MIRAMAR -- Tracy Howard made a nation full of Hurricanes happy Wednesday morning when he announced he was picking UM over Florida.
So why is the All-American cornerback -- considered the best in the country at his position -- heading down to Coral Gables and not Gainesville, where he was locked in before taking his official visit to UM last weekend? Here's what he had to say about it not long after announcing his choice.
Your mom [Shaiy Howard] said you were kind of going back and forth with this the last couple days. When did you really say 'That's it -- I'm going to Miami'?
"This morning. I prayed about it. I asked God give me a sign. I'm locked on Miami. If this is the wrong choice, just give me a sign. I got no sign telling me it was wrong. My family was happy about the decision. I was happy about it."
What did your family say when you were finally done with the recruiting process and had chosen the Canes?
"Dad was the happiest man in the world. He's a Miami fan. Of course he wanted me to stay close to home, but it wasn't even about that. My mom was cool with it. My mom was actually a Florida fan and I knew when my mom was happy, I was going to be happy. I'm happy with Miami. I want to be a great player there and I'm going to be a great player there."
So who is going to wear No. 3, you or Norland running back Duke Johnson?
"I don't know. But to be honest, both of us can wear it. I'm not sure we're going to do that. But we could if we wanted to."
How much did playing with your friends: Duke, Deon Bush, Malcolm Lewis play a factor?
"It didn't really help. They were talking to me for months. I was like 'I'm going to Florida, I don't know what you're talking about.' I told Deon 'You go do your thing at Miami, I'm going to go do my thing at Florida. We'll go to the league and meet each other there.' But I mean I just looked at the opportunity and I couldn't throw it away. The opportunity there is great. I have to take advantage."
Do you think you'll start as a true freshman right away -- your first game?
"I'm not really a guy who is going to talk and say I'm going to start. It's up to me to produce. Do I feel like I'm going to produce and show out, compete and work hard? Yes. I do. If I do that I'm going to start. I feel like I'm going to go in there, work hard. Do I feel I'm the best? Yes, I feel I'm the best. Even if there's a senior in front of me, this is about business. I'm going in there working. I'm going in there hungry. I want everybody to know that. I can't tell you I'm going to be starting, but that's what I really want to say. I want to say you'll see me starting opening game. But I'm a humble guy. And I feel like if I handle business the way I have throughout my life, then why not. I did great on the optimist level. I did great on the high school level. So why would I not succeed on the college level?"
Who did you really rely on to make the decision?
"My dad. Me and mom are very close and everybody knows that. But at the end of the day, he means a lot. He molded me into the man I am today. We just talked about everything. He never told me go to Miami. He said whatever you do, I'm behind you 100 percent. I just weighed everything about Florida, Miami and Florida State and I felt Miami was the better fit."
Happy it's over?
A: Yes. I'm relieved."
What's next for you?
"I'll be running track in the spring. I'll run the 4x100 meter relay, the 100 and the 400 -- I want to run the 400 to get stronger."
Miami is coming off a 6-6 season, is facing NCAA sanctions, why didn't that affect your decision at all?
"It did. I talked to coaches about it. Nobody really knows what's going to happen. But I feel smart about it. The guys were suspended for what happened and they took a bowl game away. I think Coach Golden did a good job handling it. In the end, I prayed about it and God led me the right way."
What are your expectations for the signing class you are coming in with?
"National championship. Of course we feel we have the best football in South Florida. Same in Texas and California. But we feel if all of us get together, we're going to be dominant. I think we will be."
Here's what teammate Malcolm Lewis also had to say about Howard picking UM.