Last weekend, after the #UNite spring game, I wrote this article looking ahead to the rest of the 2015 recruiting cycle. Well, not even a week later, thing have changed.
At the Alabama spring game, 3 top Canes targets committed to Nick Saban's team: 5-star WR Calvin Ridley, his teammate/bff 4-star S Shawn Burgess-Becker, and 5-star CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, along with another highly rated LB. Fringe Miami target 3-star WR Jovon Durante was rumored to have flipped from WVU to Bama, but that, apparently, isn't settled yet. Oh, and CB target Marcus Lewis transferred to IMG Academy and committed to UF earlier in the week.
Anyways, how does that impact Miami? The big losses are Burgess-Becker and Ridley, teammates at Monarch HS in Coconut Creek, FL. Not only are they local products, but they're Nationally elite recruits at positions Miami is highly targeting in this class. Add to that the fact that both players were on record saying they "love Miami" multiple times, and even went so far as to schedule an announcement ceremony (which turned into a fiasco) at the tryouts for their 7-on-7 team, where they were widely thought to commit to the Canes, and you can start to see why their commitment elsewhere is troubling.
The other player who matters, Fitzpatrick, is from New Jersey, where Al Golden has had great success, and is close friends with another Canes target, QB Brandon Wimbush.
And, if that wasn't enough, ATH Torrance Gibson (he's not a QB. Fight me) reiterated his statement that he will "85% be leaving the state of Florida" for college while visiting Auburn for their Spring Game.
So, let's assume, for now, that all players will honor their current commitments and not flip. Here is what I think the game plan for Miami recruiting should be:
Short Term Plan
In the short term, there are 3 things that I would focus on:
- Get commitments from 2 of the following 3 players: RB Jordan Cronkrite, S Jaquan Johnson, and S Tim Irvin. Those players, all 4-stars, are highly regarded by their peers in South Florida, and could lead to other commitments.
- Lock up Wimbush. Look, friends, Torrance Gibson isn't coming here. And, he's not a QB anyways. He's a WR and a damn good one when he realizes it. Wimbush, on the other hand, is a top tier QB with a great arm and good instincts on the field. Miami is rumored to have said if Wimbush commits they'll shut down their QB recruiting for this cycle. Get him on campus for another Al Golden Football Camp, get him to commit, and move on to other positions.
- Get another impact defender. Don't really care who. My preference would be Khalil McKenzie because he plays DT. But, this class is off to an average start at best. Adding an impact defender, along with the other guys listed above, would change that.
Long Term Plan
- Figure out what the disconnect is with South Florida's elite. For years, it seems, we haven't been able to close on the majority of top guys in the local area. Yes, there are the Tracy Howard's and Duke Johnson's and Stacy Coley's, but the list of guys who got away is much larger. (Matthew Thomas, Keith Bryant, Travonte Valentine, Amari Cooper, Dalvin Cook, Sony Michel, Travis Rudolph, among others). Yes, some kids just want to go experience other places, but, at some point, to return to the level of performance that we so greatly desire, we're going to have to start pulling more of these kids. This has to be action item #1. And, I think Golden knows that. Adding Ice Harris to the staff is a great step in the right direction.
- WIN GAMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Some would argue this is #1. And, you might just be right. But yeah. Last year's 9-4 record was a step in the right direction. We need to continue that forward progress.
- Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate. This is the main goal of the Al Golden Football Camps, and, for the most part, the staff has done a good job with their evaluations. As Spring football returns to High Schools around the country, and the summer recruiting season really kicks into high gear, these evaluations will be key as Miami looks to finish the 2015 class.