Carol City linebacker De’Andre Wilder was so excited about joining the University of Miami that he even got his family in on the fun.
Wilder’s grandmother Teresa Brandon “dabbed” Cam Newton-style to show off her UM wristbands as she and Wilder celebrated his decision on National Signing Day to join the Hurricanes.
Wilder was one of numerous talented Dade seniors who chose to pursue their college education and football careers at state schools Wednesday morning.
“It’s a great thing to be a Hurricane,” Wilder said. “It was a long process like a relationship with a girl, except this was about football.”
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Wilder and Columbus’ Trajan Bandy each honored their longtime commitments to UM as they joined other locals including early enrollees Waynmon Steed and Navaughn Donaldson from Miami Central.
“It wasn’t an easy road to get here, and I had to earn it every step of the way,” Bandy said. “But I’m so happy to be able to sign to go to Miami. It means so much to my family to be able to stay home and for them to come watch me play.”
FIU made some big inroads as it gears up for its first season under Butch Davis.
The Panthers picked up four players from Booker T. Washington: offensive lineman Willa Pierre, wide receiver DeAndre Williams and sibling defensive backs Richard and Rishard Dames. FIU also signed three solid offensive linemen in Southridge’s Cody Bowes, Central’s Mershawn Miller and Reagan’s Mike Crespo, as well as Columbus tight end Max Gonzalez-Brito as preferred walk-ons.
Columbus had a total of nine signees, and Central had six including linebacker Cornell Jones, who chose to go to Purdue instead of FIU. Booker T. had a dozen signees including Guy Thomas who signed with Nebraska and Kadeem Telfort, who enrolled early at UF.
“Ron Turner was the first one that offered us,” Rishard Dames said. “Then they made the coaching change and we hesitated, but when coach Davis decided to keep [former Booker T. coach] Tim Harris Jr. on the staff, that was huge for us because to be honest we might’ve started looking at other options at that point.”
Carol City, the reigning Class 6A state champions, had 10 signees overall including a trio that decided to keep the suspense going a little longer and reveal their choices on TV.
Kevaughn Dingle, Donnelle Thomas and Naytron Culpepper each signed with USF, providing a major boost for the Bulls and their recently-hired coach Charlie Strong.
At Columbus, C.J. Henderson made his choice early in the day and later announced that he had signed with the University of Florida at a ceremony in the school’s cafeteria. Henderson had been going back and forth between UF and UM in recent days.
“I felt like it was a great relief to get to this moment,” Henderson said. “I had to follow where my heart was.”
Although Bowes and running back Bentavious Thompson (UCF signee) stayed near home, Southridge bucked the trend of players staying in Florida a bit.
Wide receiver Rodney Scott and safety Billy Gibson, each of whom had been committed to UM at one point, chose to sign with Buffalo and Oregon, respectively.
“The vibe, the players — they’re different,” said Gibson, who wants to own a business after football. “It’s like paradise up there. The town is small, but there is much to do based on football.
“It was nothing against Miami. I wanted to travel the world, experience … I wanted to do something different.”
Miami Jackson had a historic season following the hire of Lakatronia Brunson — the first female head football coach in the history of Florida. Brunson’s squad had three players sign as Lacedrick Brunson (no relation) signed with UF, Nakia Robinson signed with N.C. State and Eric Mateo signed with Ventura College in California.
“Growing up, I always wanted to become either a Gator or a Seminole,” Brunson said. “And I was blessed with an opportunity to be a Gator. I also went up there and I really like the Gator spirit. Everyone’s proud to be a Gator.”
A couple of schools made history with their first Division I-FCS signees. Somerset Silver Palms linebacker/defensive back Aaron Chichester signed with Jacksonville, and Keys Gate wide receiver Angelo Gonzalez signed with Delaware State.
Miami Herald writers Walter Villa, Bill Daley and Veronika Quispe contributed to this report.
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Signees in Miami-Dade
Booker T. Washington: Willa Pierre (FIU), Rishard Dames (FIU), Richard Dames (FIU), Deandre Williams (FIU), Guy Thomas (Nebraska), Isaac Readon (FAU), Sharod Johnson (Syracuse), Dedrick Mackey (Purdue), Craig Nelson (Indiana), Derrick Geter (Bethune Cookman), Teaki Fuller (Bethune Cookman), Kadeem Telfort (UF).
Carol City: De’Andre Wilder (UM), Naytron Culpepper (USF), Kevaughn Dingle (USF), Donnelle Thomas (USF), Moris Lugo (Tennessee State), Jamare Edwards (Marshall), Jerrod Clersaint (Concordia), Victor Tucker (Charlotte), Travis Bivins (Charleston), Jason Dunois (Charleston).
Champagnat Catholic: Devante Mitchell (Ohio), Brian Gooze (Chadron State), Isaiah Sharpe (Chadron State).
Central: Navaughn Donaldson (UM), Waynmon Steed (UM), Owen Carney (Illinois), Carmoni Green (Illinois), Cornell Jones (Purdue), Mershawn Miller (FIU), Anthony White, Jr. (Washington State), Jernard Phillips (USF), Enos Lewis (McNeese State), Christopher Johnson (Seton Hill), Christopher Williams (Carson-Newman).
Columbus: Robert Perez (Bryant), Marcelo Rodriguez (Southern Mississippi), Hunter Moreno (Southeast Missouri State), Danny Morales (Southeastern), Anthony Roig (Oberlin College), Max Gonzalez-Brito (FIU), Michael Rodriguez (Pennsylvania), Trajan Bandy (UM), CJ Henderson (Florida).
Coral Gables: Marlin Brooks (Ohio), Kristopher Moll (UAB), Adryan Ellis (Hutchinson Junior College), Terrance Bryant (Southeast Missouri), Robert McWilliams (Purdue), Jamar Thompkins (Valdosta State), Elyjah Felton (Graceland).
Edison: E.J. Thomas (Tuskegee).
Ferguson: Christian Ricano (Elmhurst College), Andres Urzua (Elmhurst College).
Gulliver: Robert Burns (UM), Armando Alonso (Virginia), Harrison Herskowitz (Dartmouth), Jordan Lyon (Ave Maria), DeWayne Terry (Dartmouth).
Hialeah: Zario Dorismond (Morgan State), Aldontae Robertson (Dakota College), Marlin Davis (Dakota College).
Jackson: Lacedrick Brunson (UF), Nakia Robinson (N.C. State), Eric Mateo (Ventura College).
Keys Gate: Angelo Gonzalez (Delaware State).
Krop: Justin Korakakos (Lincoln College), Randall St. Felix (USF), Bruny Jordany (Mount Ida).
Mater Academy: Latavious Brini (Georgia), Jonathan Francois (Charlotte), Devonta Lopes (FAU).
Miami Beach: Trevon Jackson (Warner University).
Norland: Rashad Colson (FIU), Tevin Jones (FIU), Cedrick Jackson (Bethune Cookman), Aaron Duncan (NC Central), Roemello Walton (Georgetown), Jaques Stephens (Stockton).
North Miami Beach: Alvin Floyd (Ohio), Brian Brown (Merced CC), Fritz Merus (Bethany), Shaide Ramirez (Bethany), Woodlyson Alcius (Southern Miss).
Palmetto: Kenny Spiller (Charleston Southern).
Reagan: Mike Crespo (FIU), Paxton Thomas (Coe College).
Somerset Silver Palms: Aaron Chichester (Jacksonville).
South Dade: Kyron Taylor (Marshall), Chei Hill (East Tennessee State), Woobendy Guerrier (Valdosta State).
Southridge: Antwan Collier (UCF), Deandre Johnson (Tennessee), Brandon James (FIU), Nadarius Fagan (Syracuse), Shawn Davis (UF), Kemore Gamble (UF), Billy Gibson (Oregon), Bentavious Thompson (UCF), Rodney Scott (Buffalo), Cody Bowes (FIU), Coemba Jones (Albany State), Juwan Horn (Albany State), Dimitri Prophete (Fort Hays State), Travis Murray (Cincinnati Central).
Westminster Christian: Darian Stephenson (Navy).