The school that produced possibly the most beloved Miami Hurricane of all-time in Sean Taylor is sending three more players to UM.
Miami Gulliver Prep, which has its football field named after the late Taylor, had wide receiver Dionte Mullins, defensive end Joseph Jackson and safety Cedrick Wright — three of Miami-Dade County’s top 11 seniors in the Miami Herald’s rankings — sign letters of intent with UM in a National Signing Day ceremony in the campus’ open courtyard Wednesday morning.
“It’s a huge legacy that [Taylor] leaves. We all carry a piece of that in us,” Gulliver coach Earl Sims said. “His legacy embodied excellence.”
Added Jackson: “You’ve got to live up to a lot of big expectations [coming from the same school as] him. I’ll try to keep that going.”
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In deciding, the three — all committed to UM since their junior years — have developed a bond proven unbreakable throughout the recruiting process as they will continue to play together at the collegiate level and stay home to do so.
Jackson (6-5, 245 pounds), a four-star defensive end and terrific overall athlete who also doubles at tight end and plays basketball, would prefer no other college teammates.
“It means a lot [to play with Mullins and Wright]. We’ve been doing it for a long time, trying to continue that,” said Jackson, who had 46 tackles and six sacks in 2015 and added six receiving touchdowns at tight end. “[The future] looks bright. We can probably make some things happen, keep building our team and get stronger.”
Although Jackson played multiple sports, Mullins wasn’t able to play one as a senior due to academic ineligibility. But he made amends in a big way at the Under Armour All-America game.
In the second quarter, with fellow UM commit in quarterback Jack Allison throwing him the ball, Mullins went up for a one-handed catch with a defender right on him and dived into the end zone.
The highlight went viral on social media. His close friend Wright actually predicted the catch would happen.
“I knew he was going to do that. I called him that morning, saying, ‘You’re going to have a crazy catch,’ ” Wright said. “The thing is he does that every day.”
While dealing with the difficult senior season, Mullins never stopped to pout about it and just put his head down to work arduously both training and in the classroom.
“It motivated me a lot,” Mullins said. “I’ve got a lot of doubters out … and I work hard for this.”
As far as Mullins qualifying academically, Sims said, “Right now, it’s still a race.”
Wright, a three-star safety, almost didn’t make it on time for the 8 a.m. ceremony after being stuck in traffic. His name was last to be called, and he showed up just as it was his turn.
Wright is excited to contribute in a number of ways for new Hurricanes coach Mark Richt.
“I’m a very hard worker. I’m a very versatile player,” said Wright, who recorded 59 tackles and had three interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) as a senior. “You can use me anywhere, you can use me inside the box, I can tackle really well, very good with man-to-man coverage and I can play zone.”
Outside of the three UM-bound seniors, UCF picked up a talented three-star 6-1 receiver in Dontay Mayfield.
“He’s got electrifying playmaking ability. He’s got sure hands. He’s got deceptive speed,” Sims says. “He’s a big body. Everything that is embodied in a receiver, they’ll have in that one kid.”
Cornerback Brandon Shuman inked with Purdue, where he was committed since June, and All-Dade first-team defensive end Charles Callender is headed to Yale.
Sims called Shuman “a steal” for the Boilermakers.
Another All-Dade defender in linebacker Bryce Handy did not sign Wednesday. He was down to Eastern Illinois and Tennessee-Martin, but a late offer from Jacksonville State will have him reconsider his options.
▪ Boys’ soccer player Ryan Shellow signed with Cornell.
Gulliver Prep signees
DE Joseph Jackson: UM
WR Dionte Mullins: UM
S Cedrick Wright: UM
WR Dontay Mayfield: UCF
CB Brandon Shuman: Purdue
DE Charles Callender: Yale