The Miami Hurricanes have made restocking their linebacker depth a priority for the Class of 2020, and one of the four linebackers already orally committed to Miami will spend multiple days in South Florida this weekend to watch the Hurricanes host the Virginia Cavaliers.
Tirek Austin-Cave, a three-star linebacker from New Jersey, touched down in the Miami metropolitan area Wednesday and will be in town until Saturday to watch the Hurricanes prepare for and then play Virginia in Miami Gardens.
“I’m just looking forward to just getting back, talking to the coaching staff,” Austin-Cave said Tuesday. “I talk to those guys almost three times a week throughout me being committed, so I have a great connection with those guys, the coaching staff. My main thing is just getting around the team. I just want to just be around the team going forward, seeing how they prepare for games coming in because I have intentions to enroll early in January, so I’m just getting myself mentally prepared for that aspect of the game and just getting ready for that. So that’s probably one of my biggest things, just mentally preparing myself for getting down there in January.”
The No. 26 inside linebacker in the 247Sports.com composite rankings for the 2020 class, Austin-Cave orally committed to the Hurricanes in July after taking an official visit to Miami in June. The Hurricanes — and, particularly, coach Manny Diaz — have pitched the 6-foot-1, 203-pound athlete on the potential to play early with linebackers Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney both departing. Austin-Cave hopes this particular visit will put him on a path toward getting on the field early.
Austin-Cave is an impressive athlete and one of the more prolific defensive players in his state. Five games into his senior year at Camden, New Jersey, Austin-Cave has piled up 65 total tackles, three tackles for loss, four sacks, two interceptions, six passes defended, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and a blocked punt. The senior is also a track and field standout, and ran the 55-meter dash in 6.57 seconds as a junior, which put him just behind some nationally elite times. This weekend, he will get to start working on some of the mental adjustment required out of freshmen.
Austin-Cave planned to watch Miami practice Thursday in Coral Gables and sit in on some meetings ahead of the game against the No. 20 Cavaliers.
“I know me getting down there, I’ll actually be able to see everything with how they prepare, how they practice,” Austin-Cave said. “I just want to be able to be a part of that, see what they go through before I get down there in January. That’s probably one of my biggest things going back down there for this visit.”
Since the game against Virginia is on a Friday, Austin-Cave will also have a relatively unique experience at Hard Rock Stadium. He’ll get individual attention when possible because he won’t be surrounded by other recruits in the stands. The middle linebacker will instead spend most of his time with coaches and future teammates while he’s in Florida.
Like most of the Hurricanes’ committed players for the 2020 recruiting class, Austin-Cave insists Miami’s slow start to Diaz’s first season hasn’t caused him to waver on his pledge. He talks as if he’s certain the Hurricanes are his future team.
“I’m 100 percent locked in,” Austin-Cave said. “I 100 percent believe Coach Diaz and his coaching staff, and what they have in store for this program. It’s only Year 1 for this coaching staff, and I feel like they have great potential for the future. I can’t wait to be a part of that, and I know they’re going to take care of business from here on out.”
He has particular affinity for Diaz, too. Diaz, who used to be Miami’s linebackers coach, is one of the coaches he most frequently talks to, and Austin-Cave said he hears from Diaz and strikers coach Jonathan Patke about three times a week.
Diaz’s personality hasn’t changed even with the Hurricanes’ sub-.500 start, and the personality is part of what drew Austin-Cave to Miami in the first place.
“I can tell he loves defense and I can see he knows that defense wins championships,” Austin-Cave said. “I just feel like for him being a coaching on the defensive side of the ball, I know that he’ll get the most out of me as a player and a young man. That’s one of the biggest reasons I chose to play for Coach Diaz in the future. I can just tell he loves his guys.”