There’s a sentiment around those who follow the UM football team that there is a disconnect between the program and the local community. Every time a highly-recruited South Florida prospect opts for another school, proponents of the idea grow louder and louder.
But if Friday night served as any proof, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
More than 300 South Florida high school football players and coaches attended a clinic at UM set up by coach Al Golden that included an open practice the team called “Fundamental Friday” at Cobb Stadium, the university’s soccer field.
Players and coaches surrounded the field to observe drills while approximately 100 fans sat in the bleachers for the practice open to the public.
Attendees had the option to donate to Larry Blustein’s Our Boy Blu Foundation, which collects money for research on kidney disease.
Blustein, who went public with his battle with kidney disease last year, has spent more than 40 years covering and promoting high school football players in South Florida.
“Larry Blustein has gotten more kids into college than the college prepaid program,” says UM fan Lazaro Arribas, more commonly known in social media and sports talk radio as Cutler Ridge Laz. “Whatever supports Blu, I’m in favor of because you can’t find a finer person in the South Florida community.”
Blustein spoke briefly when introducing former UM assistant and two-time high school state champion Don Soldinger for his “Attitude of a Champion” speech that wrapped up Friday’s events.
“I’m a fighter. I’ll get through it,” Blustein said to his audience.
Others who spoke earlier Friday included Golden, UM offensive coordinator James Coley, defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio, FAU wide receivers coach Dan Shula and defensive backs coach Corey Bell.
Friday’s practice was the ninth of the spring — all which were open to fans.
The clinic continues Saturday with a pair of guest speakers from FIU, offensive coordinator Steve Shankweiler and defensive coordinator Josh Conklin, as well as Darren Rizzi of the Miami Dolphins to talk special teams.
It culminates with the team’s first of three scrimmages this spring on Saturday at noon. While open to the high school community participating in the clinic, the scrimmage is closed to fans and media.