February 20, 2016

FIU adds Southridge's Freddie Pinder

FIU had just four signees from its fertile home recruiting grounds of Miami-Dade County on National Signing Day.

The Panthers added one more on Friday night as three-star Southridge wide receiver Freddie Pinder signed late with coach Ron Turner and FIU.

"I'm truly thankful and blessed for this opportunity," Pinder tweeted. "I would like to say thank you to FIU Panthers coach Ron Turner for giving me an opportunity to attend college, to further my education and to play football here in my backyard."

Pinder told the Herald that FIU started recruiting him harder than any other school after Signing Day.

Turner welcomed the newest FIU Panther with this tweet.

Pinder is an elite possession receiver at 6-4. He was rated as high as four stars as a junior.

"Coach Turner is a great coach. He has experience at the next level and knows what it takes to get there," Pinder said to the Herald. "FIU is an amazing place. It's close to home and the team is full of great players."

Marshall and Temple were other schools Pinder was known to be looking at as of Signing Day. The junior college route was also thought to be possible for Pinder as Signing Day approached, according to coaches close to him -- a notion Pinder refuted on social media once reports were publicized. 

February 12, 2016

Columbus' CJ Henderson commits to UM

Columbus junior two-way player C.J. Henderson was one of the most electrifying players on the state semifinalist Explorers last season.

On Friday, he decided to commit to the hometown team for college in a year and a half.

Henderson, a three-star or four-star athlete depending on the service who has previously listed UM as his top choice, committed to the Miami Hurricanes Friday afternoon on a campus visit.

UM is recruiting Henderson as a cornerback, he confirmed in a message.

His father, Chris Henderson Sr., told CaneSport.com that Henderson is listing himself as a soft commitment.

"He really wanted to commit and I told him it's okay, just let it be known he still wants to look. But that's where he wants to be," Henderson Sr. told CaneSport.

Henderson also holds offers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Auburn, USC and Virginia Tech among his 17 offers.

Last season Henderson ran for 932 yards and 12 touchdowns on 100 carries. He also had 245 receiving yards and two scores through the air.

Here's his junior year highlight reel.

In other 2017 UM recruiting class news, Jacksonville Mandarin linebacker Aundre Ricardo-Kearney decommitted earlier Friday.

He had committed to the Hurricanes under Al Golden in June. Mark Richt visited his high school in December when he was in Jacksonville to solidify the commitments and early enrollments of linebackers Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney.

February 09, 2016

Al Blades Jr. touches on St. Thomas Aquinas transfer, more Elite Prep 300 coverage

Former Miami Dolphins safety Arturo Freeman's showcase Elite Prep 300 Series at University School on Sunday had several South Florida high school athletes attend, as well as key college figures, including former UM wide receivers coach Kevin Beard and former FIU quarterback Wes Carroll.

St.Thomas Aquinas 2018 Defensive back Al Blades Jr., a former Hurricane commit who decommitted on October 25th, plans to be active in taking upcoming visits.


"I'm planning to travel to South Carolina, Texas and California real soon," he said.

Blades (6-0, 160 pounds) on his recent transfer from University School to Aquinas said, "I think it's a better opportunity for me. For the next two years I can develop more and they have a lot of good wide receivers I can work against."

Miles Jones, an American Heritage 2018 running back, has been receiving preliminary interest from Kentucky, but right now his concentration is on getting fully recovered and trying to help his team win.

Adetutu Daranijo, a St. Thomas Aquinas 2018 linebacker, has received an offer from Northern Illinois University. The Huskies have been recruiting the South Florida area hard, picking up three commitments this past recruiting cycle -- Cypress Bay' wide receiver Andrew Parchment, Norland wide receiver Jordan Robinson and South Dade running back Ivan Smith.

Eugene Witherspoon, a 2016 Miami Jackson wide receiver, didn't sign on National Signing Day. He is still weighing his options but is leaning toward inking with Howard University.

Check out videos below on what Beard, Freeman and Carroll were saying during Sunday's action.





February 05, 2016

Montray Smith inks with Southern Illinois day after National Signing Day

Montray Smith
Montray Smith -- Photo by David Furones.

Carol City wide receiver Montray Smith was one of the better South Florida prospects whose recruitment remained unresolved after National Signing Day. He didn't sign anywhere on Wednesday still surveying a number of options.

On Thursday night, he decided he shouldn't wait any longer.

Smith, the 6-4 three-star rangy wide receiver, sent in his letter of intent to Southern Illinois.

Smith, ranked 22nd in the Miami Herald's list of 2016 prospects, didn't sign on Wednesday despite having an offer from the Salukis because Toledo, which still wasn't offering Smith, had expressed significant interest in him. Siding with the Rockets would've presented Smith with an opportunity to play with Carol City teammates David Hood and Keelen Roberts.

But without a guaranteed spot there for him and the clock ticking, Smith made sure to take the scholarship offer from SIU. He also visited Carbondale the weekend before Signing Day.

At Southern Illinois, he'll have Coconut Creek quarterback Jhakari Harrison throwing to him. Harrison set a Broward County record for touchdowns thrown in a game during his senior season.

He also had options in multiple sports, including a potential track scholarship to a school with a Power Five conference football program to then walk on. South Carolina was one school that was interested in offering Smith, who also plays basketball, in track.

You can see Smith's highlights below.


February 02, 2016

Central DB Jamal Hudson flips from Toledo to Air Force

Life, education and football.

Those are the three major reasons Miami Central defensive back Jamal Hudson gave for flipping his commitment Monday night from Toledo to Air Force.

He expands: "More benefits as far as pursuing my dreams with my degree and football dreams to play in the NFL... Feels like home and a great atmosphere from the fan base. They are a big powerhouse playing great Division-I football."

Hudson was a key contributor to a stellar Central Rockets defense that won a fourth consecutive Class 6A state championship this fall.

February 01, 2016

Pierre, McWilliams committed to rival schools but still have Canes on their mind

A pair of South Florida defensive backs are committed to rival schools but still have the hometown Miami Hurricanes on their mind as National Signing Day approaches.

Deerfield Beach three-star safety James Pierre, committed to ACC Coastal rival UNC, and Southwest Miami three-star cornerback Christopher McWilliams, committed to in-state rival UF, will still weigh their option to attend UM and both decisions appear to be coming down to Wednesday.

Pierre is a former UM commit that flipped to the Tar Heels in October. Al Golden was fired shortly thereafter, but he's liked what he's seen from new coach Mark Richt.

"The new coaching staff made a big impact on my decision toward [reconsidering] the U," Pierre says. "I'm very interested in what coach Mark Richt brings. Coach [Mike] Rumph, I can relate to him. He knows what it takes to be the best."

The process has taken its toll on Pierre.

"It's a lot of pressure coming at me, and you know, I'm just a kid, so it's just stress for me," he says.

McWilliams is taking his recruitment a little more in stride, but still isn't certain of what he wants to do.

"I'm feeling good. I'm excited to finally get this decision over with and ready to play college ball," McWilliams says. "I made my decision, but I'm still thinking about it, though... It's very hard. I can't tell till Signing Day."

While many believe that the Canes are the top team challenging the Gators for McWilliams' services, he insists UM and USF are even behind UF as his leader going into Signing Day.

McWilliams adds that the decision may come down to how he feels waking up that morning or once he's sitting in the chair to announce his commitment.

McWilliams visited UF over the weekend.

"It went good. The environment there, the campus was cool," McWilliams said. "My host was Chauncey Gardner. He's a funny dude, and we just had a good time. It was enjoyable just to throw on that jersey and stuff."

The trip was a positive stride for the Gators, but the Canes and Bulls are still alive.

UM had good fortune with the snowstorm in the mid-Atlantic stepping in the way from allowing McWilliams to visit UNC the week he originally planned to. He ended up replacing that official with UM, a decision made easier after Richt and Rumph went in-home with him that week.

"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," he told the Herald at that point.

These will be two decisions to keep a close eye on on Wednesday.



Clayton commits to Illinois, Smith to NIU

A pair of senior prospects from south Miami-Dade County will be heading to the state of Illinois.

Coral Reef defensive back Harvey Clayton committed to Illinois and South Dade running back Ivan Smith to Northern Illinois on Monday night.

Clayton, a former Louisville commit, visited the Illini's campus over the weekend and liked what he saw.

"It was mostly the environment and how everyone took me in as I was their own and made me feel at home," Clayton said.

Smith was feeling confident he would end up committing to the Huskies going into his visit. Everything he witnessed confirmed his notion.

"When I went on my visit, it was amazing and it felt like I was home. They showed major love," Smith said. "I want to give thanks for the NIU coaching staff for this great opportunity."

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 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.

Former UM commit Wiggins announces commitment to Cincinnati

Three-star South Dade defensive back James Wiggins announced a commitment to Cincinnati early Friday morning.

"I really like the school and the coaches," Wiggins said. "They made me feel like I was part of the family."

Wiggins, the No. 14 Miami-Dade prospect according to the Miami Herald, was a soft UM commit until he decided to back off his pledge on Jan. 21 after not hearing much from the new coaching staff.

Wiggins was always high on the Bearcats, even during the season (as noted in this October blog post). The Jan. 15 official visit he took helped in securing his eventual commitment, although at the time he was still committed to the Hurricanes.

Cincinnati has been known to recruit South Florida well and will be in the mix for several other prospects as Signing Day approaches.

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