CHAPEL HILL Coral Gables sits 160 miles from Fort Myers, Tre Boston’s hometown, and 41 miles from Pompano Beach, where Jabari Price went to high school.
While the University of Miami didn’t heavily recruit either UNC defensive back, the era in which they grew up had a lot to do with why both chose Chapel Hill.
“As a kid in South Florida, you had to watch Miami,” Boston said. “I can remember going to games when Butch Davis was the coach and thinking, ‘Man, I’d love to play for this team.’ … We had him here (at UNC) when I was being recruited and it felt like he was bringing that back.”
Davis is gone, of course, but their feelings about Miami remain.
“Growing up, the U had greats like Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Andre Johnson, Frank Gore and a lot of other guys that you looked up to,” said Price, a 6-foot, 200-pound senior cornerback. “But they’re not that now. It is what it is … but I can’t remember the last time they were a great team like they used to be.”
Miami didn’t recruit Boston or Price until their senior seasons, perhaps the biggest reason they’re wearing light blue. That snub certainly is a motivating factor entering Thursday night’s clash with the No. 10 Hurricanes (5-0, 1-0 ACC).
“Miami jumping on the bandwagon late didn’t help their cause,” Price said. “This is my last year, so I want to make them pay for missing out on me and not doing their job.”
Boston, a playmaking 6-1, 205-pound safety, said a date with Miami has the feel of a rivalry game.
“It’s always a personal game for guys like me and Jabari,” Boston said. “It might not mean as much to North Carolina fans as say a win against Duke or N.C. State, but when you grew up in Florida and you’ve got a lot of friends on the other side, it’s a huge one.
“Everybody and their mama’s going to be watching this one, so we’ve got to show up.”
One of Boston’s closest friends on the Miami roster is running back Dallas Crawford. The sophomore backs up Duke Johnson. Crawford has just 25 carries, but he’s made them count. He is part of the Canes’ goal-line package and leads them with seven rushing touchdowns.
Their rivalry dates to Boston’s final two years in high school. Boston excelled at North Fort Myers; Crawford was emerging at South Fort Myers.
“Growing up with him and some other guys, you want to beat them so bad,” UNC’s senior safety said. “We can’t let someone like (Crawford) run all over us. I know what he’s capable of.”
Boston knows Thursday night’s game is more than just a personal affair, but rather a crucial game for a 1-4 Tar Heels team that had goals of winning the Coastal Division crown.
“Right now we just need to show what we’re made of,” he said. “Our backs are against the wall and everyone is doubting the team they saw before the season started. We need to fight to get back to the team we know we can be.
“We know that we have to take care of the teams in our division and we won’t be out of it.”
Smith: 919-829-8941; Twitter: @RCorySmith
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