July 30, 2015

Central LB Donavan Thompson makes it two commits for FIU on Thursday

Donavan Thompson
Donavan Thompson pursues a tackle during Central's 2015 spring scrimmage. DAVID FURONES//FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

FIU got its second commitment of the day on Thursday when Miami Central linebacker Donavan Thompson turned down offers from the likes of Arkansas, Oregon State and USF to commit to the Panthers.

FIU's 2016 recruiting class now lists 11 commitments after the addition of Norland cornerback Bryon Brown earlier Thursday.

Former Booker T. Washington coach Tim Harris Jr., now in his first season as running backs coach at FIU, is making his presence felt in recruiting South Florida and had a major impact on Thompson's decision.

"He mainly told me when he first gave me the offer that he liked me and he loved the way I play football," says Thompson, the 5-11, 210-pound three-star prospect. "Playing against Tim Harris, he knows what I'm capable of. He was able to introduce me to the defensive coordinator [Matt House] and the head coach [Ron Turner]."

Thompson has former Central teammates Anthony Jones and Fermin Silva already at FIU and set to begin their collegiate careers in the fall.

"They are saying that they are looking to rebuild in the next couple of years and they need a player like me over there," Thompson says.

In addition to Arkansas, Oregon State and USF, Thompson also listed offers from Cincinnati, Massachusetts, Toledo and West Florida.

While committed, Thompson notes that his recruitment still is not over.

"I'm considering all my offers. I'm still open to all my offers," Thompson says. "FIU is the best fit right now, so I'm leaning that way.

"Any minute I could decommit and go to another school, so I'm open to anybody."

Thompson is a leader at middle linebacker on Central's defense. Heading into his fourth year as a starter on the Rockets' vaunted defense, he has three state championships to his credit as he enters his senior year.

His highlights:

FIU gets commitment from Norland's Bryon Brown

Norland senior cornerback Bryon Brown committed to FIU on Thursday.

The 6-1, 180-pound unranked 2016 prospect who goes by the nickname of "Lockdown Brown" joins a Panthers recruiting class that now lists 10 total commits, including two other corners in Jacksonville Ed White's Jadarius Byrd and Tampa Bay Tech's Isiah Brown.

"Very athletic, long DB with good speed," Norland coach Daryle Heidelburg says. "He can play both corner and safety. Plus Norland has had good success with its players at FIU, and Bryon will continue that trend."

FIU currently has junior linebacker Treyvon Williams out of Norland who last season appeared in all 12 games, started in nine and was second on the team with 50 total tackles.

Brown's highlights:

July 29, 2015

Rasul discusses flip from UM to FSU

  Amir RasulSo why did four-star 2016 running back Amir Rasul recently flip his commitment from UM to FSU?

“What made me flip was pretty much I was looking at the future,” Rasul told the Miami Herald. “UM really didn’t have a good season [last] year, Golden will probably be gone and they’ll be looking for a new head coach. I didn’t want to be in that situation going into my freshman year.

“Ultimately, I think UM is a good school. It’s an awesome school, but at the moment I think FSU’s a better school for me.”

Rasul also said he was promised by FSU it would only take one running back per class over the next few years, so waiting to see if Miami did indeed have a rough season could have resulted in another back taking his spot.

“Florida State really wants me now, and if I make this decision now, I’ll probably have a much better future than being committed to UM,” Rasul says. “It’s a hard commit. I’m not trying to change right now.”

Rasul adds that he still looks at South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee but is unlikely to change his mind at this point.

Being in such close proximity geographically to UM’s campus, Rasul says he’s had to take some criticism from hometown fans as of late.

“I’ve gotten a couple of choice words from some people in the area, but that’s OK,” he says. “If they don’t hate you, then you’re not doing something right.”

Rasul also looks at the way Dalvin Cook (formerly of Miami Central) scored the game-winning touchdown against the Hurricanes as a freshman last season and could see himself having similar success against the hometown team.

“That’s amazing – to do that and in addition be at home,” he says. “Going out the next day and knowing you did that against your hometown – that’s going to be spectacular.”

What can we expect out of Rasul in his senior season after breaking out running the ball as a junior?

He says improving his versatility. Rasul will be on returns and be more active in the passing game. He essentially wants to do all the things critics are saying he can’t do.

“You’re always going to have some doubters, people saying you can’t do this, you can’t do that,” Rasul says. “That’s OK. If I wasn’t doing great things, people wouldn’t be talking about it at all.”

Rasul is an exceptional student on top of being a top-of-the-line football recruit.

His junior year he bumped his grade point average from a 2.8 to a 3.4 and took a pair of AP courses – statistics and economics. He plans on taking an introductory calculus course and finding a challenging science class his senior year.

He had thoughts of being an early enrollee, but since he runs track, he will make sure to do that the spring semester of his senior year before getting right to college next summer.

July 27, 2015

Former UM pledge Rasul commits to FSU

Two days after announcing a decommitment from UM, Coral Gables senior running back Amir Rasul orally committed to FSU.

The four-star prospect is the top ranked running back in the state of Florida, according to 247 Sports and Rivals. He ran for 893 yards and 13 touchdowns on 127 carries as a junior for the Cavaliers.

Aside from Miami, Rasul chose FSU over Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina. He becomes the first running back in the Seminoles' 2016 recruiting class, which is now up to 19 commitments.
 
The Hurricanes still have 21 players committed for 2016, including running backs Travis Homer of West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy and Zack Moss of Hallandale, while also pursuing Naples four-star Carlin Fils-Aime.

July 26, 2015

Miami Central 2017 OL Donaldson commits to Canes

UM's class of 2017 gained a big boost on Sunday night as four-star junior offensive lineman Navaughn Donaldson committed to the Hurricanes.

Donaldson's recruitment has gained steam this offseason with the 6-5, 300-pound prospect first earning his UM scholarship offer at the Al Golden Football Camp last month.

Sunday night he announced his decision on Twitter, choosing Miami over six other offers, including Florida State, Georgia and UNC.

In an interview with CaneSport.com, Donaldson told the Rivals site he labels himself as a 75-percent commitment with his Signing Day a year and a half away.

The addition is a major one for the Canes, especially considering they recently lost their only committed offensive lineman in the 2017 class when Kadeem Telfort flipped to UF.

Donaldson's highlights:

July 19, 2015

UM recruits approve of new Adidas uniforms

UM athletics welcomed Adidas to its program with a football uniform unveiling party at LIV on Saturday night that was as Miami as it gets.

 

Most of the reaction from the fans has been positive, but what about that of the players that will actually be wearing the new uniforms? More specifically, how do the players that pledge to wear them in the future like them?

The consensus is that recruits committed to the Hurricanes approve.

Four-star quarterback commit Jack Allison out of Palmetto expressed a sentiment relayed by most fans.

"I was skeptical at first when I heard they were switching to Adidas, but now after I see the new uniforms I like them a lot," he said.

Here are the views other recruits expressed to me...

-Four-star running back from Coral Gables High Amir Rasul says he's "#inlove" and added "the whole design of the uniform intrigued me."

-Four-star middle linebacker from Orange Park Oakleaf Shaq Quarterman says he especially liked the all-white combination.

-Three-star defensive end from Fort Lauderdale High Jaquwan Nelson: "I love them. It's a really nice look from Adidas. Can't wait to play in them when I get there."

-Three-star defensive end from Columbus Josh Uche: "I liked them. Very simple yet unique."

-Four-star 2017 linebacker Tyler Dunning from St. Thomas Aquinas: "Love 'em. What's not to like?"

-Three-star 2017 Killian running back Bentavious Thompson: "The new Adidas uniforms are fire."

-2018 defensive back Al Blades Jr.: "They're nice. [I like] the pants, helmets and gloves."

Adidas certainly graded highly among UM football recruits. A solid start to the #3stripelife UM will sport for the next 12 years.

July 16, 2015

Southridge speedster DiCaprio Bootle commits to Nebraska

Speedy Miami Southridge cornerback DiCaprio Bootle announced on Thursday that he has committed to the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

The 5-11, 175-pound senior prospect who runs a 4.34-second 40-yard dash impressed coaches significantly at a satellite camp in Miami in June and was offered then.

"Nebraska is home to some top-of-the-line facilities, coaches, and programs," Bootle said. "The vision they have for me as well as for the team in years to come has really made me feel like this is where I should be."

Bootle chose the Cornhuskers over UCF, FIU and Temple among his seven offers.

Nebraska last season signed Flanagan linebacker Adrienne Talan and snagged Fort Pierce Central linebacker Greg Simmons, a former UM commit in the 2016 class. 

Here are Bootle's junior highlights:

 

July 15, 2015

UM commit Uche talks Alabama offer

Columbus senior defensive end and three-star UM commit Josh Uche turned heads on Tuesday when he announced that he received an offer from Alabama.

 

Uche came to expect it as Alabama was showing plenty of interest leading up to Tuesday when he was offered personally by coach Nick Saban at an Alabama camp.

While honored by the offer, the 6-2,216-pound weak-side defensive end remains solid to Miami right now.

"I'm strong on my Miami commitment, but you never know," Uche says. "There's nobody that doesn't have a chance. I appreciate every offer."

The Hurricanes are special to him because they offered him at a time when he only had offers from Marshall and Bowling Green.

"They were my first big offer, the first team to really take a chance on me, so I really liked that," Uche says.

Since UM offered and he committed in March, Uche has received offers from USF, Syracuse, Minnesota and now Alabama.

Georgia and North Carolina are other schools Uche says are currently showing interest the same way Alabama was right before the Crimson Tide offered.

Asked to assess himself as a player, Uche said, "I'm very versatile as a player. I can do anything as long as you teach it to me the right way because I have the speed and I'm smart enough to pick things up. You can put me anywhere you want, and I'll excel at that position."

Columbus keeps Uche strictly at defensive end. The Hurricanes currently are recruiting him as a hybrid defender between rush end and Sam linebacker.

Uche grew up a Hurricane fan, especially when he was really young and UM was the first program to play in all four BCS bowl games in the early 2000s. Ironically enough, he began to like Alabama as he got into middle school, looking up to Mark Ingram at running back. 

So Uche has offers from two of his all-time favorite teams growing up.

Here are Uche's highlights:

 

July 12, 2015

Coral Reef reveals new 'black cloud' uniforms

Uniforms
It's the final piece to a fresh start for Coral Reef football this offseason.

With a new coaching staff coming in that's trying to change the culture, the Barracudas revealed their new "black cloud" uniforms to players, cheerleaders and parents at a team picnic at Larry and Penny Thompson Park on Sunday.

The coaches couldn't do it without a little fun, though.

First, they set up a draped upper-body male mannequin on a table as coach Javi Valdes gave a speech. When it was time to lift the drape, underneath it was a plain, bland black jersey with silver numbers -- much to the dismay of the players expecting a bit more.

With parents slow clapping and mixed reactions from the players, a pair of Coral Reef alumni in Myles Campbell and Vanycksha Toussaint busted in wearing the actual uniforms. The jersey on the manikin turned out to be the practice jersey.

The players went nuts.

 

"I knew I had them," Valdes said. "We needed to put a stamp on what Coral Reef Football was going to look like. That's the look we're going to have for the next few years, and that's the look we want to continue having throughout my tenure here."

The Nike anthracite -- or smoke grey -- uniforms (pictured above) will have white numbers, "Cudas" in white over the number on the front, a teal stripe down the pant leg that reads "Reef" in white, and teal and white fading stripes on the sleeves. The helmets are the same color with a teal and silver stripe through the middle and the CR logo on the sides.

Coral Reef, which will alternate with a set of white uniforms depending on if the team is home or away, now joins Booker T. Washington and Miami Central as teams to sport the anthracite jerseys.

Players were relieved to learn that all the buildup for the uniform unveiling wasn't to culminate in the team wearing practice jerseys for their games.

Team

Photos and video by David Furones//FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

July 11, 2015

Recruiting Roundup: Henry-Cole commits to Utah, Harrison to Southern Illinois

St. Thomas Aquinas running back Devonta'e Henry-Cole announced on Saturday that he is orally committing to Utah.

"I got along with coach [Dennis] Erickson and the coaching staff," the 5-9, 190-pound three-star prospect with 4.4 speed says. "It'a a great school academically and sports, and it's going to be a great feeling playing with my old St. Thomas teammates."

Henry-Cole chose Utah over a list of 11 other offers that included Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Cincinnati, FIU and FAU. 

He joins former Raider teammates Tyson Cisrow and Chris Hart on the Utes roster.

"[They tell me] that it was nice over there, it's different from Florida and the football program is amazing," Henry-Cole says.

Utah is getting a good one on and off the field.

"As a player, Devonta'e is an explosive, electrifying athlete with exceptional balance, vision and speed," St. Thomas Aquinas coach Roger Harriott says. "Off the field, he's a positive role model for his peers -- an extraordinary person in general. He's the epitome of a character athlete who is loved by all."

HARRISON COMMITS TO SOUTHERN ILLINOIS

A day earlier, Coconut Creek senior quarterback Jhakari Harrison announced a commitment to Southern Illinois.

The 6-1, 180-pound dual-threat quarterback that also had offers from Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman has been impressive throughout the spring and in 7-on-7 play, including a victory in the South Florida Shootout that UM hosted.

Once he joins the Salukis, he'll eventually compete with another Florida quarterback Southern Illinois took last recruiting cycle in Orlando's Tanner Hearn.

MARSHALL GETS SOUTH DADE LINEMAN

On Thursday, South Dade 2017 offensive guard Kryon Taylor committed to Marshall.

The 6-3, 285-pound junior was impressive in a spring game against Harrison and Coconut Creek in May, drawing the eyes of many coaches on hand.

He's also an elite wrestler as a state runner-up in the 285-pound division.