Friday, February 10, 2006

MSD Exclusive: CANES Recruiting

January 28, 2006


Jorge Lauzardo, MSD Contributor

Editor's Note: A day after we posted this article, the Herald released their own column on this subject. Just thought it was worth mentioning. Besides, while it is an excellent article, it seems it took two people to write that column and only one Godfather to write this one. Big ups to Don Lauzardo. Kiss The Ring ...
-Chris J, Editor-In-Chief, The

The Big Day

Feb. 1st. 2006, National Signing Day for high School football recruits to sign on the dotted line. Once the dust has settled, UM will probably do quite well. Miami will again finish in the top 20 schools this year as decided by &, the top two recruiting Internet information sources.

Which, when you think about it, is pretty good considering what has come to be known in Coral Gables as "Black Monday." That's the day Coach Larry Coker fired four top, and heralded assistants. Actually, Coker has fired 5 assistants since the start of this past season if you include defensive line coach Greg Mark on October 17th.

And this is where our story becomes a tangled web. You see this story is not about this year’s pimply faced bunch of newcomers; sure they have what it takes to win the Heisman as freshmen.

No, the story is about firing the defensive line coach in mid-season. The defensive line coach. Not the ball boy for promoting milk. Not the assistant, to the assistant, of the assistant punting instructor.

THE defensive line coach.

Does that sound strange to no one but me? Surely not.

Now, mind you, we are talking about firing a coach whose defensive line happens to have been ranked in the top 10 in the country in rushing defense at the time. And who coached a line which was part of the top 3 total defense teams in the Country.

Why was he fired? The truth, well, "we can't handle the truth." At least we may never know the truth. But after my investigation, and follow up, I think I have a pretty good idea. But the answer will be simple to see at the end of the story.

Let me piece this all together for you and see what drops from the roof shall we?

A Troubling Trend

It is early spring 2005, and Kevin Perez, 6-4 282, Senior OL from Killian High is taking in the UM Spring football practices. As a Junior Kevin, considered one of the top O-Linemen in the State, visited the UM practices regularly. In an interview he admitted he had been a lifelong "Canes fan!"

Yet on May 15th, in an article on Dawg Post, the official Georgia web site for Scout.Com, we find this quote: “...Early in the process Perez mentioned to us (Dawg Post) that UM was his favorite school. Why the change? ‘I have not heard from UM at all, [Perez said].’ ‘Since they invited me to their spring practices they have not written or called this spring.’ ”

Again does this sound strange to you? Oh, old Kevin was probably a non-qualifier academically, you say? Wrong, parchment breath! Not only was he qualified, he was so far ahead academically that, according to reports, he is already enrolled at Georgia, a full 4 months before his graduating class accepts their pieces of paper.

"I have not heard from UM at all." This has been a common line repeated by Dade & Broward County recruits this football season. So what gives? Remember when Howard Schnellenberger said everything South of Orlando was "the State of Miami" and claimed it for UM?

George Smith, head coach of Broward County power house St. Thomas Aquinas, said recently, "UM has had their issues recently recruiting local kids, but it seems they have identified the problems and have corrected them. I just sat down with Randy Shannon (Def. Coordinator), and everything is fine."

By the way, Smith Coached 3 All-State O-Linemen this year. Including All American 1st Team, Sam Young, 6-5 315, who had UM initially as his leader, and when he committed to Notre Dame last week, didn't have UM in his top 3.

Issues – yes, I'll say. Have the "problems" been corrected? I believe most of the problems were corrected on Black Monday and October 17, 2005.

Here's another example, Anthony Leon, 6-3, 209. Rated the number 10 Safety/WR in the Country from Gulliver Prep, and originally committed to FSU. Oh, you say, Gulliver Prep rings a bell, yes the same school that produced Sean Taylor. Oh, and PS ... Anthony Leon is Taylor's cousin.

Here is a quote from Leon recently from, the FSU Internet site: " caught up with the talented Safety/WR to find out what the offer from Miami means to him and if he is still firm in his commitment to FSU.Q: How excited are you [Anthony Leon] to get the recent scholarship offer from Miami? A: “I was more surprised than excited because I was wondering why it took them so long to offer."

Leon, a Hurricane fan for years, was looking forward to following in his cousin’s footsteps. What happened to the UM offer? Why was it so late in coming? Why wasn't there any communication?

Prime Example

Remember the FSU - UM game last year (Miami driving inside the FSU 15 yd. line with a few minutes left and Kyle Wright gets sacked)? The next play is a botched field goal attempt. Does anyone remember who sacked Wright?

The young man's name is Neefy Moffit. True freshman, 6-1 216, outside LB/DE, from Palm Beach. Moffit grew up bleeding Orange n' Green. He practically begged UM for a scholarship. But for some unknown reason, the call never came. Near the end of the recruiting process, UM finally told Moffit that if he waited until signing day and they had an extra scholarship, he "might" get it. By the way, Moffit was an All-State player, and named one of the top 50 players in Florida.

John Mosure, 5-11 204, 4.5 in the 40, the top running back in Dade County this year, Mosure was the leading rusher in Dade County with 1,542 yards and 22 touchdowns. He was selected 1st Team All-Dade running back, and All-State but he never received an offer from UM. PS... In case you forgot, UM didn't sign a running back last year.

These examples are but the tip of the recruiting ice berg.

Righting The Ship

I believe it is pretty obvious why there was a Black Monday, and why Greg Mark was fired. And why Pete Garcia, Butch Davis' Recruiting Coordinator, was hired again by UM recently, and placed "in charge of Football operations."

This isn't the NFL kids. Football Operations means recruiting. And specifically recruiting the Tar out of Dade, Broward & Palm Beach. Which Garcia was famous for.

Larry Coker is still "Master & Commander” of the ship, so he has to answer to why this disorganization was allowed to occur in the first place. But at least he recognized the severity of the problem and was not afraid to pull the trigger.

Or could it be that he was indeed afraid, but not in terms of firing his assistants, but afraid of the fact that Butch Davis is still unemployed as a coach?

Stay tuned ... and let's hope that Dade, Broward & Palm Beach again become THE STATE OF MIAMI.


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