Larry Blustein

FRIDAY FOCUS: It’s Paradise (Camp) In Coral Gables This Weekend

The reason that University of Miami head football coach Manny Diaz kept the announcement of this year’s popular Paradise Camp a secret, he didn’t want to let other colleges know the date.

Because the Hurricanes have run this popular gathering at the end of July the past few years – a move that the NCAA dictated when taking the first three weeks of July off the contact schedule, a change would be the perfect way to grab the attention.

While rivals Florida and FSU have scheduled, along with many other top schools, the end of July – right before the opening of their own camp, Diaz and the Hurricanes pulled off a very smart and strategic move.

At a time when many top-flight prospects have the U in their final 3, having the Paradise Camp this Saturday night could turn out to the move that will certainly help in the recruiting process.

What Diaz and his staff have done since taking over the job, especially this spring and summer, was to make Coral Gables a place to head to for all athletes – like it used to be.

By now, fans and alumni are tired of pointing to 18 years ago, trying to rekindle something that was record-breaking and always looked back on fondly, but this is NOT 1986 or 2001. Times have changed, and this program needs that edge, and if you do not believe that this weekend isn’t it, you just do not follow this game.

There are really no other places to go to this weekend. All eyes will be following what’s happening in Coral Gables for the first Coach Manny Diaz Paradise Camp will take place on Saturday evening.

Big time prospects will all be on hand – with an emphasis back on the local football players that this program has a great chance of bringing in during the next two classes.

Commitments will be there, de-commitments will be on hand, other schools’ commitments will be there - and of course, former players – from those teams who helped to put the Hurricanes on the map. It is, for no other expression, a perfect storm, where the best of the best will be there to showcase their skills.

Beat writers who normally would stay away from the camp and combine circuit will be there along with those who support the team.

Andrew Ivins from 247Sports has been on top of the University of Miami for the past few years, and he knows that Paradise Camp can be the thing that puts this program over the recruiting hump.

“By having it earlier than the past two years, you get players who may have interest in another school, but could have a productive time down here,” Ivins explained. “The event itself is to help expose some of those quality players that Miami is going after, and usually there are others, that may not have been targets in the past, suddenly fit in the plans.

Paradise Camp started out as something of a change – a happening that people would talk about, and when Mark Richt launched himself off the high diving board at the age of 55, it was on. It has gained momentum, and coming into this year’s showcase of talent, campus, facilities, coaches and the players who have continued to make this program what it is, you can expect some other surprises to unfold.

Remember, Diaz is one of the guys. He grew up a fan and busted his tail, but he also learned that with hard work, you have to be able to make your program a reflection of the leader – and you can see that there is a positive attitude swirling around campus and community.

Signing local players is always great – you get more local interest and fans will come to support. Losing big time kids is tough, but nothing new – and the list on both sides of the recruiting fence is lengthy.

WHO IS EXPECTED TO BE ON HAND?

There are a number of prospects that are committed, and those who have not made their decision, expected to on campus for this impressive recruiting tool.

Once committed DE Donnell Harris from Booker T. Washington, fresh off his reclassification to 2020, leads quite and impressive array of talent, headed to Coral Gables.

Another recently de-committed prospect - Bryan Robinson (WR, Palm Beach Central is also expected to be among those major targets that are expected to attend.

Miami Palmetto is going to be one of the programs to watch - and head coach Mike Manasco’s Panthers are stack with athletes who are expected to make the short drive to Miami. Class of 2021 DL Leonard Taylor, defensive back Corey Collier and versatile Jason Marshall are expected to be on hand.

Hollywood McArthur linebacker Ruben Hyppolite is a Maryland commit, but that won’t stop him from possibly checking out this year’s Paradise Camp.

Miami Christian sophomore defensive lineman Francois Nolton Jr. is expected to be on hand with junior safety James Williams, who was committed to the Hurricanes early on.

Once committed athlete Ladarius Tennison from Rockledge (near Cocoa) is expected to be on hand and put on a show as usual.

One time Miami Coral Park standout Elijah Roberts, who is heading into his second year at Christopher Columbus is a major target on the defensive line.

Coconut Creek Monarch Class of 2022 QB Pete Zamora has had a solid spring and summer - and will have the opportunity to compete against some top prospects on Saturday.

In addition, some other out of area prospects, who Miami has been watching should be at this talent showcase. Prospects such as Tyler VanDyke, Payton Page, Darnell Washington, Leonard Manuel, Jake Briningstool, Tim Smith and Daran Branch to name a few.

Also expected to be on hand for event will be commitments from 2020 such as: Don Chaney (RB, Belen Jesuit), Sam Anaele (DE, Miami Carol City), Marcus Fleming (WR, Northwestern), Willie Moise (DL, Chaminade-Madonna), Jaiden Francois (DB, South Dade), Keshawn Washington (S, South Dade), Dominic Mammarelli (TE, Naples), Tre-von Riggins (DE, St. Petersburg Lakewood), Xavier Restrepo (Athlete, Deerfield Beach), Jalen Rivers (OL, Oakleaf) and Justin Hodges (S, Western).

Class of 2021 prospects such as Savion Collins (DT, Southwest Miami), Laurence Seymour (OL, Miami Central), Chamon Metayer (OLB, North Miami), Thad Franklin (RB, Chaminade-Madonna, Romello Brinson (WR, Miami Northwestern) are expected to be on hand. So are Tyler Johnson (OLB, South Dade), Kahlil Brantley (WR, Northwestern), Anthony Hundley (DL, Booker T. Washington), Frederick Eaford (WR, Hialeah) and kicker Andres Borregales from Chaminade-Madonna.

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