BOSTON -- My flight just got into frigid Beantown an hour ago -- not in time for me to listen in on offensive lineman Jared Wheeler's live announcement on 790 The Ticket. But in case you haven't heard already, the 6-6, 305-pounder chose the Canes over Vanderbilt as expected.
I caught up with Jared and his dad as they were leaving the studio. Apparently, this decision wasn't such of a slam dunk as many of us thought it might be. Jim Wheeler said his son was torn until his mother gave birth to the Wheeler's 10th child -- John -- last Sunday. "I really just wanted to stay close to home," said Jared, who is second to Jenna, a sophomore at the University of Florida, among the Wheeler siblings.
"With the new baby John being born I wanted to be there while he was growing up. Family comes first for me."
Vanderbilt nearly did, too, for Jared. Jim Wheeler said the Commodores were making a hard push, visiting as late as Monday. But Jim said his son had his mind made up. "It was a tough decision," Jim said. "It was close."
Jared said he had a little fun making his announcement on the radio Saturday. First, he asked the show host to pick up a Vanderbilt helmet. After a pause, he said he told him "keep it as a gift."
The Hurricanes are certainly relieved Wheeler -- a good student who has a 4.1 GPA and 1070 SAT score -- has decided to stay home. His addition brings more depth to an offensive line position in dire need of it. Aside from Brandon Washington (6-5, 330) and Jermaine Johnson (6-6, 310) who are scheduled to begin classes Jan. 20 and participate in spring ball, UM now has two more offensive lineman coming in the fall with Wheeler and Fleming Island's Cory White (6-4, 240). The Hurricanes, who are up to 20 commitments, are likely going to add two to three more linemen in the coming weeks. Wheeler said he's not sure where he'll play once he arrives. The good news is he has experience playing guard, center and tackle.
In Wheeler (a Rivals 3-star recruit rated the 7th best player in Broward by The Miami Herald) Miami not only gets a unique athlete -- but possibly an in roads at American Heritage. Jared's father, a former defensive tackle at Hollywood Hills High who played with Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez as a teenager, is a middle school football coach at the school. Jared said Miami has already begun to sending mail to his younger brother, Jacob, a 6-7, 240-pound defensive end and tight end for Heritage.
Wheeler, who benches 315 pounds and squats more than 450, said he's already begun getting to know his new teammates and said he speaks with A.J. Trump and Jason Fox frequently. He said he's excited to be joining the family.
"I'm excited -- they're on the rise," Wheeler said. "They're going to be a really good team. They got all those kids from Northwestern, who I know are great players. All they need are some big guys and I want to help out with that."
> I'll be at the Canes-BC game later tonight with a live blog. Forecast for today is calling for 6-10 inches of snow in the area. I may be here longer than I thought.