Dalvin Cook and Joseph Yearby have a big football game Friday, a showdown of No. 1-ranked national powers featuring their Central Rockets against Florida State-bound quarterback Treon Harris and the Booker T. Washington Tornadoes.
But theres also another football game on the minds of two of the nations premier high school running backs Saturday afternoons tilt between the Gators and Hurricanes.
This is going to be the first time since Optimist well be rooting against each other, said Yearby, considered the Hurricanes top committed 2014 recruit by ESPN (21st overall in the ESPN Top 300 recruiting rankings).
Cook (5-10, 195), considered the Gators top recruit by ESPN (23rd in ESPN Top 300), said when he and Yearby have walked past each other in school this week theres been a bit of trash-talking.
Ill say Gator Nation and do the chomp. Hell shout Canes Fam or something like that and hold up The U, Cook said. Were just trying to enjoy every moment of our last year together. Well, what might be our last year together.
While Duke Johnson tries to zoom past the 12th-ranked Gators and lead the three-point underdog Hurricanes to a win Saturday, Cook and Yearby will be among the whos who list of recruits as Hurricanes coach Al Golden put it this week watching Miami and Floridas every move from the seats at Sun Life Stadium.
If you didnt know by now, high school football commitments these days often last about as long as Kim Kardashians first marriage. Cook was once committed to Clemson before switching to Florida. Yearby was Florida State-bound before James Coley got the offensive coordinator job at Miami.
Wins and losses on Saturdays affect allegiances too. So do friendships. Where some of the nations elite players such as Cook and Yearby decide to go usually has a domino effect.
Cook said hes proud he has been able to help the Gators sway commitments such as Central teammate and 2015 star receiver DaVante Phillips (11th ESPN Top 300), and Homestead High senior receiver Ermon Lane (28th ESPN Top 300). Yearby says hes trying to get Central cornerback Deatrick Nichols (USF commitment) to join him and offensive lineman Trevor Darling at Miami.
I feel me and Joe are program changers, Cook said. Can we flip each other and other players? Yes. It doesnt really end until February.
Said Yearby: [Saturdays game] probably will help some people decide where theyre going because they look at the game based on whos got the better program, how the offense or defense looks.
Aesthetically, recruiting experts will tell you, its the Hurricanes who have ground to make up even though Golden, with an NCAA probe still lingering, has been able to put together what is considered the fourth-best 2014 recruiting class in the country by both ESPN and Rivals.
IS MIAMI BACK?
The Gators (ranked 8th by ESPN; 14th by Rivals) are still viewed as the more elite of the two programs, especially since they are coming off a Sugar Bowl appearance and their last two national titles (2006, 2008) are more recent than Miamis last crown (2001).
This is truly a Is Miami back? football game, said Corey Long, editor-in-chief at FuelRecruiting who has covered the states recruiting battles for decades. A close loss doesnt hurt them at all. I think it shows them theyre close. But a victory in the mind of people is Theyre back at least temporarily, especially nationally. If Miami wins I think everything opens up for them the whole Southeast, national recruits. Miami still has that brand name. But proving they can play with an elite SEC team goes a long way.