ACC: Thomas Finnie

ACC's lunchtime links

January, 8, 2013
Did I say Notre Dame? I meant Alabama ...

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 13, 2012
How are you guys feeling about the Big East today?

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 12, 2012
"Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?"

"Naw, I'm doing just fine, Clark."


Miami cornerback Thomas Finnie was arrested Tuesday and charged with grand theft, and has been suspended indefinitely from the football team.

According to the AP story, Coral Gables police said Finnie was involved in the theft of a laptop from a campus dorm room. He faces charges of occupied burglary and grand theft.

Finnie played in all 12 games in 2012 for Miami, with six starts. He had 22 tackles, an interception, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery on the season.
Six ACC schools held their spring games this past Saturday, with colleagues Mark Schlabach and Ivan Maisel doubling as coaches in Florida State's scrimmage. Here's a look at three of the other spring games. (Don't worry, UNC and Clemson fans, we'll have you covered later this afternoon.)

Josh Harris went a long way to showing he is completely healthy this spring, rushing for 40 yards and two scores on six carries to help lead the White team to a 21-10 win over the Black squad. Harris played in just five full games last season because of a hamstring injury, limiting his production to 432 yards for his sophomore season.

"He looked like Josh Harris and that's what I like," coach Jim Grobe said. "He had two or three inside runs, he wasn't trying to bounce everything to the perimeter. I loved his touchdown run down in the red zone, I thought he got north and just powered his way up into the end zone and if we can get him to do that all the time — we know he has a chance to be special, but today it looked like he had a little bit of determination and a little bit of pop and was getting up inside, which I like, I like guys that don't mind running inside."

A.J. Marshall, transitioning to safety from cornerback, also had a strong spring game, intercepting two passes, taking the second one back 58 yards with less than a minute remaining to seal the deal for the White squad.

"The key to the game today was turnovers," Grobe said. "The offense needs to take better care of [the ball], but if the defense keeps taking it away like that we'll be a pretty good defensive football team."

The final score — the Orange team beat the Green team, 7-6 — says it all about the Hurricanes' spring game Saturday. Ryan Williams was 15 of 27 for 169 yards but threw a pair of picks for the Orange team. For the Green side, Gray Crow also threw two picks.

Thomas Finnie, Brandon McGee, Ray-Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque were responsible for the interceptions.

Mike James' five-yard touchdown run with 4:19 left marked was the game's only touchdown. He finished with 57 yards on 15 carries.

Finnie walked away with the team's special teams most improved player award for the spring, with Rashawn Scott (most improved - offense), Shayon Green (most improved - defense) and Garrett Kidd (walk-on) taking home the other spring honors.

Mike London was not shy this spring when talking about his team's need for explosive plays. So the Cavaliers coach must have been all smiles when Orange team quarterback Michael Rocco connected with Jake McGee for a 47-yard score on the fourth play from scrimmage Saturday. The Orange (made up of mostly offensive starters) beat the White (defensive starters), 20-17.

"We are going to continue to make downfield throws and try to get the ball in the hands of as many guys as possible," London said. "There is an emphasis on explosive plays, plays that move the ball beyond 15 yards. We have guys that can run, that were athletes and track runners in high school, and we are going to find ways to get them the ball."

Of the reported 500 yards totaled in the game, 410 came through the air.

Virginia also announced its spring award winners and 2012 captains, with Will Hill and Dominique Terrell taking home hardware for most improved honors. Demetrious Nicholson was honored for his classroom, field and community success during his first year. Billy Schautz and Jake Snyder shared academic honors, and Tim Smith was recognized for his work in the weight room.

Hill will serve as a captain this fall, along with Perry Jones, Oday Aboushi and LaRoy Reynolds. Jones was a captain last season as well.
Miami released yet another spring depth chart heading into this past weekend. That's the third since a month ago, when coach Al Golden released a depth chart to spring practice.

A.J. Highsmith, who was the No. 1 strong safety when the previous depth chart was released a week earlier, is now listed as an "or" with Vaughn Telemaque. Gionni Paul and Tyrone Cornileus also have an "or" between them at one outside linebacker spot, as do Brandon McGee and Thomas Finnie at cornerback.

Sean Harvey has vaulted to the No. 1 fullback spot because of injuries.

The depth chart can be viewed in its entirety here.

Also worth noting is that quarterback Stephen Morris took reps in drills for the first time this spring, during the Hurricanes' 12th spring practice Thursday. Recovering from back surgery, Morris did not wear pads.

Rising stars in the ACC

August, 10, 2011
There are plenty of rising stars to watch in the ACC this year, but based on past performances, some have a better chance of actually making an impact this fall than others. You know who the veterans are. Here’s a look at some of the ACC’s top underclassmen and true freshmen to watch this year:

Underclassmen to watch

[+] EnlargeLamarcus Joyner
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireLamarcus Joyner was the No. 6 overall prospect in the country in 2010 according to ESPN Recruiting.
1. Lamarcus Joyner, S, Florida State: Joyner was a reserve cornerback as a true freshman last year, but coach Jimbo Fisher has been raving about Joyner’s move to safety, which was his natural position in high school. Some thought Joyner was a bit undersized to play safety, but he excelled at it this spring and emerged as the starter heading into the fall.

2. D.J. Green, LB, NC State: The true sophomore moved from safety to strongside linebacker during spring practices and earned the starting job heading into summer camp. Last year he was one of the Wolfpack’s top playmakers on special teams, but also played in eight games as a safety. Against Boston College, Green scored a touchdown when he fell on a blocked punt.

3. Tre Boston, S, North Carolina: He was forced to play as a true freshman last year, and this spring moved from corner to free safety. He played in 10 games last year and started four, but his season was derailed when he sprained his ankle against Miami and missed the next three games. Still, he finished the season with 32 tackles, four pass breakups, two forced fumbles and an interception. Three starters must be replaced in the secondary this fall, so there’s plenty of opportunity for Boston to make a name for himself.

Impact freshmen to watch

1. Mike Bellamy, RB, Clemson: This true freshman is one who could definitely have an immediate impact, especially with the early departure of Jamie Harper to the NFL. Bellamy was ranked the No. 72 player in the nation by ESPN Recruiting, and the No. 6 running back in his recruiting class. He had 7,329 rushing yards and 110 touchdowns in his high school career. He averaged 8.7 yards per carry in high school.

2. Thomas Finnie, CB, Miami: The Miami Central grad enrolled in January and was good enough this past spring to be listed as a starter on coach Al Golden’s first two depth charts. He had 45 tackles and one interception as a high school senior. He originally committed to South Carolina, but switched to Miami after meeting Golden and the staff. He entered the summer No. 2 on the depth chart behind senior JoJo Nicolas.

3. Karlos Williams, S, Florida State: There’s no telling how much playing time he might actually see as a true freshman, but the Seminoles’ top recruit from the 2011 class is certainly talented enough to make an immediate contribution. He's a proven run-stopper who can hit like a linebacker and cover like a DB. At 6-foot-2, he can cover a lot of ground.
As advertised ...

1. Florida State: The Noles have one of the best cornerback duos in the country in Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes. They combined for 33 passes defended last season, the most of any pair of cornerbacks in the nation. Mike Harris had 41 tackles and four picks as a reserve.

[+] EnlargeGreg Reid
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireFlorida State cornerback Greg Reid is also one of the ACC's top return men.
2. Virginia Tech: Jayron Hosley is one of the top boundary corners in the country, and the Hokies also have Kyle Fuller, who had six deflections last season, and Cris Hill (two deflections) at field corner.

3. Maryland: The Terps return both starters in Cameron Chism and Trenton Hughes, who combined for 36 career starts. Chism is a strong cover corner who had 70 tackles and eight deflections last season. Hughes had nine pass deflections.

4. NC State: Both starters return in C.J. Wilson and David Amerson. Wilson had 46 tackles, two interceptions and six pass breakups, and Amerson had 57 tackles. Justin Byers and Gary Grant also have experience.

5. North Carolina: The Tar Heels lost some remarkable talent in their secondary, including cornerback Kendric Burney, but there is a lot of depth at the position. Jabari Price started four games last season, Charles Brown has 22 career starts but sat out last season, and Mywan Jackson and Tre Boston both have at least four starts each.

6. Boston College: The Eagles will miss DeLeon Gause, but Donnie Fletcher has 17 career starts, 56 tackles last season, and led the team with five picks. C.J. Jones played in 12 games as a backup last season with 16 tackles. Dominique Williams also saw some time and had four tackles, and true freshman Al Louis-Jean, who was the No. 9 cornerback in the nation as ranked by ESPN Recruiting, enrolled early.

7. Clemson: It’s a young group, as the Tigers had to replace Marcus Gilchrist and Byron Maxwell. Xavier Brewer had 10 starts with 50 tackles and two interceptions last season, Coty Sensabaugh had 31 tackles in three starts, and senior Mansa Joseph will also be competing for playing time with sophomore Martin Jenkins.

8. Virginia: The Cavaliers return both starters in Chase Minnifield and Devin Wallace, but Wallace was suspended and missed spring ball and is still suspended. Wallace had 38 tackles and six breakups last season. Chris Broadnax, Rijo Walker, Drequan Hoskey and Pablo Alvarez will all compete for playing time.

9. Miami: The Hurricanes have to replace both starters in Brandon Harris and Ryan Hill. Jo-Jo Nicholas moved to corner and Brandon McGee, who was the nickel back last season, will compete along with Lee Chambers, Keion Payne, Nathan Gholston and true freshman Thomas Finnie, who had a great spring.

10. Georgia Tech: The Jackets had to replace their entire secondary, including cornerbacks Mario Butler and Dominique Reese. They’ve still got several cornerbacks with experience in Rashaad Reid, who started 14 games in 2008 and 2009, Rod Sweeting (38 tackles, seven pass breakups, one interception), Louis Young (10 tackles), and Michael Peterson (six tackles, one pass breakup).

11. Wake Forest: The Deacs have a deep enough secondary that they can live without the experience of cornerback Kevin Johnson, who started five games last season but will sit out this season while academically ineligible. Josh Bush had 33 tackles and four pass breakups last season, Kenny Okoro is a rising star, A.J. Marshall has three starts and Dominique Tate returns after missing last season while on academic suspension.

12. Duke: Ross Cockrell is a returning starter and finished last season with 60 tackles and 10 passes defended. He was only a freshman but he tied for eighth in the ACC with passes defended with 10 in 12 games. Johnny Williams had four pass breakups last season.

Miami spring wrap

May, 5, 2011

2010 overall record: 7-6

2010 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 7, punter/kicker: 0

Top returners

WR Travis Benjamin, RG Brandon Washington, C Tyler Horn, QB Jacory Harris, QB Stephen Morris, DE Olivier Vernon, DT Micanor Regis, DT Marcus Forston, LB Sean Spence, S Vaughn Telemaque, S JoJo Nicolas, RB Lamar Miller, RB Mike James

Key losses

WR Leonard Hankerson, LT Orlando Franklin, RB Damien Berry, P/PK Matt Bosher, DT Allen Bailey, LB Colin McCarthy, CB Brandon Harris

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Berry (899 yards)

Passing: Harris* (1,793 yds)

Receiving: Hankerson (1,156 yds)

Tackles: McCarthy (119)

Sacks: Bailey (7)

Interceptions: Ryan Hill, Vaughn Telemaque* and Ray-Ray Armstrong* (3)

Spring answers

1. Stacked at running back. Lamar Miller finished the spring atop a depth chart deep with talent at running back, including Mike James and Storm Johnson. All three have different styles, as James is the power/slasher, Johnson gets the tough yards and is elusive in the open field, and Miller is the fastest and the home run threat.

2. The Golden era has been embraced. First-year coach Al Golden made his debut this spring with a new staff and new schemes, and all of the players have bought in. The Canes now eat breakfast together every day, and the seniors were the first to latch on to Golden, as they know time is running out to win. They seem willing to follow whoever wants to lead, and the players also started to take ownership this spring.

3. Jordan Futch has helped the linebacker depth. He was a role player for most of his career and was going to move to tight end, but, as it turns out, he can play inside or outside linebacker, and he played well enough this spring to convince Golden he deserves a spot somewhere on the field. Colin McCarthy was the only starter who had to be replaced, and there was some shuffling of positions, but Futch or Gaines emerged as the leaders to take over that spot.

Fall questions

1. And the quarterback is? Golden said the quarterback competition will likely go into mid-August, as neither Jacory Harris nor Stephen Morris separated himself. It’s one of the main storylines in the ACC, and could be the difference in Miami’s season. Both struggled in the spring game, as they threw two interceptions each, but first-year offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch is evaluating them on more than just picks.

2. Who will take over the secondary? It’s so wide open that true freshman Thomas Finnie enrolled early and worked his way onto the two deep. It’s a young, inexperienced group with big shoes to fill after the departures of Brandon Harris and Ryan Hill. Lee Chambers, Nicolas, Telemaque and Armstrong will have to rise to the occasion or leave it to the rookies like Finnie. This spring, Golden said Nicolas and Armstrong were the leaders of the secondary.

3. Baffled without Bosher. Matt Bosher, an all-conference kicker and punter during his career, did it all, and the kicking game is a major question without him. Jake Wieclaw is next in line, but he only played against Florida A&M and has yet to attempt a collegiate kick. Incoming freshmen kickers Matt Loudis and Dalton Botts will challenge Wieclaw for the starting job.

Miami depth chart: Take II

April, 18, 2011
Miami just re-released its depth chart, and this time running back Lamar Miller is where he should be -- at the top.

In this version, Lee Chambers is your starting cornerback, and true freshman Thomas Finnie is a backup to JoJo Nicolas at the other corner spot.

Miami releases final spring depth chart

April, 18, 2011
The final spring depth chart for the Hurricanes has been released, and there are still plenty of questions heading into summer camp -- none more important than who will start at quarterback. It's no surprise the depth chart indicates a competition remains between Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris.

Three other starting jobs remain in question -- cornerback, where Thomas Finnie and Lee Chambers are competing; middle linebacker is between James Gaines and Jordan Futch; and right tackle where Jermaine Johnson is competing against Ben Jones. Seantrel Henderson finished the spring as a backup at left tackle.

Mike James is listed ahead of Lamar Miller at halfback for the second straight depth chart. The tight ends are once again listed in alphabetical order. The defensive line has also been tweaked since the release of the April 5 depth chart. Olivier Vernon and Adewale Ojomo are listed as the starting ends, and Micanor Regis and Marcus Forston are the projected starters at defensive tackle.

Miami players starting to take ownership

April, 11, 2011
One of the biggest criticisms of Miami under former coach Randy Shannon was a lack of passion and emotion -- the kind of flat performances that were obvious in losses to rival Florida State and also South Florida.

While much of that starts at the top, at some point the players have to take ownership, and it seems as if some leaders are starting to emerge.

First-year coach Al Golden said he told the staff following Thursday’s practice that he thinks the team is making a lot of progress -- not just in adjusting to the new schemes, but with the attitude in which they’re executing them.

“That was as physical as we’ve been all spring right there,” Golden told reporters following Saturday’s 120-play scrimmage.

The defense was the highlight on Saturday, as James Gaines and Thomas Finnie grabbed the first two interceptions of the spring. Golden said quarterbacks Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris were “not as sharp as last week,” but he wanted to reserve further judgment until after he watched the tape. Each quarterback threw one interception.

Linebacker Jordan Futch said some of the players have been meeting at Erik Lichter’s house to get better prepared, and have even been making their own practice scripts.

“(We’re) not letting the coaches do everything, not just holding our hands out saying, ‘Oh, coach, what do we do? but taking initiative,” said Futch, who finished with six tackles, including two sacks. “As seniors, me and Sean (Spence) are really getting the guys to come along, and make sure they study their playbook and know their assignments.”

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 1, 2011
Hey did you hear the news? I'm leaving the blog to become a housewife. Yeah right, you wish ... APRIL FOOL'S!

Competition still the theme at Miami

March, 31, 2011
Miami has released its third depth chart of the spring, and it should be a motivational tool for the players entering Saturday's scrimmage since there are four starting jobs on offense still up for grabs: quarterback, running back, left tackle and left guard.

One of the more significant changes from the last depth chart is at quarterback, where it's now Jacory Harris or Stephen Morris, as opposed to just Harris like it was the previous time. The running backs are listed as Mike James or Storm Johnson or Lamar Miller. Defensively, Brandon McGee has replaced true freshman Thomas Finnie as starting cornerback,

At defensive tackle, Micanor Regis has moved ahead of Curtis Porter, and defensive end Olivier Vernon is now listed as a starter instead of Adewale Ojomo.
One question I get asked almost weekly is who the new stars will be in the ACC this year -- players who aren’t household names right now, but have a legitimate chance to play their way into your living room conversations this season. Right off the bat, I’ll tell you most of them aren’t true freshmen. Unless they’re at the top of the depth chart this spring (as in the unusual case of Miami’s Thomas Finnie), there’s no way to tell how much of an impact, if any, they’ll have. The redshirt freshmen, first-year starters and junior college players are the ones most likely to truly leave a lasting impression. And while you might be familiar with some of these names, the rest of the college football world likely isn’t.

Here are this season’s group of rising stars in the ACC:

BOSTON COLLEGE: CB C.J. Jones. The Eagles are looking for a starter to replace the spot manned by both Chris Fox and DeLeon Gause last season. Jones earned time as a backup and played in 12 games with 16 tackles.

[+] EnlargeTajh Boyd
AP Photo/Patrick CollardTajh Boyd will get his shot at being the full-time starter at Clemson.
CLEMSON: QB Tajh Boyd. This one was tough because there are a lot of familiar names returning on Clemson's roster, and most of the incoming class won't arrive until summer camp. So we'll go with the one new starter the rest of the college football world will be introduced to. Boyd will be tasked with leading Clemson in a new offense in his first season as full-time starter.

DUKE: WR Brandon Braxton. He played sparingly last year as a true freshman (14 receptions, 180 yards, 1 TD) and has established himself as the No. 3 receiver, replacing Austin Kelly.

FLORIDA STATE: JUCO transfer Jacob Fahrenkrug. He’s the heir apparent on the offensive line to Rodney Hudson and the coaches have raved about him.

GEORGIA TECH: CB Ryan Ayers. The redshirt freshman can compete with anyone on the team for the title of fastest player on the roster. With the Jackets losing all four starters in the secondary, he becomes an important part of the equation.

MARYLAND: PK Nathaniel Renfro or Nick Ferrara. The Terps lost a four-year starter in punter/placekicker Travis Baltz, and this is one of Maryland’s biggest areas of concern. Ferrara handled kickoffs last year and was No. 2 behind Baltz at both kicker and punter, but he’s a placekicker first, and has to get back on track with consistency. Renfro joins the team this summer.

MIAMI: CB Thomas Finnie. The Miami Central grad enrolled in January and has been listed as a starter on coach Al Golden’s first two depth charts. He had 45 tackles and one interception as a high school senior.

NORTH CAROLINA: JUCO transfer Sylvester Williams. He enrolled at Carolina in January after two seasons at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College He had 52 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and five blocked kicks in 2010. He could contribute immediately as a starting defensive tackle.

NC STATE: LB D.J. Green. He played mostly on special teams and some at safety last year, but has been listed as a starting linebacker for spring workouts.

VIRGINIA: WR Miles Gooch. He made the switch this spring from quarterback to receiver and could be a dependable option this fall behind the two most productive returners, Kris Burd and Matt Snyder. With Burd and Tim Smith (still recovering from his fall surgery) limited this spring, Gooch will get a lot of work catching passes and learning routes as he makes the position switch. He has been a big, physical, athletic receiver this spring, and depending on how several incoming freshmen develop, Gooch can find himself in the rotation.

VIRGINIA TECH: DE Zack McCray. He enters the spring at the No. 2 spot, but the staff likes his potential. The redshirt freshman was listed as the No. 35 defensive end in his class by ESPN’s Scouts Inc.

WAKE FOREST: OLB Zachary Allen. The true freshman from Pahokee, Fla., has made an immediate impression on the staff since enrolling in January. He had 53 tackles, six sacks and a pair of interceptions as a high school senior.



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