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.

Former Cincy pledge Carriere-Williams commits to Wisconsin

St. Thomas Aquinas senior cornerback Dontye Carriere-Williams announced a commitment to Wisconsin Sunday just four days after decommitting from Cincinnati, where he was previously committed since May.

Carriere-Williams, who transferred to St. Thomas from Booker T. Washington in the summer, joins Fort Lauderdale linebacker Dallas Jeanty as Broward County prospects set to play for the Badgers.

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 14, 2015

Patrick Bethel commits to UM

Four-star Vero Beach defensive end Patrick Bethel committed to the Miami Hurricanes on Monday.

"I would like to announce that after prayer and discussion with my parents I have decided to commit to the University of Miami," Bethel said in a Twitter post.

The decision came as no surprise as Bethel was projected by most to be leaning to the Canes.

Bethel is a legacy Cane as the son of Randy Bethel, who played at UM from 1987-1990.

He continued in his post: "I did not choose Miami to 'continue a legacy.' I chose Miami to create my own destiny, to provide the best for myself, and  most importantly to bring back the lost Swagger."

Bethel is fresh off an official visit over the weekend along with four other UM commits in quarterback Jack Allison and linebackers Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud -- McCloud which committed on the visit.

Bethel is set to enroll in the spring semester along with the other four.

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.