Cavs' prospects ink with Div. I teams

Three of the most sought-after members of the Coral Gables Cavaliers didn't waste too much time on deciding where they will play college football for the next several years, while record-breaking quarterback Andres Mestre is still weighing his options.

So went National Signing Day at Coral Gables High School as offensive-lineman Alejendro Pou, receiver Rashard Williams and defensive end Steven Harris all signed oral commitments to attend Division I schools early Wednesday morning, Feb. 6.

Pou signed with the University of Miami, while Harris had a last second change of heart and opted for the University of Florida. Williams, who had been courted by the University of Kentucky for the last several months, is headed for the Big East conference after signing with the University of Syracuse.

Mestre, who reportedly is considering North Carolina State and Central Florida among several schools, is still undecided and might not make a decision until later this week or early next week, according to Gables head coach Joe Montoya. Pou, a three-year starter and anchor of the Cavaliers offensive-line that help Gore set numerous rushing records before graduating last year, settled on the Hurricanes after making visits to the University of Florida and University of Tennessee in January. Pou, 6-5, 235. was an All-State and All-Dade selection, respectively this past season.

Contrary to reports, the Hurricanes held out a scholarship until the last minute for Pou even after he went ahead with trips to Gainesville and Knoxville. There had been some speculation that the Hurricanes were going to bump Pou from their plans after he told them he was taking the rest of his allotted visits.

But Montoya said that he had not heard anything of that sort and that Pou was intent on committing to Miami early in the signing period. According to Montoya, Pou wanted to stay as close to home as possible and was also intrigued by the possibility of making an immediate impact.

The Hurricanes' offensive-line will be revamped next season after the graduation of stars Bryant McKinnie and Joaquin Gonzalez following the 2001 season. Miami offensive-line coach Art Kehoe attended several of the Cavaliers games a year and although he would not make specific comments regarding Pou, the coaching staff likes the potential they see in the young player. That includes his foot work and strength.

Montoya added that all Pou wanted to do was take the visits to be sure he was making the right decision.

"Not at all," said Montoya when asked about any conflict between Pou and Miami. "I think in the back of his mind Alex always wanted to go to the University of Miami. Like a lot of the kids, he just wanted to use up his trips."

Williams, the county's leading receiver last season, decided on going to Syracuse and rejected Kentucky, which had him come in for a weekend visit that included a Wildcats men's basketball game at Rupp Arena. But Montoya said Williams opted for the Orangeman after they ‘liked what they saw'.

"Syracuse really liked him from the start," said Montoya. "They really think Rashard is going to be a big deal."

At 5-6, 150 pounds there was some question on whether or not anybody would take a chance on Williams. Although, Montoya is confident that Williams has the athletic ability that will help him make a difference on the field.

"I think he'll do fine because he such a great athlete," Montoya said. "And they haven't really talked about moving him. He can play receiver, I don't see why not."

Harris, who had orally committed to the University of Missouri several weeks ago, pulled off a mild surprise by signing with the Gators early Wednesday, instead of withholding his prior plans to play for the Tigers. Harris, a quick, defensive end, could also fit in the Gators plans before too long.

Montoya would like nothing more than to see Harris play at Florida, although he has mildly upset at the way Harris handled the process. Montoya would have preferred that Harris end up at Missouri after committing to them early. "I just think if you commit to something you should stick to it, that's why I liked what Alex did of waiting out the whole thing before making up his mind," Montoya said. "But Harris wanted to stay close to home as well so you can't blame him."

Mestre, who at press time had not chosen a school, could take several more days to come to a decision. The 6-1, 195-pounder was an All-State and All-Dade selection after breaking county records for touchdowns in a career (53), tied record for most touchdowns in one season (21), had the all-time highest season yardage (1,942) and all-time second highest career yardage (4,911) in the county.

Additionally, Mestre broke Coral Gables records season records in attempts (225), completions (117), yards (1,942) and TDs (21). Mestre also shattered career records at the school in attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns. Efforts to reach Mestre's parents were unsuccessful. Tom Mestre was out of town until late Wednesday, while Gina Mestre did not return a call.

Nonetheless, the signing of Pou with the Hurricanes marks the third straight season that a Cavaliers player has ended up at UM.

Last season, former Gables running back Frank Gore, the county's all-time leading high school rusher, committed to the Hurricanes after turning down Ole Miss. Gore would go on to rush for close to 600 yards as a freshman for the national champion Hurricanes. Miami linebacker Jonathan Vilma signed the Hurricanes in 2000 and also enjoyed a stellar career at Coral Gables High from 1996-99.

Montoya is pleased that his players are being highly recruited on an annual basis by some of the premier schools in the nation.

"Yeah definitely," said Montoya. "Its great recognition and obviously it means great opportunities for the kids."

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