A pair of future Canes landed verbal commitments from another pair of future Canes Sunday.
Essentially, that's what Miami Norland running back Duke Johnson and linebacker Keith Brown pulled off when they convinced Homestead linebacker James Burgess Jr. (6-1, 208) and receiver Herb Waters (6-0, 177) to call UM coaches and pledge to Al Golden's 2012 recruiting class.
The four players spent the past five days together in Beaverton, Oregon as part of Nike's newest training competition, The Opening. According to Johnson, who along with Brown committed to UM as a junior, the Homestead duo might just be the first of several players they recruited during the trip out West to commit to UM over the next couple days.
"We got two so far, but we ain't done yet," said Johnson, a 5-9, 175-pound scatback considered one of the country's Top 150 high school seniors according to ESPN. "We're very close to getting tight end [and USF commitment] Sean Price [North Marion, Fla]. [Miami Columbus safety and ESPN Top 150 recruit] Deon [Bush] too. We spent a lot of time working it, talking to [Miami Beach safety] Ricardo Louis. [Miramar cornerback] Tracy Howard. [Tampa Berkley Prep athlete] Nelson Agholor.
"Guys see what's going on at Miami and they want to be a part of it. They're excited by the fact of all the guys who are committed and they look at the talent coming in this year. If we all go together and we all keep our talent and go together we have a chance of doing something special. Herb and James saw that."
The Hurricanes now have 22 non-binding, verbal commitments as part of their 2012 signing class. Most experts expect UM to sign upwards of 30 to 35 recruits. ESPN currently ranks UM's class ninth best in the country.
"Herb always knew inside UM is where he always wanted to be," Johnson said. "It was just the fact of doing it. Herb said he didn't want to go unless his linebacker went with him. James father graduated from UM, it was just a plus. Once James decided to go ahead and commit, so did Herb."
Homestead coach Bobby McCray said he still hasn't had a chance to speak with either of his players about their commitments, but confirmed with their families that the players had pledged to UM. James' mother, Lakeisha, said her son was "happy to be a Hurricane."
Last season, Burgess finished with 132 tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception for the Broncos. ESPN rates Burgess as a 4-star recruit. McCray said Burgess had offers from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, USF and North Carolina among others.
"We had Micheal and James' father down here before," McCray said. "He has more potential than both of 'em. He can play all positions, will, mike or sam. He's athletic enough in passing situations to not have to come out of the game. I'll put it to you this way, I've put him at free safety sometimes."
Waters, considered the 49th-best receiver in the country by Rivals, has been plagued by injuries his sophomore (separated shoulder) and junior (knee sprain) seasons. But he's an all-around gifted athlete, who has played quarterback, receiver and running back in high school. McCray said Waters had offers from Oregon, Alabama, UCF and FSU.
"He's a very good technician," McCray said. "He can also be a return man. He might be rated even higher if he hadn't been hurt. He just hasn't finished the last two seasons because of injuries. We were 5-0 in '09 when he got hurt and we ended up going 6-3. Last year we were 4-1 when he was hurt and finished 5-4. The coach from Oregon saw him said he hadn't seen many kids his age run a route like that before. He showed out in the 7-on-7 game and the jamboree against American [High]. He's shown big explosiveness."
The best news about both commitments for UM is that they're already academically eligible. According to McCray, Waters has a 2.7 GPA and scored a 19 on his ACT. Burgess has a 2.6 GPA and scored a 23 on the ACT.
"We have a nice little history now of sending guys to Miami," said McCray, who coached current Canes Jojo Nicolas, Marcus Robinson and incoming freshman defensive end Ricardo Williams at Homestead.
"That's how Butch Davis built the program. He took care of Dade County, then added to it from elsewhere. It seems like that's what Coach Golden is doing. His building a champion."