January 04, 2016

Jawon Hamilton decommits from UM; UCF, FAU now at top

Jawon Hamilton. Photo by David Furones//FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

On the same day, the Miami Hurricanes announced the departure of former South Dade wide receiver Tyre Brady from the program, another Buccaneer has disconnected from UM.

South Dade running back Jawon Hamilton, a three-star prospect, announced a decommitment from the Hurricanes on Monday, posting a note written from his phone on Twitter.

"At this moment I would like to announce that I'm decommitting from the University of Miami from here on out," Hamilton said in his tweet. "I'm going to open back up my recruiting and move forward with the process and make the decision that's best for me. Thanks for giving me the opportunity."

After originally committing to the Hurricanes on Nov. 22, Hamilton (5-9, 185 pounds) grew increasingly concerned that he hadn't heard from new Hurricanes coach Mark Richt.

When asked why he decommitted Monday by the Miami Herald, Hamilton said, "Better opportunities somewhere else" in a message.

UCF and FAU now top his list, he says.

He's already visited FAU and will take a trip to Orlando to check out UCF on Jan. 15 at the culmination of the recruiting dead period.

Hamilton says he may decide between the Knights and Owls after the UCF visit.

"I think I'm going to decide between those two after the trip," he said. "I'll see how that goes and go from there.

According to his 247 Sports timeline, Hamilton previously had visits scheduled to UM on Jan. 22 and Kansas on Jan. 29, but he says currently doesn't have plans beyond UCF.

Louisville also offered Hamilton in December.

Hamilton was named South Florida Player of the Year this season by Warren Henry Auto Group and Tournament of Champions, Inc.

The Canes still have a commitment from four-star back Travis Homer of West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy, who is solid to UM.

December 31, 2015

South Florida 2019 prospects make MaxPreps Freshman All-American Team

James Cook
Miami Central RB James Cook. Photo: Manny Navarro//MIAMI HERALD

A total of six freshmen from Miami-Dade and Broward County earned their way onto the MaxPreps Freshman All-American Football Team -- five of them making the first team.

OL – Dontae Lucas, 6-5, 290, Booker T. Washington (Miami)

RB – Nay'quan Wright, 5-9, 185, Carol City (Miami)

RB – James Cook, 5-11, 190, Central (Miami)

LB – Ge'mon Eaford, 6-2, 215, Deerfield Beach (Fla.)

DB – Kenny McIntosh, 6-1, 204, University (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

LB – Diamante Howard, 6-2, 200, Southridge (Miami) (2nd team)

Check out the full MaxPreps 2015 Football Freshman All-American Team here.



December 30, 2015

USA Today All-USA Florida Team loaded with South Florida recognitions

Flanagan coach Devin Bush Sr. won Coach of the Year and American Heritage defensive end Brian Burns earned Defensive Player of the Year honors as USA Today released its All-USA Florida Football Team on Wednesday.

Here's what USA Today had to say about the two.

First, Bush:

Bush led the Falcons to their first-ever state crown this season with a victory over Osceola in the Class 8A final. Led by the coach’s son, linebacker Devin Bush Jr., defense was Flanagan’s calling card. The Falcons allowed a measly 6.4 points per game in the state’s highest classification and posted three shutouts in the postseason.

And Burns:

Burns was a menace for the Patriots this fall, recording 60 tackles (19 for loss) and 15.5 sacks. The U.S. Army All-American reportedly has a top two of Florida and Florida State.

The rest of the all-state team was loaded with players from Miami-Dade and Broward County.

First Team

DL Nick Bosa (6-4, 255, Sr.), St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale)

DL Brian Burns (6-5, 220, Sr.), American Heritage (Plantation)

DL Keir Thomas (6-1, 245, Sr.), Miami Central (Miami)

LB Devin Bush Jr. (5-11, 225, Sr.), Flanagan (Pembroke Pines)

DB Trayvon Mullen (6-1, 175, Sr.), Coconut Creek (Pompano Beach)

K James McCourt (6-1, 185, Sr.), St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale)

Second Team

QB Tyler Huntley (6-2, 185, Sr.), Hallandale

OL Navaughn Donaldson (6-6, 335, Jr.), Miami Central (Miami)

DL Nik Bonitto (6-3, 215, So.), St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale)

DL Joshua Uche (6-1, 220, Sr.), Columbus (Miami)

LB Vosean Joseph (6-2, 210, Sr.), Norland (Miami)

LB Emmett Rice (6-3, 200, Sr.), Norland (Miami)

DB Jamel Cook (6-4, 185, Sr.), Miami Central (Miami)

DB Stanford Samuels (6-1, 165, Jr.), Flanagan (Pembroke Pines)

In addition to Donaldson, University of Miami commitments Travis Homer of West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy, Shaquille Quarterman of Orange Park Oakleaf, Patrick Bethel of Vero Beach, Michael Pinckney of Jacksonville Raines and Tyler Byrd of Naples were recognized. Former UM commits Uche and Ahmmon Richards also were named.

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