Well, that was fast.
The past nine months have been equal parts sprint and marathon at DieHards. On Aug. 18, 2017, I worked my last day at The Bradenton (Fla.) Herald, covering a preseason high school football game in Palmetto, Fla. Three days later, I had settled in with a new job and a new adventure. DieHards was ready to start growing its ACC presence and for some reason it tabbed me to cover Miami.
I never really covered recruiting before I wrote my first notebook on Aug. 21, 2017. I really didn’t know what to expect from South Florida football.
You guys never let me down.
I hopped right in to learn all about silent commitments and turnover chains. I watched fights almost break out at just about every camp I covered. Most important, I watched a whole lot of great football.
Unfortunately, it’s too soon to know my next step — it still could be in Coral Gables, Fla. — but it’s hard to regret my decision to head across the state even though it didn’t work out exactly the way I expected.
This final week has been spent grinding out some big features on the Hurricanes’ Class of 2018. I didn’t think about it this way ahead of time, but it became a great reminder of just why it was such a joy to cover Miami the past nine months.
Why don’t we reminisce on everything for a little while and take a look back at my five favorite stories I wrote in my time with Cox Media Group.
As a Washington native who was born in the early 1990s, I admired the Hurricanes from afar. Miami was the coolest college team in the country throughout my childhood, pumping out the coolest players and playing the most fun style. I’m not a Redskins fan, but I couldn’t help appreciating Sean Taylor (even if I did have to insist Brian Dawkins was better). It fascinated me how much up-and-coming recruits idolized Taylor even though none of them really watched him play. To tackle the phenomenon, I tracked down P. K. Sam and Brian Moorman.
I got to write a lede about Bodie from “The Wire” and that alone would have been good enough for me. It was a nice bonus for me to get the chance to introduce Brian Hightower to the world a few weeks before his monster spring game. Uncovering Hightower’s past as a child actor served as a nice reminder of how important local reporting is. When ESPN mentions this fact on draft day three or four years from now, hopefully they’ll remember to mention me.
The story about Cleveland Reed from Monday I feel similarly about. Reed is just a guard and he’s not from the Miami metropolitan area, so it makes sense Hurricanes fans don’t know about him. His story is a sad one, and I thank him for sharing it. Hopefully, telling it will create a whole group of new fans who want to see Reed succeed for both himself and his brother’s memory.
On the other hand, everyone already knows Al Blades Jr.’s story. Everyone tells him how similar he is to Al Blades, the cornerback’s father and a Miami legend, but there’s more to Blades Jr. than just being his father’s son. Blades Jr. was one of my favorite recruits to cover in the past year and his interview about legacy, leadership and Fortnite was one of my favorites.
I believe this is the longest story I wrote for DieHards, and what a worthy subject. Nesta Silvera is a personality unlike any other, and Hurricanes fans are going to absolutely love him. Thanks to him for being as honest an interview as I’ve ever come across. And the picture to go with this article is probably my favorite I took with the camera I got for this job.