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Miami Hurricanes Recruiting Look Ahead: South Florida Defensive Targets in 2016

In part 2 of the Recruiting look ahead for the #Swag16 class, we focus on the top defensive targets from South Florida, and selected locales around the rest of the State.

LB commit Shaq Quarterman is one of the best in Florida. Who might join him in the #Swag16 class on defense? Find out here
LB commit Shaq Quarterman is one of the best in Florida. Who might join him in the #Swag16 class on defense? Find out here

Yesterday, we covered the Offensive targets from South Florida and around the rest of the State. Today, we shift focus to the side of the ball that is still looking for the difference maker it's been missing: the Defense.

And away we go.


The first position group is the one that still needs the most attention. The Canes have added quality talent at the edge/rush positions, such as 4-star DE Al-Quaddin Muhammad in 2014, 5-star DE Chad Thomas in 2014, and 4-star DE Scott Patchan in 2015.

But Miami hasn't been able to find the game changing, elite talent at DT in recent years. The list of misses is long but I won't belabor that point here. Miami did get DTs Kendrick Norton and Ryan Fines in 2015's recruiting class, but are still looking for the high 4-star or 5-star cant miss player at that spot. With an increased level of talent at DT in Florida in this cycle as opposed to 2015, hopefully Al Golden and Co. can find the player we've been searching for over the past few years.

Joseph Jackson (6'5" 237lbs), Gulliver Prep, Miami, FL - Miami commit

Jackson, a 4-star rated recruit, is a powerful and disruptive force from the DE spot. He's big, and fast, and can be seen making plays all over the field. Jackson also spotlights as a TE on offense in HS, but make no mistake about it: his future is on defense. And, as Jackson is teammates with fellow commits WR Dionte Mullins and S Cedrick Wright, all of whom were at one time coached by Miami staffer Jorge Baez, his connection to this class is very strong.

Even with his early commitment, Jackson will be a highly pursued player. Alabama, North Carolina, Ohio State, and South Carolina are other teams who have already offered, and more figure to do that same as Jackson moves to his senior year.

Joshua Uche (6'2" 212lbs), Columbus HS, Miami, FL - Miami commit

A tough player from a very good HS program, Uche plays both DE and OLB for Columbus. He's smart, and tough, and plays with an edge. He's a little shorter than the players Miami has taken at this position in recent years, but he has the skills to be a nice player here.

Jaquwan Nelson (6'4" 230lbs), Ft. Lauderdale HS, Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Miami commit

Nelson is another player who can wreak havoc from the DE position. He has good length, and a frame that can support more weight as he continues to develop. Nelson seemed to come from nowhere, but he was a known commodity in South Florida. Much like Demetrius Jackson a few years ago, this is a player whose recruitment will take a huge jump in his senior year. (Yes, I know there were other factors with Jackson, but the overall point remains the same).

While Nelson's offer list is less than impressive currently, I expect more P5 teams to offer him once they've seen him in the spring evaluation period.

Shavar Manuel (6'5" 262lbs), IMG Academy, Bradenton, FL

Now, here's a player who doesn't need the spring evaluation season to see his recruitment pick up. Manuel is a beast. He's a 5-star recruit, ranked #1 at strong-side DE, and is the #3 overall recruit in this class at current. So, yeah, he's pretty good. He already has a college ready body, and is virtually unblockable at the HS level. Everybody in America wants him on their team.

Manuel has visited Miami on a couple of occasions, but the Canes seem to be running behind in his recruitment. Most consider Florida State the far and away favorite to secure his commitment, but they aren't the only other school in on him. Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Clemson, and a host of others are also pursuing Manuel. I don't know when he'll commit, but this is a player who most top schools won't stop recruiting until his NLI is signed, faxed, and filed.

Keyshon Camp (6'4: 269lbs), Lake Gibson HS, Lakeland, FL

Finally, we meet the DT who could help take this defense to the next level. Camp has had an interesting recruitment (well, normal by today's standards): he committed to Miami, then decommitted 3 weeks later. He said at the time that he didn't feel comfortable talking to other schools while committed, and that's why he decided to fully re-open his recruitment.

Camp is a very good DT, and he'll have his choice of college destination. Miami has maintained that he is the #1 DT on their board, and will keep recruiting him heavily. They won't be alone, however. Camp lists offers from several SEC schools, as well as USC.

Nick Bosa (6'4" 265lbs), St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

If the name looks familiar, it should. Bosa is the younger brother of All-American DE Joey Bosa. He, like his brother, is a terror at the DE position. I watched him play several games last year, and the opposing offense did their best to run the majority of their plays away from "Little Bear". If they ran his way, bad things happened.

I'll keep this one short: there's a very slim chance Bosa picks Miami, if any chance at all. But, he's a top national recruit in Miami's backyard, and you have to at least try to recruit him.

Brian Burns (6'5" 212lbs), American Heritage, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Burns is the 4th American Heritage player mentioned in this series. And, he might just have the highest ceiling out of any of them. Burns is long and lean, weighing only 215lbs in his junior year. He has the frame to add weight, and he'll need to do that when he moves to the next level. At his size, his biggest strength is his speed and quickness off the edge. There are few, if any, HS offensive linemen who can keep up with his first step.

Burns is a 3-star recruit, but I could see him earning a higher grade with added weight over the summer and another strong season in his senior year. Auburn, Florida,and South Carolina are a few of the other schools who have offered Burns to this point.

Patrick Bethel (6'3" 243lbs), Vero Beach HS, Vero Beach, FL

Bethel is a familiar name to die-hard Canes fans. His father Randy played Tight End for the Canes and was a member of the 1987 and 1989 National Championship teams. The younger Bethel is a consensus 4-star recruit, and has several quality offers to choose from. Miami is largely viewed as the team to beat here.

Mailk Barrow (6'3" 245lbs), IMG Academy, Bradenton, FL

Barrow is yet another 4-star recruit who Miami has already offered. He'll team up with Shavar Manuel on the DL at IMG Academy, a sight which will instill terror and fear to opposing offenses all season long. Barrow has already garnered offers from Miami, Michigan, Ohio State, and many others. Expect to see even more teams join the fray in the chase for his services.

Keldric Preston (6'4" 240lbs), Robinson HS, Tampa, FL

Keeping with the theme of height and length at the DE spot, Preston is a player who fits that mold. He's a good athlete who uses his size well for this stage of development. Like most HS players, Preston will need to add weight and strength as he continues to develop. Miami leads FIU, Mississippi State and others.

Other available players: Aaron Thompson (Ft. Lauderdale, FL). Nolan DeFranco (West Orange, FL), Terrell Lucas (Miramar, FL), Jachai Polite (Daytona Beach, FL), Jordan Woods (Ocala, FL)


Different than Defensive Line, which has a need at a specific position, Linebacker has needs an available roster spots at across the board. This lack of depth on the roster is equal parts graduation (Denzel Perryman and Thurston Armbrister) and dismissals for a variety of unacceptable (and some criminal) incidents (Eddie Johnson, Alex Figueroa, and JaWand Blue).

Next to Quarterback, Linebacker is probably the position that lacks depth the most. With that being the case, I'd expect Miami to recruit this position heavily in this cycle. We should see multiple players sign in this class at this position.

Shaq Quarterman (6'1" 239lbs), Oakleaf HS, Orange Park, FL  - Miami commit

This is the kind player who can come in and contribute right away. Quarterman,t he #3 ranked ILB nationally in this class, has been all Miami since he committed. Quarterman is the prototypical, run-stuffing linebacker that every team wants to have. He's also a competitive powerlifter who has made it to States the last 2 years, a testament to his physical strength. Unlike most HS kids, Quarterman's physique won't keep him from contributing early in his collegiate career. And, like most top prospects, there's no shortage of suitors for Quarterman's services. Teams such as Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, and Michigan are vying to sway him to their schools.

Zach McCloud (6'2" 225lbs), Santaluces Community HS, Lake Worth, FL - Miami commit

McCloud, who hails from the same school that once produced Miami legend Vince Wilfork, is a fierce hitting LB. He has good size, and a frame that he could easily add weight to. This 4-star recruit has also fielded offers from many ACC and SEC schools. McCloud can come downhill to support the run, or turn and run in coverage.

Michael Pinckney (6'1" 215lbs), Raines HS, Jacksonville, FL - Miami commit

Much like Quarterman, Pinckney is a powerful and instinctual player at the ILB position. Pinckney is another hard hitter whose game profiles well for translation to the next level. And, getting and keeping Pinckney's commitment is another win for this staff in Jacksonville, a city where recruiting success has been tough to come by. Pinckney holds offers from Florida, Arkansas, Cincinnati, and Georgia Tech, among others.

Greg Simmons (6'2" 225lbs), Ft. Pierce Central HS, Ft. Pierce, FL - Miami commit

The last of the 4 commits at this position, Simmons is a player who will probably need a year or 2 at the next level before being a full time contributor. That's not to say that he doesn't have skills, however. SImmons flies around the field, making plays from sideline to sideline. He models his style of play after former Hurricane LB Sean Spence, so much so that Simmons wears Spence's jersey number: 31.

Devin Bush Jr. (6'0' 220lbs). Flanagan HS, Pembroke Pines, FL

Bush is a very talented player with good pedigree. He's the son of former FSU and NFL DB Devin Bush (who actually coaches Devin's HS team). Being the son of a former NFLer and coach means that Bush Jr. has been around the game his whole life, and has an advanced understanding of the game due to this fact.

Bush is not just the centerpiece of his HS defense; he's the heart and soul of the entire team. Other players seem to love playing with him, and it's easy to see why. He's physical, and incredibly instinctual, and makes plays all over the field. Bush's talents have earned him an invite to Nike's The Opening this July, as well as the Under Armour All-American game earlier this week. Bush holds 42 offers from teams all over the country. But, as of now, the prevailing thought is that he'll follow his father's footsteps to FSU.

Emmett Rice (6'3" 195lbs), Norland Senior HS, Miami, FL - FSU commit

The only player on this list who is committed elsewhere, Rice is a player with very good skills, and projectable frame. He hails from the school that produced Duke Johnson and Ereck Flowers, so maybe that will come into play should Miami try to make a run at Rice during this cycle.

Other available players: Alexy Jean-Baptiste (Coconut Creek, FL), Jonathan Jones (Orlando, FL), Dominique Ross (Jacksonville, FL)


Tyler Byrd (5'11.5" 195lbs), Naples HS, Naples, FL - Miami commit

Byrd is a player who is on his second commitment, having flipped from UF to Miami earlier this spring. He's got good size and good coverage skills. He can play outside or in the slot, and has all the physical tools you look for in a DB. A 4-star recruit, Byrd plays both ways for his HS team, and has offers from many ACC and SEC schools. You can be sure that he will be a heavily pursued player throughout the duration of this cycle.

Cedrick Wright (5'9" 180lbs), Gulliver Prep, Miami, FL - Miami commit

The 3rd Gulliver Prep player currently committed to The U, Wright is an undersized player, but you wouldn't know that from his film. He flies around the field, and can frequently be seen coming downhill in run support. He profiles best as a SS at the next level. Wright has offers from  Auburn, Clemson, and Ohio State, among others.

Deion Jackson (6'2" 190lbs), Hallandale HS, Hallandale, FL  - Miami commit

Jackson is the wildcard of this commit group. He is a very under-the-radar player after having missed the majority of his junior season due to injury. But, don't let the fact that you hadn't heard of him have you think less of him. Jackson is a player. I wouldn't be surprised to see him end up as a 4-star caliber player.

Jackson is a big corner and has good height, size, and fluid hips. Jackson only lists 2 offers as of the time I'm writing this article: Miami and Temple. Jackson could be the steal of the year. Once teams have a chance to see him during spring evaluations, and he hits the camp circuit over the summer, rest assured that more offers will be on the way.

James Wiggins (5'11" 180lbs), South Dade Senior HS, Homestead, FL - commit

Wiggins is another player who has good coverage skills, and plays with a chip on his shoulder. Like many of the other commits in this class currently, he plays at a big school and faces very good competition on a weekly basis. Wiggins has matched up with top WR target Freddie Pinder on multiple occasions, and usually plays his best in the biggest games. Wiggins, like Jackson, doesn't have a host of offers currently. But, if you trust your evaluation process, that shouldn't matter. He won't start from Day 1 at The U, but this is definitely a kid who  can carve out a nice career here in the years to come.

Devin Gil (6'1" 205lbs), Flanagan HS, Pembroke Pines, FL - Miami commit

A teammate of Bush Jr., Gil is a hybrid LB/S who plays many roles over the course of a game. He has good size, and moves well going forward. There are many opinions about Gil's talent and future projection. 1 recruiting analyst  I talked to said flatly "Devin Gil CANNOT play at Miami". A different recruiting analyst said "this is exactly the kind of hybrid player who will help take your defense to the next level." So, there isn't a consensus on Gil as yet, to say the least. However, playing for a top team in Florida's largest HS classification, Gil will have a full season against top competition to prove his worth.

Trayvon Mullen (6'2" 175lbs), Coconut Creek HS, Coconut Creek, FL

The top CB prospect in the state and one of the top at the position nationally, Mullen is a player who Miami is recruiting very heavily. Mullen has been to campus for a few recruiting events, and has said in interviews that this repeated exposure to Miami has enabled him to start building a connection with the staff and players.

Even with that being the case, don't expect a decision from Mullen anytime soon. He and teammate WR Binjimen Victor will be attending Nike's The Opening as well as playing in the Under Armour All-American game, Mullen holds 47 offers from all across the country, and is a top 50 player in this class. Even if he makes a commitment this summer or fall, expect his recruitment to go all the way to National Signing Day.

Malek Young (5'10"180lbs), Coconut Creek HS, Coconut Creek, FL

Young is yet another talented player from Coconut  Creek, joining Mullen and Victor as the top players on that team. He is a dynamic athlete, and makes plays all over the field. While he doesn't have Mullen's height, Young more than makes up for it with smart and physical play. Young has more than 30 offers, with Georgia currently being the favorite to secure his services.

Jamel Cook (6'5" 190lbs), Central Senior HS, Miami, FL - FSU commit

Cook is a jumbo athlete at the DB position. He uses his size well, and can disrupt the passing game with ease. After being overshadowed by previous teammates at Miami Central, Cook has stepped into the spotlight over the course of this winter and early spring.

After once saying that Miami was his leader, Cook has since committed to Florida State. With the roll that FSU is on both on the field and in recruiting, it will take a Herculean effort to get him to flip his commitment away from the Seminoles.

Craig Watts (6'0" 180lbs), Gibbs HS, St. Petersberg, FL

Watts is a 4-star rated recruit, and atop 10 Safety in this class. While he's been more closely linked with the likes of Florida and Notre Dame, this is a player who would be a nice addition to this recruiting class.

Romeo Finley (6'1" 183lbs), Niceville HS, Niceville, FL

Another 4-star recruit at the Safety position, Finley is from Florida....barely. Niceville is in the panhandle, and so far west that it's actually in the Central timezone. in spite of that, Miami is actively involved in his recruitment, as are Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, and many others. Just like Watts, Finley is a very good prospect who Miami would find room for, should he choose Coral Gables as his collegiate destination.

Devin Studstill (6'1"175lbs), Palm Beach Gardens HS, Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Studstill is a nice prospect from the South Florida area. He has gained recognition recently for his work on one of the top HSFB defenses in the State of Florida. Studstill has a good frame, with room to grow as he matures. Joining Miami in offering Studstill  are Notre Dame, Michigan State, Louisville, Wisconsin, and FAU, among others. This is a player who is on Miami's radar, but this summer and fall will determine how high the Canes are on him.

Other available players: Spencer Perry (Bradenton, FL), Antwaine Richardson (Delray Beach, FL), Dontye Carriere-Williams (Miami, FL), James Pierre (Deerfield Beach, FL), Armunz Matthews (Tallahassee, FL)


It's very infrequent that you see a D1 kicker in South Florida. There is an Aguayo brother who kicks for IMG, but I think it's safe to say that he'll be headed to Tallahassee for his college football.

Other than one of the skill players doubling as a Kick or Punt returner, Miami will need to look elsewhere for a special teams recruit.

That's it for the Defense. Tomorrow, we take a look at some Out of State, National recruits. Until then, leave a comment and be sure to vote in the poll below.