January 31, 2016

All-Dade LB Thompson flips from FIU to Utah


D Thompson
Photo by Al Diaz//MIAMI HERALD

Miami Central three-star linebacker and All-Dade selection Donavan Thompson flipped his longtime commitment to FIU into a commitment to Utah on Sunday, three days before National Signing Day.

Thompson told the Miami Herald he switched his college commitment based more on what he saw in Utah than anything he didn't like about the Panthers. After visiting on Wednesday, he ultimately chose the Utes over UCF and FIU.


Thompson (6-0, 215 pounds) figured he would prefer to go away for college and was impressed by what he saw in Salt Lake City.

"It's just different -- the mountains and the cold weather. It was just something different and something new," said Thompson, who finished his senior season with 135 tackles and 11 sacks. "I just felt like it was time for a change, and Utah was the place to do that."

Thompson's flip continues a trend of Utah snagging South Florida prospects. The Utes now have five Dade/Broward recruits committed with Hallandale trio of quarterback Tyler Huntley, running back Zack Moss and wide receiver Demari Simpkins (Huntley and Simpkins already enrolled) and St. Thomas Aquinas running back Devonta'e Henry-Cole.

"We're probably like the next Louisville, having a lot of South Floridians on the team," Thompson says.

FIU, on the other hand, is now down to four in the two counties. UM (six), FAU, Michigan, Toledo and Utah (all with five) have more.

Thompson was primarily recruited by Utes head coach Dennis Erickson, who won two national championships coaching the Miami Hurricanes.

"He's been to national championships and coached a lot of great NFL players, Hall-of-Famers. So when I think about him and that he sees something in me, I feel like I'm going to excel at Utah," he says. 

Thompson likes the 4-2 defense the Utes will run, which is the same scheme the Central Rockets ran.

"I feel like Utah was a good fit and I'll be able to excel in their type of defense," he said. 

Thompson's highlights:

January 30, 2016

Jon Ford breaks down UM commitment

Jon Ford
Photo provided by Ford

Dillard four-star defensive end Jon Ford bolstered UM's 2017 recruiting class with a commitment Saturday afternoon.

Ford announced the news on Twitter with a pretty cool Photoshop job of him gracing an ESPN the Magazine cover.

On the timing of the commitment, Ford told me he felt he "had to jump on the boat early. Miami is rebuilding."

Ford added that he thinks the Hurricanes can develop into national champions.

With a full year to go before his Signing Day, Ford is pretty certain he'll stick with the Canes all the way through.

"For right now, yes," he said when asked if his decision is final.

Ford took a liking to the new coaching staff, especially head coach Mark Richt.

"He keeps it real and is a great man," Ford said. "I will love to play for him one day."

He also liked what he heard from defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski.

"Back to the basics -- getting to the quarterback as soon as possible," he says of the defense they tell him they're trying to run. "They don't believe in waiting. They want to execute now. They like aggressive playing -- no sitting on the line reading."

The Hurricanes now have 11 commitments in a 2017 class that currently ranks third nationally, according to 247 Sports.com.

Here's the junior highlight reel for the U's newest commit.

January 29, 2016

Dade/Broward decisions to keep an eye on as National Signing Day approaches

Here are some quick hits on the top scenarios to follow as we wind down on the end of the 2016 recruiting cycle. These prospects are either undecided or are committed but have other schools giving them something to think about before National Signing Day.

Brian Burns, American Heritage 5-star DE: The blue-chip prospect, Army All-American and No. 2 overall senior in Broward County (behind Nick Bosa), according to the Miami Herald, will choose between UF, FSU, Georgia and Alabama. FSU is getting the final visit as Burns has seen all four campuses since the recruiting dead period ended (Jan. 15).

Trayvon Mullen, Coconut Creek 4-star CB: The ultra-talented Army All-American from the #CreekBoyz has a final five of FSU, LSU, Clemson, TCU and Louisville. The first three of the five have consistently been atop his list of college choices. He has taken all his visits and will make his decision live on ESPNU at 8:45 a.m. on National Signing Day.

Keyshawn "Pie" Young, Miami High 3-star WR: It's been reported that Louisville, USC and Michigan are Pie's final three heading into Signing Day. The Wolverines have been a favorite of Dade's No. 6-ranked senior for some time now.

Dredrick Snelson, Flanagan 3-star WR: The Under Armour All-American who has won four state championships at three different schools has been a Minnesota commit since before the season, but it's a soft commitment. Snelson will check out Penn State this final weekend and also went to UCF on Jan. 15. 

Rashad Weaver, Cooper City 3-star DE: After getting dropped from Jim Harbaugh's class with Michigan within a week and a half of Signing Day, Weaver has spent the week receiving a whirlwind of recruiting interest and offers. He is taking visits to Pittsburgh and Penn State and has already been to USF and Temple.

Zack Moss, Hallandale 3-star RB: A Utah commit who took his Utes visit the weekend of Jan. 22 takes a trip to Tennessee the weekend before Signing Day. The one-time Hurricane commit will determine if it's enough to sway him from Utah, where Hallandale teammates Tyler Huntley and Demari Simpkins are already enrolled.

Vosean Joseph, Norland 3-star OLB: A UF commit, the Gators got his final official visit (Jan. 22) before he went to Texas for the USA vs. Canada Independence Bowl and Alabama had him grace its campus the previous weekend. He hasn't made his decision final but feels he's likely to stick to his UF commitment when he revisits his recruitment upon his return to Miami on Monday.

CJ McWilliams, Southwest 3-star DB: Another UF commit, he has UM on him heavy, and according to coach Tim Neal, the Jan. 22 visit -- which he took to UM because he had to cancel plans to check out UNC with the snow storm in the Mid-Atlantic -- is giving McWilliams something to think about with regards to potentially staying home with the Hurricanes. The Gators will try to convince him not to back off his May pledge, hosting him on campus the final weekend before Signing Day.

Aaron Thompson, Dillard 3-star DT: He recently committed to Maryland, but South Carolina will get one final shot at swaying him with a weekend visit.

Eric Mitchell, Miami Central 3-star DE/OLB: Recently listed his top three as Louisville, UCF and Colorado to the Miami Herald.

Jerron Rollins, Columbus 3-star WR: Without having taken any other visit, Cincinnati will get a look from the tall, talented Explorers receiver the final weekend before Signing Day. The Bearcats are the favorites to land him over Washington State, Middle Tennessee, FAU and Syracuse if all goes well on the trip.

Freddie Pinder, Southridge 3-star WR: The highly-touted prospect may not sign anywhere on Signing Day and go the junior college route instead. We will see as Wednesday approaches.

Montray Smith, Carol City 3-star WR: The 6-4 Carol City receiver is on a Southern Illinois visit over the weekend.

Jamal Smith, American 3-star DE: Since committing and then decommitting from UCF, Smith says USF and Youngstown State are his top choices. He says he's considering many more schools, so look out for another team to pop up. Pitt was a school he was high on during the season.

Jahcour Pearson, Flanagan 3-star WR: The speedster who had a monster state championship game is choosing between Western Kentucky and Northern Illinois and will announce on Monday.

Harvey Clayton, Coral Reef 3-star DB: Doing a Middle Tennessee State and Illinois combined visit final weekend before Signing Day. Louisville, FIU and Temple also in the mix for former Louisville commit.

Antione Webster, American 3-star DB: Webster is waiting to announce on Signing Day. Massachusetts is a school that's been trending in the recruitment of the long, athletic DB. His other finalists are unknown.

Keelen Roberts, Carol City 3-star DB: Will be visiting Northern Illinois this weekend and is also trying to squeeze in an FIU visit.

Val Mayes, Norland 3-star DB: Likely not to sign on Signing Day as he looks to up his ACT score on Feb. 6. Upon receiving his results, he hopes to follow up on interest from N.C. State, Mississippi State and Illinois.

Ivan Smith, South Dade 2-star RB: Visiting Northern Illinois over the weekend and may commit.

Keldrick Cesar, Edison 3-star OL: Previously had received offers from schools like USF, FIU, Syracuse, Middle Tennessee State and Samford, as well as interest from UM and UF, but he may now be signing with Bethune-Cookman.

Bryce Handy, Gulliver 3-star LB: Will be choosing between Eastern Illinois and UT-Martin. Eastern Kentucky may be making a late push.

Jordan Robinson, Norland 2-star WR: The tall, athletic under-the-radar receiver for the Vikings went to NIU for the weekend after the Huskies went in-home with him earlier in the week.

Deion Jackson, *former* Hallandale 3-star CB: The great unknown. Before the end of the season, Jackson swiftly moved to Jacksonville citing personal reasons and never really said goodbye to anybody at Hallandale. A report since has said he enrolled at Mandarin High while in Jacksonville and was looking to come back to South Florida at South Broward, but South Broward coach Devon Georgia has not heard of such a transpiration. Jackson is no longer on UM commitment lists and we have no idea where he is.

Follow @DavidFurones90 on Twitter for recruiting updates from now through Signing Day.

Parchment lets Northern Illinois commitment be known

Three-star Cypress Bay wide receiver Andrew Parchment had been committed to Northern Illinois for a week, but he wanted to keep it low key for a National Signing Day announcement.

After meeting with wide receivers coach Thad Ward and offensive coordinator Mike Uremovich Friday morning, he couldn't keep the secret any longer.

Parchment (the No. 46 prospect in the Miami Herald's Broward rankings), a former Cincinnati commit, announced that he chose the Huskies over Western Michigan, Syracuse and FAU after originally committing to the staff on Jan. 22.

"It's just a great all-around fit, bunch of players from South Florida that I get along with real well," Parchment said. "Coach Ward [is a] great wide receivers coach. Me and him really kicked it off when we started connecting."

Indeed, Northern Illinois has its share of South Florida talent on the roster with former Cardinal Gibbons receiver Christian Blake, Miramar cornerback Jeffrey Hill and Pace's Bobby Jones IV and Albert Smalls, as well as four more players to come out of Palm Beach County.

The Huskies are also vying for other South Florida prospects in 2016, including Flanagan speedster Jahcour Pearson, who could potentially become an ideal complement at wide receiver to the 6-3 Parchment.

Here are Parchment's senior highlights:

Follow @DavidFurones90 on Twitter for recruiting updates from now through Signing Day.

January 26, 2016

Cooper City DE Rashad Weaver sees wave of recruiting interest

Not even 24 hours after Cooper City defensive end Rashad Weaver decommitted from Michigan with an announcement on Twitter that caught many followers' attention, college coaches swarmed to his high school to sway the talented pass rusher.

After announcing on Monday his decision to back off of the Wolverines -- which had essentially backed off entirely in recruiting him -- Weaver had a "hectic" day Tuesday hosting prospective schools.

He received offers from UCF, Hawaii, Iowa State, East Carolina, Kansas and Toledo.

He also was visited by Kentucky, Arkansas, Indiana and Pittsburgh, who didn't offer but advised him one could come if he reciprocates interest to them as Signing Day (Wednesday, Feb. 3) approaches.

On Wednesday, Weaver expects to host Penn State, Iowa State, Virginia, Minnesota and possibly UNLV among others that my surprise him. Duke visited him on Monday.

"They said they all knew me but never contacted me 'cause they all assumed [I was] 100-percent to Michigan, which I was," Weaver said.

Here's what Weaver's decommitment announcement read:

"After being committed for about seven months and receiving little to no contact from staff, I was informed by coach [Jim] Harbaugh that there is a 50/50 chance that he would or would not have room for me on [National Signing Day]. So I was basically a Plan B, and I know within myself I am not a Plan B player. I was offered a [preferred walk-on] spot or to go to prep school, but that isn't an option for me when I have multiple other Division-I offers. I believe I'm better than that. But it's OK; it's all business...

"I am upset about the whole situation, but I will find a new school that I love and that shows me they want me. I WILL STRIVE THERE ON AND OFF THE FIELD WHEREVER I ATTEND."

Weaver hopes to decide what school(s) will get an official visit from him on Wednesday. He's already taken officials to USF and Temple.

Weaver was "very" surprised at how quickly all the schools that visited him reacted to his decommitment.

Does he wish he would've decommitted earlier?

"Somewhat," he says. "But on the other hand, I loved Michigan and wanted to see how it was going to play out."

Weaver's senior season highlights:

Follow @DavidFurones90 on Twitter for recruiting updates from now through Signing Day.

January 25, 2016

Sam Bruce staying home

Bruce Richt
Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas four-star wide receiver Sam Bruce has been committed to the Miami Hurricanes for the past 18 and a half months.

But all that matters is the school he signs with on National Signing Day in nine days. On Monday, Bruce reaffirmed one final time that it would indeed be UM on the Tony Sands Show on BBS Radio.

“The next three-four years, I will be playing football at the University of Miami,” Bruce said on the radio show Monday night.

The explosive and agile 5-8 receiver, who began receiving FBS scholarship offers his freshman season, stuck with the Hurricanes despite growing chatter that he would go elsewhere after the firing of former coach Al Golden and dismissal of wide receivers coach Kevin Beard.

“Who doesn’t want to play [at] home, man? I’m playing in front of my people, playing in front of my city,” Bruce said. “I’ve been playing here forever, and I don’t want to take that away from my people.

“I want to play in front of my fans that have been my fans since the beginning.”

Bruce came to his final decision on Sunday night after a discussion with his family upon returning from his official visit to UM.

“I just felt at home,” he said of the visit.

His mother Tracye Wilkerson, who has been known to play a major role in helping Bruce decide, joined the radio show moments before Bruce for an interview.

Bruce’s other finalists were Ohio State and South Carolina. He visited the Buckeyes in October and the Gamecocks on Jan. 15.

Bruce was also previously considering the Florida Gators but eliminated them when he scratched his visit scheduled for the past weekend and replaced it with the decisive trip to Coral Gables, which he moved up from its original Jan. 29 date.

Bruce won’t get to play for the wide receivers coach he dreamed he would end up with throughout the recruiting process, but he was able to grow at peace with that reality over time.

“Of course it affected me, knowing that if I chose Miami that I wouldn’t be able to be coached by Kevin Beard,” Bruce said. “I just had to sit down with my family and do all the praying about it and come to a decision.”

Bruce had previously said UM's decision on Beard would "make a factor."

"There's no guarantee that I would leave the University of Miami, but it'll be something to definitely think about," he said after the Under Armour All-America game on Jan. 2 before a final decision had been made on Beard. UM has since hired former USF wide receivers coach Ron Dugans.

Beard was known to be close to Bruce as a long-time mentor. He coached him at Davie University School, where Bruce played as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to Aquinas.

Bruce had 46 receptions for 427 yards and four receiving touchdowns plus three more rushing touchdowns as a senior on Class 7A state champion St. Thomas Aquinas.

Follow @DavidFurones90 on Twitter for recruiting updates from now through Signing Day.

January 21, 2016

Southwest DB and UF commit CJ McWilliams replaces UNC visit with UM

CJ McWilliams
CJ McWilliams (a.k.a. Calle 8)

With severe winter weather hitting the mid-Atlantic, Southwest Miami defensive back CJ McWilliams had to cancel his visit to UNC this weekend.

Instead, the three-star UF commit will take a much shorter, warmer trip to Coral Gables and the University of Miami.

At UM, McWilliams wants to get to know the new coaching staff a little better.

"I just want to see how the environment is with them, and I want to be comfortable," McWilliams says. "[New cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph says] he sees that I can be a top corner for them. I can help them out, especially on special teams too."

Rumph and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz went in-home with McWilliams earlier this week.

"They were just hoping that they still have a shot at me," McWilliams says. "After the talk went well, they said they're just looking to change the program to the way the U was before, so I'm looking forward to it and you know UM is close to home."

UNC, UF and USF all visited McWilliams at home as well within the week.

About UNC: "I've never really been outside of Florida, so I wanted to see how it is over there -- and the education too."

What keeps McWilliams committed to the Gators which he first pledged to in May?

"The coaches -- our relationship is real close, it's tight. They've always been recruiting me till the end," he says.

McWilliams is still trying to fit a UNC visit in -- possibly midweek. Had the weather in North Carolina not kept him away this weekend, he would've taken an official to UM in the midweek between UNC and UF visits.

The Gators will get him the final weekend before National Signing Day. Last weekend, McWilliams took his USF official.

"They're really welcoming me, and they're giving me a lot of love," McWilliams says of the Bulls.

As far as what kind of chance any of the other schools has in flipping McWilliams, he says, "Won't know until Signing Day."

Stay tuned.

January 10, 2016

Top local women's college basketball prospects on display at Miami High event

Miami High and AAU team Miami Suns combined to host the first annual SUTS Reports New Year's Classic on Saturday and many of South Florida's top girls' basketball players were present.

The Herald had a full report on the results led by the Flangan victory. The eight-game marathon also included a late 57-41 Ferguson win over Nova as Stony Brook signee Giolibeth Perez notched 24 points and eight steals while Natalia Pineda added 19 points and seven rebounds. 

Here are the prospects and the colleges they have signed with:

Mary Katherine Moore (St. Thomas) -- Bucknell*

Tytionia Adderly (Cardinal Newman) -- FGCU

Hayley Duren (American Heritage) -- Pepperdine*

Megan Gorman (Vero Beach) -- Yale

Naila Delinois (Northeast) -- St. Joseph's

Ashley Santigene (Northeast) -- Marshall

Daborah Hudson (Northeast) -- Southern

Giolibeth Perez (Ferguson) -- Stony Brook

Mikiah Harrigan (Flanagan) South Carolina


Others who are not yet signed but are college-level prospects -- Ferguson: sophomore Natalia Pineda; American Heritage: junior Taylor Smith, junior Auviance Lindo; Miami High: freshman Shekinah Rachel, senior Alondra Angulo; Fort Lauderdale: junior Keyanna Warthen, junior Tamiracle Taylor; Oxbridge Academy: freshman Aaliyah Stanley; Northeast: junior Cabria Lee; Nova: junior Rikiah Cowart; Archbishop McCarthy: junior Reagan McCray; Westminster Academy: junior Raquel Rosa; Hallandale: junior Destiny Walters; Grandview Prep: senior Kristin Rampersad; St. Thomas Aquinas: sophomore Emma Krause; Cardinal Newman: junior Sydni Donovan, junior Milan Morris.

Coaches from Marshall, FIU, Coastal Carolina and Barry University were in attendance.

January 07, 2016

Uche updates his recruitment

Josh Uche 2
Photo: Andre C. Fernandez//MIAMI HERALD

Columbus defensive end Josh Uche's recruitment will be one of the more interesting ones to follow out of prospects in Dade County with a month left until National Signing Day.

Uche (6-3, 218 pounds) has visits scheduled for Michigan on Jan. 22 and Florida on Jan. 29.

Michigan was his most recent offer, coming as a byproduct of new defensive coordinator Don Brown heading to Ann Arbor from Boston College, which had offered Uche before his senior season. Brown led the Eagles to the nation's No. 1-ranked defense despite BC winning just three games in 2015.

"It just showed how much interest in me he has. He thinks I'm the key to that whole defense," Uche says. "Just shows his loyalty and how much he believes in me."

The Flanagan local trio of linebacker Devin Bush Jr., linebacker/safety Devin Gil and safety Josh Metellus (along with Cooper City defensive end Rashad Weaver) are all committed to coach Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines' 2016 class. Although Bush has been known to be pushing Miami High wide receiver Keyshawn "Pie" Young (who has previously listed Michigan as his leader himself), but Uche says he's not as familiar with the Michigan-bound Broward prospects.

UF will get his final official visit before Signing Day.

"They've been loyal to me as well throughout the whole recruiting process," Uche says. "I've been there already twice, but I just want to get a more in-depth look at the campus."

Schools recruiting Uche are looking at him as a hybrid outside linebacker/rush end with some telling him they want him to develop into a pass rush specialist and others indicating they want him to be a "full-blown linebacker."

On his visits, he's looking to see how likes the atmosphere, campus experience and coaches.

Uche, who decommitted from Miami in between the Al Golden firing and Mark Richt hiring, has the first weekend after the recruiting dead period (Jan. 15) open for an official visit. UM, Alabama, UNC and South Carolina are in the mix for that visit.

"I was going to go to UM, but they haven't been communicating with me," Uche says. "I'm still interested, but no one has ever contacted me. I don't want to go somewhere where I'm not wanted."

To Uche's understanding, he still has an offer on the table from the Hurricanes. They haven't told him otherwise.

Uche likes the hiring of new defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski, especially because of the work he did with Shane Ray at Missouri. He sees some similarities between them.

So if he's still interested in the Canes, why did he decommit in November?

"We knew that the coaches were going to get fired, and the new guys coming in -- I didn't know how I would fit in their system," Uche says. 

He wanted to make sure his options were open in case he didn't fit and was then left looking for a school without much time left before Signing day. Uche adds that new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was recruiting him at Mississippi State, but never pulled the trigger on an offer because of his commitment to Miami.

Uche was also once offered by Auburn, but that offer has since gone with Will Muschamp and Travaris "T-Rob" Robinson to South Carolina.

"They've just been recruiting me really hard, calling me almost every day and just talking to me about how I fit into their scheme," he says.

On Uche's stellar senior season, Uche says, "I've improved on my power a lot. Last year, I was more finesse. I was more pass rush only, but now I've shown I can play the run. I was a lot more physical. I showed I can play linebacker."

He also says that his senior year with the Explorers helped him develop leadership skills.

January 02, 2016

Sam Bruce on UM's decision on Beard: 'It's going to make a factor'

Sam Bruce UA
Sam Bruce after Under Armour All-America Game. Photo by David Furones.

With the turnover on the University of Miami coaching staff in full swing as the program transitions from Al Golden to Mark Richt, St. Thomas Aquinas four-star wide receiver Sam Bruce, a UM commit, was inevitably asked what any decision with wide receivers coach Kevin Beard would make on his recruitment.

"It's going to make a factor," says Bruce, who has been committed to the Hurricanes since July 8, 2014. "There's no guarantee that I would leave the University of Miami, but it'll be something to definitely think about."

Bruce added his insight on what he knows about the situation.

"There's no guarantee that he's leaving," he said. "He still needs to be reevaluated by Coach Richt."

So where does Bruce stand on the Canes with a lot up in the air in the final month before National Signing Day?

"As of now, I am committed to the University of Miami. I am solid, but only time will tell," he says.

Bruce added that the Canes getting the last visit before Signing Day and him already being committed "definitely" makes them the team to beat for his services.

Before the Jan. 29 trip to Coral Gables, Bruce has visits to South Carolina on Jan. 15 and UF on Jan. 22 in the plans. He already visited Ohio State officially in October.

What does he hope to see from the respective schools?

"Just a family-based team, just for them to show me how I can be a premier athlete in their offense, at their school," Bruce said. "University of Miami and Ohio State -- they really stand out because they [each have a strong School of Communication]. That's a big thing for me. I want to major in sports broadcasting."

With the news coming out that Deerfield Beach receiver Cavin Ridley committed to South Carolina on Friday night, it appears that the Gamecocks are beginning to emerge in South Florida under new coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson.

"I'll give them a shot," Bruce said. "T-Rob, he's been recruiting me since freshman year when he was at Florida. When he went from Florida to Auburn, he didn't change, nothing changed from all the relationship, and then from Auburn to South Carolina and nothing has still changed."

Bruce has had conversations with former high school teammate Jordan Scarlett, now a freshman at UF who flipped from UM before his Signing Day.

With Scarlett playing behind Kelvin Taylor, Bruce said him not getting ideal playing time this season doesn't discourage him at all. He added that the season Antonio Callaway has had proves the Gators play their freshmen.

Bruce addressed the recent reports of him wearing an Ohio State hat earlier in the week at one of the event's practices. He says there was nothing to it other than to match the colors he was already wearing and that it was blown out of proportion.

"I had on black and red. It wasn't even my hat. I took somebody else's hat," Bruce said. "These people on social media, they're ridiculous."

His thoughts on fellow UM commit Dionte Mullins' highlight-reel one-handed touchdown catch?

"It was nasty," Bruce said. "The ball was put in a place where he could make a play and he made the play. That's what the University of Miami is all about."

"Me and Dionte, we go far back... We actually fought for the Little League Heisman in the eighth grade."