By now, Derick Hunter knows what to expect when he visits Miami. The 4-star strongside defensive end committed to the Hurricanes in June before backing away from his pledge in November. His visit total in the Miami metropolitan area is up around double digits and he knew plenty about the Hurricanes long before Miami began seriously recruiting last February.
Hunter made his initial commitment, though, while former defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski was with the Hurricanes. The defensive end’s trip to Coral Gables, Fla., on Saturday was his first since defensive line coach Jess Simpson took over.
Turns out, Simpson is exactly the sort of coach Hunter would like to play for.
“That man’s always juiced up. He’s just different compared to how Coach Kool was,” Hunter told DieHards. “Coach Kool’s more laid back. I’m not taking [anything away] from Coach Kool. He’s a really good coach, but Coach Simpson — he’s juiced up. He’s got his players juiced up, he keeps everything at a fast tempo. Everybody loves the intensity compared to last year.”
The visit Saturday, which coincided with an underclassman day, was Hunter’s second since he de-committed from Miami. The 6-foot-6, 270-pound prospect last visited Jan. 16 to watch the Hurricanes’ men’s basketball team play Duke at the Watsco Center. His return trip then was an initial indication that both he and Miami were open to a reunion and the Hurricanes continue to make him one of their priorities in the Class of 2019.
— Rambo hunter. jr (@hunterderick31) March 31, 2018
The only real flaw to Miami’s Class of 2018 was the failure to land a significant chunk of blue-chip talent on the defensive line. Nesta Silvera, a 4-star defensive tackle, was the only blue-chip prospect the Hurricanes signed, while Miami filled the rest of the position with developmental prospects. Even then, the Hurricanes came up one player short of what they hoped.
A player such as Hunter would give Miami exactly what it needs. With his size, Hunter is capable of playing either defensive end or defensive tackle in the Hurricanes’ 4-3 defense. Miami, which is replacing three starters on the defensive line from last year, could lose another two or three starters heading into 2019. The rising senior from Dunbar High School in Fort Myers, Fla., would have a chance to get on the field immediately.
“[Defensive coordinator Manny] Diaz told me right now it’s the best time to be a defensive lineman coming to the University of Miami, so I’m just doing the numbers right now, see how everything’s going,” Hunter said. “There’s going to be some boys there, but I’m also going to get reps at D-end and D-tackle.”
But Hunter, the No. 192 overall prospect in the 247Sports composite rankings, is most comfortable playing defensive end.
“If they put me at D-end,” Hunter said, “they’re probably going to get the best pass rusher in the country.”
Hunter insists he’s still as high on the Hurricanes as ever. When he de-committed in November, Hunter worried he committed to Miami too quickly because it’s his dream school. The defensive lineman needed to make sure he was a fit.
Now he’s considering a long list of schools. He visited Florida State on Feb. 17 and attended Florida’s junior day Feb. 24. He wants to take visits soon to Clemson, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Penn State. Georgia has climbed into the picture since offering Feb. 14. Even schools such as Maryland and Oregon have been mentioned as serious suitors in the past.
The Hurricanes, however, will always stand out.
“I tell everybody, University of Miami is my dream school. Miami’s never changed in my mind at all. I had to step back to actually really understand the process. I thought I was moving too fast,” Hunter said. “Coach [Mark] Richt, he understands where I was coming from. Every coach was telling me, ‘Just enjoy the process. Actually understand the process.'”
His love of the Hurricanes alone won’t put Miami over the top, though. Hunter will make sure his final decision isn’t an emotional one.
“I know some fans feel some type of way, but it’s like, Bro, I was born and raised as a Hurricane. It’s not going to change,” Hunter said. “But when you get into this type of process, you’ve really got to weigh out your options and see what school’s really going to be best for you because you might have grown up a Hurricanes fan, but that university just ain’t for you.