Freddie Pinder, four-star wide receiver from Miami Southridge, took some time to speak with me last Sunday at the UM 7-on-7. Here's everything he was talking about in this exclusive interview with the Miami Herald.
Besides Miami, the 2016 prospect lists West Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina and Louisville among his top college choices.
Regarding Miami, Pinder says, "They still hold a place in the top. They still have a chance."
The 6-5 receiver would like to visit the other schools more often but distance plays a factor. That works in favor of the hometown Hurricanes.
"My mom wants me to stay home, but she's going to support me wherever I go," he says.
Pinder adds that he is willing to travel regardless.
It finally puts UM on par with other elite college football programs when it comes to recruiting.
Having all the facilities and resources at its disposal for the first time, the University of Miami hosted the Adidas South Florida Shootout, a 7-on-7 tournament that brought together more than 900 athletes from 48 different high schools.
The Canes had games going on the Cobb Stadium soccer field, Greentree Practice Fields and the intramural fields for a total of 12 fields holding games at once.
Several UM recruits and commitments were in attendance, and all of UM's future plans, including the new Adidas uniforms and the Sun Life Stadium renovations, were pitched, as pictured below.
Current UM players, along with the coaches, were active in the effort of hosting it for the program. Quarterback Brad Kaaya was seen talking to several offensive recruits and giving them pointers.
The multi-talented Chad Thomas, a rising sophomore defensive end who was once a five-star recruit out of Booker T. Washington, was on the turntables as the DJ for the festivities.
Here's a sight Canes fans could get used to seeing -- 2016 commit and four-star stud receiver from St. Thomas Aquinas Sam Bruce on Greentree Practice Fields.
St. Thomas 2017 five-star wide receiver Trevon Grimes has previously mentioned Ohio State as a leader in his recruitment, but he says talks with Bruce and the atmosphere of the 7-on-7 have him strongly considering Miami now.
The 6-2 standout was stellar in the action I saw. He made resistance from opposing corners appear futile, as seen in this video captured by Alejandro Narciso, snagging a ball over a Jackson defender in the end zone.
A video posted by @ale_narciso_canes on May 31, 2015 at 8:15am PDT
Gulliver has four players currently committed to the Canes. 2017 running back commit Robert Burns was absent, but here are the three 2016 commits -- from left to right: DE Joseph Jackson, ATH Cedrick Wright and WR Dionte Mullins.
Four-star middle linebacker commit Shaquille Quarterman didn't have his Orange Park Oakleaf team in the tournament, but decided to make the five-hour drive anyway to check out the action. He told me his commitment is very solid.
Another LB commit but in the Class of 2017, Tyler Dunning, reaffirmed his commitment is very strong and he is trying to recruit his teammates on an elite Dillard defense. 2017 DE Jon Ford has an offer and 2016 DT Aaron Thompson is waiting on one but receiving interest from the Canes.
It doesn't stop at 2017. Even younger recruits were present, including Thomas Burns, a cornerback out of Miami Northwestern who is one of four commits in the Canes' Class of 2018 and current UM CB Artie Burns' brother.
Former UM and Marlins catcher Charles Johnson was back on his old stomping grounds watching his son Brandon, a three-star recruit out of Plantation American Heritage. CJ told me he also planned to check out the baseball team's regional final at 7 p.m. at Mark Light Field.
Brandon Johnson has a UM offer, but Charles told me he hasn't been recruited all that actively by UM coaches as of late. CJ also said he definitely wants his son to end up at his alma mater.
In the end, Coconut Creek won the championship game 21-14 over Flanagan. Here are the #CreekBoyz holding up the trophy. Congrats to coach Kareem Reid and wide receiver Binjimen Victor, who appeared to get hurt in the final but re-entered the game for the finish.
Those are my pictures on a bunch of people throwing up the U and all the tremendous setups put together by the Hurricane coaches, as well as staff members Josh Darrow, Eric Josephs and Brooke Wilson, among others.
Friday night's baseball meeting between the Miami Hurricanes and FIU Panthers at the Coral Gables Regional, the two school's first meeting since 2008, featured 29 players that played high school ball in either Miami-Dade or Broward County. Fifteen of them play for the Canes, 14 for the Panthers.
Miami Jackson athlete Desmond Phillips announced on Monday that he has committed to Toledo.
The Generals left-handed quarterback in the Class of 2016 is listed as an athlete on recruiting services at 5-10 and 170 pounds and had a total of 14 offers including others from Cincinnati, FIU, Marshall, Pitt, USF, Syracuse and Temple.
**I wrote a feature on Central both in the paper and online. Make sure you check that out as well. You should also check out Bill Daley's write-up on Columbus' win over St. Pete Lakewood.**
Here are a few more notes I came away with from the Rockets’ Green and White Game on Saturday.
--That defense is to be feared! Half of the guys on the starting unit already look like they’re in college. Donavan Thompson, Keir Thomas (pictured to the left) and Eric Mitchell are absolutely fierce. Mitchell, came off the edge unblocked and drilled quarterback Anthony “Mo” Hasan so hard I was concerned for Mo’s health. He turned out to be OK; he's a tough kid.
--Regarding four-star receiver Darnell Salomon, he broke down for me why he liked each of his top five.
Oregon: “Oregon has that fast-pace offense, spread team. Great for a receiver like me.”
Oklahoma: “I’m great with the receivers coach [Dennis Simmons]. We’ve got a bond. I talk to him like every week.”
Texas: “They throw the ball 40 times a game.”
Alabama: “Always been a fan of them.”
FSU: “They’re starting all their freshmen receivers and they become big time, so that’s great.”
Salomon (pictured to the right) added Miami is also recruiting him hard and he talks to running backs coach Tim “Ice” Harris every two weeks. He says the Hurricanes would be next if he extended his top to six.
Thompson, a three-star middle linebacker at 5-10, 220 says no one is ahead between Arkansas, Oregon State and USF, but he does say former Central coach Telly Lockette being an assistant at Oregon State gives the Beavers an advantage.
“He kind of knows me, kind of knows my weaknesses, and if I go up there, he can basically keep an eye on me and tell me how it is instead of sugar-coating it,” Thompson said.
Like I mention in my story, Waynmon Steed told me UM coaches have said he reminds them of Sean Spence.
“I want to start my own legacy, but to be compared to Sean Spence, that’s a good comparison. I don’t mind it.”
About being committed to the hometown team, Steed, who also has offers from FAU and Texas-San Antonio says, “It’s a great thing. [I’ve] got to represent 305. My family is a big fan of Miami and I just get to stay home.”
While committed, Steed adds that he’s still open as more offers begin to come in.
Jamel Cook calls himself 100-percent committed to FSU but still wants to enjoy the recruiting process and take his visits – Alabama, Auburn, Louisville, UM, FSU are in the mix for visits from him.
He likes the family atmosphere at FSU with former teammates Dalvin Cook, DaVante Phillips and Calvin Brewton all up there.
“With me going up there, there’s just family. I have people that push me to work hard, stay behind me and push me to do what’s right,” Cook says.
Another Cook, James, who is an eighth grader now and rising freshman that will be enrolling at Central in August, already has hype surrounding him. That’s because he’s Dalvin Cook’s little brother. I’m certainly excited to see what he can do once the season starts as he’s already receiving recruiting interest from major programs.
Coconut Creek hosted its spring game against South Dade and anyone who’s anyone in college football had a coach at the game.
More than 20 college football programs were represented. A full list of schools I saw watching the action is listed at the bottom of the post.
When a team has a pair of highly-sought-after four-star rising seniors like cornerback Trayvon Mullen and wide receiver Binjimen Victor, you can understand why there were so many followers.
With Victor scoring twice and Mullen scoring another touchdown, the Cougars’ stars shined as Coconut Creek took the exhibition against South Dade 21-14.
Victor was phenomenal in one-on-one situations. It was clear it was going to be difficult for South Dade to cover him from the start, especially with top Bucs recruit James Wiggins, a UM commit, held out of the game.
Victor went to fade routes again and again and it was simply too easy for the 6-4 receiver to go up and get the ball over smaller defenders. Both his touchdowns came in the second half.
Mullen (pictured to the left) was in shutdown corner mode. Whatever receiver he was matched up against didn’t stand a chance of getting open. He’s too quick, long and turns his hips like the elite cover corner he is.
Mullen made a spectacular touchdown catch on the final play of the first half after quarterback Jhakari Harrison threw a backward pass to Malek Young, who then launched it more than 50 yards to a diving Mullen in the end zone.
Young, a Georgia three-star DB commit in the Class of 2016, also had a fumble recovery and was active on defense.
2017 defensive end Lashawn Paulino has a very impressive frame to grow into at 6-4 and 220 pounds and certainly looks the part of the prototype end in college. He lists a Temple offer and is sure to add more very soon.
Here’s everything Mullen and Victor were talking about after the game. Both are wide open in their recruitment with offers from essentially every program in the nation.
While most of the college coaches showed up to see Creek’s stars and Wiggins out for South Dade, they still had to come away impressed with several South Dade prospects, especially when the Bucs built a 14-0 lead in the first half.
Wiggins, who is committed to UM, was held out as a precaution after he clashed knees with a teammate at a recent practice.
Coach Nate Hudson says UM loves “his athleticism – similar to things we want to do – attacking the ball, his IQ of the game. He’s a sponge. He’s an athlete.”
Running back Jawon Hamilton excelled early on when South Dade was building its lead. He scored a touchdown and had a few other long runs, showing a quick burst and ability to accelerate and create separation from a chasing defender.
There’s no question Hamilton was aided by a strong, fundamentally sound offensive line, specifically the right side of it with 2016 tackle Boman Swanson (6-4, 245) and 2017 guard Kyron Taylor (6-1, 275).
Hudson says Swanson’s patience in essentially redshirting two seasons ago has paid major dividends for him in his development. Colleges are noticing, and reports state that Taylor is receiving UM interest.
Darnell Durham, a 2017 wide receiver who only stands at 5-8, made an impressive leaping catching against a Creek defender in the end zone for a South Dade touchdown.
Another pair of rising juniors at DB for the Bucs had interceptions in the end zone in Marquise Parnell and Woobendy Guerrier.
COLLEGES IN ATTENDANCE:
Miami, FSU, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Clemson, Texas, Michigan, Louisville, Maryland, West Virginia, Minnesota, Cincinnati, FAU, Temple, Ohio, Florida A&M, West Florida, Liberty and Prairie View A&M
It’s clear that coach Javier Valdes is the right man for the job at Coral Reef.
With two years of head coaching experience building Mater Academy’s program to the point of its first playoff appearance last season, Valdes takes over at Coral Reef, a program that has seen success in recent years but then fell on tough times with a 2-8 season in 2014.
A new coach, a new district (15-8A) and solid prospects in a talent-rich neighborhood in the south has football at the Reef back on the rise.
“The guys have already taken into the culture and the mentality that we’re trying to build and are working really hard,” Valdes says. “I feel like there’s a lot of talent here that was untapped, and I think if you give them the system, they buy in and they work their tail off, they start building championship habits. Good things are going to follow.”
--Harvey Clayton Jr., a 2016 athlete who already lists offers from Louisville, Temple and Alcorn State, tops the senior class for the Barracudas.
At 6-2, 185 pounds, he already has ideal size and ball skills to translate to a cornerback that could match up with possession receivers at the next level.
Offensively, he lines up at wide receiver and can go up and get a ball over a defender in single coverage – like he did at one point in the end zone in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“We’re expecting a lot of big things from him – not only as a leader on the field – but as a playmaker,” Valdes says. “I think Harvey gives us an X-factor any time we line up on Friday nights.”
N.C. State, Miami and Cincinnati have also shown interest recently.
--2017 linebacker/safety Colvin Alford received his first offer from Temple on Tuesday and has received interest from the likes of Nebraska, Florida, Miami, USF, N.C. State, FIU and FAU.
After watching him, it’s obvious why so many schools like him as he heads into the summer between his sophomore and junior years. At 6-0 and close to 200 pounds, Alford presents Coral Reef with versatility on defense both at linebacker and safety. He had an impressive interception on a poorly thrown ball at the scrimmage.
“Dynamic playmaker, he’s got a physical presence but he’s athletic enough to cover at safety or outside backer,” Valdes says. “He makes plays in the box, he makes plays all over the field. Eventually he’ll be making plays with the ball in his hands.
Alford lists Nebraska as an early front-runner once he gets an offer from the Corn Huskers.
--Brian Castro, a 2016 leader on the offensive line at 6-2, 250 was a beast on Saturday.
“Real smart football player and student,” Valdes says. “He plays physical and is the leader of the offensive line, brings the nastiness and is going to help our power run game.”
--Randy Shannon Jr. was out on the field playing middle linebacker and wearing his father’s old No. 22 that Randy Shannon wore as a Hurricane.
With his father now the defensive coordinator with the Florida Gators, one might assume he may end up at UF – if not through scholarship, as a preferred walk-on – but Valdes says the scholar athlete who brings “a calming presence” to the defense will likely go a separate route.
“They don’t want to play for each other; they’re going to make it their own way,” he says – a notion that Shannon Jr. himself confirmed to me.
Shannon Jr., a 6-0, 215-pound 2016 prospect, has seen interest from FIU, FAU, Buffalo, Georgetown, Cornell, Colgate and Fordham.
--Coral Reef has a slew of talented 2018 prospects that its new coaching staff can surely build upon. There’s quite a few to list, but two that really stood out to me were running back Jordon Donaldson and lineman Jaylaan Williams.
Donaldson possesses the vision, burst and ability to make sharp, quick cuts. Williams is an absolute monster at 6-3 and weighs between 280 and 290 as he wraps up his freshman year; he was seen lining up at left tackle.
--2016 RB Mehki Ervan runs with a low center of gravity at 5-7 and can run a defender over if he doesn’t meet him with proper technique. He also has great footwork.
Coral Reef will hold its spring game on Wednesday against Edison at Harris Field.
Miramar held its spring classic on Friday afternoon, and by watching the kids play and the coaches conduct the scrimmage, you couldn’t tell this is the same team that had to forfeit its playoff game last season due to sanctions by the FHSAA for an academic scandal.
Former Booker T. Washington defensive line coach Pierre Senatus has taken over as head coach, cleaned up the program, brought his winning mentality to a program that has seen plenty of winning and the scandal is behind the Patriots.
I’ll have more on how Miramar has moved on from that in the coming week, but first let’s focus on some of the athletes that stood out, some of which have had to wait their turns to finally blossom because of the players they've been behind on the depth chart in past years.
--I was very impressed with 2017 safety Brian Edwards, who already looks like a college safety on the field. He showed great range in his pursuit, going from sideline to sideline.
Syracuse was impressed too. With a coach at the scrimmage, the Orange offered him Friday. Edwards added to an offer sheet that includes UM, Clemson, Cincinnati and interest from South Carolina and Alabama among others.
--A pair of 2016 Patriots were offered by Coastal Carolina on Thursday in defensive end Terrell Lucas and offensive lineman Obinna Nwankwo.
Lucas is already 6-2, 231 and has a tremendous motor off the edge. Nwankwo is 280 pounds and paves a hole with force when a runner gets behind him.
--Miramar’s projected starter at quarterback, senior University School transfer D’Angelo Fulford, looked smooth with his delivery, flashed a gifted arm, showed some escape ability and stood even taller than his impressive 6-1 frame in the pocket.
All he needs to do is continue to learn the Patriot’s tempo offense and put the right touch on his deep ball to connect with his speedy receivers.
--Fulford connected with 6-4 senior receiver Kyle Anthony for two touchdowns at the scrimmage. Anthony displayed tremendous rapport with Fulford, ability to go up and use his body to get the ball as a possession receiver, and Senatus said he also has developed chemistry with Caleb Thomas when he is at quarterback.
Anthony picked up three offers at the FIU scrimmages last weekend – Colgate, Florida A&M and Alcorn State – and is getting looked at by “all the HBCUs and all the Ivy League schools,” according to Senatus, but one would imagine his recruitment will explode in not time with his size and skill set. Anthony has a 5.0 grade-point average to go with all his tools on the field.
“His skill set, his speed, he has that tremendous ball radius, phenomenal burst, great route-running, great ball recognition,” Senatus says. “We feel we have one of the top receivers in the state of Florida right now.”
--Senatus calls 2016 cornerback Korel Smith “the honeybadger.” At the scrimmage, he presented his ball skills with an acrobatic interception in the end zone in single coverage.
--Senatus added that the cornerback combination of Smith and 2016 recruit Shemar Jean-Charles is one of the top tandems in the Southeast United States.
--Linebacker Deshondre Pitts is a beast at linebacker, shedding off blocks in the box and ripping through the line for tackles for loss. Pitts is also a captain on defense and earns the praise of both Senatus and defensive coordinator A.J. Scott.
“He has some of the highest football IQ that you’ll see in the United States. He is a coach on the field. He’s our field general,” Senatus said. “The intensity and the tenacity that you’ll see him bring on the field is some of the best that you’ll see in the country.”
*Pitts is driving the Miramar equipment crew crazy, breaking his own facemask and the facemask of a teammate running back all in the past week.
After Shaquery Wilson took his talents to Georgia and several other talented defensive prospects moved on, Coral Gables is looking strong with its senior class once again.
At the top of the list is running back Amir Rasul, who at 6-0, 192 pounds is a four-star recruit on most sites.
Rasul committed to UM in January and had his recruitment blow up since, gathering more than 20 offers from all over the country. Even USC has come all the way to the East Coast to visit Coral Gables and check on Rasul.
“He’s offered from coast to coast,” Coral Gables coach Roger Pollard said. “Every school in the nation has recognized his talent.”
With all the options that have opened up for Rasul, who is also an elite track talent and is spending the spring away from the football team running track, his commitment to the Canes should be considered a soft one. When asked, Pollard could not confirm how firm Rasul’s commitment is currently but said he will sit down with him when he rejoins the team in June.
While college coaches love Rasul’s track speed, they love even more that he runs like a football player with that speed.
Amir Rasul after a 195-yard, 4-TD performance against Coral Park last season. DAVID FURONES
“He doesn’t run like a track guy. He runs like a really fast running back, and I think that’s why so many people are really in love with him and what he can do for their program,” Pollard says. “People want home run hitters, and with the type of speed he possesses, he’s a home run hitter.”
Coral Gables’ trio of senior linebackers in Shakur Cooper, Gee Stanley and Robert Brown is one that will spearhead the Cavaliers’ defense and pick up some steam in the players’ recruitment in the fall.
Cooper, at 6-1, 210 pounds, is a four-year starter in Pollard’s defense. He was second-team all-state last season and recently received an offer from FAMU to add to a list that includes Appalachian State and Alcorn State.
“If he was 6-2, he’d be recruited by every school in the nation because his ability to rush the passer – you can ask anybody that’s played against us – he’s got a special knack, a lot of unteachable skill,” Pollard says. “Once that ball moves an inch, he moves two feet.”
Pollard plans on using Cooper, who goes by the nickname of “Pooh Bear,” all over the field his senior season and not restrict him to just outside linebacker.
Stanley (6-2, 200) has started since he was a sophomore and is a sideline-to-sideline outside linebacker who has also seen time at strong safety and lists offers from Alcorn State and Robert Morris since receiving an offer from Temple in the fall.
“He’s really quick in the box, quick with his feet and really knowledgeable in what offenses are trying to do against us,” Pollard says.
Brown (6-1, 195) is a South Miami transfer that Pollard describes as an “effort linebacker.”
“He’s going to run, he’s going to take you down,” Pollard says. “Wherever the ball is, he’s going to do whatever he can to get there.”
Alcorn State and Bryant University have offered Brown, but he’s also receiving interest from FIU and New Mexico.
“I don’t think there will be another linebacking corps with this talent. Usually you’ll have one stud, but with these three, pick your poison,” Pollard says. “If you block one, where’s the other?”
Quarterback Voshon Waiters currently lists one offer (FAMU), but Pollard expects his recruitment to heat up over the summer and in the fall once the season starts.
“I think with the numbers he’s going to put up this year, people are going to hit the brakes when they come by Coral Gables, and it’s not just for Amir Rasul,” Pollard says.
Pollard wants to take him to camps at FIU and FAU because he feels with how meticulously quarterbacks are recruited and offered college coaches need to see him in person.
He says Waiters has solid size at 6-1 to see over the line and runs the Cavaliers’ spread offense, which is very popular in college, to perfection for his unit.
I had a chance to catch up with Sheldrick Redwine, the 6-1, 193-pound cornerback coming out of Miami Killian that will be enrolling at UM – which he has previously called his “dream school” – for the start of the Summer A session on Monday and moving in to campus on Sunday.
The offseason has not slowed Redwine down. He’s still working as if it’s South Dade week for the Killian Cougars.
“I’ve been doing two-a-days with my teammates,” says Redwine, the physical corner who also possesses the quickness of the feet and hips to keep up with speedy receivers. “We go to a gym, we get worked out by a trainer. Then we go [back home], eat and do field workouts. Then after that we’ll do lighter drills.”
FROM THE K TO THE U: Sheldrick Redwine and Jaquan Johnson on Signing Day. DAVID FURONES
With high school teammate Jaquan Johnson already at UM since the spring, Redwine says he’s also been in contact with another pair of Dade County defensive backs – senior Deon Bush (Columbus) and junior Artie Burns (Northwestern).
“They’re just telling me how it is and what to expect from the DBs. Just to come in confident,” Redwine says. “[Johnson] says he likes it, he’s coming along. He’s learning the playbook and the game speed is starting to slow down for him.”
Redwine is coming in with the mindset that he wants to take his time learning during the summer but then seriously compete for playing time in the fall.
With UM’s deep, talented and experienced secondary, however, a redshirt could be a possibility.
Redwine says if that happens “I’ll just take it in stride, just practice hard every day, try to get better and earn my spot.”
Redwine was a Louisville commit very late in the recruiting process before announcing he was headed to Coral Gables instead with a Signing Day hat trick.
He let Louisville know what his move would be the day before.
“They were cool with it,” Redwine says of Louisville’s response.
Cane coaches’ reaction?
“They reacted great. They said they couldn’t wait. They were happy they could get me to flip.”
The dynamic Redwine finished his senior season with five interceptions — two returned for touchdowns — three forced fumbles, 33 tackles and four blocked kicks.