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Grace picks Canes; Booker T. duo talks about their decisions

The University of Miami ended the round of televised announcements Wednesday by landing All-American Miramar High linebacker Jermaine Grace, a four-star recruit tabbed the 17th-best outside linebacker in the country by Rivals.com.

He picked the Canes over Sugar Bowl-champion Louisville. Getting Grace gives UM two recruits from Broward County and two from Dade in this 16-player class.

Grace said he made his decision "a week ago" and is looking forward to reuniting with his Miramar teammates at UM: cornerback Tracy Howard and receiver Malclolm Lewis.

"I feel like we're going to stay together, stay tight," Grace said. "They were telling me I have chance to get on the field right away just like them.

Despite the addition, UM struck out adding a defensive tackle to its class. The Canes missed out on Keith Bryant, who announced shortly before Grace he was heading to Florida State. UM also missed out on Jaynard Bostwick and Terrell Brooks in the last 24 hours.

In the end, I still like UM's class a lot. The Hurricanes landed their QB of the future in Kevin Olsen, the nation's top fullback in Augustus Edwards and JUCO tight end in Beau Sandland, a standout receiver in Stacy Coley, a top-flight defensive end in Al-Quadin Muhammad, an All-American linebacker in Grace and two standout defensive backs in Artie Burns and Jamal Carter. That's pretty good in a small class. 

> So why did Denver Kirkland opt for Arkansas and Matthew Thomas pick Florida State instead of Miami? Here's what they talked about Monday morning.

"I have a better bond with Arkansas coaches than any other coaches that recruited me," Kirkland said. "Miami came in second place because of the things that have been happening these past couple weeks. That's the only reason they came in second. After that I was leaning toward Florida State and Arkansas."

UM pulled Kirkland's scholarship last Thursday, but met with him and his mother Saturday, putting the offer back on the table. Kirkland said while it was tough to leave his parents, heading off to college was the best decision for him.

"He wanted to make the decision for himself and do something different," offensive coordinator Tim Harris Jr. said of Kirkland. "We were surprised by his decision. I was personally. I knew Arkansas was in the thick of it and heard about the relationships he built with the offensive line coach you started thinking it may be spot for him. But I thought it was going to be Miami.

Miami never really rose to the top, meanwhile, for Thomas.

"I think second place was USC, he said. "I liked USC a lot. Things work out for a reason, happen for a reason. I think its a family atmosphere at Florida State. It's not that far away. My whole family can come watch and see me."

Did UM have a chance? "They had a chance," Thomas said. "The bottom-line: I don't think what I was looking for was at Miami so I took my talents somewhere else."

Asked if he thought the pulled scholarship deal with Kirkland would affect Booker T.'s relationship with UM in the future, Harris Jr. said: "Our relationship is just as what it was before this recruiting season started. They're going to come in here and recruit Chad Thomas, Treon Harris, Nigel Patten and Lamar Parker. There's no bad blood between us. These guys just decided this was the best decision for them. We look forward to a future relationship with them. UM is my school. I put in four hard years there. That will never change."

> Northwestern cornerback Artie Burns, ranked No. 2 overall in Miami-Dade County, signed his National Letter of Intent to UM Wednesday with a smile on his face. Burns had four interceptions this past season and has been the fastest high school hurdler in the nation each of the past two years.

“It’s my hometown team and I knew for a longtime it’s where I wanted to be at,” Burns said. “A day like this means a lot because a lot of us have been together since the 10th grade. There’s a lot of talent at UM and looking forward to accomplishing my goals.”