UM coaches have been on the recruiting prowl throughout Dade and Broward County since the end of the season.
Tonight I bumped into defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio during his visit to Miami Norland. D'Onofrio spoke with the father of offensive tackle Ereck Flowers for a while as I met and spoke with various Norland players as they prepare for their big playoff game against Glades Central Friday.
But once practice ended it was clear what D'Onofrio was there for -- a conversation with All-American linebacker and former commitment Keith Brown. The two spoke for roughly 20 minutes before D'Onofrio left. His message to Brown: "They still want me," Brown said.
The issue? UM doesn't have room in this class for Brown and his brother, Norland starting weakside linebacker Lamar Atkins. That's the reason Brown decommitted from UM and accepted a scholarship to Illinois. But now that Ron Zook is out Brown said he's looking again and considering UM along with Ohio State (he'll probably visit there after this coming weekend) and LSU.
"Everything was perfect with Illinois," Brown said. "But now that this happened with Coach Zook, everything is up in the air. Coach D just wanted me to know they still want me and are willing to take me. We're sort of starting all over."
Brown, who plans to enroll in January, said he remains committed to Illinois, but if another school is willing to take his brother on a scholarship (Ohio, Bowling Green and FIU have shown interest) then he said he will free himself up to go wherever he wants.
"If he gets a scholarship at the end of the year, then my job is done," Brown said. "He's a good player. The thing is he's only been here for a year. He was playing up in New Jersey, nobody really saw him up there. Miami can't take him because they've got 27 commitments and 30 scholarships total. So, they're limited."
Brown said the Canes have always been "the No. 1 team in my heart," but adds that he felt UM coaches sort of took him for granted. Brown claims he didn't hear from any coaches for two months at the start of the season. That, coupled with the fact he's trying to land his brother a scholarship made him open up to other schools who kept showing interest.
"I don't care where he goes, I just want to him to get a scholarship," Brown said of his brother. "Coach D just wanted me to know I had things with them all wrong and that they still want me to come in and be a part of this class."
Brown said if he had to handicap the situation he said he'll still probably end up at Illinois with his brother. But he's still going to weigh his options and see if his brother can land a scholarship elsewhere.