Northeast wide receiver Stacy Coley signed a National Letter of Intent with the University of Miami on Wednesday morning in the school’s auditorium.
Rated the fourth-best player at his position by ESPN, Coley chose the Hurricanes over schools such as Florida State this past Sunday after sitting down with his family.
“I thought it was just beneficial for me and my family,” he said. “Just stay home. I just hope I have the same success in high school and just help the U out with a national championship.”
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Coley, a two-time member of The Miami Herald all-county First Team, finished with 29 catches for 513 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. He runs a 4.57 40-yard dash.
The 6-1, 173-pounder said he appreciated the fans he had in current Canes Tracy Howard and Deon Bush, looking forward to playing with rather than against them like he did in high school. Coaching changes at FSU did not affect his decision, he said.
His high school coach, Donnell Bennett, is a former Miami fullback.
Northeast high school’s nickname, coincidentally, is also the Hurricanes. Coley said he grew up a Hurricane.
“It feels good,” said Coley, who was crying during the ceremony. “I relieved a big stress off my shoulder and I can be an average kid again.”
Also signing were William Rivera (Brown University), Kyante Belvin (Benedict College), Anthony Lawson (Tuskegee University), D. Jamal Wallace (Benedict College), Timonte King (Tuskegee University).
“This is just another chapter in the book of life for them,” Bennett said.
Christina De Nicola
Citing the ties that developed with former Blanche Ely teammate Avery Johnson over the past year, cornerback Rashard Robinson is headed to Baton Rouge to remain a Tiger at LSU.
“We talked a lot about school there and football,” said Robinson after making his National Signing Day announcement Wednesday. “And I spoke a lot to [LSU assistant] coach [Cory] Raymond. I’m so glad to get the decision over with.” His parents — Ely alums Carol Scrivens and former football standout Reginald Robinson — were among the crowd of 200 gathered at the school’s professional learning center celebrating the event.
Robinson, a 6-3, 175-pound cornerback, added that the opportunity to play in the SEC was a contributing factor to his decision over going to the University of Miami.
“I rank this a 10, as far as the most excited I’ve been in my life,” said Robinson, who led Ely with eight interceptions and 52 tackles. “I chose the SEC is the toughest conference, and many see it like a mini-NFL, and as a player that’s a challenge I’m looking forward to face.”
Ely coach Charles Hafley believes Robinson will also contribute to the LSU program with his kick return abilities, having scored twice on kick returns this season.
“I just told him to follow his hear,” Hafley said. “It’s been a hectic last 12 months in the recruiting process, and it’s just a matter of him and the other players listening to the right people and family.”
Two of his teammates, plus two basketball players also made commitments for their careers beyond high school.
Holly Dolcine (6-0, 265-pound OL) and Rashaud Marshall (5-11, 225 DL) both signed to play at Edward Waters College (NAIA) in Jacksonville.
Dallas Cameron, a 6-3 guard who helped Blanche Ely win the Class 5A state title last season, will play at American University in Washington, DC. He is currently averaging 9.9 points a game and is second on the team with 7.1 assists per game.
His teammate Khalil Thomas (6-7 forward) signed with Rider University in New Jersey. He currently leads the 20-1 Tigers with 13.1 points per game and leads the county in rebounds with 13.2 per game.
The only suspense that remained for Alabama commit Eddie Jackson was whether he would don a crimson or white cap on National Signing Day. Jackson headlined a senior class from Boyd Anderson that signed their national letters of intent. The group of seniors led the Cobras to the 7A regional finals in 2012.
“These guys bought into the philosophy of family, tradition and excellence,” Boyd Anderson coach Wayne Blair said. “Today is the day in which they are cashing in.”
As a four-star recruit, Jackson, a 6-1, 180-pound wide receiver is expected to play defensive back at Alabama. Jackson picked Alabama over Florida State and LSU.
“I felt like [Alabama] was where I was going to be the most successful,” Jackson said, wearing a white and crimson cap. “They have a great football program.”
Offensive lineman Sandley Jean-Felix signed to attend Marshall University. Jean-Felix picked Marshall over FIU. “It was a hard process,” Jean-Felix said. “I thought Marshall was a good fit for me.”
Jean-Felix was a verbal commit to FIU, but re-opened his recruitment after the firing of former FIU coach Mario Cristobal and his staff. The 6-5, 295-pound lineman expects to play tackle at Marshall.
Quarterback Greg Hankerson signed with FAU. Hankerson, at 5-11, 172-pounds, led Broward quarterbacks in 8A-6A in passing yards with 2555 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2012. Hankerson will have an opportunity to compete for playing time under center for the Owls.
Justin McDonald rose late in the recruiting process as he put ink to paper, signing with UCF. The 6-2, 185-pounder selected the Knights over Syracuse, FIU and Western Kentucky. McDonald said that having a criminal justice program and the family atmosphere sold him to UCF. He expects to play outside linebacker for the Knights.
Other players signing: Derrell Young signed with Western Kentucky University as an outside linebacker. Raynard Warren signed with the University of Idaho as an athlete/wide receiver.
Adrian Baker, the First-Team All-Broward defensive back out of Chaminade-Madonna, signed his National Letter of Intent to attend the University of Clemson.
Baker, the 6-1 cornerback who is ranked the 19th best athlete and 37th in the state of Florida according to ESPN Recruiting, had narrowed his selection between Clemson and Oklahoma before ultimately choosing the Tigers.
“I knew for like three weeks,” Baker said when asked about his decision. “I knew for some time now, it just felt right when I was there.
Baker also credited Clemson’s family atmosphere and the team’s win over LSU in the Chick Fil-A Bowl as contributing factors.
Baker had also been on Florida State’s radar, but he never officially took a visit with the Seminoles.
Myles Graham, the 6-0 running back, signed on with Indiana University. He had committed to the Hoosiers in August.
“I had other interested schools but once I visited Indiana I knew that was the place for me to be,” he said. “I just wanted to focus on my senior year football wise and not have to worry about recruiting. I felt that if I committed before the season it would give me time to make sure I had a breakout senior year so I pulled the trigger early.”
The Lions also had a pair of receivers sign letters of intent, with First-Team All-Broward receiver DeMarco Haynes heading to Northern Michigan University and Jose Dominguez staying instate at Weber International University.
Other commits included safety tandem Justin Porter and Barry Higdon. Porter will be attending Princeton University, with Higdon electing to go to the University of Hawaii.
University School students Skai Moore and Jordan Cunningham took different paths to making their college decisions. In the end, they both wanted to play in the Southeastern Conference.
Moore, a four-star linebacker who finally picked up an offer from his dream school, Miami, on Tuesday night, picked South Carolina while teammate Jordan Cunningham committed to Vanderbilt.
Moore found out about the Hurricanes’ offer from his defensive coordinator on Wednesday morning, but for him, it was too late.
“I feel like it was a little too late in the process,” Moore said. “Honestly, if they would’ve came in two or three weeks ago, this might of been a whole different day for me.”
Moore, who was verbally committed to Rutgers, decommitted in January at the sound of SEC schools coming his way after his 16-tackle performance in the Class 3A title game against Madison County High. Now, he’ll be joining a Gamecocks defense that ranked in the top 20 in rushing, scoring and total defense in the country spearheaded by unanimous All-American Jadeveon Clowney.
“The [Outback Bowl] game really intrigued me,” Moore said. “Just watching how the defense got after it and how tenacious they were, and that’s something I want to be a part of — a defense with some dogs on it.”
Moore, who also fielded offers from 31 other schools — including Vanderbilt, FIU, Louisville, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Wisconsin — said being able to play on the big stage and being on a high-profile team were opportunities he could not pass up.
“My opportunity to go in there pretty early and play is a great one so if I do what I gotta do, I could be starting from day one,” Moore said. “I’m really excited to get up there.
Cunningham, a four-star wide receiver, passed up offers from Miami, Florida State and Stanford to commit to Vanderbilt.
While announcing on ESPNU, Cunningham said playing for the Commodores was a part of his 50-year career plan which includes an engineering degree after his NFL career.
“The SEC is a big-time conference,” Cunningham said. “In my opinion, it’s one of the best conferences in college football so I definitely want to go in there and make an impact early.”
Cunningham will join an already solid SEC wide receiver tandem of Jordan Matthews and Clark Boyd, whom he’s built relationships with since his visit to in Nashville, Tenn.
Despite not being able to play with Aaron Rodgers’ younger brother, also named Jordan, Cunningham is looking forward to winning a SEC championship with coach James Franklin, who has caught some heat after reffering to Alabama coach Nick Saban as Nicky Satan.
“It was a little joke,” Moore said. “But at the same time, it was a challenge. He still wants to be on top and he’s gonna work hard for that.”
Other commitments: Nick Internicola, LB, 6’3”, 230, Rutgers; Maquedius Bain, DT, 6’3”, 308, LSU; Dionte Taylor, WR, 6’0”, 165, Illinois; Jalen Battle, ATH, 6’3”, 180, Illinois St.; Aubrey Duty-Tyson, LB, 6’1”, 230, Air Force; Jordan Budwig, OL, 6’4”, 310, FIU; Mike White, QB, 6’5”, 195, USF; Wesley Smith, DB, 5’11”, 170, Villanova; David Garner, DB, 5’10”, 185, undecided; D.J. Woods, WR, 5’10”, 160, Massachusetts.
An overflow crowd in the Media Center at Cypress Bay said it all on Wednesday morning. Led by a football team that came within an eyelash of winning a state title two months ago, plenty of souvenir pens and contracts lined the table as 18 athletes inked scholarships.
But the center of attention were the football players who led their team to the state title game and the biggest surprise might have been running back Matt Dayes.
After recently saying he would sign up to play at Vanderbilt, Dayes came in wearing a North Carolina State cap, committing to go play for the Wolfpack and new coach Dave Doerne, who came over from Northern Illinois.
“I made the decision a couple of days ago and just went with my heart,” Dayes said. “I really liked the school and the new coaching staff coming in and felt it would be the best fit for me.”
Somebody else looking for a good fit was wide receiver Alex Montgomery. With some schools projecting him as a defensive back, a jaw-dropping spectacular performance in the state title game against Apopka — including a pair of one-handed touchdown receptions changed that landscape as Montgomery signed up to go play at Kentucky and another new coach in Mark Stoopes.
“I’m not really sure if that changed anything but I know I did want to go somewhere to play wide receiver,” said Montgomery referring to his title game performance. “I like the fact that you have a whole new coaching staff coming in and really enjoyed my visit with Coach Stoopes and the coaches when I went there.”
Also inking football deals were linebacker Nico Marley (Tulane), cornerback Boaz Joseph (Nebraska) and tight end Blake Worbington (John Hopkins).
“Just a great day for our program and the entire school,” coach Mark Guandolo said. “This is why we spend all of those countless hours doing what we do, for moments like this. It’s a proud day for everyone from players to coaches to parents to teachers. No one individual creates this, it’s a team of hard-working dedicated people.”
One person noticeably absent was quarterback Jaranta Lewis.
“A few things fell through at the last minute for Jaranta so we’ll have to go back to the drawing board and see what we can do for him,” said Guandolo.
Plantation American Heritage
In case nobody is sure just what an oasis Plantation American Heritage is for athletics need only look at the lineup of athletes signed to scholarships early Wednesday morning. A total of 24 kids with parents behind them had chairs lined up and there almost wasn’t enough room on the stage to fit everyone.
Headliners leading the way were football commits Tyler Cogswell , Bryant Gross-Armiento and Michael Deeb wearing hats from the University of Cincinnati, Rutgers and Notre Dame, respectively.
Cogswell, a quarterback with a magnificent frame at 6-4, 226 said he liked Cincinnati from the start with new coach Tommy Tuberville coming over from Texas Tech.
“Not only was the school great but the offensive system they’re bringing in really appealed to me and I felt I would be able to compete for a job right away,” said Cogswell who led the Patriots to a 9-1 regulation season before suffering an upset loss to Jackson in the first round. “I’m really excited and looking forward to the new opportunity.”
There was no drama with Gross-Armiento’s choice as he committed to Rutgers last August and his entire family arrived in blazing red Scarlet Knights T-shirts.
“It was a perfect marriage,” said Gross-Armiento, a 6-1, 188 lbs. cornerback. “I committed to them way back last August and never waivered on my decision and they never waivered on their commitment to me.”
“Athletically, academically and spiritually, I could not ask for a better school to attend,” said Deeb, a 6-2, 237 lbs. inside linebacker who said ND’s 3-4 defense will suit him perfectly. “I feel honored to be in this situation and plan on making the most of my opportunity.
Other football commits included Darius Holiday (Bowling Green), Tyler Carmona (Naval Academy) and Alec Montes De Oca (Bates College).
Hallandale coach Dameon Jones said his school has had to deal with being in the shadows of other Broward County schools.
On Wednesday, he celebrated his sixth signing day at the school, with six more players signing letters of intents to play at the collegiate level further validating his team’s success beyond wins and losses.
Linebacker Jeremy Derrick was the only player choosing to stay close to home and attend FIU. Fellow linebacker Aaron Plantt signed to Marshall, wide receiver Hussein Gordon signed to Virginia Union, and Howard University secured offensive tackle Ronald Neilly and linebacker Robert Alexander.
“This is pay day for high school coaches,” Jones said. “Obviously you want to win a state title, but the next best thing is to send these kids off to college.”
Derrick, who was committed to FIU while Mario Cristobal was coach, said he quickly built a new rapport with new coach Ron Turner through a home visit and unofficial visits to the school. Along with FIU’s new facilities, Derrick said he’s looking forward to seeing the field early.
“I’m trying to break records this year,” Derrick said. “I’m trying to get everything I can get.”
Jones said seeing Derrick’s growth as a player and person evolve since his freshman year on junior varsity has been a rewarding experience.
“Jeremy was a little like a loose cannon a little bit,” Jones said. “And to see him go from that to where he is now, it’s just amazing. It’s so fulfilling.”
After visiting Howard together, Neilly and Alexander knew the campus was the right place for them.
“They preferred Howard because of the tradition and Washington D.C. was something new for them,” Jones said.
Alexander enjoyed the fact that Howard was in an historic area, while Neilly said he enjoyed the family atmosphere the most. They both are looking forward to bringing the chemistry they shared on the field to their new teammates.
Jones said former Hallandale and University of Florida wide receiver Frankie Hammond was the catalyst to the program having multiple signees during his time at the school. And just like Hammond, Jones believes his kids will shine through the shadow other Broward schools cast in the country.
“I think these kids can play anyone in the county – Dade, Broward, West Palm,” Jones said. “And I think they can play well at the next level, too.”