Manny Diaz on his team’s growing pains
A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Wednesday:
▪ UM football coach Manny Diaz made this very clear on his radio show last week: He is tired of some recruits debasing or desecrating the Hurricanes and the Miami brand.
Whether he can change that is an interesting dynamic that must still play out.
Diaz this week said that there are now “criteria for what happens when you are committed that has never been in place in the past. Our recruits are aware of that now. I don’t want to get into the details.”
One source said UM has made clear to recruits that it doesn’t want them taking recruiting visits elsewhere if they commit to Miami. But it’s unclear to what extent Miami will try to enforce that.
A source also said UM has made clear it will be less accepting of recruits with baggage.
Jaiden Francois, a four-star cornerback from Homestead South Dade High who has been committed to UM since Feb. 4, told colleague David Wilson that he plans to take official visits to Penn State and Ohio State this fall. But there’s no indication that UM has pulled his scholarship offer as a result.
The recruiting conversation with Diaz began Monday after he made these interesting comments on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline last week:
“We’re changing the value of what it means to be a Miami Hurricane. We’re changing parameters of what it takes to be one of us. That value has to come on the inside. We need to reassign value of what it means to be a Miami Hurricane. We should not let others defile it. That’s one thing that’s happened too often in recruiting for us [in recent years]....
“If you don’t understand what it means to be a Hurricane, you can go somewhere else. [Part of that is] the culture of competing in your community and winning with pride. Some kids [who decommit and then have] the desire to get back on — and we say we might not have room for you — that ship might have sailed.
“Our players have to believe they’re special because they’re Miami Hurricanes. I can understand people from [other states not knowing what it means to be a Hurricane]. We should not let our own, people from inside, we should never be disrespected inside our own community. That doesn’t make any sense.”
I asked Diaz on Monday to expand on how he’s “changing the value” of what it means to be a Hurricane. Diaz said:
“There are some things we are changing in what we’ll do to take a commitment. Not all those things are grandfathered, but what it means to be committed and a certain criteria for that to happen. There’s a criteria for what happens when you are committed that has never been in place in the past. Our recruits are aware of that now….
“But from the inside out, if we don’t put value in something, it’s just sales. … Before you value it, I have to value it. The way we look at ourselves, current players look at ourselves, it has to come from inside this building. The next step is from our fan base and community. Part of that is not tolerating people not respecting the University of Miami, the hometown team. That’s personal to me, my staff, our players. The University of Miami is going to get back to where it needs to get back to with players that love the University of Miami.”
▪ UM is convinced it made the right decision in going with Jarren Williams.
“Jarren is very impressive,” Diaz said on Hurricane Hotline. “You would be hard-pressed to find a freshman quarterback put in more difficult environments. He doesn’t look flustered. Some of the reads down the field we want to get to, to have more explosive plays down the field. [But] this is most yards we’ve put on North Carolina since 2014.”
▪ Though safety Robert Knowles has been a target of Canes fans through the years, UM coaches appreciate him and loved how he played Saturday after Amari Carter’s ejection.
“Robert was a calming influence in our secondary,” Diaz said. “He played well, tackled very well. He’s a guy that has been a success story, has had some ups and downs throughout his career. Here’s the rare thing - he’s a guy that stayed, a guy that loves Miami. In this day and age everyone in the outside world would say `transfer.’ He loves Miami, hasn’t done that.
“The way he works and the way he played Saturdays - you can see the difference between older guys and younger guys. His demeanor, urgency, he calmed the secondary down when he went in there. He’s always been an A+ in terms of tackling. I’m very happy to see Rob getting more of a role and having more success. We had young guys somewhat panicked in communication early on.”
▪ In some ways, receiver K.J. Osborn is even better than UM expected.
“Thank God we have him,” Diaz said. “He’s been exactly what we wanted, making what you would call senior plays. That was a hard catch on that touchdown. We’re really happy we have K.J.”
▪ UM likely will keep giving work to freshman Larry Hodges after his good work Saturday.
“Larry had a great block on Cam Harris’ touchdown,” he said. “What Larry showed is he’s got something about him, toughness to him.”
Realus George, considered the best fullback recruit in the nation two years ago, will have a hard time supplanting Hodges.
▪ Quick stuff: Diaz said the Canes made North Carolina “sore. Now we have to make sure [opponents are] sore and they’re sad.”... With UM beginning a five-game homestand, “We have chance to win five at home. No reason that [another home winning streak] streak can’t start again. Hard Rock Stadium should be one of the most-feared venues to play in, no different than the Orange Bowl.”... UM, which was second in the nation in total defense last season, ranks 60th in yards allowed.
Here’s my Tuesday night piece on Canes lineup changes and other news.