Hurricanes’ new offensive line coach dishes on what to expect. And UM recruiting news

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A six-pack of Miami Hurricanes notes on a Friday:

▪ Since legendary coach Art Kehoe’s second stint with the Hurricanes ended late in 2015, UM cycled through offensive line coaches - from Stacey Searels to Butch Barry to Garin Justice - and have fielded units that have ranged from mediocre to pretty good but nothing close to exceptional.

The Canes hope Alex Mirabal gives them longterm stability in the position and helps make this unit a strength, as it often was during the glory days of Canes football.

“I pinched myself on the drive home” the other day, Mirabal told WQAM’s Don Bailey Jr. this week. “Being part of the University of Miami is something you would only have dreamt about. It’s something I treasure. I’m blessed and humbled by the opportunity.”

Mirabal became friends with Cristobal when they were teammates at Columbus High in Miami and was his offensive line coach at FIU and Oregon.

Mirabal’s offensive line at Oregon was ranked 36th of 130 FBS teams in sacks allowed (24 total for 1.7 a game) in 2021. The Ducks were ranked 24th in rushing offense, averaging 202.4 yards per game.

“People these days are not committed to running the football,” Mirabal said. “They’re committed to everything else. If you’re committed to running the football, you’re different.”

Mirabal already has met with most of UM’s offensive linemen and discussed their skills with Justice, who joined former UM offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee’s staff at SMU.

“Sometimes guys in the o-line room consider themselves rivals and that bothers me,” he said. “What I want are Zion Nelson and John Campbell and Jakai Clark to be brothers for life. If they aren’t, then I failed. Rings get dusty, trophies get dusty. But those guys will have that [enduring bonds]. I hope the University of Miami offensive line become brothers for the rest of their life.”

What can Mirabal’s players expect from him when spring practice begins?

“They better bring it,” he said. “I am going to have more energy than them every day and they got to try to match it. I’m by nature an intense human being. I’m not going to apologize for it. They better match that and they will.

“I’ve met most of them in person, a lot of them through FaceTime. They’re a great group of kids, are proud, have pride. My greatest satisfaction is when I see one of our players achieve what they want to achieve. “I hope and pray that those guys become brothers for the rest of their lives. If they don’t, I’ve failed.”

Beyond that connectivity, here’s what he wants from his linemen: “toughness, physicality, the athleticism, showing up every day. Does he punch the clock every day? We’re not ever going to always feel great. Are you ready to get up and go when you don’t feel that way?

“We have a motto: five men, one mind. Those five guys acting as one mind, a willingness to do it. Playing with pride, having a chip on your shoulder.”

In the past year, 247 Sports rated Mirabal among the top 25 recruiters in the country.

“When you work for the best recruiter in America, he sets the standard by how he does it daily,” Mirabal said. “Recruiting is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about getting up and sending text messages, getting them on FaceTime, connecting with them. It’s all people skills and being able to drop your guard and talk to people.

“It’s about writing letters. The greatest form of communication is still a hand written note because you know what, that joker took the time to write it so I’m going to take the time to read it. As opposed to text messages, that recruit might get 300 of them. Just be yourself.

“I’m not going to say I played in the NFL. I’m 5 foot 5, I’m not 6 foot 5. But I can teach you the things you need to know to be successful.”

▪ According to multiple recruiting sites, several UM coaches took an in-home visit with five-star Miami Monsignor Pace defensive end Shemar Stewart shortly after midnight early Friday morning, when the window opened for in-person contact. Texas A&M has long been considered the front-runner, but UM is very much in play.

▪ Three Class of 2022 players visiting UM this weekend: Washington-based four-star offensive lineman Dave Iuli and three-star St. Johns, Florida-based offensive lineman Matthew McCoy and Jacksonville-based three-star edge player Jack Pyburn, who recently decommitted from Minnesota.

▪ It would make sense for UM to pursue former Columbus four-star running back Henry Parrish, who’s in the transfer portal and looking to leave Mississippi. Last season, he ran for 553 yards on 105 carries (5.3 per carry) and caught 21 passes for 173 yards. He averaged 4.7 yards on 56 carries in his first season (2020).

▪ The transfer portal has once again helped the UM basketball team, which is 13-4 and 5-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and hosts North Carolina on Tuesday.

Point guard Charlie Moore is averaging 12.8 points and 3.9 assists and 2.1 steals and shooting 41.6 percent on threes.

Guard Jordan Miller is averaging 9.2 points and 5.6 rebounds and shooting 49.6 percent from the field.

UM is shooting 35.3 percent on threes, which is 110th of 350 Division 1 schools.

Miller and Moore “have fit in so beautifully,” coach Jim Larranaga said.

▪ UM hoops is winning despite being outrebounded by four boards per game, which is worst in the ACC and 321st of 350 schools. UM has been outrebounded 603-526.

“There’s some concern and criticism that we don’t rebound the ball very well,” Larranaga told WQAM’s Joe Zagacki. “There are a lot of teams bigger than us. We had a number of guys that weighed between 180 and 200 pounds, half the team. We had only one weigh more than 215 pounds. I explained to them that the average weight of a frontcourt player in the ACC is 235-250. If you get into a physical battle, it’s like football. The bigger, more physical guy can move you.”

Larranaga and UM’s coaching staff have done a good job combating that.

“Our offense is predicated on Sam Waardenburg and our bigs playing on the perimeter and stretching their big guys out,” Larranag said. “We’ve got to get [opposing bigs] away from the basket…. You have to figure out a way to neutralize your lack of rebounding we’ve added some traps and pressure defense to force turnovers. Our guys have done a fantastic job in that area.”

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