UM’s win over Florida Gators makes a difference to recruits


The impact of recruiting on the game and on the recruits attending the game was tangible.

Miami's Tracy Howard celebrates after intercepting the ball late in the fourth quarter during the University of Miami Hurricanes football game against the University of Florida Gators at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens on Saturday, September 7, 2013.
Miami's Tracy Howard celebrates after intercepting the ball late in the fourth quarter during the University of Miami Hurricanes football game against the University of Florida Gators at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens on Saturday, September 7, 2013.
Al Diaz / Miami Herald Staff

University of Miami sophomores Tracy Howard and Tyriq McCord were just two of the numerous players who played in Saturday’s game at Sun Life Stadium who were recruited by both UM and the University of Florida.

After the Hurricanes’ 21-16 win against the Gators — coach Al Golden’s most significant win at the helm of the program — it seems like the duo picked the right school to play for.

UM rolled out the red carpet for prospective football players against its longtime rival, inviting more than 100 recruits and 350 high school football coaches, according to UM’s sports information staff, in hopes of landing the next standout Hurricane or persuading a current commit from another school.

Miami Booker T. Washington cornerback Nigel Bethel, a UM commitment, sat near Plantation athlete Chris Lammons, a UF commitment, during the game and joked with the future Gator after the Canes’ win.

“I wasn’t really saying too much to him [during the game], but after the game I walked past him and said, ‘It ain’t too late to be a Cane,’ ” Bethel said. His response? “He said I’m funny. ”

Bethel called UM’s win a “program-changing game” and hopes it could help sway players to play for the Hurricanes.

“It means a lot to me because if everybody comes together and buys into what Al Golden is trying to do, we’ll be a national championship-contending program year in and year out,” Bethel said.

Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas lineman Anthony Moten, a former UF commitment who is currently uncommitted, was hanging out with high school teammate and UM commitment Nick Linder during the game, and also joked around with UM commitment Travonte Valentine of Hialeah Champagnat Catholic.

“[Saturday’s win] showed me that Miami is coming back,” Moten said. “I think it’s time to come to decision, [but] I’m going to wait. I’m just in the moment right now, but it was a good game and great experience.”

Making the decision to attend UM has paid dividends for players such as Howard and McCord. Both had highlight plays in the fourth quarter, which halted any chance of the Gators climbing out of a 14-9 deficit in the fourth quarter.

McCord, who loves Golden because “he’s just like one of us,” sacked UF quarterback Jeff Driskel on a third-and-7 with about five minutes remaining in the game, which led to a Duke Johnson touchdown on the ensuing drive and put the game out of the Gators’ reach.

“I’ve been dreaming about this moment,” McCord, of Tampa, said. “Just waking up every day and thanking God and just being in college. There’s a lot of people back home that I know that’s in the streets and everything, and not doing anything for their lives.

“I picked the right school for me.”

Howard, who many believed was a heading to Florida before picking Miami on National Signing Day in 2012, had a momentum-changing interception eight plays before McCord’s sack, picking off Driskel and returning it for 36 yards.

“I had a lot of emotions going through me, being recruited [by UF] and me knowing those guys and seeing everybody I know,” said Howard, a Miramar High graduate. “I had a lot of passion just to show everybody why I came to UM.

“If we were to lose to those guys, I knew they would have felt the type of way [like], ‘That’s why he should have came to Florida,’ but I know I made the right decision.”

Among the many uncommitted players in attendance were Hialeah Westminster Christian athlete Tim Irvin (nephew of UM great Michael Irvin) and tight end Devonaire Clarington; Jacksonville Trinity Christian Academy linebacker Jeff Holland; West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman wide receiver Travis Rudolph; Miramar cornerback Tyrek Cole; Pompano Beach Monarch athlete Shawn Burgess-Becker; and Miami Killian safety Jaquan Johnson.

UM commitments who also were in attendance included Miami Central offensive tackle Trevor Darling and Fort Lauderdale Dillard cornerback Dennis Turner, among others.

Central running back Dalvin Cook, Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna Prep defensive tackle Khairi Clark and Immokalee wide receiver J.C. Jackson rounded out the Florida commitments at the game.

Read more Recruiting stories from the Miami Herald

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