UM introduces their 25th football coach, Manny Diaz
A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Friday:
▪ UM coach Manny Diaz will sometimes hear players from South Florida say they want to get away for college.
Diaz now has an answer to that:
“You can grow up in South Dade County and never step foot in Coral Gables; you would never,” Diaz told recruiting guru Larry Blustein on his WQAM South Florida High School Gridiron report. “People recruit against us all the time, ‘Don’t you want to experience something different?’ I tell kids, ‘coming to Coral Gables is as different as whatever Podunk college town a school is trying to sell you on. Don’t think this is 13th grade.’”
Diaz told Blustein that “if you didn’t grow up in South Florida or haven’t been here a long time, you look at a map and see the Greater Miami area. But if you’re from here, you really realize we’re a community of neighborhoods. I tell everybody, Dade and Broward are two different states. [Growing up here], Palm Beach felt a hundred hours away.”
▪ Diaz, who plans to keep holding UM’s popular Paradise Camp for recruits in July, said “whoever wins Dade, Broward and Palm Beach wins the state.... You’ve got to get on the right guys. Down here that’s paramount because there are a lot of good players. There’s guys in the district they’re playing, if they were playing in some other district in the country, they would be a freakin’ seven star recruit. If we cut the crap, there might be four of the top teams in the country playing within five miles of each other.
“We say in our office all the time, imagine this guy playing in this league. If he was playing in the Dallas Metroplex area or wherever, he would have 78 offers. We have to sign the best recruiting class for Miami. I told my coaches we have to be the recruiters of the year for Miami, not for Rivals and 247 [web sites], nothing against those people. It’s just different down here. The way players are evaluated down here is different.”
▪ Linebacker De’Andre Wilder, who sat out last season with a neck injury, will not participate in spring football practice. No other Canes player is expected to miss spring ball, though some may be limited because of injury. (For example, running back Lorenzo Lingard is coming off knee surgery last fall.) Spring football practices begin March 19.
▪ New UM defensive line coach Todd Stroud has overcome the ultimate adversity. Four years ago, he was diagnosed with amyloidosis, a cancer-like blood disease caused from a buildup of protein in his organs. Life expectancy is 12 to 36 months. He underwent a stem cell transplant, and his life expectance has risen to 20 to 30 years, according to that published report. Stroud had been working at UM for several weeks before Jess Simpson left for the Falcons and likely would have worked at UM regardless.
▪ On WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline, linebacker Shaquille Quarterman assured that this season “is going to be very different from last season. The mat drills have been the best in the couple years I have been here. The mentality we had across the defense is spreading across the whole team. Once it sets in, we’re going to be dangerous.”
Quarterman, who spoke with teammate and friend Mike Pinckney at least every other day when they were jointly mulling whether to turn pro, said he expects new defensive coordinator Blake Baker, who previously worked in that role at Louisiana Tech, “to bring some things from his past that will make the defense better. But in terms of terminology and scheme, we’re going to have the same hard hitting defense.”
▪ UM (13-16, 5-12 in the ACC) completes its worst regular season under Jim Larranaga when it plays at Virginia Tech at 7 p.m. on Friday on ESPN2.
Miami views what happened this season as a perfect storm of unfortunate events: the NCAA suspension of Dewan Hernandez, the departure of Mt. Saint Mary’s transfer guard Miles Wilson and a season-ending injury to Deng Gak. That compounded the fact that Lonnie Walker and Bruce Brown left early for the NBA.
Larranaga mentioned that at this time last year, UM was the third seed in the ACC Tournament. “We were looking forward to having that kind of year until these disasters occurred,” Larranaga told Joe Zagacki on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline this week.
Though Wilson’s exit was never explained at the time - he would have been an asset as a scoring wing player - Larranaga said he simply “dropped out of school.”
Here was another hurtful factor that Larranaga didn’t mention: UM believed it was on the verge of landing at least three quality recruits before reports surfaced that incorrectly linked Miami to the Adidas scandal. One of those players, four-star Jalen Carey, is a freshman point guard at Syracuse.