High School Recruiting

Newest Miami Hurricanes commit brings a lot of versatility to football team

Miami Northwestern senior Nigel Bethel, a 5-11, 160-pounder who chose the Hurricanes over Central Florida this week, was recruited as a cornerback, but he also played wide receiver this past season.
Miami Northwestern senior Nigel Bethel, a 5-11, 160-pounder who chose the Hurricanes over Central Florida this week, was recruited as a cornerback, but he also played wide receiver this past season. pportal@miamiherald.com

Miami Northwestern senior Nigel Bethel, a 5-11, 160-pounder who chose the Hurricanes over Central Florida this week, was recruited as a cornerback, but he also played wide receiver this past season.

“He really stretched the field for us as a wide receiver,” Northwestern coach Max Edwards said. “He also did a tremendous job at corner.”

The Hurricanes had a need for more depth at cornerback after the news came last week that they’d officially lost veteran cornerback Malek Young to a career-ending neck injury.

Young’s exit leaves senior Michael Jackson and sophomore Trajan Bandy as likely starters, although the latter could be more of a nickelback. Depth will come from veteran Jhavonte Dean and incoming freshmen DJ Ivey (South Dade), Gilbert Frierson (Coral Gables) and Al Blades Jr. (Aquinas).

Miami also signed versatile Palm Beach Gardens safety Gurvan Hall.

As for Bethel, he was also coveted by UCF and its main recruiter in this region, former Canes coach Randy Shannon.

“I’m surprised more schools didn’t get on him earlier,” Charles Fishbein of Elite Scouting Services said of Bethel, who will visit UCF on Feb. 2. “He’s a two-way kid with good speed and length. He can play at Miami.”

Fishbein believes Hall, followed by Blades, are the best defensive backs Miami has signed in this class. (That would change if Miami signed either highly rated corners Patrick Surtain Jr. and/or Tyson Campbell of American Heritage.)

“Hall is an undersized kid who will knock you out,” Fishbein said. “He reminds me of [former UM and NFL first-round pick] Brandon Merriweather. [Hall] will play right away on special teams and then work his way into the lineup.”

Fishbein believes Blades is underrated.

“He didn’t play a whole lot this past year, but he should have — he has a lot of upside,” Fishbein said. “I think he’ll play as a freshman, and people are going to be shocked.

University of Miami football coach Mark Richt talks about the 18 players who signed on Dec. 20, 2017 to play at UM.

“I remember one play he made while he was in on offense. The Aquinas running back fumbled, and the other team recovered and returned it. Blades chased the kid for 65 yards, stripped him and recovered the fumble.

“When you have talent, and you add that kind of heart and desire … [Blades] doesn’t quit. He keeps fighting until the end. I don’t think you can go wrong with Al Blades Jr.”

THIS AND THAT

▪ American Heritage coach Patrick Surtain Sr., who was in the running for a job as an Alabama assistant, told the Miami Herald that he did not get the position.

▪ It’s not a great year for local quarterbacks, which is especially bad news for Florida Atlantic, which has a huge need at the position.

Jason Driskel, who just led FAU to an 11-3 breakthrough season, had one more year of eligibility remaining but announced last week he is retiring from football. Backup Daniel Parr transferred to Duquesne University last month. And De’Andre Johnson sat out the year after blood-clot surgery.

The top-rated South Florida QB this year is Louisville recruit and three-star recruit Jordan Travis from The Benjamin School in West Palm Beach. There are no three, four- or five-star QBs in Miami-Dade or Broward counties this year.

The Recruiting Column is a year-round feature of the Miami Herald. If you have a tip or story idea regarding recruiting or an impending college commitment, please contact Walter Villa at: wvilla07@yahoo.com

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