Broward County had a couple of big revelations and one bizarre turn of events on National Signing Day.
The University of Miami picked up signatures from two of the county’s best as Northeast wide receiver Stacy Coley chose UM over Florida State, and Miramar linebacker Jermaine Grace held true to his word and stuck with the Hurricanes.
But the one that got away from UM on Monday night, South Plantation running back Alex Collins, did not sign with the University of Arkansas as originally expected reportedly due to interference from his mother.
Collins, rated No. 3 overall in Broward by The Miami Herald and a UM target, had committed to Arkansas Monday. But Collins did not show up to his school’s Signing Day ceremony.
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Paladins quarterback John Franklin, who signed with Florida State, and girls’ soccer player Julia Sheffer were both primed to sign with Collins sitting in the middle, but instead there was an empty space in between them.
According to multiple online reports, Collins’ mother took his letter of intent and prevented him from signing.
Players, coaches, administrators and even students volunteering at the ceremony were mute when asked why Collins, considered the 13th-best running back in the nation by Rivals.com, was absent.
A South Plantation employee said he heard from two sources that the issue lied with his mother, who he said didn’t want him to go away for college and wanted him to attend the University of Miami.
A student that attends the school and knows Collins, verified that he saw him earlier in the school day in a suit and tie, prepared to announce his decision.
When Franklin was asked about Collins, he replied, “I have no idea right now.”
Collins later posted on Twitter at around 4 p.m. Wednesday, “Everything is gonna be alright.”
UM scores twice
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.”
Coley, a two-time member of The Miami Herald All-Broward 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 UM players 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.
“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.”
At Miramar, Grace watched as a junior last year as former teammate Howard, then rated the nation’s No. 1 cornerback prospect, announced his intention to sign with Miami.
If Grace’s intentions were to emulate Howard’s moment as precisely as possible — mission accomplished.
Like Coley, Grace announced live from his school’s auditorium on an ESPN network that he’ll be playing his college football at the University of Miami – again. The similarities are endless.
“It was awesome,” Grace said. “I just felt like Tracy got me a little bit with the cameras because he was [the No. 1 rated cornerback last year]… I just thank God for everything he did for me, and I’m just going to continue to grind.”
Grace’s decision, which came down to Miami and Louisville, was no surprise.
At Cypress Bay, running back Matt Dayes threw a curveball.
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.”
Broward’s two defending state champions had two of the biggest classes Wednesday.
St. Thomas Aquinas had the largest class signing 18 football players as well as several other standouts in other sports including quarterback John O’Korn, who faxed his letter of intent at 7:01 a.m.
University School had 11 players sign including wide receiver Jordan Cunningham who announced he’d be attending Vanderbilt and linebacker Skai Moore, who chose South Carolina.
Hallandale had six players sign including linebacker Jeremy Derrick to FIU, linebacker Aaron Plantt to Marshall, and linebacker Robert Alexander and offensive tackle Ronald Neilly going to Howard.
Chaminade defensive back Adrian Baker signed with Clemson.
Plantation defensive tackle Monty Nelson signed with N.C. State.Broward County schools reported a total of 51 FBS signees overall Wednesday.