Canes' Al Golden Hates Florida

C. Stiles

The University of Miami isn't interested in signing Florida's best high school football players. The team rose to prominence by recruiting ballers like NFL Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, two-time Super Bowl winner Ray Lewis, and late great defensive back Sean Taylor, just to name a few Hurricanes who went on to stellar careers.

Those days are over.

During his first news conference as head coach in 2010, Al Golden promised that Florida was his battleground. He proved it a year later when his first recruiting class featured 18 student-athletes from the Sunshine State. "We want to be 80 percent Florida," Golden told the Miami Herald.

Now, Golden has completely changed his course. On National Signing Day this past February 5, he landed only five players from Florida. During the head coach's three-year tenure, as the cloud of the NCAA investigation into the Nevin Shapiro scandal hung over the program, the U has been avoiding talented Florida kids.

First, Olivier Vernon and Marcus Forston, two underclassmen born and raised in the 305, were accused of accepting improper benefits from Shapiro. They skipped their senior years to enter the 2012 NFL draft at the urging of school administrators. Two other juniors from inner-city Miami schools also left early.

Then Golden kicked linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong off the team. It was alleged that Armstrong had been dishonest during an internal investigation about dinner with a sports agent. Two sophomores from Miami-area high schools left the team in January.

Golden recently lashed out at the NCAA for hurting his recruiting, but there are more than enough talent-rich high school student-athletes in South Florida that can help the Canes compete for a national title. Golden also passed up an opportunity to hire Miami Central head coach Telly Lockette, who built a program that reached the state championship three straight years. Adding Lockette would have given the Canes the inside track on all the top local recruits.

If Golden doesn't change his way soon, it will be years before the football team competes again for a national title.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.

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