FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Anthony Solomon learned of the news the same way everyone else did — only hours and hours later than some.
The 4-star outside linebacker has gotten to know Avery Huff pretty well in the few months since the latter transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale. They’re part of the same linebackers corps and have taken a handful of visits to Miami together in recent months.
Late Monday night — 11:16 p.m. to be exact — Huff decided to share a bit of news. The 4-star outside linebacker committed to the Hurricanes and wanted to share it with the world.
Solomon, who committed to Miami on April 4, was fast asleep.
Proud to announce that I'm committed to @MiamiHurricanes @Coach_MannyDiaz @MarkRicht @SlyJohnson3 @larryblustein @247Sports @Andrew_Ivins @CoachHarriott @DavidFurones_ @SFHSSports @Solomon_STA pic.twitter.com/aDmQApVD5h
— July 21 (@Averyhuff9) May 8, 2018
Solomon found out the next morning at school. When the linebackers gathered in their meeting room, Solomon couldn’t contain his excitement.
“I actually beat him up,” Solomon told DieHards. “‘Yo, why didn’t you tell me?’ I was jumping up and down in the meeting room. It was hilarious.”
It hasn’t taken Solomon long to realize how important an addition Huff is. Ranked No. 20 at his position in the 247Sports composite rankings, Huff transferred across Broward County from McArthur High School in Hollywood and quickly made an impression with his crunching hits and surprising coverage ability.
In just about every practice this spring, Huff has created a collision that might have injured the recipient were everyone moving at full speed. The linebacker spent most of this week lining up at strong safety and it hasn’t stopped him from terrorizing St. Thomas Aquinas’ running backs.
On Tuesday, Huff finished practice with a hit Solomon was still thinking about Thursday. The Raiders ran an option play to the left with Huff lined up as a safety nearer the opposite sideline. Huff sniffed the play out and charged from across the field to lay out the running back just shy of the goal line. The defense went into a frenzy.
“The coaches don’t want us to kill each other, but there have been some plays where I’ve seen him run by somebody extremely fast and I’m just like, Wow, if that was in a game, that guy would’ve been injured. Dead,” Solomon said. “When he does hit somebody, you can hear it from a mile away.”
Opportunities like these are why Huff feels good about his transfer to St. Thomas Aquinas. At McArthur, Huff primarily lined up as a defensive end and even wide receiver. Now the 6-foot-3, 210-pound athlete is working more away from the line scrimmage.
The Hurricanes envision Huff as linebacker Zach McCloud’s potential successor on the strong side, which means he’ll drop into coverage a lot. The Raiders have at least six potential Division I linebackers, so they’ll try to play Huff in the secondary to get as many of their stars on the field as possible. Huff’s skill set allows it.
“The coaches know what they’re doing,” Huff told DieHards. “They try to put you in a place that best fits you.”
Huff’s commitment Monday came as something of a surprise. The in-state prospect clearly liked Miami, but he originally planned to make an announcement July 21 for his birthday. He hadn’t formally narrowed his list of suitors, which includes Florida State, Louisville, Syracuse, Alabama, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas and Penn State.
He was, however, more familiar with the hometown team than any other school. Huff visited Coral Gables, Fla., three times since the start of February, most recently April 21. Huff left feeling comfortable with the Hurricanes.
“It’s just the same feeling at St. Thomas,” Huff told DieHards after the visit, “that home feeling.”
Alongside Solomon, who expects to succeed linebacker Michael Pinckney on the weak side, Huff gives Miami a loaded group of linebackers in the Class of 2019.
This season, the two blue-chip prospects in the class will build chemistry. When they join the Hurricanes, Huff and Solomon will give Miami a long-term core to build around.
“Especially with the chemistry that me and Avery develop,” Solomon said, “I feel like me and him will have a good role in the defense for the future.”