Mark Richt weighs in on how recent losses have affected recruiting
It was maybe coincidence, but positioned just behind his left shoulder as Tyrique Stevenson spoke about the honor of playing the All-American Bowl was a giant picture of Patrick Peterson. The Arizona Cardinals cornerback is the reason Stevenson wears No. 7 and, he said Thursday, the reason he decided to commit to this particular All-American game, which will be played in San Antonio early next year.
At some point during the game, Stevenson will follow one of his idols in another way. Just like Peterson (a Pompano Beach Ely star) did when the game was the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Stevenson will announce his college choice at the Alamodome.
“It’s pretty cool. I actually got to see my favorite corner ever do it at the game,” Stevenson said after receiving an honorary All-American jersey in Miami. “He committed to LSU at the game. He had No. 7. That’s actually sort of my inspiration to actually picking this game.”
When he makes his announcement, the four-star cornerback from Miami Southridge will likely select from one of three hats. With less than two months until he makes his decision public, Stevenson is strongly considering the Miami Hurricanes, Georgia Bulldogs and Auburn Tigers.
“It’s terrifying,” said Stevenson, whom the 247Sports.com composite rankings peg as the No. 37 player in the Class of 2019. “You don’t want to feel like you made the wrong decision.”
Stevenson has certainly done his due diligence, though. It’s impossible to count how often the senior has visited Miami given the number of times he just spends a few hours on campus to visit with former teammates like DJ Ivey. He has seen Georgia close to a dozen times, most recently this past weekend when he took his official visit to Athens. He’s probably been to Auburn about half a dozen times, as well, including for an official visit the weekend of Nov. 3.
Both his recent official visits with the Southeastern Conference schools helped clarify the programs’ pitches. Stevenson is a versatile athlete. He’s primarily a cornerback this season for the Spartans, but he played safety earlier in his career at South Dade and is also a productive wide receiver for Southridge.
For a long time, most schools viewed Stevenson as a playmaking safety — it’s still how the Hurricanes view him. The Bulldogs and Tigers, however, now tell Stevenson they like him as a corner.
“I get to spend more time,” Stevenson said of his recent visits. “They actually broke things down more than they could have on my unofficials, so it was actually a nice experience.”
Right now, Stevenson maintains Miami and Georgia as the front-runners to land his commitment. The Hurricanes will get the added benefit of hosting the defensive back for his final official visit. Stevenson said he plans to take his official visit to Coral Gables the weekend of Dec. 13, just before the dead period begins Dec. 17 and the three-day early-signing period kicks off Dec. 19. Stevenson would still like to take his other two available official visits sometime in the next month.
Even though he won’t make his decision public until Jan. 5, Stevenson will sign his letter of intent sometime in the three-day signing window, and both he and the school of his choice will keep it quiet until he makes the announcement on NBC.
Stevenson could always sneak in a few extra visits to Miami before his official, too. He has been at Hard Rock Stadium for every home game this year except the loss to the Duke Blue Devils on Nov. 6. If he’s in town for the Hurricanes’ regular-season finale against the Pittsburgh Panthers on Nov. 24, Stevenson said he’ll probably head up to Miami Gardens again.
The losing streak hasn’t discouraged him either. Stevenson still hears the same pitch from the Hurricanes as ever.
“Come and help out a lot,” Stevenson said the message is. “We need to somebody to come wear the turnover chain more.”
News & nuggets:
▪ Miami’s losing streak hasn’t been kind to recruiting. On Sunday, Damarius Good became the third 2019 prospect to decommit from the Hurricanes this month. A three-star athlete, Good was always going to be a project. Miami recruited Good as a defensive back, but the senior continued to almost exclusively play on offense this season.
▪ The Hurricanes have started to build up some backup options should some more commitments or targets fall through. One of the most important new offers went out Friday, when Miami offered D.J. Williams. A three-star running back from Sebring, Williams is the nephew of Edgerin James. The back is committed to the Appalachian State Mountaineers, but added offers from the Tennessee Volunteers, the Mississippi Rebels, the Texas Longhorns, Georgia and Auburn since the start of the month. The Hurricanes no longer have a 2019 running back committed after Marcus Crowley flipped to the Ohio State Buckeyes on Nov. 4.
▪ With the commitments of both Miami’s offensive line commitments looking a bit tenuous, the Hurricanes are also trying to expand their list of options in the trenches. Miami extended an offer Thursday to CJ Elmonus, an offensive lineman from A.C. Reynolds in Asheville, N.C. A three-star prospect, Elmonus has been committed to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons since March. As for the current commits, three-star guard Kingsley Eguakun is seriously considering a flip to the Tigers, while four-star tackle Michael Tarquin visited the Florida Gators for the second time in two weeks Saturday.
▪ With only two weeks left in the regular season, prospects are trying to squeeze in final game visits to college campuses this weekend and a handful of major Miami targets will be spread out across the country, including Jadon Haselwood. The five-star wide receiver from Cedar Grove in Ellenwood, Ga., will officially visit the Florida State Seminoles this weekend. The senior officially visited the Hurricanes last month and will announce his commitment at the All-American Bowl.
▪ Miami’s two major targets from Lakeland are also set to take official visits this weekend. Four-star tight end Keon Zipperer will visit the Alabama Crimson Tide and four-star defensive end Lloyd Summerall will visit the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Summerall plans to officially visit the Hurricanes next month and was at Hard Rock for the Hurricanes’ loss to the Duke Blue Devils on Nov. 6.