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State of the U Talks Denzel Perryman, Duke Johnson, NFL Draft, Hurricanes & More with Clinton Portis

Former UM/NFL great gives us his opinion on Miami's best NFL prospects, UM's problems on the field, and much more.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Very few players were more colorful off the field, or as exciting on it,  than former University of Miami/Denver Broncos/ Washington Redskins great Clinton Portis.

On the gridiron he was one of the most exciting and productive backs in the NFL from 2002-2010, not to mention the feature back on the Greatest College Football Team of all time.

Portis was also a unique presence in media and locker rooms.  His aliases and ostentatious wardrobes always kept things interesting.

But don't let his silly side fool you.  The man is very insightful, and also never afraid to speak his mind.

These attributes make him a perfect  in his new roles as analyst/panelist for Fox Sports South and The ACC Digital Network.

With the NFL Draft on the horizon, we caught up with CP and asked him about the crop of UM players eligible for this year's draft.

We also managed to sneak in a few Q's about the Hurricanes' coaches and the program as a whole.


Here are the highlights:

On Denzel Perryman:

I think Denzel is NFL ready, I like the way he flies around and attacks the ball.  That is what you want in an NFL linebacker. When you look at Denzel, he is always around the ball, and when he gets there you can always see his intentions.

On what Perryman needs to work on at the next level:

I think he is a little less comfortable in pass coverage.  But once he perfects his angles, and learns not to overplay the ball, he will be fine. I think he sometimes tried to compensate for the players around him.  Once he is surrounded by NFL talent and does not feel he has to do everything, that stuff will work itself out.  That is the only issue I see. His size shouldn't matter.  He has the attitude that he wants the challenge of being great, and that is very important in the NFL.

On what round he expects DP to be picked:

I definitely think he will go at the end of the first or early in the second round. Watching the film of all of the players from Miami, the person who stood out the most was Denzel, because of how he attacked the ball.  He sometimes even played off double teams, a linebacker should never face double teams.  If you put him in the right scheme he will be excellent.  I can see the 49ers taking a long look at him with Patrick Willis retiring. Picking up a linebacker who comes with his attitude would really help them.

Current of former NFL players Perryman reminds him of:

It's crazy I just had this conversation.  And I said he reminded me of three former NFL players, who all played the game the right way. Two of them just happened to wear #52.  London Fletcher, Al Wilson, and Nate Webster, who went to the University of Miami as well and also liked to fly around the ball, are the guys Denzel reminds me of.

On Duke Johnson:

I think Duke probably is most talented running back to ever come out of the University of Miami. This draft is so exciting because the running back position will be highlighted again.  With Duke and (Georgia RB Todd) Gurley at the top not to mention Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah you have a lot of guys who are electrifying. The position has been undervalued recently but that should change with this group.  Duke's maybe the third or fourth back taken in my opinion. But when you look at him, there's nothing he can't do. In a two back situation he can be very productive. He has great play making ability, he makes people miss, he's great out in space, and he can add something in the return game as well.  He's much quicker and faster then what he ran at the combine.

On Phillip Dorsett:

I think he was one of the best Wide Receivers in all of college football. I highlighted him several times on ACC Digital.  The University of Miami did not properly use him. Phillip Dorsett could turn out to be one of the best WRs in the NFL.  As far as comparisons, if you look at Antonio Brown out in Pittsburgh and how he is used I see PD as that type player.  You just can't find that type of speed often. No one is going to be able to cover him 1 on 1 in the NFL.  No NFL corner runs 4.3 or 4.2. I think Dorsett has the best upside of the prospects at his position in this draft.

On Clive Walford:

Clive really is the #1 tight end in the draft.  The way teams value tight ends right now, he has a chance to go really high. If you look at his ability to get open and catch the ball, he follows well in the UM tradition of Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow and Jimmy Graham. Walford is going to be in that category.

On the class as a whole:

When you add Ereck Flowers to the mix, this class has a chance to have 4 players go in the first round or really high in general.  It can only help the program to be highlighted in this way. Hopefully it eventually translates to wins on the field.

Did the University of Miami's coaching staff do enough with the talent they had, and what do you think they need to do better and get the program back where it needs to be?

I think the University of Miami coaching staff was shocked by the talent they had. I don't think they were used to coaching players that talented as an entire staff.  It was interesting to watch how they coached this team.  Of course you are going to highlight Duke Johnson, but sometimes I felt they should have integrated the other 2 backs more often.  When you look at the TE position, the WR position, you have so many guys to get the ball to. They didn't get the ball enough to Dorsett or Coley.  These guys are capable of making big plays.  When you look at that Florida State game, Phillip Dorsett still hasn't been covered.  They should have never stopped getting him the ball.  And as far as players as a whole, they need to start getting the best players from South Florida again, or Florida period. We have the best talent in the world right here in Florida. We don't need to go recruit 35 or 40 of the other states in America. Maybe go up north to find a lineman. But we don't need to go to Cali or Texas or New York or Michigan very often. Some of those are high caliber players, but right here in Florida the guys who grew up watching the University of Miami and know what the U is all about and look forward to that challenge, are the players to go after. Right now we don't have enough players at the school pushing each other. Miami is known for that competition and guys pushing each other. We used to have Frank Gore pushing Clinton Portis, or Andre Johnson pushing Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne, that's the University of Miami.  It's never been a one man show.  When I played for the 'Canes, who was the best player on that team?  We still don't know.  That is what creates a great team.


As I said, the man is insightful and does not pull punches.

We can't thank Clinton enough for giving us his time.  I hope everyone enjoyed the interview.

Be sure to check out CP on Fox Sports South's Emmy Award winning series "The Panel" featuring episodes 3/22, 3/29, and 4/5 (check your local listings).   Perryman will appear on the April 5th episode.

The Panel*:

· Dre Bly – 2nd round pick out of North Carolina, 11-year NFL veteran and two-time Pro Bowl selection.

· Tim Couch – Heisman Trophy finalist, No. 1 overall pick out of Kentucky in 1999, threw 64 touchdown passes in five NFL seasons with the Cleveland Browns.

· Clinton Portis – 2002 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, nine-year NFL veteran and two-time Pro Bowl selection.

· Marcus Stroud – Ten-year NFL veteran, three-time Pro Bowl selection and the 2001 No. 13 overall pick out of Georgia.

The Prospects*:

· Vic Beasley (Defensive End, Clemson) – Clemson’s career sacks leader (33)

· Sammie Coates (Wide Receiver, Auburn) – 1,643 receiving yards in two seasons as a starter (’13, ’14)

· Jamison Crowder (Wide Receiver, Duke) – ACC’s all-time career receptions leader (283)

· Randy Gregory (Defensive End, Nebraska) – 17.5 sacks and 120 total tackles in 24 games

· Denzel Perryman (Linebacker, Miami) – 2nd all-time in career solo tackles in the ACC (234)

· P.J. Williams (Defensive Back, Florida State) – 82 total tackles in two seasons as a starter (’13, ’14)

Upcoming Telecast Schedule* for The Panel:



Featured Prospect

Sunday, March 22

9:00 p.m. ET

Sammie Coates

9:30 p.m.

Vic Beasley

Sunday, March 29

9:00 p.m.

Randy Gregory

9:30 p.m.

Jamison Crowder

Sunday, April 5

9:00 p.m.

P.J. Williams

9:30 p.m.

Denzel Perryman