Welcome back to the Class Breakdown, our monthly look at the Canes’ 2017 recruiting class. We look at the commits at each position, the outlook for recruiting that position, and recap any movement in the class or targets that have previously been mentioned.
Just as a reminder as to what numbers I'm projecting in this class, here's the chart that I've been using:
Also, when you look at the class list in the sidebar (down by the Wide Receivers section of this piece), LOOK AT ALL THE GUYS ON SCHEDULE TO ENROLL EARLY! MY GOODNESS!
Let’s get into it.
If you've been reading my recruiting posts over the past few years, you know I have a closely held recruiting rule: you have to have a QB in every recruiting class. No excuses; no exceptions. Miami is in good position to follow that guideline in this class, having made it clear their desire to bring in multiple players at this position in 2017.
The Canes have 2 QBs committed in this class: top target 4-star N'Kosi Perry and 3-star Cade Weldon. With those 2 in the boat, Miami is done at QB in this class.
Perry has been stellar this year, leading Ocala (FL) Vanguard to a 10-1 record and top 10 ranking in Florida’s 6A classification. He’s been recruited by other schools throughout his senior year, but to this point says his official visit to Miami is the only one he’s taking. Weldon has been lights out as well, totalling over 3,00 yards total offense, and getting Tampa (FL) Jefferson into the Regional Semifinals in Florida’s 5A classification.
Additionally, Perry has broken 20 year old records at Ocala (FL) Vanguard which were set by Daunte Culpepper, has been compared favorably to Usain Bolt, and became the first QB at Vanguard to beat rival Forest 4 times. Weldon dominated the second half of the season, including a 383 yard, 4 TD game, and looks to be hitting his stride. In short: this 2 person group is GOOD.
Looking ahead to the 2018 class at QB, Miami has offered several top prospects from around the country. None have committed yet, but that's understandable as there's a new staff in place, and the QB position is one where the decision to commit is arguably the most important.
Some 2018 names to know moving forward: Cameron Rising, Arthur Sitkowski, Trevor Lawrence, Emory Jones, Adrian Martinez, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Jarren Williams, and Casey Thompson, who participated at Paradise Camp and showed very well. As of now, it seems Sitkowski and Thompson are the players with the greatest connection to Miami, but it’s still very early for 2018 recruits.
In a recent post-practice media session, OC/RB coach Thomas Brown confirmed what we’ve all supposed throughout this recruiting year: Miami is looking to sign 2 RBs in this class. I’ve long operated under that assumption in this piece, and will continue to do so now that Brown has confirmed my supposition.
3-star Robert Burns is the commit at Running Back currently. He's a South Florida kid, so that fits the new recruiting paradigm to focus locally before looking Nationally. Burns is being pursued by Notre Dame, and may visit there, but at this point he’s still solidly committed to Miami. Oh, and sidenote, 3 of his teammates from Gulliver Prep signed with Miami last cycle (Joseph Jackson, Dionte Mullins, and Cedrick Wright) and UM staffer Jorge Baez used to coach Burns at Gulliver previously. So, there’s a very strong connection on many levels between this talented player and Miami.
The thing with Burns is...he hasn’t played. He’s been injured for games, and simply held out of others. When asked about Burns’ status, Gulliver’s coach has ended interview after interview for weeks on end. A player of Burns’ caliber should have more than 9 carries and 5 kickoff returns FOR THE SEASON. I mean, things happen sometimes, but this is starting to seem like there may be a bigger issue than a simple ankle injury for Burns. IDK what the issue is, but I’ll be paying attention to this as the cycle continues.
Leading the target list is 4-star Anthony McFarland. The talented player from powerhouse Dematha Catholic (Hyattsville, MD) has repeatedly said Miami, Maryland, and Alabama lead his recruitment. McFarland was close to committing to Georgia when Mark Richt and Thomas Brown were on staff there. While the pair has moved from Athens to Coral Gables, their connection with McFarland has remained steady, if not increased. McFarland has said he views OC/RB coach Brown "like a brother", and has a great connection with him. All 3 of McFarland's named top schools are in the running, and Miami is in a good place to make a push — McFarland’s mom reportedly wants him to pick Miami, and Peter Ariz of CanesInSight.com has reported that Miami leads.
McFarland previously took his Official Visit to Miami for the Florida State game in October, and the Canes are firmly entrenched in his recruitment. McFarland had a glowing review of his visit, and that seems to have pushed Miami up on his list.
Unfortunately, McFarland’s senior season ended before it got started, as he broke his fibula in DeMatha’s preseason kickoff classic. McFarland has already had surgery on the leg, and will look to make a full recovery from that injury in the coming months.
3-star Darrian Felix is an in-state option from Fort Myers, FL. He's really fast, and really good. And, on top of that, he's stated that Miami is the leader in his recruitment. So, that's a good thing. Oh, and don't let the "3-star" part fool you. Felix is super legit, and could easily get a rating bump in the near future, especially after his strong showing at Nike's The Opening . Oregon is thought to lead Miami for Felix, and has the overwhelming lead on predictions on 247sports’ Crystal Ball (full disclosure: I CB’d Felix to Oregon as well). Miami has stopped Recruiting Felix. He is no longer an option in this class, as he’s is looking to head Out of State for college.
5-star Stephen Carr is committed to USC, but visited Miami in the spring and has repeatedly had good things to say about the Canes. He's a California native, so that won't be an easy pull, but there's room to make a move. Carr has repeatedly said he's committed to USC, but evaluating all options equally. It remains unclear whether Carr will return to Coral Gables for an Official Visit during or after his senior season.
3-star Travis Etienne (Jennings, LA) is a new name on Miami’s radar and has been outstanding for his HS team so far in his senior year. Coming off a junior year with nearly 3,000 rush yards and 40 TDs, Etienne is a player with size, speed, and skill to play at this level. Texas A&M is the heavy favorite right now (100% of Crystal Ball predictions for Etienne’s commitment), but Miami recently offered and may look to make a move should they miss on McFarland. Both Etienne and the previously discussed Darrian Felix have previously visited Oregon (on the same day, no less), but with Oregon looking to take only 1 RB in this class, one of these players will be looking for a non-Oregon school to commit to in the near future, I’d wager.
As I’ve said before and has now been publicly confirmed, Miami is looking to bring in 2 RBs in this class. Miami has centered in on McFarland to pair with Burns as the 2 RB group. That being said, nearly any 2RB pairing would be a great group for the Hurricanes in this class.
Miami has commits at WR in this class from 3-star Kevaughn Dingle, and 3-star WR Evidence Njoku. Those 2 offer a good combination of size, skill, and speed collectively, and will be good additions to the WR corps in Coral Gables.
There is talk that Dingle may not be in the staff’s plans moving forward. I see dropping him from this class as a mistake. Dingle has size, decent athleticism, and good hands. I think he’s the most polished WR recruit in this class currently, and hope the chatter of his impending drop/decommitment/not-ending-up-in-this-class end up being false.
4-star ATH DeeJay Dallas is another player that could see time on offense in college. However, it’s looking more and more like he’ll play on defense and moonlight on offense. Because of that, I’m moving him to the DB part of this article.
The WR recruiting is in an interesting spot for me. Miami has talented players committed, but still lacks a top end, alpha dog, WR1 kind of player in that group. Miami is really looking at WR1 types to fill out this class now.
The top option for WR1 in this class is 5-star WR Devonta Smith from Amite, LA. He was a dominant force at both The Opening and Paradise Camp. Smith has a longstanding connection with Mark Richt; Smith was formerly committed to Richt at Georgia. After Richt was fired by UGA, Smith decommitted, and has seen his recruiting profile continue to rise. Smith's recruitment seems to be boiling down to a battle between Alabama and Miami, something that’s happened many times in recent years (see linked piece in Must Reads for more on that).
Smith was scheduled to commit to a school on August 15th. However, due to local flooding in Louisiana, and his apparent indecision for his college choice, Smith backed off that plan and will make his commit in February. That could bode well for Miami, who could use a strong season and a couple visits from Smith to make a move to add one of the top players in America to this class.
Another player at the top of the wishlist for Miami at WR is 4-star Jeremiah Holloman. This Covington, GA native has good size at 6’2" 191lbs, and very good skills. He participated in Nike’s The Opening this summer, where he showcased his skills very well.
Holloman, who has nearly 50 offers, visited Miami for the Pittsburgh game a couple weeks ago. While the early returns from that visit — one he shared with friend and Canes class ambassador DeeJay Dallas — were stellar, it seems that has worn off over time. Georgia is the overwhelming favorite for Holloman’s commitment at this time. There’s still a chance here, but it’s looking less and less like Holloman ends up in this class.
St. Thomas Aquinas 3-star WR Mike Harley is a speedster who has been literally uncoverable for quite some time. Harley dominated several Rivals Camp Series events, and every single college-based camp that he's attended, including Paradise Camp. Harley is committed to West Virginia, but has recently, and finally, gotten a scholarship offer from Miami. While Harley maintains the fact that he’s committed to West Virginia, I fully expect him to end up at Miami.
On the heels of getting Jovani Haskins and Michael Irvin II in the 2016 class, I had Miami as set at TE in this class. The Canes, however, got a commitment from 3-star Brian Polendey. He is at HS in Texas now, but his family has moved all over the country. Polendey's family moved to the Tampa area months ago, but he will finish HS in TX before enrolling at Miami in January.
Miami is done at this position in this class. Waaait a minute there, friends.
Miami has been actively recruiting 3-star Tre’ McKitty. The Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy product was once committed to the previous Miami staff, and is now committed to Oregon. There has been much speculation that McKitty’s commitment to Oregon is tenuous at best, and Miami could be making a move here. An early enrollee, McKitty has already taken an official and an unofficial visits to Miami in recent weeks. He will make his final choice known shortly before hitting a campus in January. Florida State has reportedly made a late run at McKitty as well.
Miami is off to a good start at OL after getting 3-star Zalontae Hillery, who committed at Paradise Camp, joining 4-star Navaughn Donaldson and 3-star Zach Dykstra in the commitment group. Hillery is an athletic but raw player who is teammates with 4-star ATH commit DeeJay Dallas in Brunswick, GA.
Miami is still looking to add a top end player to this group. 5-star Alex Leatherwood, an Alabama commit, is the top player Miami is after at Tackle. A native of Pensacola, FL in the panhandle, Leatherwood is actually closer to Bama that The U distance wise. That and the whole "committed to Alabama" part mean this is would take a yeoman's recruiting effort, but Miami is going to shoot their shot. And let's be clear: pulling Leatherwood would be the single biggest recruiting win of the year for Mark Richt and company. He would immediately become the best OT on the roster the moment he signed, and getting a player of this caliber away from Alabama and everybody else in America would be seismic for Miami. Leatherwood attended Paradise Camp, and could be in line to take an Official Visit to Coral Gables, but that seems unlikely.
3-star Kadeem Telfort, a Florida Commit, was once committed to Miami, and the Canes are working to flip him back. Not only has Telfort had multiple commitments, but multiple HS transfers as well. He has gone to several Miami area schools, ending up at Booker T. Washington for his senior year. He's got a good frame and has reshaped his body, losing about 50lbs of bad weight. He's a player Miami wants him badly and will recruit until the very end. Telfort will take official visits in December before enrolling at his chosen school in January.
4-star Kai-Leon Herbert, a Michigan commit, is another player Miami is chasing at Offensive Tackle. He has the size and skills to be an impact player for Miami at a position of great need. Herbert, who attends Ft. Lauderdale (FL) American Heritage, is yet another player Miami is trying to flip at OT. Miami will undoubtedly play the "early PT" and "family connection" cards with Herbert as National Signing Day nears.
4-star Tedarrell Slaton is also on the board for Miami at OLine. He is another local player and teammates with Herbert at American Heritage. Slaton has been to Miami for an unofficial visit, but has no plans to return to Coral Gables for an official visit as of now. His recruitment has been played very close to the vest, so it’s hard to get a good read on the situation. Regardless, Miami will look to get Slaton on campus for an official visit as this cycle progresses.
4-star Adrian Ealy is another player Miami is targeting at Tackle. He's a Baton Rouge native who
attends University Lab School, which happens to be located on LSU's campus recently transferred to East Ascension HS in Gonzales, LA (about 30 minutes from LSU’s campus) for his senior year. Ealy has said he's interested in Miami, but the fact that LSU gets virtually any Louisiana-native player they want means this will be an incredibly tough pull for Miami. As of late, there are conflicting reports about Miami’s connection to Ealy. While Canesport reported he’s in the process of scheduling an OV, CanesInSight and others have reported that Miami is no longer actively recruiting Ealy.
3-star Toryque Bateman is a player that is still on Miami’s radar. Once thought to be a virtual lock for Michigan, Bateman has since expanded his horizons to consider multiple teams, including Miami. Bateman has visited Louisville on several occasions, and maintains contact with Canes OL coach Stacy Searels. As with any recruit, Bateman needs to get on campus at Miami for an Official Visit to have a chance here. But, there is a connection, and Miami is looking to build on it to get a talented player at a position of need to join this class.
4-star OL Caleb Chandler is a player that has only recently popped up on the radar for Miami. The Jefferson (GA) native has good size (6’5" 295lbs) and length to play tackle in college, but is more likely to end up at guard. He has the skills to develop into a nice player in the years to come. Chandler grew up a big Mark Richt fan, and has built a nice connection with OL coach Stacy Searels in recent months. An additional aid for Miami’s pursuit of Chandler: his former teammate at Jefferson is Miami QB Evan Shirreffs. He might be a new name, but Chandler is a player to know as the cycle progresses for Miami.
Miami has also offered 4-star JUCO OL Elliot Baker. He’s currently committed to Alabama, so....yeah. The bigger point is, as always, that Baker doesn’t have a visit to Coral Gables scheduled. Miami could offer other JUCO OL in the future as the Canes look to build depth and game-ready talent along the line.
Another player Miami has recently offered is 4-star OT Thayer Munford. A top 300 player in this class, the Ohio-native Munford has the size and skills to be a nice player in time. It’s too soon to tell if Miami can make a move on Munford, but throwing out the offer to a player that the Canes had reportedly been evaluating is a good thing for this OL class.
Another player that should be on the radar for Miami is 3-star JUCO OT Robert Valencia. Teammates with Elliot Baker at City College of San Francisco, some think that Valencia is a better prospect than the Alabama commit Baker. Valencia has mid-tier offers, and Oregon recently got involved. But Miami would be wise to make a proactive move and get involved with Valencia now before a bunch of other P5 schools do the same.
Miami needs depth and talent at OL in this class. The 3 players currently committed are a great start, but there's still work to be done up front in this class.
Recruiting Radar: visit preview and mailbag 11/5
The Canes return home, and several HS recruits will join them for their official visits this weekend. That and more in this installment of the Recruiting Radar. And, has the best Q&A I've ever done. Check it out.
Miami holds commitments from 3-star Jon Ford, 4-star D.J. Johnson, and 3-star Jonathan Garvin. Ford is a talented but raw player at DT with a 6'5" 280lb frame and brute strength. He reminds me a lot of RJ McIntosh coming out of HS; similar build, similar skills. Johnson is a top 100 player in this class. The 6’5" 240lb dynamo off the edge has the frame to grow to 275 without losing burst. Garvin is a good player with a projectable ceiling and good pass rushing skills. And, to kick off his senior season, he had 7 sacks, and an INT-TD against FSU QB commit James Blackman in the kickoff classic on August 19th. Garvin’s senior year ended with 97 tackles (59 tackle for loss) and 18 sacks in 9 games. So, that’s pretty decent.
Plenty of teams are chasing the current DL commits. Ford is being contacted by multiple teams. Johnson has taken and will take visits to other teams, and there was chatter he was going to flip to Washington after an OV there. That talk has cooled recently, but Miami still has work to do to keep him in this class. Johnson’s last OV is scheduled for Miami, so that bodes well. As was the case many times in the last cycle, Tennessee is trying to get involved with a Miami commit, this time Garvin. We’ll see what his recruitment looks like moving forward.
Miami has said that they are comfortable with Ford being the only player they take at DT in this class. Another option to join him at current would be 3-star Kane Taylor. He has a good frame and plays with aggression. He can get up the field in both run defense and pass rush situations, and is exactly the kind of player that could be a great fit in Miami's projected 4-3 scheme. Should Taylor decide to go elsewhere, Miami is fine with a DT class of Ford by himself.
Looking at having multiple options on the board, Miami recently offered 4-star Elijah Conliffe. Conliffe is a better prospect than Taylor, and would be a nice addition to this class, no matter if it were in addition to or in replacement of Ford. Alabama and Louisville are thought to be at the top of Conliffe’s recruitment, but he maintains that Miami is a viable option for him. We’ll see.
The story is a bit different at Defensive End. Miami is looking to bring in multiple players at this position. For now, I'm putting that number at 3, considering last year's class, and the potential to lose multiple players from this position group to the NFL after this season.
3-star Jordan Wright is an interesting prospect. A star basketball player, Wright is
starting to devote himself more to football, and it's paying off. Not this summer, though. He's playing AAU basketball instead of football. Wright has good length at DE and the athleticism you'd expect from a basketball player. He is teammates with DL commit Jon Ford, so Miami has that added recruiting benefit. Miami had been heavily pursuing Wright, but that seems to have cooled recently.
3-star Owen Carney is another good local prospect. Making the move to Miami Central from Miramar, Carney is a player who has a big upside. Miami, Florida State, and Duke are at the front of Carney's recruitment currently. In a perfect world, Miami would take one of those Carney or Wright to close this DL class.
While Miami’s DL class is starting to take shape, there’s still room to add pieces. In any event, that 3 player foundation is a very good start for Miami at this position in this cycle.
3-star Waynmon Steed is committed to Miami in this class. He is one of the longest tenured commits to the Hurricanes, having given his pledge to the previous coaching staff back in February of 2015. Steed missed most of his junior year of HS due to a shoulder injury, but should be one of the anchors for a Miami Central defense that ranks among the best in America. Steed also revealed that he played the 2016 season on a torn knee ligament, which will require surgery. He will have that surgery on December 2nd, and enroll at Miami in January.
After being committed to Florida State for several months, 3-star Bradley Jennings Jr. did what many predicted he would and flipped his commitment to the Hurricanes shortly after Paradise Camp. Jennings Jr. is an FSU legacy, but his father is originally from Carol City, so there’s familiarity with South Florida. Jennings Jr. is solid with his commitment to Miami.
The 3rd commit in this group is 3-star LB De'Andre Wilder. Wilder’s status with Miami in this class was reportedly up and down throughout this cycle, but the Canes decided they wanted the dynamic edge rushing Wilder in this class, and he wanted to stay home, so he committed to The U. Already 19 years and 9 months old, Wilder has aged out of HS eligibility. While it was thought that he would be an Early Enrollee, Wilder has academic requirements left that will likely preclude that from happening. Don’t take that to mean "bad grade issues", though; Wilder should be able to qualify at Miami. This is just a matter of him not being able to finish his remaining HS credits to enroll early, so he should be on campus in May, barring any missteps along the way.
LATE EDIT (because I forgot another guy I shouldn't have)
Miami may not be done at LB in this class. 4-star JUCO LB Gary Johnson is a player that has recently popped up on the board for Miami. This one-time Alabama commit opened up his recruitment due to the SEC rule that a player has to have stayed at their JUCO for 3 consecutive semesters before transferring to a member school. Now that he's on the open market again, Johnson's recruitment has been a whirlwind. Miami just recently got involved because, prior to his decommitment for the above SEC rule reason, Johnson was absolutely, 100% going to Alabama, so there was no need to even inquire. Now? Things have changed. Miami is working to get Johnson on campus for an official visit. Johnson won't graduate from JUCO/community college until May, so he won't be an early enrollee. BUT, that gives Miami time in December to build the connection with the #1 ranked JUCO LB before (hopefully) getting him on campus for an OV in January ahead of National Signing Day.
With Steed, Jennings Jr., and now Wilders committed, Miami is in a good spot at LB in this class, even moreso when you consider the 2016 class of Mike Pinckney, Shaq Quarterman, and Zach McCloud are all already starting on defense, and playing well. Add Johnson to the group, and that's even better.
Miami has commitments from
4-star ATH Christopher Henderson, a former Miami commit, is one of the CB targets for Miami. The HS running back profiles best on the defensive side of the ball moving forward. Henderson will need a year or two to learn the technique of the CB position, but he has 4.35 and good length, so he would still be a good get for Miami, even if he’s not a day 1 starter. Henderson has been heavily linked with Florida for months, even before his decommitment from Miami. Alabama has recently gotten involved too, but I don’t think Henderson is a take for them. This is going to be a UM-UF recruiting battle in my opinion.
3-star DB Brian Edwards, another former Miami commit, is another target for the Canes at DB in this class. Edwards’ decommitment was reportedly because he wanted to "feel the love" of the recruiting process from other schools, and is something that happens often, especially with kids from South Florida. Edwards wants to play CB in college, but he has great potential as a centerfield-type FS. Miami is pushing the ability and opportunity for Edwards to do both: play FS in some sets, and play CB against taller receivers in others. Louisville, where Edwards was committed as a HS Junior, is the biggest threat for Miami here.
4-star CB Latavious Brini is another player on the radar for Miami. He’s another tall CB at 6’3", and has good length. He’s not the most polished player, but Brini’s size allows him to make up for some mistakes. A one-time Georgia commitment, Brini’s recruitment seems to have stalled. He’s visited Miami unofficially and has been to multiple games, but there doesn’t seem to have been much movement there, and there hasn’t been much chatter about him communicating with other teams. As of now, it stands to reason to think that Brini will end up in this class for Miami, but a surprise commitment elsewhere could happen just as easily.
Late edit, because I forgot to include this guy the first time around....
3-star CB Antwan Collier is yet another player Miami is evaluating at DB. Another taller player at the DB position, the 6'3" Collier doubles as QB and DB for his HS team, Miami Southridge. The one-time Illinois commit has been on the radar for Miami for a while now, and has said in multiple interviews that if offered, he would commit to Miami on the spot. With Miami being Collier's dream school, the feeling is that Miami can slowplay him until all other options are exhausted and still come in late and get Collier to commit. This is very much the same recruiting gameplan as Miami employed with CB Sheldrick Redwine a couple of years ago. Both Redwine and Collier had/have teammates committed to Miami in their given years, both stated openly that they want to play at Miami, and both have good size and developing skills at the DB position. From the slowplay aspect, Collier is a lower plan A/plan B option at this time, but it is very possible that he ends up in this class for Miami.
3-star Kaheem Roach is a player Miami is now evaluating at CB. He’s teammates with Brian Edwards at Miramar, and currently committed to Louisville. Roach has a good frame, good athleticism, and good skills. He’s a year or 2 from being a major contributor, but he could definitely play at Miami. Roach is a fringe player, and probably won’t end up in this class.
3-star Shawn Davis is a player who is also on the board for Miami. The Miami Southridge star has offers from teams all over Florida and the South. Right now, Florida is thought to be the leader for Davis, but Miami will continue to recruit him hard. Several of Davis' teammates are committed to Miami, like S Billy Gibson, and 2018 WR Daquris Wiggins.
3-star Derrick Smith is a dynamic player at the Safety position. He had previously said that Miami is his recruiting leader, but that may have changed. Smith is a good player, but Miami seems to have moved him into "plan b" territory — and that might be generous. It stands to reason that Miami would take all the players listed above him in this section before Smith. Could he end up here? Sure. But, that won't happen before Miami has exhausted efforts with others at this position. Oh, and don't let the position listed in the link fool you: Smith's future is on defense.
Miami loses players off the top of the roster at DB, so depth AND TALENT is sorely needed in this class. The options available that I’ve spoken about are okay, but there is still much to be desired.
After getting P Jack Spicer to transfer from Florida, and K Diego Marquez to transfer to from JUCO in 2016, Miami doesn't have a pressing need at Kicker.
That means that any commits at these positions would be gravy. To that end, Miami recently picked up a commitment from legacy P Zach Feagles. If the name sounds familiar, that's because Feagles' dad Jeff is a Miami alum and played in the NFL for 22 years. So, he knows a thing or two about punting, and passed that knowledge along to his son. Yeah, that'll work.
In addition to Feagles, Miami has offered national #1 kicker Adam Stack from Hawaii. Stack has visited Coral Gables unofficially already in the spring, so this isn't just a "throw a verbal offer and hope" situation.
Getting the #1 kicker in America would be awesome for Miami, but it would still be a luxury. But, I'm good for luxuries. I'd rather have a DT or OL instead, but if Stack wants to be a Cane, I'm here for it.
That’s it for this installment of the Class Breakdown. Comment away, guys.