COLUMN: Wheeler's World

In this column Kevin Wheeler takes a look at the latest recruiting efforts, the upcoming NFL Draft, the start of the baseball season and more.

Recruiting

Signing Day is almost here and by all idications Randy Shannon is off to a very good start as the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes.

We're not looking at a Top 10 class by any means but considering the circumstances I think this class is a pretty good one. That said, the only thing really keeping the class from being rated higher is the total number of players committed. Scout.com has us with 14 commits and the average Scout.com (Superprep) rating of our committs (3.79) is right in line with some of the teams in the Top 5. Texas is #2 and their average recruit rating is 3.83 - #3 Tennessee is at 3.66. Those two simply have more players committed, but the quality of the players the Canes are adding stacks up with the best.

Only USC Florida have significantly higher average player ratings.

As of Feb. 2nd we're ranked 26th on Scout.com.

Getting QB Robert Marve huge for the obvious reason that the team only had two other scholarship quarterbacks and no long-term possibilities before this commitment. There was some good buzz about Marve from people I know who follow recruiting closely even before he chose UM and if they're excited about Marve then so am I.

Shannon has picked up the pieces nicely in the wake of a horrible season with negativity both on and off the field. Hopefully this is a sign of more good things to come.

NFL Draft

I've noticed a lot of posts on the boards recently about the draft stock of the Canes coming out this year and I've got to say that I'm surprised at how many people are willing to make such hardline, absolute statements about these guys before the Combine and personal workouts even take place.

Every year I spend quite a bit of time talking to NFL people about the draft and to be honest with you, they don't generally care about the kind of numbers guys put up in college. The fact that Greg Olsen dropped some passes or that Jon Beason didn't rack up big enough numbers won't matter a lick to them. Those things matter more to us as fans because we're the ones emotionally involved in the outcome of games - all the NFL guys want to see is whether or not there is enough raw material there for them to mold the player into a contributor.

Don't get me wrong, being a big-time performer in college certainly helps a player's case and is often the tiebreaker between two guys with similar athletic skills, but what coaches and personnel folks care more about is what they see with their own two eyes and what they hear in interviews with the players.

If Olsen posts a bad 40-time, can't move the 225 off his chest often enough or drops passes in workouts then he's not going to be a first round pick, it's just that simple. If he does those things well, Olsen is the top tight end in the draft and a likely first round pick.

In Beason's case things are less certain. From everything I've been able to gather so far, Beason is right in the mix with Paul Posluszny and Lawrence Timmons in the competition for the top outside linebacker. I've seen Beason ranked 3rd in that group and I've seen him ranked 2nd. The bottom line from here forward is simple - the guy who blows people away the most in workouts will be the first outside linebacker taken and that will absolutely make that player a first round pick. Posluszy is the most polished, heady player of the three but Beason and Timmons have higher upside. It's all going to come down to the workouts, but I'd say Beason is an early-to-mid 2nd round pick at this point with a chance for that to improve.

Brandon Meriweather has more to overcome than the other two because of what people are calling "off the field concerns." Whether you agree with those "concerns" being in play or not, they are there and nothing is going to change that. He needs to be impressive in workouts - especially in the bench press - and he'll need to be even more impressive in the interview room. I've seen speculation that Meriweather has a chance to be a late first round pick, depending on team needs and Meriweather's workout performance, but I think he's more likely to go in the 2nd or 3rd round. We'll see.

In the coming weeks and months I'll be speaking with a lot of NFL Draft experts and NFL people so I'll be sure to relay whatever I can here when the time comes. At some point in the future I'll write something about all of the Canes who are likely to be drafted but I don't think much is set in stone at this point. We need to hear what NFL people say after they see all the guys do their thing at the Combine and on UM's workout day.

Hurricane Baseball

I am psyched about Jim Morris' team this season. They lost some key performers, no doubt about it, but the team is fantastic.

David Lake did a great preview on the team already so I'm not going to get into too many details about the club because he already did it so well. I just wanted to point out that I'm very much looking forward to following them this season and watching them as often as possible.

David's preview is here, in case you missed it:

2007 Baseball Season Preview

Jemile Weeks is turning into the same kind of player his brother Ricky was before being drafted by the Bewers. Jemile is an offensive force who I believe is going to hit a few more balls over the fence this season. Just like Ricky, Jemile has those crazy-quick Gary Sheffield hands and it is a thrill to watch this guy do his thing.

I'm also looking forward to seeing what kind of progress Yonder Alonso makes at first base. Hitting 10 home runs as a freshman is impressive and he has the look of a guy who could reach the 20 home run range by the time he's done at UM.

The pitching is what has me most excited - the starting three are excllent, of course - and I'm looking forward to seeing what Juco transer Enrqiue Garcia can do.

Perhaps a trip to Omaha will be in order for yours truly when the time comes...

A Little Business

I'm encouraging any of you to e-mail me questions, comments and/or complaints over the next week or two. I'd like to begin a regular mailbag column and obviously I need your help to do it. So fire up the e-mail and let's see what you have to say.

Kevin Wheeler can be reached at kevin_wheeler_1994@comcast.net

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