UM and FSU face each other on the gridiron once a year, but the two square off in recruiting every day.
And no one day of the year might be more impactful to winning that year-long battle than game day between the Hurricanes and Seminoles. After all, UM hasn’t won on the field since 2009, and according to Rivals, hasn’t finished with a higher-ranked recruiting class since 2008. The two go hand in hand.
“It’s a big impact because the recruits want to go to the winning team,” said Canes offensive lineman Trevor Darling, a sophomore who once came out of Miami Central as a four-star recruit and was recruited by both schools.
Senior cornerback Tracy Howard, formerly a five-star prospect out of Miramar, agrees.
“A lot of times kids choose their schools based on who wins this game. I don’t think that’s a good thing, but that’s truly what happens,” Howard said.
Howard was never thought to be high on the Hurricanes during his senior season at Miramar High (Al Golden’s first as coach at UM) but later grew toward the idea of staying home as National Signing Day 2012 approached and opted to play his home games at Sun Life Stadium, which is visible from Miramar’s football field.
Golden, with 22 oral commitments in the class of 2016, 11 in 2017 and five more for 2018, understands the swing effect this game could have on those commits and other uncommitted prospects considering the Canes.
“It’s important for us in a lot of different respects, but none of that matters if you don’t prepare and keep your eyes focused on what we have to do every day,” Golden said. “That will take care of itself if we play well.”
Coral Gables running back Amir Rasul, a speedy four-star prospect, was once a UM commit but flipped to FSU in the summer based on, among other things, the idea Golden might get fired and Rasul not wanting to be part of a program in transition. Rasul feels positive momentum going toward UM if it can upset FSU.
“If they win this game, I think a lot of recruits will want to join the Canes,” Rasul said.
Columbus senior defensive end Josh Uche, a UM commit also being recruited by Alabama, Florida and Boston College, said: “With FSU ranked, if UM is able to come out and play the way they’re capable of playing, that’s a positive, but if they come out and get manhandled, that’s more on the negative side.”
Orange Park Oakleaf linebacker Shaquille Quarterman, who has signed a grant-in-aid agreement with the Hurricanes and says he doesn’t see himself going back on his commitment even if Golden were fired, predicts a reversal of the negativity from the loss to Cincinnati if the Hurricanes upset FSU.
“I think it would flip a lot of minds, a lot of comments, and I think it would be very positive toward [commits] staying,” Quarterman said.
Quarterman added that he feels UM’s commits are all solid in their commitment, but as quickly as the day after the Hurricanes’ loss at Cincinnati, South Dade defensive back James Wiggins downgraded his commitment level to “soft” — with the Bearcats another team in consideration.
Recruits are also taking notice of the banners flying over stadiums pleading UM to fire the coach the recruits are committed to.
“When I saw it I thought that was pretty disrespectful because Al Golden has done a lot for this program considering he came into a bad situation due to the whole Nevin Shapiro controversy,” Uche said. “For people to try and get somebody fired, that’s pretty disrespectful. I guess people are just so caught up with winning, which is understandable, but just to be so blatant, that’s not the right way to go about things.
“It’s kind of wishy-washy. [The fans] are only with you when you’re having success. As soon as you start doing bad, they start slandering you.”