The University of Southern California hadn’t crept into Miami-Dade County to snag a football prospect since 2009.
After seven years of local recruiting hibernation, USC got two in one day — and not just any two.
The Trojans were able to turn Miami Central safety Jamel Cook from his longtime FSU commitment and got Dade’s top undecided prospect Keyshawn “Pie” Young to side with them on National Signing Day on Wednesday. Cook is the Miami Herald’s second-ranked senior prospect in Dade, and Young isn’t far behind at sixth.
The shocker pulled off by the childhood friends just scratched the surface on a day that had 42 seniors in Miami-Dade County sign a letter of intent with a Football Bowl Subdivision program.
“We shocked the world with this one,” Young said at his afternoon announcement, where he chose USC over Michigan and Louisville. “We’re going to go to that West Coast and handle business.”
Cook was in attendance at Miami High after he announced his flip in the morning at Central.
“We’re going to be teammates at the next level and we’re going to make a lot of plays together,” he said. “You’re going to see us in the end zone dancing a lot.”
The last time USC got a Dade County prospect, it went to Gulliver Prep to bring in outside linebacker Frankie Telfort. The three top Gulliver prospects in 2016 weren’t going nearly as far from home.
Defensive end Joseph Jackson, wide receiver Dionte Mullins and safety Cedrick Wright — three of the Miami Herald’s top 11 seniors in Dade — all signed with UM, never wavering on each of their longtime commitments to remain together in college.
Another group of top-end recruits in the county remained true to their commitments to the other two of the “big three” Florida schools despite late pushes from competitors vying for their services.
Norland linebackers Emmett Rice and Vosean Joseph, committed to FSU and UF, respectively, went into Signing Day calling it a 50-50 proposition whether they would stick to their schools or jump ship — Rice with Louisville coming after him and Joseph with Alabama surging late. Neither one ended up backing off from the in-state program.
On Wednesday, Rice said he “always had Florida State intentions in mind,” even when he took a visit to Louisville last weekend. Joseph said he made his final decision Tuesday night.
Joseph will join Miami Southwest cornerback C.J. McWilliams in Gainesville. McWilliams wasn’t certain he was staying on board with the Gators until Wednesday morning before going to school as UM and USF were still on his mind. Both Joseph and McWilliams touted the loyalty from the UF coaches as the reason they couldn’t turn away.
McWilliams became the first player from Southwest to accept a football scholarship to one of the “big three” Florida programs since 1981.
Cook wasn’t the only one with a Signing Day decision to announce at Central. Pass-rush specialist Eric Mitchell let it be known he was signing with UCF over Louisville and Toledo.
The Knights had a major recruiting haul in Dade County this year, also earning commitments from Gulliver wide receiver Dontay Mayfield, Norland cornerback Bryon Brown, and running back Jawon Hamilton and offensive tackle Boman Swanson, both of South Dade.
FIU got four players in Dade — Coral Gables linebacker Shakur Cooper, Westminster Christian wide receiver Elbre Gaiter and Booker T. Washington teammates in receiver Darrius Scott and kicker Jose Borregales.
Toledo left an impression, reeling in two Carol City Chiefs in defensive tackle David Hood and cornerback Keelen Roberts, who was undecided going into Signing Day. The Rockets also already have slot receiver Desmond Phillips, who primarily played quarterback for Miami Jackson, already enrolled.
Cincinnati brought in two top-20 seniors in South Dade defensive back James Wiggins and Columbus receiver Jerron Rollins. Explorers teammate Josh Uche inked with Michigan to join a slew of Broward County prospects opting for the Wolverines.
Previously uncommitted prospects in Dade to make a decision Wednesday included American safety Antione Webster (Massachusetts), American defensive end Jamal Smith (Youngstown State) and Edison offensive lineman Keldrick Cesar (Bethune-Cookman).
A number of prospects remain unattached after Signing Day, most notably Southridge wide receiver Freddie Pinder, who was rated a four-star recruit as a junior.
Mark Singer contributed to this report.
Miami-Dade top 25 recruits
1. Keir Thomas, DE
2. Jamel Cook, DB
3. Joseph Jackson, DE
4. Emmett Rice, LB
5. Dionte Mullins, WR
6. Keyshawn "Pie" Young, WR
7. Amir Rasul, RB
8. Darnell Salomon, WR
9. Joshua Uche, DE
10. Vosean Joseph, LB
11. Cedrick Wright, S
12. Jawon Hamilton, RB
13. Eric Mitchell, DE
14. James Wiggins, DB
15. Shemar Smith, LB
16. Freddie Pinder, WR
17. Jerron Rollins, WR
18. C.J. McWilliams, DB
19. Donovan Thompson, LB
20. Desmond Phillips, QB-WR
21. Shakur Cooper, LB
22. Montray Smith, WR
23. Anione Webster, S
24. Keldrick Cesar, OL
25. Stephen Calvert, QB
Miami-Dade football signees
American: Jamal Smith (Youngstown State), Roy Baker (Buffalo), Antione Webster (UMass), Henry Pierre (Chowan); Archbishop Curley: James Ney Joseph (ASA College), Aaron Ashe (ASA College); Belen Jesuit: Tavish Rice (Princeton), Mario Robaina (Case Western), Pablo Venegas (Claremont McKenna College); Booker T. Washington: Darrius Scott (FIU), Jose Borregales (FIU), Raymond Flanders (Marshall), Gustavious Dames (Virginia Union), Marquis Decius (Virginia Union), Brandon Tobar (Chowan); Carol City: Stephen Calvert (Liberty), Steve Newbold (Tennessee State), Keelan Roberts (Toledo), David Hood (Toledo), Tyron Jones (Benedictine College), Tracy Thompkins (Mississippi Valley State), Dante Rose (Cincinnati Christian); Central: Keir Thomas (South Carolina), Donovan Thompson (Utah), Darnell Salomon (USF), Eric Mitchell (UCF), Kenny Turnier (Oregon State), Jamel Cook (USC), Jamal Hudson (Air Force), Kahmanie Carter (Coffeyville CC), Treyvon Brinson (Tuskegee), David Bradley (Gallaudet); Champagnat Catholic: Tevon Wright (Chadron State), Thierry Lafortune (Florida Tech), Edgardo Mendez (Sacramento City College), Kevin Chavez (Sacramento City College), Ivanio Martinez (Sacramento City College); Columbus: Kyle Mann (Bryant), Micheal Ricardo (Florida Tech), Jerron Rollins (Cincinnati), Josh Uche (Michigan); Coral Gables: Amir Rasul (FSU), Shakur Cooper (FIU), Robert Brown (Bryant), Jaylin Clark-McNatte (Ellsworth CC), Stanley Gee (Coffeyville CC); Coral Reef: Nicolas Jacquemin (Mississippi Valley State), Brian Castro (Benedictine College), Harvey Clayton Jr. (Illinois); Edison: Keldrick Cesar (Bethune-Cookman); Gulliver: Joseph Jackson (Miami), Dionte Mullins (Miami), Cedrick Wright (Miami), Dontay Mayfield (UCF), Brandon Shuman (Purdue), Charles Callender (Yale); Hialeah: Jarrett Miles (NW Missouri State); Homestead: Rashad Smith (FAU); Jackson: Shemar Smith (Oregon State), Desmond Phillips (Toledo), Carl Thompson (Alabama State), Javon Hunt (FAMU); Killian: Jeremy King (Independence CC); Krop: Vandrick Verdier (FAMU); Miami Beach: Randle Jones (Temple); Miami High: Keyshawn "Pie" Young (USC); Norland: Emmett Rice (Florida State), Vosean Joseph (Florida), Bryce Brown (UCF), Jordan Robinson (Northern Illinois), Sam Marc (Bethune-Cookman), Rodrick Robinson (Tennessee State), Joshua Green (Lincoln University); Northwestern: Corey Lane (Air Force), Steven Henderson (Lincoln), Christopher Othelot (Lincoln), Patrick Banks (Florida Tech); Palmetto: Malik Bell (Eastern Kentucky), John Pierce (Marist); South Dade: Boman Swanson (UCF), Jawon Hamilton (UCF), Max Charite (FAMU), Mike Davis (Alcorn State), James Wiggins (Cincinnati), Ivan Smith (Northern Illinois), Rakeem Terry (Mars Hill), Lee Lindor (College of Sequoia), Tariq Ballinger (College of Sequoia); Southridge: DiCaprio Bootle (Nebraska); Southwest: Christopher McWilliams (Florida), Ilan Jorge (MidAmerica Nazarene), Willie Brown (Shasta Junior College), Shemar Smith (Antelope Valley College); Varela: Ricky Matos (Waldorf), Jay Stringer (Waldorf); Westminster Christian: John Raine (FAU), Robbie Stewart (FAU), Oscar Patterson (Tuskegee), James Sutton (Colorado State), Elbre Gaiter (FIU), Akil Oliver (Lindsey Wilson).
Broward football signees
American Heritage: Bradley Clement (FAU), Christian Riffle (Cornell), Khalil Herbert (Kansas), Brandon Johnson (Tennessee), Nick Eubanks (Michigan), Brian Burns (FSU), Oren Milstein (Columbia), DeCarlo Hamilton (Liberty), Jacob Pino (FAU), Jarius Stuart (Hastings); Blanche Ely: Thomas Geddis (Cincinnati), Alex Smith (Eastern Illinois); Boyd Anderson: Michael Anderson (Liberty), Nicholas Shaw (Dodge City CC), Deonta Nelson (Garden City CC), Matthew Jones (Albany), Ricky Lewis (Garden City CC), Kiante Miller (Garden City CC), Kedrick Greene (Pittburg State); Cardinal Gibbons: Deon McIntosh (Notre Dame), Elisha Daniels (Maryland), Elijah Daniels (Maryland), Marquis Wilson (Lehigh), Carmine Scarfone (Colgate); Chaminade-Madonna: Justin Thomas (Army), Alex Feliz (Northern Michigan), Austin Laszewski (Louisville), Koley Stealy (Northern Michigan); Coconut Creek: Trayvon Mullen (Clemson), Malek Young (Miami), Binjimen Victor (Ohio State), Alexy Jean-Baptiste (Arkansas), Jhakari Harrison (Southern Illinois), Woodly Sully (Northern Michigan), Joshua Varona (NC Central); Cooper City: Rashad Weaver (Pittsburgh); Coral Springs Charter: Calvin Jackson, Jr. (Toledo); Cypress Bay: Andrew Parchment (Northern Illinois), Darrell Malone (Coastal Carolina), Christian Gomez (Army), Isaiah Sampson (Air Force), Bryce Briggs (Valparaiso), Deundre Dozier (Baker), Gavin Green (Baker), Tylor Clont (Wittenberg); Deerfield Beach: Aaron Robinson (Alabama), James Pierre (North Carolina), Riley Ridley (Georgia), Simeon Brown (Bethune-Cookman), Jefftey Joseph (Virginia Union), Jefferson Souza (Alcorn State), Mike Smith (ASA-Brooklyn); Dillard: Kenneth Ruff (Syracuse), Torian Williams (Bethune-Cookman), Aaron Thompson (South Carolina), McKinley Williams III (Syracuse), James Jackson (Dodge City); Everglades: Keenan Forbes (Iowa State), Javari Alvin (Virgina Union), Casey Adams (Crown College); Flanagan: Dredrick Snelson (UCF), Devin Bush, Jr. (Michigan), Devin Gil (Michigan), Joshua Metellus (Michigan), Jahcour Pearson (Western Kentucky), Jahvari Bourdeau (Army), Kato Nelson (Akron), Kassy Desir (Albany), Dennis Jackson (Lindenwood), Rocco Marucci (Albany), Natrone Ray (Florida Tech), Tyler Peppers (Florida Tech), Keith Coffee (East Tennessee State), Isaiah Murray (Livingstone), Tyler Goetz (Livingstone), Angel Trujillo (Livingstone), Nikolai Jahgai (Northern Iowa); Fort Lauderdale: Dallas Jeanty (Wisconsin), Jaquwan Nelson (Syracuse), Bryce Sampson (Webber International); Hallandale: Tyler Huntley (Utah), Romelo Webster (Iowa State), Drew Hines (FAMU), Zack Moss (Utah), Josh Hammond (Florida), Demari Simpkins (Utah), Jaelyn Faulk (Duquesne), Neru Nshaka (Toledo), Chris Cotto (Western Kentucky), Sam Huntley (Waldorf), L.J. Sutherland (Coffeyville), Kory Johnson (West Florida), Korrel Evans (Liberty), Eddie King (Waldorf), Maurice Wilson (Lindenwood), Raymond Crittendon (Eastern Illinois), Dante Adams (Waldorf), Devonaire Brown (Waldorf), Keyon Hodges (Lindenwood), Raymond Civil (Waldorf), Tarik Brown (Kansas Wesleyan); McArthur: Antonio Collier (Bethune-Cookman), Steffon Francois (Bethune-Cookman), Tyler Peppers (Florida Tech); Miramar: Terrell Lucas (Duke), Deshondre Pitts (West Florida), Shemar Jean Charles (Appalachian State), Korel Smith (FAU), Kyle Anthony (Howard), Gregori McCrae (Navy), Obinna Nwanko (FAMU); Pompano Beach: Michael Young (Florida Tech); North Broward Prep: C.J. Riley (N.C. State); Piper: Nickolos Madourie (Alcorn State), Michael Floyd (Edward Waters), Cedric Lewis (Edward Waters); Plantation: Archie Banton (Edward Waters); St. Thomas Aquinas: Louis Berkowitz (Colgate), Nicholas Bosa (Ohio State), Samuel Bruce (Miami), Dontye Carriere (Wisconsin), James Charles (FAU), Frank Coppett (Vanderbilt), Alvin Davis (Akron), Devontae Henry Cole (Utah), Michael Iamunno (Richmond), Michael Irvin II (Miami), Arjay Jean (Colorado State), Jaxson Kincaide (Nevada), Anthony Marucci (Central Connecticut State), James McCourt (Illinois), Colin Nace (Lehigh), Frank O’Dowd (Cornell), Nicholas Plunkett (Stetson), Dominic Thieman (Illinois), Mark Williams (Eastern Illinois), Justin Wright (Florida Tech); South Plantation: James Aiken (Chadron State), Anthony Julmise (Colorado), Johnny Huntley (Colorado), Ryan White-Boyd (Georgetown), Jerrot Insel (Suny Meritime); Taravella: Ken Hiteman (Florida Tech), Hunter Livingston (Florida Tech); University School: Eric Savotinsky (Florida Tech); Western: Tyler Monaco (Lehigh), Jalen Goldwire (Georgetown), Keaton Vannatta (Florida Tech), Sean Moore (Valparaiso); West Broward: Seth Thompson (Marist).
Andre C. Fernandez