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The Prospector Miami Hurricanes need to keep the talent home in South Florida

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It wasn't the same (or nearly as fun) when the "U" disappeared from the relevancy map.

Now, love 'em or hate 'em, the Miami Hurricanes have soared back into college football's collective conscience, which figures to have some reverberations on the recruiting trails. No program has more cache with the kids than the 'Canes at their coolest.

"So much history down there," Tampa Bay Tech fullback and Miami commitment Maurice Hagens said. "I can't wait to be a part of it."

And if you think UM is all the rage right now, imagine the buzz if the Hurricanes can win Saturday at Virginia Tech and chase it with a beating of Oklahoma a week later.

What an October it could be for the Hurricanes; both present and future.

"Everyone was talking about the schedule being so tough," safety Randy Phillips said in the wake of Miami's 33-17 defeat of Georgia Tech last Thursday, an impressive display that chased the epic 38-34 at Florida State to open the season. "We're here to stay."

That remains to be seen. To think the Hokies and Sooners can't bring the 'Canes crashing back to reality would be foolish.

But let's be fair. Coach Randy Shannon has gotten his share of heat the last few years (deservedly so), so he warrants his due for pulling the 'Canes off the mat in 2009. Given the recruiting prowess he's shown the last couple years, it's only fair to assume that Shannon and his staff are ready to ride this momentum.

OK, now that we've been fair, we also need to be honest.

The Hurricanes need to seize on their sizzle.

UM has 17 oral commitments to date, a haul our friends at Rivals place 21st in the nation. The 'Canes have just one commitment, Jacksonville Raines defensive tackle Louis Nix, rated as a top-10 player at any position.

That's not going to frighten Coach Urban Meyer (or even Jim Leavitt, for that matter), but a lot can change between now and the first Wednesday in February, especially if Shannon further tightens his screws on that fertile South Florida field of prospects.

Or as Howard Schnellenberger once dubbed it, "The State of Miami."

The '09 UM roster has 43 players from South Florida, 19 from Miami proper, with eight from the Northwestern High factory that sent quarterback Jacory Harris, linebacker Sean Spence and defensive lineman Marcus Forston to Coral Gables.

Guess what, folks? Northwestern, ranked No. 1 in Class 6A, has another 19 Division I senior prospects this year, including defensive tackle Todd Chandler, who already has committed to UM. Unfortunately for the 'Canes, arguably the two best seniors on the team, offensive tackle Torrian Wilson and wideout Michaelee Harris, aren't interested. Wilson is going to Stanford and Harris is leaning elsewhere.

For whatever reason, the treasure trove of talent at Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, the reigning state and mythical national champion, plus home to 19 more D-I seniors (and the alma mater of Michael Irvin), doesn't appear too enamored with the 'Canes.

Brandon Linder, one of the nation's top centers, is seriously considering UM. So is cornerback Keion Payne and safety Brian Robinson. But some big-time blue-chip teammates — like five-star defensive end Lamarcus Joyner, tailback Giovanni Bernard and cornerback Cody Riggs — are not. This isn't necessarily a 'Canes thing. Right now, there are 51 Aquinas products at D-I schools, but only 11 are playing in the state (and only one, wideout Leonard Hankerson, at UM).

A lot can still happen. A lot already has.

"I know how excited he is about what's going on there, 'cause he's constantly talking about being part of a top-20 program," former Naples Lely coach Steve Pricer said of standout tailback Darion Hall (1,791 yards, 21 TDs and 10.7 yards per carry last season), who committed to UM in the spring. "It shows the type of talent they've put together and what the coaching staff is capable of."

Chris Harry can be reached at charry@orlandosentinel.com.

Big East beastsWest Virginia has always done nicely in Florida, especially in the South Florida region. The trend has continued this season. In fact, the Mountaineers four commitments from Palm Beach County, for example, equal that of UF, FSU and UM combined.

Keep an eye out for a fifth.

Especially you, Gators.

After taking an unofficial to Morgantown to watch WVU beat East Carolina two weekends ago, Dwyer safety Matt Elam, the second-best player in the state according to Rivals, told Eersports.com, that he was having second thoughts about that oral commitment he gave to UF last Oct. 8.

"I just want to take some time and think about it," Elam said. "I just want to see how things shake out in Florida."

Friday Prospect Patrol •South Lake's Nick Waisome will have his hands full with the numerous offensive weapons Apopka has. We'll see how he helps contain WRs Donald Scott and Henley Griffon, while keeping an eye on versatile QB Keron Berry.

•Ocoee DBs D.J. Gary and Chris DeVaughn will provide a sturdy test for undefeated West Orange and top receiver Diego Quintanar.

•Tampa Catholic brings in two of the top high school prospects in the state Friday night at Lake Highland Prep in QB Christian Green, and OL/DL Chaz Green. Lake Highland players like QB Bobby Borcky, S Zach McCarrell and LB Jason Root.

Etc.Tampa Leto RB Jeremy Deering, a very good player on a very bad team, will visit Purdue this weekend — his first official trip — for the Boilermakers' big one with Notre Dame. Deering ranks No. 37 overall on the Sentinel's board and lists FSU, South Florida and UCF among his list of more than 30 offers. ... Colorado State, seemingly camped out in Central Florida the last few years, is hot on RB Jimmy Office of No. 1 Fort Meade in Polk County. ... Georgia, already with five defensive ends among its 18 commitments, apparently is pulling back a little on Hialeah star Corey Lemonier (Sentinel No. 4), who has already been to FSU and plans to visit UF and Auburn. ... Name to watch is Storm Johnson, a hotshot tailback from Loganville, Ga.

FOR COMPLETE RECRUITING COVERAGE, GO TO ORLANDOSENTINEL.COM/RECRUITING

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