LB Raul Aguirre talks brotherhood, Madden and Cuban food

LB Raul Aguirre talks brotherhood, Madden and Cuban food


Since arriving at Miami, Mario Cristobal has made it his mission to remake the LB room into a championship unit. He took a big step in that direction when he beat out Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State for blue-chip LB Raul “Popo” Aguirre. Now entering his sophomore year, Aguirre is poised for a breakout season. He joined the CanesInSight Podcast to discuss his progress and his relationship with Canes Connection.

A summary of Aguirre’s interview is below:

On spring ball so far: Everything is going great, man. We're looking very good as a team, and I'm just excited to see how this spring goes.

On coach Derek Nicholson being promoted to Co-DC: That's my guy. I'm very happy for him, but I'm not surprised. He's an outstanding coach with a lot of knowledge. I've never seen a coach that's able to correct someone in every single thing. He knows everything, across the board, on and off the field.

Here’s a funny story. We played Madden [Football]. That's a little video game. He dang near beat me. lf people don't know, I'm not a ****y person, very humble, but I'm one of the top people in the video game. They called me out to play him and he almost beat me. He's very knowledgeable on all levels, football, all around.

On Coach Nicholson’s Madden skills: Nowadays, as young cats, we use the stick work [on the controller]. He was scheming and all that. He knew every single thing. I'm like, bro, “You don't even play, you have four kids. How are you that good?”

It just shows his knowledge of the game. He don't need sticks, he knows football.

On the linebacker room: I feel like it's very special. Derek Nicholson does a lot of stuff to connect us. When we came in last year, it was a major difference from the past when I heard how Miami was. It's changed already. We connect more, and there's so much talent around.

The '23 class that just came in has so much talent. You got Bobby [Washington], you got me, you got Marcellus [Pulliam], you got Malik [Bryant] sometimes. He's in the edge room too. [Kaleb] Spencer. We're all talented. We're all fast. You can use every one of us for every single thing. But most importantly, we're all knowledgeable and we all want to see each other do great. None of us are selfish. We all stand to get extra work.

I tell some of the freshmen now, [Adarius] Hayes and Bobby [Pruitt], my thing last year was just learning some of the plays. Coming from high school, unless you're at a powerhouse high school, it can be a little trouble sometimes.

I adjusted very well due to just asking Kiko [Mauigoa]. That guy knows everything on the defensive side, all across the board. it's all love, man. None of these guys are scared to get their spot taken. D-Nic does a good job of making sure we're all hungry and we're all getting better each and every day.

On where he is at in his development: I'm just gonna say two words, man. It's time. When I say that, I mean not just for me, but for all the freshmen. All these guys on the offensive the side of the ball, too. Robby Washington, my dogs, all of us. It's time for us to to step up now, and it's showing. It's time for us to really put our shoe on the ground, and put a stamp on it.

On being able to play at Miami: Seven brothers and sisters down here in South Miami. I moved to Georgia when I was nine. Miami's always been my favorite team since I was a kid. I was just a big Miami fan. Nobody could tell me nothing bad. Just being able to walk through these doors and being able to be out there, I’m very blessed. Excited to be able wake up every day and be able to play with my brothers. That’s where the energy comes from.

On his Cuban background: My dad is Cuban. My mom's Black. My dad's side, they all stayed down here. It’s just great, man, to be around my family. My abuela, she's always cooking for me right here down the street. My mother and dad grew up down here. They wanted to make sure I was safe. And most importantly, that I had somewhere to go get a home-cooked meal. You know how we are. My cousins, nephews, it's just great to know that they have somebody doing something good.

On his favorite Cuban dish: A lot of people think it's too big. But for me, boliche (Cuban pot roast).

On how playing RB in high school helps him at LB: Tremendously, man. I've watched a lot of football. A great, great player nowadays is Roquan Smith. He played running back in high school, too. It's something about the feet, how they move. The running back takes a right step, the linebacker takes a right step.
If you play running back, you're kind of making the same movement. You're seeing the same stuff that they're seeing. You see that the gap is open. Same thing from a linebacker standpoint. So I'm very happy that I played a little bit of running back. It’s just as a linebacker, I'd rather hit people.

On how Canes Connection has helped him: It’s helped me tremendously since I've been here. It's been the best thing for me. Being able to have dinners and bring certain groups together. It's just wonderful, man. I’m able to connect with my teammates. Being able to connect with the players, I would say is most important.

On playing Pop Warner with his future Canes teammates: I was the man. I'm going to put it like that. I played against Rueben Bain. Nyjalik Kelly was right in front of my face. That game is still on YouTube. They all played for the Miami Garden Raiders.

I'll say Mark Fletcher was a man. He's always been a man. He wasn't as big. I was big, I was 5'10". We were young, like 12. But Mark Fletcher, that was a man. My team beat him. He was at Plantation. We beat everybody's team except for Rueben Bain's team. It's a lot of good memories, man.

That's the biggest thing, man. We see each other years down the road and can say, “We used to play [against each other] and now we're on the same team.” [Fletcher] was a man on his team, I was a man on my team. Our dads knew each other since we were kids. Now they see each other. I saw his dad yesterday. That's my unc’.

It’s more than just football. When you go out to go to war, that's who I want to go out to war with. People I know that's about the action.

On his brother, 2026 safety prospect Markel: I'm going to be honest. He was a freshman, and in one game during my senior year, he had three blocked punts. Two of them he picked up and took back. It was a pretty decent team, too.

He’s just a talented player, man. My brothers, I have two of them, we're very much intelligent when it comes to the game. But the talent level for [Markel] is unique. It's different. He can catch the ball. He can run the ball. He can hit. He's 6’1, 185. He’s running a 4.4, 4.5. I’m telling him to just keep working and he has that ego to keep working. We’ll see where that goes, but he’s a monster right now.

[In terms of recruiting], he’s just looking at his options. I'm for sure I'm gonna bring him here. But you know, right now he's playing that little game. He's checking everybody out. But I'm gonna bring him here.

On whether he’s going to accept his NCAA Football video game rating or max out his attributes: That's a good question. I actually didn't think of that one. I think i'm going to let it ride. Everybody's talking about maxing theirs out. I’m just excited to play because I used to play when I was a kid.

On his competitive nature: Me and my brothers, we found everything to compete. We played pick-up baseball. My dad was a baseball player. He played pretty good. Coach Mirabal is very tight with me and my dad. And he told me yesterday, ”Keep working, giving my linemen that work.” Because I talk trash and bring energy to him. My dad was a big athlete and and all his sons are competitive. And everything we do, we like to compete.

Comments (17)

The change in the LB room took longer than the year to year turnaround we did at OL last cycle. But it sure feels as profound.

From Flagg, Jennings, Keontra Smith and Steed to Kiko, Wes, Popo and Chase Smith … with all those other talented young guys behind them. Night and Day!
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Popo has how many brothers and sisters?? His parents are animals… I’m guessing a lot half’s in there or even some step but still GO GET ‘EM.
The change in the LB room tool longer than the year to year turnaround we did at OL last cycle. But it sure feels as profound.

From Flagg, Jennings, Keontra Smith and Steed to Kiko, Wes, Popo and Chase Smith … with all those other talented young guys behind them. Night and Day!
Some absolute goons in that room for sure
There’s been a lot of guys over the years that we “beat” UGA/Bama etc for but the truth was they didn’t fight for many of them very hard

It was different with Popo
It has been different with several recruits. I’m not 100% on Mario turning it around on the field, but he for sure has already done it in the living rooms. Hopefully a great QB helps on the field.
The change in the LB room took longer than the year to year turnaround we did at OL last cycle. But it sure feels as profound.

From Flagg, Jennings, Keontra Smith and Steed to Kiko, Wes, Popo and Chase Smith … with all those other talented young guys behind them. Night and Day!
Add Pruitt to the list.