The Miami Hurricanes created some shockwaves on National Signing Day, and the reverberations of what transpired Wednesday in south Florida could be felt far beyond South Beach.
The Hurricanes lost out on one prized recruit in much sought-after offensive tackle Avery Young
of Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.)
, but UM head coach Al Golden snagged a handful of other highly rated recruits from the ‘Canes' backyard that soon might propel the ‘U' back into national football prominence despite potential NCAA sanctions that still are pending.
Golden made a concerted effort to keep some of the top-rated players in the talent-rich three-county region of south Florida at home, and he landed what many observers consider the best cornerback prospect in the nation in Tracy Howard
of nearby state-power Miramar (Fla.)
, which is only a few blocks from Sun Life Stadium, where UM plays its home games.
Howard, ranked the nation's overall No. 101 prospect by MaxPreps, had 10 interceptions his senior season at Miramar and was named the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Broward County Defensive Player of the Year. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Howard only two weeks ago did not list Miami as one of his finalists, which included in-state rivals Florida and Florida State. There also were reports that LSU was prominently in the picture, but a late push by Golden convinced Howard to cancel a planned trip to Baton Rouge, and last weekend he made the short trip down I-95 to UM for his final official visit.
"I bought into (Golden's) plan and I'm ready to rock with Miami," Howard said of his decision, admitting that the possibility of NCAA sanctions against UM did indeed affect his decision-making process. "Why not win in my hometown and my city? Why not do it here?"
Howard, whose mother is a UM alum, was the big catch for Miami on Wednesday, but the ‘Canes also received signed Letters of Intent from Howard's best friend and teammate from Miramar, wide receiver Malcolm Lewis
. Also signing with UM were highly touted safety Deon Bush
(No. 73 MaxPreps prospect) of Columbus (Miami)
and Top 200 running back Randy "Duke" Johnson
of state power Norland (Miami)
Other south Florida recruits who signed with the Hurricanes included quarterback David Thompson
of Westminster Christian (Miami)
and defensive lineman Jelani Hamilton
of national powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
. The ‘Canes also secured signatures from two highly rated prospects from Palm Beach County -- all-purpose athlete Angelo Jean Louis
and linebacker Gabriel Terry
, both of Palm Beach Central (Wellington, Fla.)
The Hurricanes even had a couple players from Palm Beach County flip their commitments from ACC rival Virginia Tech to stay close to home. West Boca Raton (Boca Raton, Fla.)
linebacker Jawand Blue
made an 11th-hour decision to back off from his commitment to the Hokies and sign with the ‘Canes after his former teammate at West Boca, wide receiver Robert Lockhart, backed off his commitment to Virginia Tech to join Golden's 2012 signing class. Lockhart signed with the Hokies last year, but played last fall at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia and was expected to keep his commitment to the Hokies, developments that reportedly stunned coach Frank Beamer and his staff.
Golden was not offering any apologies to anyone, however.
"Are we not supposed to beat Alabama (in recruiting) down here? Are we not supposed to beat Florida and Florida State? We got to start thinking like we're the University of Miami again," he said at a late afternoon news conference.
Miami did miss out on one prized recruit from Palm Beach County when the 6-6, 280-pound Young signed with Auburn, choosing the Tigers over Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Miami, which made a late push to land the younger brother of Willie Young Jr. of the Detroit Lions.
Young kept everyone, including his parents and his brother, in the dark about his decision to sign with Auburn until he announced it shortly after 2 p.m. He said he had Auburn, which was his first official visit, high on his list since early last fall but did not make a final decision until a late-night run to a local burger joint on Tuesday.
"I went to get a burger at Wendy's around 11 o'clock (Tuesday night), and I was just sitting there thinking about it, and just said, ‘Yeah, that's where I'm going,'" said Young, who was rated the No. 1 recruit in Palm Beach County by The Palm Beach Post and played in an offense at Palm Beach Gardens that was very similar to the one Auburn runs.
Other notable signees from south Florida included MaxPreps' No. 59-ranked lineman Jessamen Dunker
of Boynton Beach (Fla.)
, who signed with Florida, and wide receiver Avery Johnson
(MaxPreps No. 65) of Blanche Ely (Pompano Beach, Fla.)