coaches and people get the perception of Miami produces just a bunch of first rounders. I think Miami produces a bunch of guys that work hard, become first rounders. They become real good players.
* OL Ian Symonette is also confirmed as no longer on the team.