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Thursday, January 9, 2014
Texas Tech raids Miami for ESPN 300 CB

By Jared Shanker

For the last three months, Nigel Bethel II (Miami/Booker T. Washington) was trying to tell anyone who would listen. The ESPN 300 cornerback from a Miami Hurricanes pipeline school didn’t want to go to Miami anymore. He didn’t even want to be in the state of Florida.

It came to a tipping point Thursday night as Bethel flipped to Texas Tech from Miami.

“I feel like I wanted to make my own decision,” Bethel said. “Most kids growing up want to go to Miami or FSU or UF, and I felt like I wanted to be different and set my own trend and go to a real college environment.”

Texas Tech hosted Bethel, No. 233 in the ESPN 300, on an official visit in October, and that is when he started having trouble ignoring his second thoughts about his Miami commitment, which he made in July. Florida’s 41st-ranked prospect also took official visits to Utah and West Virginia, but his visit to Lubbock was etched in his mind.

Cornerbacks coach Kevin Curtis and Bethel, ranked 19th among corners, talked about the early playing time available at Texas Tech. At Miami there is no shortage of talent at the skill positions and in the secondary. Curtis sold the 5-foot-9, 172-pound defensive back on the prospects of playing as a freshman.

“I like Coach Curtis. He really recruited me, never gave up on me. He really wanted to coach me,” Bethel said. “He said I can come in and get a lot of playing time. I saw how the fans love football. I could see myself going there.

“… When I took my visit, I told a couple teammates that I think Texas Tech might have a shot at me. I really had a good time up there.”

The Red Raiders could desperately use a player of Bethel’s caliber, too. Texas Tech loses four defensive backs to graduation and is young in the secondary. The 2014 class was without a single four-star defensive back, too.

Bethel is also the first ESPN 300 commitment in Texas Tech’s class -- and first ever for coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Booker T. Washington has long been a pipeline for the Canes, and two of Bethel’s teammates are planning to sign with Miami in February. A few friends and fans on social media questioned his decision, which Bethel admits was a tough one to make. He understands the stigma that surrounds a local recruit decommitting from the Canes for a school such as Texas Tech. He also had a long talk with Miami assistant James Coley, who ultimately told Bethel to make the best decision for himself.

“Everyone I know wants me to be at Miami, but I make my own decisions,” he said. “I got to live with what school I decide on for the next three, four, five years. People want you to do what’s best for them and not yourself, but I didn’t get caught up in that hype.”

Bethel is the second ESPN 300 decommitment for Miami this week. Defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (Hialeah, Fla./Champagnat Catholic) reneged on his verbal Saturday, dropping Miami’s class to No. 6 in the nation. The Canes were as high as No. 3.