July 20, 2005
CORAL GABLES - If coach Larry Coker achieves his primary goal for the 2006 recruiting class, Quarterback Few no longer will be a fitting description for Quarterback U.
The 2005 de-commitment of Derek Shaw, the California product who signed with Arizona State in the late stages of the recruiting process after being committed to the Hurricanes for many months, left UM with only two scholarship quarterbacks. For better or for worse, sophomore starter Kyle Wright and redshirt freshman Kirby Freeman will man the position during the upcoming season.
Coker's goal is to add two more quarterbacks in his 2006 class, but he knows it won't be easy to convince two top-tier passers to join an already-young backfield. However, he seems determined to add a few more arms.
"If you're a quarterback and you're worried about the competition, maybe you shouldn't be a quarterback," Coker said earlier this summer. "I think it's a great opportunity for somebody."
Pennsylvania's Pat Devlin, who's considered one of the nation's top 100 prospects, apparently agrees. Devlin, who passed for more than 2,200 yards and 21 touchdowns last season, and also rushed for 500 yards and 10 touchdowns at Downingtown East High School, committed to the Hurricanes in early July. He chose Miami over a number of programs, including conference foes Virginia (runner-up), N.C. State and Maryland.
"I was looking for the right combination of things," said Devlin, who is rated by Rivals.com as the nation's No. 5 pro-style quarterback. "A place I wanted to live. Somewhere that had the right academics and a good football team. Miami was that place."
Devlin said he isn't concerned that the Hurricanes will continue to pursue other top-flight quarterbacks, such as Jacksonville's Tim Tebow and Tampa's Jarred Fayson. Tebow is viewed by most recruiting experts as a longshot for UM, but Fayson, who also is being recruited as a receiver, is a long-time fan of the Hurricanes.
Devlin, who is 6-4 and 195 pounds, was the fourth player UM has landed a commitment from this summer. He joined Sarasota Booker receiver Sam Shields, California defensive tackle Josh Holmes and Jupiter High kicker Matt Bosher in what's expected to be a small signing class.
Connie Devlin, Pat's mother, said that ever since her son competed with a traveling team in a tournament that took place in St. Petersburg, Fla.., he's been high on the caliber of athletes produced by the Sunshine State.
"I have to believe that had a lasting impression, which helped him come to his decision," said Connie, who accompanied Pat on five of his campus visits.
Unlike Miami's past two quarterback signees (Wright and Freeman), Devlin doesn't plan on graduating from high school early to participate in spring practice. There's probably little reason for him to do so, especially considering that he'll likely redshirt during his first season on campus, putting more separation between himself and the upperclassmen.
SIENA TRANSFER: STRONG CREDENTIALS
Instead of adding another high school prospect to his second recruiting class at Miami, basketball coach Frank Haith opted to go with experience over youth, signing his first transfer, former Siena guard Jack McClinton.
McClinton, a 6-1, 185-pound combo guard who started 23 of 30 games as a freshman last season, joined the UM program during the final summer semester. McClinton, who was named to the 2004-05 MAAC all-rookie team after averaging 13.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists, will sit out the 2005-06 season under NCAA transfer rules. Following that, he'll have three years of eligibility with the Hurricanes.
UM's coaches believe he has the skill set to be a key contributor down the road.
"Jack is an extremely versatile guard," Haith said. "His ability to score, rebound, defend and distribute the basketball will make him a tremendous asset to our program."
McClinton decided to leave Siena this summer, after coach Rob Lanier was fired following a 6-24 record. Lanier, now an assistant at Virginia, brought McClinton to Siena and likely provided him with an endorsement of Haith, who ironically had replaced Lanier as an assistant at Texas when Lanier left that program to take the Siena job.
McClinton inherited the scholarship made available when guard Antonio Mayhand decided this spring to transfer. McClinton joined Ohio swingman James Dews, Miami High forward Dwayne Collins and Georgia forward Jerome Burney Jr.as recruits Haith has added since the Hurricanes' surprisingly successful 2004-05 season concluded.
While Dews, Collins and Burney must wait until next year to join the squad, McClinton, a clever scorer who shot 35.7 percent from behind the three-point arc last season, already is on campus working with his new teammates.
HELP WANTED: QUALITY CORNERBACKS
Miami cornerback Glenn Sharpe will miss the 2005 season after suffering his third knee injury in two years. A junior who was expected to compete for a starting spot this fall, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the first week of July in team drills.
In 2003 Sharpe tore the ACL in his left knee, and despite playing in the first two games last season, he was awarded a redshirt after the knee worsened. Down the road, he could apply for a sixth season of eligibility.
Sharpe's most notable play at UM came in the national championship at the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, when he was the victim of a controversial pass interference call in the game's first overtime. The call gave Ohio State a first down, which led to a score and kept the Buckeyes alive in their double-overtime victory.
Sharpe's absence left UM with only three healthy, experienced cornerbacks: Kelly Jennings, Devin Hester and Marcus Maxey. Sophomores Carlos Armour and Rashaun Jones are recovering from injuries of their own. Armour suffered an ACL injury in the spring, while Jones had his shoulder surgically repaired this summer.
The injuries make it likely that highly touted freshman defensive backs Bruce Johnson, Kenny Phillips and Glades Central's Randy Phillips will play immediately. But Miami's coaches do have options if the three incoming players aren't ready to handle the numerous spread offenses UM will face early this fall.
Safety Brandon Meriweather, a junior who has started eight games over the past two seasons, has been used in Miami's dime packages for the past two seasons, and there have been discussions since the spring about him making the switch to cornerback permanently.
Also, senior safety Greg Threat, the Hurricanes' leading tackler last season, has experience as a cornerback. He played the position sparingly as a freshman in 2002, starting three games. Then this spring Threat, who tallied three interceptions last season, worked at the cornerback spot during spring practices, partly out of necessity, but also to help improve his pass coverage skills.