Recruiting 2014: State of the Offensive Line

Peter Casey-US PRESSWIRE

With 5* Offensive Tackle on the verge of his commitment and (hopefully) becoming the 3rd Offensive Lineman to join Miami’s 2014 class, we take a look at this year’s recruiting at the position and how it stacks up against the roster.

Current Team:

Seniors: Seantrel Henderson, Brandon Linder, Jared Wheeler

Juniors: Malcolm Bunch, Jonathan Feliciano, Shane McDermott

Sophomores: Ereck Flowers, Hunter Wells

Freshmen: Taylor Gadbois, Hunter Knighton, Sunny Odogwu, Daniel Isidora, Alex Gall, Jacoby Briscoe

With the next year the Canes are losing their entire Right side of the line along with one of their top interior backups. Those spots will likely be filled from within with the likes of Ereck Flowers and Danny Isidora. Flowers is clearly ready to take that spot not but will stay in his swing tackle role for another year and Isidora has flashed enough in practice to make coaches think he’s going to be a player here. The jury is still out on the rest of the younger guys but logic would tell you that one would be able to step in and take some of Wheeler’s snaps.

Where things start to get murky is two years from now. At that point the Canes will be losing their entire left side and center with limited logical in house options to replace them. At that point, Flowers would likely kick over to Left Tackle and the hope is that one of Alex Gall, Hunter Knighton, and/or Taylor Gadbois would be ready to take over one of the vacant jobs at Left Guard, Center, or Right Tackle. However, that would still leave gaping holes at a couple of starting spots as well as a need to add depth and developmental players to the pipeline. And this brings us to the next stop:

Numbers:

Miami currently has 14 offensive linemen on the roster which is a shade below what they typically would like. A miss on Avery Young in the 2012 class coupled with the lack of spots resulting in the Denver Kirkland fiasco has resulted in a slightly less than ideal situation as far as just raw depth and numbers are concern. Miami will likely be looking to correct that with the important 2014 class. The Canes will be losing 3 players to graduation (with Linder and Henderson looking like NFL players) and will likely be looking to add in the neighborhood of 5 more offensive linemen in this class to bring the total number on the roster to the 16 range which is getting closer to where it should be. So who can those 5 offensive lineman be? Glad you asked.

2014 Recruits:

Current Commitments: Trevor Darling (4*), Nick Linder (3*)

Current Targets: Kc McDermott (5*), Reilly Gibbons (4*), Corey Martinez (4*), Garrett Brumfield (4*), Sam Mustipher (4*), Quenton Nelson (4*), Juwann Bushell-Beatty (4*)

I tried to keep the target list down to the more serious options which was not exactly an easy task given how early we are at this stage of the game. The big fish is clearly Kc McDermott who would be a step in from day 1 type of tackle. His choice in coming any day now and the Canes feel confident, albeit not as confident as before they hired his older brother and he subsequently visited the past couple of days. That said, signs still do point to him eventually ending up a Cane here soon.

After McDermott, we have Reilly Gibbons as the next more logical option. Gibbons is pushing up against almost half a dozen Miami unofficial visits at this point which is always a good sign. However, Jordan Sherit is another Tampa Bay recruit that visited about as much during the early stages of the 2013 cycle and he obviously ended up a Florida Gator so nothing is set in stone. I’ve yet to really sit down and take a hard look at his film but my 1st impression of it was that he’s a good athlete with considerable upside.

Continuing with the Tampa theme is Corey Martinez. Martinez is considered to be a Florida State lean but Miami has been firmly in the mix for some time. Unlike Gibbons, I have had a chance to break down Martinez film and it’s not hard to see why the Canes coaches want him in this class. Martinez profiles best as an offensive guard. He has one of the best initial punches I’ve seen at the high school level to go with a great mean streak and an ability to finish his blocks. He’s better in the run game than as a pass blocker but he does move pretty well while always maintain his balance and rarely overextending himself. His lack of lateral agility is the one big knock but that shouldn’t be an issue inside because he moves well in space when trying to get to the 2nd level. He’s a kid that every Miami fan should want.

From there, Miami is looking at a few out of state players. Namely Garrett Brumfield, Sam Mustipher, Quenton Nelson, and Juwann Bushell-Beatty. Brumfield was the 1st of this grouping to land a Miami offer. He profiles similar to Corey Martinez with more lateral agility, less polish, and less mean streak. He’d be a fine take in his own right. Brumfield looks to be one of Miami’s tougher pulls at this spot as he attends the same high school as Tim Williams and has interest from all over the Southeast. I won’t spend too much time on Mustipher because the chances of landing him look close to non-existent but he is another option in the mold of the previous two mentioned (See a pattern?).

On the flip side of this are the New Jersey boys. At this point I think it’s relatively safe to say that any big time prospect coming out of New Jersey on any given year is going to get Miami interested. This year is no different as they look to continue the success they had last year with Olsen, Muhammed, and Knighton. Bushell-Beatty has been the bigger hyped of the two but to me, Nelson looks like the better player. Nelson is basically Corey Martinez on steroids in my eyes. He’s a fast twitch muscle guy that explodes through his blocks and finishes every play with a pancake at the high school level. Again, he’s better suits inside and continues with the theme of guy explosive guys that can move well in space and play like it’s their job to hurt people. It’s become pretty clear what the Canes coaching staff is looking for on the interior this cycle. The flip-side of that is Juwann Bushell-Beatty (or JBB as we’ll call him so I don’t have to type that name so much). JBB sis built similar to current Hurricane Ereck Flowers. He’s a plus athlete and actually doesn’t play all that dissimilar to Flowers either although I question whether or not he had the feet/footwork to stick outside at the next level, although he definitely deserves every chance to do so.

Given how early it is in the process, other options will emerge and someone will undoubtly catch the staff’s attention at the camps like they do every year (see Knighton, Hunter). So this grouping will definitely be expanding but you can definitely get a sense of what coaches are looking for with these offers and how they are hoping for this offensive line recruiting to shape up.

How do they fit?:

For the sake of this exercise, we’ll go ahead and pick a few targets at random just to help us get a sense of what Miami will be looking at for the future of the depth chart. They obviously already have the two commitments and we’ll tentatively plug Kc McDermott into the mix as well as Reilly Gibbons and his fellow Tampa native Corey Martinez. That’s a five man class as mentioned earlier. So given that earlier, we discussed the state of the offensive line in the 2015 season has some gaping holes, the aim would be to have an elite tackle talent like McDermott step into one of the tackle slots as a Sophomore opposite Ereck Flowers as well as having one of Martinez or Darling step into one of the Guard roles opposite Isidora (provided than some of the older players haven’t taken that step). That should essentially give you a depth chart that looks something like this (Keep in mind that doesn’t include any 2015 signees:

 photo 2015DepthChart_zps84d50852.png

Suddenly you can see some depth and talent along the offensive line which currently exists in only very limited amounts on the roster. This is why the 2014 cycle is of vital importance to the Miami Hurricanes and why we all hope and pray that we kick this off right but adding Kc McDermott to the two current commitments within the next few days.

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