Interestingly, four players from South Florida made the first team and all four play at other college programs across the ACC. Those four players are wide receivers Connor Vernon, Sammy Watkins, running back Gio Bernard, and defensive back Lamarcus Joyner.
Watkins, Bernard, and Joyner were recruited by Miami during the Randy Shannon regime, while Vernon was a lightly recruited player.
Watkins (6-1/200) is a sophomore sensation at Clemson. The former South Fort Myers High standout was a five-star player coming out of high school. He briefly considered Miami and other Florida schools but seemed set on leaving the state from an early point in the recruiting process. He signed with the Tigers and went on to become one of the best young receivers in all of college football.
Vernon (6-2/195) was a lightly recruited player from Gulliver Prep School in Miami. Vernon had a lot of interest in the Hurricanes but was never actively recruited by the Canes. He signed with Duke after being recruited like a low-end three star prospect and has become a steady performer for the Blue Devils. From a pure talent standpoint, he's not on the same level as Watkins or most current Hurricane receivers but he knows how to run routes and has made a lot of catches in Duke's offense.
Bernard (5-10/205) was a regional recruit out of St. Thomas Aquinas High. He was recruited early on by Shannon's staff but was never officially offered by the Canes. After not getting offers from Florida's Big 3, Bernard signed with North Carolina and put together a very productive freshman season for the Tar Heels.
Joyner (5-8/205) is another player from St. Thomas Aquinas, after spending his first few prep seasons at Miami-based high schools. He was one of the fastest players in the state and was recruited nationally. He never showed much interest in Miami and because of that, the Canes never actively recruited him too hard. The former four-star signed with the Noles and has had a very productive career there so far.
The Hurricanes have done a tremendous job of recruiting south Florida under head coach Al Golden. 50-percent of the current commitment list is from south Florida. Two four-star recruits (Jamal Carter and Artie Burns) committed to the Canes just this past week. Golden seems to be doing everything he can to change the fact that the Canes didn't recruit the area too well under Shannon. This blog helps explain why, and gives some insight as to why four of the top players in the conference are playing elsewhere, after growing up in south Florida.