I recently spoke with incoming freshman tight end Asante Cleveland (6’5, 245). He has a chance to be a difference maker in Coral Gables, and soon. He will arrive a few days before June 29th, to get acclimated to the weather and learn his way around.
Miami entered the picture late in the recruiting process for his services. I asked him what made him switch his commitment from Washington State. “The environment, everyone was enthusiastic about this upcoming year’s team. Everyone was open. I felt welcomed. Miami is a great team, and it’s something that I want to be apart of.”
Being from Sacramento, CA, Miami is far away from home. This recruit feels that he can handle the stresses of life as a college football player and student. “I’m not going to get homesick. The biggest adjustment will be the heat and humidity; it’s different from California.”
Concerning this big athlete’s skill set, I asked him what he thought he brought to the team and what his strengths were. “I feel that I can block. I can also go down field and make a play. I can split defenders. My size is an advantage, and I’m quicker than some linebackers. I’m currently working on (improving) my speed.”
Cleveland has a chance to make an early impact at the U. Miami has a gap at the tight end position and is currently looking for a starter. “There’s going to be much competition, because UM is bringing in four tight ends, along with the two that are already there. I feel that, when I come in, in good shape, with good stamina, then I’ll be able to focus on learning the playbook, rather than focus on my conditioning.”
With Coach Pannunzio coaching his position, I asked him how he felt about his coach. “I like Coach P, he’s pretty cool. He’s straight forward, and I like talking to him. When I first met him, he and Coach Whipple came to our house. I thought they were cool.”
I also posed the question of how Cleveland’s career would play out at Miami. “I’m going to be a starting tight end, be a great end. The University of Miami is the right place to help me become that.”
“My teammates, coaches, and friends are really excited for me. I have a lot of people around me that support my decision. Everyone is encouraging me. My decision to go to Miami was strictly business. Coaches make those decisions all the time, to leave and go to another school. I don’t know why a 17 year old kid is held to a different standard than a 40 year old man.”
Considering the negative criticism about the strength of the incoming class, I asked him how he felt about the harsh words about him and is classmates. “I work hard, I’m a hard worker. The criticism doesn’t bother me. I just let it roll off my back. I’m focused on what I have to do to become the great player I want to be.”
Thanks to Asante for interviewing with Eye of the Hurricane. We look forward to following your career with the ‘Canes and beyond!