Friday Stock Report: 1/14

With less than three weeks remaining until signing day things are starting to heat up for the Miami Hurricanes football team. Some players are re-thinking their initial decisions to sign with Miami opening doors for other players.

2005 Position Analysis: Quarterback
This will be the biggest battle of the spring between sophomore Kyle Wright and freshman Kirby Freeman. For those that have seen Freeman's progression as a player up close, it has been fun to watch. He has been making plays on the field and has shown toughness and leadership usually seen in a quarterback who played for their father in high school. Many think he will unseat the more coveted Northern California signal-caller. I am not one of those people. I think this is Kyle Wright's team and he will be the starting quarterback on Labor Day. He has the arm strength, accuracy, size, and leadership qualities you want in a quarterback. Without a doubt, it will be a fun battle to watch in the spring.

2005 Position Analysis: Linebacker
If you were a Miami linebacker in 2004 chances are you started a game last year. The Hurricanes started six of their seven linebackers who saw action last year. The constant shuffling at the linebacker position was due to sub-par performances and injuries. All seven linebackers return in addition to Willie Williams. Look for Williams to start along side Roger McIntosh and Tavares Gooden on Labor Day. All three players can run sideline-to-sideline and could be used in various blitz packages if they feel comfortable with the basic defense.

Senior All-Star Games
DT Santonio Thomas is playing in the East West Shrine game in San Francisco, CA for the East squad under Purdue head coach Joe Tiller on January 15 at 2:00 pm on ESPN…OL Joel Rodriguez is playing in the Villages Gridiron Classic in The Villages, FL for the North squad under Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer on January 15 at 11:00 am on ESPN2. The Senior Bowl will name their rosters on January 23 for the game on January 29.

NFL Draft Early Entry Deadline
The deadline to declare early for the NFL Draft is January 15 and there are no other Hurricanes expected to announce they will be leaving. There were rumors about a number of players contemplating the decision. LB Roger McIntosh did not even turn in his papers to the NFL committee to see where he would fit in the draft. CB Kelly Jennings, who graduated with honors in December, contemplated the decision, but decided it was best for him to return. DT Orien Harris was expected by many, including himself, to leave early after a big year this year, but will be returning after a sub-par performance. OL Eric Winston seemed to be destined to leave early and be a top 10 pick, but suffered an ACL injury in October that changed his mind.

NFL Mock Drafts
CB Antrel Rolle appears to be the only Hurricane destined to be a first-round pick this year. The last time Miami had fewer than FOUR first-round draft picks was in 2000 when Daniel "Bubba" Franks was the only Hurricane selected in the first round. Rolle has been consistently been projected in the top 10 of many mock drafts and has been seen as high as second. Many think he is the top cornerback in the draft. TE Kevin Everett, RB Frank Gore, OL Chris Myers, and WR Roscoe Parrish are hopefuls to be drafted in the first three rounds.

Recruiting Update
Miami got word of a change of plans from QB Derek Shaw who verbally committed to the ‘Canes in August. Shaw told the coaching staff he wanted to play his collegiate ball closer to his home in Oceanside, Cal. and appears to have Arizona State on his mind. The loss of Shaw gives Miami 12 verbal commitments and they appear to be the front-runner for RB Antone Smith, DB Kenneth Phillips, and DB Avery Atkins.

Miami Hoops
Miami defeated North Carolina State and Virginia in the past week to push their record up to 11-3 including a 2-1 record in the ACC. Guillermo Diaz was named ACC Player of the Week and is averaging 26.3 points per game in ACC play. The biggest surprise this season by an individual player has been the performance of starting point guard Anthony Harris. Harris, a sophomore, is averaging 13 points per game after averaging 1.4 points in 4.1 minutes per game last season. The Hurricanes are currently ranked 63rd according to realtimerpi.com. They host the 9-7 Seminoles tomorrow at noon.

Miami Baseball
On Monday the baseball team began practice in preparation for their 2005 season, which begins February 1 against FIU—a team they went 1-2 against last year. In the pre-season polls, the Hurricanes are ranked second by Collegiate Baseball and fifth by Baseball America. Miami returns all-American pitcher Cesar Carrillo (12-0, 2.69) along with infielder Ryan Braun (.335, 10 HR) and outfielder Jon Jay (.358, 6 HR). Danny Figueroa and Dan Touchet both are hopeful they can be key contributors in 2005 after dealing with injuries last year. Look out for sophomores Chris Perez and Danny Valencia.

Christopher Stock is a Staff Writer for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@canestime.com.

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