Larry Blustein

NATIONAL SIGNING DAY: Hurricanes Pull A Few NSD Surprises

Larry Blustein
February 07, 2019 - 10:24 am

What University of Miami fans wanted to close out National Signing Day 2019 was to have some good news.

As many transfers and future standouts were added since head coach Manny Diaz and his high energy started to take hold – it was this class that everyone was concerned about.

Remember, this is regime that began when Mark Richt stepped down and the Hurricanes went and got Diaz back from Temple – where he had signed before the Pinstripe Bowl.

Calling this his “dream job”, Diaz jumped at the opportunity to stay home and help get this program, back on track.

As his staff started to come together, you could see that what he did – with little time – was get coaches who could teach, elevate the play of the athletes – and of course – recruit.

Miami doesn’t sell itself like it used to. There is good weather a lot of places across the country, so this class was huge in getting this team over the hump and ensure that losses to Virginia, Duke, Boston College and Wisconsin wouldn’t happen.

Miami teams of old, the ones that Diaz grew up watching and cheering for, would crush Duke and Virginia and not play even up with them. If the Hurricanes are to return to the level where fans remember – or at least feel a connection to – letting big time prospects waltz out of the top region in the country for high school talent – has to stop.

Once again big time talent didn’t buy into what could be in Coral Gables over the way things are now. In many places in the country. 

Because of so many private school signees in the early class back in December, Miami has had only three players enroll early – and that is already putting the program behind many programs nationally.

On Wednesday, while the “big boys” got away – as you heard all yesterday from every source in the country, Diaz and his staff approached the second National Signing Day with a positive attitude.

You get the feel that the way this staff recruiting that in the future, battles against Florida and FSU, which are always vital in the success of your program, will be won. Not so much on NSD 2.

But where there are potential dark clouds, there is that bit of sunshine that peaks through – and with the signing of one time Alabama commit Christian Williams from Daphne, Alabama, there were a few smiles.

Williams is one of those players that the Hurricanes are going to need to bring in –like the Jafari Harveys, who can make a quicker impact.

In need of a quarterback in this class – and the uncertain immediate future of Ohio State transfer Tate Martell - bringing in Houston, Texas standout Peyton Matocha heped.

With one of the worst punting games in the country last year, Australian native Louis Headley – all 6-4, 215-pounds of him - was signed and will be an immediate help to this program.

What happened this year was very strange for the Hurricanes. Transfer Portal players, senior transfers and just plain transfers offered plenty for the future – with little help this year. But to keep this momentum alive – they have to win football games and make it fun once again to be a Hurricane.

Any way you slice it, building on these new relationships for some of the first year coaches, will be vital in the success as well.


Jason Blissett Jr., DL, 6-4, 271, Poly Prep Country Day (Brooklyn)

Bubba Bolden, DB, 6-3, 200, Southern California/Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)

Sam Brooks Jr., LB, 6-2, 195, Northwestern

Jakai Clark, OL, 6-3, 305, Grayson (Loganville, Ga.)

Te’Cory Couch, CB, 5-10, 160, Chaminade-Madonna

Adam ElGammal, OL, 6-7, 275, Christ the King (New York)

Trevon Hill, DL, 6-5, 287, Virginia Tech/Salem (Virginia Beach, Va.)

Jahfari Harvey, DL, 6-4, 225, Vero Beach

Louis Hedley, P, 6-4, 215, City College of San Francisco/Australia

Larry Hodges, TE, 6-2, 234, Tampa Jesuit

Jalar Holley, DL, 6-2, 280, Buford (Ga.)

Avery Huff, 6-3, 200, St. Thomas Aquinas

Jared Harrison-Hunte, DL, 6-4, 279, Christ the King (New York)

Tommy Kennedy, OL, 6-4, 285, FCS Butler/Lake Forest (Ill.)

Tate Martell, QB, 5-11, 210, Ohio State/Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)

Asa Martin, RB, 5-11, 209, Auburn/Austin (Decatur, Ala.)

Peyton Matocha, QB, 6-4, 199, St. Thomas Catholic (Houston)

Zion Nelson, OL, 6-5, 240, Sumter (S.C.)

K.J. Osborn, WR, 6-0, 205, Buffalo/Bradenton IMG Academy

Jeremiah Payton, WR, 6-1, 186, Neptune Beach Fletcher

Keontra Smith, DB, 5-11, 195, Chaminade-Madonna

Christian Williams, CB, 6-1, 182, Daphne (Ala.)

Cameron Williams, DL, 6-5, 215, Chaminade-Madonna; Chigozie Nnoruka, DL, 6-2, 287, UCLA/Kennedy (Sacramento)


Butch Davis has done such a tremendous job – and this year is certainly no exception.

Once again, using south Florida as his home recruiting base, Davis and this improving program, also went out of Florida – much the way he did when coaching the University of Miami. Getting Sione Finau, a 6-3, 300-pounder from Texas, and tackle Shamar Hobdy-Lee, a 6-5, 290-pounder from Tampa Jefferson, contributed to a tremendous class.

Among those in this class also include qurterback Stone Norton (6-3, 200, Nashville), Miami Central running back Lexington Joseph, Arkansas transfer Maleek Williams, receiver Kris Mitchell from 8A state champion Jacksonville Mandarin, tight end Kamareon Williams (Delray Beach Atlantic) and defensive end Nathan White (Orlando Edgewater) to name a few.

Also headed to Miami will be linebcker Nasir Carter (6-2, 220, Orlando West Orange) and Ocala Lake Weir defensive back Brian Dillard.


In his third recruiting class, Lane Kiffin made sure to include many areas this year – with local prospects as well as throughout the state of Florida.

With a need to keep the recruiting closer to home – especially because it helps to put fans in the seats.

With 6-7, 320 pound offensive tackle one of the prize and surprise recruits, the 2019 class indeed showed plenty of promise.

With Daytona Beach Mainland receiver/defensive back Andrew Plummer, and Deante Nelson and offensive lineman Deshawn Richardson from Pahokee, talent is certainly heading to Boca Raton.

In St. Lucie West Centennial defensive back Dwight Toombs II, the Owls got a Treasure Coast athlete who was well coached in high school.  Miami Edison defensive end Travon Thomas was coached by Luther Campbell.


When you will 11 games and look very strong at the end of the season, you should do well when it comes to recruiting – and head coach Danny Mullen and the Gators did just that.

This program got some key players back in December and only built on that on Wednesday, coming way some elite players – further giving this program a chance to compete for the SEC East title in 2019.


There was a time when this football program would just walk into a school and come away with anyone they wanted. Times have changed!

While second year head coach Willie Taggart and his football program is coming off a very rare losing season and no bowl games, this is a team that had to be more than satisfied to get back into the swing of things – with a number of marquee prospects signing.

Catch the South Florida High School Sports Radio Show each Tuesday night (8-9) on WQAM (560AM - For the past 12 years, the players and coaches who are making the headlines, join the program. You will learn a lot about football recruiting!