The Work - July 7th
**To quickly address the Taylor Gadbois situation – I was told from a very good source last October that Gadbois would be suspended a year due failing an NCAA drug test. According to this individual, it was a failed test for performance enhancing drugs. Deer antler spray has been the rumored substance, but no confirmation on that. Miami coaches had been “tired” of Gadbois’ attitude for some time. His recent dismissal is no surprise, but it ends an up-and-down career at Miami for him. He is an extremely talented player that you would hope realizes his potential at some point.
**On Gerald Willis’ arrival – The former UF defensive tackle Willis has been in Miami for more than a month now. There is not much optimism at all that his waiver to play this will be approved, so I would not hang much hope on that happening. A source said that Willis is a “quiet guy” who is “still finding his way” within the team. He could be an extremely valuable piece for Miami at this time next year.
**Young DBs – One position that is a concern to some is cornerback, but coaches are very high on freshmen Mike Jackson and Sheldrick Redwine as guys who could see the field early this year. Jackson was a late bloomer in high school out of Alabama with size and speed. Redwine is a big, physical corner who struggles at times against crisp route runners, but if used in the correct scheme could become a tremendous player at Miami. The internal opinion on Ryan Mayes is mostly that he has a ways to go before being a guy you can trust out there, but some still believe that he has shown signs of progress. Mayes will be a redshirt freshman this upcoming season. I have said this over-and-over the past few months, but JaQuan Johnson will be on the field early and often. I expect him to be heavily in the rotation. Offensive players have been thoroughly impressed by what he has been able to do in a short period of time. Robert Knowles out of Edison is also probably a year away from seeing legitimate action because he is very raw, but coaches are excited by his physical ability.
**Developing young receivers – Kevin Beard has been a massive upgrade over Brennan Carroll (as expected). Multiple receivers believe that Beard’s knowledge of the position and understanding of the “little things” will take this group to the next level. Two guys who must continue to improve their games though, are Darrell Langham and Tyre Brady. Both of these players came to Miami being characterized as big-bodied receivers who could potentially stretch the field vertically for the Canes offense. Each of them have a similar issue which is something that has been described to me as “finishing the catch”. Brady and Langham put themselves in position to make plays, but there still needs to be some polish added to their game. We will see what Beard can do with them.
**Trent Harris…smartest player on the defense? – The Miami defense will obviously miss Denzel Perryman more than anybody next season, as he was the leader on that side of the ball and was considered the smartest player defensively. I got a surprising answer from a close team source when I asked who he thought would replace Denzel for that title, and without hesitation he responded Trent Harris. If you are looking for an under-the-radar breakout player this season, the smart money is on Harris. He played at a lighter weight than coaches would have wanted him at last season, but Harris has now been through two offseason programs and I believe we will see the dividends of that this season. One of the coaches’ favorite players on the team.
**On Mike Smith – I was a huge fan of Mike Smith out of Miami Northwestern High School in the 2014 class. The knock on Smith has always been that he didn't have the hips to play linebacker or drop in coverage and had too slight of a frame to play defensive end. After taking the year off to redshirt and rehab a knee injury, it appears as of now that Smith is just having trouble really finding his role. He still needs to add about 30 pounds to be considered a legitimate option as a pass-rusher because he is not one of those light, quick-twitch edge rushers. Smith has always relied on his motor, but it is tough to rely solely on that at this level. I have hope that he can still be a productive player at Miami, but there needs to be a plan in place for him.
**Wyche ready to shine – Mike Wyche came to Miami last summer with hopes of being an instant impact player for the Canes, but had trouble even staying on the field. His conditioning this season is no longer an issue and he is down about 25-30 pounds from when he first arrived to Miami. I’m told he is stepping up as a vocal leader for the defense as well. People inside have nothing but good things to say about his progress compared to what we saw last season. A lot of the success/lack of success Miami has defensively could hinge on how Wyche performs this season.
**Under-the-radar freshmen to watch – Freshman quarterback Evan Shirreffs was not a household name during the recruiting process, and even signed with the Canes after signing day after holding no major offers, but James Coley might have gotten himself a steal. Shirreffs throws a very nice spiral and some players on the team have already dubbed him “Little Peyton” because of his look and mannerisms. Will he ever start a game over a healthy Brad Kaaya? No, but it will be very interesting to track his progress in fall camp, because there is a nice buzz around him right now. This is a kid who was the valedictorian of his high school, so he should be a quick learner. On the defensive side of the ball, Jamie Gordinier has the coaches very excited with the fluidity that he has at his size. Gordinier is coming to Miami already weighing in at about 230 and that is all good weight. He is probably a year away from getting snaps from scrimmage, but could be a valuable special teamer this season.