When Killian High assistant principal Courtney Collier told Sheldrick Redwine on Monday that he had fulfilled his requirements for graduation and Wednesday would be his last day as a high school student, the young man with a quick smile and long, flowing dreadlocks suddenly became emotional.
“I had tears in my eyes,” said Redwine, a soon-to-be University of Miami cornerback who on Sunday will report to UM and next week start his new life as a college student. “I’m going to miss high school. I have so many memories and I’m leaving them all behind.
“For me to be the first one leaving, it hit me all at once.”
Redwine and several other incoming Hurricanes, like thousands of other young football players across the country, will arrive on campus for the first session of summer school — before the mad rush of fall.
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“He’s my baby, my only son and he’s always been a mama’s boy,” said Temia Lordeus, Redwine’s mother who teaches reading and language arts at Homestead Middle School. “I’m extremely happy that he’s close and I get to watch him grow.”
While a handful of incoming South Floridians will join Redwine in reporting Sunday, others, such as offensive lineman Bar Milo — quarterback Brad Kaaya’s high school teammate from West Hills, California — are leaving their parents to make a much longer journey.
“She knows I’m comfortable leaving so she definitely feels much better letting me go,” said the 6-6, 285-pound Milo, a dual citizen of the United States and Israel. He’ll attend his prom Saturday night before traveling 2,800 miles to Miami the next day. “It’s going to be crazy leaving home and all my friends behind, but I’ll take all I can from this opportunity.
“My mom is ready to let this bird out of the nest.”
It used to be that football players would report to school in August when practice began, and immediately be thrown into a crowded campus, full slate of classes and heavy-duty sports schedule. Now they arrive early to a calmer campus, get integrated with one or two classes, have time to delve into the playbook, begin a new strength and conditioning schedule and practice on their own with teammates.
According to NCAA rules, from May 18 to Aug. 6, eight weeks can be designated for players to engage in no more than eight hours a week of required weight training, conditioning and film study, with film study limited to two hours or less.
“Obviously their schedules are very busy and they have huge time demands,” said UM athletic director Blake James. “So from my perspective it helps that the kids are able to get a head start on the fall semester and already be working toward their degrees.
“It’s a big part of the success we have with our graduation rate.”
The NCAA’s last released graduation success rates (GSR) for 2013-14 had Miami with the fourth-best football graduation rate — 86 percent — of the 14 Atlantic Coast Conference Schools. Only Duke (92), Boston College (92) and Wake Forest (90) fared better.
Tailback Mark Walton, 18, rated the 11th best running back in the nation by ESPN.com, is another Miamian who will report Sunday. Despite being nicknamed “Deuce” for his No. 2 jersey, he said he has asked for the graduated Phillip Dorsett’s No. 4, though he doesn’t know if he’ll get it.
Walton has been working out at UM all spring, and said he is up to 194 pounds on his nearly 5-11 frame.
“I’m more excited than nervous,” said Walton, who will study criminology and walk in his Booker T. Washington graduation ceremony May 27. “I’ll take advantage of study halls and take lots of notes. Without academics there would be no football.
“Working out with the guys and building relationships on and off the field” are the best parts of starting college in May, Walton said.
“It will definitely help him,” agreed Sean Horne, Walton’s guardian and mentor who is a police detective in Miami Gardens and helped an elementary-school-aged Walton get through his father’s death. “He’ll be more comfortable in that setting when the rest of the kids come.
“His attitude and mentality will be part of the resurgence of the UM program.”
Redwine, Walton and Milo are among a group of 16 — including one walk-on and UF transfer Gerald Willis — expected to report Sunday, with at least two more arriving in June.
The newcomers already engage in a group chat, sharing their apprehensions and visions for a freshman season they hope improves from the 6-7 of 2014.
“When I step on campus it’s going to be all business,” said the 6-2, 193-pound Redwine, who will wear No. 22. “I’ll get on a meal plan to start eating right and get in the playbook more.
“[Cornerback] Artie Burns told me to study the playbook, get in shape and not to come in with an attitude that I’m going to mess up just because I’m a freshman.
“The first couple of days it will probably be eye-opening. Maybe I’ll be star-struck. Then I’ll get used to it, and I’ll be straight.”
The boys of Summer
Here are the football players expected to report to the University of Miami for the first summer school session that begins Monday:
Running back: Mark Walton of Miami Booker T. Washington.
Offensive linemen: Bar Milo of West Hills, California, Chaminade Prep; Hayden Mahoney of Malvern, Pennyslvania; Tyree St. Louis of Bradenton IMG Academy; Tyler Gauthier of Venice; and Brendan Loftus of Tallahassee Godby.
Defensive linemen: Richard McIntosh of Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons; Ryan Fines of Bradenton IMG; Kendrick Norton of Jacksonville Trinity Christian; and UF transfer Gerald Willis.
Linebackers: James King of Miami Booker T. Washington and John Tauber (walk-on) of Bradenton IMG.
Defensive backs: Sheldrick Redwine of Miami Killian; Terrance Henley of Pompano Beach Ely; Robert Knowles of Miami Edison; and Michael Jackson of Birmingham, Alabama, Spain Park.
Note: Receiver Lawrence Cager of Towson, Maryland and linebacker Jamie Gordinier of Red Bank, N.J., will arrive in June for the second summer session.