Michael Irvin to donate $100,000 to school that 'made him into the man he is today'

Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin will donate $100,000 to his alma mater, St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, next week.

The Fort Lauderdale native will appear at a press conference at St. Thomas on Tuesday, along with longtime football coach and athletic director George Smith and other school officials, speaking about the donation and future plans.

School officials said in a press release the money will help pay for the expansion of athletic facilities already underway.

Irvin, 41, played at St. Thomas in the 1980s before winning a national championship at the University of Miami in 1987. He also won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys. He made five Pro Bowl appearances in the 1990s before retiring after the 1999 season.

Big-name safeties vulnerable to deep ball

Overrated safeties

Ed Reed Reed's metrics were terrible last year. His 14.9 combined YPA was the fifth-worst in the league among coverage safeties. He gave up the third-highest number of total yards. He had the fourth-most bomb passes thrown his way and the third-worst YPA at that depth level.

I know there are those who will say that the game broadcast tapes don't show everything that Reed does and that these numbers are anomalies, but let me throw this out in my defense. Carson Palmer said that Reed often doesn't play his coverage and thinks he knows what's coming. Palmer also commented that Reed can get frustrated when the offense is getting some things going and will try to come up and make a play and lose his responsibilities because of it. Palmer was able to exploit Reed's impatience in Week 13, when he connected on a flea-flicker pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh for a 40-yard touchdown.

The metrics show that Palmer isn't the only quarterback who knows Reed's coverage weaknesses. That is why I believe Reed is the most overrated safety in the league.

Sean Taylor Taylor made the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement, but the metrics make it clear he didn't earn the spot. He ranked 20th in both deep assist YPA and deep assist success percentage. He did even worse when in direct coverage, as his 10.7 YPA in those situations was the seventh worst in the NFL last year. He also gave up the second-most total yards of any coverage safety. Taylor did do a lot more to support the run last year than he did in years past, but even taking that into account, he really wasn't a Pro Bowl-level coverage safety last year.


Robert Hite Update

Robert Hite, a shooting guard who was with the Heat last season, is 7-of-9 on 3-pointers with 29 points in the two games for the Nets.


Hester takes home an ESPY.

Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears won an ESPY award in Los Angeles last night (Wednesday). Hester walked away with the breakthrough athlete award at the show honoring the year's best sports moments and athletes at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre. Hester set an N-F-L record last year for kick returns for touchdowns, and he started off the Super Bowl with a 92-yard kickoff runback for a touchdown. The ESPY Awards air Sunday at eight p-m central time on E-S-P-N.


Darius Rice Update

The Magic, looking for wing players to add depth, could be interested in Darius Rice, a former University of Miami star. Rice, 6-10, has played for the Miami Heat and in the D-League. He is represented by Tony Dutt, Rashard Lewis' agent. . .


In Vegas: Why Isn’t Darius Rice in the NBA?

He’s been around the world, playing basketball wherever he can. The laundry list of pit stops includes Europe, China, Miami, Dallas, and New Jersey. But Darius Rice has yet to appear on an opening day roster. So why isn’t he playing in the NBA?

“I’m not a general manager,” said Rice, 24. “All I can say is it’s my third year and I’m just continuing to work hard … All I need is someone to give me one opportunity and hopefully this is the year.”

Rice can give a handful of reasons of why he should be in the NBA and then some. The list is headlined by his jaw dropping performance for the Dakota Wizards in the NBDL Championship game. Rice came off the bench to score a playoff record 52 points en route to victory. He also hit a playoff record 11 three pointers. Not too shabby for a 6‘10“ forward.

“In that 52 point game, the players were really looking at me,” Rice said. “I felt like everything was going to go in. I could have shot it backward and it would’ve gone in.”


PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Trail Blazers acquired guard/forward James Jones and the draft rights to guard Rudy Fernandez, whom Phoenix selected with the No. 24 pick, in exchange for cash considerations, it was announced Wednesday by Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard.

Jones, 26, averaged 6.4 points and 2.3 rebounds with a .368 shooting percentage from beyond the arc in 2006-07, his second season with the Suns. Originally selected by the Pacers with the 49th overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, the fifth-year pro from the University of Miami (FL) has career numbers of 6.7 points, 2.6 rebounds and a .395 mark from 3-point range.

"We are thrilled to have a long-range shooter and a young man with very high character in James Jones," said Pritchard. "And Rudy Fernandez is a tremendous prospect who has excelled at the highest levels of international basketball."

Portland was able to acquire Jones with a trade exception gained in a June 28 trade with New York, which sent Zach Randolph, Freddy Jones and Dan Dickau to the Knicks in exchange for Steve Francis and Channing Frye.


Eastern Motors Commercial Starring Santana Moss and Willis Mcgahee

Work In Progress: Darius Rice

LAS VEGAS, July 7, 2007 -- The destination hasn’t changed for Darius Rice, just the highway he has chosen to drive in order to get there.

When the 2007 regular season tips off, Rice wants to be on an NBA roster. And that is why he is in Las Vegas at NBA Summer League presented by adidas as a member of the Cavaliers.

Rice is willing to do whatever it takes to make it to the NBA in the fall. And his performance on Saturday against the Spurs was a good place to begin.

Getting the start at forward, Rice led all scorers with 19 points as the Cavaliers did something they couldn’t do in last month’s NBA Finals – beat the Spurs.

Anyone who has seen him play knows that he can flat out shoot the rock. Rice’s long-distance prowess was on display inside Cox Pavilion as he made 7-of-13 shots, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. He also pulled down five rebounds in his 25 minutes on the court.

In Vegas: Darius Rice To Sign NBA Contract

Darius Rice scored 19 points against the San Antonio Spurs in the Cavaliers' first game of summer league action, and that was enough to get NBA front office people talking. Basketball News learned on Monday night that the Milwaukee Bucks are 'very close' to offering Rice a contract if the Cavaliers don't do so soon.

The Orlando Magic, who already have scouts in town, are sending an additional to Las Vegas on Tuesday to get a closer look at Rice, and if the Magic don't take care of business, the Heat are also interested in Rice, a graduate of Miami.

It looks like Rice will have an NBA contract soon.


NFL players return to UM for Hurricane-style workouts

CORAL GABLES -- South Beach can be a humbling experience for any football star with an ego.

Not South Beach, the Miami Beach hotspot famous for its parties and beautiful people. We're talking about "South Beach," the sand pits, a workout area located at the back of the University of Miami's football fields.

On any given weekday during the offseason, that's where the center of the NFL universe can be found. A number of the league's biggest stars, such as Ed Reed, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Frank Gore and Jonathan Vilma, spend the majority of their offseason pushing their former college teammates — and sometimes division rivals — to their limits.

Hite getting second chance at NBA after mistaken arrest

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Robert Hite is wearing a New Jersey Nets jersey this week for summer league play, with hopes that some NBA club will offer a second chance he insists is deserved.

And if that team is the Miami Heat, well, the second-year guard will be absolutely thrilled.

"If they want me back," Hite said, "I'll definitely come back."

The way Hite sees it, he should have never left South Florida in the first place.

The former University of Miami standout seemed a longshot to make the Heat's regular-season roster when the then-reigning NBA champions invited him to training camp a year ago. But Hite earned a spot, played in 12 games over the season's first 2 months and rewarded the Heat when given significant playing time, averaging 11.7 points in the three games in which he played at least 20 minutes.

Turning the hot corner - Braun rises from minors to major role

Setting a timetable for a minor-league prospect to reach the majors is the height of lunacy. You set up the player for a huge fall, prompting folks to call him "a disappointment" if he doesn't arrive on schedule.

Then, there's the case of Ryan Braun, who obliterated all projections, official or otherwise, by taking the bullet train to the big leagues.

When the Milwaukee Brewers summoned the 23-year-old third baseman from Class AAA Nashville on May 24, he had been a professional player for less than two years. Yes, there were high expectations for the fifth player taken in the 2005 draft, but Braun forced the Brewers' hand by ravaging minor-league pitching at every level.

"When you talk about young kids, you never say you're surprised," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "But to do it this quickly is probably a pleasant surprise."

In Vegas: Guillermo Diaz Won’t Stop Trying

It’s tempting. Leave the dorm rooms and homework assignments behind for an NBA contract and all that goes along with the multimillion dollar lifestyle. But sometimes the fantasy doesn’t become a reality, even after a player is selected by an NBA team. Guillermo Diaz learned that a draft pick doesn’t guarantee a roster spot, but that’s no reason to stop trying.

Diaz’s journey to the NBA began last summer. He left the University of Miami after his junior year and was expected to make it in the league. The guard impressed the Los Angeles Clippers with his high scoring and accurate shot, and they selected him with the 52nd pick in the 2006 draft. But what would have been his rookie season in LA turned into a year in Europe.

From sunny Miami to the Czech Republic and Greece, Diaz grew as a ball player while he grew as an adult, too. Thousands of miles away from home, the 22-year-old from Puerto Rico learned about life.

Kareem Brown Update

Schaffer is also the representative for defensive lineman Kareem Brown, a fourth-round pick. Negotiations don't appear to be very far along with Brown, who was New England's second-highest draft pick this year after the team took his University of Miami teammate, Brandon Meriweather, in the first round. Schaffer attributed that to the fact that some members of the Patriots braintrust have been on vacation for the last couple of weeks.

"The plan for every one of my clients is to be in training camp on time," Schaffer said. "But it does take two to tango. We have a long-standing relationship with the Patriots and I've never had a holdout with the Patriots and I don't anticipate one."


Rashad Butler Update

Rashad Butler (6-4, 293, 2nd) Butler never got on the field his rookie season in spite of all the injuries. He actually went on injured reserve himself in December with a staph infection. Though I would say he’s a 100% lock to make the team he appears ready to climb the depth chart:

"I'm not worried about getting in shape because I'm getting a whole lot of reps. The main thing is just trying to focus when tired. That's the hard part." As he walked off the practice field, the sweat poured off the forehead of Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Rashad Butler like rainwater.

I know the word on Butler is he needed to add some strength and weight before getting on the field. Hopefully he’s done that this off-season. He has experience playing both tackle spots in college so the flexibility is a key. He’s obviously getting a chance to move up the depth chart though he’s sitting at the 4th or 5th tackle spot right now. He’s being groomed for the left tackle spot but he seems to be more of a right tackle to me. If he picks up the zone-blocking quickly he may get some plays this season. Expect to see plenty of him in preseason.


What does the re-emergence of cornerback Phillip Buchanon mean to the Bucs’ defense?

Since joining the Buccaneers last October after being released by the Houston Texans, cornerback Phillip Buchanon has performed like the player the Oakland Raiders believed they were getting when they selected him in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft. Buchanon may have encountered some early setbacks in his career but he’s looked like a playmaker since donning the pewter and red, so much so that the Bucs quickly re-signed him at the beginning of this season’s free agency period.

In the absence of injured veteran Brian Kelly, Buchanon earned the starting cornerback spot opposite Ronde Barber late last season and promptly made an impact. In his first start for the Bucs against Atlanta, he picked off quarterback Michael Vick in the end zone.

This offseason Buchanon has continued to impress Bucs coaches, eliciting praise from Gruden for his playmaking ability. Buchanon’s presence on the Bucs’ roster could give the team an exceptional third cornerback who potentially can be a vital cog in the team’s secondary. Buchanon will likely compete for playing time at the nickel back spot, but he also provides valuable insurance for the team, should one of its corners have to miss time.


Jimerson's two-run shot key to West Tenn win

A steady mist didn't bother the Birmingham Barons Saturday night. Ex-Miami Hurricane Charlton Jimerson was another matter.

Jimerson, MVP of the 2001 College World Series, homered for the third time in four days at Regions Park. His two-run shot proved to be the difference in a 4-3 victory for the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx.

"He's a guy who's got major league experience," Barons manager Rafael Santana said. "You can tie him up with a decent fastball, and (starter Ryan) Wing did that the first couple of times up.

Throw the Ball to Bubba Franks

How important is it for QB Brett Favre to throw to the tight end? It would seem very important for him to involve the Packers' tight ends in the passing game, especially in the red zone, but it isn't as important as you might think. There does not seem to be a relationship between TD passes thrown to the tight end and Favre's success over the course of an entire season.

Football Outsiders had a good post this week discussing the goal line pass to the tight end. The two plays described by Mike Tanier, the goal line rollout option and the gonzo corner, are both plays Favre has ran often in his career. Tanier might not be describing the exact same play from either Mike Holmgren or Mike Sherman's playbook, but Favre has usually thrown to the tight end at the back of the end zone, near the goal posts, and after some play action or a short rollout. What Mike McCarthy's preferred play call for the tight end is somewhat of a mystery because only two TD passes were thrown to tight ends in 2006, both to ex-Packer TE David Martin.

Favre has never used the tight end as a significant weapon to gain yardage. TE Mark Chmura only caught over 500 yards in two of his seven seasons. Since 2001, the leading tight end in receiving yards usually is the fifth leading receiver, far behind the top three WRs and slightly behind one of the running backs. Only in 2002 was TE Bubba Franks the team's 3rd leading receiver and he set his career high with 442 yards receiving.

Marcus Maxey Update

Marcus Maxey: His quick feet, instincts and competitiveness will enable him to compete for a roster spot as a backup cornerback initially and if he gets the chance to play in a Tampa Bay Cover 2-type defensive scheme, he will develop into a solid starter who makes plays on the ball consistently, but also will get beaten deep more often than most corners due to tight hips and a lack of top-notch speed.



For recently named All-Ironman selection, SaberCat Jason Geathers, winning is nothing new. A high school Parade All-American, Geathers spent the next four years playing as a member of the most dominant collegiate football team of the era, the University of Miami Hurricanes. A National Championship in 2001, a near repeat the following season and a whole heap of wins were the results of his efforts.

As the San Jose SaberCats, proud owners of the most dominant regular season record since the turn of the century, begin their march toward the franchises third ArenaBowl Championship, the versatile Geathers is a welcomed asset.

University of Miami football fans remember Geathers as the ultimate all-purpose threat. Originally recruited as a running back, Geathers tenure in Coral Gables was played in the midst of an assembly line of all-world running back talent. The presence of then future NFL talent; Clinton Portis, Najeh Davenport, Frank Gore and Willis McGahee forced Geathers to adapt. And adapt is precisely what he did. Successfully alternating between tailback, wide-receiver and split-end; Geathers used his tremendous athleticism and speed to contribute in all facets of the game and was a key cog in the Hurricanes 34 game win streak.