A day after University of Miami President Donna Shalala took aim at the NCAA’s enforcement staff — which finally ended the school’s long wait for a Notice of Allegations to arrive — the football team signed the top-ranked remaining recruit in the country Tuesday.
Derrick Griffin, a 6-6, 215-pound U.S. Army All-American receiver/tight end at B.F. Terry High School in Rosenberg, Texas, surprised many by faxing a signed a National Letter of Intent to Coral Gables on Tuesday afternoon.
A long-time Texas A&M commitment who also was talking to Auburn, Griffin, rated the No. 1 tight end in the country and a four-star receiver by 247Sports and Rivals.com, hadn’t even officially visited UM’s campus.
But he signed with UM because of the opportunity to also play basketball. He is listed as the 26th-best small forward in the nation by ESPN. New running backs coach Hurlie Brown was Griffin’s lead recruiter.
“He probably could be what Miami was hoping Tommy Streeter could be and then some,” said JC Shurburtt, national recruiting director for 247Sports.
“He’s a more athletic kid than Tommy coming out and can do more ‘wow’ things. You saw that in the Army All-American Game when he jumped up over [Florida State recruit] Jalen Ramsey and made a beautiful touchdown catch.”
Griffin becomes the third player to sign with UM after National Signing Day and the 19th member of the 2013 signing class. UM coach Al Golden said on signing day he likely only had room for one more recruit. But it could be that Golden and the Hurricanes are no longer taking steps to self-impose scholarship reductions that were initially expected before the NCAA admitted to wrongdoing in its own investigation of Miami’s athletic program.
Griffin finished his senior season with 592 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on 36 receptions. He has been clocked at a 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He also becomes the second wide receiver in UM’s 2013 class, joining Broward’s top player, Northeast High star Stacy Coley.
Shurburtt said Griffin didn’t sign with Texas A&M on signing day because of academic concerns. Griffin told InsideTheU.com he was still waiting for an SAT score to qualify. But when asked about that, a spokesman at UM said Griffin had been cleared.
“I don’t think admissions is so much a hang-up. With everything on a sliding scale, you never say never about a kid getting into school,” Shurburtt said. “You can always retake classes. I know Al Golden and his staff know what they’re doing.”
Shurburtt said it has been impressive to him how UM has landed two four-star recruits after National Signing Day. Nashville running back Corn Elder (5-10, 170 pounds) signed with UM on Feb. 13. Elder also is a basketball standout, ranked as a three-star recruit in that sport.
“In a lot of ways, this is an example Miami is selling itself,” Shurburtt said. “Word was Elder was going to Georgia Tech and, boom, he ended up at Miami. It’s a testament to being resourceful in recruiting.”