Roger Harriott spent the last eight years building University School into a high school football powerhouse from the ground up.
He hopes he's on his way to doing the same at FAU.
The South Florida native and St. Thomas Aquinas grad, who starred at Boston University and Villanova at running back in the late 1990s, was hired by the Owls late last month as the assistant head football coach and running backs coach by new head coach Charlie Partridge.
And ever since, FAU has been on an unbelievable recruiting run, landing 16 commitments in the 2014 class and another four highly touted kids in the 2015 class.
Harriott, who won a state title at University in 2012 and went 78-15 in his time there, said Thursday he's excited to be a part of FAU's future. He also wants to clear the air and dispell any rumors about a bad parting of the ways with the program he built at U School, especially in light that so many of his former players transferred out after he left.
"There’s a lot of unanswered questions out there, rumors that I have animosity with U School. There’s not. I’m more than thankful for the opportunity they gave me," Harriott said. "I’m proud of what we accomplished at U School. I poured my heart and soul into it.
"The truth is my coworkers were a joy to be around and I appreciate how I was able to develop under [school headmaster] Dr. Chermak. I miss them. This move was inevitable. This was the direction my family and I were going."
Among FAU's newest commitments is 2015 four-star running back Jordan Scarlett, who transferred from University to St. Thomas Aquinas; Cypress Bay 2014 safety Marquis Dudley-Gordon; Coral Gables 2014 running back Greg Howell, among the rushing leaders in Miami-Dade County; Hialeah 2014 running back Henry Bussey; South Dade 2014 tight end Nate Terry and Taravella 2014 offensive tackle Siffo Pierre.
"The focus for us is building integrity," Harriott said. "With how volatile this industry is and how fast everything changes I think we’ve established some momentum. We’re taking more of a family approach to coaching and to recruiting and to establishing relationships. We’re excited about the direction is FAU is heading in.
"The whole University is buzzing right now. Boca is a beautiful area. It’s not difficult to promote the value FAU brings from a South Florida standpoint. We’re looking forward to a great Signing Day."
> FAU also hired former Edison and American High coach Corey Bell to be the program's secondary and player personnel coach.
NORLAND HIRES LUTHER CAMPBELL AS DEFENSIVE COODINATOR
Uncle Luke will be back on the football sidelines this spring.
The Miami native and longtime rapper, who won a state title at Central (2010) as defensive coordinator and spent the last two seasons at Miami Northwestern before he was cut loose in the middle of last season, was hired as Miami Norland's defensive coordinator earlier this week.
He said he was officially introduced to the team Wednesday.
"I’m excited. I’m ready to go," Campbell, 53, said. "We got some young kids who were beat up last year because they were young. But they never laid down. [Head coach Daryle] Heidelburg is one of the best offensive coordinators, head coaches in the state. I’m excited. We've got some talented kids. All the defensive backs, that’s the best defensive backfield in the county. I’m happy."
Heidelburg said he's always respected Campbell as a coach. As district rivals, the two went head-to-head often over the last few seasons.
"I've known him for a minute and we were always talking about working together," Heidelburg said. "I have respect for what he did at Northwestern and Central playing against him. I didn’t really have to sell him too hard. He had offers to go other places, but like I said we’ve always been talking about it. The one thing I can say is he’s always been kid first. Those are the type of coaches I’m looking for."
Campbell, who allegedly paid University of Miami players bounties for big plays back in the 1980s and 1990s, was initially barred from coaching high schools by the state several years ago. But he fought and won full certification.
"I don’t know what he does after 8 o’clock. I don’t know what anyof my coaches do after 8 o’clock. But I do know he’s kid first," Heidelburg said. "I did my homework on him. And from everything I heard he was diligent as far being there every day to coach and be there for the kids."
-- MANNY NAVARRO