Karri Valot is sick and doesn’t have much of a voice, but it would take more than a sore throat and some coughing to keep her away from Miami Gardens on Saturday.
Valot’s son, Travis Homer, a former star for Oxbridge Academy, will take his first snaps as the Miami Hurricanes’ starting running back against Georgia Tech on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Hard Rock Stadium.
“Oh, I will be there,” Valot said in a text message Thursday. “I may have to move to the nose bleed(s) so I don’t cough on anyone, but I never miss a game.”
Homer, a sophomore for the Hurricanes, got the job when the previous starter, Mark Walton suffered a right ankle injury that required season-ending surgery. Valot recognizes that may not be the optimal way to claim the starting spot.
“Honestly, I wish it could be under different circumstances,” she said. “I don’t think anyone wants their son to shine at the expense of another player. We have been praying for Mark, his surgery and a quick recovery and return.”
The former Oxbridge running back is the third Palm Beach County star from his class to get a starting role on the Hurricanes. Ahmmon Richards, the No. 1 player on the Post’s 2016 Big Board, has become one of the nation’s top underclassmen wide receivers, and Zach McCloud, the No. 2 player that year, has established himself as a starting linebacker.
Now it’s Homer’s turn, and the expecatations are high.
“He doesn’t get nervous. If he does, he does a great job of disguising it,” Miami running backs coach Thomas Brown told the Post. “On the field, he’s a different guy.”
His high-school coach, Doug Socha, knows his former star is up to the task.
The former Oxbridge coach, now the head coach for Keiser University’s fledgling football program, said the former Post Super 11 and All-Area pick knows pressure and how to respond to it.
In a game against Royal Palm Beach in 2015, the ThunderWolves were backed up inside their own 10-yard line. With the game being played on a Thursday, rival team members populated the stands and were heckling Oxbridge, Socha said.
“I think he looked over at them, and then we snapped the ball and he took it 95 yards,” Socha said. “He really helped us build the foundation over there at Oxbridge and really set the tone.
“He was the face of the school.”
Socha said he doesn’t think he’ll make it to the game, but current ThunderWolves coach Brendan Kent said Oxbridge defensive coordinator John Stellman will be in attendance.
“We’re all excited here at Oxbridge for him,” Kent said. “We’re excited to watch him help that team succeed throughout the rest of the year. … He’s a great kid. He’ll do well.”
From Coral Gables to West Palm Beach, it doesn’t seem like many are surprised Homer is getting his shot, and Valot is confident he will make the most of it.
“I know he can handle it,” she said. “Travis has been running all over fields since he was 7-years-old. Same stage, just bigger guys now.”