Friday Stock Report: 2/18

With seven-on-sevens underway and early morning workouts set to being on Monday, the Hurricanes are getting geared up for the 2005 season. Although it is the off-season, there is plenty of news from around the team.

Important Dates
March 3 – Miami Pro Timing Day
March 8 – Spring Practices Begin
April 9 – Spring Game at Lockhart Stadium

Much Anticipated Position Change
After signing day is when the coaches take a look at what they have on the roster for the next season. This year four players—all defensive players--have changed positions and will be playing on the offensive side of the ball beginning in spring practices. These moves are likely to be permanent. The most intriguing position change is by James Bryant. After the coaching staff debated on whether or not to leave Bryant at linebacker or switch him to either defensive end or fullback—they have decided he will be best used at fullback. Bryant signed with Miami in 2004 as one of the top linebackers in the nation out of Reading, Pa., but found himself last on the depth chart. He immediately becomes the backup fullback to senior Quadtrine Hill.

Three More Position Changes
Terrell Walden, Chris Zellner, and George Timmons also have found new homes. Walden tore his ACL during spring practices last year and missed the entire 2004 season. With the depth at cornerback Walden has moved to wide receiver—a position he played in high school. Walden will be a sophomore this season. Like Walden, Zellner and Timmons return to positions they played in high school. Zellner spent the 2004 season as a scout team defensive end, but will be a tight end for the Hurricanes this year. Timmons rushed for 1,253 yards as a senior at Columbia High School and will return to running back after playing cornerback on the scout team last year. Both Zellner and Timmons will be redshirt freshmen in 2005.

Addition & Subtraction
In the January 28 edition of The Friday Stock Report, I reported that Mark Gent did not have his scholarship renewed along with Robert Bergman and Curtis Justus. Now Mark Gent has been awarded his scholarship back. Gent is a back-up kicker from St. Thomas Aquinas who has finished his undergraduate degree and will use his scholarship towards earning his MBA degree. Tanard Davis was not as fortunate as he was not awarded a scholarship this year. Davis is a former walk-on cornerback who starred on the track team before earning a scholarship in 2003 and primarily played on special teams. He is still attending classes at Miami and will graduate in May.

It is a Business, but…
Is it worth taking away scholarships from players? Signing a letter of intent binds the school to you for one year, but after that your scholarship can be lowered in the amount and the school could choose not to renew the scholarship as we have seen during this off-season. Scholarships are not four-year guaranteed contracts. Bergman and Davis did not have their scholarships renewed and Justus has been placed on medical hardship--but he will not be counted towards the 85 scholarship limit. All three players were model teammates who did not cause problems with team chemistry. Now that they are no longer on the team, how will this affect their teammates--their friends? In addition, Brandon Sebald transferred because he did not want to be an offensive lineman—a position that would have required him to gain nearly 30 pounds to be effective. Josh Kerr, who signed with Miami in 2004, was originally told to report in December. When I talked to him in December he would not identify the reason why he would not be attending the University of Miami, but he was clearly not happy with the circumstances. Head coach Larry Coker is feeling the pressures of succeeding at Miami and decided to make "business" decisions for the team. Is it worth it?

Off-Season Workouts
The team has begun their seven-on-seven drills with all eyes on quarterbacks Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman. The starting position is up for grabs and by all accounts, both players are putting a lot of pressure on themselves to succeed and to be great at their position. Both possess a strong pocket presence, which is good for a young player. Competition brings out the best in individuals and this will be a battle throughout the spring. The team begins their early morning workouts on Monday starting as early as 5:30. Spring practice is still weeks away, but the hard stuff is about to begin.

Basketball Recruiting
Miami will sign their fourth player, Jimmy Graham, in April to complete the 2005 signing class. They have already begun looking at the top junior talent across the country for the 2006 recruiting class. They have stressed the importance of signing local talent and here are four top juniors in the state still undecided on their college plans: Jeremiah Rivers (6-4, SG, Winter Park); Dwayne Collins (6-9, PF, Miami Senior); Jason Bennett (7-2, C, Arlington Country Day); and Zachary Peacock (6-7, PF, Miami Norland). Miami will have at least four spots available for the 2006 class.

Miami Basketball (15-8, 6-6 ACC)
Head coach Frank Haith underwent surgery yesterday to remove his appendix. According to yesterday's official release by Miami, "It is unknown at this time whether Haith will be able to travel to Miami's upcoming road games against Virginia Tech (February 19) and Florida State (February 22)." Miami's game on Saturday is scheduled for 7:00 pm and will not be televised. This past week they went 1-1 with a win over Clemson and a loss to Wake Forest. At 6-6, they are tied for fourth in the conference with only four conference games remaining.

Miami Baseball (7-0)
Tonight at 6:30 the Hurricanes being a three-game weekend series with the Florida Gators. Miami has knocked Florida out of the NCAA tournament the past three seasons, but that hasn't stopped the Gators from talking in the media. Miami players are aware of their comments, but have been mature in their responses. First-year reliever John McLean already has gotten used to the rivalry by stating, "they have been running their mouth enough and it is time to shut them up." Cesar Carrillo is on the mound tonight followed by Dan Touchet and Chris Perez. Ryan Braun is off to a fantastic start with a .476 average to go along with four homeruns, 12 RBI, and five stolen bases.

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

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