‘I struck gold’: Hurricanes transfers relishing their ‘best decision’ to come to Coral Gables

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Miami Hurricanes have been active in the transfer portal since its inception, and last offseason was no different.

Miami added 16 players through the portal before this season, and two-thirds of the way through their first season at UM, several raved about their happiness with their decisions.

“I absolutely would do it again every single year if that was the case. A million times over,” said center Matt Lee, who transferred from UCF. “It’s been probably the best decision I ever made, especially in a football regard, the best decision I’ve made in my life.”

Ten new transfers have played at least 100 snaps on offense or defense this season, taking on key roles that have helped the Hurricanes eclipse last season’s win total with a month to play in the season.

Defensive lineman Branson Deen (who transferred from Purdue) said coming to Miami helped him elevate his game because he is playing with and against other competitive players.

“We have a freshman that’s all-worldly here,” Deen said. “You’ve kind of got to match his style of play every time you go out there. The best decision I’ve ever made. If you’re thinking about coming here, just do it. I was kind of afraid to, but it’s a leap of faith, and I struck gold.”

Several of the Hurricanes’ first-year transfers endorsed the program for prospective high school signees and transfer targets.

“This is the greatest decision I’ve ever made,” said linebacker Francisco Mauigoa, who transferred from Washington State. “Just by coming here, I just felt like home. Coach Cristobal, just everybody being welcoming. Just by being around, around the players, being around the guys, it just makes it no other (place) like this. Love being here. Whoever’s trying to get here, this is one-of-a-kind. This is Miami. There’s no other place like this.”

New transfers have made key contributions across the team, from Deen on the defensive line to Mauigoa anchoring the defense at linebacker. But perhaps no unit has been aided by transfers more than the offensive line, where Javion Cohen (Alabama) and Lee (UCF) arrived in the offseason and quickly helped make Miami’s line one of the best in the nation.

“Transferring to the University of Miami is one of the best decisions I could’ve made in my life. Getting to know coach Cristobal, coach (Alex) Mirabal, really the whole staff, it changed my whole perspective on football,” Cohen said. “It made me fall back in love with the game. Just knowing that people around here care about that common goal just as much as they care about you.

“My advice or my words to anybody who’s considering transferring to Miami is to do it. Come in here with the right mentality. Come in here ready to work. Trust your coaches, trust your teammates, be the perfect team player, and always remember that it’s ‘us’ not ‘they.’ … Pull the trigger and come, man. I made the best decision I could possibly think of. I love these guys, I love these coaches, I love each and everybody on this staff.”

This story will be updated.