Still Firm with UM?

Eric Houston was flying under the recruiting radar for most of his senior season. That all changed by the end of it. "At first, I was getting a lot of offers and stuff but it wasn't from the big schools," Houston said.

"Then towards the end of the season I started hearing a lot more from the in-state schools."

Houston, 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, finished the season with a Dade and Broward County high 132 tackles in just nine games. He credits his defensive instincts for being able to make all those plays.

"I know I got the size and speed but so do a lot of guys you see around here," he said. "That doesn't mean they're football players. It doesn't mean they can find the ball real fast. I think that's what puts me on another level.

The talented linebacker took December recruiting trips to West Virginia and NC State before getting offered by the Hurricanes.

"Right after I found out Coach Shannon was gonna offer, I thought about it for a little bit and then jumped all over it," he said. "I just kept thinking to myself that if I ever got a chance to stay home and play for dream school, then I'm gonna do it."

That didn't stop other programs from continuing to pursue him.

"Florida State and Florida still wanted me badly," he said. "I was thinking about visiting those schools just to make sure I was making the right decision. Then I spent the night of the national title game with Coach Shannon and I told him that my word was good."

Therefore, Houston's only January visit was to UM. He took it last weekend.

"I had a really good visit," he said. "They had a lot of former players in town and I think it's great how they all still hang around. There were a lot of top recruits like Fred Rouse there too. A lot of the guys were already committed but I know they were working hard on some guys like Fred."

Houston said he enjoyed spending time with Coach Coker. He had a message for him.

"Coach Coker's a real nice man," he said. "He's the kinda guy that people wanna play for. He knows that I'm gonna come ready to go. This is my shot. He said because they're signing all those linebackers that some of them will play. I just gotta be ready to go out there and do my thing."

Any chance of a last minute surprise is totally out the window, says Houston.

"I'm a Cane," he said. "It's all but official and I'll do that on signing day."

Houston is a full academic qualifier.

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