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 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. 

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.

November 22, 2015

Jawon Hamilton flips from FIU to UM

South Dade running back Jawon Hamilton flipped his commitment from FIU to UM on Sunday.

On an unofficial visit to UM's campus, the balanced 5-10, 185-pound runner committed to Hurricane coaches.

"I fell in love from the time I entered the campus, and the coaches showed me a great time," Hamilton said. "I toured the campus and felt like that was the place I wanted to be.

"I feel great. [There] is nothing like playing in front of my family."

Hamilton initially committed to the Panthers in June. With a stellar senior season brewing, Hamilton received an offer from Temple in October before getting offers from Kansas, UM and Western Kentucky in November.

He has Temple and Kansas visits set up in January and confirmed he will still take those visits, but told "it probably won't change anything."

It was evident from the moment Hamilton first received the offer on Nov. 11, in the aftermath of the decommitment of Hallandale running back Zack Moss, he was leaning toward the Canes.

He told Herald correspondent Russell Quinoa at the Nov. 13 playoff game against Southwest, "It was always my dream school growing up, and I feel like it'll be great for me if I do happen to go there."

On the year, Hamilton has rushed for 1,191 yards and 16 touchdowns on a 9.8 yards-per-carry average in his first year with South Dade after transferring from Coral Reef.

He's rated a two-star prospect on Rivals and 247 Sports, but his rating has not changed since the summer -- before the 1,000-yard season. He joins defensive back James Wiggins as South Dade recruits committed to UM.

Hamilton and his Buccaneers square off against Columbus in the Region 4-8A final on Friday night at Harris Field.


Recruiting Roundup: Mater prospects on the rise

Mater academy 2017 wide receiver Shimoore Stern in the last two months has received offers from Louisville and Western Kentucky.

Stern (6-4, 195 pounds) has also has had ongoing conversation with interested schools like Miami, West Virginia and Alabama.

*Mater Academy 2017 defensive back Latavious Brini has received strong interest from Florida, Purdue and Texas. Brini (6-2, 185), a three-star recruit, plans to visit Florida next week and will be attendance for its game against Florida State. 

Brini, who lists offers from Loisville, FIU and Temple, said ofthe Gators: "They have a great program and really good coaches." 

*T.J. Herrington, the senior Mater Academy quarterback, recently visited Valdosta State University.

"I really liked the coaching staff," said the 6-2, 190-pound Herrington.

He recently received an offer from Stetson. Herrington in the past had received strong interest from FAMU and FAU.

*Senior strong safety Tre Donastorg has had conversations in the past with Cincinnati, UCF and Syracuse. Donastrong is 6-0 and 180 pounds.

*Sunset athlete Julian Noriega has received an offer from West Florida University. Noriega (6-4, 180) has had discussions in the past with local universities FIU and FAU.

*Miami High defensive back Brian Johnson has been receiving interest from Mount Union and Wesleyan. At 5-9 and 175 pounds, Johnson had previously been talking to Iowa, but with those talks recently fizzling, he hopes to rekindle that connection after he passes his ACT.

*Three-star Miami High wide receiver, Keyshawn "Pie" Young, the Herald's No. 2-rated senior in Dade County, will be taking his official visit to Michigan on Nov. 27. Young (6-0, 190).


November 17, 2015

Keir Thomas decommits from FSU, Auburn new leader

Miami Central defensive end Keir Thomas confirmed to the Miami Herald that he decommitted from FSU on Tuesday.

Thomas, a 6-2, 245-pound three-star recruit, now lists Auburn as his new leader.

He also says he wants to find out who UM's next head coach will be, so the Hurricanes may be in play for his hard-hitting services. Arkansas and South Carolina are other schools Thomas says are in the mix.

Thomas plans on visiting Arkansas Dec. 5, the day after a potential state semifinal if the Rockets, three-time defending Class 6A state champions, advance that far.

November 12, 2015

UM loses another commit in LB Zach McCloud

Four-star linebacker Zach McCloud out of Lantana Santaluces announced he is decommitting from the Miami Hurricanes' 2016 recruiting class.

McCloud becomes the fifth recruit to decommit from UM since the Al Golden firing and fourth in the past week.

"After careful consideration and talking things over with my family, I have decided to re-open my recruitment," McCloud said in a post on Twitter. "While I did not commit to Miami for any coach, I cant overlook the current situation especially considering my early graduation."

McCloud is set to graduate from high school in December and enroll early at the college of his choice.

He went on to say, "It seems like a shot in the dark and im not going to gamble with my future."

McCloud continued by expressing appreciation for what the Hurricanes have done for him and said he will "always be a U fan."

McCloud also noted in his announcement that UM is not out of it for his services.

On the day Golden was fired, McCloud told the Miami Herald he would take his time to decide what he would do.

"To be honest, I'm waiting before I make any big decisions. My biggest concern in this process is my future with only three months to decide since I'll be an early enrollee," he said. "I'm not comfortable at the moment, still being patient, though. I want to make an informed decision."

McCloud has an impressive list of offers, which includes FSU, UF, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Notre Dame. He has official visits planned for Nov. 21 to Ohio State and Nov. 27 to Auburn, according to 247 Sports.

November 11, 2015

Moss discusses UM decommitment, other options

Zack Moss

Hallandale three-star running back Zack Moss became the third recruit in five days to decommit from the Miami Hurricanes with an announcement on Tuesday night.

Moss said he had been thinking of decommiting for a while and just wants to just make sure he is making the right choice because he only gets this chance once.

"It was time for me to take a step back from the program, not because of coaching changes or not necessarily because of the coaching staff -- just to reevaluate my options and see what's best for me out there right now."

His top other options: Utah, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Other schools that have begun showing interest since Moss' Tuesday night announcement include TCU, Western Kentucky and USF.

Columbus defensive end Josh Uche decommitted from the Canes on Sunday and Tuesday received an offer from Auburn. One could come to the assumption that for Moss to see that

"We talked before I did the whole thing, but I wouldn't say that's really what made me really go ahead [and decommit]," Moss said. "I wanted to make sure I do the right thing."

Moss said in his tweet that UM is still not out of it despite decommitting. Asked who he would like to see the Canes hire to fill the coaching vacancy, he mentioned Mario Cristobal. Moss developed a relationship with Cristobal from him recruiting the running back to Alabama early in the year -- a recruitment which has since cooled off.

Moss has a Utah visit in the plans for December depending on how deep his Chargers go into the playoffs. Moss, of course, has two teammates committed to the Utes in quarterback Tyler Huntley and wide receiver Demari Simpkins. 

He will also visit Kentucky Jan. 16 and Miami Jan. 20.

What Moss likes about other schools he's considering...

Kentucky: "It's an SEC school. It stands out. Me and the coaches have made a great connection. They run the ball a lot, which is [important] for me."

Utah: "Basically, playing with some of the guys from high school... and they're using running back-by-committee right now. ... They have a great coaching staff up there, and they're winning right now."

Tennessee: "They have one running back committed right now [Carlin Fils-Aime of Naples]. I talk to them like I talk to Utah, Miami or Kentucky."

*Photo by David Furones//FOR THE MIAMI HERALD


Hallandale RB Zack Moss decommits from Miami

Hallandale running back Zack Moss announced on Tuesday night that he would decommit from the Miami Hurricanes.

"After talking it over with my family, WE think it's the best thing for me to De-Commit from The University of Miami," Moss said in a note on his phone posted on Twitter. "WE love The University of Miami and it is still in top consideration but think it's best for me to explore my options.

"I want to say thank you to the great coaching staff at Miami for giving me the opportunity to be a CANE. MIAMI IS STILL AN OPTION."

Moss, a three-star recruit and No. 10-ranked senior in Broward County in the Herald's preseason Top 50, becomes the fourth prospect to decommit from Miami's 2016 recruiting class since the firing of Al Golden and third since Friday.

Columbus defensive end Josh Uche announced his decommitment on Sunday and Izon Pulley, a defensive end out of Good Counsel in Olney, Maryland, backed off his commitment on Friday.

Golden was fired two weeks from this past Sunday, and for a while UM's senior recruiting class was remaining intact after Wellington wide receiver Ahmmon Richards went back on his UM commitment the same night of the Golden firing.

At one point UM had four running back commits in its senior class but Moss now joins Coral Gables' Amir Rasul and Pahokee's McArthur Burnett as backs to decommit, although Burnett probably wouldn't have played running back at Miami.

The remaining running back committed to UM is West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy's Travis Homer

UM offered South Dade running back and FIU commit Jawon Hamilton Wednesday morning. Hamilton has also been recently offered by Kansas and Temple.

Moss told the Herald in the immediate aftermath of the firing that the change didn't affect his commitment.

"I didn't commit to the coaches," he said then.

More recently, Moss told Herald correspondent Mark Singer at Friday's Hallandale win over Monarch that he was a strong commit to the Hurricanes and added that interim coach Larry Scott is a "cool dude."

In that report, Singer notes that Moss said the only school that could flip him would be Utah. The Utes, who have offered Moss, already have a pair of senior Hallandale commits in quarterback Tyler Huntley and wide receiver Demari Simpkins.

Moss spoke with the Herald shortly after receiving that Utah offer in this video interview below.


That same night Huntley said he would try to convince Moss to hop on board with he and Simpkins but only after the season as the Chargers (8-2) are focused on making a run at a state championship in Class 5A.


November 08, 2015

Josh Uche decommits from UM

Columbus senior defensive end Josh Uche announced a decommitment from the Hurricanes’ 2016 recruiting class on Sunday evening, citing the firing of Al Golden two weeks to the date.

“With the recent coaching change at the University of Miami and the uncertainty of the future, I would like to de-commit at this time,” Uche said on Twitter. “I would like to explore other options and when a new head coach at Miami is named, my family and I will reevaluate the situation.”

Uche, a three-star prospect on all major recruiting sites, holds other major offers from Florida and Alabama. Alabama assistant Mario Cristobal, whose name has been thrown around to potentially fill UM’s coaching vacancy, has been his primary recruiter to the Crimson Tide.

Uche's announcement comes two days after another defensive end, Izon Pulley of Olney Good Counsel in Olney, Maryland announced he would be leaving the 2016 class.

Uche told the Miami Herald he does not have a leader in his recruitment at this time.

Earlier this season, while Golden still had his job, Uche voiced his disapproval to me over the banners flying over stadiums calling for his firing:

“When I saw it I thought that was pretty disrespectful because Al Golden has done a lot for this program considering he came into a bad situation due to the whole Nevin Shapiro controversy,” Uche said. “For people to try and get somebody fired, that’s pretty disrespectful. I guess people are just so caught up with winning, which is understandable, but just to be so blatant, that’s not the right way to go about things.

“It’s kind of wishy-washy. [The fans] are only with you when you’re having success. As soon as you start doing bad, they start slandering you.”

Just my take from reading into the way he worded his statement: It doesn't appear like most decommitments where the prospect is entirely done with the school he was once on board with. Uche saying he will reevaluate the situation when a new coach is named, tells me his heart may still be with UM as a program but he will be looking elsewhere until he gets a chance to establish a bond similar to the one he had with Golden. And he just feels more comfortable talking to other programs without the 'UM commit' label on him.

This will be one to stay tuned on.