National Signing Day is tomorrow and it’s getting down to crunch time for the state’s Football Bowl Subdivision schools, but for Florida State and Miami, things are extremely crunchy.
The two schools have battled hard in the latter part of this recruiting period, even facing off in a tug-o-war for assistant coach James Coley. UM won that battle, but does that mean the ‘U’ will have the swing vote necessary, with Coley in the Hurricanes’ corner, to sway some of Miami-Dade County’s most prominent prospects?
The Hurricanes’ battle for one of those was lost last week without FSU even putting up a fight. Miami somehow bungled the recruitment of Booker T. Washington offensive tackle Denver Kirkland (6-foot-5, 333 pounds) to the point where even a last-ditch meeting with Kirkland and his mother Saturday proved to be futile and Kirkland told the ‘Canes he would be going in a different direction.
Chalk that one up to FSU. Even if the Seminoles do not land Kirkland, who will make his choice between FSU and Arkansas live on ESPNU at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, the ‘Noles still win. Even if Kirkland picks Arkansas, at least UM won’t have him. But do not for a moment think that eases the pain. Head coach Jimbo Fisher and Co. want Kirkland to be lining up beside his big buddy OG Ira Denson (6-4, 332) in Garnet and Gold.
Denson, an FSU commit from Madison County, has been trying to swing Kirkland since the Under Armour All-American Game.
By the time it comes the Kirkland’s announcement, however, both parties at FSU and UM will either be hopping or crashing. The big fish in the state pond on Wednesday is linebacker Matthew Thomas, who announces at 9 a.m. on ESPNU.
Miami fans and coaches will still be reeling from the effects of losing out on the nation’s No. 1-ranked running back in South Plantation’s Alex Collins, who committed to Arkansas on Monday night. That snub leaves the Hurricanes at 13 commitments and only one person who can save this class. If Thomas decides to pack his bags and head out of town, the ’Canes will go spiraling into the abyss of also-rans among the national recruiting class team rankings.
Miami and FSU were even battling it out for the services of Collins after the running back decommitted from the 'U' at mid-season. FSU looked to be the frontrunner for a good while, but eventually Arkansas won the prize.
Thomas, a Booker T. teammate of Kirkland, is down to five schools — FSU, UM, Alabama, Georgia and Southern Cal. Most figure this one is another 'Noles-'Canes battle.
Thomas’ mother would love to see her son stay at home.
This was the first year Mariska Nyon had actually ever saw her son play football in person. She had always hated the idea of her son playing such a physical game, but he’s a physical specimen at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds. He dominates the game, people told her. So in December, she caved, and ventured to Orlando for the Class 4A state championship game. She loved it.
“I just love excitement,” she said last week after Thomas and his family made a visit to Coral Gables for the UM basketball team’s win over No. 1 Duke. “It was exciting. It was like the championship game and I like excitement. All of the students were cheering and I was getting goose bumps all over.”
Nyon, a native of the Republic of Suriname, is a sports addict now. “I’m looking at the Miami schedule for the next big game,” she said of the ‘Canes basketball slate.
She’d love to see her boy playing at home, but after Miami’s treatment of the Kirkland situation, did UM also mess up its chances with Thomas? Something tells me James Coley was quick to put a tourniquet on the bleeding.
“Coach Coley is so nice . . . such a nice man,” she said. “He had to do what is best for him and he’s from Miami, so he moved here and I respect that. When I heard he was coming back to Miami I invited him to come to my church since he will be here.”
Thomas’ mother said her son has been like a rock and she can’t read what he’s thinking. He won’t tell anyone his plans and wants it to be a surprise for everyone.
“I just pray that it will all be over soon,” she said.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun