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Miami Hurricanes

Former Bucs- Hurricanes TE Winslow pleads guilty Monday

Florida Football Insiders

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With his retrial on felony rape charges about to begin Monday in San Diego, former Hurricanes All American and NFL TE (including with the Buccaners) Kellen Winslow II accepted a guilty plea deal from San Diego prosecutors on two more of the charges against him.

Winslow was in court Monday afternoon, as prosecutors and his defense team told the judge that he agreed to plea, if the six other remaining serous charges against him would be dropped and he could avoid a longer sentence.

TMZ had the details from the San Diego court Monday evening:

Winslow had been previously convicted in June on four counts of rape and other sexual misconduct charges involving multiple women. The jury deadlocked on the eight remaining charges that were brought against him and a mistrial on those was declared. However, prosecutors exercised their right to retry the 38 year old Winslow on those remaining counts.

The guilty pleas Monday involve sexual battery on a 54 year old unidentified woman, who claims Winslow raped her in his Jeep in 2018.

The other count involved a 2003 accusation that Winslow had raped a then 17 year old San Diego High School student at a home during the summer, while he was a prominent 19 year old player at the University of Miami.

Winslow is a former All American tight end from the Miami Hurricanes from 2001-03 and played 9 seasons in the NFL, including three with the Buccaneers from 2009-11. He was the sixth overall pick by the Browns in the 2004 draft and is the son of former Chargers great and Hall of Fame inductee, Kellen Winslow.

After his rookie season Winslow suffered a horrific knee and leg injuries in a motorcycle accident in a Cleveland suburb mall parking lot. He was unable to play in the 2005 season, because of the injuries.

Winslow played three more seasons for the Browns before being traded in the 2009 offseason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In exchange for a second and fifth round picks, the Bucs acquired Winslow and gave him, at that time, the largest contract for a tight end in NFL history with $36 million over six seasons.

In his first season in Tampa Bay he set the Bucs single season tight end receiving record with 77 catches and 884 yards. He led the team in receptions again in 2010, as the Bucs finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker. In his final Buccaneers season of 2011 Winslow finished with 75 receptions in a dismal 4-12 year.

Winslow had been facing life in prison, if convicted on all 12 counts. However, it is believed with the plea deal and the total now being six convictions/guilty pleas, that his sentence will be somewhere between 12 and 18 years on the charges.

Winslow will be sentenced in February.

Miami Hurricanes

Hurricanes bungled bringing Alonzo Highsmith to program

Florida Football Insiders

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Mark Hoffman- USA TODAY Sports

These are definitely trying, and in some cases, embarrassing times for the first season being completed by Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz. And, now comes another indication of dysfunction to the forefront late this week.

This, as former Canes running back great Alonzo Highsmith was apparently all set to join Diaz and the football program in some type of administrative / “Chief of Staff” type-role.

However, Highsmith, AD Blake James and Diaz apparently could not come to an agreement on his role,  responsibilities and probably biggest of all, compensation for it. So, the latest on Thursday is the reunion will not be happening:

Hiring Highsmith to help in such a role is something that is now common over the last few years of college football, to especially relieve some of the day-to-day administrative duties of the head coach and allow him to do more, you know, actual coaching in his program.

Nick Saban has this at Alabama. So, too does Dabo Swinney at Clemson.

And even new USF coach and former Clemson co-offensive coordinator, Jeff Scott will be utilizing his father, Brad (a former FSU offensive coordinator himself) in the same role with the Bulls.

As for Highsmith, he is certainly qualified after having played on Howard Schellenberger’s 1983 title team and then for Jimmy Johnson for two years after. He ran for nearly 2,000 yards and 25 TDS in his career and was put in the Canes Hall of Fame in 1997.

Highsmith played six years in the NFL and after having worked for the Green Bay Packers for almost two decades (above) moving up in their front office, he came to the Cleveland Browns as their Vice President of Football Operations this past year.

However, when Cleveland jettisoned GM John Dorsey earlier this month, that paved the way for Highsmith to potentially come to Miami in a similar role that could help Diaz and the football program try to regain its footing.

Miami ended the regular season horribly, with humiliating losses to FIU and Duke and then, was embarrassingly beaten in a 14 – 0 Independence Bowl loss to Louisiana Tech.

Diaz fired offensive coordinator Dan Enos after just his first season in Coral Gables, and has hired former Auburn and SMU offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee to replace him.

So now, the fact that Highsmith, who has lots of experience with running football operations and obviously a love for the school where he helped win a National Championship, is now not coming, is another bad sign for Diaz at least in the short-term.

Then again, Diaz may have someone else in mind for the role and we may see that announcement soon, but we at F.F.I wouldn’t advise that you hold your breath on that one.

Instead, it’s the latest in a series of missteps around Hurricanes football at a program has spiraled downward over the course of the last 10 – 15 years.

This includes Miami having lost 9 of its last 10 bowl games and no longer being relevant on the national stage year-in and year-out.

Highsmith represented a link to Miami’s great past of the 1980s and not being able to work out for him to help has to discourage those who care the most about the Canes trying to get back.

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Miami Hurricanes

Will Canes hiring of veteran OC Lashlee save Manny Diaz?

Matt Zemek

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hanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Manny Diaz did not seem prepared for his first season as a college football head coach at Miami. The Hurricanes were often disorganized, and Diaz’s gameday decisions were often misguided. The Hurricanes lost to FIU, Duke, and Louisiana Tech to close their season. Their offense scored 52 points against Louisville, and did very little else in 2019.

And, obviously, Dan Enos was a bust as offensive coordinator.

Diaz had to make changes to such an unacceptable situation. He has reportedly chosen SMU offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee as his new offensive coordinator.

The move might not work out – no move is guaranteed to bring supreme success; just ask Michigan about Jim Harbaugh or Texas about Tom Herman – but on paper, it looks like a decision which can revitalize Miami’s offense and give the Canes what they have lacked since Ken Dorsey: a reliably dynamic offense.

Yes, recruiting a strong offensive line has to complement what Lashlee brings to the table. Yes, Miami and Diaz have to put together a roster which can carry ideas from the realm of theory into applied practice. A good offensive system doesn’t mean anything unless the players can put it into action. Lashlee’s arrival guarantees nothing. We can all acknowledge that.

However, if one was to look at the offensive coordinator market and identify the various options Manny Diaz was considering, Lashlee is certainly better than most. He spent multiple seasons under Gus Malzahn at Auburn and was by Malzahn’s side when the Tigers reached the 2014 BCS National Championship Game.

The Tigers used RPO (run-pass option) concepts and a diversified running game which attacked defenses with a combination of tempo and varied angles to bedevil SEC defenses. Auburn won that season’s SEC Championship Game over Missouri by scoring 59 points.

That was Lashlee’s best-ever season.

This past year was his second-best season.

Lashlee helped Sonny Dykes guide the SMU Mustangs to a very rare and exhilarating 10-win season, a rapid climb few people in the college football punditocracy anticipated. Lashlee worked beautifully with Texas transfer Shane Buechele to maximize the potential of the SMU offense, which carried the Ponies throughout the season. When SMU lost, it was usually because the defense folded like a house of cards. The SMU offense did very few things wrong in 2019.

This is the man Miami is reported to have named as its next offensive coordinator.

Nothing is guaranteed in life, but if you were to make a quick “good or bad” call on this move, I’d certainly give it a thumbs-up. Only time will tell if Manny Diaz saved his hide and gave Miami a real chance to make a U turn on offense.

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