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Defense Takes Hit With Bailey Injury

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

CORAL GABLES – The debut for the Incredible Hulk may be on hold.

No, we're not talking about the anticipated summer blockbuster movie. Rather, Miami defensive end Allen Bailey has earned the nickname from fans for his freakish strength.

Bailey suffered a torn pectoral muscle in May while lifting weights and underwent surgery. He is expected to miss most of the summer workouts and possibly won't be ready for preseason camp.

The news put a damper on what was expected to be the most anticipated debut for any UM player not named Robert Marve, who is the favorite to start at quarterback in the season opener against Charleston Southern.

A sophomore, Bailey was the most discussed defensive player in the spring. He switched from linebacker in the offseason and became the immediate candidate to replace Calais Campbell, who left after his junior season and was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals.

Bailey made the move simply because he outgrew the linebacker position. Last year he already was considered too big to play linebacker, and he added 20 more pounds. With Bailey at 290, the UM coaches felt a change was needed.

Bailey had no problem with the move. Coach Randy Shannon said Bailey could be well over 300 pounds by the time he suits up this season. When that happens is still a mystery.

The Miami coaches don't comment on injuries, but it is likely that Bailey will need lots of recovery time. Perhaps the staff will rest him in the opener and make sure he's healthy for the following week, against Florida in Gainesville.

All of this came at the worst time for Bailey. He was arguably the most dominant defensive player in the spring.

HOCUTT SETTLES INTO AD ROLE

New Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt refuses to get caught up in age issues. At 36, he is one of the youngest ADs in college athletics. He replaced Paul Dee, who retired June 1 after 16 years with the Hurricanes.

"I really can't look at it that way," Hocutt said. "I know I have a job to do."

Hocutt takes over after a successful stint at Ohio, where he improved the school's fundraising. He had similar results while serving as an associate AD at Oklahoma.

Hocutt was at OU during the time when coach Bob Stoops was beginning the rebuilding process of the football program. Stoops eventually led the Sooners to a national title and back to being an annual contender.

Hocutt looks at Miami as a similar situation. The Hurricanes, who have gone 12-13 over the last two seasons, seem stuck in a downward spiral. But as Shannon enters his second year, Hocutt sees a program headed for a turnaround.

Hocutt already has won over the support of many in the athletic department. He got off to a fast start by making it a priority to get a new contract for basketball coach Frank Haith, who led the Hurricanes to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season. Haith recently signed a five-year extension.

SIGNEES SEEKING TO QUALIFY

According to various recruiting services, Miami nailed down the nation's top class in February. But it won't reach full strength until a few players reach the proper academic requirements needed to enroll this summer.

Among those still awaiting results are linebacker Antonio Harper, linemen Ben Jones and Brandon Washington, and safety C.J. Holton.

"Right now, they're going to try to use my five online classes," said Holton, who played at in-state Wakulla High. "I'm not too worried. If not, I'll take the ACT or SAT again and get that taken care of. If I don't pass, I'll probably end up at prep school. But I'm not really thinking about that, because I know that I'm not that far off."

Holton would join an incoming class that already is stocked with talent in the defensive backfield. Joe Wylie, out of Boyd Anderson High in nearby Lauderdale Lakes, and Long Beach (Calif.) Poly's Vaughn Telemaque are two safeties expected to compete for playing time.

Harper played at Melrose High in Memphis (the same as running back Graig Cooper) and likely is headed for the prep school route, but he still is holding out hope.

"I take the test in June," Harper said. "I have a good chance of passing it. We'll see what happens."

Meanwhile, there also has been some good news on the academic front.

Linebacker Gavin Hardin, who could be a potential impact freshman, recently received a qualifying test score. After playing last year at Jackson Central High in Tennessee, he has a chance to bolster a young linebacker unit that already boasts true freshmen Arthur Brown and Sean Spence, who both started in the spring game.

HAITH MAKES RECRUITING STRIDES

No doubt much of the recruiting talk in Coral Gables has centered around the football program, but Haith is doing his best to keep up.

Last year, he landed DeQuan Jones, a wing player out of Wheeler High in Marietta, Ga. A top-20 prospect, according to some recruiting services, Jones is the highest-rated recruit in Haith's tenure.

Haith recently continued his success by getting a commitment for 2009 from Donnavan Kirk, a 6-8 forward from Detroit Country Day. Several recruiting analysts have compared Kirk to former Florida standout Al Horford.

Kirk still needs to pick up some weight, but he comes from a school known for producing top talent. Chris Webber and Shane Battier are two of the more notable Country Day alums.