University of Miami

How Miami won over his dad to add a versatile edge rusher to its 2020 recruiting class

Miami Hurricanes Head Coach Manny Diaz speaks about the future of Paradise Camp

Head Coach Manny Diaz speaks to the media about his vision for the program and Paradise Camp at Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility in Coral Gables, Florida Saturday June 22, 2019.
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Head Coach Manny Diaz speaks to the media about his vision for the program and Paradise Camp at Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility in Coral Gables, Florida Saturday June 22, 2019.

Romello Height had a long-term plan for his inevitable commitment to the Miami Hurricanes.

An official visit in Coral Gables last month solidified UM as the favorite in Height’s recruitment, but the three-star outside linebacker wanted to wait until September to make any sort of announcement. It would, of course, give him plenty of time to think through all his options. It would also, more importantly, be a way for Height to honor his father by making his oral commitment on his father’s birthday.

Plans changed quickly for the edge rusher. Height pushed up his commitment more than three months last Monday when he announced his pledge to the Hurricanes with a video on Twitter. To get its commitment from Height sewn up, UM had to win over the senior’s father.

“He wanted me to go ahead and make the decision,” Height said. “He wanted me to go ahead and make it a little early, so I could just play throughout my senior season without stressing about where I’m going. I agreed to it.”

Height’s commitment continued a monster recruiting stretch for the Hurricanes. Throughout June, UM added six oral commitments, including four in the final 10 days of the month. In the first week of July, the Hurricanes have already added two more, including Height, whom Miami stole out of Southeastern Conference country by beating out the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Florida Gators and Kentucky Wildcats.

Height, who primarily plays defensive end at Dublin in Georgia, is only a three-star prospect in the 247Sports.com rankings, but both 247Sports and ESPN.com peg him as a four-star linebacker.

The Hurricanes envision him as a hybrid prospect — “Viper” is what Miami calls the position — which will have him spend most of his time as a defensive lineman, while also having him occasionally drop back into coverage. The 6-5, 217-pound athlete has the physical tools to thrive in this role, which is why the Hurricanes honed in on him as a major target.

“He’s definitely athletic,” Dublin Fighting Irish coach Roger Holmes said. “He runs well in space, has an excellent first step. He’s rangy — he’s got some length to him — and I would say if his body continues to grow then he should also be able to be a young man that can put his hand on the ground and be an edge rusher, so he has some versatility in what he can do.

“The No. 1 thing about Romello is he’s very smart, very solid student, learns things very well and he has a competitive drive that you look for in a kid. He wants to be good.”

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UM nearly made Height one of those numerous June additions to the 2020 recruiting class. Height visited South Florida the same weekend as three-star inside linebacker Corey Flagg Jr., and Flagg gave his pledge to the coaching staff before he left campus.

While he was on campus, Height made it clear to coach Manny Diaz and defensive line coach Todd Stroud about where the Hurricanes sat in the picture for him: UM was the clear-cut leader. Height nearly made his commitment before leaving campus, too, and even then his father was keen on the idea, pushing him to potentially make his announcement on Father’s Day.

“I was going to commit on the same day,” Height said. “I knew I was going.”

In the end, the coaching staff won over Height. Just before he took his official visit with the Hurricanes, he wrapped up an official visit with Kentucky, so he arrived in the Miami metropolitan area with the Wildcats at No. 1 on his list. The Hurricanes, who had offered after Height put out an initial top five, had ground to make up quickly as they hosted Height for the first time.

Stroud helped lock up the out-of-state defender. Although linebackers coach Jonathan Patke initially worked as Height’s primary recruiter, Stroud was the one to actually sit down with Height when the prospect got to campus and outline UM’s vision for Height as a player.

One official visit was all the Hurricanes needed. Before it was time to return to Georgia, Height and his family were all sold. Less than a month later, Height was ready to shut things down.

“I was treated like family. I just built the buzz with like most of the coaches and I didn’t with other schools, and I felt comfortable around them somehow,” Height said. “Coach Stroud, we sat down and talked for a good minute, watched some film, watched the position I’ll play. I think I fit perfect.”

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