Douglas Emilien had become conditioned to expecting offers from high-profile programs this fall. The LSU Tigers offered the Plantation American Heritage wide receiver in September and it started an avalanche. The Cincinnati Bearcats offered him the same day and the West Virginia Mountaineers hopped in a day later.
It was all a whirlwind and it came to a head when he checked his phone the day after LSU offered to find a surprising text message. It was from a number he didn’t have stored in his phone and the person said he was Manny Diaz. He told Emilien to call.
“He said, ‘Call me,’ and then I was like, Oh!” Emilien said Tuesday before American Heritage began a pre-playoffs practice in Plantation. “I called him, I got on the phone, he told me what’s up.”
The Miami Hurricanes, Diaz told him, wanted to offer him a scholarship. It was his fourth offer in two days
Emilien had never talked to Diaz before. He hadn’t had any significant communication with Miami’s coaching staff even though he plays for a powerhouse program in the heart of the Hurricanes’ recruiting footprint. Emilien figures Patriots coach Patrick Surtain must have given Diaz his number because he’s not sure where else he would have gotten it.
He does know this one was really important to him. Emilien grew up rooting for Miami and still roots for the Hurricanes every Saturday. A question about whether this offer was particularly meaningful elicits an animated response.
“Hell, yeah. That’s home, that’s the crib,” Emilien said. “That’s the school that I really root for.”
While he won’t go so far as to call Miami his favorite, the Hurricanes are on the short list of schools he’s most interested in after last two months. Official visits to West Virginia and Cincinnati are both strong possibilities, and an offer from the Virginia Cavaliers last Tuesday has the three-star receiver intrigued, too.
The Hurricanes are the one offer he was pining for most, though. He made it out to Miami Gardens last month for the Hurricanes’ loss to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and plans to be back at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday to watch Miami’s final home game against the Louisville Cardinals. An official visit with the Hurricanes is part of his plan, too.
“They’ll develop me into a better me, not just on the field, but off the field,” Emilien said. “Our relationship is getting tighter and our bond is getting better.”
Adding another wideout to its Class of 2020 is one of Miami’s top remaining priorities this recruiting cycle and Emilien, up to No. 547 overall in the 247Sports.com composite rankings with the help of a breakout senior season, is the Hurricanes’ top target at the position in South Florida.
Heading into the postseason, Emilien leads American Heritage with 29 catches, 444 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns. The 6-foot, 175-pound senior is exactly the sort of physical prospect Miami wants to complement speedy four-star wide receivers Michael Redding III and Marcus Fleming in the recruiting class. Wide receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield also happened to be in attendance for his best game of the season so far: a 111-yard effort against Cardinal Gibbons last month.
“He said he loves my game play, he loves my physicality, he loves the way I catch the ball and the strong hands,” Emilien said. “He said that I’m driven — he sees something in me.”
The pitches from Virginia and West Virginia are a bit different. The Cavaliers have four wide receivers set to depart and the Mountaineers don’t expect to be deep at wideout in 2020, either. Both are offering Emilien a real chance at early playing time.
Miami, on the other hand, only has one senior wide receiver on its two-deep depth chart. The path to playing a major role as a freshman is a bit more difficult.
Still, Emilien knows he wasn’t just overlooked for no reason before his senior year. Emilien has rapidly improved from his junior season and his upward trajectory is tantalizing, too. There’s a reason, after all, Diaz is heavily involved in this recruitment.
“I feel like I always had it in me, but now I got better and I improved,” Emilien said, “and now they really noticed me.”