New coach wants to create competition

Randy Shannon likes the "quality" of his first class, which includes record-setter Robert Marve of Plant.

By MICHAEL SNYDER Times Correspondent
Published February 8, 2007

CORAL GABLES - Randy Shannon wasn't looking for the glamour players for his first national signing day as Miami's coach.

Instead, he wanted players who won't make headlines for the wrong reasons.

Shannon said he wanted "to get the best quality players; not the best players, quality. I look at a lot of sports these days, and I see the big-name guys are really trying to tear down this sport. One player is not going to make this team at the University of Miami (great). You might be a great athlete, but you might be detrimental to your team. You can't win that way."

While some will focus on the players Miami didn't get, such as Belle Glade Glades Central receiver Deonte Thompson, who signed with Florida, Shannon says he's excited about his class of 17. So the fact state rival Florida did better according to analysts didn't concern Shannon.

"I know one thing. From top to bottom, we filled our needs," Shannon said. "We've got quarterbacks, receivers, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, running backs and wide receivers. Competition, that's what we're going to have at Miami. Guys are going to push themselves to be the best. If not, we're going to go to the next guy."

Robert Marve, who led Plant to the Class 4A state championship, is the highest-regarded quarterback to sign with Miami since incumbent Kyle Wright.

Marve, who took back his oral commitment to Alabama when coach Mike Shula was fired, broke Tim Tebow's state single-season records for passing yards (4,380), completions (280) and touchdowns (48).

"We feel that Robert Marve was the best (quarterback) we had on the board that we can win championships with," Shannon said.

"His mentality is winning a game first, scoring second. I don't care if we score 55, 56 (points) as long as we win."

Miami got some late commitments from players who were wavering, including prized Miami Pace cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, who also considered Florida and Ohio State, and Homestead defensive back Joseph Nicolas.

"When Shannon got the job, it elevated UM to another level," Van Dyke said.

Marve, Bradenton receiver Jermaine McKenzie, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas receiver Leonard Hankerson (who doesn't have the needed SAT score) New Berlin (N.Y.) running back Graig Cooper and Delray Beach Atlantic lineman Orlando Franklin headline the offensive signees.

Headliners on the defensive side are linebacker Allen Bailey of Darien, Ga., and defensive backs Van Dyke and Damien Berry of Glades Central. Berry is the son of Kenny Berry, who played at Miami from 1987-89.

Shannon said he's leaving some scholarships open.

"People keep forgetting Ray Lewis was signed in May. Russell Maryland was signed (late)," Shannon said. "We're always going to leave space open for great athletes and great student athletes in the long run."