Barry Jackson

Will UM continue to be king of the transfer portal? Manny Diaz offers insight

UM introduces their 25th football coach, Manny Diaz

The University of Miami had its news conference to announce new head football coach Manny Diaz on Wednesday.
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The University of Miami had its news conference to announce new head football coach Manny Diaz on Wednesday.

A six-pack of Canes notes on a Monday:

The Miami Hurricanes have become kings of the transfer portal this offseason, landing three key grad transfers (left tackle Tommy Kennedy, receiver K.J. Osborn and defensive tackle Chigozie Nnoruka), a highly recruited quarterback (Tate Martell, via Ohio State) and running back (Asa Martin, via Auburn), while remaining in the mix for Virginia Tech defensive end Travon Hill and UCLA linebacker/defensive end Jaelan Phillips, among potentially others.

But coach Manny Diaz indicated that this isn’t necessarily a harbinger of how UM will operate in the future. UM will always pursue grad transfers selectively, but there was a particular need this offseason.

“There’s a couple of things that make us unique; we didn’t have the best December,” Diaz said in a podcast with The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman. “I kind of contributed to that with leaving when I did. We had some extra scholarships for the second signing day, and that is part of it. Secondly, our senior class right now is the class that signed with the transition from [Al] Golden to [Mark] Richt.

“We have some amazing players in that class like the linebackers [Mike] Pinckney and [Shaq] Quarterman and some others as well, but we have — this is hard to believe — seven seniors on our football team. I have never been in a situation in which we only have seven seniors. “Now you [take over and] only have seven seniors, and in essence three of them play linebacker and Romeo Finley plays striker so it’s like four of them play in three positions.

“You have three seniors in every other position — holy cow, that is as young as you can be in a leadership perspective. So you have to get an older quarterback, an older wide receiver, an older defensive back, on the defensive line.

“So the look to bring in transfers was twofold. One, it is important to address our roster. There are certainly some things on our team that needed to be addressed. Maybe some positions that weren’t playing as good as we thought they needed to play to be at the level needed.

“Second, sometimes you just need age. There is just a difference with age. And we have had great success with bringing in transfers on defense with Adrian Colbert, Dee Delaney, and Tito Odenigbo. All came in for a specific reason — because they walked into a position where we were young and we needed an experienced guy and a guy that knew how to work and the importance of the last go round of every practice, every meeting, every lift.”

Diaz believes UM is an appealing place for transfers.

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“With this being the first full year of the transfer, a place like Miami with [players on] the second go round they are more understanding of what they are really looking for and aren’t caught up in the flash of what attracts them when they are first coming out of high school,” Diaz told Feldman. “This is a pretty enticing place to come play your final year or two of college football.”

But…

“Is this sustainable and the way we want to build our team going forward?” Diaz said. “No, because you don’t want to be one-year mercenaries. But when you have a roster with seven seniors, you have to address your situation. That’s been more what we’ve been trying to look at.”

Diaz has staffers frequently checking the portal.

“A lot of times you find out news in the middle of the night,” he said. “You’ll hear before the guy officially enters the portal. There are a lot of ways word gets out and gets around. This is the new normal.”

But Diaz noted “there are plenty of disgruntled guys that no matter where you go they’ll be disgruntled. So you’ve got to do your research.”

UM emerged from a big recruiting weekend with one new commitment (Houston-based quarterback Peyton Matocha) but also with cautious optimism about flipping three-star cornerback Martin Emerson (a Mississippi State commit) and landing a commitment from New York-based defensive tackle Jared Hunte.

The Canes also believe they’re still alive in the competition for Wellington four-star running back Mark Antony Richards, though Rivals.com has downplayed UM’s chances.

Penn State looms as the biggest competition for Hunte. And UM remains in the mix for Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons four-star end Khris Bogle, who is expected to visit the Hurricanes next weekend. He visited UF this past weekend.

Former UM running back Dallas Crawford is joining the Hurricanes’ staff as an assistant football coach on defense, according to his Twitter account. The news was first reported by the website, OutTheHuddle, which is run by former UM standouts Jon Vilma, D.J. Williams, Antrel Rolle and Brett Romberg.

UM did not confirm Crawford’s hiring or his title, and he’s not yet on the team’s official website.

As college football writer David Hale noted on Twitter, UM is 27-0 when scoring 28 points or more during the past four years.

It shouldn’t be all that difficult to reach 28 points on offense in today’s high-scoring era of college football. So that should give this program reason to believe it can be a national contender if it can fix the offense with a new staff and potentially a new quarterback (Martell, whether it’s in 2019 or 2020).

One longtime UM Board of Trustee member on the coaching change: “You couldn’t have planned for anything better. Manny Diaz has the right energy for this job, and he hired guys on his coaching staff who have recruited the area before [Stephen Field, Eric Hickson]. You see what new [offensive coordinator] Dan Enos has done with quarterbacks before; that looks like a good hire.

“And we’re keeping our fan base interested. This is a hard place to fill the seats if the fan base is not enthused. Everyone should know that Mark Richt wasn’t forced out. The administration was shocked when he resigned. And he was a real gentleman for walking away from [more than $16 million].”

That trustee member said one of the critical changes was UM now having the ability to pay coordinators at least $1 million a year.

Quick stuff: Offensive tackle Bar Milo, who arrived at UM as a four-star recruit from Brad Kaaya’s California high school but rarely played, is no longer on the team. He graduated in December but had a year of eligibility left..... UM had hoped that even if Dewan Hernandez wasn’t reinstated this season, he would return for his senior season in 2019-20. But he’s turning pro in the wake of the NCAA suspending him not only for all of this season but the first 40 percent of next season.

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