January 25, 2016

Syracuse making an imprint on recruiting South Florida

It's no secret Syracuse is trying to make its impression recruiting South Florida.

It certainly has, and the Orange's efforts were truly solidified over the weekend.

Syracuse got three commitments from South Florida football prospects with Dillard defensive lineman McKinley Williams, Fort Lauderdale defensive end Jaquwan Nelson (a former UM commit) and Homestead safety/linebacker Rashad Smith.

This adds to a 2016 class that already had a commitment from Dillard linebacker Kenneth Ruff. The Orange have three more senior commits outside of Dade and Broward in the state of Florida.

Syracuse has been hot overall in recruiting lately as eight of its 21 current commitments came over the weekend and 12 since the new year.

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

January 23, 2016

Jaxson Kincaide commits to Nevada

St. Thomas Aquinas running back Jaxson Kincaide had a tremendous senior season culminate in a college decision on Saturday night.

After leading the Class 7A state champion Raiders with 1,285 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, Kincaide (5-9, 185 pounds), a three-star prospect according to 247 Sports, committed to Nevada.

"The program is headed in the right direction with a great head coach [Brian Polian] leading the way," Kincaide told the Miami Herald. "Two backs went over 1,000 yards last year and I feel like I can come in and make a huge impact on the team."

With Kincaide Nevada bound and fellow St. Thomas running backs Devonta'e Henry-Cole and James Charles going to Utah and FAU, respectively, that makes for three senior running backs from Aquinas on their way to an FBS program.

The Raiders already have one such back in place for 2017. Junior Mike Epstein is currently committed to Illinois.

January 22, 2016

South Dade's James Wiggins decommits from UM

James Wiggins AD
James Wiggins at Miami Herald All-Dade photo shoot. JUSTIN AZPIAZU

South Dade defensive back James Wiggins announced his intention to decommit from the University of Miami on Friday.

It comes as little surprise as new Hurricanes coach Mark Richt and his staff were not actively recruiting Wiggins.

"The new coaching staff -- they haven't been on me that much," Wiggins said. "Last time I spoke to them was two or three weeks ago with Mike Rumph.

"He talked about his background, how he was in high school, college, pros, how UM is becoming better. That was great to hear, but since then I haven't heard from them."

Wiggins, a three-star prospect who was named first team All-Dade by the Miami Herald and third team All-State in Class 8A by the AP, received an Illinois offer Thursday and will try to visit the Fighting Illini over the weekend. The Canes were going to get that weekend visit, but without hearing from them, Wiggins had to look elsewhere.

Wiggins is also considering Cincinnati, which he visited Jan. 15, Temple, Purdue and USF.

What is Wiggins looking for in a school?

"Just to get my education, be a part of a good program, try to make it to the [National Football] League, and if I don't, let my degree take me where it takes me," he says

Wiggins' decommitment follows the same narrative to that of high school teammate and running back Jawon Hamilton, who within the month backed off his pledge to the Canes and then committed to UCF for similar reasons.

January 21, 2016

Southwest DB and UF commit CJ McWilliams replaces UNC visit with UM

CJ McWilliams
CJ McWilliams (a.k.a. Calle 8)

With severe winter weather hitting the mid-Atlantic, Southwest Miami defensive back CJ McWilliams had to cancel his visit to UNC this weekend.

Instead, the three-star UF commit will take a much shorter, warmer trip to Coral Gables and the University of Miami.

At UM, McWilliams wants to get to know the new coaching staff a little better.

"I just want to see how the environment is with them, and I want to be comfortable," McWilliams says. "[New cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph says] he sees that I can be a top corner for them. I can help them out, especially on special teams too."

Rumph and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz went in-home with McWilliams earlier this week.

"They were just hoping that they still have a shot at me," McWilliams says. "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."

UNC, UF and USF all visited McWilliams at home as well within the week.

About UNC: "I've never really been outside of Florida, so I wanted to see how it is over there -- and the education too."

What keeps McWilliams committed to the Gators which he first pledged to in May?

"The coaches -- our relationship is real close, it's tight. They've always been recruiting me till the end," he says.

McWilliams is still trying to fit a UNC visit in -- possibly midweek. Had the weather in North Carolina not kept him away this weekend, he would've taken an official to UM in the midweek between UNC and UF visits.

The Gators will get him the final weekend before National Signing Day. Last weekend, McWilliams took his USF official.

"They're really welcoming me, and they're giving me a lot of love," McWilliams says of the Bulls.

As far as what kind of chance any of the other schools has in flipping McWilliams, he says, "Won't know until Signing Day."

Stay tuned.

January 20, 2016

Tennessee visit to give UM commit Tyler Byrd something to think about

UM got its commitment from Naples four-star cornerback Tyler Byrd on Feb. 3, 2015. Whether the Hurricanes officially bring him in will be known exactly a year later -- National Signing Day 2016.

Byrd, a strong Canes commit for virtually the past year, says he will at least have something to think about when he visits Tennessee on Jan. 29.

"[I have] never visited, so it will be something to pray about and ask for the right guidance," Byrd says.

With Naples teammate and four-star running back Carlin Fils-Aime committed to the Volunteers, the thought of continuing to play with Fils-Aime in college remains in Byrd's mind.

The two have lived together since eighth grade, and if they were to remain together, it could only really happen at Tennessee as Byrd says the new UM staff isn't recruiting Fils-Aime, who committed to the Volunteers on July 30.

Byrd had new UM cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph swing by Naples High on Wednesday and will take his official visit to Coral Gables over the weekend. He says he is definitely taking the Tennessee trip the following weekend and won't change his mind.

January 18, 2016

Binjimen Victor commits to Ohio State

Binjimen Victor
Coconut Creek four-star wide receiver Binjimen Victor announced where he will be playing his college football on Monday.

The ultra-talented 6-4 standout chose Ohio State with this post on Twitter.

Victor went with the Buckeyes over West Virginia and Tennessee -- two other schools he visited officially with the Vols visit coming over the past weekend.

With Victor announcing his commitment and defensive back teammate Malek Young announcing his to the Miami Hurricanes on Friday, the final piece to the trifecta of Coconut Creek U.S. Army All-Americans (four-star cornerback Trayvon Mullen) let it be known his decision is coming down to Signing Day.

Also cool: This picture that Ohio State wide receiver Michael Thomas, who has declared for the NFL Draft, tweeted out handing down the Buckeyes helmet to Victor.

It was reminiscent of what the Bosa brothers (Joey and Nick) did in July when Nick, the five-star St. Thomas Aquinas defensive end, announced his commitment to Ohio State.

Here's just a glimpse at what Victor is capable of in one-on-one coverage in this slow motion video taken earlier this season in Coconut Creek's win against Stranahan.

January 09, 2016

'Pie' ranks his college choices

Miami High four-star wide receiver Keyshawn "Pie" Young's college decision will come down to National Signing Day.

On Saturday, he ranked his top  for the Miami Herald as it stands before his January slate of visits: 1. Michigan, 2. Tennessee, 3. USC, 4. Louisville, and 5 is up for competition between Georgia, Miami, Alabama and South Carolina.

Young currently has visits scheduled for Louisville on Jan. 16, USC on Jan. 22, Tennessee on Jan. 27 and either UM or Alabama before Signing Day, as he announced on Friday.

"I want to feel like I'm home," Young says. "Are the coaches there real or fake? Thinks like that."

Young also took a trip to Michigan in October.

With Michigan, Young says he loves coach Jim Harbaugh and that the three Flanagan players committed (linebacker Devin Bush Jr., safety Devin Gil and safety Josh Metellus) are pushing him to the Wolverines, especially Bush.

"He told me he doesn't even want to come home," Young says.

Current UM defensive end Chad Thomas has been in talks with Young about having him join him with the Hurricanes along with running back Mark Walton and cornerback Artie Burns, who will be heading to the NFL Draft.

Of Miami, he says, "They're up there."

Young likes the hiring of Mark Richt, who recruited him at Georgia. Although the Bulldogs crack Young's top five, he says he will not visit them.

He says South Carolina is just coming along now and will compete with the Canes and Crimson Tide for that final visit.

"I have to see how that plays out now," Young says. "That's why I haven't committed nowhere yet."

January 07, 2016

Uche updates his recruitment

Josh Uche 2
Photo: Andre C. Fernandez//MIAMI HERALD

Columbus defensive end Josh Uche's recruitment will be one of the more interesting ones to follow out of prospects in Dade County with a month left until National Signing Day.

Uche (6-3, 218 pounds) has visits scheduled for Michigan on Jan. 22 and Florida on Jan. 29.

Michigan was his most recent offer, coming as a byproduct of new defensive coordinator Don Brown heading to Ann Arbor from Boston College, which had offered Uche before his senior season. Brown led the Eagles to the nation's No. 1-ranked defense despite BC winning just three games in 2015.

"It just showed how much interest in me he has. He thinks I'm the key to that whole defense," Uche says. "Just shows his loyalty and how much he believes in me."

The Flanagan local trio of linebacker Devin Bush Jr., linebacker/safety Devin Gil and safety Josh Metellus (along with Cooper City defensive end Rashad Weaver) are all committed to coach Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines' 2016 class. Although Bush has been known to be pushing Miami High wide receiver Keyshawn "Pie" Young (who has previously listed Michigan as his leader himself), but Uche says he's not as familiar with the Michigan-bound Broward prospects.

UF will get his final official visit before Signing Day.

"They've been loyal to me as well throughout the whole recruiting process," Uche says. "I've been there already twice, but I just want to get a more in-depth look at the campus."

Schools recruiting Uche are looking at him as a hybrid outside linebacker/rush end with some telling him they want him to develop into a pass rush specialist and others indicating they want him to be a "full-blown linebacker."

On his visits, he's looking to see how likes the atmosphere, campus experience and coaches.

Uche, who decommitted from Miami in between the Al Golden firing and Mark Richt hiring, has the first weekend after the recruiting dead period (Jan. 15) open for an official visit. UM, Alabama, UNC and South Carolina are in the mix for that visit.

"I was going to go to UM, but they haven't been communicating with me," Uche says. "I'm still interested, but no one has ever contacted me. I don't want to go somewhere where I'm not wanted."

To Uche's understanding, he still has an offer on the table from the Hurricanes. They haven't told him otherwise.

Uche likes the hiring of new defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski, especially because of the work he did with Shane Ray at Missouri. He sees some similarities between them.

So if he's still interested in the Canes, why did he decommit in November?

"We knew that the coaches were going to get fired, and the new guys coming in -- I didn't know how I would fit in their system," Uche says. 

He wanted to make sure his options were open in case he didn't fit and was then left looking for a school without much time left before Signing day. Uche adds that new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was recruiting him at Mississippi State, but never pulled the trigger on an offer because of his commitment to Miami.

Uche was also once offered by Auburn, but that offer has since gone with Will Muschamp and Travaris "T-Rob" Robinson to South Carolina.

"They've just been recruiting me really hard, calling me almost every day and just talking to me about how I fit into their scheme," he says.

On Uche's stellar senior season, Uche says, "I've improved on my power a lot. Last year, I was more finesse. I was more pass rush only, but now I've shown I can play the run. I was a lot more physical. I showed I can play linebacker."

He also says that his senior year with the Explorers helped him develop leadership skills.

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.

January 02, 2016

Sam Bruce on UM's decision on Beard: 'It's going to make a factor'

Sam Bruce UA
Sam Bruce after Under Armour All-America Game. Photo by David Furones.

With the turnover on the University of Miami coaching staff in full swing as the program transitions from Al Golden to Mark Richt, St. Thomas Aquinas four-star wide receiver Sam Bruce, a UM commit, was inevitably asked what any decision with wide receivers coach Kevin Beard would make on his recruitment.

"It's going to make a factor," says Bruce, who has been committed to the Hurricanes since July 8, 2014. "There's no guarantee that I would leave the University of Miami, but it'll be something to definitely think about."

Bruce added his insight on what he knows about the situation.

"There's no guarantee that he's leaving," he said. "He still needs to be reevaluated by Coach Richt."

So where does Bruce stand on the Canes with a lot up in the air in the final month before National Signing Day?

"As of now, I am committed to the University of Miami. I am solid, but only time will tell," he says.

Bruce added that the Canes getting the last visit before Signing Day and him already being committed "definitely" makes them the team to beat for his services.

Before the Jan. 29 trip to Coral Gables, Bruce has visits to South Carolina on Jan. 15 and UF on Jan. 22 in the plans. He already visited Ohio State officially in October.

What does he hope to see from the respective schools?

"Just a family-based team, just for them to show me how I can be a premier athlete in their offense, at their school," Bruce said. "University of Miami and Ohio State -- they really stand out because they [each have a strong School of Communication]. That's a big thing for me. I want to major in sports broadcasting."

With the news coming out that Deerfield Beach receiver Cavin Ridley committed to South Carolina on Friday night, it appears that the Gamecocks are beginning to emerge in South Florida under new coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson.

"I'll give them a shot," Bruce said. "T-Rob, he's been recruiting me since freshman year when he was at Florida. When he went from Florida to Auburn, he didn't change, nothing changed from all the relationship, and then from Auburn to South Carolina and nothing has still changed."

Bruce has had conversations with former high school teammate Jordan Scarlett, now a freshman at UF who flipped from UM before his Signing Day.

With Scarlett playing behind Kelvin Taylor, Bruce said him not getting ideal playing time this season doesn't discourage him at all. He added that the season Antonio Callaway has had proves the Gators play their freshmen.

Bruce addressed the recent reports of him wearing an Ohio State hat earlier in the week at one of the event's practices. He says there was nothing to it other than to match the colors he was already wearing and that it was blown out of proportion.

"I had on black and red. It wasn't even my hat. I took somebody else's hat," Bruce said. "These people on social media, they're ridiculous."

His thoughts on fellow UM commit Dionte Mullins' highlight-reel one-handed touchdown catch?

"It was nasty," Bruce said. "The ball was put in a place where he could make a play and he made the play. That's what the University of Miami is all about."

"Me and Dionte, we go far back... We actually fought for the Little League Heisman in the eighth grade."