Barry Jackson

UM books marquee non-conference football opponent

Dick Vitale likes the UM basketball team, which opens Friday, Nov. 11.
Dick Vitale likes the UM basketball team, which opens Friday, Nov. 11. AP

Some UM football and basketball notes on a Tuesday night:

• Per sources, UM is finalizing a deal to play a home-and-home football series with Texas A&M in 2022 and 2023.

UM’s philosophy is to play one marquee non-conference game annually, and this Aggies deal gives Miami one on the schedule for the next seven years. The others: Notre Dame in 2017 in Miami, LSU to open the 2018 season in Arlington, Tx.; Florida to open the 2019 season in Orlando; and a home-and-home with Michigan State in 2020 and 2021.

• UM also plays FIU in 2018 and 2019, a matchup that should be more interesting with FIU hiring Butch Davis as coach. And Toledo, Arkansas State and Rutgers are also on UM’s future schedules.

• With UM basketball 1-0 after opening its season with a 92-43 win against Western Carolina last Friday, what’s realistic to expect from a team that lost three key players off a Sweet 16 appearance?

“They will be an NCAA team if their backcourt is good,” ESPN’s Dick Vitale said by phone. “I like their talent. Anytime you lose your starting backcourt, that’s a tough thing. How consistent will Ja’Quan Newton be, with his minutes increasing? That is going to be a big question. Talking to people, I’ve heard some rave reviews on this recruiting class, and they should be instant contributors – they’re all highly rated. This is deepest class they have had.”

ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla said: “Based on who's coming back and their recruiting class, they will be sneaky good. I still put my faith in coach [Jim] Larranaga. He's like a master chef, can take ingredients and whip up something good.”

Fraschilla loves UM’s incoming class. “We had [forward] Dewan Huell at the All American camp; he's a terrific prospect, a long, lanky, athletic kid, a high major ACC level talent. I thought his motor ran really high. He's got to pack a few more pounds. It's good to see them get a local five-star player to stay home, and Dewan could be a poster boy for that.

“[Guard] Bruce Bruce was a major get. He could pretty much play anywhere in the country. [Guard] Dejan Vasiljevic is a tough, hard-nosed two guard, a terrific catch-and-shoot guy. He had some big games against college teams that went on Australian tours.”

Fraschilla likes Davon Reed and Kamari Murphy and believes Newton fits the mold “of today’s NBA point guard.”

Can this program be a consistent top 40 program, year in and year out, or is that too much to expect?

“Jimmy has done a tremendous job of adding to the success they had, but the only problem you deal with is the toughness of the conference,” Vitale said. “This year it will be overwhelmingly the top conference in the country. As good as you may be, and FSU will be pretty good too, there are no automatics.

“But I believe they will be a consistent winner [now]. If you can finish in the top 7 in the ACC, you get into the national tournament.”

UM plays at North Florida on Wednesday.

Vitale, by the way, is trying to get a research grant in the name of former ESPN colleague John Saunders, who died this summer, with money directed to children with cancer. Go to for more information.

• UM hoops is reportedly receiving very strong consideration from five-star recruit Lonnie Walker, a 6-4 shooting guard from Reading, Penn. Rivals ranks him the 20th best player in the 2017 class.

• For a lot of Tuesday UM football nuggets, please click here.

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