Recruiting is, literally, the lifeblood of any college football team. In order to win games, you have to have the players. It's that simple. You've probably read SBNation Recruiting Analyst Bud Elliot's Blue Chip Ratio article, but if not, it's a good place to start to get some context about recruiting.
Obviously, every team is different, and their goals and aims are different, but the main goal stays the same: get the best players possible to fill your roster.
Coming off a 6-7 season, Miami is losing 13 seniors to graduation, along with 2 underclassmen stars: RB Duke Johnson, the most productive RB in Hurricanes history, and LT Ereck Flowers, a potential 1st round NFL draft pick. With those losses, and with the number of scholarships we played with, Miami can signed around 26 players to the 2015 recruiting class. Al Golden has repeatedly said that this will be "a full class", so expect 25-26 players to come in this year.
Here is a look at where the recruiting stands for each position, and a couple guesses for how this class will wind up.
This is a position where Miami has already seen attrition, with former commit Dwayne Lawson dropping shortly after the end of the season. This is also a position of recruiting strength....just not in this cycle.
Put bluntly: no top QB is coming this year on the heels of Brad Kaaya's Freshman All-American season. Kids want to play, and the chance for a QB to come in this year and play in the next 2 or 3 years is slim at best. And, with 5-star QB Jack Allison committed for 2016, and Todd Centeio, another highly regarded prospect, committed for 2017, it could be argued that Miami has the singular best QB recruiting situation of any team in America at current.
Now, for the 2015 class, questions loom. Vincent Testaverde, son of former Hurricane great Vinny Testaverde, has transferred to The U, but will have to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules. Former St. Thomas Aquinas and University of Houston QB John O'Korn is said to be considering Miami and 4 other schools as a transfer destination as he leaves UH. He, like Testaverde, would have to sit out a year and then compete for the backup QB spot with Malik Rosier.
With Testaverde on board, Miami is probably looking at a developmental player at this position for this class. There aren't many great options for this locally, so don't be surprised if a lower ranked/unknown player from outside of FL is the take for this class.
Skill Positions (RB/WR/TE)
Last year, the Canes took 7 skill players in the recruiting class. This year, losing 4 skill guys, including Duke Johnson, Miami will look to reload, and provide Brad Kaaya and the future QBs with plenty of offensive weapons.
Tight End: The top JUCO tight end in this class, 6'5" 255lb Jerome Washington, is enrolled and on campus. He has 4 years to play 4, and has the size and athleticism to be a dynamic player in years to come. Washington comes in and will help to replace Clive Walford, the all-time leading receiver for a TE in Hurricanes history.
Unless there is a top tier talent that magically flips to Miami late in the process, the Canes are probably done at TE for this cycle.
Wide Receiver: Miami currently has 3 receivers committed in the 2015 class: Therell Gosier II (Pompano Beach Blanche Ely HS), Terrell Chatman (Baton Rouge Central HS), and Lawrence Cager (Calvert Hall HS, Towson, MD). Cager, a U.S. Army All-American, is a 4-star player. Chatman is a 3-star player, but underrated in my personal opinion. He has size, length, and can do this on a football field:
Slight work pic.twitter.com/fJIQdyDHZT— Terrell Chatman (@trellc66) November 1, 2014
2015 Canes WR commit Terrell Chatman made this insane 1 handed TD grab yesterday. https://t.co/fB6Eck2Jr7— Canes Warning (@CanesWarningFS) November 1, 2014
Cager, who chose Miami over Alabama, will visit both the Canes and the Tide before NSD. His recruitment bears watching, as I don't think it's over just yet. Additionally, Chatman will visit Miami, TCU and Arizona State before NSD. He's long maintained that he's stolid to Miami, but a strong visit to Coral Gables will help solidify things with Chatman.
Gosier II is biggest player (6'7" 200lbs) of the 3 commits, but also easily the most raw. He's a extremely developmental player. And, if we had to lose one, or have them seek shelter elsewhere, Gosier II is easily that player.
There are other prospects on the horizon such as 3-star Antonio Callaway (Miami Booker T. Washington) and 4-star Daylon Charlot (Patterson, LA), who will both be visiting in upcoming weeks. I would take either over Gosier in a second.
With Stacy Coley's struggles as a sophomore, and Philip Dorsett's graduation, there is playing time available at WR for incoming players.
Running Back: This position was once the far and away strength of the class. While still good, there has definitely been a drop off due to attrition. And, after losing Duke Johnson, and only getting 1 top end RB in the last 2 classes (Joseph Yearby), there's a need to replenish the talent at this position.
Miami currently has commits from Jordan Scarlett (St. Thomas Aquinas HS) and Mark Walton (Miami Booker T. Washington). This pair is among the best at their position in America. Scarlett, a U.S. Army All-American, is the top rated prospect overall in this recruiting class.
There have been rumors that Scarlett's commitment may be wavering. If so, that would necessitate Miami to do 1 of 2 things: 1. work overtime to keep him committed, 2. move on to other options at RB. The answer, like most things in life, is a combination of both things.
Scarlett will visit Miami in the weeks preceding National Signing Day. That visit will be huge for the Canes. outside of that, Miami will probably circle back to former commits Jordan Cronkrite and Dexter Williams. Miami has been in varying levels of contact with that pair, and would have to work very hard and effectively to get either (or both) to re-commit to Miami.
The Hurricanes could also kick the tires on other top end talents at this position. But, with only 3 visit weekends left until National Signing Day, if they're gonna go that route, now they'd better get to work on this in a hurry.
Last year, Miami brought in 5 offensive linemen. The top 2, Kc McDermott and Trevor Darling, earned plenty of snaps as true freshmen. Miami is, however, losing 3 linemen from the roster, with Shane McDermott, Jon Feliciano, and Ereck Flowers moving on from campus. As a result, Miami is looking at another class of OLinemen that will, in most likelihood, be sizable.
Currently, Miami holds commitments from Tyree St. Louis (Bradenton IMG Academy), Bar Milo (Chaminade HS, CA), JUCO Jahair Jones, Hayden Mahoney (Malvern Prep, PA), Brendan Loftus (Tallahassee Godby), and Tyler Gauthier (Venice, FL). While many may see this a too many, I'd argue that you can't have too much talent in the trenches, and after the rampant injury issues the Hurricanes faced on the OL last season, bringing in this many players would definitely be a positive.
On top of those 6 commits, Miami could also pull OT Fredrick Johnson (Royal Palm Beach HS). The 6'7" 303lb Johnson is a late riser in the recruiting process and has ties to this class: he played with Canes LB commit Charles Perry in HS. The Canes are the favorites to land Johnson at the moment, and we can reasonably assume he'll be in this class.
Last year, Miami brought in 5 players along the defensive line: 5-star DE Chad Thomas, Trent Harris, Anthony Moten, Courtel Jenkins and former Basketball player Demetrius Jackson. While Thomas, Harris, Jenkins, and to a lesser extent Moten all contributed on the field this past season, none were the top flight, ready to play, über dominant Defensive Tackle that this team has been missing.
At this point, Miami has 4 commits along the defensive line: DE Scott Patchan (Bradenton IMG Academy), DE Jamie Gordinier (Red Bank Catholic, NJ), DE/DT Richard McIntosh (Ft. Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons), and DT Ryan Fines (Bradenton Manatee). This is a solid, but underwhelming group, that will definitely need an additional commit or 2 to make it more appealing.
The good news is that Miami is still actively recruiting a number of defensive linemen in this cycle. At the top of that list is 5-star DT Rasheem Green (Serra HS, CA), but he figures to follow his HS's pipeline to Southern Cal. If Miami were able to pull Green away from the west coast, it would be the biggest recruiting win in this staff's tenure.
Outside of Green, Miami is in on DT Kendrick Norton (Jacksonville Trinity), DE Austrian Robinson (Pawling, NY), DE Arden Key (Atlanta, GA), DE Shelton Johnson (Delray Beach, FL), and DE Shareef Miller (Philadelphia, PA). All 5 will visit between now and National Signing day, and all players will be multiple offer competitions until the very end.
The most coveted prospect is Norton, but there are debates about his best and future position. While Miami initially offered him as a DT, many in recruiting circles see him as a better prospect at Offensive Line (guard, to be specific). With the numbers the Canes have both on the roster and in this class at OLine, it makes sense that the Canes would pursue Norton on defense.
The best of this group is Key, but he's committed to and decommitted from South Carolina twice in this cycle, so he's definitely going to take his recruitment until NSD. Johnson is a local product who is very good at rushing the passer, a skill this roster desperately needs. Robinson, like Richard McIntosh, is a large athlete who could eventually see himself inside at DT full time.
In 2014, Miami brought in 4 players at linebacker: Darrion Owens, Michael Smith, JuWon Young, and Terry McCray. Owens and Young played substantially as freshmen, and both figure to challenge for starting spots this year.
In 2015, the Canes have just 1 commit at linebacker: Early Enrollee Charles Perry. Perry could challenge for playing time early in his career, and with the dearth of numbers at LB, that's a good thing.
Miami is still after a number of linebackers in this class, with that number seemingly growing every day. At the top of the list is 5-star LB John Houston (Serra HS, CA). He's teammates with previously mentioned DT Rasheem Green, and the pair may attend the same college. Southern Cal is far and away the favorite for Houston.
Brightwell is the player the staff seems to have zeroed in on making the primary target to join this class. Barry will visit Miami in the weeks before signing day, but it remains to be seen if he's open to flipping from his K-State commitment. Sapp only has 1 OV scheduled as of the publishing of this article, and that's to Tennessee. Unless Miami can convince him to take an official to Coral Gables, you can count him out as a realistic prospect for this class.
Last year, Miami brought in 3 DBs: Marques Gayot, Ryan Mayes, and Kiy Hester. After a few days on campus, Hester decided to return to his home state of New Jersey, and eventually transferred to Rutgers, taking the most dynamic player of that recruiting group off the board. Mayes redshirted, and Gayot played a significant role on special teams, and will transition to Linebacker in the spring.
In this class, Miami has 3 DBs committed: All-American and Dade County HS legend Jaquan Johnson (Miami Killian), CB Michael Jackson (Spain Park, AL), and super-steal S Robert Knowles (Miami Edison). Johnson is already on campus and enrolled, and he's easily the best player of the 3 commits. He should challenge for significant playing time as early as this spring.
Jackson is a tall, physical prospect in the mold of former Cane LaDarius Gunter. And Knowles, an incredible talent who fought grade issues until recently, might be the biggest steal of this entire recruiting class.
Outside of the 3 commits, the Canes are after CB Carlton Davis (Miami Norland) and S Tim Irvin (Miami Westminster Christian), but they will probably stick to his commitments to Ohio State and Texas, respectively. S Hunter Dale (New Orleans John Curtis) enjoyed his unofficial visit during the FSU game, and may return for an Official Visit in the coming weeks.
The big target left on the board is Under Armour All-American CB Marcus Lewis (Washington D.C. Gonzaga). Lewis who has already visited finalists Kentucky and Washington State previously, will travel to Coral Gables before making a decision. There is a development in his recruitment that could change thigns however: Michigan's hiring of Jim Harbaugh. Lewis was committed to Michigan early in this recruiting cycle, and Harbaugh's presence has him considering taking an official to Ann Arbor. Definitely a storyline worth monitoring for the Canes.