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High School Recruiting

University of Miami Hurricanes defensive recruits begin to show concern

Seeing the University of Miami football team surrender more than 500 yards in four of its past five games has raised some concern to incoming defensive recruits in the class of 2014.

LSU became a major player for defensive tackle commit Travonte Valentine of Hialeah Champagnat Catholic in recent weeks, and he plans to make an official visit to Baton Rouge, La., in January after participating in the U.S. Army All-American game on Jan. 4, 2014, in San Antonio.

“They do a good job with D-tackles,” said Valentine’s coach, Mike Tunsil. “A lot of their kids go to the pros and they’re short on D-tackles, so we’re definitely looking into that.”

It’s also something Miami Booker T. Washington defensive end Chad Thomas has taken notice of despite remaining firm with UM, with Florida State and Alabama still lurking.

Thomas’ defensive line teammate and fellow commit Demetrius Jackson, however, withdrew his pledge Dec. 9 wanting to explore other options, but retracted his statements to 247Sports and reassured his commitment to UM that day.

"Chad's going to watch the game from a tactical standpoint whereas Demetrius is just excited about playing," Booker T. defensive line coach Pierre Senatus said, citing Thomas' richer football IQ in compared to Jackson, who is still learning the ins and outs of playing the sport.

UM’s 30 commitments in the class of 2014 will surely be tuned in Saturday night at the Hurricanes face the Louisville Cardinals in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. For the defensive commits, however, a keener eye will be watching in hopes of gaining more clarity with their decisions to attend UM and faith in the Canes’ defensive scheme.

Booker T. cornerback Nigel Bethel II said of Louisville’s offense, powered by former Miami Northwestern quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, “It slightly concerns me, but Louisville is not a ground-and-pound team so it really doesn’t concern me too much.

“I’m hoping they can pull it together and come out with a victory. I like them as a two-touchdown favorite, but all my friends talk to me like I’m crazy. I think they have the talent to do it. It’s just up to them if they want to put it together.”

Bethel has remained one of the Hurricanes’ most solid commits since pledging to UM in July. He has continued to help recruit other players as well, including his two teammates.

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“I’m not really worried about what [UM has] been doing [defensively] because with the class we have coming in, I’m sure all of the problems will be solved,” Bethel said. “I know Chad is 100 percent confirmed, but I don’t know about Demetrius.”

A defensive-minded win against Louisville (11-1) could help UM immensely heading into next year with National Signing Day on Feb. 5, 2014.

Cook update

Devonta Freeman might be the Grinch who stole Christmas — for University of Florida and University of Miami football fans, at least.

Freeman, Florida State’s starting running back and a former Miami Central High standout, posted a picture on Instagram of current Central running back Dalvin Cook alongside Miami Booker T. Washington quarterback Treon Harris on Wednesday with a caption that did not lack ambiguity.

“Both of my lil brother Are #noles now! Welcome to the fsu #family!” Freeman wrote, while also referring to Cook and Harris as the No. 1 players in South Florida at their positions. “It’s a Miami thing.”

Multiple attempts by the Miami Herald to reach Cook for comment were unsuccessful.

Cook, currently a UF oral commitment, plans to announce his final decision during the Under Armour All-America game on Thursday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

Cook, who is rated the second-best running back in the nation by 247Sports, plans on choosing between UF, UM and FSU. Since fueling Central’s state title victory on Dec. 14, Cook shut down his recruitment because he already had come to a decision.

What he decides will be the center of attention among the South Florida participants in this year’s game.

Joining Cook will be two UM commitments and fellow Miami Central teammates: running back Joseph Yearby and offensive lineman Trevor Darling. Yearby will not be participating in the game because of his injured left leg.

Miami has six total commitments attending the game, with Thomas, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas offensive lineman Nick Linder, Palm Beach Central offensive tackle KC McDermott and Raleigh (N.C.) Leesville Road wide receiver Braxton Berrios rounding out the list.

Cook, and Immokalee athlete J.C. Jackson are soft oral commitments to UF, with Homestead wide receiver Ermon Lane, Davie University School cornerback Quincy Wilson making four Under Armour selections for the Gators.

Aquinas wide receiver Corey Holmes and Plantation American Heritage slot receiver Isaiah McKenzie are a part of seven Notre Dame commitments participating in the game.

University School quarterback Sean White, a late addition to the roster with McKenzie and Linder, joins a list of six Auburn commitments participating.

Alabama leads all schools with 11 All-Americans. Florida State has four participating, but could see that number increase with Cook and West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman wide receiver Travis Rudolph also announcing at the game.

This story was originally published December 27, 2013 11:16 PM.

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