So, here we are, kids: the last visit weekend before the Recruiting Dead Period begins next Monday. AND, on top of that, it's the last weekend for visits of any kind for players slated to be Early Enrollees (i.e. those players who will be enrolling to their chosen University in January).
Under the new direction of Mark Richt, the Miami Hurricanes have several important Early Enrollees who will be visiting Coral Gables this weekend. Let's meet the group:
As I alluded to, this is the week when prospective Early Enrollees are visiting campuses around America. For some, those who have signed Grant-in-aid agreements (agreements which bind the school to the player), the school gets several recruiting advantages. These advantages include being able to reference the recruits by name in public (which is huge for recruiting OTHER players), as well as giving the school unlimited and unfettered contact with the player (which is another HUGE advantage).
For new Miami Coach Mark Richt, this is his first Official Visit weekend. And, just ahead of the weekend, CMR took advantage of the GIAA provision to send this tweet about several Canes Early Enrollee commits:
Who are the Shaq, Jack, and Mike that CMR references in that tweet? Let's meet them (again, for many of you):
QB Jack Alllison (6'5", 200lbs), Palmetto HS, Palmetto, FL - GIAA Signee/Early Enrollee
One of the longest tenured commits in the 2016 recruiting class, Jack Allison has a great chance to come in and be the next great QB for the Miami Hurricanes. Allison is tall and lanky, but has advanced knowledge of the game and works through his progressions well. Oh, and he has a cannon for a right arm.
When Mark Richt took the job to be the Canes new Coach, there was much talk that National #1 QB recruit Jacob Eason might follow Richt from UGA to Miami. However, due to the fact that Brad Kaaya is coming back for his junior year, and Allison is committed to be on campus next month, Eason has decided he will take his talents elsewhere. And, for Miami, that's fine: Captain Jack Swagger is going to be a damn good player here in future years.
Let me be clear: CMR has already done his in-home visit with Allison and his family. That meeting was, by all accounts and reports, fantastic. Allison is 100% locked in. He'll enroll at Miami on January 7th.
Allison will undoubtedly benefit from a redshirt year (he's really, REALLY thin) once he officially becomes a Hurricane. And, with CMR saying that he's going to be more involved with coaching QBs now (just as he was at the beginning of his tenure at Georgia), Allison will have the benefit of nearly a year and a half of working with one of the best QB coaches around before pushing for playing time in 2017 (or 2018 if Kaaya comes back for his senior year).
There is one big question for Allison, however: what number will he wear in College? He's worn 14 in High School, but that number is retired for the great Vinny Testaverde (note: the number was unretired for Vincent Testaverde, Vinny's son, who is a walk-on QB for the Hurricanes). Does Allison go 11 like Dorsey? Does he got with 4 like Walsh? Does he flip it up all together? WHAT WILL JACK ALLISON DO FOR HIS JERSEY NUMBER?!?!!??!? (it's late when I'm writing this and punch-drunk. forgive me).
Enough of the talky talk. Feast your eyes on Allison's HUDL highlights from this year:
LB Shaq Quarterman (6'1", 231lbs), Oakleaf HS, Jacksonville, FL - GIAA Signee/Early Enrollee
It's no secret that the Canes are in desperate need of talent and depth at Linebacker. In Quarterman, they are getting both.
Quarterman is the prototypical Middle (or MIKE) Linebacker: he's very cerebral (a key because the MIKE makes the defensive calls), and incredible physical. Watching his highlights over the past few years, you can routinely see Quarterman's huge hits. Or, yanno, you could just watch this clip where he hits the poor, poor opposing QB and the kid flies 5 YARDS BACKWARDS.
Here's the rest of Quarterman's highlights for your viewing pleasure:
LB Michael Pinckney (6'1", 215lbs), Raines HS, Jacksonville, FL - GIAA Signee/Early Enrollee
The longest tenured commit in the 2016 class, Mike Pinckney is a player who, like Quarterman, raises the level of talent and increases the amount of depth at Linebacker. And, much like his compatriot Quarterman, Pinckney is a very talented MIKE LB who could see playing time as early as his freshman year.
Just touchdown in my city #dade#— michaelpinckney (@crazyy__8) December 11, 2015
Pinckney is a 3-star recruit, but many (myself included) see him as having a higher ceiling than that. He's got college-ready size, and that translates to the field. Pinckney led his Raines Vikings to the State Championship game, where they fell 43-23 to HSFB powerhouse Miami Booker T. Washington HS. For his part, Pinckney did everything he could to help the Vikings win, finishes the State Championship game with 7 tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception.
As I said to start this section, Pinckney is the player who has been committed to Miami the longest (22 months at the time this article is published). He, like Allison and Quarterman, has had his in-home visit with CMR and staff, and is locked in with Miami 100% and will enroll in January.
You can see his HUDL highlights below (note: these are his junior HLs):
And now, moving on, we look at the other recruits who will be on campus in Coral Gables for their Official Visits this weekend.
LB Zach McCloud (6'2", 220lbs), Santaluces HS, Lake Worth, FL
If you've read any of these pieces over the past year and a half, McCloud's is a name that you should know well. The 4-star LB was once committed to Miami, and even went so far as to sign a Grant-in-aid agreement with Miami. (aside: that agreement links the University to McCloud, but not vice versa, which is why he was able to decommit).
Shortly after the firing of Al Golden, McCloud decommitted from Miami to evaluate his options. During this time, Auburn, and to a lesser extent FSU, were the main teams pushing to get McCloud to flip his commitment. And, while that may have been true for a short time, Miami has firmly regained the top position for this talented player.
McCloud, who is on track to be an Early Enrollee, will be on campus this weekend. Not only that, McCloud has said publicly that he has canceled all other Official Visits. And, when asked if he would recommit to Miami, McCloud has said things like 'something like that" or "pretty much" in recent days.
With all that being true, and with the playing time available to this talented player (some who follow recruiting think that McCloud has the highest ceiling of any of the LB commits/targets Miami is involved with), I'm going to take him at his word and believe that McCloud will give his pledge to CMR and staff in person this weekend.
He's not a 100% lock like Allison, Pinckney, or Quarterman, but it's damn close.
Refresh your memories as to the talent that Zach McCloud possesses by watching his HUDL highlights, won't you?
DE Patrick Bethel (6'3", 249lbs), Vero Beach HS, Vero Beach, FL
The last Official Visitor on this list is no slouch, to be sure. Bethel is a 4-star recruit and talented defender who could definitely have a positive impact at the collegiate level.
On top of that, Bethel is a Canes legacy: his father Randy played Tight End at Miami from 1988 to 1990, winning a National Championship in 1989 along the way.
I know this is going to seem like déjà vu, but it's repeating: like all the other visitors previously listed, Bethel is an Early Enrollee who will be on campus at his chosen University in January. Bethel has previously visited Tennessee and Auburn in this cycle, but many think that he will follow in his father's footsteps and commit to Miami now that the coaching situation has been resolved. And, like the previously listed players, Bethel received an in-home visit from Miami coaches this week ahead of his Official Visit.
Considering Miami's need for impact DL players, Bethel's connection to the Hurricanes program, Bethel's Early Enrollee status (thus making this his final OV), and Mark Richt's ability to close with recruits, I would say there's a better than average chance that Bethel could join McCloud (a virtual lock as far as I'm concerned) and commit to Miami this weekend.
You know what time it is: HUDL highlight time! Check them out below:
So, that's the group of 5 who will be on campus for their Official Visits this weekend. There's been rumors that there might be several other players who come by for unofficial visits, but we'll deal with that if/once those visits get confirmed.
In any event, if you have a question or thought, leave a comment below. And, don't forget to vote in our standard Official Visit week poll.