A six-pack of UM nuggets on a Tuesday:
• A week after Artur Sitkowski flipped his commitment from Miami to Rutgers, UM is zeroing in on another 2018 quarterback: Central Gwinett (Ga.)’s Jarren Williams, who’s rated the No. 12 dual-threat quarterback by Rivals.
Williams, 6-3, has thrown for 3015 yards, 28 touchdowns and four interceptions in 10 games this season and run for 550 yards and 10 touchdowns, according to CaneSport.
A Kentucky oral commitment, Williams and his family will take an official visit to UM this weekend. He then will visit Ohio State and possibly Auburn the following two weeks.
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Canesport’s Matt Shodell said UM QB coach Jon Richt recently watched Williams throw for 416 yards and six touchdowns, plus run for 76 yards and a TD in a 69-44 win.
“I know Mark Richt has a great reputation of developing quarterbacks,” Williams’ father, Anthony, told Canesport’s Shodell. “And I think that’s a plus for the program. We’re from Georgia and he was head coach at Georgia, so we got to see him up close and know he always puts a fine product on the field. So we’ll go down and see what he says, just keep an open mind. I wouldn’t rule anything out.”
Starter Malik Rosier has one year of eligibility left after this one and redshirting freshmen N’Kosi Perry and Cade Weldon have four years of eligibility remaining. Backup Evan Shirreffs has two left after this.
Sitkowski’s play had been uneven this season and UM didn’t view his flip to Rutgers as an enormous loss.
• UM’s most worrisome issue against Notre Dame: stopping a rushing offense that leads the nation in yards per carry (7.0). UM’s defense allows 3.9 per carry, which is 40th best, but has struggled in spurts.
"We’re not in position to physically impose our will on people," Mark Richt said. "But that’s what they’re doing.”
Privately, UM believes it must get bigger on the offensive line, at safety (they’re moving in that direction with Amari Carter at 6-2, 196 and Derrick Smith at 6-1, 195) and linebacker.
• One person in UM’s football department said one big difference in Mark Richt’s staff compared with Al Golden’s is these coaches make changes each week, on both sides of the ball, based on the opponent and matchups. In other words, there is more game planning for specific opponents, as the official said.
"This is a more contemporary approach, the way Bill Belichick does it," the person said. "Mark D’Onofrio never changed."
So you can be sure there will be a sound game plan this week tailored to Notre Dame.
* Deejay Dallas has surpassed Trayone Gray as UM’s No. 2 running back, and offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said of Dallas’ growing role: “I think it’s great. Obviously very proud of his progress. He can still be more physical at times. He is making the most of his 20 reps” including special teams.
Dallas, who began the season as a receiver but moved to running back after Mark Walton’s injury, has seven carries for 32 yards and three receptions for 70 yards. He also has returned two kickoffs for 40 yards.
• UM basketball on Friday begins its most anticipated season in years, perhaps ever, with a No. 13 ranking in the AP poll.
So how good is this team?
"They’re potentially better than top 20; they've got top 10 potential," ESPN analyst Jay Bilas told me. "You never know how young players are going to mature together. So many of these teams now are so much younger than they've ever been. But you have the luxury of playing against other young player. Youth isn't punished as much as used to be in the ACC.
"Having Bruce Brown and Anthony Lawrence back to set the scene in practice is important. Brown is one of the top players in the league and a respected player. He’s a fighter and to have a guy that can score and play in transition and who can defend is a help. They’ve been as competitive as any team in the league aside from North Carolina and Duke."
ESPN’s Dick Vitale sees a Top 25 team unquestionably, at the very least: "Bruce Brown is going to have a sensational sophomore year; he can be explosive in transition and his shot got better last year,” Vitale told me. “And everybody wanted [incoming guard] Lonnie Walker. Terrific talent."
UM is 5-3 against Duke and 5-5 against UNC under Jim Larranaga.
For those who haven’t paid attention, UM’s best basketball recruiting class ever (and one rated 10th by ESPN) includes guard Lonnie Walker (rated the 12th best recruit by ESPN), point guard Chris Lykes (46th), power forward Deng Gak (92nd), plus Mt. St. Mary’s transfer guard Miles Wilson, who isn’t eligible to play until the 2018-19 season.
The other member of UM’s incoming class, New Zealand forward Sam Waardenburg (6-9, 205), enrolled in January. UM expects Gak to redshirt.
• Though UM was referenced (not by name) in an FBI document in an ongoing investigation of corruption involving sneaker companies, nobody at UM has been charged, and Larranaga has said he has no knowledge of any wrongdoing by UM.
Bilas believes Larranaga.
“I don't believe for one second Jim Larranaga has done anything wrong,” Bilas said. “I would have to be shown some convincing evidence to believe otherwise. I find it very unusual that a U.S. attorney would have a press conference over charges being filed in college sports. I found it really distasteful. This is not charges brought against the Gambino crime family or a drug cartel.
“After a two year federal investigation that included cooperating witnesses and wiretaps, the fact there isn't enough evidence to charge anyone at Miami and Louisville is telling.”