Let's set the backdrop for the 2011 Class. UM was coming off their first season under Coach Golden where they finished 3-5 in the ACC and 6-6 overall. The more significant fact to note though was that they were beginning their journey under the specter of the Nevin Shapiro allegations. All signs pointed to UM being hammered by the NCAA with sanctions and possibly the death penalty (**looking at you Mark May**). Due to the "impending doom" UM was hamstrung when it came to recruiting. Many blue chip recruits shied away from the program due to the allegations so Golden had to pick up the pieces with whatever recruits he could find that wanted to go to UM and compete.
**I have a disdain for Mark May. It's pretty well known that he despises UM and anything to do with the program. If you want another reason please see this link HERE (good on you Rece Davis for reeling these two ignorant spokesmen in) .
One last note before we get into the piece.. The recruiting rankings are from ESPN and can be found HERE. Current stats are from the UM Athletic Department.
Anthony Chickillo, Sr., #5 DE, Tampa Florida, ****
It's hard to really grade out Chickillo without feeling a little bit of a "wanting more" emotion. He came to campus as a highly rated prospect coming off an MVP award winning exhibition game that showcased other top recruits in the country. After his freshman season fans had reason to be excited too. He finished his inaugural campaign starting the last nine games and posting a respectable five sacks. Keep in mind he was starting as a true freshman at about 230 pounds aAs a defensive end. You begin to realize why there was so much optimism going into his sophomore season and beyond at UM.
However, even though he has matured mentally and physically since his freshman season on the field the stats haven't really jumped out at us. On the contrary, his sack numbers have regressed each season (5, 4, 3.5) and his overall tackle amounts have stagnated as well (38, 45, 46). Now, does this mean "Chick" has been a bust? No way. He's been a pillar of positive influence off the field for the team and in all likelihood will be named a team captain going into his Senior season...
As the last paragraph stated.. Chickillo saw his statistics trend downward every year from his freshman season and even in his last go around the numbers didn't change. Chick ended the year with 41 total tackles, three sacks (!!), one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. It's pertinent to note though that in the East-West Shrine Game where NFL scouts evaluate talent Chickillo and the other Canes that attended all seemed to get high marks.
Kevin Grooms, RS Jr. #11 Athlete (RB), Hollywood Florida, ****
If you're looking at this name and don't recall him ever playing for UM don't fret, you're correct. Grooms never made it to campus. He signed his letter of intent but as the spring and summer months passed it became apparent he would either need to go the JUCO route to join the UM program or find another University. Grooms weighed the decision and decided to head to Marshall.
His time at Marshall can best be described as a roller coaster of events. He redshirted his freshman season and when he finally hit the field his redshirt freshman season he lit the turf on fire with his blazing speed enroute to winning Conference USA Freshman of the Year. However, his second season was mired with two serious suspensions, the second almost resulting in his dismissal from the program. However during his sophomore year offseason the team allowed him back and he's tried to reinvent himself. Unfortunately he just couldn't stay out of trouble and was arrested again on burglary charges and was thrown off the team.
After the dismissal from Marshall he quickly found a home at Liberty University where it looks like he redshirted again or didn't play at all last season. Liberty is a great school for molding young men into upstanding citizens so hopefully Kevin is in an environment where he can grow as a person on and off the field.
Dallas Crawford, RS Jr. #8 CB, Fort Myers Florida, ****
Crawford was Mr. Everything in high school. He played QB throwing for 2,300 yards, rushed for 460 yards and had 40 total touchdowns his senior year. He also played DB and had nine interceptions to go along with his 70+ tackles. Yea, he never saw the bench.
When he got to campus he redshirted his first season but his impact was already showing on the program as he was named scout team defensive player of the year. After his freshman season he has moved all over the field. During his redshirt freshman season he played wide receiver a bit (primarily in the slot) and wildcat QB in certain packages. Last season he played specifically as a RB and had a solid if not pleasantly surprising season for the team as he tallied 500+ yards rushing and 12 touchdowns in Duke Johnson's absence the second half of the year.
In 2014 Crawford was asked to change back to the defensive side of the field as a safety. Early depth charts showed him competing as a starting safety if not second string contributor. Even though he did start throughout the year Dallas rarely made an impact on the field. For the season he totaled 35 total tackles, a half tackle for loss and two pass breakups. As he redshirted early in his career he's looking to compete one more year in the Canes secondary or where ever the coaching staff asks him to play next season.
Jalen Grimble, RS. Jr., #25 DE, Las Vegas Nevada, ****
Grimble was a signing that kind of came out of left field on signing day but the UM program was thrilled with the result as he decided to come east from his home state of Nevada. As a freshman he played sparingly and didn't redshirt. The lack of a redshirt was not due to his overall effectiveness in practice, it was more out of a dire need for bodies (hence why Chickillo received ample playing time too). However, even though Grimble played in seven games his freshman year he did not record a statistic. In his sophomore season he played in eight games, started none and recorded 6 total tackles. During the offseason between his sophomore year and junior season Coach Golden and the staff decided they needed more bodies along the defensive line so they brought in a few journeymen transfers that quickly jumped Grimble on the depth chart. Due to this and his want to be closer to home Grimble decided to transfer to Oregon State.
Even though there was optimism heading into 2014 for Grimble it was quickly dashed by a neck injury in spring ball and later during the season he injured his knee. He tried playing through the pain but was extremely ineffective registering only six total tackles and one tackle for loss. From current reports it looks like Grimble will be coming back for his last season of eligibility and will vie for a starting spot in the OSU defensive line starting rotation.
Gionni Paul, RS. Jr., #22 LB, Lakeland Florida, ***
To put it mildly, the primary reason UM is experiencing a near crisis in their Linebacker Unit is due to this recruiting classes failures, period. Paul came to UM bordering on a three to four star prospect and made an instant impact in his freshman and sophomore season. Each season he got better and in his sophomore season he posted personal bests of 61 total tackles (good for third on the team), one fumble forced and started seven games. However, throughout his sophomore year he was suspended twice and from what it appears, before he was suspended a third time he decided to transfer.
His landing place was the University of Utah who welcomed him with open arms. He redshirted last year due to the transfer regulation and it looks like he could be a starter for the Utes this upcoming season.
Paul injured his foot in spring ball heading into the season and due to the injury missed the first few games. However, when he came back from rehabbing the injury he was a wrecking ball. He tallied 61 total tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack and a team leading four interceptions. There's another turn to this story too, in early November it was diagnosed that the foot did not heal properly and he was shut down for the rest of the season. Paul looks to be back for his redshirt senior season and be a leader on the defense.
Phillip Dorsett, Sr., #47 WR, Fort Lauderdale Florida, ***
When thinking about the current wide receiver corp, Dorsett is kind of an afterthought in a sense because of his injury marred season in '13. During his freshman season he played in all 12 games and started once. However, he only registered one catch and played sparingly as a backup on the special teams unit. What can be his shining season so far in his career was his magical sophomore year. He again played in all 12 games, this time starting 10 and posting 1,178 all-purpose yards on offense and special teams. As note previously though, Dorsett injured his knee when playing North Carolina and his season was effectively ended after that game. He tried coming back later in the season but really had no impact on the games as he was still recovering and getting into game shape.
Dorsett started all 13 games this year and was the game breaking receiver UM hoped he'd be when they signed him four years ago. He finished the season with 36 receptions, 871 yards receiving and ten touchdowns. He had many highlights but the game that stood out for me was the Arkansas State performance where he had four catches for 201 yards. He may have helped himself the most though with his standout evaluation at the East-West Shrine game. A few analysts have even tabbed him as a possible sleeper pick in the first round. With the combine coming up if Dorsett can run the 4.1 to 4.2 speed everyone knows he has in the 40, he may not be a sleeper anymore but a definitive first round lock.
Breakdown of Part 1:
When building a team through recruiting a Program nee their top 5-6 recruits to be "home runs." Guys that can come in, possibly play right away but more importantly down the line be last and influencial contributors. To put it mildly, Al Golden and his staff didn't get that out of the top 6 recruits in this class. Yes, Chickillo was a great leader for the team and yes, Dorsett looks to be the next Cane in the NFL to be an instant impact player but that didn't help the program win games. Period.
It's not all on those two players of course. Crawford has had some success as well. The issue with the top six lie in Grimble, Grooms and Paul who could best be described as "reaches" due to the academic issue (Grooms) and to an extent their personalities (all three). Golden reached and got his hand slapped, simple as that.