Charlotte Bound

By Robert C. Jones, Jr.

Charlotte Bound

By Robert C. Jones, Jr.
UM News reporter Robert Jones is headed to North Carolina for the ACC championship game. Read his blog posts for the latest insights and behind-the-scenes look at championship weekend.

December 3, 2017 at 12:40 a.m.

Beaten but not Defeated

somber UM fansWhile Hurricanes fans may be in a somber mood following Miami's 38-3 loss to the Clemson Tigers in the ACC Championship game, there's still plenty to look forward to and to be proud of. Look for the young, up-and-coming ’Canes football squad to receive a bid to a major post-season bowl, perhaps one right in their own backyard if Orange Bowl officials come calling.

Even Saturday's game itself provided some bright spots, as Miami sacked Clemson quarterbacks four times, marking the ninth time this season that the Hurricanes have registered three or more sacks in a game this season. Miami entered the matchup leading the ACC in total sacks (42) and sacks per game (3.8). Joe Jackson’s third quarter sack gave the Homestead, Florida, sophomore 6.5 sacks on the year, good for second on the team.

And Hurricanes kicker Michael Badgley’s fourth quarter field goal was the 76th of his career, good for fourth on the ACC all-time list. Badgley also moved into fourth place on the ACC career scoring list with 395 points.

Said Miami head coach Mark Richt of Clemson, "Right now they're the measuring stick. We're going to get there. We're just not there yet. We weren't there tonight, for sure. But I’m proud of our players. Proud of what they've accomplished. We've been through a lot together as a team. Early on in the season, going through the hurricane like we did, all the things we had to go through...It's been a little bit of a grind. But the guys have been battling every week. They've been doing everything we've asked them to do. I couldn't be more proud of a group of guys than our players."

December 2, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.

A Category 5 Impact

Category 5 Fans

Members of Category 5, the spirit programming board of the University of Miami, traveled together up to Charlotte for the big game. Among them, Michael Warrell, the Olympic sports chair for the organization, who felt it was important to make the trip “to show my support for [UM] players and the football team.”
“Having fans such as myself travel to the away games allows our players to see their fan base is willing to go the extra mile, and it makes them feel more at home in a hostile environment,” said the engineering major.
Warrell has been attending Hurricane football games since he was 4.
“My dad attended UM and graduated in 1980,” said Warrell. “He’s been a season ticket holder since around that time, and he’s the reason I’m such a die-hard Hurricane fan. Seeing Miami play in the ACC Championship is on my top-5 list of favorite UM football games. But it’s this season’s FSU game that’s my all-time favorite. Seeing Miami end Florida State’s winning streak against us is a memory I’ll always cherish.”

December 2, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.

Hurricanes fans by the thousands descended on Tryon Street in Uptown Charlotte Saturday for ACC FanFest, a mixture of live music, food trucks, and entertainment that preceded the ACC Championship game.

December 2, 2017 at 5:15 p.m.

Calm Before the Storm


December 2, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.

Ready to Rock like a Hurricane

University of Miami students who made the long trek to Charlotte to see their beloved ‘Canes take on the Clemson Tigers in the ACC Championship Game give a spirited demonstration of their U pride outside Bank of America Stadium.

December 2, 2017 at 3:00 p.m.

Corso Picks Clemson, but ’Canes are Kings of Carolina

Vader Fan
A passionate UM fan shows off his Star Wars-inspired costume at College GameDay.

With a spirited atmosphere to warm a chilly day, hundreds of Miami and Clemson fans gathered at Charlotte’s Romare Bearden Park Saturday for ESPN’s College GameDay, cheering loudly each time the popular pregame show featured a segment on their respective team.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban, wearing a crimson suit, appeared on set to provide his analysis of today’s power five conference championship matchups, but there was really only one thing fans were waiting for: to see analyst Lee Corso don the mascot headgear of the team he favored in the show’s featured game.

His pick: the Clemson Tigers.

“But this may not actually be a bad thing,” said Hurricanes fan Julie Thomas, holding a sign that read It’s All about the U. “Most of the time, Corso is wrong, so if this is any indication, we’ll win tonight.”

Thomas is not far wrong. The last time Corso picked against Miami—three weeks ago when College GameDay featured the Miami-Notre Dame matchup—the Hurricanes won in dominant fashion.

Something else that’s riding in Miami’s favor: The Hurricanes, 10-1 and winners of the ACC’s Coastal Division, are undefeated in the state of North Carolina this year, having beaten both Duke and North Carolina-Chapel Hill earlier this season.

Tonight at Bank of America Stadium, head coach Mark Richt and the ’Canes hope to make it three in a row in the Tar Heel State.

December 2, 2017 at 8:49 a.m.

College GameDay

Hurricane and Tigers fans gather at ESPN's College GameDay in Charlotte's Romare Bearden Park.

December 2, 2017 at 8:34 a.m.

And They Are Off

Just after 8 a.m. on an overcast Saturday morning and with temperatures in the low 50s, hundreds of runners and walkers get underway in the ACC Fan 5K and Kids' Mascot Run on MLK and Tryon streets in Charlotte. The 5K kicked off a slate of events that are part of ACC Championship Saturday.

December 1, 2017 at 10:37 p.m.

Adrian Del Rosario, left, tuba player on the UM Band of the Hour, and Brandon Diaz, a tenor on the drumlineAdrian Del Rosario, left, tuba player on the UM Band of the Hour, and Brandon Diaz, a tenor on the drumline, are looking forward to performing pregame and halftime at Saturday’s ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium.

“It’s a phenomenal feeling, playing every game for the student-athletes we’ve been rooting for all season,” Del Rosario said Friday evening, shortly before he and Diaz performed at the ACC Fan Central event at Uptown Charlotte. “We definitely feel our music adds to the excitement generated by the fans.” Learn more about the U’s Band of the Hour, an ensemble of student members from all fields of study.

December 1, 2017 at 9:00 p.m.

A Loyal ’Canes Fan Remembers His Father during ACC Championship Weekend

David Henghold and familyDavid Henghold owes his passion for the Miami Hurricanes to his late father, a 32-year veteran of the Coral Gables Police Department who used to take him to UM football games.

“Home games, away games—my dad took me to all of them,” Henghold recalled Friday as he stood outside the convention center in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he was in town to watch Miami battle the Clemson Tigers for the ACC Championship, with a berth in the college football playoffs on the line. “I was just a little boy, and I fell in love with the ’Canes.”

That love endured, even as he attended UM rival Florida State University. “I may have graduated from FSU, but I bleed orange and green.”

Henghold is now a proud father himself, and his thoughts this weekend invariably turn to his dad, David Henghold, Sr., who passed away nearly three years ago. “One of the last things he wanted was for his ashes to be spread on Greentree Practice Fields, and fortunately we got the opportunity to do that,” said the Pompano Beach firefighter, referring to the site on UM’s Coral Gables campus where the UM football team trains.

“I just had to fly up for this game,” he continued. “If my dad were alive today, he’d be right here with me.”

December 1, 2017 at 6:19 p.m.

Have arrived at Charlotte, and the scene outside the Charlotte Convention Center, where the ACC Night of Legends event is being held, has a decidedly Miami Hurricane flavor to it, as the UM Band of the Hour and cheerleaders perform.

December 1, 2017 at 5:58 p.m.

Fan wearing turnover chainDressed in Hurricane garb and sporting a replica Turnover Chain, this 'Canes fan, bound for Charlotte, demonstrates that even at 30,000 feet it's still All about The U.

December 1, 2017 at 2:55 p.m.

American Airlines flight 651, bound for Charlotte, North CarolinaUp, Up and Away

We have lift-off of American Airlines flight 651, bound for Charlotte, North Carolina, and filled to capacity with several orange-and-green-clad Miami fans aboard.

December 1, 2017 at 2:30 p.m.

American Airlines flight 651 to Charlotte, North Carolina, wouldn’t depart Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood’s International Airport for another two and half hours on Friday.

But that didn’t matter to Nelson Fonseca and his wife, Alina. Decked out in Miami Hurricane orange and green, the South Florida couple arrived early at Gate E7 in Terminal 3 to get a jump on the TSA’s layered screening procedures—and to just sit back and soak in the satisfaction that they would soon be in Charlotte to see their beloved ‘Canes take on the Clemson Tigers in Saturday’s ACC Championship game.

UM Fans at FLL“We’re very excited,” said Nelson. “We even booked airfare and hotel rooms not knowing if we’d get tickets to the game.”

Fortunately they did. And on Saturday they will meet up with 11 other relatives, including a daughter and son, at Bank of America Stadium for the 8 p.m. matchup.

“This is as good as it gets,” said Nelson.

The retired postal worker and Vietnam War veteran has been a Hurricane fan since the Kennedy administration. On Friday, as he and his wife waited for their flight to depart, he reminisced about the many memorable games he’s seen the Hurricanes play—from Miami’s upset victory over Nebraska in the ‘84 Orange Bowl game to win the program’s first national championship to UM’s most recent dismantling of a favored Notre Dame squad at Hard Rock Stadium.

“But the Orange Bowl was the best,” said Nelson, referring to the iconic venue where Miami played its games before moving to Hard Rock. “We had 13 season tickets, and I still remember where we sat: section 138, rows 6 and 7.”

His daughter has a degree from UM’s Frost School of Music, and his son an M.B.A. from the business school. “But I’ve been ‘Cane fan long before they were born.”

Alina, who is his second wife, admits she was not a UM fan before she married Nelson. “But I’m all in now,” she said.

Though Miami is the underdog in Saturday’s game, Nelson and Alina wouldn’t have it any other way. “That’s when we’re at our best,” said Nelson. “Go ‘Canes.”

December 1, 2017 at 10:30 a.m.

With bags packed and my tools of the trade (reporter’s notebook, laptop, and digital recorder) at the ready, I’m bound for Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday to cover the ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium.

A win over defending National Champion Clemson will more than likely assure the ’Canes of a berth in the four-team College Football Playoff bracket.

Three months ago, as Miami prepared to open its second campaign under Head Coach Mark Richt, many fans undoubtedly thought a one-loss season, let alone a shot at the National Championship, was out of the question. But Richt, a savvy field general during his days playing quarterback at the U, has Miami back on top—winners of the ACC Coastal Division, an achievement that helped garner him 2017 ACC Coach of the Year honors.

For the dedicated student-athletes who conquered the likes of Georgia Tech, Florida State, Notre Dame, and Virginia Tech en route to winning that division title, it’s a remarkable achievement. But there’s a much bigger story here, one that goes far beyond the hash marks, goal posts, and grass of the gridiron. It’s a story of classroom and academic excellence on the part of our student-athletes. And Miami senior wide receiver Braxton Berrios is the epitome of that excellence.

Even before Berrios lines up against the Tigers Saturday night in Charlotte, he will have already won. Not for the fact that he is one of Miami’s most dependable and sure-handed receivers, but because his path to success is assured in the most important game of all—life.

A two-time Academic All-District and Academic All-ACC selection, Berrios is on pace to graduate in December as a double major in finance and entrepreneurship. The 2015-16 Miami Scholar-Athlete of the Year also received the football team's 2016 Mariutto Family Scholar-Athlete Award. A Dean's List member every semester of his college career, Berrios earned President’s List honors three times and was named to the Provost’s Honor Roll seven times.

He has a 3.96 grade point average and is one of 13 finalists for the National Football Foundation’s William V. Campbell Trophy, the so-called Academic Heisman.

And on Thursday, he added to his already impressive list of academic honors, winning the ACC’s 2017 Jim Tatum Award, which is given annually to the top senior student-athlete (in athletic eligibility) among the conference’s football players. The award is named for the two-time ACC Coach of the Year who coached in the 1950s at both Maryland and North Carolina and believed strongly in the concept of the student-athlete.

Berrios becomes the first Miami recipient of the award.

“Braxton is the epitome of the student-athlete at the University of Miami,” Richt said in media interviews. “His dedication, effort, and leadership both on the field and in the classroom serve as an inspiration to our players, coaches, and staff. I couldn’t be prouder of Braxton for earning the Jim Tatum Award, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.”

Berrios leads an exceptional group of UM student-athletes whose classroom achievements are just as impressive as their on-the-field performance. Recently, Miami’s student-athletes posted a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 91 percent, a mark that comes in 5 percentage points above the national average of 86 percent. Miami also is tied for the 13th best GSR among Football Bowl Subdivision institutions.

“I could not be more proud of our student-athletes, coaches, and academic support staff for once again exceeding the graduation success rate national average,” Director of Athletics Blake James said at the time. “This data shows the strong commitment to academic achievement at the University of Miami.”

Check back often to read my blog and join me for championship weekend. I’ll be providing some behind-the-scenes reporting, and introducing you to some of the Hurricane faithful at the event. From ESPN’s College GameDay to a raucous fanfest, to the big game itself, let’s have some fun.

Now, it’s on to Charlotte. Go ’Canes!