tampabay.com

Marve prefers Miami

Plant quarterback and Florida's Mr. Football decides the 'Canes are a better fit than Alabama.

By SCOTT PURKS
Published February 1, 2007


TAMPA - The whirlwind tour of schools is over for Plant High quarterback Robert Marve, who ended months of travel, emotional upheaval, and hopefully, he said, "A million phone calls from everybody in the world."

"I'm going to play for the University of Miami," Marve said in Plant's fieldhouse as seven news cameras filmed his commitment and dozens cheered.

It was an ending he said "was a huge relief," and one that wasn't on the radar before December when coach Mike Shula was fired at Alabama.

"I did feel a little bad when Shula got fired because Alabama was where I was going for sure," Marve said. "With Shula gone, everything opened up."

Over the next three months, Marve entertained inquiries from Miami, USF, Maryland, Purdue and Hawaii, all the while remaining committed to Alabama, waiting, he said, to see whom the Tide would hire.

That person was former Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban, whom Marve visited in January but left, he said Wednesday, "not feeling it."

"I told Plant coach Bob Weiner after the (Alabama) visit that I would be going to play somewhere else," Marve said. "I have to feel it in my heart to know it's right and after I met (with Saban and the new coaches) it just wasn't there for me."

Two weeks later the Tide got a commitment from (San Antonio, Texas) Churchill High quarterback Nick Fanuzzi, who previously had committed to Miami.

Marve said his choice had nothing to do with Fanuzzi's commitment to Alabama. Nor did it have anything to do with the fact UM's returning starter is Kyle Wright, who struggled as a junior last season (152-of-250, 1,655 yards, eight touchdowns, seven interceptions).

"The fact is that wherever I go I'm going to have to compete for a position," Marve said. "I know that's the way it is. (New UM coach Randy Shannon) did say that the best person would play and I could compete right away for a position. ...

"I felt it in Miami because it's not far from home, and I liked Coach Shannon and the campus and the school. I also liked (offensive coordinator Patrick Nix, hired Jan. 20) very much. When I went to Hawaii (last weekend) I already felt that homesickness. That was way, way too far away and that told me something. If I went there nobody would know who I was."

That shouldn't be too much of a problem in Miami after Marve finished the 2006 season with state single-season records for passing yards (4,380), TDs (48) and completions (278). He also was named Mr. Florida Football, given to the state's top player. The week before he won the Guy Toph award, given to Hillsborough County's top player. This week he was named a Parade All-American.

Scott Purks can be reached at purks@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3353.