University of Miami athletic director Blake James tackled a variety of topics Monday during media day, including the latest regarding an indoor practice facility, an increase in football season ticket sales, and his growing confidence a renovated New Miami Stadium will be ready for the Hurricanes opener on Sept. 3.
“As I’ve said to some of you, an announcement will be coming soon,” James said of an indoor practice facility, which he hopes will be ready before August 2018. “Unfortunately we don’t have it yet, but we’re finalizing some details and will have a naming gift secured here in the near future.”
James — who pointed out UM was the only athletic program in the country to have a football team play in a bowl game, both its men’s and women’s basketball teams play in the NCAA tournament, and its baseball team reach the College World Series — said more than 36,000 season tickets have been sold as of Monday. That’s an increase of more than 7,000 from a year ago. UM averaged 47,561 fans last season at home — down from 52,518 in 2014.
“Since last December 4th, when we announced Mark [Richt]’s hiring, there has been a real wave of energy around the program,” he said.
Though he said he “still has a backup plan” in case New Miami Stadium isn’t ready for the season opener against Florida A&M, James said he’s confident UM won’t have to play elsewhere based on what he’s been told by the Dolphins franchise, which owns the stadium
This and that
▪ James said there’s still no resolution yet on the status of top veteran defensive players Al Quadin Muhammad and Jermaine Grace regarding a school investigation into their use of luxury cars.
▪ James said he’s a proponent of the Atlantic Coast Conference expanding its football league schedule from eight to nine games.
▪ Richt said the secondary is the most improved unit since camp started.
“I think they play harder, compete harder,” Richt said. “If there’s a deep ball and a guy is getting beat, and the guy is getting ready to catch it, he puts his hands out and rakes it through last second. And even if he gets beat by five yards, he’s going to fly down the field until he touches that guy and maybe tackle him inside the 10 so we can play defense again.”
▪ Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said he feels confident his three cornerbacks — sophomore Sheldrick Redwine, senior Corn Elder and newcomer, fifth-year senior Adrian Colbert — can play bump-and-run. But he’s looking for a fourth.
“Playing man coverage is something that we want to do more of,” Diaz said. “We’re recruiting to that idea, guys with the speed and the instincts and the mindset to play press man out there.”
▪ The Hurricanes picked up their third commitment in a 24-hour span when four-star Miami Columbus cornerback Trajan Bandy became the 20th player to join the 2017 recruiting class — now ranked eighth by 247Sports.com.
Bandy (5-9 1/2, 180) is rated the 29th best corner in the country, according to 247. He was previously committed to Oklahoma. Bandy has a 3.0 GPA and scored an 18 on the ACT. He said he’s “100 percent committed to UM” and will not be taking any other recruiting visits.
Bandy’s high school teammate, four-star corner back Christopher Henderson (6-1, 175), is rated the 19th-best at his position, according to 247, and is the top corner in UM’s recruiting class.
▪ UM also received a commitment from three-star defensive end Jonathan Garvin from Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach. Garvin was the defensive line MVP from The Opening at Miami. On Sunday, Jacksonville Sandalwood three-star outside linebacker Bradley Jennings Jr. — a former FSU commitment and son of former FSU linebacker Bradley Jennings — committed to UM.