Earlier this evening, @Brandon_Odoi and @Jon_Bastian of CaneInsider broke the news that Denver Kirkland was officially off of Miami's recruiting board. Gary Ferman over at CaneSport also had mentioned it, but it was still murky and not official. He was clearly on to something, however.
Here's a quote from Odoi's story:
In a recent turn of events, four-star offensive tackle Denver Kirkland (6-5/335) found out today that theMiami Hurricanes no longer have a scholarship available for him. Kirkland’s stepfather, Shanton Crummie, informed XOFan/CaneInsider of the news earlier tonight. He said the explanation he’s receiving from the Miami coaching staff is that they over signed defensive lineman and therefore Kirkland’s scholarship was used up.
Obviously, this sounds absolutely nothing like Golden and his staff. You will never be able to convince me that a recruiting staff made up of Golden, Carroll, Barrow, Cristobal, Coley, and the rest would have simply miscalculated their scholarship count. There HAS to be something else going on behind the scenes that may or may not come to light.
The biggest question to come from this, however, is how this impacts Miami's chances with Matthew Thomas, who is likely the biggest priority left on the Canes' board. There was talk that there was an in-home visit with Thomas today, which raises a few questions. The good: Kirkland and Thomas have, on more than a few occasions, mentioned the possibility that they will not play football at the same school, although that has always been looked at as the case. It's possible he could have told coaches that he will remain home and play for Miami, and that Kirkland was thinking of going elsewhere, so the staff cut him loose. The bad: it's also just as possible that Thomas told the coaches he was Tallahassee bound, so they no longer saw the need for Kirkland in this class.
UPDATE: Here's an alternate theory proposed to me by @BrodyLogan: The staff told Kirkland that they had oversigned defensive linemen, and had no more room. The only two defensive linemen left are Bostwick and Bryant. If the staff knew they had landed both of them, Kirkland may have been cut loose. DL is a much higher priority than the OL for this year.
Plenty of folks will subscribe to the notion that Kirkland was a must get simply because he is in our backyard. While there is certainly some truth to that, he was always more of a priority due to long-term OL depth than anything else. However, our own Joe Garcia Jr. wrote previously that the staff did not view Kirkland as a must-have prospect for a few reasons.
At this point, there is simply too little info to run with, and too many variables at play to label this as a mistake, a screw up, or anything else. The one thing you can be sure of, given Golden's mentality and this staff's competence, is that there was a damn good reason for this, whether we like it or not.
Harris, who himself worked on UM's staff under Randy Shannon and whose son Brandon was a standout cornerback at UM, said he had assured UM coaches privately Kirkland had decided to sign with the Canes and was simply waiting until Signing Day to announce. But because Kirkland wasn't willing to commit before then and make the announcement public, Harris said, assistant Micheal Barrow told him the program "was moving in a different direction."
While I am certainly in no position to call Coach Harris into question, that reasoning does not at all sound like Golden and his staff. If this turns out to be the real reason, which we may never know, I would be legitimately shocked that this staff would work this way. I just don't see it.
I was told a few months back that there were underlying grades concerns that not many people knew about, which is why schools such as West Virginia, Ole Miss, and South Florida were still under heavy consideration from Kirkland. I was not expecting this to happen so close to signing day, which is why I had held confidence in him winding up at Miami. I thought the staff would have either informed him by now if they knew he wasn't going to qualify or if they waited this long, then it would be solved. As I posted a few nights ago, there was concern from his step-dad about something and that the coaches were "working on it", so my guess is that it was related to this as the timing would make sense.
Aaaaaaand back to grades. This story is being explained away from every possible angle. If you want my opinion? There was a good reason why they let Kirkland walk, and I refuse to believe it was because he refused to commit to them before NSD. The grades or "underlying issues" angle makes the most sense to me, which means we will likely never hear the official reason.