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Rebuilding The U: How does the roster stack up vs Title contenders?

Mark Richt ran a program at Georgia with some of the best talent in America. How does the Canes' roster stack up, and what steps need to be made to help get it to an elite level?

Once upon a time, Miami had the best roster in America. What will it take for Mark Richt to get that kind of talent in Orange and Green again?
Once upon a time, Miami had the best roster in America. What will it take for Mark Richt to get that kind of talent in Orange and Green again?
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

With the Recruiting Dead Period behind us, and the first official visit weekend before National Signing Day now here, let's take a different look at the situation in Coral Gables.

The Canes' new coach, Mark Richt, ran a top notch program in his time at Georgia. Say what you will about the W/L record at the end of his tenure, but it's undeniable that Richt's team was among the most talented in America. And, with him now sporting the orange and green of his alma matter, that leads me to one question:

How long until CMR has the Miami roster as packed with talent as the one he had at Georgia?

To answer with question, I'll take a 2 step approach

1. Evaluate the roster, player by player, under the guise of "would this player be on the roster at Georgia right now?"

2. Once we have the number of "roster worthy" players, look forward to what is needed to bring the total talent level up to where it needs to be.

Everybody with me so far? Good. Let's begin.

What is the "Georgia standard" for talent?

In his Blue Chip ratio piece, SBNation National Recruiting analyst Bud Elliott's research found that Georgia was one of the few teams in America whose roster has more 4-star/5-star players than 3-star/2-star players. According to the article, Georgia's Blue Chip ratio was 51% Blue Chip players. That's 43 players at this talent level.

In the same article, Elliott noted that Miami's Blue Chip ratio is 31%. That's 27 players at thus talent level. So, there's a substantial gap between the talent level on the roster at Georgia and Miami.

And, for the purposes of this evaluation, we're looking at Georgia's roster because Mark Richt is the coach who put that roster together, and also the coach tasked with rebuilding Miami's roster. Simple comparison. So now that that's settled, let's begin.

Step 1: Which Canes make the cut?

Quarterback (3): Brad Kaaya, Jack Allison, Malik Rosier (conditional).

Brad Kaaya is one of the premier QBs in all of College Football, and an easy choice to make the roster. Jack Allison is a top recruit who also would have a place on the roster. Malik Rosier is a bubble player, in my opinion. Obviously, with Georgia running a pro-style system I'd lean towards no, but he's made strides in the 2 years he's been at Miami. And, with Georgia's lack of depth/talent (outside of Jacob Eason) at QB, he slides by. Barely.

Running Back (2): Joseph Yearby, Mark Walton

Yearby was able to pound out a 1,000 yard season behind an abjectly terrible offensive line. He's shifty and quick as a runner, and can be a weapon in the passing game. Walton is a very talented player, whom Richt was recruiting to Georgia. He's dynamic both as a runner and receiver (maybe better as a receiver, honestly), and even with Georgia having a wealth of talent at RB, both these players make the cut.

Wide Receiver (2): Stacy Coley, Lawrence Cager

Another position with only 2 players who have the requisite talent level. Coley was a Freshman All-American, and rebounded nicely as a junior after a terrible sophomore slump. He is primed for a huge breakout season as the #1 target. Lawrence Cager played very well as a freshman, and has a combination of size (6'5") and skill that would fit on any roster in America.

Tight End (3): Standish Dobard, Christopher Herndon IV, David Njoku

The top 3 players at this position for Miami are among the best in the Country. Dobard is a rugged blocker who flashes good hands, but isn't used in the passing game too frequently. Herndon IV might be the best prospect of all, with his combination of size, speed, and catching ability. Njoku is a physical freak who is a matchup nightmare in the slot. He's got work to do on his blocking, but you'd be hard pressed to find a better receiver from the slot TE position than Njoku.

Offensive Line (3): Tyree St. Louis, Trevor Darling (conditional), Kc McDermott (conditional)

St. Louis is BY FAR the most talented OL on the roster, so his inclusion is a no brainer for me. Darling and McDermott are both miscast as tackles, but if you move them inside to guard, then I think they could at least be on the roster, though they may have to compete for a starting spot.

Defensive Line (6): Chad Thomas, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Gerald Willis, Kendrick Norton, Richard McIntosh, Demetrius Jackson (conditionally)

Despite the run of poor on-field performance from the DL in recent years, this position has the most talent that would carry over to a Georgia-type roster. Chad Thomas and Gerald Willis were both 5-star recruits, so that speaks for itself. Muhammad has the tools to be an elite edge player. Norton showed very good promise as a freshman. McIntosh has an interesting combination of size and strength, and his late-season development means he could at least be a rotation player. Demetrius Jackson is the wild-card; the variance for his ceiling for development is probably the greatest of all these players, but, if he hits the top end, he could be a 1st round pick. For that potential alone, he gets a spot on the roster.

Linebacker (5): Juwon Young, Jermaine Grace, Zach McCloud, Shaq Quarterman, Darrion Owens

Another position with a good number of players who would be on a Georgia-type roster, but there isn't a top end star out of this group. Grace is probably the best player, but undersized. Young has developed nicely in his first 2 years. Owens was having a very nice season prior to his season-ending injury. McCloud and Quarterman are the top 2 recruits at this position, and both actually held scholarship offers from Georgia, so for that alone they have a place on the roster

Cornerback (2): Sheldrick Redwine, Corn Elder (conditionally)

Redwine has size and skills and is 100% an SEC corner. He's easily on the roster. Elder, while good, is still undersized. He has a provisional spot because you can move him around to different DB spots, and also use him in the return game (rumor has it he's pretty good at that).

Safety (2): Jamal Carter, Jaquan Johnson

Carter is an impressive physical specimen who has the talent to play with anybody in America. Johnson is a future star, and flashed high level performance as a freshman.

Special Teams (2): Michael Badgley, Justin Vogel

Both kicking specialists for Miami are fantastic players, and among the best in America at their positions. If that doesn't give you a spot on the roster, I don't know what does.

Offensive players who'd make roster: 13

Defensive players who'd make roster: 17 (including specialists)

Total players who'd make roster: 30

Step 2: How long until the full roster meets the Georgia-like talent level?

To do this part, let's look at numbers:

Let's assume every recruiting class is between 20 and 25 players. To hit the Blue Chip ratio, that means that Miami would add between 10 and 13 4-star/5-star players per year.

At the same time as Miami is adding talent, there would be attrition due to graduation, leaving for the NFL, or transfer, of 8 to 10 players per year (remember, Miami only has 30 players of this talent level on the team currently).

What's the magic number of Blue Chip players on the roster to meet the Georgia-like talent standard? 43. How'd I get there? NCAA scholarship roster size limit is 85. So, 1 more than 50% of the roster would be 43 (0.5 more than half, but you get the idea).

Adding Blue Chip talent in this class would put Miami up to 35 players at this talent level, based on current commits. Let's bump that up to 38 for safety's sake. And from there, we begin.

Starting from the 38 number we just got to, if Miami were to lose 8 Blue Chip level players a year and add 12 per year, that's a positive talent influx of 4 players per year. So, the numbers would be something similar to:

2017 - 42 Blue Chip players on roster

2018 - 46 Blue Chip players on roster

And, just that quickly, the Miami roster is now > 50% Blue Chip talent, which was the goal we were looking for all along.


Miami has plenty of high level talent on the roster, but still has room for improvement from a talent standpoint. Mark Richt did a great job building up the Georgia roster, and, if the numbers are near what I've set forth in this article, he will have a roster as talented as the one he left in Georgia within 3 years.

Now, talent obviously isn't the only component to playing football. You have to have coaching and execution as well. So, while I think that the roster is 3 years away from consistently rivaling those of the top teams in America, if Richt can get the Canes to play consistently to their ceiling for potential, wins could come very early in his tenure, and that could help accelerate the ability to add talented players to the roster through recruiting.

There's a good foundation of talent for Richt and company to work with. But, to start winning big (winning ACC Coastal, winning ACC overall, or more), the new staff will have to upgrade the depth of talent on the roster over the next few years.