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Change of heart puts some prize in UM's surprise

Two top players who orally committed to other schools decide to become Hurricanes.

By JOE FRISARO

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 8, 2001


CORAL GABLES -- Larry Coker is getting used to surprises.

Saturday, the 21-year assistant became Miami's coach after Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez withdrew from consideration. Tuesday night, Coker learned two prize recruits who had given oral commitments to other schools will play for the Hurricanes.

Tight end Kevin Everett (Port Arthur, Texas) and running back Frank Gore (Coral Gables) were unexpected signees.

Showing little fallout from its coaching change, Miami announced 20 players signed letters of intent Wednesday. In all, UM will have 22 new players under scholarship in August. Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas kicker Mark Gent and Lantana Santaluces defensive lineman Vince Wilfork enrolled last semester, therefore technically don't count in the 2001 class.

Coker said more than 90 percent of the class was salvaged in the aftermath of Butch Davis leaving on Jan. 29 for the Cleveland Browns. Armwood receiver Chris Murray, who signed with North Carolina State, was the only oral commitment to go elsewhere.

"A great number of these young men wanted to come to the University of Miami," Coker said. "But they didn't want to do that without a head football coach." Everett had committed orally to Texas and Gore to Mississippi. Gore, 5 feet 10 and 190 pounds, rushed for a Miami-Dade County record 2,953 yards and scored 34 touchdowns as a senior. Heavily recruited, Gore has not qualified academically.

"We never felt like Frank was ours," Coker said. "We always felt Frank could sign with someone else. Frank called me twice Tuesday night and said he wanted to graduate. That impressed me maybe as much as any recruit I've talked to in years.

"As a senior, Everett had more than 300 receiving yards, 60 tackles and five sacks as a defensive end. I'd say Kevin is the biggest surprise of the group." Getting Gore was a big boost because UM failed to sign West Memphis tailback DeArrius Howard, who is going to Arkansas. Coker recruited Howard in Arkansas on Friday.

"We didn't get everybody we wanted," Coker said. "I think we have a very balanced class. We have a lot of all-star type players."

The strength of the class is on the defensive side. Brooklyn Canarsie (N.Y.) linebacker Leon Williams was leaning toward Miami for weeks, but was on the fence until the coaching situation settled. At 6-4, 220 pounds, Williams could move to defensive end. He has been timed at 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash. South Dade defensive back Antrel Rolle was one of the top prospects in Florida. Coker spent weeks recruiting Rolle, who also considered Florida, Florida State and Notre Dame. Rolle, who had three interceptions as a senior, returned three punts and three kickoffs for touchdowns as a junior.

Miami signees

(Name, pos., ht., wt., high school)

Robert Bergman- OL -- 6-5 -- 275 -- Bakersfield (Calif.)

Randy Boxill -- OL -- 6-5 -- 300 -- Lantana Santaluces

Rashad Butler -- OL -- 6-5 -- 290 -- PB Gardens Dwyer

Thomas Carroll -- DL -- 6-5 -- 220 -- Lakewood (N.J.)

Kevin Everett -- TE -- 6-5 -- 235 -- P. Arthur (Texas) Jefferson

Frank Gore -- RB -- 5-10 -- 190 -- Coral Gables

Orien Harris -DL -- 6-4 -- 280 -- Newark (Del.)

Quadtrine Hill -- RB -- 6-2 -- 210 -- Sunrise Piper

Kelly Jennings -- DB- 6-0 -- 170 -Live Oak Suwanee

Marcus Maxey -DB -- 6-3 -- 190 -- Navasota (Texas)

Roger McIntosh -- LB- 6-3- 220 -- Gaffney (S.C.)

Buck Ortega -- QB -- 6-5 -- 213 -- Miami Gulliver Prep

Rosco Parrish -WR- 5-9- 165- Miami Senior

Miguel Robede -DL -- 6-4 -- 252 -- Montreal Val D'Or Vieux

Antrel Rolle -DB -6-1 -205 -Homestead South Dade

Brandon Sebald -TE -6-6 -- 240 -- Roundout Valley (N.Y.)

Sean Taylor- DB- 6-3 -220 -- Miami Gulliver Prep

Tony Tella- OL -6-5 -265 -- Houston (Texas) Madison

Andrew Williams- DL -6-4 -265 -Hillsborough/Hines CC

Leon Williams -- LB -- 6-4 -- 225 -- Brooklyn (N.Y.) Canarsie

Signed but not part of 2001

Mark Gent -- K -- 6-1 -- 180 -- FL St. Thom. Aquinas

Vince Wilfork- LB -6-3 -320 -Lantana Santaluces

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