Miami recruiting: 2020 athlete Avantae Williams gets early All-America nod
Miami is on its way to one of the best recruiting classes in the nation. David Wilson and the DieHards.com team are in the eye of the storm to help you track the Hurricanes. Read his daily notebooks here at 6:30 p.m. ET from Sunday through Thursday and follow us on Twitter for the latest Miami recruiting news.
Avantae Williams accepts Under Armour Game invitation
Growing up as a football player in Central Florida, Avantae Williams made the Under Armour All-America Game a fixture in his consumption of the sport. The 4-star athlete lives about 45 minutes from Orlando, which made it easy to attend the game whenever it’s been played at Camping World Stadium.
Even this past winter, Williams watched the game from field level. He grew up dreaming about playing in the All-America showcase and it never felt closer.
“I always said,” Williams told DieHards, “hopefully I’ll get a chance to play in the game.”
Earlier this week, the All-America Game put out a notice it was starting to look far ahead. The selection committee wanted to pick some of the most promising players in the Class of 2020 to invite to the 2020 Under Armour All-America Game. On Monday, Williams earned one of high school football’s highest honors. The rising junior landed an invitation to the game and immediately committed to play in it.
— Tae Williams (@SlowDownBoy7) April 3, 2018
Williams always expected this would come eventually, but hearing it become official was still a stunner. Demetric Warren, one of the members of the selection committee, reached out to Williams to grant the strong safety his dream come true.
“I kind of knew it was coming, but he just surprised me with it,” Williams said. “I actually thought I would have to go to the Future 50, and like work out and stuff, but he actually surprised me with the invite. That’s like a dream for me. That’s something I always wanted to participate in, so when I got it I knew I wanted to commit.
“I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s a good feeling, though.”
Williams is already the second Miami commit in the 2020 cycle to land an invitation to one of the major All-America games. Leonard Manuel, a 4-star wide receiver in the 247Sports rankings, already secured an invitation to the 2020 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
While neither Williams nor Manuel made it to the Hurricanes’ underclassman day Saturday, Williams remains firm in his pledge. A cousin of Lorenzo Lingard, Williams committed simultaneously with the early enrolled running back last February and now doesn’t talk consistently with other schools.
His only other visit currently lined up is with Southern Cal because he’ll be in Los Angeles for a 7-on-7 tournament this weekend. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound safety only missed Miami’s major visit date because he couldn’t arrange travel to Coral Gables, Fla.
“It was like a 50-50 chance,” said Williams, who recently transferred home to DeLand High School from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Williams hasn’t visited the Hurricanes since Lingard enrolled in January, but he expects that to change soon. The defensive back wants to make it to multiple spring practices and is eyeing a visit to Miami’s spring game April 14 at Hard Rock Stadium.
Much has changed since Williams’ last time in South Florida last April. The Hurricanes have established a stranglehold on the No. 1 spot in 247Sports’ class rankings with recent commitments from 4-star tight end Dominic Mammarelli, 4-star cornerback Henry Gray, 4-star defensive tackle Willie Moise and 4-star strongside defensive end Samuel Anaele.
RELATED: 2019 Miami recruiting big board
Williams understands it will be hard to keep the group together, although he’ll keep doing his best to serve as an ambassador for the group. Miami, he believes, sells itself. He just needs to convey the Hurricanes’ message.
“We’ve still got to keep building it up, to be honest,” Williams said. “Everybody’s got to do what’s best for them at the end of the day, what’s best for them and their family. If somebody did de-commit, I’m going to respect it and I hope the coaches and everybody else that’s committed would respect it because everybody’s got to do what’s best for them.
“Miami is what it is. I think that’s where I belong. I have some other people that I’m going to recruit because I think that’s where I think they belong, too — I think the best belong in Miami, in 305.”
Georgia prospects visit Miami for first time
Since early in the 2019 recruiting cycle, the Hurricanes have made linebacker a priority. At one point, Miami’s two longest-tenured commits in the Class of 2019 were both outside linebackers. The Hurricanes may have to replace all three starting linebackers heading into the 2019 season.
Finding outside linebackers doesn’t seem like it will be an issue. Miami holds a commitment from 3-star outside linebacker Jesiah Pierre, and remains firmly in the mix to land 4-star outside linebacker Anthony Solomon and 3-star outside linebacker Jahmar Brown. Kevin Harris, another 4-star outside linebacker, also recently named the Hurricanes to his top 3.
Still, finding a true inside linebacker has been more of a challenge. On Monday, Miami brought a potential top target at the position to campus. Tyron Hopper, a 3-star inside linebacker from Roswell (Ga.) High School, made his first trip to see the Hurricanes and the visit vaulted the Hurricanes firmly into contention.
Had a great time at the University of Miami 🌴🌴 pic.twitter.com/K3YdaXOzXD
— Tyron hopper (@tyron_hopper) April 3, 2018
“I wanted to get down there because I have been talking to [defensive coordinator Manny Diaz] a lot,” Hopper told 247Sports’ Andrew Ivins. “They seem to be really interested, so I wanted to check them out. I wanted to see if I would be a fit and I think I would be.”
While Hopper plans to make a commitment in the spring, his recruitment appears to be wide open. The 6-3, 220-pound middle linebacker had only visited Georgia Tech this year prior to his trip to Miami, and Hopper doesn’t claim any leaders.
The rising senior, who primarily plays outside linebacker at Roswell, plans to visit Florida on Wednesday. He’ll then see North Carolina and Tennessee later this month. The No. 18 player at his position in the 247Sports composite rankings, Hopper claims additional offers from Wake Forest, Alabama, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi, West Virginia, Minnesota, South Florida and Boise State.
Hopper wasn’t the Peach State’s only prospect to see the Hurricanes this week. Jo’Quavious Marks, a 4-star running back in the 2020 class, spent Tuesday in the Miami metropolitan area. Like Hopper, Marks’ visit was his first with the Hurricanes since they offered in October.
— Joquavious marks (@JoquaviousMarks) April 3, 2018
Also like Hopper, Marks’ recruitment appears to be wide open. A rising junior at Carver High in Atlanta, Marks hasn’t visited any other schools this year. The 5-11, 184-pound halfback holds additional offers from Louisville, Syracuse, Kansas State, Michigan, Auburn, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee.
High-upside Miami tackle commit adds major ACC offer
Brandon Cunningham’s recruitment never quite intensified in the way Miami thought it might when he committed to the Hurricanes in July. Health issues plagued the 3-star tackle and Cunningham didn’t exactly put together a breakout junior season for St. Martin High School in Ocean Springs, Miss.
Instead, increasing interest in the offensive lineman has come slowly and steadily. On Tuesday, the rising senior added one of his biggest offers yet when Florida State became the latest school from a Power 5 conference to do so.
Very blessed to receive an offer from FSU !! Flordia state university !! pic.twitter.com/Ne4F2pcjva
— Brandon Cunningham 🥀 (@iambrandonlett) April 3, 2018
Cunningham, who also plays some tight end and defensive end for St. Martin, is quickly approaching double-digit offers with a nice group of ACC and SEC powers involved. The Seminoles join Ole Miss, Memphis and Mississippi State as programs trying to flip the 6-5, 305-pound lineman.
Cunningham, whom 247Sports still considers a 4-star prospect, also plans to get to the Miami metro area soon. Cunningham told Rivals.com’s Gary Ferman he may head down to Florida on Wednesday. The out-of-state prospect hasn’t visited the Hurricanes since committing, but remains in frequent contact with coach Mark Richt and offensive line coach Stacy Searels.
“Coach Searels says to keep my head straight and that he’s ready for me to come there,” Cunningham said. “Coach Richt just says how I’m a big-time recruit for them.”
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