Barry Jackson

NFL showing interest in Kaaya; UM, Heat, Marlins nuggets

Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) drops back to pass in the first quarter as the University of Miami hosts Pittsburgh at Hard Rock Stadium on Sat., Nov. 5, 2016.
Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) drops back to pass in the first quarter as the University of Miami hosts Pittsburgh at Hard Rock Stadium on Sat., Nov. 5, 2016.

A six-pack of UM, Heat and Marlins nuggets on a Friday:

• The Chicago Bears have displayed particular interest in UM junior quarterback Brad Kaaya, sending three representatives to the Nov. 5 UM-Pittsburgh game.

One NFC scout insisted last week that Kaaya needs to return to school, and ESPN’s Todd McShay said: "Kaaya will be more reliant than other guys in this class on finding the right system. He's a good fit for a West Coast scheme. But he won't be for everyone because he doesn't have the arm strength to play in certain windy-weather locales. Kaaya will need to add bulk and get stronger before he can be handed the keys to a franchise. I'd like to see him return to school and get another year of experience playing in a pro-style system."

• Among UM players, ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Kaaya his No. 5 draft-eligible QB, Chris Herndon his No. 7 fullback and Justin Vogel his No. 9 punter and no other UM player in his top 10 at any position.

But cornerback Corn Elder is rising. "Elder’s a really good player; you turn on the film and go, ‘Whoa!’" one NFC scout said last week.

Shaquille Quarterman generated a lot of the early publicity - and deservedly so - but don’t overlook what other freshmen linebackers, Mike Pinckey and Zach McCloud, achieved this season.

"Every game he flashes,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said of Pinckney. “Every game he makes a play that is sort of outside the structure of what a normal linebacker should do, a `wow' type play. He's learning the consistency of being an every down WILL linebacker. He’s a guy that plays fast, and it's hard for freshmen a lot of times to play fast.”...

UM ruled cornerback Adrian Colbert out for the Duke game with a broken forearm but hopes he can return for the bowl game.

• UM’s dismissal of guard Rashad Muhammad from the basketball team for “failure to meet team expectations” leaves UM with just nine eligible players on scholarship, four below the maximum allowed: Ja’Quan Newton, Davon Reed, Anthony Lawrence, Kamari Murphy, Ebuka Izundu and freshmen Bruce Brown, Dewan Huell, Dejan Vasiljevic and Rodney Miller.

Another, VCU transfer Michael Gilmore, isn’t eligible until next season.

UM has so few players on scholarship because of NCAA probation (which cost UM three scholarships). Transfers (Deandre Burnett, James Palmer, Manu Lecomte) also have been a factor.

• Though Justise Winslow’s defense is an obvious strength, opponents were shooting a surprisingly high 52.9 when they were guarded by him before his wrist injury, well above the 45.9 they shoot overall and well above every other Heat starter. So his overall game, not merely his shooting, must improve when he returns.

• Don’t be surprised if the Marlins pursue veteran free agent left-hander Jon Niese, 30, who went 8-7 with a 5.50 ERA for Pittsburgh and Mets in 2016. He’s 69-68 in his career, with a 4.07 ERA that ranks 40th among active big-league starters.

For my Friday post examining Dan Marino’s larger than expected Dolphins role, please click here.... For more Heat notes and media notes from Thanksgiving, including the full weekend college football TV schedule and NFL maps, please click here.

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