Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Miami recruits sorting through things
By Corey Long
Many members of Miami's recruiting class, which currently sits at 24 commitments and is the No. 6 class in the country, are just beginning to read the extensive report of allegations against the Hurricanes football program and so far, they have decided to take a wait-and-see approach.
"I'm really just hearing about this stuff today," said Miami Coral Reef defensive back Vernon Davis. "A few of my friends have texted me and as soon as I'm done with my practice this afternoon I'm going to read about it in full."
Nevin Shapiro, a former Miami booster who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme, said he gave money, cars, yacht trips, jewelry, televisions and other gifts to a list of players including Vince Wilfork, Jon Beason, Antrel Rolle, Devin Hester, Willis McGahee and the late Sean Taylor. Shapiro also claimed he paid for nightclub outings, sex parties, restaurant meals and an abortion for a woman impregnated by a player. One former Miami player, running back Tyrone Moss, told Yahoo! Sports he accepted $1,000 from Shapiro around the time he was entering college.
Miami Norland ESPNU 150 athlete Randy "Duke" Johnson says that he's not going to believe everything he reads and thinks this could be the case of a desperate, renegade booster.
"He really sounds like a guy that's angry with the university and the football program because he's stuck in jail right now," Johnson said. "It really sounds like a guy that's trying to take down people around him."
Johnson says he's been in touch with teammate Keith Brown and that both players are currently going to stick with their commitments and see where the story leads.
"There's a lot out there that's been unreported and I think we have to wait and see what happens next," Johnson added. "Obviously Keith and I are going to keep our eyes and ears open and see what happens."
Other commits, like Hialeah (Fla.) American three-star defensive back Larry Hope, remain confused about what these allegations could mean for the future of the program.
"I'm just really unsure about a lot of things right now," Hope said. "I think it's unfair that this is happening to a good man like Coach [Al] Golden.
"What do you think it's going to happen? I really don't know to be honest and until we know more it's hard to say what I would do or what anyone else would do."
Although many of the recruits are unsure of what will happen to the program or if their commitments will stick, nearly all expressed support for Golden.
"I am a big fan of Coach Golden," said Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson three-star defensive lineman Trent Taylor. "Part of the reason why I went to Miami was because of the coaching staff and the family atmosphere that they have developed.
"I haven't even thought of going anywhere else other than Miami."
Homestead (Fla.) High School four-star linebacker James Burgess Jr., who committed to Miami after spending time with other Miami commits at The Opening in July, hopes the program can get through this.
"Miami has come on hard times before and bounced back," Burgess said. "I hope we get the opportunity to come back again because there are a lot of guys in my class that want to go there and win championships."
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.