The Miami Hurricanes cleaned up during Wednesday's first-ever NCAA early signing period. While many of the names of the players who committed to wearing the orange and green next season didn't surprise, that didn't make the results any less impressive. What was most impressive, though, was the fact that the Hurricanes managed to reel in some big fish from their own backyard.
The Hurricanes once again seem to be the first option for players in the tri-county area, just like it used to be. Just like it's supposed to be. And it's all because of Mark Richt and his staff.
From St. Thomas Aquinas cornerback Al Blades Jr. to Miami Southridge star receiver Mark Pope to Orange City University five-star running back Lorenzo Lingard, the U inked commitments from top players all the way from Alabama to Ohio State. That's the clearest sign yet that Miami is back on the college football map and will soon be a force to be reckoned with.
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South Florida produces the greatest football players in the world. Throughout the NFL are players that grew up in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach County. For too long players like Dalvin Cook (FSU) and Joey Bosa (Ohio State) left Miami's back yard to play against Miami. The Hurricanes became dominant by scoring not only blue-chip recruits who could take an Uber to their campus, but also by filling in the cracks with athletes who came to Coral Gables without a set position, but with a ton of ability.
At last glance, the people who rate such things had Miami pegged as netting the fifth-best crop of recruits this year, but that's less important than keeping talented recruits at home, regardless of how many stars a website assigns to them. Canes fans would be just fine keeping talent local and taking their chances with them, rather than a four-star recruit from Iowa who "experts" say is a better player.
If there is one thing Miami fans know, it's that football is different in South Florida. It may only be rivaled by high-school football in Texas. The swagger that comes with growing up and playing football in South Florida can't be taught, and it certainly shouldn't be exported to other places.
Richt and his staff have finally solidified the recruiting fence around the "State of Miami." Now it's just time to get the kids to school and go to work.