Rivals.com - RCS Miami: Prospects say buzz surrounding 'The U' is very real
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RCS Miami: Prospects say buzz surrounding 'The U' is very real

Miami commit Marc Britt
Miami commit Marc Britt (Rivals.com)

MIAMIMichael Morris would probably rather not pile praise on the University of Miami.

Morris is, after all, Florida State legacy. The 6-foot-5 defensive end is verbally committed to Seminoles and is likely to follow his father’s footsteps straight to Tallahassee. But Morris also happens to be a realist. He sees the momentum that has built in Coral Gables.

And while it may have pained him to say it months ago, he’s noticed the drastic shift in perception around these parts. It has him, like most in the area, paying close attention.

That’s how tangible the recruiting buzz surrounding Mark Richt’s program has become in South Florida. It crossed rivalry lines and shatters bias with an orange-and-green sledgehammer. Morris won’t pretend it isn’t real because, well, how could he?

“They were struggling for a while and they were out of whack,” Morris said on Sunday. “Back then, I was like ‘I’ll never go to Miami.’ Then, they brought those dogs in.”

So went the theme of this year’s Rivals 3 Stripe Camp presented by adidas’s stop in South Florida. The Miami logo is always present in South Florida, sure. But this year’s RCS regional event felt different. The U was stitched into backpacks, emblazoned on gloves and screen printed on dozens of shirts. It is all on the heels of a 10-3 season and top-five finish in the 2018 recruiting rankings.

The recruiting cycle that was saw Miami land multiple five-star prospects for the first time since 2012, and that didn’t take place by happenstance.

“Miami is back on the map now,” said former Florida commit John Dunmore, a Rivals100 wide receiver. “… I think that if everything is equal and all the teams are good or whatever, a lot of kids here would rather go to either Miami or Florida State. Because, you know, there’s no place like home.”

What Dunmore noted on Sunday isn’t an isolated observation from a football camp. It’s yearlong trend that extends outside of the fence surrounding Milander Park, the setting for the weekend’s elite event. You can see the buzz in the city streets. It’s alive on South Beach. It’s unmistakable in Coral Gables. And here, in Hialeah, where nearly 200 FBS-bound prospects have gathered to showcase their talents, the discussion, like UM’s colors, is around every corner.

“There’s a lot more Miami stuff around – it’s on more houses and it’s on more cars,” said UM commit Marc Britt, an elite wide receiver. “I see more Canes flags. But, to be honest, I was going to go there no matter what. Even if they were still bad.”Britt’s viewpoint is the expectation.

As excited as everyone seems to be about the current state of the Miami program, few aside from Britt will pretend to have always felt this way. The allure of the hometown university was never dead, but saying there were some touch-and-go moments over the last handful of years is woefully understating the point.

“They’re amazing now, and that’s a lot different than I felt, like, two years ago,” said Miami Norland High School linebacker Darius Williams, who holds a scholarship offer from UM. “I think the difference is that they re-started their swag. The intensity is up from two years ago. There is passion and there is hype. We like that kind of thing here.”

Amid all the top-five lists that included Miami and all the chatter about the hometown program that permeated though Sunday’s event, it’s possible four-star defensive end Khris Bogle, one of the country’s top 200 prospects, that best captured the theme at work. The sought-after prospect cut to the heart of how momentum tends to compound in college football and why Miami’s 2018 class isn’t likely to be some forgettable anomaly.

“The last year felt like it was supposed to feel down here,” Bogle said. “The whole city came together as one for Miami.”