In the world of College Football, one axiom has always proven itself to be true:
Blue Chip Ratio
Every recent national champion first met a recruiting standard. Based on talent ratios, who's got the best shot at future titles? Who's within striking distance? And which conferences need to step it up?
In order to win, you have to have players, both in quality and quantity, to effectively execute your scheme. Want to run spread? You need speed. Want to run pro-style? You need big, physical linemen. Want to run a 4-3 defense? 3-4? 4-2-5? There's benchmarks for the players you want and need on your team to be successful.
For the Miami Hurricanes, now under the leadership of Mark Richt as Head Coach, the battle is to get top talent committed to this team and continue to elevate the caliber of player wearing Orange and Green. Miami is well on the way to doing just that.
Here is a look at where the recruiting stands for each position, and a couple guesses for how this class will wind up.
Many of you asked about scholarship numbers. So, here we go:
Miami is out of the scholarship reduction sanction from the Nevin Shapiro/NCAA mess. That reduction was from the overall roster number of 85. Former Miami coach Al Golden said that the Canes were getting closer to carrying 80 scholarship players this past season. I have Miami at 81 scholarship players in the Football Scholarship Matrix, which you should already have bookmarked, and can see here. New Miami coach Mark Richt can continue that upward trend on scholarship numbers this year.
As far as how many players we can bring in for this class, as usual, I expect a full class (that's 25 incoming players for those wondering). The big thing, as always, is 1. How many Early Enrollees will Miami have, and 2. HOW are those EEs counted?
#2 is a tricky question, so I'll keep this short: Schools have the choice of whether to count mid-year enrollees (EEs) against the incoming number from the previous NSD (i.e. the previous signing class) or the upcoming NSD (i.e. the current signing class). Tricky, yes, but incredibly relevant.
Based on last year, which had 5 early enrollees, Miami could have room for up to 30 incoming players, if all 2015 EEs were counted back towards 2014. If only some of those EEs were counted backwards, the limit for scholarships could be in the 25-27 range. If none of those EE were counted backwards, the limit for new incoming scholarship players is the standard 25.
For this class, Miami will have 5 EEs: QB Jack Allison, DE Patrick Bethel, and LBs Zach McCloud, Shaq Quarterman, and Michael Pinckney. All 5 will be on campus and officially Hurricanes on or about January 7th, new student orientation for incoming students at UM.
For now, we'll operate on the full class number of 25. Bear that in mind as we move forward.
This is the most important position on any team, and, by extension, in most recruiting classes. I personally believe that you HAVE TO have a quarterback in every class (last year, that was Evan Shirreffs). And, for Miami, not only do we have a quarterback in this class, but we have on the of the top quarterbacks in the country in this class.
4-star QB Jack Allison (6'5" 200lbs) from Palmetto (FL) HS is the QB commit for this year. He's a supremely talented player whose physical skills are easy to see. Allison has been committed to Miami since June 2014, so he's been in it for the long haul. Reports are that Allison has been told he'll be the only QB taken in 2016, and that makes sense. With Brad Kaaya, Malik Rosier, Vincent Testaverde and Evan Shirreffs all returning to the Miami roster, taking more than 1 QB in this class doesn't make sense.
For 2017, Miami has a commitment from 4-star QB N'kosi Perry (6'3" 170lbs) from Ocala (FL) Vanguard HS. Unlike Allison, who is a prototypical pocket passer, Perry is a dual threat player who can challenge defenses with both his arm and his legs. While his NSD is quite the ways away,Perry gives certainty and balance to the QB recruiting. Miami can stick with him, if that's what they choose, or they can go a different route for the QB in 2017. Perry, who won 7A player of the Year for his play this season, is a top option to remain in this class at this point.
In any event, one of Mark Richt's specialties is recruiting Quarterbacks. Even if he chooses to part ways with Perry, I'm fully confident that he will bring in a supremely talented player at this position in 2017.
Skill Positions (RB/WR/TE)
This is a position where Miami has been successful in small numbers over recent years. The Canes famously had 4 4-star RBs committed throughout a large part of the 2015 cycle, only to see that group dwindle down until only Mark Walton remained.
After bringing in only 1 RB in 3 of the last 4 years, including last year, Miami is definitely looking to bring in multiple RBs in this year's class. The current class, with 2 commits, accomplishes that goal. The headliner of the current group is 4-star RB Travis Homer (5'11" 195lbs) from West Palm Beach (FL) Oxbridge Academy. He's a dynamic playmaker in both the run game and pass game out of the backfield. Homer burst on the scene at an offseason recruiting event last January, and continued to to raise his profile through the season with his high level play. Homer has been locked in with Miami and will most definitely be in this class.
The 2nd RB commit is Juwon Hamilton (5'9" 185lbs) from Homestead (FL) South Dade HS. This speed merchant made a name for himself this HSFB season, and has seen his recruiting profile raise dramatically. Hamilton was once committed to FIU, but flipped to Miami a short while ago. Hamilton is now being heavily pursued by both FAU and UCF. Hamilton may choose to go with one of those schools due to their spread offensive systems (where he'd be a perfect fit) and the ability to play early. I'd love Hamilton in this class as the change of pace speed back, but we'll see if he makes it to NSD with the Canes.
Miami won't settle for these two only, however. After Mark Richt was fired by Georgia, top RB commit Devwah Whaley (6'0" 209lbs) from Beaumont (TX) Central HS decommitted from the Bulldogs. Whaley and Coach Mark Richt are said to be close from their recruiting history, and it stands to reason that Richt will recruit Whaley to Miami now that he's uncommitted. If Whaley does, in fact, commit to Miami, that would surely spell the end of Hamilton's commitment to the Canes.
This is yet another position where Miami is looking to take multiple players in this class after only bringing in 1 at this spot last year (Lawrence Cager).
Miami currently has 4 players committed at WR: Sam Bruce (5'8" 180lbs) from Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas, Reginald Henderson (6'4" 191lbs) from Clewiston (FL), Dionte Mullins (5'10" 180lbs) from Miami (FL) Gulliver Prep, and Desmond Phillips (5'11" 170) from Miami (FL) Jackson. Each one of these players brings a unique skillset, and the overall depth of the group is more in the total numbers than individual ability.
Bruce is far and away the headliner. He's the highest rated player in this class. He's said that he's locked in with Miami, but many other teams continue to chase after him. Henderson is a raw talent with great physical ability but needs polish. Mullins is a polished player with average athleticism (and, he missed this HSFB season due to academic issues). Phillips, a prep QB mainly, will transition to WR full time at the collegiate level, and has great burst.
Miami could look to upgrade the individual talent at this position in this class. Several targets are available, including one-time Miami commit 4-star WR Ahmmon Richards (6'2" 180lbs) from Wellington, FL. He's a dynamic player with size, speed, and skill. Richards decommitted shortly after Al Golden's firing, but even before that, he was linked to SEC teams Auburn and Alabama. Miami has a shot to regain his commitment, but it won't come without a fight.
Another potential target at WR is 4-star Binjimen Victor (6'4" 170lbs) from Coconut Creek, FL. Victor is a U.S. Army All-American, and has been recruited by nearly every team in America. Miami has a lot of ground to make up here, but with the promise of playing time and a top QB returning, it's possible that the Canes could make a move with Victor before NSD.
Still another target is 5-star ATH Mecole Hardman Jr. (5'11" 175lbs) from Elberton (GA) Elbert County. Hardman, who took an Official Visit to Miami earlier this fall, could star at any number of positions on the field at the collegiate level. Being from Georgia, and being said to have Georgia at or near the top of his list, Hardman obviously has had a connection with Mark Richt throughout this recruiting cycle. Miami would have to lean on that relationship to get Hardman on campus.
Miami's roster is stacked at this position (it's the deepest position on the roster), so recruiting this spot in this class isn't a major priority.
Miami has legacy recruit Michael Irvin II (6'3 220lbs) from Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas committed in this class. And, if you have any doubts about his commitment, JUST LOOK AT HIS NAME. Irvin II said recently that he's been looking forward to playing for the Hurricanes his entire life. That dream will become a reality when he hits campus this summer.
5-star TE Isaac Nauta (6'4" 237lbs) from Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy recently took an unofficial visit to Coral Gables. While I don't think that Miami has a real shot (Nauta said they're now in his top 6 before he enrolls in January), there is a spot here for him if he wants it.
Miami has no players committed at this position. After taking 5 players at this position in 2015, Miami isn't in dire need of numbers here. I'd look for selected quality over quantity in this year's OL class.
The top prospect is Marcus Tatum (6'7 260lbs) from Daytona Beach (FL) Mainland. Miami has been pursuing Tatum going back to last summer, but Florida has been leading his recruitment for some time. Tatum has an official visit set up to Miami in January, and that will have to be the thing that swings his recruitment.
While names aren't known at this point, I fully expect other OL targets to emerge between now and National Signing Day.
Last year, Miami took 4 players at this spot: DE Scott Patchan, DE Richard McIntosh, DT Kendrick Norton, and DT Ryan Fines. The biggest addition, however, may be former 5-star DT Gerald Willis III, who transferred to Miami after being released by Florida. Willis, who redshirted in 2015, will be a factor for Miami n 2016.
Miami has 3 DL committed in this class, and all 3 are defensive ends. 4-stars Patrick Bethel (6'3" 255lbs) from Vero Beach, FL and Joseph "JoJo" Jackson (6'5" 245lbs) from Miami (FL) Gulliver Prep are joined by 3-star Jaquwan Nelson (6'4" 230lbs) from Ft. Lauderdale, FL as the current commits. Bethel, an EE, and Jackson seem solid, despite overtures from a multitude of SEC teams trying to flip them. Nelson does as well, but there are rumors of grade issues which may become a factor later in this cycle.
While Miami is in a good spot at edge rusher (see above paragraphs) there are no DTs in this class, and that's a major issue. Yes, Willis III is a defacto recruit, and a very very good one, but Miami needs to add depth and talent to this position.
Miami has offered 31 defensive tackles this cycle, and will continue to look to add one or more to this class. 4-star Glen Logan (6'4" 290lbs) from Destrehan, LA, an LSU recruit, has been linked with Miami throughout this cycle and could be a player the Hurricanes try to flip. 4-star Shavar Manuel (6'4" 290) from Brandenton (FL) IMG Academy was once a top 15, 5-star rated player in this class whose stock slipped SLIGHTLY this season. Manuel has said that Miami has not reached out to him since Richt was hired, but he would be receptive to such overtures, and potentially schedule an official visit, if Miami made them.
Additionally, Mark Richt has a connection with players from and committed to Georgia at this position. It would not surprise me if he tried to leverage that into a commitment at a position of desperate need.
Last year, Miami took 3 players at this position: Jamie Gordinier, Charles Perry and James King. Perry was the longest tenured recruit in the class, having committed more than 2 years in advance of his NSD. Gordinier went to the same HS as former coach Al Golden, and has the frame to be a nice SAM backer. King was a late NSD flip who figures to be little more than a special teams player here.
This year's commit group is easily the best LB commit group in the Nation, and the best recruit group of any position in this class. This trio is an absolute homerun for Miami based upon incoming talent and need for depth on the roster. 4-stars Zach McCloud (6'3" 220lbs) from Santaluces, FL, and Shaq Quarterman (6'1" 231lbs) from Jacksonville (FL) Oakleaf, and 3-star Michael Pinckney (6'1" 215lbs) from Jacksonville (FL) Raines make up this group. The argument could be made that, despite their high rankings, all 3 players could (should?) be ranked higher as prospects. In short, this is an elite trio and their importance to this class cannot be overstated.
All 3 players in this group could and should see the field in 2016. Additionally, all 3 players will be Early Enrollees and have signed Grant-in-aid agreements. For all intents and purposes, their recruitments are over, as is Miami's recruiting at this position.
Last year, Miami took 5 players at this position: Terrance Henley, Michael Jackson, Jaquan Johnson, Robert Knowles, and Sheldrick Redwine. Redwine and Johnson, HS teammates at Miami Killian, were the standouts of this group this year. Knowles is a great talent, but incredibly raw. His development for the future will be key.
Miami has 4 players committed at this position group for 2016: 4-star Tyler Byrd (6'0" 194lbs) from Naples, FL, 3-star Deion Jackson (6'2" 183lbs) from Hallandale, FL, 3-star James Wiggins (5'11" 180lbs) from Homestead (FL) South Dade, and 3-star Cedrick Wright (5'9" 180lbs) from Miami (FL) Gulliver Prep. Of this group, Byrd and Wright are both All-Americans, so there's definitely talent.
DB is a position of great need, and also a position where there may be movement from the commit group. Jackson is a player with good size and talent that can be developed, but there's a history of off the field issues that is beginning to come to light.
Miami, who could be looking to take 5 or more players at this position group in this class, has outside options that are available. Recent Georgia decommit Malek Young (5'10" 175) from Coconut Creek, FL, 4-star Trayvon Mullen (6'2" 170lbs) also from Coconut Creek, 4-star Shyheim Carter (6'0" 190lbs) from Kentwood, LA, and FSU commit Jamel Cook (6'4" 185lbs) from Miami (FL) Central, and the previously-mentioned Mecole Hardman (scroll back to the WR section) are all players to whom Miami has been linked, in some capacity, in recent days. Of those 4, Miami appears to have the best chance at Young, who was committed to Mark Richt at Georgia, and Cook, whose family are said to be Canes fans.
So, that's where we currently stand for the 2016 recruiting class. Thoughts? Leave a comment below.