High School Recruiting

The Miami Hurricanes have a shot at landing all four of these unsigned defensive stars

American Heritage Patriots defensive tackle Nesta Silvera (99), carrying the championship trophy after the Class 5A State High School Football Championship at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Dec. 8, 2017.
American Heritage Patriots defensive tackle Nesta Silvera (99), carrying the championship trophy after the Class 5A State High School Football Championship at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Dec. 8, 2017. adiaz@miamiherald.com

There’s only one college in the nation that has a shot at landing all four of American Heritage’s unsigned stars on Wednesday, and that’s the Miami Hurricanes.

The Canes are still finalists for all four of those recruits: cornerbacks Patrick Surtain Jr. and Tyson Campbell, defensive tackle Nesta Silvera and defensive end Andrew Chatfield.

Moreover, Miami had the last shot at convincing Surtain, Campbell and Silvera since they all made Miami their final official visits, going there this past weekend. (Chatfield took his last official visit to Florida.)

Heritage coach Patrick Surtain, a former Pro Bowl NFL cornerback and the father of Surtain Jr., said his son is down to four schools: Alabama, Clemson, LSU and Miami.

1036 American Heritage vs Baker County Widcats120817
American Heritage Patriots cornerback Patrick Surtain II (2), during the Class 5A State High School Football Championship game between American Heritage and Baker County Wildcats in Orlando on Dec. 8, 2017. AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiherald.com

Surtain said that Alabama, Georgia and Miami are in the running for Campbell. Silvera has committed to Miami, but Surtain indicated it was 50-50 between the Canes and Florida Gators. And Chatfield, who totaled 36.5 sacks the past two years, is down to a final four of Miami, Florida State, Oklahoma and Florida.

Larry Blustein, the dean of Florida recruiting experts, evaluating talent since 1970, predicts Miami will only get Silvera. Blustein also said he believes Surtain Jr. will end up being the best of the four Heritage kids.

“He does so much,” Blustein said. “He’s big and long and could play at the next level [NFL].”

Meanwhile, Cam Underwood, a recruiting expert on the State of the U website, predicts Miami will get Silvera and Surtain.

Chatfield talks about his two interceptions in the Patriots' win over Booker T. Washington on Friday.

Perhaps no one knows where they are going just yet. The only thing for certain is that Miami put itself in position to get all four, rallying, for example, to make Surtain’s cut to his final four.

On Aug. 30, Surtain had tweeted that his final six included Alabama, Clemson, LSU and since-eliminated Ohio State, Florida State and Florida.

“Ohio State was in it, but some late movement in their coaching staff kind of ended that,” Surtain Sr. said.

0697 American Heritage vs Baker County Widcats120817 (1)
American Heritage Patriots cornerback Tyson Campbell. AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiherald.com

Surtain Jr. and Campbell are both in the range of 6-foot-2, part of a new breed of tall cornerbacks.

“The way the game is going now with these 6-5 receivers that can jump out the gym — these world-class athletes — you have to have someone on the outside who can match up with them,” Surtain Sr. said.

“You see these 6-2 corners who have great hips and great feet. They are explosive athletes with tremendous ball skills and are not afraid to come up and hit you. They check every box.”

Adding those two corners — or even one more, given the defensive backs already in the class — would be a big boost for Miami.

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

Surtain said coaching four talents such as his son, Campbell, Silvera and Chatfield all on one defense was a “once in a lifetime” experience.

As such, college coaches have flocked to Heritage over the past several weeks. This past Wednesday night, for example, Canes coach Mark Richt made a home visit to Surtain Jr. The next day, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney came by the Surtain home, followed by LSU’s Ed Orgeron.

The Alabama staff rolled in later that night. Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer had made the trek previously.

Andrew Chatfield of American Heritage High, during High School Football Media Day at Hard Rock Stadium on Aug. 5, 2017. AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiherald.com

Miami, though, might have some advantages as the home school and also because cornerback coach Mike Rumph used to be Surtain Sr.’s boss at American Heritage.

Surtain said Rumph has recruited American Heritage heavily over the past year, but UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and other Miami coaches have made their presence felt as well.

“Mike is a great guy,” Surtain said. “He has been doing a terrific job.”

His job could get a lot easier if he and the Canes were to land the Heritage Fab Four.


▪ Underwood also predicts Miami will sign Georgia wide receiver Marquez Ezzard; Georgia defensive lineman Jamarcus Chatman; and Texas defensive tackle Keondre Coburn.

▪ Miami’s class is ranked, fifth in the nation, FSU is at No.15 and Florida 18th, according to 247 Sports. Those rankings could and probably will change depending on Wednesday signings.

▪ In the past week, FSU added four-star wide receiver Warren Thompson of Seffner Armwood and three-star receiver Keyshawn Helton of Pensacola. FSU added six commitments since Jan. 13. The Seminoles have 16 recruits if everyone who pledged signs, including three wide receivers and three cornerbacks.

▪ In the past week, Florida added one commitment, Georgia guard Griffin McDowell, who flipped from Mississippi State. The Gators have 16 commitments but just two since January.

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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