January 31, 2014

Hurricanes land commitment from Njoku; Valentine at home pondering decision coach says

Hurricanes assistant Brennan Carroll sent out the bat signal Friday to welcome Miami's latest football commitment: New Jersey three-star tight end prospect David Njoku.

The 6-4, 217-pound senior at Cedar Grove High visited UM last month and was a player UM had been trying to nail down. He was scheduled to visit Ohio State this weekend, but the backed off. He becomes the second tight end prospect to join the class. Georgia's Chris Herndon is the other.

Njoku also becomes the third prospect from New Jersey in the Class of 2014 to pick the Canes. UM coach Al Golden and many members of his staff obviously know the New Jersey area well.


Even though all signs are pointing toward LSU especially after he decided to pass on an official visit to UM this weekend, U.S. Army All-American defensive tackle Travonte Valentine hasn't ruled out the Hurricanes yet and planned to spend the next few days at home with his mother in Palm Bay trying to reach a final decision.

"Right now I would say it's probably 70-30 LSU," a Champagnat assistant coach close to Valentine said Friday morning.

Valentine told The Herald during a half hour interview on Tuesday he told UM coaches he would visit Coral Gables this weekend after Golden came to visit him at school. But after receiving a visit from LSU's coaches in his mom's home Wednesday night, the Champagnat assistant coach said Valentine and his mom decided visiting UM -- where he had been so many times unofficially -- wouldn't help the situation. He just needed to get away from it all, the coach said.

So what initially changed Valentine's mind about remaining committed to UM in the first place? Although Valentine reiterated to The Herald Tuesday the Al Golden to Penn State rumors last month played a factor, it appears scheme and the way LSU told Valentine he would be utilized has played a bigger role.

The Champagnat assistant said when Valentine returned from the U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio -- where he played in a 4-3 scheme -- he told coaches at Champagnat he might be better suited in LSU's 4-3 system instead of a 3-4/4-3 multiple defense at Miami. Valentine made reference to it Tuesday when asked if he liked one team's scheme over the other.

"Miami could change some things up, slim down the d-tackles a little bit," Valentine said. "Instead of playing like at 340, 350, I'd prefer to be 310, 315. LSU was telling me they could see me going down to 310, playing smaller, quicker, making tackles for loss."

The Champagnat assistant said he took Valentine down to UM to sit down and review film with Canes defensive line coach Jethro Franklin.

"He showed him all the film, how they use tackles in multiple ways, not just a nose guard," the Champagnat assistant said. "Golden, [Defensive coordinator Mark] D'Onofrio, Franklin, all of them were telling him he wouldn't have to come in and play heavy, they could make adjustments."

The assistant also said Valentine was a bit wary of how much pressure was going to be put on him at Miami, being someone expected to come in right away and deliver whereas he would have a little more time to ease his way in at LSU because of better depth.

Valentine said Tuesday he also felt closer to some of the former South Floridian players and Hallandale safety John Battle, at LSU 2014 commitment. Valentine also said he didn't feel the same connection to UM's recruits.

Asked Tuesday about Valentine and his wavering with UM, Booker T. Washington All-American defensive end Chad Thomas said he hadn't spoken with him and said he it didn't matter to him if Valentine chose UM.

"I ain’t no recruiter," Thomas said. "If he don’t want to go there, he don’t want to go there. That’s on him."

For what it's worth, Valentine said Tuesday his mother wasn't necessarily pushing him to stay close to home.

"She’s with me anywhere I go,"  Valentine said. "She’s with me through the long run. It’s not about a staying home situation."

Valentine is scheduled to make his college announcement during a small ceremony at Champagnat Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

January 30, 2014

WR Worton not taking official visit to UM; JUCO DT Wyche de-commits

The Hurricanes aren't exactly humming down the homestretch of this recruiting season.

Although it was nice to hear 2014 quarterback Brad Kaaya will be sticking with his commitment, the Hurricanes got some bad news Thursday whenJUCO defensive tackle Michael Wyche announced on his Twitter account he was de-committing from the program.

Wyche, a 6-4, 315-pound standout from East Los Angeles Junior College, had signed with UM last month but was being delayed entry because he was appealing an obscure ACC rule that requires players be enrolled three semesters at the same junior college. As our Barry Jackson wrote on his Sports Buzz blog, Wyche could have stayed committed to UM and enrolled here in May but apparently has chosen not to, at least at this point.

With U.S. Army All-American and local standout Travonte Valentine leaning heavily toward LSU, UM currently has three defensive tackles commitments: four-star St. Thomas Aquinas standout Anthony Moten, three-star junior college transfer Calvin Heurteleu (already enrolled) and three-star N.J. prospect Courtel Jenkins.

With only three returning defensive tackles in Olsen Pierre, Earl Moore, and Corey King, the Hurricanes badly need immediate help.

> Hurricanes offensive coordinator James Coley made a late push to get an official visit this coming weekend from South Dade receiver C.J. Worton, an All-Dade 1st team selection and former Florida State commitment. But it now appears that won't be happening.

"I’m finished with the visits," Worton told The Miami Herald. "For one, it’s my birthday today and there are a lot of people I'm going to be seeing. Two, my dad won’t be able to make it too. I wanted to take the trip with him. So, it looks like I won’t be going up. I haven’t ruled out the possibility of going onSunday just to go talk to Coach Coley.

"But there’s not really a big chance that plays a big factor. I just always enjoy his company and have a really good connection with him. I'll probably just go see him, hear what he has to say -- if even I even go Sunday."

Worton said although many people are predicting him to go to Florida he's completely torn between the Gators and West Virginia.

"I don’t have a leader," Worton said. "I’m torn between the two honestly. I love the schools, both coaching staffs. I love every aspect of each coaching staff. It’s going to be very hard. I’m going to tell the coaches either Sunday or Monday of my decision. Eventually someone has to have their feelings hurt. I don’t want to leave it up until Signing Day. I feel that’s disrespectful. Whatever school I choose will be Sunday or Monday and then I’ll go announce at school."

Kaaya ends speculation, tweets he is signing with UM

For weeks Hurricanes fans have been walking around with a bit of a knot in their stomachs, worried class of 2014 quarterback Brad Kaaya, committed to Miami since May, might end up opting to stay home somewhere out on the West Coast.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Semper Fi All-American, rated the seventh-best consensus pro-style quarterback in the country, ended those fears Thursday afternoon when he tweeted he planned to sign with Miami next Wednesday.

Kaaya had visited Boise State recently and was also being pursued by UCLA.

Boise State landed a commitment from Alex Ogle, a three-star quarterback from Jensen Beach, Fla., late Wednesday night.

The Hurricanes have two quarterbacks lined up in their 2014 signing class. Malik Rosier, a 3-star dual-threat quarterback from Mobile, Ala. is the other.

The Canes are also hosting Miami Booker T. Washington quarterback Treon Harris, a four-star recruit committed to FSU, this coming weekend. It's unlikely the Hurricanes will sway Harris to stay home.

> Two 2015 All-Broward First Team selections and highly-touted recruits Shawn Burgess-Becker and Calvin Ridley, who both attend Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, will make their college choices Sunday at 1 p.m. following a 7-on-7 practice. Miami is high on the list for both, who are listed as four-star receivers by 247Sports.com.

FYI, the Hurricanes have already offered 116 recruits in the 2015 class according to 247Sports.com including 52 in state, 21 from Dade and Broward Counties.

> Rapper Luther Campbell, who has long had ties to the University of Miami and many of the top innercity players in South Florida, was hired this week to be the defensive coordinator at Miami Norland. Campbell has coached at Miami Northwestern and Miami Central in the past. Although he's been critical of coach Al Golden in the past, he said he supports the program.

"I'm ready to go," said Campbell, who was with Northwestern until the middle of last season. "We got some young kids who were beat up last year, but they never laid down. [Norland coach Daryle] Heidelburg is one of the best offensive coordinators, head coaches and I'm excited. They got some kids. All the defensive backs, they got the best defensive back field in the county. I'm happy."

> Fort Lauderdale Dillard coach Lorenzo Davis said Randy Ramsey, an All-Broward first team defensive prospect the Hurricanes have made a late push for, has yet to decide if he's going to visit UM this weekend or not. Ramsey, a three-star recruit, recently committed to Arkansas.

January 29, 2014

Canes making late push for Dillard athlete Randy Ramsey, South Dade WR CJ Worton

It's never too late to try and use your home field advantage.

And apparently that's what the Miami Hurricanes and Al Golden are doing with a week to go before National Signing Day.

According to Fort Lauderdale Dillard coach Lorenzo Davis, Golden and UM assistants swung by the school on Tuesday to visit recent Arkansas commitment Randy Ramsey. And now the 6-4, 210-pound senior is pondering whether or not to take a last minute official visit to UM this coming weekend.

"Right now he and his parents are thinking about it," Davis said. "We’ll know something by [Thursday] evening. I don’t think it would be a bad thing to take a visit.

"He likes Miami. They’re the hometown team. They offered him a while ago and were trying to get him to visit, but he never would. Nothing wrong with going to look and see what it's like. He has a chance now not to have any regrets. There’s no loss just to go."

The Hurricanes apparently hadn't been after Ramsey hard enough and he wanted to see more of an effort on their part, Davis said.

Ramsey earned All-Broward First Team honors by the Miami Herald this season after racking up 20 sacks as an undersized defensive end. His future position in college remains up in the air. He's played cornerback, linebacker and rush end in the past.

"I think a reason a lot of schools were kind of holding back was because they were trying to figure out what position he was going to play," Davis said. "I was telling them all from the get-go just take him as an athlete. He did some amazing things for us this season."

> Another local player UM is hoping to get a visit from on a late push is South Dade receiver C.J. Worton, who recently de-committed from Florida State and is now entertaining offers from Florida, West Virginia and the Hurricanes. He told 247Sports its likely he'll visit UM this weekend.

“Well, I really haven’t had much contact with them, until recently I started talking to coach [James] Coley again,” Worton said of the Miami offensive coordinator. “He’s the one that originally recruited me to Florida State, so I always had a real good relationship with him. He just asked me how everything is going, I guess he heard I decommitted."

“He’s always wanted to coach me and he said wherever he was, that’s where he wanted me to go there...He’s very trust worthy, I trust him a lot. I know he will take care of me wherever I go and I know he wants to run his office through me.”

Worton told 247 it's like UM will get his last official visit because he feels like he owes it to Coley and his father has always been a big UM fan.

"I think it would be cool to try to get him to go if I end up do going," Worton told 247Sports. "I feel like that would be really cool for him to get up there and see the coaches and see the facilities. Since it’s so close, it’s an easy trip. I’m tired of all these plane flights and everything.”

Worton caught 42 passes for 1,052 yards to lead Dade County this season. His teammate, receiver Tyre Brady, is a UM commitment. Worton capped his senior year by hauling in six catches for 159 yards and 3 TDs in South Dade's Class 8A state championship victory.

UM's early enrollee list expands to nine; which ones will help Canes immediately?

The Miami Hurricanes welcomed three more early signees to their 2014 signing class on Wednesday bringing their total to nine.

The three new players signed, sealed and on campus for spring semester are Miami Northwestern cornerback Ryan Mayes, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College defensive tackle Calvin Heurtelou and outside linebacker Darrion Owens of Orange Park's Oakleaf High.

They join the previous group of six already at UM: Miami Central All-American running back Joseph Yearby and offensive lineman Trevor Darling, Palm Beach Central All-American offensive tackle Kc McDermott, Winter Park All-American defensive end Trent Harris, All-American receiver Braxton Berrios of Raleigh, N.C. and outside linebacker Juwon Young of Albany, Ga.

Yearby and Berrios are injured and not expected to participate in spring football. Defensive tackle Michael Wyche, a JUCO standout at East Los Angeles College, signed with UM but hasn't received the necessary clearence from the ACC to start in the spring and is likely to enroll in May.

So who can likely help UM right away from this group? Charles Fishbein of Elite Scouting Services gave me his opinion on the eight players he's seen play in person (he never saw Heurtelou play).

- On RB Joseph Yearby (5-9, 180): “I definitely think he’s going to be a kid that comes in and plays right away. He’ll be the second-best running back on the team behind Duke. He’ll give you the same things Duke does. He’s not going to get hit hard. I think he’s going to be very good at the next level, runs with good pad level. Even if he doesn’t play in the spring, he’ll be able to give them something this year.”

- On OT Kc McDermott (6-6, 301): “Kc is a kid is I really think is going to be fighting for one of the tackle spots from Day 1. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he starts every game in his career at Miami. He’s an NFL kid, an instant impact player. He’s definitely further ahead than Ereck Flowers was as a freshman and he played and started right away. Kc is very polished, smart and is going to be a quick learner. What he’s going to be is what everybody hoped and expected out of Seantrel Henderson.”

- OT Trevor Darling (6-5, 330): “He’s a kid who was a four-year starter on a national championship caliber team that won three state titles. He was blocking as a freshman for Devante Freeman (now at FSU) and then the last three for Yearby and [Dalvin] Cook. He’s a big strong, physical kid. I think he can play guard or tackle. I would like to see him redshirt this year. But I think in a pinch he could be used at right tackle or guard if needed. He has a lot of logged minutes playing at a high level. All those snaps can only help you out. There’s just a lot of football this kid has played. He’s probably one of those guys if you had to throw him in there he could at least hold his own. He has NFL-type potential. Once he’s in a college weight room you don’t know how much stronger he’s going to get.”

- DE Trent Harris (6-2, 231): “He’s a kid that comes in at a position Miami need badly. I think he’s very similar to Al-Quadin Muhammad, Tyriq McCord as freshmen, a guy who can come in on third down and help. The fact he’ll be able to come in early will help him. He can get his feet wet. I think if they need him he could come in on third and 12 and get a sack. He’s not an everyday player right now. But he’ll get the benefit of what probably will be a redshirt year. If not, he should be able to play on special teams right away and in another year or two could be a very special player."

- OLB Darrion Owens (6-3 1/2, 216): “The first time I saw him was at Ed White High School as a sophomore safety. He’s probably more of a linebacker now. He’s going to give Miami something it hasn’t had and that is the potential to be a 235-pound guy who can run, play strongside linebacker, drop back into coverage, cover a tight end and help this defense. He has a lot of upside, probably one of the more underrated guys in their class and more potential than most of the guys they have. He kind of reminds me of Rocky McIntosh, a guy who played multiple positions for Miami. Rocky had the frame. This isn't a 6-1, 190 pound linebacker you hope to add weight to. Owens may be closer to 6-3, 6-4, with a long body built for the ability to put on more weight. You have that same thing with AQM and McCord, an Alex Figueroa, who is going to be a 240-pound kid at Miami."

- WR Braxton Berrios (5-9, 181): “He’s one of those kids I’ve only seen in 7-on-7 settings and film. But I can tell you he sees the ball well, catches the ball very well, runs good routes and is very competitive. On 3rd and 8, when you need that one receiver to keep the chains moving, he’s that kid. He can take a hitch route and take it the distance, too. Look at the kid Ryan Switzer at North Carolina.  I think Berrios is like him, a kid who can be explosive on special teams and in the red zone.”

- OLB Juwon Young (6-2, 235): “Another guy they need as far as a need position at linebacker. They’ve done a good job of finding talented kids from Georgia in the past like Eddie Johnson. It’s just a matter of keeping them in school. Young really provides Miami with more depth than anything else – especially on special teams. Down the road, I think he’ll be a pretty good player, a potential starter by his second or third year. He’ll be in the rotation then.”

- CB Ryan Mayes (6-2, 180): “The one thing he does is he gives Miami a corner with more size. He’s probably similar to Ladarius Gunter. He doesn’t have great top-end speed, but enough to hang with most receivers. He’s going to handle bigger receivers and be physical with them. When you face guys like Kelvin Benjamin at FSU or one of those big Clemson guys you need somebody to matchup with them. He’s definitely a redshirt candidate and somebody who has to get healthy, though. I think that’s a big reason he struggled as senior. He got hurt in the spring and never really recovered. The potential was there when he was a junior at Krop High, though. He’s good in man coverage.”

January 28, 2014

Valentine acknowledges his heart is with LSU and says UM "must show me something" on official visit

U.S. Army All-American defensive tackle Travonte Valentine got an early morning visit at Hialeah Champagnat from Hurricanes coach Al Golden and a couple of assistants on Tuesday.

Golden was there for two reasons: he wanted to make sure the 6-5, 325-pound Valentine was going to give the Canes an official visit this coming weekend and a shot to earn his signature on National Signing Day.

Mission accomplished.

Valentine, tabbed the 65th best 2014 prospect (regardless of position) according to 247Sports' composite rankings, said he assured Golden that he and his mother would visit Coral Gables officially this coming weekend. And he also said UM still has a shot to win him over, even though it's pretty clear LSU has his heart "as of right now."

"I don't know [what Miami has to do to change my heart]," said Valentine, who was wearing an LSU backback during a half hour interview at school with The Miami Herald Tuesday. "They just have to show me something."

That something is kind of difficult to put a finger on right now. Valentine, who de-committed from Miami late last month when the Golden to Penn State rumors were running rampant, knows he can come in and play early at Miami given the current state of the defensive line.

He also knows what Coral Gables is all about. Valentine said he's been down to UM so many times already he can't remember exactly how many unofficial visits he's made. So why does he feel the need to go there again this coming weekend?

"Just to have a good time with the players and the commits," he said.

Apparently Valentine hasn't done enough of that already. Valentine said while he's bonded with the coaches at UM, he hasn't felt the same "bonding experience" with Canes players and recruits. He said the reason his trip to LSU was special was because he did feel that bonding experience with a few former South Floridians who now call Baton Rouge home.

Valentine called that "a really big" factor.

"Team bonding," Valentine said when asked what he's ultimately looking for before making a final decision. "I want to bond with the team. I want everything to be good, a family situation when I get there.

"Like what I had this past weekend with [LSU freshman cornerback] Rashard Robinson [a Pompano Ely grad], [LSU freshman defensive tackle] Quan Bain [a University School grad] and [Hallandale senior safety and LSU 2014 commitment] John Battle. I have chemistry with them boys."

Valentine said he's already discussed rooming with Battle at LSU.

"Even though I can’t say I have that at Miami, I can have that [chemistry eventually] with guys like Chad Thomas, Anthony Moten, Mike Smith and Braxton Berrios," Valentine said. "We just have to build it."

When it comes to relationships, Valentine said he's been building a strong one with LSU assistant Corey Raymond since November. How is his chemistry with Canes assistant coach Hurley Brown? "It's pretty good," Valentine said. "Coach Hurley has known my stepdad since high school."

Valentine said Golden's recruiting pitch Tuesday was pretty clear cut. He brought up the history Miami has had with defensive linemen, and that he wants to have the opportunity to coach another great one. Valentine said Golden ended his pitch by saying: 'Let me coach you.'

How did those words make Valentine feel?

"Those were pretty big, decent words," Valentine said. "I felt like that’s something I have to think about."

Valentine promises he will and will do so before making his announcement on Signing Day. Champagnat coach Mike Tunsil said the school is planning to have its ceremonies around 10:30 a.m.

"I can never fault Miami for the way they've recruited Travonte," Tunsil said. "They did a great job recruiting him. I could never complain about that. They’ve been on him hard. They had the defensive coordinator, the d-line coach, the head coach over here. Overall, I think they could recruit our school better. But as far as Travonte, they’ve done great."


> For those of you sweating over Chad Thomas' recruiting visits to Florida State last weekend and his upcoming visit to Alabama -- go ahead and stop.

The five-star All-American defensive end made it pretty clear Tuesday he isn't planning on breaking Canes hearts on Signing Day.

"There’s no suspense," Thomas said. "I’ve been throwing up The U since the first game of the season. I’m not really trying to build any suspense, get anybody wound up, rowdy. Miami coaches knew I was going to take trips. They've just told me to have fun –- not just too much fun."

Thomas, an aspiring musician when he isn't killing quarterbacks on the football field, has been looking at UM's Frost Music School since well before the Hurricanes ever offered him a football scholarship. As a student at New World School of the Arts in Miami, he's been playing the piano, tuba and a number of other instruments for years and dreaming of attending Miami's music school.

While he said seeing FSU's music school -- and having a long talk with former Seminole Myron Rolle -- were nice experiences last weekend, Miami is still his school.

"It's two different music programs," Thomas said. "They look more into the production side at FSU. Miami has a great production side too. But I think the production side and band side at Miami are both great."

Has Alabama talked to Thomas about music? "No. Just football," he said with a grin.

Is he 100 percent Hurricane? "Yes sir," Thomas said. "Alabama knows that. They're just doing their job recruiting me."

> Booker T. offensive coordinator Tim Harris Jr. said he believes Thomas and defensive end Demetrius Jackson will both sign with UM next Wednesday.

Jackson, a three-star recruit according to 247Sports, visited Arkansas last weekend after telling a few recruiting websites he wasn't taking any more trips and was solid to UM.

"Arkansas was the first school that offered him," Harris Jr. said. "It’s a big school, SEC school. It’s only right to go on an official visit like that. I’ve seen people have bashed him on his Twitter for it. People don’t understand he just wants to take a visit. Kids work themselves to get this point. Us as coaches we help them along the way, but those kids, this is their moment. At the end of the day I think he’s going to stick with Miami as well."

January 19, 2014

Duke Johnson says he doubts he'll be back for spring football; Miami lands 2015 commitment

The Miami Herald's Safid Deen, who covers recruiting for us, bumped into Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson at a South Florida Express 7-on-7 practice Sunday morning.

Johnson, whose season came to an abrupt end when he broke his ankle against national champion Florida State, covered a few topics including whether or not he thinks he will be back on the field for spring practice.

"I don't believe I will," Johnson told Deen. "But if anything changes, you'll see. But I don't really think so."

Johnson guessed he was about "a month and a half to two months" away from participating to on field activities. Johnson said he is lifting weights.

Johnson said the rumors about coach Al Golden leaving for Penn State earlier this month were exactly what he and the team believed them to be "rumors."

Johnson said Golden never spoke to the team about the rumors.

"We didn't feel the need to," Johnson said. "We looked at it as just rumor as that's what it was. Nothing took place that we know of. Nothing really happened. He's still here. There was no need to have a talk with us. We're moving on to our season and don't have time for distractions such as that."

> Canesport.com and InsideTheU.com reported Sunday that Miami received a commitment from 2015 offensive lineman Kevin Feder of Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey. Feder (6-9, 305) is rated a three-star recruit according to both sites.

> Both sites also reported 2014 commitment Demetrius Jackson, a 6-4, 220-pound defensive end from Miami Booker T. Washington "solidified his commitment" to the Hurricanes after taking his official visit this weekend. Jackson reportedly canceled an official visit he had planned for Texas Tech next weekend.

January 17, 2014

Grading Miami's recruiting class, roster as homestretch before Signing Day begins

We are heading down the homestretch here in recruiting. Thursday, the dead period ended and college coaches were back on the recruiting trail.

With three final weekends of visits left before National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb. 5., most of the best players in the country -- almost all already committed -- are playing the game and looking for nice weekend get-aways while building the suspense for their "big announcements." Personally, I hate what recruiting has become. I'm convinced most of these kids have made up their minds and only a select few are really on the fence with decisions. 

With that, I give you the rundown of how the Class of 2014 for the Hurricanes has been pieced together thus far. As you know, things change quickly in the recruiting world. All it takes is one tweet to send a fan base off the edge these days. Miami has 26 players currently "committed" to being a part of the incoming class and could add more or lose more in the coming weeks. The class ranks eighth according to ESPN; ninth according to Rivals and 10th according to 247Sports.


UM reportedly offered 10 quarterbacks according to 247Sports.com and landed a commitment from West Hills Chaminade (Calif.) Brad Kaaya (6-4, 215) back in May. He’s considered the seventh best Pro-Style Quarterback in the country. Kaaya will visit UM this weekend (Jan. 17) and has maintained he’s a firm commitment to Miami. But he’s still being courted by Boise State and UCLA and there's a chance he could spurn UM late and stay on the West Coast. Miami has another quarterback commitment from Faith Academy’s Malik Rosier (6-2, 205) of Mobile, Ala.

Of the five dual-threat QBs Miami offered Rosier is ranked lowest by 247Sports (27th). Miami had a commitment from the higher-rated Alin Edouard (6-1, 180) of Hialeah High but stopped recruiting him. Edouard is now committed to Syracuse. The Hurricanes finally offered hometown star Treon Harris (5-11, 180, 9th best dual-threat QB according to 247Sports) of Miami Booker T. Washington a scholarship offer at quarterback and he will visit UM on Jan. 31. Harris is committed to Florida State.

> My take: Everything I hear about Kaaya is that he has an NFL arm and offensive coordinator James Coley loves him. Considering Kevin Olsen – last year’s big signee – was suspended for the bowl game it’s imperative Miami holds onto Kaaya. I have little doubt Ryan Williams will be Miami’s starting quarterback when the 2014 season starts, but the Hurricanes badly need a young passer to emerge as the season moves along. If not Olsen, then it has to be Kaaya. The fact Miami offered Harris at quarterback this late is almost comical. At what point during Booker T.’s national championship run did coaches finally say ‘That Harris kid is pretty good?’ He should have been offered at quarterback much earlier. Current recruiting grade: B+ (if Kaaya sticks around). Overall position grade heading into 2014: C


UM offered 18 running backs a scholarship according to 247Sports.com and currently has only one committed – Miami Central star Joseph Yearby. The 5-9, 190-pound consensus 4-star tailback is rated eighth-best at his position and is already enrolled at UM. But this was a big year for running backs in South Florida and Miami not only missed out on two blue-chip talents -- American Heritage’s Sony Michel (5-star, Georgia) and Central’s Dalvin Cook (5-star, Florida State)– they also lost the top running back in Broward County, Deerfield Beach’s Brandon Powell, who made a last-second switch to Florida after Miami had already announced him as an early enrollee.

The Hurricanes now appear focused on trying to land JUCO running back De’Andre Mann (5-10, 205) of Salinas (Calif.) Hartnell Community College or Louisiana's Cameron McKnight (6-2, 220, 4.6-speed, 3-star Rivals). Mann, a backup to former Hurricane and current Miami Dolphin Lamar Miller, ran for a school-record 1,706 yards and 30 touchdowns this past season. Canesport.com reported Mann has nine offers including Kansas, Western Kentucky, Purdue and Hawaii. McKnight's other offers are Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe and Southern Miss.

> My take: I'm taking the approach that Miami only needed to land one of the big three (Yearby, Cook, Michel) in its backyard and pat them on the back for it. I’m not sure how many programs out there can land more than one Top 10 consensus running back each year anyway -- especially with Duke Johnson already in the backfield. But losing Powell at the last second to hated rival Florida was bad. Now the Canes are scrambling. Yearby, coming off a foot injury, will almost certainly see playing time in 2014. Miami definitely needs to sign at least two backs in this class, though. If they don't that's a big failure. Personally, I'd give Coral Gables High standout Gregory Howell (6-0, 204) a look. FAU and Minnesota have shown interest in him. He's been dominant in his three years as a starter in Miami-Dade County. Current recruiting grade: B. Overall position strength: B


Homestead’s Ermon Lane (6-3, 193) was the highest rated of the 26 receivers Miami offered according to 247Sports.com. But he never seriously considered the Hurricanes and after de-committing from Florida last week appears headed to Florida State where he will take his final official visit on Jan. 31. Instead, Miami has ended up with three three-star commitments in Raleigh, N.C.’s Braxton Berrios (5-8, 170, No. 52 WR according to 247Sports), Darrell Langham (6-5, 190, No. 70 WR according to 247Sports) of Santaluces Community School in Lake Worth, Fla., and South Dade’s Tyre Brady (6-3, 187, No. 141 WR according to 247Sports) and a wildcard in Carol City’s Trayone Gray (6-2, 210, No. 59 ATH according to 247Sports). Two other receivers badly coveted and missed out on were West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman’s Travis Rudolph (6-1, 185, No. 6 WR according to 247Sports) who is headed to Florida State and Palm Beach Dwyer’s Johnnie Dixon (5-10, 187, No. 8 WR according to 247Sports) who is headed to Ohio State. FSU also took Brady’s teammate C.J. Worton (6-1, 175, No. 75 WR according to 247Sports). We’ll have to see who ends up having the better career between Worton and Brady. St. Thomas Aquinas four-star receiver Corey Holmes (6-2, 175) was the only other Dade or Broward County receiver the Hurricanes offered.

At tight end, Miami offered a dozen recruits according to 247Sports and landed a commitment from Chris Herndon (6-4, 230, No. 33 TE according to 247Sports) from Norcross, Ga. Canesport.com reported Miami is pursuing Cedar Grove (N.J.) tight end/receiver David Njoku (6-4, 217, No. 71 TE according to 247Sports). He already took a Miami visit in December and is still being pursued by Penn State, Ohio State and Temple.

> My take: Some kids just don’t want to stay home and I think that’s the case with Lane. Getting Rudolph or Dixon certainly would have been upgrades over what Miami ended up with. But Miami still went out and got three solid receivers to help fill a need. I just don't see a Stacy Coley in this group. Gray, whose grades have always been a concern, would instantly be the best receiver in this group in my opinion if he makes it into school without a hitch. With Tuesday’s news that 2013 signee Derrick Griffin is heading to Junior College, the Hurricanes will likely need at least one new addition to step in and help in 2014 alongside Coley, Herb Waters and Phillip Dorsett. As you know, Malcolm Lewis needs to prove he’s fully recovered from his 2012 foot injury and Rashawn Scott needs to prove he can avoid suspensions. At tight end, 2013 signee Standish Dobard (1 catch, 15 yards in 3 games) should have no trouble replacing the role of Asante Cleveland (3 catches, 23 yards, 1 TD in 13 games) as the team’s third tight end behind Clive Walford and Beau Sandland. That should make 2014 a redshirt season for Herndon and whoever else Miami signs. It would have been nice for the Hurricanes to nab local product Ravian Pierce (6-4, 215, No. 14 TE according to 247Sports) but that ended up as a victory for former Canes coach Randy Shannon and Arkansas. Current recruiting grade: B. Overall position strength: B+


The Hurricanes reportedly offered 30 offensive linemen according to 247Sports and did well landing early commitments from four much-needed prospects all in-state including three locally. Kc McDermott (6-6, 300, No. 3 offensive tackle according to 247Sports) is probably the best offensive player in Miami’s class and has a legitimate shot of starting at Miami from Day 1. McDermott along with three-time state champion and Miami Central standout Trevor Darling (6-4.5, 327, No. 8 offensive tackle according to 247Sports) are already enrolled at UM and on the team roster. St. Thomas Aquinas standout and Under-Armour All-American Nick Linder (6-3, 273, No. 56 offensive guard according to 247Sports) and Semper-Fi All-American Reilly Gibbons (6-6, 292, No. 28 offensive tackle according to 247Sports) will arrive in the fall.

> My take: Clearly the best part of Miami’s class on offense because there are no big misses and lots of quality. Two members of this group should help make up for the losses of four players in the rotation last season: starting right guard Brandon Linder (Nick’s older brother), starting right tackle Seantrel Henderson, key sixth man Jared Wheeler and Malcolm Bunche, who is seeking a transfer. Junior Hunter Wells, sophomores Danny Isidora, Taylor Gadbois and Alex Gall and redshirt freshmen Sunny Odogwu and Hunter Knighton are “the other guys” coming back alongside starting left tackle Ereck Flowers, left guard Jonathan Feliciano and center Shane McDermott (Kc’s older brother). Current recruiting grade: A. Overall position grade: B


Addressing the defensive line was clearly the priority for the Hurricanes in this class. According to 247Sports.com, Miami offered 33 defensive ends and 30 defensive tackles. Miami Booker T. Washington's Chad Thomas (6-5, 240, No. 3 weakside defensive end according to 247Sports), an Under Armour All-American, is widely considered the best defensive player in this class and is UM's only 5-star recruit. Teammate Demetrius Jackson (6-4, 220, No. 20 weakside defensive end according to 247Sports) has been flirting with Arkansas for a long time and is a late flight risk. He’ll visit UM this weekend where Miami hopes to solidify him. Winter Park’s Trent Harris (6-2, 231, No. 14 weakside defensive end according to 247Sports) is already enrolled at UM. Miami Northwestern’s Mike Smith (6-2, 210, No. 32 strongside defensive end according to 247Sports) has been committed to UM since June but will visit Louisville, a hub for former Northwestern standouts, on Jan. 31. 

At tackle -- a position Miami has long suffered at -- the Hurricanes have addressed immediate needs with two JUCO signees Michael Wyche (6-4, 315, No. 12 JUCO DT according to 247Sports) and Calvin Heurtelou (6-3, 304, No, 9 JUCO DT according to 247Sports) of Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College). Wyche is waiting on an ACC appeal to report and Heurtelou is working to arrive before Miami’s Jan. 23 deadline to register. Of the group of tackles, however, St. Thomas Aquinas Semper Fi All-American Anthony Moten (6-4, 292, No. 15 DT according to 247Sports) is the most highly-regarded. The Hurricanes also have Courtel Jenkins (6-2, 294, No. 76 DT according to 247Sports) of St. Anthony School in Jersey City, N.J. lined up to be part of the class. He’s been committed since June and had other offers from Maryland, Rutgers and Pittsburgh.

> My take: A big key here for Golden and his staff will be getting U.S. Army All-American Travonte Valentine (6-3, 338, No. 7 DT according to 247Sports) of Hialeah Champagnat back in the class. Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio and two assistants went to visit Valentine at school on Thursday. He de-committed after Golden flirted with the Penn State job after was already leaning toward leaving for LSU, where he will take an official visit (Jan. 24) before visiting Miami (Jan. 31). Locally, UM was in the running early for Chaminade Prep U.S. Army All-American Khairi Clark (6-2, 325, No. 17 DT according to 247Sports) before he committed to Florida in June. In the end, Miami went after the three best available pass rushers and three run stuffers in their backyard and currently have four of the six committed and could end up with five if Valentine comes back. Throw in two quality JUCO guys who can help right away and a defensive end who is already enrolled and it’s a very good haul. Considering the team lost six players to graduation – and only two starters (tackle Curtis Porter and end Shayon Green) Miami has clearly upgraded on paper overall. Current recruiting grade: A- Overall position grade (with signing class): B.


The Hurricanes reportedly offered a total of 36 linebackers according to 247Sports and have three lined up to be part of the 2014 class. None of the three are considered elite, but the good news is two could be around for spring football. Juwon Young (6-2, 228, No. 59 OLB according to 247Sports) of Albany, Ga., is already enrolled at Miami. Darrion Owens (6-3, 216, No. 30 OLB according to 247Sports) of Oakleaf High in Orange Park, Fla. is still trying to enroll before the Jan. 23 deadline. Pompano Beach Ely’s Terry McCray (6-2, 215, No. 60 ILB according to 247Sports), expected to arrive in the fall, has a small ongoing romance working with LSU, which has taken kids from Ely in the past but doesn’t appear interested enough at the moment to take him. Miami is also still reportedly in the hunt for four-star Raymon Minor (6-3, 210, No. 18 OLB according to 247Sports) of Richmond, Va., who will take an official visit this weekend. There’s also a chance former 2011 signee Antonio Kinard could sign with Miami. But his JUCO coach at Arizona Western College reportedly doubts Kinard will finish school by July.

> My take: Locally and in the state it just wasn’t a very good year for linebackers. Three of the top six ranked among the Top 100 players in the state – Jacob Pugh, Kain Daub and Delvin Purifoy (three top 20 players) – are all headed to Florida State. The one local recruit in the state’s Top 100, University School’s Richard Yeargin, is headed to Notre Dame. Miami didn’t offer Yeargin according to 247Sports. The fact Denzel Perryman is returning to Miami downgrades my concern at linebacker from Category 5 problem to Tropical Storm. There are quite a few young guys who have to step up on this unit in a big way. It's time for Raphael Kirby, Alex Figueroa and Tyriq McCord to prove they can be dependable starters and not role players. Current recruiting grade: C+ Overall position grade: D+


Miami reportedly offered 19 cornerbacks and 20 safeties according to 247Sports.com and have one corner and two safeties committed, none who will be around early this spring. Kiy Hester (6-0, 200, No. 19 S according to 247Sports) of St. Joseph Regional in Motvale, NJ and Marques Gayot (6-1, 205, No. 67 S according to 247Sports) of Park Vista Community School in Lake Worth, Fla. are the two safeties Miami got commitments from in December. Miami Northwestern’s Ryan Mayes (6-2, 180, No. 67 CB according to 247Sports) has been committed to the program since June. The Hurricanes had another commitment from Booker T. Washington’s Nigel Bethel (5-9, 173, No. 28 CB according to 247Sports) but he recently switched to Texas Tech. Locally, there were other talented players in Miami’s backyard available in the secondary. But Plantation High’s Chris Lammons (5-9, 170, No. 20 CB according to 247Sports) committed and de-committed from Florida and is now looking at South Carolina. Miami never offered University School’s Quincy Wilson (6-1, 196, No. 28 S according to 247Sports). But they did go after Miami Central’s Deatrick Nichols (5-10, 180, No. 56 CB according to 247Sports), who committed to former high school coach Telly Lockette at USF. The other potential big swing and misses: Immokalee’s J.C. Jackson (5-10, 180, No. 19 WR according to 247Sports), who appears headed to join Florida State’s class. Miami is now reportedly in late on Tampa Jefferson athlete Deoindre Porter (6-1, 180, No. 190 ATH according to 247Sports). He de-committed from USF and is scheduled to visit UM on Jan. 31.

> My take: Miami had a commitment from Dillard’s Dennis Turner (5-11, 175, No. 150 CB according to 247Sports) but had him as a wide receiver and not at cornerback like where his own coach said he would probably be better suited to play. Although the additions of Hester and Gayot are good pickups for Miami, the fact Lammons, Bethel and Nicholas are all leaving town has to irk you a little. The good news is Miami has a chance to make up for it next year. The secondary, led by juniors Tracy Howard, Deon Bush, Antonio Crawford and Rashawn Jenkins, sophomore Artie Burns and senior Ladarius Gunter is a solid top six. Depth, though, will be a concern unless some young players step up. Current recruiting grade: B-. Overall position grade: B-

December 04, 2013

Central star RB Dalvin Cook signs grant-in aid agreement with Miami, but it's not a done deal yet

Miami Central standout Dalvin Cook, ranked as the No. 2 running back in the country by 247Sports, signed a grant-in aid agreement with the Hurricanes Wednesday along with teammates Joseph Yearby and Trevor Darling.

But before you go throwing a party Hurricanes fans,  understand this doesn't mean Cook, still a University of Florida commitment, will definitely be a part of Miami's 2014 signing class along with Yearby and Darling (longtime UM verbal commitments).

All this means is UM is now obligated to honor their scholarships, unlike the scenario for a traditional recruit who offers a non-binding verbal commitment. All three players are not tied to UM and could enroll elsewhere or sign a binding letter of intent with a different school as well. 

On the plus side, UM is no longer limited by NCAA regulations that restrict in-person contact with Cook. That includes phone calls and home visits.

Cook (5-11, 190) met with UM coaches earlier this week and told Miami Herald High School Sports Writer Andre Fernandez the experience was "eye-opening" because he finally got a chance to sit down and really see how strongly UM wants him.

"In person you really see what people are all about," Cook said. "I think there is definitely a strong possibility Joe and I still end up playing together at the next level." 

Cook also is still strongly considering Florida State. Central coach Roland Smith said Wednesday night at practice he wouldn't be surprised if Cook also signed a financial aid agreement with the Seminoles and Gators if he hadn't already.

Central is preparing for a Class 6A state semifinal showdown this week against Daytona Beach Mainland. Yearby, who is close with Cook, was lost for the season last week and had surgery Wednesday for a broken right fibula. Yearby told The Miami Herald he expects to be ready for spring football.

All three players plan on enrolling in college in January.

November 20, 2013

Dorsett, Burns doubtful to play Saturday against Virginia; Golden talks recruiting

Although he's has been hopeful to get 2012-leading receiver Phillip Dorsett (MCL tear) back soon, UM coach Al Golden said Wednesday both Dorsett and freshman cornerback Artie Burns (ankle) appear doubtful for Saturday's home finale against Virginia.

Neither player has been fully integrated into practice this week, Golden said.

"If he feels good we're going to give it a run. But it's not where it needs to be right now," Golden said of Dorsett, who has missed four games after injuring his knee Oct. 17 at North Carolina.

"He's isolated right now. Until he can become integrated, avoid guys and make guys miss and protect himself we're not going to put him out there. When he's ready to do that we'll do it. But right now it looks doubtful."

> Receiver Herb Waters (groin) injured against Duke "has a chance" to play Saturday, Golden said. Golden lists Waters as probable.

Receiver Stacy Coley and freshman cornerback Corn Elder, who were in a non-contact jerseys earlier this week at practice are expected to play, Golden said.

> With three commitments since the NCAA sanctions were announced last month, Golden was asked Wednesday if he's noticed more interest from recruits since the penalties do not include any post-season bans and only the loss of nine scholarships over three years.

"Their response has been different," Golden said. "We've gotten three [commitments] since the announcement, which is unique this time of the year. Kids are getting ready for playoffs and things like that. So it's attributed to that, there's no question about that because mostly kids made the decision two months ago or are waiting until the holidays, visits. So that's positive for us.

"I think most of the interest from the younger guys is that it's behind us now and not getting hammered. Remember, the kids that are [high school] juniors, all they've ever known about the University of Miami is that we've been in trouble. Since they've been recruitable prospects we've been under probation. So it's good to have that behind us now. We have to move forward."

Golden said the Hurricanes were cut short last year on scholarships "for a variety of reasons" and the staff is now "trying to compensate this year by signing more than we did last year."

UM's class features 27 commitments and is ranked fourth nationally by Rivals.com.

Has the fact the defense looked so bad helped garner more interest from recruits who think the could help right away? Golden bristled at that question.

"We're going to continue to need help everywhere," Golden said. "People want to talk about the defense because all of us haven't executed well enough the last couple of weeks. So I answer that question now I'm saying that the kids we have aren't good enough. That's not the case. The case, as I've been saying, is we're going to continue to build until we have the depth to go through a whole season and there's no drop-off. That's a separate question all of us here who have worked today, that watched film -- all of us have to fix what's going on now."

> Golden has been steadfast in his support for his seniors and wasn't happy Tuesday when a reporter suggested the sudden emergence of freshmen and sophomores on the team's latest depth chart are a sign coaches are making a decision to play younger players.

"On the outside it's easy to sweep it under the rug and act like it's no big deal or it's over. It's not over. These guys have been through a lot," Golden said of his seniors. "They stood with us through a really tumultuous time. I think it's important that me, the staff, their teammates support them down the stretch.

"I keep getting the questions 'Are you going to go younger now that you lost a couple' No. We're not doing that. We're going to honor these seniors and push them to the finish line and help them do something they haven't done. They haven't been to a bowl game the last two years. We have to finish off strong and send them off strong."

October 22, 2013

Official announcement from NCAA: 9 scholarships over 3 years for football, no more post-season bans

The news is officially out from the NCAA on UM -- and it's better than anticipated. LINK TO COMPLETE REPORT


> Public reprimand and censure.

> Three years of probation from October 22, 2013, through October 21, 2016.

> Former assistant football coach B (Clint Hurtt) penalties: A two-year show-cause order from October 22, 2013 through October 21, 2015. The public report contains further details. The committee also adopted penalties imposed by the coach’s current employing university, which are detailed in the public report.

> Former assistant football coach C (Aubrey Hill) penalties: A two-year show-cause order from October 22, 2013, through October 21, 2015. The public report contains further details.

> Former head men’s basketball coach Frank Haith penalties: A suspension for the first five regular-season games of the 2013-14 season. Attendance at one NCAA Regional Rules seminar at the conclusion of the 2013-14 academic year.

> Former assistant men’s basketball coach B (Jorge Fernandez) penalties: A two-year show-cause order from October 22, 2013, through October 21, 2015. The public report contains further details.

Football program penalties

> Reduction of football scholarship by a combined total of nine during the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.

> Miami may only provide a prospect on unofficial visits complementary tickets for one home game during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

Self-imposed by the university

> Two year bowl ban following the 2011 and 2012 seasons, including the 2012 ACC Championship game.

> Reduction of official paid visits for 2012-13 by 20 percent to a total of 36 visits.

> Reduction of fall evaluations in 2012-13 by six (from 42 to 36).

> Reduction of available contact days during the 2012-13 contact period by 20 percent.

Men’s basketball program penalties

> Reduction in the number of men’s basketball scholarships by one during the each of the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.

> Additional penalties: For all sports, any staff member who sends an impermissible text to a prospect will be fined a minimum of $100 per message, and coaches will be suspended from all recruiting activities for seven days.

> Further penalties resulting from impermissible texts and phone calls are detailed in the public report.

September 05, 2013

Who is on UM's recruiting guest list for the Florida game Saturday?

UM's sports information staff said 115 recruits and 350 high school football coaches have been invited to attend Saturday's showdown with the Florida Gators. 

UM coach Al Golden called it a “who’s who” list of top high school prospects.

Miami Herald Recruiting Writer Safid Deen has spent all week tracking down who those prospects are.

For starters, here is a list of the big names who will not be in attendance.

> Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer’s Johnnie Dixon, one of UM’s biggest wide receiver targets, will be on an official visit to N.C. State this weekend with fellow wide receiver teammate Clint Stephens, who also holds a UM offer.

> Two top juniors in South Florida who hold UM offers, Miami Gulliver Prep linebacker Dominic Sheppard and Hollywood McArthur safety Kendrell McFadden, wanted to attend the game, but didn’t hear back from UM’s coaching staff regarding an invite and will not attend.

> Homestead wide receiver Ermon Lane, Davie University School cornerback Quincy Wilson and Plantation athlete Chris Lammons – who all announced their pledge to UF on Aug. 13 – will not be in Sun Life Stadium. Lane and Wilson both have games on Saturday night, with early check-in times preventing them from attending the game. Lammons, who took an official visit to Gainesville for UF’s home opener against Toledo last weekend, said he’s taking no more visits.

Some heralded 2014 standouts both schools are looking to make an impact on that will be there:

  • West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman wide receiver Travis Rudolph, who claims more than 25 offers from schools across the nation including UF, UM and FSU.
  • Raleigh (N.C.) Leesville Road wide receiver Braxton Berrios is using his second official visit to attend to Saturday’s game. He visited Oregon last weekend, and has official visits planned to South Carolina and Tennessee. He plans to announce his college decision in October.
  • Plantation American Heritage receiver/running back Isaiah McKenzie, who has gained national attention on ESPN for his playmaking abilities. He’s down to Notre Dame, Rutgers and West Virginia, and said he was looking for a UM offer “sooner, but it didn’t come so I really don’t care for it.”
  • Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas defensive tackle Anthony Moten, who was previously committed to UF, but is uncommitted.  
  • South Dade wide receiver Tyre Brady, who holds offers from Miami, Kentucky, FSU, FAU and Minnesota.
  • Miami Central offensive lineman Michael Smith (USF commit) and Reginald Bain (FAU commit), and defensive back Deatrick Nichols (USF commit).

As far as 2015 prospects expected to attend:

  • Hialeah Westminster Christian athlete Tim Irvin, nephew of UM great Michael Irvin, and tight end Devonaire Clarington both claims offers from more than 10 schools including UM, UF, FSU, Georgia and Alabama. Running back teammate Jordan Cronkrite holds offers from FAU, Clemson and Cincinnati, but has interest in UM and UF.
  • Plantation American Heritage quarterback Torrance Gibson, who has offers from Miami, Ohio State and Florida State, amongst others.
  • Miramar cornerback Tyrek Cole claims offers from more than 15 schools, including UF, UM and FSU.
  • Pompano Beach Monarch athlete Shawn Burgess-Becker claims offers from schools like UM, UF, LSU and Alabama.
  • Miami Central defensive back Calvin Brewton, who has picked up some recruiting steam and recently claimed offers from Clemson, West Virginia, USF, Louisiana-Lafayette and Florida State, is still waiting to hear from UM and UF.
  • Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas wide receiver Devante Peete claims offers from schools like Ohio State, Alabama, Miami, Florida and Clemson.
  • Miami Killian safety Jaquan Johnson, who holds offers from more than 10 schools including UF, FSU and UM.
  • Miami Jackson WR Jovon Durante, a West Virginia commit who holds a UM offer.
  • Weston Cypress Bay linebacker Danny Thomas, who has yet to receive an offer from both schools as of now.
  • Jacksonville Trinity Christian Academy linebacker Jeff Holland, who claims more than 40 offers from schools, including UF and UM.
  • Orlando Timber Creek athlete Jacques Patrick claims offers from several schools including UM, UF, FSU, Auburn, and Michigan.

UM’s stacked 2014 recruiting class will be well represented with as many as 15 recruits expected to attend – all on unofficial visits. 

  • Miami Central OT Trevor Darling
  • Miami Central RB Joseph Yearby  
  • Winter Park DE Trent Harris  
  • Hialeah Champagnat Catholic DT Travonte Valentine
  • Miami Booker T. Washington DE Chad Thomas
  • Miami Booker T. Washington CB Nigel Bethel
  • Miami Booker T. Washington CB DE Demetrius Jackson
  • Deerfield Beach ATH Brandon Powell 
  • St. Petersburg Catholic OT Reilly Gibbons
  • Lake Worth Santaluces Community WR Darrell Langham
  • Poplarville (MS) Pearl River Community College DT Dalvon Stuckey
  • Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas OL Nick Linder  
  • Fort Lauderdale Dillard CB Dennis Turner
  • Pompano Beach Blanche Ely LB Terry McCray (will try to attend before his game Saturday night.)
  • Miami Carol City ATH Trayone Gray (will try to make it.)

Florida commits expected to attend:

  • Miami Central RB Dalvin Cook
  • Miami Central WR Da’Vante Phillips
  • Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna Prep DT Khairi Clark
  • Immokalee WR J.C. Jackson

UM 2014 commits who will NOT be in attendance:

  • Miami Northwestern DE Mike Smith (Saturday game).
  • Miami Northwestern CB Ryan Mayes
  • Palm Beach Central OL KC McDermott (has practice Saturday morning).
  • Mobile (Ala.) Faith Academy QB Malik Rozier (has tentative plans to take an official visit on Nov. 9 when UM hosts Virginia Tech.)
  • West Hills (Calif.) QB Brad Kaaya  
  • Albany (Ga.) LB Juwon Young
  • Fork Union Military Academy (Va.) TE Ryheem Lockley 
  • Norcross (Ga.) TE Chris Herndon
  • Jersey City (N.J.) St. Anthony OG Courtel Jenkins

Prospects with ties to one or both teams will not be in attendance:

  • Davie University School running back Jordan Scarlett, 2015, who claims at least 20 offers including UM, UF and FSU.
  • University School cornerback Rashard Causey, 2015, claims at least 15 offers including UM and UF.
  • University School athlete Sam Bruce, 2016, who claims at least 10 offers including UM and UF.
  • Miami Northwestern wide receiver Jojo Robinson, a 2014 FSU commit who holds a UM offer.
  • Tallahassee Lincoln wide receiver John Burt, 2015, who claims offers from FSU and UM.

The Herald is still working to confirm several players’ attendance before Saturday’s game. 

You can follow Safid on Twitter @Safid_Deen.

July 23, 2013

McCray talks Canes commitment, training with Patrick Peterson, evading Ely pipeline to LSU

Blanche Ely linebacker Terry McCray took an unofficial visit to UM Tuesday morning where he met with coaches and became the 24th commitment in the Hurricanes' 2014 recruiting class.

For McCray, a 6-3, 220-pound All-Broward Third Team selection as a junior, picking the Canes over Minnesota and West Virginia was an easy decision. 

"I always liked Miami, always liked the school," McCray said. "I really feel like the team they're putting together is going to be one of the best in the country. I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity for that and to play with my favorite college team."

By picking UM, McCray became the 15th commitment from South Florida to pick the Hurricanes and the first from Ely since 2003 when four members of the Tigers' state championship team including his cousin, defensive lineman Teraz McCray, opted to head to Coral Gables. 

"Our tradition for awhile there was sending guys to LSU -- Patrick Peterson, my cousin Rashard Robinson," said McCray, who has received interest from Florida State and LSU throughout the recruiting process. "I just didn't want to follow everybody else."

McCray, who turns 19 in January, said Hurricanes coaches have wanted him since October because of his ability to rush the quarterback and defend in pass coverage.

"On the internet it says I'm an inside linebacker, but I'm really an outside linebacker," McCray said. "UM wants me to be a part of their 3-4 scheme, rushing in and as a drop back linebacker. At Ely we play 3-4. So I'm basically just rushing and dropping back half the time."

McCray said the reason he's solid in pass coverage is because he actually grew up playing defensive back alongside his cousin Robinson and under the tutelage of Peterson. McCray said he's trained with Peterson every day in the mornings during the summer.

"I've known Patrick for almost 10 years. He used to live right by me," McCray said. "That's why I think I'm a good coverage linebacker. I always did DB stuff. He has a few linebackers he's played with here at Ely and other places that come out there and show me a few things. We just do like speed training, sometimes drills, individual drills."

McCray said he moved to linebacker as a sophomore at Ely and has been learning the position year-to-year while adding weight to his body. He's gained about 10 pounds since the end of last season, but still feels just as quick. He said he's also begun to study film a lot more than he did in the past.

"I feel like I have to watch it. I don't like to go out unprepared," McCray said. "It helps me read the snaps. I watch film so much now I know when they're going to snaps. I just started doing it this year. I want to be the best on the field."

McCray said he's done with recruiting and he plans on attending UM. But asked if he might take some trips at the end of the year, he said he probably would go on at least one -- to Minnesota, which like UM has been recruiting him a long time.

"I know this is the school I want to be at," McCray said. "I might go just visit some more schools to get out and go somewhere, just to see something new.

"My parents wanted me to be close to home anyway. They love Miami. We all love Miami."

Canes reel in another 2014 commitment from their own backyard -- Ely LB Terry McCray

Blanche Ely football coach Charles Hafley has been around Broward County for about a decade, long enough to see how the University of Miami has been run differently under its last three head coaches.

Terry McCrayWhen it's come to building relationships in the Hurricanes' backyard, it's the current guy in charge -- Al Golden -- whom Hafley said has figured out the best way to establish real meaningful connections, one that netted UM another commitment Tuesday morning in Ely linebacker Terry McCray.

Listed at 6-3, 220-pounds according to Hafley, McCray is ranked a three-star recruit according to 247Sports.com and the nation's 58th-best inside linebacker. Although rated just a two-star recruit by Rivals, McCray had BCS offers from Syracuse, Minnesota, Cincinnati and West Virginia and is a player the Hurricanes have been on since last October, Hafley said.

A Third Team All-Broward selection by The Miami Herald, McCray finished his junior season with 89 solo tackles, 13 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. Hafley said McCray has a 2.5 GPA and recently took the ACT, but still hasn't received the test score. He believes McCray will qualify at UM.

"They're recruiting him as an outside linebacker," Hafley said. "They really like his hybrid ability there, the way he rushes the quarterback and makes plays. What separates Terry is his knack and ability to be a student of the game. He comes in and watches film. He does what it takes to be a better leader. He's a 305-pound bencher, 200-pound power cleaner and 505-pound squatter. Runs a 4.6 [in the 40]. He's a phenomenal football player. We're going to move him around so teams can't get a beat on him.

What makes McCray's commitment significant for the Hurricanes is that he's the first player from Ely since four players from the Tigers last state championship team (2002) -- Tyrone Moss, Andrew Bain, Teraz McCray, and Cyrim Wimbs -- decided to head to Coral Gables. UM tried unsuccessfully to recruit others from Ely after that including star cornerback Patrick Peterson and most recently Rashard Robinson a year ago. Both went to LSU.

McCray's commitment gives the Hurricanes 24 total in the Class of 2014 including 15 from the South Florida area. Ten are from Miami-Dade, three from Broward and two from Palm Beach.

"Coach [Paul] Williams and Coach Golden did a great job of recruiting Terry," Hafley said. "South Florida has always been and always will be UM territory. Coach Shannon, Coach Coker knew that. But at the end of the day, Coach Golden is just going beyond the call of building relationships. His coaching staff and his support staff as well.

"To me, it's community service projects, the camps. They had Stephen Morris, [Denzel Perryman], [Tracy Howard] at the park down here in our neighborhood recently. The players are the ones really selling the program. Howard did a great job communicating and telling the kids what UM is all about, about it's family atmosphere. It's something that is big for the high school kids and younger kids to hear it from someone from their own backyard."

Hafley said Golden, who took over in 2011 after coming over from Temple, has built stronger relationships with head coaches and programs in South Florida.

"When Coach Golden came to recruit a previous player from here last year [Robinson] he took time to speak to staff members so he can build those relationships," Hafley said. "He's really winning over the South Florida coaching community by doing those things and the clinics they have.

"He's invited myself down to speak with him one-on-one. He's done that with a lot of other head coaches. It's that personal relationship he has with all the coaches that helps them in the long run."

Rivals.com currently ranks UM's class third behind Tennessee (24 commitments) and Florida State (22 commitments). 247Sports.com ranks UM's class fifth behind Tennessee, FSU, Georgia (16 commitments) and Alabama (15 commitments). ESPN, which moved UM up five spots after last week's commitments from Miami Booker T. Washington defensive end Chad Thomas and cornerback Nigel Bethel, had UM ranked seventh prior to Tuesday's commitment from McCray.

July 20, 2013

Canes reel-in another one from Booker T., land highly-touted DE Chad Thomas

This was the big fish the Hurricanes really wanted.

Defensive end Chad Thomas, the defensive line MVP at The Opening combine in Oregon two weeks ago and a consensus four-star recruit according to Rivals and 247Sports.com, committed to the University of Miami on Saturday morning -- a day after Miami Booker T. Washington teammate and star cornerback Nigel Bethel did the same.

Like Bethel, Thomas (6-4, 245) used his team's trip to Alabama and Florida State this past week to make sure that Coral Gables is where he really wanted to be.

"I added everything up and Miami had the best offer," said Thomas, who chose the Hurricanes over Florida State, Alabama, N.C. State, Louisville and LSU. "Florida State and Alabama are both great programs. But Miami has got what I’m looking for in terms of opportunity and academics too."

Thomas earned All-Dade and All-State First Team honors last season in helping lead Booker T. to the Class 4A state championship. He racked up 57 tackles and six sacks and along with Bethel and fellow Hurricanes commitment and defensive end Demetrius Jackson will anchor this year's nationally-ranked Tornadoes team on defense.

"I've been to Miami like 50 times," Thomas said. "Coach [Micheal] Barrow has been recruiting me hard since my sophomore year. Coach Barrow was a great player in the NFL and he's been telling me I can be the same down the road."

A two-year starter at Booker T., Thomas said he's gained over 40 pounds since the start of his junior year and the added muscle helps his body recover a lot faster than it did before.

"I work out three times a day with a trainer and basically I eat more," Thomas said. "I used to miss breakfast a lot. Now I eat my breakfast everyday. In fact, I eat four times a day. I’m gaining muscle."

Thomas said he's bench-pressed 225 pounds a total of 16 reps (UM aims for its college linemen to produce at least 20 reps) and was timed at 4.8 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

He said he learned a lot at The Opening from Ndamukong Suh, his position coach at the combine and plans to show off what he learned there this season.

"I feel like I'm not only bigger, but faster," Thomas said. "I just can't wait for the season to get started.

As for his college decision, Thomas said: "That's it. I'm done. Now I can just focus on football and school."

Thomas is the 23rd commit in Miami's 2014 class. As of Saturday morning, Miami had the No. 3 ranked recruiting class in the country for 2014 according to 247Sports.com.

July 19, 2013

Booker T. speedy cornerback Nigel Bethel commits to Canes on bus ride back from Alabama, FSU

Although he grew up a UM fan and had an inkling his future was in Coral Gables, Miami Booker T. Washington star cornerback Nigel Bethel wanted to confirm his feelings.

So, he took a trip with his high school teammates and head coach up to the University of Alabama and Florida State this past week to make sure there was no doubt in his mind he wanted to be a Hurricane.

It didn't take Bethel long to make up his mind. On the bus ride home from Tallahassee Friday, Bethel called UM coaches and announced his intentions. He's Coral Gables bound.

"I committed to Miami because I didn't want to leave my family and I wanted to be teammates with guys like Artie Burns and Tracy Howard," said Bethel, ranked a four-star recruit and the nation's 28th best cornerback according to Rivals.com.

"Miami is the only place I feel comfortable."

At 5-9, 175 pounds, Bethel has been a two-year starter for the nationally-ranked Tornadoes and is one of the fastest corners in the country. He ran the secod leg on Booker T.'s state championship 4x100-meter relay team and also placed second at state in the 200 meters (21.13) to earn All-Dade First Team honors. His coach Ice Harris said Bethel ran a low 4.4 the last time he timed in the 40-yard dash.

"A lot of the time our kids need to go out and see different things so they realize the best opportunity for them is at home. That's what happened in this case," Harris said. "Alabama, FSU, those are national championship programs just like Miami. Looking at where he was at and his situation, going to Miami in this case was his best fit."

The Hurricanes now have 22 non-binding oral commitments as part of the 2014 recruiting class and four defensive backs in all. Bethel is the most highly touted alongside Miami Northwestern's Ryan Mayes.

"He's a player that has a great upside," Harris said. "He's shown his development to keep getting better from year to year and is a true cover corner. We want to keep developing him. The next thing he's working on is continuing to show he can tackle going to the next level."

Bethel picked the Canes over offers from Tennessee and Kentucky according to Harris. Bethel said he has a 2.7 GPA and scored a 19 on the ACT. He wants to major in sports medicine at UM.

Bethel, who announced his commitment on Twitter, is already having a little fun with Booker T. quarterback Treon Harris, a Florida State commitment.

June 28, 2013

Canes land commitment from little known Booker T. Washington defensive end with plenty of athleticism

The Miami Hurricanes' summer recruiting run continued Friday when the program picked up its 19th pledge for the Class of 2014 in little known Miami Booker T. Washington defensive end Demetrius Jackson.

The 6-5, 230-pound senior played varsity football for the first time this spring and was known more for what he did on the basketball court, earning All-Dade Second Team honors this past season.

"People may not know much about him right now, but they will," Tornadoes offensive coordinator Tim "Ice" Harris Jr. said. "He's a freak talent who played plenty of football growing up. He just turned his focus to basketball in high school. But he knows his best way to a scholarship is football. A lot of schools who saw him this spring were impressed."

Jackson had a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery as well as a few batted balls at the line of scrimmage in the spring game for the defending Class 4A state champions. He has offers from Arkansas and FIU and had committed to the Razorbacks last week, but the school didn't accept his oral commitment because he hadn't visited the campus yet.

"He's going to be like a rush end/outside linebacker in 3-4 look," Harris Jr. said. "He can rush the quarterback. You look at him at [four-star recruit] Chad Thomas they compliment each other well. Demetrius probably has him in speed, movements. That's going to work out well."

Harris Jr. said Jackson is already a full college qualifier and has a 3.0 GPA and scored 21 on the ACT. Harris Jr. said Jackson is the cousin of former Booker T. defensive ends Joseph Jackson (South Florida) and Jonathan Jackson (FIU).


Although it's not a 100 percent done deal according to sources at UM, reports are UM will also be adding former Wisconsin senior defensive end David Gilbert to its roster, just a couple months after the former Oakland Park Northeast High standout said he was ending his career with the Badgers due to foot injuries.

BadgerBlitz.com was the first to report the news Thursday night. Gilbert reportedly graduated in May would be eligible to play for the Hurricanes as a post-graduate.

Gilbert started 13 games last season, rolling up 42 tackles, 9.5 for loss, four sacks and three forced fumbles and earned honorable mention on the All-Big Ten Team.

Gilbert broke his right foot twice in 2011 and missed spring practice this past April to undergo more surgery on the same foot, repairing ligament damage this time.

As a senior at Northeast, Gilbert was an All-State First Team selection, racking up 57 tackles, nine sacks and eight tackles for loss in 2007.

> Canesport.com reported Friday that 2013 signee Ryheem Lockley is headed to Fork Union Military Academy, but says he will remain committed to UM and expects to arrive in Coral Gables in the spring. UM's sports information staff told The Miami Herald the only Summer II session arrivals were the five players reported earlier this week.

> Former Canes forward Kenny Kadji and guard Durand Scott signed as undrafted free agents with the Cavs and Spurs, respectively.

June 26, 2013

Canes latest commitment -- QB Malik Rosier -- is another quarterback who can swing the bat

Another day, another commitment.

On a day UM confirmed former quarterback David Thompson was giving up football to concentrate on baseball, the Hurricanes netted their 17th commitment in the Class of 2014 from another quarterback who can swing the bat, too.

Alabama Faith Academy's Malik Rosier, also a catcher who hit .400 on his high school baseball team, committed to Miami late Tuesday night, a decision the 6-2, 205-pound told the Press-Register he reached after sat down and talked it out with his mom.

Rated a three-star recruit according to 247Sports.com, Rosier had other offers that included Southern Mississippi, Northern Illinois, Western Kentucky, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette and Furman. He camped at Miami back on June 2nd according to published reports and will visit Coral Gables again this coming weekend.

Despite his football team finishing 3-7 in 2012, he completed 169 of 305 pass attempts for 2,238 yards and 20 touchdowns and also ran for 1,002 yards and 12 touchdowns on 153 carries.

Rosier was a running back on the junior varsity team as an eighth-grader according to the Press-Register. As a freshman, he started at free safety for the varsity before moving to quarterback in a Wing-T system as a sophomore.

His coach Rusty Mason told the Press-Register in March he's been pleasantly surprised with Rosier's quick adjustment from a Wing-T to the Tony Franklin-style offense the Rams ran last season.

"He played way above any expectations I could have had for him," Mason said. "He just continued to get better. From Week 1 to Week 10, it was like night and day. We knew what he was physically - he looks great. But you never know mentally how a kid is going to react.

"When you roll him out, he's as good as I've ever had and maybe as good as I've ever seen in terms getting his shoulders square and hitting a receiver on the run. We'll put more on him this year, more checks. A lot of our stuff is run-pass switches, and he'll have a chance to do more of that."

June 25, 2013

Five more 2013 summer arrivals for Canes; 15 in, five still out

Three-fourths of the Hurricanes' 2013 signing class are officially enrolled in classes according to UM.

Tuesday's newest arrivals for the start of Summer Session II were receiver Stacy Coley, running back/receiver Corn Elder, fullback Gus Edwards, quarterback Kevin Olsen and linebacker Walter Tucker.

They joined joined 10 others in the 2013 recruiting class who previously enrolled including four in January and six others beginning in May.

UM is still waiting for five others in the signing class to enroll. They are: defensive end Alquadin Muhammad, receiver Derrick Griffin, athlete Ryheem Lockley, linebacker Devante Bond, and defensive end Ufomba Kamalu.

Northwestern DB Ryan Mayes becomes sixth 2014 commitment to Canes in 72 hour span

After spending the weekend tweeting up a storm, UM recruiting coordinator Brennan Carroll looked like he was going to give his "WelcomeToTheU" bat signal a rest Monday.

Not quite. 

About 15 minutes before midnight, Carroll sent out the signal, alerting legions of Hurricanes fans they've netted yet another commitment to the Class of 2014 in Miami Northwestern defensive back Ryan Mayes.

Like many of the latest players to pledge their allegiance to Carroll, coach Al Golden and the orange and green, Mayes (6-2, 185) isn't a kid who is surrounded by a lot of hype or lofty rankings by recruiting experts. But he's a player UM coaches got a chance to see in person during Golden's football camp over the weekend and liked enough to offer them a scholarship.

"They're looking at him as a corner," said Miami Northwestern coach Stephen Field, a former UM grad assistant who now has two seniors committed to the Hurricanes. "Ryan's not a kid who was being recruited by everybody yet, but he did have solid offers from Rutgers, Syracuse, Western Kentucky and FAU. He's a tall, physical kid who has been working hard with our coaches everyday since he got here. He went down to the Miami camp and showed the coaches there what he's learned. To me you can't really evaluate kids just on what Rivals or some website says. There's no better recruiting tool than what you see with your own eyes. Ryan is going to be another solid D-1 defensive back."

Northwestern defensive backs coach Ronard Whitehead sent four starters to D-1 schools last season including star Artie Burns to Miami, De'Andre Coley to Arkansas, Aaron Brown to Cincinnati and Leverick Jackson to Western Kentucky.

Mayes didn't play for Northwestern last season, but was a key contributor at Dr. Krop High in Miami. He played on both sides of the ball for the Lightning, catching eight passes for 246 yards and four touchdowns on offense. He also had two interceptions and a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown against South Dade.

"Mayes was at Krop last year and really caught my eye," said recruiting analyst Charles Fishbein of Elite Scouting Services. "He's actually one of the few who played well in the playoff game against Columbus. He's a long, athletic kid. To me, it's kind of like a similar situation to Ereck Flowers who nobody knew when he was at Krop. He ended up with a bunch of BCS offers after he went to Norland and played on the state championship team."

Of the Hurricanes' 17 commitments in the Class of 2014, Fishbein said the best under-the-radar recruits is probably Carol City quarterback/receiver Trayone Gray.

"Carol City kids are kind of underrated and always seem to play above their ranking when they get to college," Fishbein said. "He's another one of those tough kids who can play multiple positions.

"[Dillard defensive back Dennis Turner] I saw in the spring game. He looked good at receiver, but he's probably better at safety. He hasn't played a ton of football, but is one of those kids who has size and speed. He went to [Golden's] camp and ran a 4.4.

"[Orange Park Oakleaf defensive back Darrion Owens] is a very talented kid. I saw him for the first time as a 10th grader. Big, long kid. He's probably going to grow into a linebacker. They're all good players. They're not taking many duds right now."

> UM announced Monday night a total of 2,072 campers visited Coral Gables during Golden's five camp sessions, including approximately 1,000 athletes during the final sessions June 22 and 23.