April 05, 2016

Samuels promoted to head coach at Flanagan

The successor to Devin Bush at Flanagan has been made official, and the Falcons are staying within the family.

Stanford Samuels Jr., who served as Bush's defensive coordinator for the past three seasons, was promoted to head coach on Tuesday after Bush took a position on the football staff with the University of Michigan.

"Everybody's excited," Flanagan athletic director Al Guzzo said. "[Samuels] is excited and Coach Bush is ecstatic... this is the first branch of the Coach Bush coaching tree.

"They have a lot of similar qualities in terms of coaching style and Coach Samuels is going to bring in his own little dimension of coaching."

Bush, in a message to the Herald, said Samuels "deserves it."

Samuels will be looking to pick up right where the Falcons left off under Bush, winning the Class 8A state title.

"The goal hasn't changed. Since Day One the goal has been to win a state championship," Samuels said. 

Bush and Samuels both played their college ball at Florida State, and the similarities don't end there.

Samuels takes over in a similar situation that Bush was in last season with his son, Stanford Samuels III, a highly-touted four-star senior recruit. Bush went along with son and linebacker Devin Bush Jr. to Michigan, and Samuels isn't ruling out any possibilities in the future.

"The one thing I know for sure is that I'll be coaching," Samuels said. "Outside of that, as to where, I love Flanagan, we built a foundation there, a different atmosphere. We renamed it -- Dirty Bird Nation. With that being said, there's no place like home.

"Being honest, it is a possibility that a college job would come up, but you never can tell with those things. For me, it's just about taking care of this season."

Samuels is going on his seventh consecutive season coaching Samuels III. He coached his son at Flanagan his first three years of high school and the previous three years in optimist play.

While many dubbed Samuels the favorite for the job, Guzzo says that was not the case and he had to beat out other candidates that interviewed.

"We left it wide open. Going in, there was no clear-cut favorite," Guzzo said. "Everybody was on a level plain."

Bush put in a good word for Samuels.

"Coach Bush did a great job of making it evident that I am capable of doing it with the responsibilities he had given me the past three years," Samuels said. "I feel like the work was already put out there. You could already see the type of things I would do as the head guy."

On top of serving as defensive coordinator the past three seasons, Samuels has also dabbled with the offense and special teams at Flanagan, making it clear he was an all-around top candidate being involved in coaching all three phases of the game.

Samuels, who attended Miami Carol City, was quite the defensive back in his playing days. He may be most famous for this hit on Roscoe Parrish in a big rivalry game against the Miami Hurricanes while at FSU.


April 04, 2016

Bandy gets coveted invite to The Opening

Aside from his athleticism and playmaking ability, one thing that separates Columbus four-star cornerback and Oklahoma commit Trajan Bandy from others is his work ethic.

So it's no surprise that when he found out he was invited to The Opening on Sunday night he was actually in the middle of a workout.

When he received the message from Student Sports event coordinator Eugene Jackson breaking the good news, which became official Monday morning, his reaction played even more to that work ethic.

"I was excited for the moment, but I just kept working out and going hard," Bandy said.

Bandy had two interceptions and impressed onlookers at the Miami Opening Regionals at Plantation American Heritage on March 6, even being dubbed the "alpha dog" of those competing in a 247 Sports article. Somehow, though, he was not one of the six to "get open" in announcements immediately following the event.

That all changed on Monday.

"I never doubted myself. I just prayed on it, and I just kept grinding every single day," Bandy says. "I had people doubting me, but I just ignore them."

Now Bandy will get the opportunity to showcase his abilities in the spotlight of probably the greatest collection of high school talent in the nation.

"I just want to go out there and show that I am an elite cornerback and your size (Bandy is 5-9) doesn't matter," he says. "It's about heart and how you got passion for the game."

The Opening will be held July 5-10 at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.

March 30, 2016

Canes get commitment Tuesday night ... or not

The world of recruiting never ceases to provide something unforeseen.

On Tuesday night, it appeared the Miami Hurricanes had picked up a commitment in their 2018 recruiting class only to have the player go back on that commitment moments later.

It started with coordinator of on-campus recruiting Jorge Baez and wide receivers coach Ron Dugans announcing an addition to the class. Scout.com's Corey Bender reported in a tweet that has since been deleted that the commitment came from Seffner Armwood 6-4 wide receiver Warren Thompson, which was accurate -- only the news changed shortly thereafter.

Thompson later released a statement on Twitter saying he was indeed not committing at this time and apologized for misleading fans with his short-lived commitment.

"I am not committed to the U but I feel as If I rushed my decision but need to think more with family and coaches I'm not committing any time soon," he said in his tweet.

A report on CaneSport.com delved deeper into the matter and quoted his mother, Theresa Thompson, saying Warren will wait as he has a lot of time left before he has to decide. Both acknowledged in the report that UM is Warren's top choice, which is evident in how he was ready to commit Tuesday night.

All in all, while fans may have been teased with the thought of a commitment, it's still an encouraging sign that this talented receiver (as you can see in the highlights below) is so high on the Canes early in his recruitment.

Twitter: @DavidFurones90

March 22, 2016

Drew White: Notre Dame commitment 'a no-brainer'

There will be no drama next season as to where St. Thomas Aquinas linebacker Drew White is going.

White, who will be a senior in the fall, announced on Monday night on Twitter that he will take his football talents in the next level to Notre Dame. He spoke with the Miami Herald on Tuesday afternoon about the decision at a gathering at the Aquinas gym to announce the football team will travel to Las Vegas to play against defending national champion Bishop Gorman in September.

β€œWhen I visited there, it really felt like home,” said White, a 6-1, 225-pound three-star prospect. β€œThe campus was beautiful and I toured all of the facilities. I got to meet with every coach and I just really felt like I would fit in well in every aspect. It was the total package between football and academics it really was a no-brainer.”

White, who will be looking to help the Raiders win a third consecutive state title next fall, said that committing early wasn’t something he felt he necessarily had to do but just felt like he didn’t need to wait any longer because his mind was made up -- as was Notre Dame’s.

β€œIt wasn’t necessarily a thing where I wanted to get it out of the way early but Notre Dame has always been the school I’ve loved since I was a kid,” said White. β€œIβ€ˆgrew up watching them on TV every week so I really didn’t see any reason for me to wait any longer because I knew that was the school I wanted to go to. Now I can start getting to know all the coaches and building relationships early.”

**Make sure to check the Herald's high school sports page later for the full story on Aquinas' announcement on the big game.


March 19, 2016

UM scores two big commitments from Dingle, Perry

Dingle and Perry commit
Wide receiver Kevaughn Dingle and quarterback N'Kosi Perry committed to Mark Richt and the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday. Photos: Twitter.

While the UM men's basketball team was notching its second NCAA Tournament victory on Saturday afternoon to become the first team into the Sweet 16, on the Miami campus one could say the football team hit both shots of a clutch one-and-one with a pair of commitments.

They are two that could be seen connecting on a lot of plays in the future. Carol City wide receiver Kevaughn Dingle and Ocala Vanguard quarterback N'Kosi Perry, both rated as high as four stars depending on the service, decided to commit to coach Mark Richt and the Hurricanes after viewing practice Saturday morning.

Perry commits to the Canes for the second time after decommitting in February from his original pledge. Dingle has been known to be high on the Hurricanes for some time now. Dingle and Perry were two of many invited recruits on campus on Saturday.

First it was Dingle announcing his news.

Within an hour, Perry let it be known that he was back on board, proclaiming that he was now committed "for good" in his tweet.

Aside from the desire to make an impact for his hometown team, Dingle wanted to go where other recent Carol City Chiefs like Allen Hurns and Trayone Gray went for college.

"I chose Miami because I feel like I can be a big impact," Dingle said. "I just want to keep the legacy going from Carol City to Miami."

Perry has ideal height to see over the line at 6-3 1/2, according to his 247 Sports page, which also ranks him as the ninth-best dual-threat quarterback in the nation.

Ironically enough, while being a dual threat, Perry said it's the pro-style aspects of Richt's offense that drew him in an interview with CaneSport.

"I was talking to him about the style of offense. He said good things about it," Perry told CaneSport. "He told me that if I want to go play in the NFL that I am best off playing in a system like what he runs, that that is a system similar to the NFL style."

Here are Perry's and Dingle's junior highlights:

Twitter: @DavidFurones90

March 16, 2016

Al Blades Jr. breaks down STA transfer, his recruitment

Blades Jr
Al Blades Jr. at The Opening Miami Regionals on Sunday, March 6, 2016. Photo: David Furones.

Al Blades Jr., the highly-sought 2018 cornerback who transferred this offseason from University School to St. Thomas Aquinas, went in depth with the Miami Herald on the move.

"My development," Blades (6-0, 170 pounds) says. "I basically just want to get better and be ready for college.

"[Aquinas] pushes you as a student, which is great so when you go into college you're not going into the deep end. It also pushes you as a player because you're surrounded by people just like you. If you have a man next to you on the same level as you, that just makes you want to work even harder."

A prime example would be five-star senior wide receiver Trevon Grimes, whom he'll now get a chance to go up against on a consistent basis in practice.

"That's really a blessing to go up against someone like that every day," Blades says. "If you can go against the No. 1 player in the nation, you should fear no man -- no matter what. That just helps you with your confidence going into games."

In the Rivals Camp, Blades says Grimes beat him one-on-one quite a bit, but he learned from the experience.

Recruiting-wise, Blades says that since decommitting from UM, he doesn't have any top schools. 

He does say Florida State, UCLA and UM are recruiting him a little harder than other schools -- the Bruins from which he is still awaiting an offer. He adds that he likes the Hurricanes combination of head coach Mark Richt and cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph.

He has also received recent offers from Georgia and Mississippi State.

Blades went back to the day he became the second player invited to the 2018 Under Armour All-America game, receiving the invitation in person from Deion Sanders.

"I was on my A-game that day," he recalled. "I played really well that day at the Deion camp and he saw the potential in me and we just got together."

Blades recently debuted his recruit diary. If you missed that, make sure you check it out.


March 11, 2016

Family - figuratively and literally - a factor in James Cook's commitment to FSU

James Cook
James Cook after 2015 Class 6A state championship game. Photo: Manny Navarro.

One thing star 2019 Miami Central running back James Cook always points to when talking about Florida State is that the Seminoles feel like family to him.

The figurative notion is accurate in a quite literal sense considering his older brother, Dalvin Cook, is at FSU and one of the elite running backs in the nation.

Although he still has three more high school years between now and any kind of enrollment, James decided to announce he would be following Dalvin's footsteps to FSU with a tweet Friday morning that had -- guess who -- Dalvin's picture in it.

"When I went up, they showed me love. That gives them an edge," James Cook (5-11, 182 pounds) told the Miami Herald on Sunday before announcing any commitment. "They treat me like I'm their family. They show everybody the same amount of love."

Cook first started receiving college scholarship offers before he played a down of high school football in the spring of his eighth grade year.

"It feels great, but you can't just let that go to your head because it'll all be gone in a matter of time if you don't keep working," Cook says. "I approach it like keep working hard and I'm going to keep grinding."

On the gridiron, Cook proved his worth with the early scholarship offers. He spearheaded the Rockets rushing attack in the Class 6A state championship victory with 178 yards and three touchdowns.


Cook would become the third Central Rocket in recent memory to head to Florida State with Devonta Freeman, now with the Atlanta Falcons, preceding the Cook brothers in this pipeline that has developed.

At The Opening Miami Regionals on Sunday, where Cook won running back MVP, he said he had UM, Ohio State and Alabama alongside the Seminoles in his top.

Cook says he runs a 4.7-second 40-yard dash and hopes to get it down to a 4.4.

His freshman highlights:

Twitter: @DavidFurones90

March 10, 2016

UM commit Waynmon Steed likes DC Manny Diaz's defense, says shoulder '100 percent'

Waynmon Steed
Waynmon Steed at The Opening Miami Regionals. Photo: David Furones.

Four-star Miami Central linebacker and UM commit Waynmon Steed says his shoulder is feeling "100 percent," and it showed on Sunday as he took home linebacker MVP honors at The Opening Miami Regionals.

Steed sat out his entire junior season recovering from surgery on a torn labrum. He initially committed to the Hurricanes under the previous coaching staff in February of 2015 (before the surgery), and the new staff is only making positive strides in his recruitment.

"I like the 4-3 defense and I like the linebackers coach, Coach Manny Diaz," said Steed (5-11, 221 pounds). "He treats me like I'm already there, a true UM commit. That's what I like about him."

Steed likes how the defense will play aggressively.

"He talked to me about that, he showed me film and everything on how he's going to change the concept," Steed said. "It was great to hear. That's what we run [at Central], so I'm kind of used to it a little bit."

And not just Central, but mostly all high schools in South Florida. Steed thinks more local defensive recruits that weren't previously considering Miami will now pay more attention to the Canes because of the scheme.

Steed says his shoulder has been fully recovered since January. It originally popped out of place in a playoff game his sophomore season. He would continue to pop it back in and play through it all the way through the following spring, but with the injury constantly lingering, he learned he tore his labrum after the spring and had surgery, sidelining him his entire junior season.

Steed, who added an LSU offer in January and a Cal offer last week, runs a 4.7-second 40-yard dash and a 4.3 in the shuttle.

His highlights that got UM to offer after his sophomore campaign:

Twitter: @DavidFurones90

Dunning high on LSU, wants Alabama offer


Tyler Dunning
Photo: David Furones.

Since decommitting from Miami, St. Thomas Aquinas four-star linebacker Tyler Dunning has had a new list of suitors he's surveying.

LSU, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Kentucky and Syracuse comprise his top five of schools he currently has offers from.

"I'm looking at LSU a lot," Dunning says. "I've always liked LSU. LSU has always been that school to me, that type of school that I like."

Alabama has also begun to show interest since Dunning decomitted and coaches have told him they will swing by to check him out in the spring. Dunning says an offer from Alabama could catapult the Crimson Tide to the top of his list.

On the field, Dunning hopes to improve on his pass coverage. The 7-on-7 season will present him with the right opportunity to do that.

He likes what the Aquinas defense will be able to do next season.

"Our defense is going to be crazy," he says. "We might have cheat codes over there."

He's especially thankful for the transfer of defensive end Lashawn Paulino from Coconut Creek.

"That's my boy. He's going to make sure the O-line stays off my knees," he says.

Last season Dunning was effective on the defensive line (as seen in his highlights) from the time five-star Ohio State-bound defensive end Joey Bosa went down. He will return to his natural linebacker position for his senior season.

Twitter: @DavidFurones90

March 09, 2016

'Big chance' LB Miller commits to UM, Canes also top WR Harley's list

Miami recently lost commitments from a local linebacker and local pass catcher in Tyler Dunning and Kemore Gamble, but in-state replacements in the 2017 recruiting class could come imminently. 

Lakeland Kathleen three-star linebacker Ventrell Miller told the Miami Herald there's a "big chance" he commits to the Hurricanes, and three-star St. Thomas Aquinas wide receiver Mike Harley has called the Canes his clear No. 1.

Miller (6-0, 227 pounds) says he likes the new coaching staff at UM and the fact that it's a private school.

"It's a place where I can grow and develop as a linebacker," Miller says. "It feels like home, it's not far from home and they have a tendency to send linebackers to the NFL."

A notable one would be Ray Lewis, who went to his same high school. You think he's heard of him?


Miller adds he needs to take another visit to the Coral Gables campus before making any kind of decision and that UNC is the only other school in contention for his services at this time.

Harley (5-10, 170) says the Canes have topped his list for about a month now.

"Good coaching staff and it's home where my family can see me play," he says.

He doesn't know when he'll knock out a final decision, adding he's "still letting the recruiting flow through."

Harley's 21 other offers, according to 247 Sports, include South Carolina, Mississippi State, Utah, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

Harley won wide receiver MVP honors at Sunday's The Opening Miami Regionals and also impressed at the Rivals Camp the previous week.

Twitter: @DavidFurones90