December 12, 2015

Samuels wears FSU gloves to state title game, Flanagan recruiting notes

Flanagan didn't win its first state championship without the help of some exceptional prospects. Team Herald went inside the recruiting outlook for some of the Falcons' top prospects.

Stanford Samuels III, a highly-touted 2017 cornerback had the game-clinching interception return for a touchdown. 

Samuels wore FSU gloves to the title game, but the four-star prospect wouldn't show his hand in recruiting after the game.

With the Seminole gloves on, though, is he leaning toward heading to Tallahassee as the son of a former Seminole?

"I don't want to say that," he said.

Samuels did say FSU is among his top schools recruiting him, a list that also includes Georgia, Alabama, Maryland and Michigan.

Samuels isn't ready to proclaim that Mark Richt heading to UM boosts the Hurricanes with him. He says he would need to speak with him and his new assistants.

 

 **Dredrick Snelson and Devin Gil reaffirmed that their commitment to Minnesota and Michigan respectively are strong.

  

 

**Clevan Thomas, a 2017 wide receiver, holds offers from Michigan, Louisville and Temple, but he says the schools showing him the most love right now are UCF, USF, FAU and Texas.

 

COMING UP

**Four-star linebacker Devin Bush Jr. will announce his college commitment on Wednesday. While he didn't discuss his recruiting Saturday night, here's his postgame reaction to going out on top with a state title.

 

BONUS MATERIAL: Wide receiver Jahcour Pearson, a Northern Illinois commitment, postgame interview.

 

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 11, 2015

Bruce reaffirms UM commitment, more recruiting notes from STA

Tons of recruiting notes and content from St. Thomas Aquinas' state championship victory on Friday night... starting... NOW.

Sam Bruce once again reaffirmed how strong his commitment is to UM. Bruce stuck with the Canes through the Al Golden firing and things remain the same now that Mark Richt was hired.

 

"We had a couple guys decommit, but just how I tell Michael Irvin, 'We're going to build off who we have and what we have,'" Bruce said.

He continued: "Miami's home. Who doesn't want to play at home in front of their home crowd? Who cares that it ain't that many people in the stands? It ain't that many people here [at the Citrus Bowl], but we got the job done, right? As long as we're getting the job done, who cares?"

Bruce also called Mark Richt a "phenomenal hire."

It was special for Bruce to get to share the moment with UM wide receivers coach Kevin Beard, who was in the front row of the stands. Beard coached Bruce when the two were together at University School under current St. Thomas coach Roger Harriott.

"That just shows how important I am to him," Bruce said. "He's an important dude to me. He's been a father figure in my life since eighth grade. KB is KB."

Bruce, who caught the Raider's first touchdown in a 45-10 rout, was one of three Hurricane commits to win a state title Friday night.

 

**Michael Irvin II said he's been waiting to play at UM since the second grade and is excited to finally make it happen.

 

Watch this video interview with Manny Navarro.

 **Trevon Grimes, a 2017 five-star wide receiver, still didn't show his hand in a potential commitment, but he did indicate that Ohio State, Florida and Florida State comprise his top three.

Grimes had several highlight-reel catches in the championship victory.

Grimes said Ohio State is his leader and that UM is still somewhere in the picture and potential for a spark later in his recruitment is there with Bruce talking to him.

 

**Jake Allen remains strong in his commitment to UF.

"I'm just happy to be a Gator," Allen said. "Coach Mac (Jim McElwain) is very happy. I talked to him before the game he just told me to go out there and do what I do every day. Overall, he's very happy with my season. I'm going to talk to him tonight."

Allen addressed how the Gators are recruiting other quarterbacks, including committed 2016 four-star Feleipe Franks from Wakulla (who played earlier Friday in the 5A title game) and Jacob Eason, a five-star recruit from Washington who has been committed to Mark Richt and Georgia since July 2014.

"I don't mind a bit," Allen said. "I love competition. When I came to St. Thomas there was competition, and I would expect it anywhere else I go. I embrace it. It brings out the best in me.

"I'm just gonna do what I do and let everything play out."

**2017 UM commit Tyler Dunning noted that he feels Rich was a great hire for the Canes and that he will meet him soon at a bowl practice.

 

*Herald sportswriters David Furones, Manny Navarro and Bill Daley contributed to this report.

Malek Young decommits from Georgia

Coconut Creek four-star cornerback and U.S. Army All-American Malek Young announced a decommitment from Georgia on Friday.

Young, previously not considering Miami, is now thought be a possibility to hop on board with the UM depending on the defensive assistant coaches hired by former Bulldogs coach -- now at the helm with the Canes -- Mark Richt.

Young currently has a UM visit scheduled for Jan. 15 and an Auburn visit set for the ensuing weekend.

December 07, 2015

Richt visits linebacker commits Pinckney, Quarterman

With UM linebacker commits Michael Pinckney and Shaq Quarterman good friends, it was only natural that after new coach Mark Richt, along with linebackers coach Hurlie Brown, visited each at their respective schools (Jacksonville Raines and Orange Park Oakleaf, which are about 20 miles from each other), they would all get together.

Once Richt did an in-home visit with Quarterman on the night cap, Pinckney decided it'd be best that for his visit all of them get together for dinner. They enjoyed a meal at Outback Steakhouse.

"It was most convenient," Pinckney said. "Shaq is my dog, so you know we had to link up when the coaches came in town."

The highlight of dinner? Pinckney says it was Richt's sense of humor.

People at the restaurant would walk up and approach Richt. It was like hanging with a celebrity for the two prospects.

"That's Mark Richt," Pinckney says. "A legend in football."

Quarterman enjoyed Richt's company.

"The visit went great," said Quarterman, who also watched Pinckney play in the Class 4A state championship game at the Orlando Citrus Bowl in the stands with Richt on Saturday. "We talked about the future and life and had a great time."

During the day, Richt and Brown visited the two at their respective high schools.

"He said he loves my film and the way I play and I can do some great things at the U," Pinckney said.

Both Quarterman and Pinckney will visit UM this weekend and are set to enroll early.

Richt also passed by Mandarin High School while on his Jacksonville tour. The Canes have a 2017 linebacker commit in Aundre Ricardo-Kearney from Mandarin.

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

December 03, 2015

Zach McCloud planning potential recommitment to Canes

Four-star Lantana Santaluces linebacker Zach McCloud, who decommitted from Miami Nov. 12, could have a recommitment to UM in his plans, and it actually has nothing to do with the hiring of new coach Mark Richt.

"I had decided to play for Miami a while ago, so Richt didn't change that," McCloud says. "It was already going to happen."

He hasn't taken any action yet, but if everything goes as planned, McCloud could commit once again on his Dec. 11 visit to UM. McCloud is fresh off an in-home visit from linebackers coach Hurlie Brown on Thursday.

"I didn't recommit earlier 'cause I wasn't in a hurry," McCloud says. "I figured if I knew and coaches knew, then everything was good."

McCloud, who is expected to enroll early for the spring semester, added "I've pretty much closed off my recruiting" when asked what other schools are still involved at this point.

Going back to the time of his decommitment, McCloud says, "I had been having some doubts and I felt like if I was truly meant to be at Miami then I would come back even after letting schools try to persuade me. I'll always love Miami."

*ALSO: A must-read on Barry Jackson's sports buzz blog covering recruit reaction to the Richt hiring.

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

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.