Tag:Travis Benjamin
Posted on: February 12, 2012 10:19 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 5:53 am
 

Shapiro threatens Miami, ex-players from prison

Posted by Chip Patterson

Former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, currently serving a 20-year sentence for a Ponzi scheme, has managed to stay in the headlines regarding the ongoing NCAA investigation into the Miami football and basketball programs. Shapiro has stayed in contact with numerous media organizations, including the Miami Herald, through email since in his incarceration. On Sunday, the Herald posted some of Shapiro's more aggressive claims from behind bars.

“The public is going to hate me worse in the next coming months,” Shapiro, serving a 20-year sentence for a Ponzi scheme, wrote in numerous e-mails over the past few months. “It’s going to be severe and catastrophic. My feelings are getting inflamed and I’m going to pop off pretty soon with regards to them and the NCAA. I’m coming for them both [UM and former players] and I’m going to be successful.

“I’m taking that program down to Chinatown and the former players and links to that program. Why? Because the U.S. government lined up 47 former players to testify against me in open court if I went to trial. That in itself is motivation to shove it up their collective [butts].”

The Hurricanes have not received a notice of allegations from the NCAA, but chose to self-impose a bowl ban after their 6-6 finish in 2011 in response to the ongoing investigation.

One Miami official told the Herald he expects "one more bowl ban, maybe two at most," with additional scholarship penalties.

Shapiro has been out for revenge against Miami and the former players, feeling betrayed when they did not come to his aid during the legal troubles associated with the Ponzi scheme. Columnist Barry Jackson describes Shapiro as "a man determined to destroy the UM football program." The former booster believes that much more will come to the surface -- beyond what was alleged in the Yahoo! Sports investigation -- and Miami will get "the death penalty or damn close to it."

As the alleged details of Shaprio's involvement with the Miami football program have surfaced, one consistent theme has been his desire for attention. One Miami official told the Miami Herald that they expect if Shapiro were under oath, the school could "punch holes in much of what he says."

Despite the ongoing investigation, head coach Al Golden was able to sign 33 players to the 2012 recruiting class. The Hurricanes finished with the No. 7 class in the CBS Sports National Signing Day Top 25. For more on the Hurricanes' recruiting class, check out Bryan Fischer's ACC Signing Day Grades at the Eye On Recruiting.

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Posted on: October 22, 2011 7:17 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2011 7:19 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Miami 24, No. 22 Georgia Tech 7

Posted by Chip Patterson

MIAMI WON. The Hurricanes continued to improve while Georgia Tech continued their recent slide as Miami dominated for four quarters in the 24-7 win over the Yellow Jackets. After being held to 29 yards rushing against North Carolina, running back Lamar Miller got back on track with 131 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries to lead Miami. Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington threw an interception on his first pass attempt, and never got anything going through the air completing just 6 of 12 passes for 63 yards.

HOW MIAMI WON: The gritty victory was thanks to a hard rushing attack and swarming Hurricanes defense. The defensive line stuffed the dive while the linebackers flew to the edge to seal off the pitch. It was textbook option defense all day from Al Golden's squad, and the head coach couldn't have been happier with the way they answered the challenge Georgia Tech presents. The Yellow Jackets came into Coral Gables averaging 347.9 yards per game on the ground, and Miami held them to just 124 team rushing yards.

WHEN MIAMI WON: Georgia Tech ate up most of the second quarter clock with a pounding touchdown drive that ate up more than nine minutes of game clock. The score cut Miami's lead to 14-7 and took the crowd (albeit the sparsely attended Sun Life Stadium crowd) out of the game. But after Georgia Tech needed all that time to get down the field and score with 1:02 remaining before halftime, a Travis Benjamin return, Tommy Streeter catch, and Lamar Miller run is all Miami needed to get the final say before the break. The touchdown drive only took 37 seconds, and put Miami ahead 21-7 heading into halftime. It was a huge psychological boost for Miami, who was more physical that Georgia Tech in every aspect of the game throughout the second half.

WHAT MIAMI WON: A huge confidence boost. Their roster is no longer shortened due to suspensions, and the defense played arguably their best game of the season on Saturday. Al Golden has wanted his defense to swarm and to play physical. There is a certain toughness the team displayed against Georgia Tech, and that is the toughness Golden wants to be this team's identity. All four conference games left on Miami's schedule are winnable, with a road trip to Tallahassee being the toughest challenge. The Hurricanes need more than two good wins to show they've turned a corner under their first year coach, but this was a great sign of things to come for the program.

WHAT GEORGIA TECH LOST: The Yellow Jackets are sliding, and it is happening and the worst time. After lighting up stat sheets and scoreboards for the first six games and climbing their way into national prominence, Georgia Tech is looking at the possibility of losing four straight. Next Saturday might be the biggest game of the season for the Yellow Jackets, with undefeated Clemson visiting Atlanta for a primetime showdown. After that Paul Johnson's squad will get a much-needed off week before hosting Virginia Tech on a Thursday night. The way Miami's defense systematically shut down Georgia Tech's option attack should serve as a blueprint for the rest of the Yellow Jackets' opponents. With the caliber of those next two challenges, they need to figure out a way to win that battle in the trenches and get back on track.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Georgia Tech not only entered the game with the nation's 2nd-best rushing attack, but they also are among the nation's leaders in big plays. Earlier in the season, Georgia Tech led the nation in plays of 30+, 40+, 50+, and 60+ yards. However, on Saturday Miami played disciplined on defense and refused to allow the big play. Those big plays on the perimeter can really kickstart Georgia Tech's offense, but against the Hurricanes they did not have a run of longer than 11 yards.

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Posted on: September 16, 2011 4:16 pm
 

Miami-Ohio St looking for a game, not headlines

Posted by Bryan Fischer

MIAMI -- Is Oklahoma going to the Pac-12? Did you see LSU's defense Thursday night? The NCAA reinstated someone from Boise State!

The world of college football this year seems to be about everything but the games six days a week. Saturday, of course, things stop. There's tailgates and touchdowns, quarterbacks and queso, defensive backs and racks full of ribs.

Likewise, much to Mark Emmert, Donna Shalla and E. Gordon Gee's chagrin, Saturday's primetime match up between Miami and Ohio State has seemingly been about everything but what will take place at Sun Life Stadium. The Ineligible Bowl. The Tats and Cash Fiesta. The Yahoo! Sports Bowl. Convict Boosters vs. well… Convict Boosters.

For what it's worth though, there will be no boosters on the sideline according to Miami officials.

Everyday this week, it seemed that each program was in the news for off the field distractions. Tuesday, the NCAA reinstated three Buckeyes after accepting money - via disgraced quarterback Terrelle Pryor - from a booster. On Thursday, Miami's most famous booster, Uncle Luke, announced plans to sue Miami's most infamous booster, Nevin Shapiro. Before the game on the field, games were played in the headlines during the run-up.

"What has been our strategy? Just focus on what we can control," Hurricanes head coach Al Golden said. "Again, I keep saying it. No one on our staff was involved with anything that occurred here, and 90% of our team wasn't.

"There are some distractions there. There are a lot of things. I'm sure Coach (Luke) Fickell has the same issues in terms of every move that you make requires a double move basically."

Golden's starter at quarterback tomorrow, Jacory Harris was suspended for the opener, a loss to Maryland. He's looking to make up for his performance in the Horseshoe last year when he threw four interceptions in a 36-24 loss. For a team looking to put it all out on the field after a rough month off of it, perhaps it is fitting that the Hurricanes' fate will rest on someone who was taken off of it for eligibility issues.

Beyond last year's loss and Harris' issues though, this game means something to Miami. They're looking to avoid an 0-2 start for the first time since 1978 and end their four game losing streak. It's Golden's home debut leading the Hurricanes as well, something the team is clearly focused on - not the nicknames for their Ohio State showdown.

“He's been through the thick and thin with us through this whole [NCAA investigation]," senior Travis Benjamin said. ”We just want to come out and get a W for coach Golden.”

The Buckeyes are not without their own issues as they take their slightly less talented roster to South Beach. The team struggled last week and almost lost to Toledo were it not for John Simon's interception of the Rockets' backup quarterback late in the game. They'll be without four key players due to suspension in receiver DeVier Posey, tackle Mike Adams, running back Dan Herron and backup end Soloman Thomas. Those four will stay in Ohio while the other member of the Buckeye Five will be in Oakland. Not that anyone will bring any of that up.

"We hope and we think that this is what the game is all about, to be able to handle adversity and we believe it's going to make us stronger in the long run," Fickell said. "It starts from the top down. We can't let it affect me so that we can't let it affect them, as well."

Speaking of suspended players, Miami has at the early lead going on: they'll get back five players to Ohio State's three.

The Hurricanes will likely play a key role in the game as well. Linebacker Sean Spence will be a key defender in the middle of the defense behind linemen Marcus Forston and Adewale Ojomo. A speedy receiver, Benjamin should also provide a boost for the offense. Starting running back Jordan Hall, corner Travis Howard and reserve safety Corey Brown are back for the Buckeyes.

It won't quite be the 2003 Fiesta Bowl in terms of talent on the field but there's no ignoring how big a game it is between the two programs who are not on friendly terms.

"We try not to focus on, `Hey, this is a national game because of Miami and their great history and Ohio State's great history,'" Fickell said. "We're still making sure we understand it's one game at a time, like we always say, but it's still about getting better. It's a chance to obviously test ourselves."

Miami's home opener will be emotional. Ohio State is no doubt looking to silence critics. There will be story lines aplenty.

But as 7:30 eastern rolls around, it will - finally - be just a game.
 

Posted on: September 7, 2011 12:56 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2011 1:02 pm
 

Miami names Jacory Harris starting QB

Posted by Chip Patterson

Miami head coach Al Golden has named senior Jacory Harris the starting quarterback for the Hurricanes' next game against Ohio State on Sept. 17.

Harris missed the Hurricanes' opener against Maryland while serving a one game suspension for accepted approximately $140 in impermissible benefits from former booster Nevin Shapiro. Sophomore Stephen Morris was named the starter, and completed 19 of 28 passes for 195 with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Following the game, Golden announced that he would re-open the ongoing competition between Morris and Harris for the starting job, one that had lasted since spring practice.

Near the end of fall camp, Golden (along with many UM players) said that the two signal-callers were in a "dead heat." Both quarterbacks received praise for their performance, and their combined scrimmage numbers (individual stats not released by the school) were impressive. But due to the NCAA suspensions, Golden never got a chance to name a starting quarterback from the competition. With Harris in the number one spot on the latest Miami depth chart, it would seem as though the senior would have been the starter against Maryland if he wasn't serving that suspension.

But Harris isn't the only Miami player who will be anxious to get on the field for the first time against Ohio State. Wide receiver Travis Benjamin will be back in his starting spot, and Adwele Ojomo and Marcus Forston should have an immediate impact on a defensive line that looked gassed by the second half against Maryland. All-conference linebacker Sean Spence will be back in the starting lineup, and his impact in the back seven should be felt immediately.

The best thing the Hurricanes have going for them heading into this big-time matchup against the Buckeyes is the extra time to prepare. I imagine that the leadership of these upperclassmen will play a big role in the team's focus on knocking off OSU at home in primetime.
Posted on: August 31, 2011 11:40 am
Edited on: August 31, 2011 11:41 am
 

Report: Aldarius Johnson uncooperative with NCAA

Posted by Chip Patterson

In a joint release Miami and the NCAA announced the suspensions of eight different players in connection with impermissible benefits received from former booster Nevin Shapiro and university employees. The school also announced the indefinite suspension of senior wide receiver Aldarius Johnson. Miami spokesperson Chris Freet told the Sun-Sentinel onTuesday that Johnson's suspension was not-related to the NCAA investigation, but instead having to do with something he did recently.

But a source close to the NCAA situation told the Sun-Sentinel was "less than forthright" in his interviews with NCAA investigators, a stark contrast to the rest of the Miami players.

Johnson was singled out by Nevin Shapiro in the Yahoo investigative report as someone who received money "at least 10 times," often returning to ask for more from the former booster.

Somewhere between the report from the school and the one from the Sun-Sentinel's source probably lies the truth. Johnson has admitted himself that his success as a freshman (team-high 31 receptions in 2008) made him too comfortable with his position in the Hurricanes' rotation. But things have been different under new had coach Al Golden, and after an ankle injury this spring Johnson found himself absent from the depth chart heading into the summer.

"For whatever reason, he got off track," wide receivers coach George McDonald told the Palm Beach Post earlier this month. "The biggest thing I'm trying to do is get him back on track."

It seems that Johnson and the new Hurricanes coaching staff still aren't on the same page, in many ways. My guess would be that the former freshman standout has likely played his last game in a MIami uniform.
Posted on: August 30, 2011 7:17 pm
 

Morris among new starters after Cane suspensions

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Simultaneous to the NCAA ruling on the eight Miami players now suspended for the Hurricanes' Monday opener against Maryland, the program also released its first depth chart of the 2011 season. With the suspended players absent from the depth chart, here's a rundown of who will be starting for the 'Canes against the Terps:

Stephen Morris, quarterback. With Jacory Harris unavailable, the 6'2" sophomore unsurprisingly gets the nod over Spencer Whipple. Morris appeared in six games a year ago and started four, with the typical ups-and-downs of freshman quarterbacks; he led the Hurricanes to victories over Maryland and Georgia Tech late in the year but only completed 54 percent of his passes and tossed more interceptions (nine) than touchdown passes (seven).

Allen Hurns, wide receiver. A true sophomore, Hurns saw action in nine games in 2010 -- mostly on special teams -- before suffering an injury. He did not record a reception. But he'll get the start against the Terps anyway after the suspensions of Aldarius Johnson and Travis Benjamin.

Darius Smith, defensive tackle. Potential All-American Marcus Forston is out, so in steps the 6'2", 360-pound JUC transfer tackle from Lackawanna (Pa.) College. (No doubt he'll be a favorite of fans of The Office.) Smith was originally recruited to Temple by head coach Al Golden before failing to qualify academically.

Andrew Smith, defensive end. Smith started seven games as a sophomore but came off the bench as a junior. With both Olivier Vernon and Adewale Ojomo suspended, though, Smith is set to get the call against Maryland. Even as a substitute, Smith tied for fourth on the team with three sacks in 2010.

James Gaines, linebacker. All-ACC 'backer Sean Spence is among those sitting the single game against Maryland, so sophomore Gaines, a native of Canisuius, N.Y., will get the call. Gaines appeared in six games as a true freshman and made one assisted tackle.

Michael Williams, cornerback. The suspended Ray Ray Armstrong was a safety, but Jojo Nicolas's move back to that position to fill that hole opened one up for Williams, a senior who sat out last seaso nafter transferring from Wake Forest. Williams started four games for the Demon Deacons in 2009.

Miami has not named a starter at tight end, the position of the suspended Dyron Dye.

Posted on: August 30, 2011 5:32 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2011 7:21 pm
 

Eight Miami players suspended by NCAA

Posted by Chip Patterson

Miami head coach Al Golden hoped that he would hear from the NCAA "within 48 hours," and he did.

On Tuesday the NCAA ruled that eight members of the current Hurricanes football team must serve suspensions and repay benefits in order to become eligible again after receiving benefits from former booster Nevin Shapiro.

Senior quarterback Jacory Harris, wide receiver Travis Benjamin, defensive tackle Marcus Forston, defensive end Adewale Ojomo, and linebacker Sean Spence must all serve a one game suspension and repay their benefits. Converted tight end Dyron Dye and safety Ray-Ray Armstrong must serve a four game suspension while defensive end Olivier Vernon must miss six games of competition.

The school confirmed that all of the players with one game suspensions will serve them on Sept. 5 when the team opens the 2011 season against Maryland.

The NCAA deemed that three players (Dye, Armstrong, and Vernon) received "substantial benefits" as prospective student athletes from Shapiro and school employees.  These benefits have been deemed by the NCAA as "serious recruiting violations."  According to the official release the NCAA is categorizing these players differently from the other five, who received impermissible benefits while already enrolled at Miami.

"The NCAA has informed the University of Miami of their decisions regarding the reinstatement of eight student-athletes who were declared ineligible by the University last week,” Miami athletics director Shawn Eichorst said in the official release. “The student-athletes involved have acknowledged receiving improper benefits and will now be responsible for restitution and, in some cases, the student-athletes will also serve game suspensions. They understand that their actions demand consequences."

"We appreciate the diligence and understanding of the NCAA staff and its handling of the student-athlete eligibility issues in an expeditious manner. I would also like to thank Coach [Al] Golden and his staff for their professionalism and leadership over the past few weeks."

Miami also announced that four members of the football team have been cleared by the NCAA to play, but must repay amounts of less than $100 in impermissible benefits. Brandon McGee, JoJo Nicholas, Micanor Regis, and Vaughn Telemaque will all be eligible for Monday's opener against Maryland. Senior defensive end Marcus Robinson has been cleared by the NCAA but will not face any penalties or have to repay any benefits.

One interesting development from the school was the indefinite suspension of senior wide receiver Aldarius Johnson. Johnson had slowly fell behind other wide receivers on the depth chart after suffering an injury in spring practice. He was singled out by Shapiro in the Yahoo! report as someone who received money "at least 10 times" but his suspension is officially for "violation of team rules."

The NCAA found that Oliver Vernon received more than $1,200 in benefits primarily from Shapiro during recruitment. This includes meals, transportation, and "entertainment" at nightclubs, among other allegations. Armstrong was found to have received approximately $788 in extra benefits from Shapiro and personnel, while Dye received approximately $738. Those were listed by the NCAA as impermissible lodging from Miami staff during unofficial visits, transportation, meals, and entertainment at a gentlemen's club.

Meals, transportation, entertainment, night club/gentlemens club cover charges appear to be the common benefits for the five players serving a one game suspension. The NCAA estimates Forston received $400 in benefits, Spence's were valued at $275, Ojomo's total was $240, with Andre Benjamin and Jacory Harris rounding out the group at $150 and $140 respectively.


Posted on: August 30, 2011 2:26 pm
 

Golden: Players need NCAA ruling by Thursday

Posted by Chip Patterson

Miami head coach Al Golden once again met with the media on Tuesday with no depth chart to release. The first-year Hurricanes coach is maintaining his stance that he will not release a depth chart to the media until the NCAA has made a ruling on the players the school has declared ineligible.

CBSSports.com's Brian London writes that Golden called reports of eight ineligible players "inaccurate." So far Golden has refrained from commenting on the investigation or any eligibility details, just that the school has ruled players ineligible and he hopes to get a ruling in time for the Hurricanes opener against Maryland on Monday.

Golden also told reporters that if the ineligible players have not been cleared by Thursday, they will not play against the Terrapins. That way the coaching staff can spend the final practices of the week with the personnel that will be on hand Monday night.

The report that included the "eight players" did not list any specific names other than senior quarterback Jacory Harris. A total of 12 current Hurricanes were listed as allegedly receiving benefits from former booster Nevin Shapiro in the Yahoo report. Some current players not on the Hurricanes roster also listed in the report, such as Purdue quarterback Robert Marve, have been cleared to play by the NCAA.
 
 
 
 
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