A lack of quality facilities has been one of the knocks on the Miami football program the past few decades but the school is certainly playing catch up very quickly on that front ever since new head coach Mark Richt was hired.
To that end, the school announced on Friday plans for the latest addition to Coral Gables in the Carol Soffer Football Indoor Practice Facility. A $14 million donation from the family of local real estate magnate Jeffrey Soffer was the lead gift for the upcoming building, which carries a price tag of $34 million.
“Today we take yet another step forward in continuing our mission of Building Champions at the University of Miami,” athletics director Blake James said in a release. “The generosity of Carol Soffer’s children and others enables us to build one of the finest football facilities in the nation, which will serve the needs of our football program and all our student-athletes for years to come. We are forever grateful to Jeffrey, and Carol’s other children for their support of and passion for UM Athletics.”
Miami was one of the few Power Five schools around the country not to have a proper indoor facility — quite a problem for the team given the weather at times in South Florida. The 81,800-square-foot facility will feature two smaller-than-regulation turf fields and a large football operations center. Football coaches’ office space, position meeting rooms, conference rooms, recruiting lounges and a video center are also part of the new building.
“An indoor practice facility means a great deal to this football program,” Richt said. “I am grateful that the University and the Department of Athletics recognized the need for an indoor facility and worked tirelessly to make it happen. I can’t thank the Soffer Family enough for their contribution and helping us bring this project to fruition. We appreciate Carol’s generous and deeply committed support of Miami Hurricane Athletics.”
Richt contributed $1 million of his own money to the facility earlier this year and the school has all but $10 million of the final cost already pledged by donors. There was not a timetable announced for groundbreaking but one would probably be safe in assuming the fancy new facility will be complete in time for the 2017 or 2018 season.
The move by Miami is just the latest in a furious arms race in the state. Florida State opened their new indoor practice facility in 2013 and Florida recently started practicing in theirs prior to this season (the Gators also are planning to build a new football building too).
Now it seems as though the Hurricanes are joining in on the building boom too.
With eight quarterbacks on the roster, Kody Wilstead opted to leave the Cougars in mid-March. A little over a month later, Wilstead has found a new home, albeit a little further down on the college football ladder.
According to the Deseret News, Wilstead has signed to play at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. As Coffeyville is a junior college, the quarterback will be eligible to play immediately in 2018.
It’s expected that Wilstead will spend at least one season at the JUCO level before looking at making a move back up to the FBS.
Wilstead, a three-star 2015 signee, took a redshirt as a true freshman last season after serving an LDS mission the previous two years.
After Wilstead’s departure, the seven remaining Cougar signal-callers are, in alphabetical order, Stacy Conner, Joe Critchlow, Hayden Griffitts, Beau Hoge, Tanner Mangum, Baylor Romney and Zach Wilson. Mangum, last year’s starter, is recovering from an Achilles tendon injury he suffered in November of last year but remains on track to return for the start of summer camp in August.
This is something you don’t see all too often.
Donovan Franklin (pictured, No. 26) tweeted out late Tuesday night that, “[a]fter careful consideration I am happy to announce that I have decided to continue my academic and athletic career at the University of Kansas.” Franklin had spent the past two years at the United States Military Academy at West Point, playing his college football for the Army Black Knights.
It’s unclear what led the slotback to leave the service academy and head to the Big 12 school.
Franklin was a two-star prospect coming out of high school in Maryland in Army’s Class of 2015. After playing in two games in 2016, he carried the ball one time for seven yards this past season.
The 5-9, 185-pound Franklin was listed as a defensive back coming out of high school, and could assume such a role yet again with the Jayhawks. That likely won’t happen this season, however, as it’s expected he will have to sit out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.
That whole thing where Oklahoma landed a graduate transfer from Notre Dame? Never mind. Pretend it never happened.
April 15, a little over a week after he announced his transfer from Notre Dame, Jay Hayes took to Twitter to confirm that he had committed to continuing his collegiate playing career at Oklahoma. Ten days later, the defensive lineman has done an about-face, taking to the same social media service to announce that he is flipping from OU to Georgia.
“This is it!” the lineman wrote, presumably meaning there will be no more flipping.
As a graduate transfer, Hayes will be eligible to play immediately for the Bulldogs in 2018. This will be the lineman’s final season of eligibility.
Hayes, a four-star member of the Irish’s 2014 recruiting class, played in 26 games for the Irish over the last three seasons, including starts in all 13 games at defensive end in a 2017 season that saw him record 27 tackles and a sack.
At least in this graduate transfer battle, the SEC has gotten over on the Pac-12.
Tuesday, Jack Driscoll, who decided to transfer from UMass earlier this offseason, confirmed that he had narrowed his potential landing spots down to three — Auburn, UCLA and USC. A day later, the offensive lineman took to Twitter to announce that he will be enrolling at AU and continuing his collegiate playing career with the Tigers.
Driscoll will graduate from UMass early next month, and will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 on The Plains. The upcoming season will be the first of two years of eligibility the 6-5, 294-pound lineman has remaining.
After starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, with most of those starts coming at left guard, he started all 12 games in 2017. All of those starts this past season came at right tackle for the football-independent Minutemen. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent first team while he earned second-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors for good measure.