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Where Miami Got Better, Where It Didn't

With 33 signees, the Miami Hurricanes are bringing in the biggest recruiting class in the country. But that doesn't mean that Al Golden and his staff dramatically improved the team at every position. They connected in quite a few important places, but also swung and miss on a few key players, and still left some holes in the depth chart unfilled. This, of course, is still a great looking class that sets Miami up to rebuild from the bottom up while not having the bottom fall out, but it's not perfect. Let's look at the positions where Miami helped itself, and where it's really going to have to focus on as the 2013 recruiting cycle heats up.


Cornerback: The Canes snagging Tracy Howard is arguably the story of recruiting in the state of Florida for the 2012 cycle, and his impact on this class looks just about immeasurable. From a PR and morale standpoint, it's hard to think of anything within reason that would have been better than Miami keeping Howard home with a big push in the final stretch. If he isn't starting in Game One, then that game will merely start the countdown until he does. But Miami also added a bunch of depth at the position, signing what looks like at least five corners behind Howard, though you never know how these things will shake out when guys get on campus and start getting bigger. Guys like Nate Dorch and Larry Hope and Vernon Davis weren't highly pursued, but Golden and his staff only need to hit on a few of the group to make a big impact.

Wide Receiver: The fledgling days of the Canes having depth at wide receiver is officially over. Tommy Streeter and Travis Benjamin are gone, and so are LaRon Byrd and Aldarius Johnson. Miami is, at the moment, left with Allen Hurns, who disappeared in the second half of last season, and Phillip Dorsett, who looked good for a freshman but may be confined to the slot . Golden and his staff reeled in Malcom Lewis, one of the top WRs in the state, as well as Robert Lockhart, a four-star that was stolen from Virginia Tech. Herb Waters and Jontavious Carter are solid three-star prospects that will fill out the depth chart. The Canes missed on a few big name prospects -- namely Amari Cooper, who went from Northwestern to Alabama, and Riquan Southward, who spurned the Canes for the Urban's Ark -- but there is good talent here at a position of need.

Defensive end: If Anthony Chickillo and Adewale Ojomo can stay healthy, the Canes have a pretty decent pair of starting defensive ends heading into the 2012 season. But after that it gets grizzly, with the remaining scholarship ends of note -- Shayon Green, Jalen Grimble and Olsen Pierre -- all more or less playing out of position. So it was huge for the Canes to pick up two four-star defensive ends in Jelani Hamilton and Tyriq McCord, along with high three star Dwayne Hoilett. Golden and his staff will need to pile on in the 2013 class because lines are always susceptible to quick attrition, but this is a good start.

Not That Better

Defensive tackle: The Canes still have some talent at defensive tackle if Curtis Porter and Luther Robinson can ever stay on the field for any significant amount of time, and there's some depth there if someone like Grimble can move inside full-time. But it's still a sore spot for the Canes, and has been for years with the exception of 2010, and the Miami defense will improve exponentially with some studs inside on the line. Unfortunately, the three tackles signed in the 2012 class require a bit of dreaming. Jacoby Briscoe out of Louisiana may be a steal, but he's still a project, and Earl Moore is a player out of Tampa who didn't see any serious action from the schools who usually dominate that area. Golden flipped local product Dequan Ivery on Signing Day, but the fact that his first offer from Miami came at the final minute tells you exactly where the staff's true evaluation of him is.

Linebacker: Miami pulled Raphael Kirby out of Georgia, and he's easily one of the five most important players in this class. But after that, there's not much help for a core of linebackers who, Ramon Buchanan and Denzel Perryman aside, are inexperienced and questionably talented. The loss of Reggie Northrup, though overshadowed by the triumph of landing Tracy Howard, really stings considering Miami's need at the position, and the Canes were unable to truly replace him. Stealing Jawand Blue from Virginia Tech is a start, but neither he nor fellow three-star Josh Witt are considered studs, and Golden and his staff will have to do a lot of coaching to bring the entire position group up to an acceptable level.

Safety: The Canes signed Deon Bush, and he's probably the most important player in this class after Howard and Duke Johnson. But with Vaughn Telemaque and Ray Ray Armstrong gone after the 2012 season, the Hurricanes need bodies as much as talent, and Bush is the only true safety signed in this class. Miami will likely look to sign a few in the upcoming class, and made a push this time around for eventual FSU commit P.J. Williams, but the next few years are not looking pretty at the position, even taking Bush into account.