The Miami Hurricanes might not have made the cut for the four-team College Football Playoffs this season, but South Florida will still be represented regardless of which two teams reach the championship game.
Between No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Georgia and No. 4 Alabama, there are 11 players from Miami-Dade and Broward counties playing for a national championship.
That quest begins Monday with Georgia and Oklahoma kicking off the Rose Bowl at 5 p.m. and then Clemson and Alabama closing out the night at the Sugar Bowl at 8:45 p.m. The winners of those games will meet at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Jan. 8 for the championship.
No. 1 Clemson
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The top-seeded Tigers (12-1) have two South Florida players on their roster as they attempt to repeat as national champions.
Sophomore cornerback Trayvon Mullen out of Coconut Creek High has played in 12 games (11 starts) and has a team-best-tying three interceptions to go along with 39 tackles and seven pass breakups.
Redshirt junior defensive end and former Fort Lauderdale University School standout Richard Yeargin suffered a season-ending neck injury in a car accident in June. Yeargin has played in 22 career games for Clemson, recording 29 total tackles, four tackles for loss and a sack.
No. 2 Oklahoma
Second-ranked Oklahoma (12-1) only has one South Florida representative on its roster, but he has made a valuable impact on the Sooners’ offense this season
Wide receiver Marquise Brown has been a primary target for Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. The 5-foot-11, 162-pound sophomore out of Chaminade-Madonna leads the Sooners with 981 receiving yards on 49 catches and also has six touchdowns in his first year with Oklahoma after transferring from College of the Canyons. Brown’s 20.06 yards per catch are the fourth-most among Big 12 receivers and 16th nationally.
No. 3 Georgia
The third-ranked Bulldogs (12-1) have five players on their roster from South Florida, including a key playmaker on offense and a starter on defense.
Sony Michel, a senior running back out of American Heritage Plantation, is part of Georgia’s three-headed running back rotation along with senior Nick Chubb and freshman D’Andre Swift. Michel is second on the team with 948 rushing yards on 131 carries (7.2 yards per rush) and is tied with Chubb for fourth in the SEC with 13 rushing touchdowns.
Deandre Baker, a junior defensive back who played at Miami Northwestern, has started in 12 of 13 games this season. Baker has a team-best 11 defended passes (nine pass breakups and two interceptions), which ranks tied for sixth in the SEC.
As for the others, sophomore receiver Riley Ridley out of Deerfield Beach High has eight catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns this season; junior Juwan Taylor, who played at Hallandale High in Hollywood, has recorded 13 tackles in 13 games this season as a reserve linebacker; and freshman defensive back and Mater Academy product Latavious Brini has not played this season.
No. 4 Alabama
Three South Florida players are making an impact for the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide (11-1), the lone team in the playoffs that did not win a conference championship.
Leading the trio is junior wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who played his prep career at Monarch High in Deerfield Beach. Ridley leads Alabama with 55 catches and 896 receiving yards to go along with three receiving touchdowns. No other Crimson Tide player has more than 14 catches or has eclipsed 250 receiving yards through 12 games. For his career, Ridley ranks second in Alabama football history in receptions (216) and third in receiving yards (2,710) and receiving touchdowns (17).
Freshman Jerry Jeudy, a Deerfield Beach High alumnus, is the Crimson Tide’s second-best receiver this season with 244 yards and two touchdowns on 13 receptions.
Freshman defensive back and Boyd Anderson product Daniel Wright has made an impact on special teams, recording 10 tackles in 12 games.