Ray Lewis III part of Miami’s signing class

For Ray Lewis III, going to Miami has been a safe assumption

since the day he was born.

His father – the newly retired Baltimore Ravens star linebacker

Ray Lewis – played for the Hurricanes. His mother went to Miami as

well. So when it came time for their son to pick a school, the

decision was easy.

Lewis III was one of 11 players to send letters of intent back

to Miami on Wednesday, joining a group of five more early enrollees

in a class that the Hurricanes think can make an immediate impact.

Other big additions for Miami included wide receiver Stacy Coley,

linebacker Jermaine Grace, safety Jamal Carter, defensive end

Al-Quadin Muhammad and quarterback Kevin Olsen, the brother of

another former Hurricane, NFL tight end Greg Olsen.

Lewis III sent his letter of intent in very early Wednesday,

then with his father at his side, went through a ceremonial signing

later in the day at his school, Lake Mary Prep near Orlando,

Fla.

”I made a stand my junior year in college, the year he was

born, that it was time for me to go to the league,” said Ray

Lewis, who helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl on Sunday in his

last game. ”Now the year that he’s walking into college I’ve made

another stand that it’s time for me to leave the league. Him being

born has been a factor in entering the league and leaving the

league.”

Miami landed several of its top targets, even with the

incredibly long NCAA investigation into the school’s athletic

compliance practices still unresolved.

The NCAA was poised to send the Hurricanes their notice of

allegations a couple weeks ago – then, in a bizarre twist, ordered

an external inquiry into how its own investigators collected

information. At the center of that external probe is the NCAA’s

relationship with attorney Maria Elena Perez, who represented

convicted Ponzi scheme architect and whistle-blowing former booster

Nevin Shapiro.

Perez has not divulged the nature of her contractual

relationship with the NCAA, and NCAA President Mark Emmert wants to

know why one existed. Shapiro is serving a 20-year prison term for

masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme, and the claims he made

in an article published by Yahoo Sports have hung precariously over

the program for more than two years.

”We’re not just fighting the opposition,” Miami coach Al

Golden said in a televised interview Wednesday. ”We’re fighting

the term `sanctions’ all the time. So it’s sanctions and the

opposition versus us.”

Once Miami receives its notice of allegations, then the sanction

process would begin. That could take several more months unless the

NCAA and the Hurricanes settle beforehand, something that would

appear to be possible given the college governing body’s own

acknowledgement that it botched parts of the Miami probe.

”The sanctions and some of those things, it didn’t change my

decision whether I wanted to go there or not but it was something I

thought about,” said Lewis III, who likely will be a defensive

back in college. ”It is unfortunate, but sometimes it’s got to get

worse before it gets better.”

The way Miami sees things, things got better Wednesday.

While the Hurricanes missed out on some blue-chip targets like a

pair of Miami Booker T. Washington High teammates in linebacker

Matthew Thomas (Florida State) and offensive lineman Denver

Kirkland (Arkansas), they did make some late splashes, including

Coley, a top-ranked player from talent-rich Broward County.

Many expected Coley to sign with Florida State. Instead, he

pulled out a cap with the word ”Swag” and done in Miami colors to

announce his decision.

Coley’s goal at Miami: ”Win a national championship.”

Running back Augustus Edwards of Tottenville High in Staten

Island, N.Y. was the day’s first commitment, his letter arriving by

fax right around 7:01 a.m., one minute after the allowed start

time. Edwards likely will be a short-yardage and blocking back at

Miami, a key need in the class.

Another big need was defensive linemen, and Miami added

junior-college player Ufomba Kamalu of Fayetteville, Ga., at that

spot. Two of Miami-Dade’s top prospects also signed with Miami, as

expected – defensive back Artie Burns of famed Miami Northwestern

High, and Carter, who played at Miami Southridge.

Grace had people guessing until late in the day, when he

announced his intention at Miramar High, the same school that

produced 2012 Miami signee Tracy Howard. Grace also said he wanted

to play alongside Miami safety Deon Bush, another South Florida

product.

”My auntie, she’s in love with coach Golden,” Grace said.

”That’s a big reason why I came, too. He’s just a great guy. He’s

got a great spirit. He’s down to earth. That’s why I like

him.”

Ray Lewis, the now-former NFL star, has never hidden his

affinity for Miami, and said he was doubly proud – both as a father

and a former star `Cane – to watch his son finally put his name on

that coveted letter of intent on Wednesday.

”It’s almost overwhelming to try to understand what I’m feeling

as a father,” Lewis said. ”You have to keep your emotions in

because it’s the unreal part about it, that I walked two days from

retiring and winning a Super Bowl to walking in and seeing my son

following me to my alma mater. Who writes a storybook ending like

that?”