Photo by Jon Barash

On a team where seven players have already accepted major FBS scholarship offers and potentially seven more could be signing up to play in BCS conferences come National Signing Day, some might think that it would be hard to stand out at Stephenson High School. Raphael Kirby is ready for the challenge. Kirby, who transferred in to play with the supreme talent that Stephenson boasts his senior season, recently pledged to the Miami Hurricanes and he talked about his 100% commitment to “The U” last week on The Official Visit.

“I decided to put an end to the process when I really found out where I wanted to be,” Kirby said of his declaring his intentions to go to Miami at Stephenson’s recent spring game. “I wanted to get (the decision) out of the way.” Kirby had over thirty offers when he elected to take his talents to Coral Gables.

Many assumed that Kirby would follow teammates Jafar Mann and Mike Davis and head to Florida, especially after it was rumored that Florida led for the standout linebacker. “I always liked Miami and it seemed like a better fit (than Florida),” said Kirby of his decision to bypass Gainesville for Miami.

The decision wasn’t easy at first because of the relationships Kirby said he built with each set of coaches recruiting him. “I had great relationships with a lot of the schools, but Miami especially.” In the end he liked Miami because the private school is “distinguished.”

“My mom and I like the balance (of school and football) and I’m really big on education,” Kirby said of his choice of “The Linebacker U.” The draw of restoring the glory to “The U” was also a big pull though, said Kirby. “We’re looking in this class and the next class to get ‘The U’ back to where it needs to be.” And Kirby believes new coach Al Golden is the man to do that. “He’s a great coach.”

Interestingly enough Kirby has never stepped foot on the Miami campus, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to spend his future there. “I’ll go for a visit in a week or two,” said Kirby of his plans to eventually tour the campus. In fact Miami is the only official visit Kirby said he will take. He noted he didn’t want to commit to a school simply because of facilities because every school has facilities. He said he wanted to go based on education and relationships with coaches. “The coaches came first.”

As far as the in-state powers that were going after Kirby’s talents, the linebacker said that the University of Georgia did recruit him hard, but “I sort of wanted to get out of state and I had to do what was best for me.”

Now that Kirby has decided upon Miami, he said he will focus on his senior season and trying to stand out on a team loaded for a potential state title run. “I want to be a leader and we’ll work out every day.” Kirby said he plans on trying to improve himself by harnessing his ability to make big plays when it counts this upcoming season.

But what does two years hold for Kirby? “I plan to come in and make an impact somewhere. If it’s special teams or linebacker, just somewhere,” said Kirby. For the linebacker that was smart enough to step back and avoid peer pressure to make the best life decision for him, you get the feeling that he will be able to make and true impact on the entire Miami program when he does take his talents to Coral Gables.