How would the 2013 class look if it were up to you? Which prospects are slated to make the biggest impact on a young and improving squad? I answer those questions with my ideal 15-man class that Canes fans deserve to see on National Signing Day. I explain my choices with reference to prospects' skills and current recruiting status.
With the football season now officially over for Miami after the school's decision to self-impose a 2nd straight bowl ban, the attention turns to recruiting. Currently the Hurricanes are listed as having 10 verbal commitments for the 2013 recruiting class. With potential scholarship restrictions looming it looks like there will be room for only 15 prospects in the class at most. If Miami is indeed forced to sign no more than 15 recruits, there will be difficult decisions to be made over who deserves the remaining scholarships. Here I present the ideal class that's currently realistic with analysis for the uncommitted and open prospects. Note that this is not a mock class or projection for National Signing Day, but rather a snapshot of how I would finish the class if I were making the calls.
QB - Kevin Olsen (NJ)
Status - Committed
RB - Alex Collins (FL) - He decommitted from Miami on November 7th and appeared FSU bound until recently when he visited campus, so all bets are off. Collins is a fast-rising prospect whose stock exploded after an impressive Senior season. He changes directions with rare suddenness and plays even more physical than his listed weight of 204 lbs. This makes him an ideal candidate to be the big back in Miami's offense right away. Miami also has solid out-of-state and in-state options in Derrick Green and Darius Tice, respectively, but Collins significantly outclasses both.
Status - Collins' 3 main schools are Miami, Florida State and Wisconsin.
WR - Angelo Jean Louis (FL/Prep)
Status - Committed, but still needs to take the ACT to qualify academically.
TE - Travis Johnson (FL)
Status - Committed
TE - Standish Dobard (LA)
Status - Committed
TE - Beau Sandland (CA) - He's visiting campus as we speak this weekend. Sandland, a JUCO prospect, is a rare deep receiving threat that can separate against man coverage and extend for the ball in the air. He would instantly be the best receiving TE on the roster if he signed. It is unlikely that Miami would sign 4 TE prospects in one class, therefore current commit Jeremy Kerr is left out. I view Kerr as a developmental tackle prospect and that is the position FSU wants him to play if they succeed in flipping him.
Status - Sandland is open right now. Miami is competing with many schools including Nebraska, Arizona State and Oklahoma for his services.
OL - Alex Gall (OH)
Status - Committed
OL - Denver Kirkland (FL) - He's maintained Miami as his public leader often throughout the recruiting process but hasn't committed to any school yet. Kirkland is an offensive tackle in high school and impressed in 1-on-1 pass protection drills over the summer against top competition. He has massive girth and the power to move people inside but he doesn't have ideal foot quickness to handle speed rushers outside. For that reason he projects best to offensive guard because his skills are maximized when he's in a "phone booth" of limited space.
Status - Miami and FSU are Kirkland's long-running top 2.
DT - Keith Bryant (FL) - He's my top defensive tackle in the state of Florida, just ahead of UF commit Caleb Brantley. He's strong at the point of attack and explodes off the ball as a pass rusher. He's a secure tackler in the backfield and pursues aggressively to the ball at all times. Bryant will be an every-down lineman in college and will see plenty of early playing time if he sticks with the ‘Canes.
Status - Committed, but also has high interest in FSU.
DT - Lavon Hooks (MS) - He's visiting campus for the first time next weekend. Hooks is another JUCO recruit that could step into the rotation right away. He's big and lean with a good motor, active hands and unique athleticism as he is a former basketball player. His play recognition and technique are better than expected for a prospect with limited organized football experience. His width, quickness and length make him an ideal versatile lineman for the hybrid defensive fronts that Coach Golden and Coach D'Onofrio prefer.
Status - Miami is competing with Nebraska and the Mississippi schools for Hooks
DE/OLB - Devante Bond (CA) - He's set to visit campus next weekend along with Hooks. Bond can be a dangerous assassin on the field much like another Bond: James Bond. He explodes off the line and gets to the QB with efficient steps along the arc. He's undersized for a DE but has a developed physique and powerful hitting ability. His primary skill is pass rushing and the Canes could definitely use instant help to get a boost in sack production. He's more college-ready than highly-rated DE recruit Tim Williams (LA), but choosing Bond over Williams means sacrificing the long-term for the short-term. The sacrifice is worth it in this case because Miami can continue to develop Tyriq McCord and Dwayne Hoilett while heavily recruiting 2014 DEs Chad Thomas, Keyon Brown and Michael Smith.
Status - Bond plans to decide in February which is later than most JUCOs. Miami is one of his first offers so it will be interesting to see what kind of options he has before his final decision. He previously named a top 2 of Miami and Oklahoma, but he has yet to receive an OU offer.
LB - Matthew Thomas (FL) - It's been a long recruiting process for Thomas who has named Miami, FSU and Alabama as his separate leaders at different times. He's a 5-star talent that excels as a pass rusher, against the run and in coverage. He's extremely versatile with the ability to play all of the LB spots, DE or S depending on his size. He would likely begin his career at OLB for Miami because he can disrupt offenses on the edge with his speed and quickness. Miami can ill-afford to lose a dominant player like Thomas who has near-unlimited upside.
Status - Thomas is another ongoing Miami-FSU battle.
LB - Jermaine Grace (FL) - Grace is another must-get local recruit despite limited spots being available. He's worked hard to improve his strength and bulk and it shows on the field as he's become a more physical tackler. He has elite footwork for the position and moves effortlessly in coverage or in pursuit versus the run. He's quick and instinctive but his impact will be limited until he gets better at fighting off blocks. Miami LBs have struggled in coverage over the years and Grace would go a long way to helping erase those memories. Fellow South Florida LB Skai Moore is another playmaker in coverage, but Grace is preferred because he's a more fluid and flexible athlete with more upside.
Status -- Grace is in the process of visiting other schools but Miami is in great shape.
S - Artie Burns (FL)
Status - Committed but taking visits.
S - Jamal Carter (FL)
Status - Committed
- I'm projecting Ray Lewis III to be a walk-on but I still consider him part of the recruiting class because I expect him to contribute on special teams at the very least. He's a physical player and he has enough speed to get down the field on kick coverage and compete at the safety position.
- Jaynard Bostwick may have to go to prep school next year so he was left out of the class. He's a talented player at a need position so if he clears Miami admissions it may force one other player out of the class.