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Denver Kirkland, other top UM targets ready to make announcements on national TV

Booker T. Washington's state championship football team finally celebrated its state title Thursday with a parade through Overtown.

Among those to savor the moment: hulking 6-5, 333-pound offensive lineman Denver Kirkland, who along with star linebacker Matthew Thomas have been highly-coveted and recruited by Al Golden and UM coaches. 

Now with all his official visits behind him and decision day right around the corner, Kirkland said Thursday he's enjoyed the process, but is ready to get in front of a national TV audience on ESPN's networks and tell the world where he's headed for college. Kirkland isn't alone. He's one of six highly coveted UM recruits who are planning to make their college announce on ESPN on National Signing Day.

The announcement list -- always changing -- looks as follows at the moment:

- Port St. Lucie Centennial DL Jaynard Bostwick, 8 a.m.
- Booker T. Washington LB Matthew Thomas, 9:15 a.m.
- Booker T. Washington OL Denver Kirkland, 9:20 a.m.
- Northeast WR Stacy Coley, 10 a.m.
- University School WR Jordan Cunningham, 10:15 a.m.
- Miramar LB Jermaine Grace, 1:30-2 p.m.

Golden knew he was going to have to wait until late in the game to find out if he was going to land South Florida's top players. Plan B? I'm not sure there really is one. But most recruiting experts don't believe the Canes will strike out. Grace and Kirkland are the two players Charles Fishbein of Elite Scouting Services said he's confident UM will land. The others? Iffy.

Thomas, who wasn't around for the parade Thursday at Booker T., is down to Miami, Florida State and Alabama. Kirkland said he's still down to a top five: "Ole Miss, FSU, USF, UM and Arkansas."

"The recruiting process went good, I really enjoyed it, got to know a lot of people," said Kirkland, whose mother is pushing him to stay in Miami. "I got to see the fans being open with the players and how much they love the players. I had steak on every one of my visits, biggest one was 16 ounces. The most fun was the house parties, track meets and basketball games.

"I like the Canes a lot. They're academic program is good and the bonds I have with the coaches are good. Micheal Barrow was my recruiter. He's a good guy. UM is recruiting me as an offensive tackle just like everyone else."


> Northeast coach and former Hurricanes running back Donnell Bennett said "mum's the word" with his star receiver, Coley, who had an in-home visit with UM coaches Wednesday night. "I tried to corner him today. I couldn't get him to talk," Bennett said. "Florida State will be visiting him Saturday morning. I think that will be it. Then, he has to make a decision."

> Bostwick's coach Ron Parker Going confirmed the big defensive tackle will be visiting Florida this weekend. "He's going to take a final visit and then sit down and decide what he's going to do," Parker said. "Miami was here yesterday. Alabama was on a final visit this week. He'll have Monday, Tuesday to decide.

"He said he had a good visit at Miami [where cousin Thurston Armbrister plays linebacker]. Is his mom is pushing Florida? I don't know. Maybe it's the setting she likes. Maybe that's the setting he needs versus Miami Beach. But it's going to come down to Jaynard. I asked him if he was going to commit after this weekend and he said 'No.'"

> Staten Island (N.Y.) Totteville's Augustus Edwards, considered the top fullback in the country according to Rivals, has officially decommitted from Syracuse and will visit UM this weekend. FSU is also in the mix. New Hurricanes offensive coordinator James Coley loves him, I'm told, and thinks he'll be just like Orange Bowl MVP Lonnie Pryor.

> Why is South Plantation blue-chip running back Alex Collins flying to Atlanta to make his announcement Monday night instead of waiting until National Signing Day? Not because he wants to avoid heat from UM fans if he chooses Arkansas instead, his coach said. 

"FoxSports called me and said they were doing a Countdown to Signing Day Show and wanted to have [FSU commitment John Franklin] and Alex talk about how the recruiting process goes," South Plantation coach Doug Gatewood said. "I didn't really get involved in it. I told Alex and John and they said yes. John's dad is the chaperone. They've pretty much taken care of the details on their own. They fly up Monday afternoon and film it in studio at 10 p.m. They will stay overnight before they fly back home in the afternoon.

"I can't speak for Alex, but if he waited until Signing Day he's just a blurb with 100 other kids. If he does it on Monday it's all him. That's why he's doing it."