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3 posts from February 4, 2014

February 04, 2014

A closer look at the Canes' early enrollees

With fax machines set to get rolling at around 7 a.m. Wednesday as National Signing Day commences here is one last closer look at the nine recruits already on campus at UM.

Joseph YearbyJoseph Yearby, RB, Miami Central
> Measurables: 5-9, 180
> Twitter handle: @JosephYearby
> Commitment date: Feb. 26, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 44th regardless of position in 247Sports.com composite rankings, seventh-best running back overall.
> Career highlights: Under Armour All-American ran for 5,308 yards and 63 touchdowns over his final three seasons in high school before breaking his ankle in the state playoffs.
> Expert opinion: “He's going to do whatever coaches as him to do and is a good guy to have in your program. He's going to do everything right and set the example. He's really established himself as one of the hardest workers in the class, a tremendous teammate and natural leader. His vision as a running back is really what is accelerated. The rest of his tools are above average. But his vision is what sets him apart from the pack.  If his ankle heals up as it's supposed to be he'll be Duke Johnson's backup in 2014. I look at him as a Pierre Thomas type of kid who is versatile, can catch the ball out of the backfield. He can also stay in pass protection and pick up a linebacker on a blitz. He's one of those do-it-all backs. To me he's the second best running back Al Golden has reeled in during his time there behind only Duke.” -- Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting
> LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2045472/joseph-yearby

Kc McDermott, OL, Palm Beach Central
> Measurables: 6-6, 301, 390-bench press, 415-pound squat
> Commitment date: April 2, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 45th regardless of position in 247Sports.com composite rankings, 3rd best offensive tackle overall.
> Career highlights: Under Armour All-American picked UM over Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida State, Florida and Ohio State
> Expert opinion: “I thought for most of the year he was the most talented offensive line prospect in the state, region probably. He’s got a lot of what you want in a tackle. He’s got long arms, strong, has a mean streak. He's technically sound. He's the type of kid that can be a part of the two-deep right away. I think he's the left tackle of the future. I definitely think he has high NFL potential. He's so strong in so many areas he's going to get his weight up a little bit more. He's going to be 6-6, 320. He's going to be in high demand in a few years. Overall the group of linemen UM is bringing in is one of the top five in the nation -- even without Reilly Gibbons.” Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1556140/kc-mcdermott

Trevor Darling, OL, Miami Central
> Measurables: 6-5, 330
> Commitment date: April 5, 2012
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 93rd regardless of position in 247Sports.com composite rankings, 9th best offensive tackle overall
> Career highlights: Under Armour All-American won three state titles and started for four years at Central. He chose UM over FSU, Florida, Clemson and West Virginia.
> Expert opinion: “When I saw him at the Under Armour game he was great. It looked like he developed physically really well, got a lot of bad weight off his body. He's an ox. I think he can play guard or right tackle for them. He's a heck of a run blocker, as good as you'll see. Just like Kc McDermott, he can come in right away and be a part of the two deep, step in on the right side within a year and start. I'm not sure Darling is a first rounder down the line like McDermott, but he's an early to mid-round pick down the line. I like offensive tackles who work from the bottom up. He's one of those guys.” Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/2488579/highlights/107818632

Trent Harris, DE, Winter Park, Fla.
> Measurables: 6-2, 231
> Twitter handle: @trentharris33
> Commitment date: July 29, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 265th regardless of position in 247Sports.com composite rankings, 14th best weakside defensive end overall
> Career highlights: Selected to the Offense/Defense All-American Bowl. As a senior registered 69 total tackles and 14 sacks. Chose UM over Alabama, UF, FSU, Georgia, Ohio State and Tennssee.
> Expert opinion: “He's not a big guy. I think he's probably going to take a redshirt year, be used more in a pass rush role if he does play. He needs to fill out. He's kind of a hard guy to evaluate. I definitely think he needs a redshirt then be used to rush the passer on passing downs. He has a ways to go. I don't think he has the sort of pass rushing skills Tyriq McCord and Al-Quadin Muhammad to play as a freshman. But he could develop.” - Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/1277678/highlights/63491375

Darrion Owens, DB, Orange Park, Fla.
> Measurables: 6-3, 216, 4.57 in 40-yard dash, 345-pound bench press, 460-pound squat
> Commitment date: June 22, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 367th regardless of position in 247Sports.com composite rankings, 46th in the state of Florida and 29th at his position
> Career highlights: Tallied 160 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions, five fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles as a junior and senior. Picked UM over Boston College, N.C. State, Maryland, Kentucky, Louisville, West Virginia, South Florida, Michigan, Rutgers, Purdue, Minnesota, Michigan State, Ohio State, Tennessee, Nebraska, Auburn and Georgia.
> Expert opinion: “ He's a big kid. They got him listed as safety still. He's more of a linebacker for them, might be a defensive end. He has good athleticism. I thought he was a bit undervalued in his class. He gives you tremendous range, long armed kid. I think his first impact will be on special teams. I think in 2015 he'll be used at safety and linebacker against spread sets. I think he's got a shot down the line at the NFL. He can run.” - Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1368104/darrion-owens

Braxton Berrios, WR, Raleigh, N.C.
> Measurables: 5-9, 181, 4.52 in 40-yard dash, 40-inch vertical
> Twitter handle: @HNYNUT_BERRIOS
> Commitment date: Oct. 12, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 374th regardless of position in 247Sports composite rankings, 52nd by position
> Career highlights: Under Armour All-American had 760 yards receiving an 10 touchdowns and ran for 1,142 yards and 23 touchdowns as a junior. He ran for 536 yards, 11 TDs in 2013 while being hampered by a foot injury. Chose UM over Oregon, South Carolina and Tennessee where he took official visits. Tore his ACL in the Under Armour Game and will miss the spring.
> Expert opinion: “He didn't stand out a lot to me at the Under-Armour game. He's not very big. He's not an outside guy. If Berrios is going to have success it’s in the slot. I'm curious to see how he fits in this offense frankly. Maybe he's a special teams guy, Wes Welker type. I look at the other receivers and I wonder how he's going to get on the field.” - Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/1540073/highlights/63359384

Calvin Heurtelou, DT, Scottsdale, Ariz.
> Measurables: 6-3, 304, 4.98 in 40-yard dash, 28-inch vertical
> Twitter handle: @_40Cal_
> Commitment date: Dec. 26, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 49th regardless of position in 247Sports composite Junior College rankings, 9th among JUCO defensive tackles.
> Career highlights: Originally from Spring Valley, N.Y. He took official visits to Rutgers, Tennessee and Missouri before signing with UM. Had 59 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, four sacks and two fumble recoveries at Scottsdale Community College
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/27931/highlights/79418375

Juwon Young, LB, Albany, Ga.
> Measurables: 6-2, 235, 4.5 in the 40-yard dash
> Commitment date: June 8, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 727th regardless of position in 247Sports composite rankings, 60th at his position.
> Career highlights: Registered 118 tackles and ran for 303 yards and 6 TDs as a senior. Decorated track and field athlete who competed in the shot put and discus. Picked UM over an offer from Ole Miss.
> Expert opinion: “He was one of the better prospects in north Georgia, which is an area where they are not as highly regarded as the kid on the south end of the state. For an outside linebacker, he's not a total sideline to sideline guy. But he does have range and is physically strong. I think he's strong enough to take on linemen and is a hitter. He's a guy that will put some weight on you. I'm not sure how good he is at pass defense.” - Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting 
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/2791019/highlights/111260376

Ryan Mayes, DB, Miami Northwestern
> Measurables: 6-2, 180
> Commitment date: June 25, 2013
> Recruiting ranking: Ranked 969th regardless of position in 247Sports composite rankings, 142nd in state and 67 by position.
> Career highlights: Had 33 tackles, 2 INTs, 2 forced fumbles and 11 passes defended as a junior at Miami Dr. Krop. Picked UM over Syracuse.
> Expert opinion: “He’s a good size corner, but I see him as a rotational guy. I think he has a ways to go before you give him a starting role. With his size, he can be a rotational guy, who plays in nickel and dime packages. He's an early enrollee so he might have a role on special teams in 2014 if he doesn’t redshirt.” - Corey Long, Editor-In-Chief of FUEL Recruiting
LINK TO HUDL HIGHLIGHTS: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2733971/ryan-mayes

Football led the Canes to top recruit Chad Thomas after music had already guided his heart to UM

Barring an unexpected, last second change of heart that would stun his family, coaches and even himself, Booker T. Washington All-American defensive end Chad Thomas said he plans on signing a National Letter of Intent with the University of Miami on Wednesday morning.

Chad Thomas 2“There’s no suspense,” said Thomas, days before taking his final official visit to Alabama this past weekend. “I’ve been throwing up ‘The U’ [with my hands] since the first game of the season. I’m not really trying to build suspense or get anybody fired up or rowdy.”

If Thomas, the only five-star recruit in UM’s recruiting class, doesn’t flip his commitment to Alabama or Florida State, he’ll be one of the few elite players in Miami-Dade County to stay with the first school he committed to. Of the top 10 players in the Dade according to 247Sports' Composite rankings, six have pulled back from a college commitment at least once during their recruitment.

Booker T. quarterback Treon Harris (Florida State commitment with interest in UM, Florida and Auburn) and Northwestern receiver Jojo Robinson (FSU commitment with interest in TCU, South Florida and Arkansas) could increase that number to eight if they sign elsewhere Wednesday.

There’s strong reason to believe Thomas won’t make it nine. That’s because he’s been in love with the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music since well before UM’s coaching staff fell in love him.

“I thought he was full of it when he told me he played all these instruments and was a musician,” Booker T. Washington coach Tim “Ice” Harris said.

“Then he started playing them in front of me, showing me his beats, breaking it down. I was impressed. Over the last two years every time we've been on road trips with the team, Chad would get on the big piano in the hotel we were staying at and everybody would stop to listen to him play. Now, I joke with him and say I want to be a music major too.”

Thomas, who helped lead the Tornadoes to back-to-back state championships and a national title this season, said he fell in love with music at the age of three while listening to his late grandmother’s gospel CDs. Thomas said as a toddler his grandmother bought him a toy guitar, and signed up him for piano lessons. By the time he was five, Thomas said he was performing songs such as ‘I’ll Take You There' by the Staple Sisters on the piano and playing various instruments from the tuba and trumpet to the drums and bass.

After his grandmother passed away when he was seven, Thomas, an only child, said he would often care for himself because his parents were too busy working. On the bus ride and walk home from school, Thomas said he would usually entertain himself by creating his own beats. By the time he was in middle school, Thomas said he convinced his father, Chad Sr., a computer technician, to buy him an MC-808 sound generator.

“I remember when he took me to Sam Ash to go get it,” said Thomas, who attended classes at the New World School of the Arts until coaches were finally able to convince him to attend classes at Booker T. his senior year. “It was over $1,000. I told my dad there had to have been something in his brain saying this is going to make him and me money in the future.”

Thomas, a fan of beatmakers Timbaland, Louis V and J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, said he's been trying to sell his own beats to musicians now for the last couple years. This past year, he finally found someone who was interested. It was local artist Lil Dred, the 20-year old son and rapper of former UM cornerback Nate Brooks. Since its release in October, their song “No Shone Remix” has been played more than 245,000 times on SoundCloud.

Thomas, who has produced other popular tracks titled ‘Thottie,’ ‘She Weak,’ and ‘Overtime,’ said he’s performed on some of his own tracks in clubs, parties and other places dozens of times. He said he’s split the money he makes off what he produces and performs "50-50" with his mother, Stefanie Jones, a school director a local day care.

“As a singer he’s more like a Drake type -- singing but with a rap feel,” said Booker T. Washington offensive coordinator Tim Harris Jr. “When it comes to instruments and music engineering, I think UM is ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in those fields. With his contacts in the music industry here in the city of Miami, that’s why it’s always been UM for Chad. He told me he had been checking UM out since he went to New World. Football wise, Chad knows he can play at any school he wants to. But music is so important to him.”

Said Thomas: "It's always been in my mind to go to school there. Football is my not for long. I can go down with a knee injury tomorrow, but I know I’ll always be able to move my fingers and play an instrument, click a mouse."

Thomas, who maintains a 3.3 grade point average and scored an 18 on the ACT exam (well within the guidelines to qualify for UM), said he didn’t begin playing football until he was 12 at Gwen Cherry Park because when he was young he had asthma and a heart murmur. Thomas said he had to convince his parents to let him play.

Now an Under-Armour All-American and tabbed as the third-best defensive end in the country by 247Sports, Thomas says he has so much passion and intensity for football he usually cries before games.

With the Hurricanes in dire need of help along the defensive line, Booker T.’s coaches -– who saw Thomas rack up 71 tackles and eight sacks this past season -- believe Thomas has the size and maturity to help UM as soon as he walks through the doors in Coral Gables come June.

“People around the country talk about the pride we have here in high school and optimist [football],” said Thomas, who said he’s had a green 1998 Ford Mustang parked in his mother’s drive way waiting to take him to college since last year.

“I know there’s a lot players who have that same pride at UM, but they’ve just got to put it all together and play like a team like back in the 80s. We’ve got to bring that love, that passion for the game, and fight to make each other better every day. And I believe we will.”

A shorter version of this story will appear in Wednesday's editions of The Miami Herald

Previewing Signing Day for the Hurricanes

SIGNING DAY COVERAGE

> The Hurricanes' 2014 recruiting class stands at 26 players (nine early enrollees, one signee and 16 commitments) on the eve of National Signing Day. UM remains a player for a handful of other recruits, though none of them are currently projected by experts to pick UM. 

- J.C. Jackson, CB, Immokalee (8 a.m. announcement)
- Treon Harris, QB, Miami Booker T. Washington (9 a.m. announcement)
- Travonte Valentine, DT, Hialeah Champagnat (10:30 a.m. announcement)
- Lorenzo Featherston, DE, Greensboro, N.C. 
- Lamont Gaillard, DT, Fayetville, N.C.

> If you want to know who has officially signed with the Hurricanes on Wednesday UM’s official football Twitter account (@MiamiHurricanes) will provide updates as the National Letters of Intent are received and processed by the school's compliance office.

> HurricaneSports.com will post video highlights, bios and digital trading cards when each player makes it official. UM assistant coaches will also be interviewed on camera for the website to talk about the Canes’ 2014 additions.

> UM was one of 13 schools selected by ESPN to be featured throughout the day. Coach Al Golden and assistants will be interviewed during ESPN’s 16-hour coverage on ESPNU.

> Fans who would like to receive mobile text alerts every time a Canes recruit signs a National Letter of Intent Wednesday can do so by texting GOCANES to 90561.

> Football play-by-play radio voice Joe Zagacki, and color analyst Don Bailey Jr. will host a live 30-minute Signing Day show at 3:30 p.m. on FOX Sports Florida statewide. That precedes Al Golden's press conference with the rest of the South Florida media at 4 p.m, which will be streamed live on HurricaneSports.com.

> UM is not having a signing day event for fans, but the first 1,000 fans at the men’s basketball game vs. No. 18 Pitt Wednesday night will receive a limited-edition trading card set featuring the 2014 football recruiting class. The trading card set will include early enrollees Trevor Darling, KC McDermott, Trent Harris, Juwon Young, Braxton Berrios and Joseph Yearby in addition to the recruits who sign Wednesday.