State Colleges

Playing at Hard Rock was dream come true for Bethune-Cookman’s South Florida natives

Hard Rock Stadium during a game at the University of Miami, September 2, 2017.
Hard Rock Stadium during a game at the University of Miami, September 2, 2017. Getty Images

Saturday’s game was a homecoming of sorts for a number of Bethune-Cookman players. A total of 19 Wildcats grew up in either Miami-Dade or Broward County.

Although losing 63-0 wasn’t ideal, they shared a common excitement about being home.

“It was one of [my] childhood [dreams], being able to play in the stadium you grew up around, doing what you love: playing football,” junior cornerback Jamauri Laguerre said.

In addition to having grown up with a number of the Hurricanes, freshman defensive lineman Shanoyd Whyte’s mother and girlfriend were in attendance. Looking up in the stands and seeing their faces gave him extra motivation.

“My mom always wanted to see me play a college game, I told her I was going to do it since I was 2,” said Whyte, who played at Dillard. “So I’m making her proud and I know she’s happy right now.”

Added junior cornerback Sam Marc, who played at Norland: “For me, I know if I’m out there making a play, it’s making them happy, making them smile and that’s what I do it for.”

Of the 19, Laguerre had the best game. The Edison alumnus finished with a game-high six tackles, three of which were solo. But a good game in front of family doesn’t mean much when the team gets blown out.

“Like our coach said at the end of the game, ‘we got to do our job,’” Laguerre said. “A lot of guys were trying to make up other people’s jobs and we got to do yours, 1-11. And [that’s] not excluding me because we lost.”

Despite getting blanked on the scoreboard, Marc is optimistic about the future.

“We got to fight out there,” Marc said. “We a team that always fights, through the end, fourth quarter until the last whistle is blown. But this game, it didn’t look like we did it.”

C. Isaiah Smalls II is a reporter covering breaking and trending news for the Miami Herald. Previously, he worked for ESPN’s The Undefeated as part of their inaugural class of Rhoden Fellows. He is a graduate of both Columbia University and Morehouse College.