Spring Outlook: Miami

CUTigers.com continues a spring time tour through the Atlantic Coast Conference.

School: Miami
Location: Coral Gables, Fla.
Enrollment: 15,248
Stadium: Orange Bowl
Capacity: 72,319
Scout.com Recruiting Ranking: 14 (2nd ACC)
Spring Practice Begins: March 21
Spring Game: April 15

SIGNING DAY UPDATE: Miami went into the crucial recruiting month of January after firing four assistant coaches following its Peach Bowl embarrassing loss to LSU, but coach Larry Coker said the Hurricanes lost only one commitment after Christmas in the ensuing turmoil.

Coker announced a signing class of 20 prospects that did not include running back LeSean McCoy of Harrisburg, Pa., considered one of the top running backs in the country and reportedly committed to the Hurricanes. McCoy likely is headed for time at a prep school before coming to Miami.

The "lost" commitment was quarterback Pat Devlin out of Downington, Pa., who signed with Penn State.

Miami rebounded by picking up quarterback Daniel Stegall from Greenwood, Ark. Coker said he likes Stegall's versatility. Stegall was hardly being recruited by big-name schools -- Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe (where new Miami assistant Todd Berry coached), Navy and Air Force -- but Coker and noted that many quarterback prospects sometimes "fly under the radar."

The Hurricanes had two "firsts" in their recruiting. They signed their first player from Alaska and their first from the Bahamas.

Tailback Kylan Robinson is the Alaskan. He played his senior season at Chamberlain High in Tampa, rushing for more than 1,600 yards, after moving from Alaska so he could draw more attention.

The Bahamas product is offensive lineman Ian Symonette, who is from Nassau but played his high school ball in Houston at St. Pius X High. At 6-foot-9, 338 pounds, he is by far the biggest member of the class.

If there were a weakness in the class it was that it included only one wide receiver, Sam Shields from Sarasota, Fla. The Hurricanes lose Sinorice Moss, Akieem Jolla and Devin Hester (who was slated for more time after getting in only a handful of plays on offense) from 2005, and only Ryan Moore, Lance Leggett and Darnell Jenkins have playing time among returnees.

TOP RECRUITS: RB Javarris James, Immokalee, Fla. -- The cousin of former Hurricanes great Edgerrin James, James (6-0, 201) missed five games because of a knee injury in 2005 but still rushed for more than 1,000 yards. He could step in right away behind Tyrone Moss and Charles Jones.

WR Sam Shields, Sarasota, Fla. -- The Hurricanes signed only one wide receiver, but they are very happy with the one they got. Shields (6-0, 177) caught 67 passes his senior year at Booker High and was considered the top wideout in the state.

DB Tervaris Johnson, Miami -- He can play cornerback or safety and gives the Hurricanes a solid physical presence in the secondary. Out of Monsignor Pace High, he is 6-2, 211. Playing time may not come immediately with the Hurricanes' depth in the secondary, however.

GLANCE AT 2006: After back-to-back three-loss seasons, the vultures are after coach Larry Coker, and anything less than a BCS bowl, or even national championship game, isn't going to satisfy them. The Hurricanes will have experience at quarterback, returning starter Kyle Wright, and look strong up front and in their secondary defensively, but they must rebuild their offensive line and somehow must regain the big-play capability on offense they have lacked the last couple of seasons.

* Miami will enter the 2006 season with five new assistant coaches after Larry Coker cleaned house after a dreadful 40-3 loss to LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. Offensively, Rich Olson, one of the most respected offensive coaches in football, has been named offensive coordinator at Miami, where he worked for three years with great success in the early 1990s. He will also coach the team's running backs. Olson spent the last 11 years in the NFL, after following Erickson from UM to the Seattle Seahawks in 1994. He has also coached with the Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings.

* Todd Berry was named quarterbacks coach after serving as offensive coordinator at Louisiana-Monroe in 2005 and also as a former head coach at Army and Illinois State.

* Joe Pannunzio was named the new tight ends/special teams coach at the University of Miami. Pannunzio was the head coach at Murray State from 2000 to 2005 and was one of the most highly regarded tight ends/special teams coaches in the country during stints at Texas Christian, Minnesota, Mississippi and Auburn.

* Marquis Mosely was named the new wide receivers coach at the University of Miami. Mosely, 30, was the wide receivers coach at Northern Illinois for the last two seasons.

* Defensively, Coker announced the hiring of John Palermo and Clint Hurtt as assistant coaches in February. Palermo will coach the defensive line while Hurtt will assist in the same area. For the past 15 years, Palermo has been the Assistant Head Coach at Wisconsin, serving as outside linebackers coach from 1991 to 1995 and as defensive line coach for the last 10 seasons. Hurtt served as the defensive line coach at Florida International in 2005. Hurtt was also a three-year letterman for the Hurricanes as a defensive lineman. Finally defensive Coordinator Randy Shannon will also now coach linebackers.

* The 2006 schedule is manageable, with just one out of conference game that looks to be tough- a road contest against Louisville on Sept. 16. The Hurricanes will also face Florida A&M and Houston in out of conference action.

SPRING QUESTIONS: Naturally with the addition of so many new assistant coaches, how will the existing players respond to what looks to be an entirely new staff? At the same time, new faces must emerge as the Hurricanes must replace 22 players from last year's team, including both cornerback positions, two linebacker spots, and three places on the offensive line. The good news is that second-year starter Kyle Wright leaves little doubt about the quarterback position.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I like the receivers we have and I do like Sam Shields. But we do need to get the numbers built back up, no question." -- Coach Larry Coker, who signed only one wide receiver (Shields) even though the Hurricanes are losing at least three from 2005.

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