This is the work of Matthew Thomas. Want him on your team now? - SB Nation
As National Signing Day approaches, SOTU takes a look at the current state of the team, and how the incoming recruits and targets fit in.
Today, we continue our breakdown of the 2013 Hurricanes and how the team looks rolling into National Signing Day. Yesterday, we dissected the offense and the recruits on the horizon. Today, we finish with the defense, or as some people like to call it, the WHY DIDN'T THEY PLAY BETTER!
|94||Kelvin Cain||DE||6-3||245||Sr.||Clovis, Calif. (Buchanan HS)|
|87||Jacoby Briscoe||DL||6-5||312||RFr.||Lafayette, La. (Carencro High School)|
|71||Anthony Chickillo||DL||6-4||265||Jr.||Tampa, Fla. (Alonso HS)|
|51||Shayon Green||DL||6-3||260||Sr.||Tifton, Ga. (Tifton County HS)|
|92||Jalen Grimble||DL||6-2||292||Jr.||Las Vegas, Nev. (Bishop Gorman HS)|
|99||Jelani Hamilton||DL||6-5||271||So.||Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (St. Thomas Aquinas)|
|97||Dwayne Hoilett||DL||6-3||247||RFr.||Vero Beach, Fla. (Vero Beach)|
|66||Dequan Ivery||DL||6-1||303||So.||Lake City, Fla. (Florida Columbian)|
|67||Corey King||DL||6-1||292||So.||Boca Raton, Fla. (West Boca Raton HS)|
|17||Tyriq McCord||DL||6-3||236||So.||Tampa, Fla. (Jefferson HS)|
|72||Earl Moore||DL||6-1||300||So.||Tampa, Fla. (Hillsborough)|
|95||Jake O'Donnell||DL||6-6||243||RFr.||Doylestown, Pa. (Central Bucks East)|
|91||Olsen Pierre||DL||6-4||296||Jr.||Rahway, N.J. (Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy)|
|96||Curtis Porter||DL||6-1||308||Sr.||Charlotte, N.C. (Victory Christian HS)|
|93||Luther Robinson||DL||6-3||290||Sr.||Fort Pierce, Fla. (Westwood HS)|
|90||Ricardo Williams||DL||6-5||251||So.||Homestead, Fla. (Homestead Senior HS)|
All those players, and yet, not so much production. Granted, there are a lot of perfectly good reasons for the lack of production, the first of which is that what you have here is a group of guys that were learning a new system while also trying to get their bodies back into shape. That sort of this will mess with your football no matter what. In my opinion, while being a huge position of need for talent going forward, I don't necessarily think it is as much a vital need as most. Golden isn't trying to replace any of these guys, he is simply trying to add depth, and if he can, get a few guys who can contribute early.
Muhammad is the best recruit at this position so far, and he will likely be more of a hybrid type player, since he had the ability to drop back into coverage. That could change, depending on the weight he adds, but that seems to be the course of action with him. Kamalu was a surprise commit, sort of like Odogwu, and has the makings of a diamond in the rough. He adds a lot of bulk to the line, yet shows quickness in his tape. WIth some refining, he could be a good one.
At least one of these two are looked at as "must land" recruits, although I'm starting to not think that way. A lot of people have said they will be extremely disappointed if Bostwick does not end up a Cane, since he was virtually a lock a few months ago. It is always hard for me to put 100% of the blame on the coaches, because they can't force a kid to commit or look elsewhere. UF has come on strong with Bostwick as of late, and he will be taking an OV there this weekend. Getting that last crack at him is huge for them. Bryant is the king troll of the recruiting world. He was once committed to Miami, then left, then was going to wind up at FSU, then said that he was 99.9% sure he was a Cane, and now is back to apparently being a Nole lock/silent. However, Miami coaches are meeting with him before this weekend, and there's quite a bit of funny feelings out there that something weird could happen come signing day.
|34||Thurston Armbrister||LB||6-3||222||Jr.||Hollywood, Fla. (Hollywood Hills HS)|
|54||JaWand Blue||LB||6-0||210||RFr.||Boca Raton, Fla. (West Boca Raton)|
|31||Tyrone Cornileus||LB||6-2||215||Sr.||Stone Mountain, Ga. (Stephenson HS)|
|47||Akil Craig||LB||6-1||226||RSr.||Tampa, Fla. (Tampa Jesuit HS)|
|57||Nantambu-Akil Fentress||LB||5-9||205||Jr.||Nashville, Tenn. (Ensworth HS)|
|59||Jimmy Gaines||LB||6-3||232||Sr.||Getzville, N.Y. (Canisius HS)|
|44||Eddie Johnson||LB||6-1||238||So.||Selma, Ala. (North Atlanta (Ga.) HS)|
|56||Raphael Kirby||LB||6-0||223||So.||Stone Mountain, Ga. (Stephenson)|
|52||Denzel Perryman||LB||6-0||230||Jr.||Coral Gables, Fla. (Coral Gables HS)|
|58||Gabe Terry||LB||6-3||215||So.||Wellington, Fla. (Palm Beach Central)|
The line backers were one of the pleasant surprises of 2012, along with the receivers. They were a mostly young bunch led by a guy (Buchanon) who couldn't seem to put together a single season without injury. Yet, they excelled. Perryman was an absolute monster, Eddie became a ridiculous player, and guys like Gaines, Armbrister, Cornileus, and Terry showed that they could play. The most comforting part of their production was the fact that they were all so young. They promised to only get better, and that went a long way in quelling some people's fear that Sean Spence would be the last great Miami LB for a little while.
Bond is a very promising recruit from the west coast, like Sandland, and could provide an immediate impact in the LB corps, especially if random rumblings about Eddie Johnson are true. He is another one of those hybrid type players who can play LB but also line up as a DE, and his specialty by far is getting to the QB. That alone is a welcome sign no matter where he lines up, because that seemed to be one of Miami's glaring weaknesses in 2012. Figueroa was an unrated recruit when he committed, but has since gained at least a few stars. He is the type of line backer that Miami fan love: big, fast, and hits like a dump truck. He is definitely a raw player, but when you boil it down, it takes a bit of roughness around the edges to play the position, doesn't it?
Grace and Thomas are similar in stature, but could not be further apart in terms of talent. Thomas is an immediate starter type of player, and a can't miss recruit. He is a hometown kid who's recruitment will come down to two main teams (FSU, Miami) and two outliers (Bama, Georgia). Most have him staying home and choosing the Canes, but until his name is on the LOI, no one really knows. Grace is a kid from Miramar HS, where Tracy Howard and Malcolm Lewis played. He is an impact guy in his own right, and has a very good chance to start right away as well. He has long been said to be a Miami lock, although Tennessee and Louisville have made a late push for his services.
Quick Note: I lumped these two in together, mainly because the rosters that I got the info from does the same thing, but also because it makes it easier.
|2||Deon Bush||DB||6-1||195||So.||Miami, Fla. (Columbus HS)|
|21||Antonio Crawford||DB||5-11||188||So.||Tampa, Fla. (H.B. Plant)|
|35||Nate Dortch||DB||5-11||175||RFr.||Fort Myers, Fla. (South Fort Myers)|
|37||Ladarius Gunter||DB||6-2||196||Jr.||Montgomery, Ala. (Jefferson Davis)|
|30||AJ Highsmith||DB||6-0||208||Sr.||Missouri City, Texas (Hightower HS)|
|11||Larry Hope||DB||6-0||183||RFr.||Miami, Fla. (American Senior HS)|
|3||Tracy Howard||DB||5-11||185||So.||Miramar, Fla. (Miramar HS)|
|29||Rayshawn Jenkins||DB||6-1||203||So.||St. Petersburg, Fla. (Admiral Farragut Academy)|
|22||Kacy Rodgers II||DB||6-2||212||Sr.||Southlake, Texas (Southlake Carroll HS)|
|38||Jordan Tolson||DB||6-1||192||Jr.||Inglewood, Calif. (Harvard-Westlake School)|
The defensive backfield in 2012 was actually very good, although the stats are a bit tough to use as a gauge since opposing teams were able to throw all day long. Tracy Howard, the big name CB recruit from last year, definitely displayed the learning curve, but came on strong towards the end of the season and will be in the top spot in 2013. As far as safeties go, what can you say about the play of Deon Bush. Most had him playing, but I doubt anyone saw him contributing in the manner that he did. He was, aside from Brandon McGee, the most consistent force in the defensive backfield when he was healthy. He battled injury late, but will be fine when this season rolls around. Guys like Jenkins and Gunter also came on strong, cementing their places on the 2013 depth chart.
Quick Note: Ray Lewis III will likely end up playing either one of the positions in the defensive backfield, but since he is technically listed as an RB, I left him off this list.
Once Burns and Carter committed to Miami, the defensive backfield class was basically done. Carter is a physical freak of a safety, although he could use a bit of teaching. He loves to hit anyone that isn't wearing the same color jersey as him, and the prospect of him and Bush roaming the middle of the field should have Canes' fans drooling. Burns is sort of a tweener prospect who is almost equally as good at corner or safety. With the safeties currently on the roster, however, I don't see how the coaches would not move him to corner back across from Howard.
Sort of a late addition to the board, Robinson is a current LSU commit who seems to be telling both the Tigers and Miami what they want to hear. He has taken at least 3 visits to Miami, has spoken with coaches on numerous occasions, and from the current recruits' perspective, is seriously interested in flipping. However, on the other side, he is telling LSU that he is 100% committed. He does have an announcement time set for NSD, however, so at this point anything could happen. He would definitely add depth to the CB position, and would battle Burns/Gunter for the starting job.
There you have it. A completed look at where the team currently stands, and what they might look like after National Signing Day has come and gone. With only about 45 days left until spring football starts, it's going to be an extremely fun ride. As usual, tell me what you think in the comments below, and don't forget to sign up for our text message feature!