CanesTime Interview with George Mira Jr.1

George Mira Jr. is one of the all-time great Miami Hurricanes. As a middle linebacker during the mid 80s, he had an impressive career, starting for four seasons straight, and racking up more tackles than all but one other Hurricane. In this first part of an exclusive interview with CanesTime, he spoke about his recruitment and the state of recruiting today. Don't miss what he has to say!

CT: Your dad was obviously a famous quarterback for Miami back in the day. Did that have any effect on your decision to attend Miami in 1983?

GM: Yes it did, a little bit, but it wasn't the total reason why I went to Miami. I can tell you one of the other schools I thought about going was Alabama. I always wanted to play for Bear Bryant. It was between Miami and Alabama. Then Coach Bryant stepped down and Coach Schnellenberger, who was a Bear Bryant follower, was at Miami. Those were always my top two choices. Then Bear stepped down and I had a long talk with Bill Trout, who was the defensive line coach at Miami, and Coach Schnellenberger about the benefits of staying home and the future and how it'd help out, as far as business ventures and stuff. That was a big influence. It was nice to go to my dad's alma mater. My dad played football there, my uncle Joe played football there, and my mom also graduated from there, so it's a long line of family members that are from there.

CT: What high school did you come from?

GM: Palmetto High School.

CT: Recruiting has absolutely blown up in recent years. Back then was it even remotely close to what it is today?

GM: No, now it's become more commercialized. They've made it into this big thing. TV and ESPN has gotten involved. It was nothing near what it is now. We had a lot of guys sending you letters and stuff. I've got scrap books at home of letters that were sent to me. The only thing that was kind of close to what they did now is when Alonso Highsmith and Mel Bratton and I think Streeter were going to sign together at a McDonalds. I think that might have been the first kind of media coverage. But it was nothing like it is today. Personally, I think it's ridiculous now. These are high school kids. It's a hell of a risk to come from high school to college and make it. I mean, how many kids make it now? It puts a lot of pressure on that kid when they step on that campus. What it does too is that for the kids who are already there, it can create resentment. The new kid walks onto campus and everyone who's already there thinks "oh, this kid is supposed to be the savior. He thinks he's this, he thinks he's that. I can tell you that it creates resentment. I'm sitting there and there's this kid who walks in and I've been here for three years starting, who the hell is he?" And if he doesn't pan out, it puts a lot of pressure on the kid.

CT: But you guys tend to embrace that competition at Miami, not so much because a kid comes in with a chip on his shoulder because he was heavily recruited, but just because there's an extra motivation to compete there. Did you experience that?

GM: I think that what Miami's gotten away from that a little bit. What I experienced while I was at Miami…Coach Schnellenberger and his guys…their theory was, let's bring in a good football player and make him into great football players. Let's teach him football. Let's teach him. A kid with a good attitude, a hard worker, and then we'll throw some blue chippers in there too. Now in college football, they want to bring in all blue-chippers, and they don't teach them the game, and they aren't able to really get to know the kids. If you're recruiting them and taking them on trips and talking to them, but you're not getting to know them, then that's a problem. The kids are a lot different than when I came out. It's hard to explain, I just think we need good all-around football players. You have to get a kid, get to know him, and look at his work ethic. Kids with great measurables are great, but if the kid doesn't learn and can't understand, that's a problem.

CT: I think it might be because a lot of these kids are told from day one that they are going to start and are promised the world on a silver platter before they even step on campus.

GM: Right, I think if you look back on some of the guys we've had at this University, they all were not these big superstar stud athletes, ok? I came in and they said "yeah, he'll play", but I wasn't touted to be some super linebacker. I had to prove myself and I had to work. Dan Morgan came in as a fullback. They didn't know what to do with him, and look what he did. Kevin Fagan came in as a linebacker. Danny Stubbs was an outside linebacker. They told me Jerome Brown wasn't even heavily recruited. Warren Sapp was a tight-end. Randy Shannon came in as a safety and they stuck him with the linebackers because they didn't know what to do with him. Randy turned out to be a good player, so it's not always those super-talented guys that end up being good. Look at that great talented linebacker from Carol City we had a few years ago. He was wonderful on paper, but what did he do on the field? You have to get kids with a lot of character. You may give up a little bit of speed or a little bit of size, but you get that kid with a big heart who is tough as nails. You see a lot of those kids in the Midwest, at a Nebraska or Ohio State. You just have to coach them and you have to teach them.

CT: Do you think Randy is going to get back to that?

GM: I think so. I think Randy's done a good job thus far; I just hope that the school and the fans are patient enough to give him a couple of years. It ain't going to happen next year. It's going to be at least a couple years down the road. People have to understand this coaching staff has to get used to themselves as they get used to the players. It takes a while for everyone to gel.

CT: You kind of experienced that when Jimmy Johnson came in.

GM: Exactly.

Don't miss the next installment of this multi-part interview, where Mira Jr. talks a little bit about his experiences with Coach Johnson and how the team came together.

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