St. Thomas Aquinas high school football coach talks football season
There was virtually no fanfare around the announcement Jordan Battle was flipping his commitment from the Ohio State Buckeyes to the Alabama Crimson Tide. He didn’t make a Twitter post with a message from his Notes app. Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas didn’t hold any signing ceremony for its 15 players sending National Letters of Intent to the schools of their choice Wednesday. Alabama didn’t even make an announcement until later in the afternoon.
Instead, Battle traipsed into the Raiders’ athletic office as the last of St. Thomas Aquinas’ 15 signees. He wore a Crimson Tide T-shirt and finally shed some light on why he chose to sign with coach Nick Saban and Alabama despite being committed to Ohio State since June.
“When I went up to Alabama, it was a great trip. The majority of the time I was with [defensive backs coach Karl] Scott and Coach Saban, of course, because they run the DBs,” Battle said Wednesday. “They spoke to me about playing time and whether or not I’m going to play a lot, but they don’t really stress about playing. They stress about giving your best efforts and if you have the opportunity to go out there and prove yourself, do it.”
It all opened up for him when Urban Meyer announced he was retiring once again. This was the coach Battle initially committed to and, last Wednesday, the four-star safety told incoming coach Ryan Day he would be taking a look at other options. Day, who is currently Ohio State’s offensive coordinator, came down to visit Battle, but the defensive back was set on Alabama by the start of the week.
On Sunday or Monday, Battle told Saban he would be signing with the Crimson Tide. Alabama landed the No. 2 player in Broward County, according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings.
“He loved it,” Battle said. “He was like, Yeah, man. I’m impressed. I got my favorite recruit.”
Fourteen of Battle’s teammates joined him in signing Letters of Intent on Wednesday, including two headed to the Miami Hurricanes.
Avery Huff and Jason Munoz will both join Miami in the summer after signing with the Hurricanes on Wednesday.
Huff could fill a major, immediate need in Coral Gables. While Zach McCloud announced Tuesday he’ll return for his senior season, fellow linebackers Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney could opt for the 2019 NFL Draft. If they leave, Huff will certainly be asked to contribute immediately, and the four-star outside linebacker feels he’s a perfect fit.
“They have the best scheme for me,” Huff said Wednesday. “It’s the best environment. I love that type of atmosphere, the competition. Everything the U stands for, it’s just me.”
Munoz, meanwhile, is more of a developmental prospect. Injuries plagued the three-star defensive end the past two seasons, which caused him to slim down for his senior season. When healthy, the defensive lineman started at defensive end for the Raiders, but he said the Hurricanes envision him bulking up and moving to defensive tackle.
Said Munoz: “I’m definitely going to get some weight back on.”
The rest of the Raiders signings:
Four-star defensive end Braylen Ingraham is joining Battle at Alabama. He’s the No. 27 player in Florida and the No. 190 player in the country, and finished his senior year with five sacks.
Four-star outside linebacker Anthony Solomon completed his flip from Miami to the Michigan Wolverines by signing with the Wolverines just three days after he orally committed. He’s the No. 28 player in the state and the No. 193 player in the nation.
Four-star cornerback Jaden Davis inked his Letter of Intent with the Oklahoma Sooners. He’s the No. 35 player in Florida and pulled in a pair of interceptions this season.
Daniel Carter is signing with the Pittsburgh Panthers after orally committing there Dec. 1. He ran for 1,203 yards and 21 touchdowns on 149 carries this season.
Three-star center Vincent Murphy and three-star outside linebacker both signed with the South Carolina Gamecocks. South Carolina joins the Crimson Tide and the Hurricanes as the only schools to sign multiple St. Thomas Aquinas players.
Three-star cornerback Semar Melvin signed with the Wisconsin Badgers. He’s the No. 65 corner in the Class of 2019 and No. 94 player in Florida.
Three-star cornerback Myles Bell orally committed to the Connecticut Huskies on Tuesday and followed it up by signing his Letter of Intent on Wednesday. He picked Connecticut over the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Three-star tackle Jake Pope is signing with the Kentucky Wildcats. He’s the No. 115 tackle in the country.
Three-star guard Julian Hernandez signed with the Vanderbilt Commodores. He’s the No. 72 guard in the country.
Three-star quarterback Mariano Valenti signed his National Letter of Intent with the Northern Illinois Huskies. Splitting time under center, the dual-threat quarterback accounted for three touchdowns this season — one as a passer, one as a runner and one as a receiver.
Ivy League players don’t actually sign National Letters of Intent, but the Raiders also recognized three-star quarterback Curt Casteel, who is heading to the FCS Harvard Crimson. The pro-style quarterback threw for 1,710 yards, 27 touchdowns and only five interceptions this season.