- Jamie Newberg, RecruitingNation
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STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. -- It was a moment ESPNU Watch List OLB Raphael Kirby has dreamed about for a long time.
Miami lands its second recruit out of Georgia for 2012 and adds another ESPNU 150 Watch List linebacker to its commit list. It's a position in need of young talent for the Canes and Al Golden is doing a good job addressing it with Keith Brown (Miami, Fla./Norland) and now the scheme-versatile Kirby.
While the 6-foot-1, 215-pound linebacker lacks prototypical size and speed measurables on paper, he is football fast and plays with explosive leverage. Kirby makes a ton of plays near the line of scrimmage with his ability to beat blockers to the point with great quickness and diagnosing skills. This is a reactive athlete who can also play with force and step and stack the inside run with very good short-area power. While a bit of a 'tweener, lacks ideal bulk for the inside and length on the edge, Kirby is a very well-rounded, disruptive 'backer who can run, close, fill, blitz and cover as good as most in this class. We expect this high-motored linebacker to excel on special teams as well.
-- Billy Tucker, ESPN recruiting coordinator
So it was something special when he stood in front of his teammates and Stephenson High School fans to make his announcement after the Jaguars' spring scrimmage on Tuesday night.
"I am committed to The U," Kirby said.
Kirby, 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, committed to the Miami Hurricanes over Florida, LSU, North Carolina and South Carolina. Many believed he would be a Gator, following Stephenson teammates Mike Davis and Jafar Mann to Gainesville. Instead, Kirby followed his heart to Coral Gables.
"It was a tough decision for a while but then an easy one for me," Kirby said. "As soon as Miami offered me they were in my top three. I have always really liked Miami. I formed a great relationship with coach [Michael] Barrow. He's a cool dude to talk to and he brings a whole lot of experience to the table, especially with the NFL. He played a long time in the league, and that's where I want to be one day. He knows what it takes to get there and to stay there.
"I like Coach Golden a lot. We are just now starting to get to know each other and I look forward to really getting to know him. I can't wait to play for him."
Kirby is one of many Stephenson standouts in the Class of 2012. In addition to Kirby, Mann and Davis making their decisions, Stephenson defensive tackle Carlos Hood has committed to South Carolina and tight end Joshua Parris has committed to USF.
Still, the Jaguars are looking forward to watching Kirby, who recently transferred from Lilburn Parkview, this season.
"I expect big things from Kirby this season," Stephenson coach Ron Gartrell said. "I mean big things. He has great athletic ability and he can really chase the ball. He can make all the calls for the defense. He's the blue print for a linebacker and a complete player. Miami is getting a really good player and a guy that will be one of the best linebackers we have ever had here and we have had guys like Marcus Ball, Kelvin Sheppard and Josh Johnson. He's had a big impact for us and I expect him to do the same for Miami."
Miami now has nine commitments for their class of 2012.
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.