December 27, 2015

Desmond Phillips recommits to Toledo, will enroll early

Miami Jackson quarterback/wide receiver Desmond Phillips was committed to Toledo for a long time before decommitting and jumping on board with UM in November.

After a short stint as a Hurricanes commit, Phillips decommitted earlier in December and Sunday announced he was back on board with the Rockets.

"I made a decision and talked it over with my family," Phillips said in a Twitter post. "I decided to commit to the University of Toledo and will be enrolling early."

Phillips played quarterback at Jackson but will play slot receiver in college. He displayed his abilities at both positions recently at the Dade County All-Star Game where in an interview with the Herald said the Canes remained in his recruiting picture but added "I just want to play. That's all."

New Toledo coach Jason Candle, who was named Rockets head coach on Dec. 2, provided his insight into what he thinks of Phillips with this tweet shortly after the commitment.

December 25, 2015

Keir Thomas commits to South Carolina

Fresh off back-to-back state championships his junior and senior seasons with Miami Central, defensive end Keir Thomas committed to South Carolina on Christmas Day.

The first thing the 6-2, 249-pound three-star prospect pointed to was the scheme new Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp will run and where he will fit into that scheme. Thomas will play the "Buck," an ultra-important position in the defense where he'll play either defensive end or outside linebacker depending on if the team is in a 4-3 or a 3-4.

Thomas, ranked as the No. 5 senior prospect in Miami-Dade County entering the season, says the combination of Muschamp and South Carolina defensive coordinator Travaris "T-Rob" Robinson has been recruiting him the longest and the hardest and the two were a major key in getting him on board with the Gamecocks on Friday.

"Coach Muschamp coaches hard. I want somebody who's going to stay on me and make sure they get the best out of me," Thoams said. "[Robinson] as well. I can also relate to Coach T-Rob a little bit more because he's from Miami."

Thomas decommitted from FSU in November and at that point was listing Auburn as his leader when Muschamp and Robinson were together on the Tigers' staff.

Arkansas and Tennessee were his other finalists. He visited each of those schools since decommitting from FSU and also was offered by UM.

Although Thomas hasn't visited South Carolina, he felt comfortable making the decision and was somewhat familiar with the school even before Muschamp and Robinson arrived.

"I had a feel for South Carolina before that," Thomas said. "They always have a great defensive line."

In Columbia, S.C., Thomas will be reunited with former Carol City cornerback Rashad Fenton, whom he attended middle school with. The Gamecocks also currently have Skai Moore from University School, Al Harris Jr. from St. Thomas Aquinas and Chris Lammons from Plantation on the roster.

South Carolina has been hot in recruiting with five new commits since Muschamp took over.

December 20, 2015

UM still in recruiting picture for recent decommit

Jackson quarterback/wide receiver Desmond Phillips recently decommitted from UM, but he said on Saturday after the Dade County All-Star Game that the Hurricanes are still an option for him.

What does he want to see from UM to get him back on board?

"I just want to play. That's all," he says.

Phillips says he hasn't put too much thought on his recruitment since decommitting as he was focused on preparation for the All-Star Game and showcasing his talent. It worked as he won MVP honors primarily for his 80-yard quarterback keeper to start the second half that ignited a comeback for a 23-16 North victory.

Here's everything Phillips was talking about after the game.

 

One of the biggest things to look out for regarding Phillips in the All-Star game was that he would get reps at receiver where he's being recruited by colleges.

Phillips caught two passes. The first one was particularly impressive as he ran a sharp route to get open, made the catch and held on as he took a big hit over the middle.

Here he is on that play:

 Phillips, a one-time Toledo commit before committing to UM in November, doesn't have any visits set up at the moment.

December 16, 2015

Recruiting Roundup: Bush recruiting Pie to join him at Michigan

The biggest news Wednesday came in Devin Bush Jr. announcing his commitment to Michigan (read Andre Fernandez's full story on that), but a subplot developing is Bush's recruitment of Miami High wide receiver Keyshawn "Pie" Young.

Bush, the four-star Flanagan linebacker, spoke with Young moments after announcing he was choosing the Wolverines over Florida State. Young, reported by the Miami Herald in October as a Michigan lean, was on FaceTime with Falcons lineman Natrone Ray during the ceremony to watch it live -- "a moment I will never forget," he called it. Shortly afterward, Bush got a hold of Ray's phone and told Young he's next. 

Young is still keeping things open at the moment, saying Alabama, Tennessee and USC are schools he has up there for his services. He has a visit with Tennessee scheduled for Jan. 29 and already visited Michigan during the season.

Oh, then he sent this tweet out and revealed another school he hasn't counted out yet. It's not too far from where he lives.

**UM had Miami Jackson athlete Desmond Phillips, a quarterback for the Generals being recruited as a slot receiver, decommit on Wednesday. He originally committed just three weeks prior after getting the UM offer slightly before the Al Golden firing.

**Another Hurricane recruit whose commitment was accepted in between the Golden firing and Mark Richt hiring, South Dade running back Jawon Hamilton, is wavering on his pledge to the Canes at the moment.

"I haven't received a call from Richt yet, so I'm going to keep my recruiting open," Hamilton said.

That doesn't mean he is decommitting at the moment, he adds.

**Another prospect that did decommit on Wednesday was Hallandale wide receiver Neru N'Shaka, who went back on his commitment to Virginia, saying "it just felt right."

Before anyone starts speculating that a fourth Hallandale prospect is Utah-bound, N'Shaka, who missed his entire senior season with a knee injury, does not hold an offer from the Utes.

He says he's not sure of his top at the moment, but did say the schools recruiting him the hardest are Toledo, Virginia, Syracuse and Mercer -- notice the Cavaliers are still in that group.

**Miami Jackson linebacker Shemar Smith signed with Oregon State on Wednesday after committing to the Beavers last Thursday.

"I chose Oregon State because when I took the official visit it felt like home, they made me feel like family and the chemistry with the team and the coaches is unbelievable," Smith says. "It was an amazing place."

Oregon State assistant and former Miami Central coach Telly Lockette is getting a good one in Smith, who was the Miami Herald's Defensive Player of the Year in 2014.

**At the same ceremony Wednesday, Jackson offensive lineman Carl Thompson also signed early with Alabama State.

**Hialeah American defensive end Jamal Smith committed to UCF on Tuesday upon receiving an offer from the Knights the same day.

Smith joins South Dade offensive tackle Boman Swanson and Norland cornerback Bryon Brown as Dade County seniors committed to UCF.

**Some news that slipped through on Monday but worth noting even if it's late: Hallandale quarterback Tyler Huntley signed with Utah and is set to enroll in the spring semester.

December 12, 2015

FSU back in picture for Keir Thomas, more Miami Central recruiting tidbits

As the Miami Central football team won its fourth state title in a row and fifth in six seasons, the Miami Herald prep sports team proved similarly unstoppable in providing the utmost coverage of South Florida's top athletes.

Keir Thomas, who decommitted from FSU in November, said "Florida State is back in the picture."

 

He was previously listing Auburn as his leader following his decommitment, but now likes South Carolina with Travaris "T-Rob" Robinson taking the defensive coordinator job under Will Muschamp with the Gamecocks.

Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and UCF are other schools he's considering. Thomas says he wants to make a decision "no later than Jan. 1".

**Jamel Cook says he's solid to Florida State, but said he'll probably take visits to Miami, Alabama and South Carolina.

He adds that Auburn lost him without T-Rob there anymore.

 

**Darnell Salomon, a recent USF commit, said he's shut down his recruitment and the Bulls will be his team come National Signing Day.

 

**Navaughn Donaldson, a 2017 offensive line UM commit said the Canes will "100-percent" be his team.

 

**Another 2017 UM commit, Waynmon Steed, gave us an update on his rehab after missing his entire junior season with a left knee sprain.

 

**UF commit Eric Mitchell says his commitment to the Gators is "70 percent" at the moment. Mitchell says Lousiville, UCF and Colorado are the main ones "showing love" to comprise the other 30 percent.

Mitchell wants to visit Louisville on Jan. 15 followed by trips to UCF, Colorado and wrap it up before Signing Day at Florida.

He said all that off camera after he brought 2017 cornerback Allen Jones, who had a 90-yard fumble recovery returned for a touchdown early, into the interview.

 

**James Cook, Dalvin's younger brother and a freshman running back for Central, tore it up with 178 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

It's early in his recruitment as a 2019 recruit, but he did mention that the Canes were the school he grew up rooting for. Dalvin being at FSU may make a commitment to UM tough for him, however. Listen to everything he had to say in this one-on-one with Manny Navarro.

 

 **Also, a great moment in how injured 2017 cornerback Christopher Williams was brought out onto the field first in his wheelchair. Jamel Cook swapped jerseys with him for the game. He speaks: 

 

**One more interview with FIU commit and three-time varsity champ with Central, Donavan Thompson.

 

*Herald sportswriters David Furones, Manny Navarro and Andre Fernandez all contributed to this report.

December 06, 2015

Richt prioritizing linebacker recruiting, more UM recruiting nuggets

It really seems as if new Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt has taken a liking to the linebackers former coach Al Golden had committed.

He's made them a priority, already having some form of contact with commit Shaquille Quarterman and former commit Zach McCloud, who decommitted after the Al Golden firing but is close to jumping back into the class. Richt also watched Jacksonville Raines linebacker and UM commit Michael Pinckney play in his final high school game, a 43-23 defeat at the hands of now four-time Class 4A state champion Booker T. Washington.

Pinckney was a monster and all over the field. He finished the night with seven tackles (four solo), three for loss, an interception, a forced fumble, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. Again, he was extremely impressive on the biggest stage at state in Orlando.

Richt, who was at the Citrus Bowl with running backs coach and former Booker T. coach Tim "Ice" Harris, as well as linebackers coach Hurlie Brown, had to have come away impressed.

 

"It's a great honor," said Pinckney of having Richt come out to watch him so early in his tenure. "That means they really care about me. That's why I committed -- because I know they care about me -- and I have a chance to do some great things in that program."

Richt is scheduled for an in-home visit with Pinckney on Monday.

What are Pinckney's thoughts on the Richt hiring?

"It's a great hire. He's a great coach," says Pinckney, who is set to be an early enrollee. "I feel like he can come in and do some great things for the University of Miami. I'm ready to play for him. I'm ready to get down there in January."

Pinckney played with a UM headband under his helmet -- one he says he wears for every game.

"It's pride. It's U pride," said Pinckney. "I've been a Cane since who knows when."

[[Check out this awesome picture of him coming out of the tunnel before the game.]]

Richt spent a portion of the game sitting in the stands and he just so happened to have a seat next to another linebacker commit in Quarterman.

Thanks to coordinator of on-campus recruiting Jorge Baez for capturing this moment with Richt and Quarterman combining to throw up the U.

With Pinckney's visit on deck in Jacksonville, McCloud got a visit from Richt, Brown and interim coach Larry Scott in his abode in Palm Beach County.

By the looks of the tweet, the smiles and the U's, it was a very successful trip.

As I've previously reported, McCloud has been planning a recommitment to the Canes for a while. It is likely to occur on his upcoming Dec. 13 visit -- a weekend that is also scheduled to host Pinckney, Quarterman, committed four-star quarterback Jack Allison and a slew of other top targets, according to 247 Sports.

Speaking of Allison, there's been a lot of talk about him lately because Richt had one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the nation committed to him while at Georgia in Washington-based five-star Jacob Eason. There's the thought floating around that Eason may follow Richt to the Canes.

Allison made an interesting public statement Sunday night.

One of the other recruits expected to be on UM's campus this upcoming weekend is Patrick Bethel, a four-star defensive end out of Vero Beach, who many believe is a Cane lean. Peter Ariz of CanesInSight.com reported that Bethel also had Richt and Brown visit him Sunday.

A couple of current three-star commits in Fort Lauderdale defensive end Jaquwan Nelson and Deltona tight end Evan Hinson remain firmly committed to UM and await to see how things play out regarding whether Richt will continue to recruit them as he begins combining recruiting boards at Georgia and Miami.

Hinson, who had 32 receptions, 541 yards and six touchdowns this season, was quoted in the Daytona Beach News-Journal as saying, "If they don't want me [anymore], that's probably not the school for me, but if they do want to still recruit me, I'll be right with them and stay committed."

Kentucky is a potential Plan-B destination for Nelson, who finished an incredible senior season with 75 tackles, 24 for loss, 18 sacks, three forced fumbles a fumble recovery and an interception. 

December 05, 2015

UM commit Tyler Byrd plays final high school game in Miami

Tyler Byrd
UM commit and Naples athlete Tyler Byrd played his final high school game in the city where his collegiate career will take off.

Byrd and his Golden Eagles were eliminated in the Class 6A state semifinal against, falling 41-21 against Miami Central at Traz Powell Stadium on Friday.

Byrd postgame called his time at Naples "the greatest four years of my life," but he probably hopes the next four years are even greater as a strong commit to the Hurricanes. He's pleased with the Mark Richt hiring.

"I'm very excited, very blessed to be in this position," Byrd said. "Richt was a great hire. He's a great coach. He offered me when he was at Georgia."

Byrd, who played nearly every snap on both sides of the ball in the state semifinal but is being recruited as a cornerback by UM, has a few goals set out for himself for his time as a Cane.

"Hopefully win a national title, and hopefully come in my freshman year and fight for a starting position," Byrd said. "You go to schools because of the competition. It's going to be a competition."

Byrd caught three passes for 61 yards and a touchdown on Friday.

After the game, Central coaches called him over and threw up the U with him in front of the cameras (pictured below).

Byrd and Central coaches

November 30, 2015

Elite Central WR Darnell Salomon commits to USF

Miami Central wide receiver Darnell Salomon, a 6-2, 200-pound four-star prospect and preseason No. 1 senior in Miami-Dade County according to the Miami Herald, committed to USF Monday morning.

Salomon took to Twitter to make his announcement.

"I talked it over with my family and I am now committed to USF#Go Bulls," Salomon tweeted.

Salomon is the first four-star player in the 247 Sports Composite Rankings that USF has been able to reel in since coach Willie Taggart took over in December of 2012.

"They are getting a big-time wide receiver. This is a prospect South Florida is missing on their team," says Central coach Roland Smith. "Darnell has good body control, hands and speed. He will make an impact when he gets to South Florida."

Reports in late September linked Salomon to UM as his favorite school. In the summer, Salomon named a top five to the Herald with neither UM nor USF in it, so the commitment came as a surprise to many recruiting followers.

Salomon was once rated a five-star recruit by Rivals. He had incredible sophomore and junior campaigns with Champagnat Catholic where he totaled more than 1,500 receiving yards and tallied 16 touchdowns, winning a state championship with the Lions in 2013.

"Salomon has talent to be a No. 1 wide receiver at the next level for USF," says Mike Tunsil, Salomon's coach at Champagnat. "USF is getting a great kid who is very coachable and a great team player. Coach Taggart and [wide receivers coach Ron] Dugans are getting a hard-working kid whose best football is ahead of him."

After transferring to Miami Central for his senior season, Salomon has posted 23 receptions for 398 yards and six touchdowns for the Rockets as they prepare to face Naples in a Class 6A state semifinal on Friday.

 

November 25, 2015

Desmond Phillips commits to Canes

Dynamic Miami Jackson athlete Desmond Phillips committed to UM on Wednesday on an unofficial visit to campus to watch practice.

Jackson coach Earl Little, a former Hurricane, confirmed the commitment with this tweet.

Phillips plays quarterback for the Generals, but the 5-10, 170-pound three-star senior is being recruited by UM to play slot receiver.

Phillips was previously committed to Toledo and decommitted on Nov. 10. He attended the Canes' Nov. 7 home win against Virginia after receiving a UM offer in mid-October.

Phillips still has official visits to Toledo and Temple scheduled in December, and he told CaneSport.com he plans on taking those two trips.

Sam Bruce out for regional final due to 'internal matter'

St. Thomas Aquinas star wide receiver Sam Bruce will not play in the Raiders' Region 4-7A final against Mater Academy on Friday.

Coach Roger Harriott said Bruce, a 2016 UM commit, will be held out due to an "internal matter."

Harriott added that the matter is "nothing serious." 

Bruce's status beyond Friday's playoff game against Mater is uncertain, and Harriott said the team will reassess the situation next week.

Bruce declined to comment when reached.

Bruce, the 5-8, 178-pound four-star slot receiver, provides the Raiders offense with unparalleled agility, acceleration and ability to make defenders miss in the open field.

On the year, Bruce has 40 receptions for 364 yards and three touchdowns with three more touchdowns on the ground.

Friday's matchup against Mater Academy pins the Raiders against former coach Rocco Casullo on Aquinas' home field.