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What I learned from this weekend

12/12/2011

Miami has surprise visitors

Even though ESPNU 150 defensive back Deon Bush (Miami/Columbus) had to reschedule his visit to Miami the Hurricanes were the weekend landing spot for two more ESPNU 150 prospects.

Florida State commitment P.J. Williams (Ocala, Fla./Vanguard) and Alabama commitment Amari Cooper (Miami, Fla./Northwestern) both took a trip to Coral Gables and were part of a big recruiting weekend for head coach Al Golden.

Williams, who is also planning on taking official visits to Alabama and South Florida before finishing out with FSU, was impressed with what he saw.

“It was a good time and Miami has a real good coaching staff,” Williams said. “They showed us around the stadium and it was just a great time.”

Cooper, who has already taken his visit to Alabama and will enroll early, said Miami gave him something to think about.

“It was a good time, I hung out with Stephen Morris a lot because he was my host,” Cooper said. “I know a lot of the Miami commits and they were telling me how much they need receivers.

“Right now I’m committed to Alabama and I’m happy with that, but you never know.”

Duke strikes again

Things would normally look bleak for a team down 20-0 on the road in a state semifinal playoff game.

With Miami Norland that isn’t the case because they have Under Armour All-American running back Randy Johnson. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound senior rushed for 375 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries to help the Vikings rally to a 35-27 victory over Palmetto (Fla.) and clinch a trip to the Class 5A state championship game.

It’s Norland’s second consecutive appearance in a championship game and last year’s loss to Jefferson (Tampa, Fla.) is something that Johnson can’t get over.

“I’m not going to stop running until we get that championship medal,” said Johnson. “We got down early but we’re a team and I knew we’d keep fighting.”

Loaded with youth

Even though Booker T. Washington (Miami, Fla.) blew a 25-12 fourth-quarter lead to Bolles (Jacksonville) in the Class 4A state championship game there’s a good chance the Tornadoes will have an opportunity to avenge its loss in 2012.

Led by sophomore quarterback Treon Harris, sophomore wide receiver Lamar Parker and junior defensive end/linebacker Matthew Thomas, it’s safe to say that Booker T. Washington will have a great core of players returning.

“It’s a tough loss, especially with the game being right there for us,” Booker. T. Washington coach Tim Harris said. “Right now I’m going to worry about the seniors that we do have and getting them ready for college.”

Thomas was as good as advertised with 15 tackles and two fumble recoveries. The 6-4, 200-pound junior clearly established himself as a top prospect in the Class of 2013.

“I don’t feel like I played well enough because we didn’t win,” Thomas said.

Next year could be a different story.

FSU entertains Dixon

Florida State will lose Mike Harris to graduation and could lose Xavier Rhodes and Greg Reid to the NFL so adding an experienced body to the secondary could be a priority.

Enter Eastern Arizona junior college cornerback Travell Dixon. A former standout at Norland (Miami, Fla.), Dixon is eager to return to the Southeast to play football and appears to be down to Florida State, Miami and Alabama.

“Travell is a tremendous physical talent and he’s one of those guys that is going to find his way on the field right away,” said former junior college coach and current scout Timmi Norling. “All three of the programs he’s looking at will need someone that’s physically ready to step in and produce like Travell.”

The Seminoles are also in the hunt for one of the biggest prizes in the 2012 recruiting class -- ESPNU 150 cornerback Tracy Howard (Miramar, Fla.).

Marshall signs Holcombe, loses Norvell

University School (Davie, Fla.) quarterback Gunnar Holcombe committed to Marshall over the weekend according to head coach Roger Harriott. He was the second quarterback from the state to sign with the Thundering Herd before Seabreeze (Daytona Beach, Fla.) quarterback Trenton Norvell switched from Marshall to Cincinnati.

Norvell was also being heavily recruited by Temple and South Florida. He joins Plant City (Fla.) quarterback Bennie Coney as a commit to the Big East school.

Holcombe, who missed much of his junior season with injury, had offers from Buffalo, Western Michigan and South Florida. He finished his senior year with 2,305 passing yards and 29 touchdowns.