Alonzo Highsmith is straight up, old school and no bullshit. There is truly no mystery why the former Hurricanes running back, Miami native and current Green Bay Packers’ scout has been a success at every level. He gets ‘it’.
Highsmith spoke out earlier today, boldly stating that some recent University of Miami underclassmen made a huge mistake by leaving school and turing pro early.
“A lot of these kids are in for a rude awakening,” said Highsmith, from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. “Maybe parents are telling them what they want to hear. I don’t think they’re getting good advice. After watching film, it was rather disappointing. I watched the Virginia and Boston College tape and I didn’t see many good players. Lamar Miller shows flashes of dynamic speed and ability, but that’s all I saw.”
Highsmith didn’t have issue with Miller leaving. Most experts have the running back going in the second round, but Highsmith did have some thoughts about the early departures Marcus Forston, Olivier Vernon, Tommy Streeter and Brandon Washington.
“Forston is always hurt and he didn’t have a body of work,” Highsmith said. “Vernon maybe has the potential, but I didn’t notice him that much. If you’re a second or third-round pick, you should be able to get off a block on third and seven.”
Regarding Streeter, who didn’t see much action until last year – his junior season – Highsmith said that in general, “History shows one-year players with one-year stats are often busts in the NFL.” Highsmith feels that both Streeter and Washington definitely needed another year.
“I’m all for kids coming out if they can make money. But to be a sixth- or seventh-round pick, I don’t understand it,” said Highsmith. “Some guys don’t want to work and think pro football is easy. You’ve got to be tough to play for Al Golden. If you’re not willing to put in the time, the easy way out is to leave. But do you know how hard it is to make an NFL team?”
A big part of the second-year Golden regime will be this spring’s U-Tough workout, marking the second time some Canes will have taken on the off-season challenge.
According to Barry Jackson and The Miami Herald, one current player said that besides financial incentive, some players who left simply didn’t want to go through the off-season conditioning program again. Remember, most of the early departees didn’t even wait to get their assessment back from the NFL Draft review board before declaring.
When you add it all up, there really is no mystery as to the how and why this program compiled a 41-36 record since December 2005. Sure, there have been pockets of talent, some good collective units and some bright moments over the past half decade, but generally speaking, the culture at UM has been broken for years and needed a full-on overhaul to get right again.
Kids leaving early for later round money instead of busting ass as seniors, leading and investing in themselves? Mindboggling. U-Tough was created to whip this poorly conditioned unit into shape, which helps Miami football in the short- and long-term, but also helps any individual with NFL aspirations.
What does it say for your toughness if you don’t have the stones to take on your university’s conditioning program? You can’t handle your college coach’s style or rules, but you believe that you’re NFL-ready and next-level-tough?
The NFL is a cold, hard, unforgiving business. A shame a lot of these kids didn’t heed better advice when making such a life-changing decision.
Highsmith goes beyond not sugar-coating his feedback. He tells it like it is and the truth is that some of these kids made a big-time mistake.
A bit of advice for today’s Canes? Seeks wise counsel and listen to your older brothers who wore that same “U”. They’ve been where you’re at, they’ve been when you want to go and they’ve learned from their mistakes and the mistakes of others. Their wisdom is invaluable. Don’t waste it. – C.B.