Canes await Michel's announcement Friday; talented RB said he made up his mind, parents will be happy
The last time Hurricanes fans held their breath when one of the country's premier high school running backs to make his college choice on television it was only the beginning of a long, strange winding road to disappointment.
When highly-touted Plantation American Heritage running back Sony Michel makes his decision around 4:45 p.m. on ESPN Friday we could end up down a similar path -- only this time don't expect his mother to run off with his National Letter of Intent.
Michel (5-11, 205) told me face-to-face Wednesday he expects for his parents to be happy with the school he announces for and for his pursuit by college football programs to come to a peaceful, non-dramatic end. Michel, choosing between the Hurricanes, Georgia, Florida State, Notre Dame and Florida, said he's already made up his mind. Friday is just about letting the rest of the world know.
"I went on a visit last weekend and it had me thinking. But last night and the night before I slept on it and had my decision made. [Friday is] going to be a happy day for me and my parents because I can finally make a decision and just celebrate," said Michel, who run circles around upperclassmen since he was an eighth-grade phenom to the tune of 4,819 yards and 58 touchdowns in his career.
"At the end of the day I don't care what anybody else thinks. It's about me and football and where I'm going to be happy."
Even though he won't be signing a National Letter of Intent until National Signing Day in February, Michel said he plans on shutting down his recruitment after Friday's announcement.
While that may not stop schools from recruiting him, he said the whole point of Friday's announcement is to avoid distractions and allow him to keep his focus on the football field this coming season. Heritage has had one of the best programs in Broward County each of the past two seasons, but has knocked out of the state playoffs in the first round. Michel is intent on not letting that happen again.
"I chose to get this out of the way early just so I can focus on the football season," Michel said. "That's the only way I can focus on winning that state championship ring. I don't really care about the whole stats situation. If I only get 200 yards this year I'll be satisfied as long as I got a ring. If I run for 2,000 yards and I don't get a ring I'll feel like I failed as a senior.
"Opening things back up and dragging it out to Signing Day is just not something that's been on my mind. I feel like once I commit I will be a solid commit and stop the recruiting process."
Although UM coaches have been on campus plenty this spring -- speaking to Michel's coach, former Hurricane Mike Rumph -- Georgia is considered the favorite to land Michel according to most experts.
Asked what he likes about the Bulldogs and other finalists Wednesday, Michel said: "What they did there was give both of their freshmen the opportunity to showcase their talents. That's what a player likes to see. They have a great coaching staff."
"Miami has always had a good program, great running back history. They've got a great back there now. Miami has always just been Miami. What they do with the running backs is they showcase the running back a lot.
"Florida changed their offense to pro style and just had a running back go to the NFL. They have a top running back coming in. Florida State also."
While Michel expects Friday's decision to be final, Rumph doesn't.
"To be honest, I just wish he would wait," Rumph said. "Because recruiting never ends until Signing Day. Whoever he picks you know the other guys aren't going to stop coming after him."
UM coach Al Golden made it pretty clear Thursday -- freshman linebacker Gabe Terry is no longer a Hurricane and won't be again.
"Gabe was suspended before the incident and we didn't take him to the spring game. Gabe is no longer with our football team," Golden said. "It's done. Again, I apologize. I don't know what [information] was released on our end, but he's no longer with the team. He was suspended before the incident. We've separated and moved in another direction."
Terry, arrested last Friday morning after being found by police face down on the steps near his dorm with 26.8 grams of marijuana, had been suspended indefinitely according to UM's sports information department before Thursday. But it's official now -- Terry is the fourth defensive player (Eddie Johnson, Gionni Paul, Thomas Finnie) to be booted from the team since the end of last season. Golden said he handles all disciplinary issues the same.
"It's certainly case by case and it certainly has to do with the resume of the young man in terms of whether or not there were any incidents in his career here and whether or not he does all the things we ask him to do here," Golden explained.
In other news:
> Golden expects to have everybody on the roster healthy and back by Aug. 1 with the exception of defensive end Dyron Dye. "But it sounds like Dyron will have a chance to be back during training camp, which is great," Golden said.
> Golden described the situation with senior running back Eduardo Clements, who told The Miami Herald last month he was definitely coming back this fall, as "still a little tenuous."
"I know he's anxious to come back. All indications are he will be cleared," Golden said. "But in terms of the medical aspects of that I have to make sure I'm careful with that and don't overstep my bounds."
> As far as the backup running back situation is concerned, Golden said: "I was pleased with Dallas Crawford. He had a really good spring, certainly showed his interchangeable and can do a lot of things with the football... Danny Dillard made a lot progress. Gus Edwards is a big back coming in. The eight ball, the guy who threw us the curve was Mo Hagens. Mo really grew as a ballcarrier."
> Although there are rumors out there receiver Robert Lockhart may be interested in transferring, Golden said it's premature to address those because players are still taking exams and the semester hasn't ended.
"It would be premature for me to say that or speculate on that when nothing is definitive," Golden said. "It's probably prudent for me to wait until we're finished with [spring] exams and then make a release. Obviously every year at this time there are kids for a variety of reasons -- to go home, play earlier, seek transfer. The best thing for us to do is let it play out and then release it all on one day."
> Despite the loss of three linebackers from the end of last season, Golden said he's confident there is enough depth at the position and raved about the growth of freshman Alex Figueroa.
"I just kept waiting for him to hit a wall and he never did," Golden said of Figueroa. "He's a mature kid. His parents are marines. Very disciplined young man, very tough. He comes to us 6-3 and 230, very strong, physical, smart, explosive. You're talking about when this guy is all said and done he's going be 250, running and a smart player. We're excited about his progress. He's kind of thrown away the freshman tag because he doesn't act like it at all. He's started from the first practice to the last and did the same in the off-season program with his conditioning. He's on a mission right now. We're going to continue to let him grow and do his thing. "
> As for his team's new punter Pat O'Donnell, Golden said: "Pat is going to give us a great opportunity and really the experience we need, the veteran player we need," he said. "I'm excited about [Matt] Goudis. He did a lot of good things this spring to take that next step. We're going to supplement Pat with a lot of eager walk-ons that want to come in and earn a scholarship. Pat kind of bridges that gap. O'Donnell definitely gives us an opportunity to be steady because we were really steady there there the last two years."