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The Recruiting Circle

Although I will not make it my business to cling to every word a teenager says over the next 10 months before National Signing Day 2008, for those of you interested in what is happening with local kids and the current state of recruiting with The U this blog entry is for you.

Saturday, as promised, I attended Recruitflix.com's combine at Traz Powell Stadium and watched as 83 Futurecanes_2high school football players, mostly from Miami-Dade and a few from Broward, participated in three events -- the shuttle drill, the 40-yard dash and the bench press. Among the attendees, were five kids the University of Miami is very much interested in: Northwestern offensive lineman Brandon Washington (pictured on the left, center back), defensive tackles Marcus Forston (right back) and Benjamin Jones (left back), Booker T. Washington cornerback Brandon Harris (front on the bench) and Chaminade linebacker Jordan Futch (pictured below). I did about 5 to 6 minute interviews with each and got to know them a little since they figure to be on the Canes radar from here until February.

The most interesting development came from Washington, who as I suspected, told me his recruiting process is far from over. The 6-4, 305-pound offensive lineman was said to be a UM commitment. But he sure didn't sound like one when I asked him about it.

"It's more like a soft one," Washington told me. "My recruiting process is not over with. I just got an offer from LSU and I want to go out of state. I want to go to Southern Cal, that's my school. UM, it's a school I grew up on. But it ain't over though, I'm being recruited by other schools."

BrandonwashingtonI think Washington, who told me he has a 2.65 GPA and still needs to pass the state-mandated FCAT exam, will still likely end up a Cane. When I asked him what he wanted in a college, he said "a good education and a school where my mom will be able to see me play every game, one right down the street." But his "early commitment" should teach all of us a lesson. Although, he didn't admit it to me in his own words, he basically shrugged his shoulders in agreement when I asked him if he "committed to Miami" to get people in the media -- those guys at Rivals and Scout.com -- to stop calling him. After all, I think we all kind of forget these kids are teenagers. The last thing they want is some dorky guys in eight different cities asking him how they feel about the Hurricanes, Buckeyes, Gators and Trojans every other day.

Me? I'm going to try and stop being called dorky for as long as I can. My philosophy is simple, I speak to a kid once before the football season and get an idea of what he likes, what he's looking for a college, who likes him and what he ultimate deems the biggest factor in his search. A week before signing day, once the trips are over with, you usually know where they're headed.

To me, what I got out of Saturday's combine was simple: The attitude about The U and at The U has changed. This time last year, when I did the same thing and asked Doug Wiggins, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Major Wright and Armando Allen and others about UM, the attitude was "We love UM, always have, grew up rooting for them, but I haven't really heard much from them. They came out and watched me, but I don't have an offer."

It appears Coach Shannon has made it a point to be aggressive locally because all five kids I spoke with claimed to already have UM offers. And I truly believe in the end, it will make a difference. Had Larry Coker and company really pushed early for kids like Wright and Allen, they might be at UM today. Personally, I think the Canes are headed toward a great signing class and its really all because of Shannon and the fact Miami-Dade and Broward are supremely loaded with talent in the Class of 2008.

Futch told me many local players having been talking about the buzz surrounding The U again.

"Miami has Coach Shannon now, they're coming back," Futch told me. "There is definitely word going around trying to entice all to go to UM together and help turn things around. High school coaches have been telling me, [Northwestern LB Sean] Spence, Brandon [Harris] and Brandon [Washington] to get there and make it a dynasty again... I think a lot of guys want to be a part of that. In South Florida, we got a lot of talent that has been tending to leave the state... It's an opportunity to stay home. It would be great if we could all do that."

Last year, that same buzz was about Florida. The Gators made off like bandits, recruiting the No. 1 class in the country. But that happened because the Gators were on the minds of all recruits early and often. It appears Shannon and company have beaten the Gators to the punch -- at least locally -- this time around. And it appears the players in 2008 are making deep relationships with players and coaches.

Jordan Futch, who lists UM No. 1 on his top five (Wisconsin, Auburn, West Virginia and South Carolina are the others) and at the front among his 23 offers, recently made an Jordanfutchunofficial visit to UM and spoke with linebackers coach Michael Barrow. Futch said he has developed a deep friendship with current UM linebacker Glenn Cook and speaks to him nearly everyday. Unlike the other four players I spoke with Saturday, Futch told me his plan is to make his college choice sometime next month. The other four told me they all want to take their trips. Saturday, Futch posted his best shuttle time, 4.01, to take top honors. He said his fastest 40-time is 4.56 and the most lifts on the bench press among the many camps he attended is 18 (Players lift 185 pounds).

As for the other kids, Marcus Forston (6-2, 286) told me he is not scared off by the fact UM already has Forstonlifting three early commitments at defensive tackle. "The best guy is going to play anyway," he said. Forston, who will likely be the highest rated player in Miami-Dade this coming season, told me he has 23 offers including ones from USC, Tennessee, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Rutgers, North Carolina and Ole Miss. He said he has a GPA of 2.8 and grew up admiring former Cane Warren Sapp. He said what he is looking most forward to this season are one-on-one battles with Washington, who transferred to Northwestern a few months back. They'll get their chance starting May 1st when the spring officially begins.

"For me, it's all going to come down to the coach that comes to my living room, sits down with my mom and be right with her,'' Forston said. "I don't want any B.S. Straight up."

Saturday, Forston tied his personal record for bench press lifts at 33. The runner-up was teammate Benjones Benjamin Jones, who also lists a UM offer among his four (LSU, North Carolina and FIU are the others). Jones (6-6, 270) lifted the bar 29 times and ran the 40 in 5.1 seconds. He said his personal best, run at the Scout.com camp, was 4.8 seconds. Jones said he too has a 2.8 GPA. What he is looking forward to most is just playing. Last year, he tore his meniscus and dislocated his left knee when teammate Terrell Killings rolled over on him during practice. Jones missed the season. This year, he play next to Forston and likely help him avoid the double-teams that limited Forston's number of sacks.

As for Harris, whom I told you before I thought was destined for UM because his brother Tim runs track for the Canes, he told me Saturday he will not commit early and wants to take all of his trips. He seemed excited by the fact USC is close to offering him and said the Gators are also in the mix. Still, I think he's destined to be a Cane.

"I grew up rooting for UM, going to all the home games," Harris told me. "When I went to the FSU game last year, I could visualize myself on that field, making big plays. But I'm not in a rush. I want to take my time with picking a school."

Brandonharris_2Brandon Harris (5-10, 180) is as good a cornerback as there is the country in my opinion. He's played football his entire life, mostly as a quarterback and has tremendous instincts. In addition, he has gotten tremendous training by going up against the likes of teammate and another UM target Davon Johnson on a regular basis. Harris ran a 4.6 40 on Saturday, but ran a 4.45 at the Scout.com camp not long ago. In the shuttle drill Saturday, he ran the third fastest time at 4.3. He also managed to bench 185 pounds four times. Not bad for a kid who weighs less than the weights itself.

The kid with the fastest 40-time Saturday is nowhere on UM's radar, but maybe he should be. Bay Point High's Lavaris Edwards, who won the state 100-meter title as a freshman, ran a 4.4 flat. Edwards (5-11, 186) was out of football his sophomore season at Southridge with an injury and returned to Bay Point last year as a junior. He said he has offers from Akron and Troy State. Another kid who caught my eye was Northwestern linebacker Quavon Taylor. The kid has offers from USF, UCF and FIU, but could be in for a huge season at the West.

Eventually, I'd like to post my audio interviews with The Big Five from Saturday, but need someone at The Herald to help me out with getting it on the blog. Unfortunately, the quality isn't great because of the windy conditions.

ON A SIDE NOTE: In case you are wondering, Recruitflix.com is a new website set to launch sometime next month that will feature all of the top prospects in Miami-Dade as well as a handful in Broward as well as team pages, game footage and highlights from all of last season and this coming season as it progresses. I don't want to get too much into it because I am writing a story on them in the coming month, but basically it will revolutionize how colleges recruit, allowing them to watch game film from their computer without having to wait for tapes to come in, a process that can often take a long time. I've been told the public will eventually be able to access these videos too for a fee.



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I am very excited for da "U" Coach Shannon is gonna make a big splash in South Florida and da "U" is going back old school, where they get their home grown talent. I say two, three years max da "U" is in the big picture again an there to saty for a while. Watch out haters!!! DA "U" IS GONNA B BACK!

lets hope they get their home grown...b/c we all know....there aint nuthin like the home grown...

One thing I notice more and more in recruit interviews, is the concern and respect the recruits have for their moms.

I think RS is above everything a gentleman. The mothers trust him.
Moms can see through a lot of male BS that we as males are quick to lap up when it comes to sports.

In many cases the mother's input has probably more impact on where a recruit ends up than his high school coach, peers, or recruiting schools reputation.

Nice work!!! I like what I'm reading, but like you said still early. This kids still are not sure what they want to do yet, and they can changed their mind from one day to another. At least, we know that they are thinking about Miami unlike the last three years. Go canes!!!!!

Kudos to your blog post. Very nice insightful and realistic opinions of HS Kids minds. I agree, these kids are kids with fragile egos. Mr Shannon is the consumate gentleman and is in tune with moms and dads -- parents know this is the mentor they want for their kids. But in the hard realities of the football world, the U needs winners as well. So it is sad that in the end, only a handful of the best of thousands of kids will get a ride of their lifetime.

First of all: thanks, Manny, for keeping us up to date with UM's off-season events. A team's off-season activity will largely decide how well it will play next fall.

It's good to hear that Shannon has UM back to recruiting in South Florida. Other schools have been coming down here and "stealing" the best players from right out of UM's pockets for the past five years or so.

It makes me wonder what the hell Coker was thinking. The UM recruiting formula has always been, "get South Florida players and win." That's all Coker had to do. Why didn't he?

Not to dwell too much on the past, but I noticed how Futch said some local coaches and players want to make UM a dynasty "again." In other words, it once was a dynasty but, thanks to Larry Coker's unswerving dedication to mediocrity, it's not one now.

The fall of the mighty is greater than the rise of the weak, Larry.

UM's football program was among the top sports programs in the world. The team's record over the past 26 years is unparalleled by any other sports program. Every player in the country wanted to play for UM. Somehow, Larry Coker presided over the demise of one of the most amazing phenomena in the history of college sports.

What the hell was wrong with that guy? Did he hate UM? Why did he destroy greatness? How could he justify taking something that didn't belong to him, and that others had sweated and sacrificed for years to build, and wreck it in a few short years?

Now we have Southern Cal coming around here: greedy slobs trying to take all the best players in the country again. I'm going to hunt their recruiters down, wrap them up in used plastic grocery bags and ship them back to California, the land of the world-class sissies, the state that wrote the book on slime, where they belong.

But what really steams me up is hearing that South Florida players are actually considering Southern Cal. How dare they?

How DARE they!!

I think it's up to UM's past, present and future football players, as well as the local coaches and journalists, to tell any local players who leave to play someplace else instead of the U that they're traitors, turncoats, betrayers, backstabbers, cheaters and liars. They can leave, and South Florida will accept the prodigal 'Canes when they come contritely back, the wiser for having deserted their homies.



Hey Lake Worth Cane YOU ARE 110% RIGHT ON!!
I'm glad im not the only one who feels this way. My concern now is not the head coach (He's the one i wanted to begin with) or the recruits (South Florida IS college football) my concern is the offensive coordinator Patrick Nix... He was mediocre as a quarterback at Auburn and as a offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech they had a very "vanilla" offense. Even with all the talk about Reggie Ball and Calvin Johnson georgia tech didn't exactly "light up" the scoreboard... I hope and pray we can bring back the good old days at THE U, but with Nix at the helm, offensively i predict another "Larry Coker like" season...

if 12-0 as a starting QB is mediocre, what's good?

Not trying to defend Nix Ken, but you do have to consider the fact that all GT had on offense was Calvin J where as we should have 4 to 5 good recievers (no Calvin J's but pretty good) in Shields,Leggett,Kanye,Hankerson and Mckenzie.Not to mention also that GT's Rashad Choice led the Acc in rushing last season,and we all know that Choice is no Baby J.I agree with Lake Worth Cane on Larry Coker.It did look as if he was apart of some conspiracy (along with Berlin,Wright,FIU and Pata's murderer)to bring down the most elite dynasty in the modern day era.But you need to chill on the threats Lake Worth considering what happened up in Va.Not trying to be funny, just giving freindly advice.You don't want 5-o watching your every move.

Cane-ster Nip, i sure hope you're right but my gut tells me different. Nix only called plays for one year at GT... Do we REALLY want someone with only one year of experience (technically) running the offense of a program that innovated offense on the college level? Would you give the keys to your new Mercedes to a 16 year old kid who just got his license???? I hope you're right but with 2 scrubs at QB and an inexperienced OC i don't see much of an improvement on offense. Baby J can't put the whole team on his shoulders....

Ken: Kyle Wright is not a scrub, the kids a good, he just had Coker as a coach. Nix is alright but I think he will help Kyle come out of his shell and bombs away. I still believe Randy should have hired Rob chudsinky, then the offense would be unstoppable like it was in the early nineties.

peace out!

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