Barry Jackson

Here’s some good news for the Miami Hurricanes at this one position with limited depth

Diaz: Our team isn’t far from competing for championships

The Hurricanes football coach Manny Diaz says, "Maybe it just takes me". as he speaks to the media at the University of Miami on Wednesday, February 6, 2019.
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The Hurricanes football coach Manny Diaz says, "Maybe it just takes me". as he speaks to the media at the University of Miami on Wednesday, February 6, 2019.

A six-pack of Canes notes:

UM is a bit light with scholarship cornerbacks, with only six available.

But there are two reasons to be encouraged:

1. D.J. Ivey was very good in the spring and is the clear front-runner to start opposite Trajan Bandy.

2. Everyone has been impressed with summer enrollee Christian Williams, the four-star cornerback from Alabama.

“He can help us out,” Ivey said. “During 7 on 7, I see out of his break that he’s very quick. He has a sense for the ball.”

Bandy also likes what he has seen from Williams: “Christian Williams, he looks good. He’s big, he’s long. He catches on so well to everything. He’s been doing everything right on and off the field. He’s going to class, doing everything he’s supposed to do.”

And Robert Knowles, at a UM community event Thursday, told reporters (including the Miami Herald) that Williams “covers ground real good, and he’s good at the line and is fast, too. He can close ground fast.”

A UM staffer said Ivey looks ready to be a quality Atlantic Coast Conference cornerback and was among the spring standouts. Ivey “has come a long way,” Knowles said Thursday.

Incidentally, when asked by reporters last month if he might turn pro after this upcoming junior season, Bandy said: “Right now, I don’t know. I’ve gotten that question so many times, but what I really want to focus on is just the team. I want to win, help this program get back up to what it can be.” ...

Bandy, on Te’Cory Couch, the other freshman cornerback besides Williams: “They’ve been stuffing Te’Cory, trying to get his weight up. He’s been taking on that well ... coming and working hard, asking questions in the film room to try and learn the plays so once the game comes he’ll be ready.”

UM announced its 2020 non-conference football schedule, featuring home games against Temple on Sept. 5, Wagner on Sept. 12 and Alabama-Birmingham on Sept. 19 and then a Sept. 26 road game at Michigan State. It’s UM’s first games ever against Wagner and UAB.

That means UM will have a very difficult non-conference game — in some years, two — every year moving forward. In 2021, there’s Alabama (in Atlanta) and Michigan State here. In 2022, there’s a game at Texas A&M. In 2023, there’s a game against Texas A&M here. And UM has Notre Dame there in 2024 and here in 2025.

Stuff we’re hearing: A UM person said you won’t be seeing quarterbacks do a palms up gesture when receivers drop passes this season. This staff considers that disrespectful. ...

One of the changes with new strength-and-conditioning coach David Feeley is a renewed emphasis on speed. “There’s a variety of things different from last offseason,” Ivey said. “It’s more speed, agility, making sure we’re in shape, have the right technique and form.” …

One thing that impressed coach Manny Diaz was K.J. Osborn showing up as the first receiver at practice every day for the first few days this offseason. Then other receivers started becoming the first to show up, exemplifying Osborn’s positive influence as a leader. ... One player said he was impressed that offensive coordinator Dan Enos gave each player something specific to them to work on this summer. Skill development is being prioritized with this staff, and that can only be a positive.

Rivals’ Rob Cassidy made an interesting point on UM’s pursuit of high-end South Florida prospects, including 2021 cornerback Corey Collier (Miami Palmetto) and safety James Williams (Western High).

“It’s definitely going to be an uphill battle,” Cassidy said. “Right now, Manny Diaz is selling a dream. He’s selling what the future might look like. Meanwhile, Alabama, Georgia and Clemson are taking what they want by selling the current reality.

“Miami is going to have to have a big season and show an upward trajectory to have a chance with the truly elite prospects. It’s not what UM fans want to hear right now, but it’s the truth. Nobody knows anything about Diaz the head coach, which makes it difficult to land players with elite offers. Now, if UM flirts with nine or 10 wins this season, things will get easier. This fall will dictate the direction of both players’ recruitments. Don’t count Miami out, but there’s work to be done.”

From the where-are-they-now file: Even though it was short-lived, former Canes receiver Lamar Thomas treasures his two months working on the coaching staff in Salt Lake City with his former UM coach, Dennis Erickson, before the AAF folded.

Thomas believes Erickson — who won two national championships at UM — remains somewhat underappreciated here.

“You can put 1,000 five-star players on the field, but he could manage them because of the person he is,” Thomas said. “He’s still so sharp. I was astonished, at 72, how sharp he is. He is so good to people. I thank him for the opportunity and said players who played for you love you because he doesn’t try to change the person you are.”

Thomas, who previously was the receivers coach at Kentucky and Louisville, reached out to Diaz about a job on UM’s staff but didn’t hear back. Diaz subsequently hired Taylor Stubblefield as receivers coach. ...

Bonus hoops note: The UM men will play in a tournament Nov. 21-24 in Charleston, South Carolina, and open against Missouri State and then face Florida or St. Joseph’s in its second game.

Here was my Wednesday piece on where the UM quarterback battle stands.

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