One of the expectations at Miami after Mario Cristobal took the job was to turn the program around with local talent.
The last few recruiting cycles have proven Miami’s push close to home as a consistent threat for top talent, and another example came through on Saturday evening via the verbal commitment of Miami (Fla.) Columbus pass rusher Daylen Russell.
A legacy pledge, as the rising-senior’s mother attended UM, it was she who had the stronger reaction to the news compared to Cristobal, another Columbus product.
“Mom did, definitely,” Russell told Rivals. “She went there with Ray Lewis, when Miami was at the top of the map. She sees that coming back and was pumped to know her son is adding to it. She was pushing The U heavy at first, but as I took visits she took a step back and did her research.”
The rest of the family also vetted the Hurricanes along with finalists Louisville and Nebraska, before coming to a private decision last weekend.
“Miami won out,” he said. “Coach Cristobal kept keeping in touch with me and the family. He made sure that I was good, that my mom was good, that my brother was good. He’s trying to bring back The U every day. He was telling me the defense would be legendary with me, Rueben Bain, Wesley (Bissainthe), Bobby (Washington) and Vincent (Shavers), the linebacker they just committed, also.
“He was ready, he was happy, he was like, ‘let’s get ready to turn The U around, like it’s supposed to be.’”
Russell helped CCHS to a state championship as a junior in 2022 with 84 tackles and double-digit sacks en route to Miami-Dade Defensive Player of the Year honors from the Miami Herald. With a title defense to captain ahead, the preseason pledge will allow him to refocus on his growth, though ending the process provides admitted relief.
Each finalist made it close on Miami’s local pull, Russell said, particularly with Louisville. But it was Miami’s multi-coach approach and consistency that helped to edge out the ACC competition.
It went well beyond Cristobal, too.
“Coach Joe (Salave’a),” Russell said. “He treats you like you’re his family. He would talk to me every day, text me in the morning and at night – he does everything. He talks about the game and how he sees it, how he develops his players and how they work at a quick pace.
“Coach Joe and Jason Taylor said the same thing, that me and Rueben have the same thing, that we can play anything on the line. We have speed, power and we know how to finesse with our hands real good. We both know how to work on things, we work hard at practice and it translates to games.”
Bain had three sacks in his Miami debut just last month, during the program’s spring game. Should Russell complement the fellow Miamian built in similar stature, the Cristobal-led turnaround could come sooner rather than later.
“I’m just ready to get there and work!” he said.
Russell plans on studying business at Miami.