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Playing Hooky Part 2: 2013 Canes Recruiting Class Review

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How did Coach Golden do in recruiting four years later? Get your answer here!

NCAA Football: Miami at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

If you did not read part 1, here’s a LINK to it. All caught up? Good stuff! The second section will look at players rated by ESPN 6-10 in the 2013 recruiting class. We’re starting to move from the “can’t miss prospects” of the top 5 to the 4* and high 3* players in this class. In theory, these players would be counted on to possibly redshirt their first season on campus and then eventually grow into a starting role down the line. How did each of these players do at Miami? Did they even make it to Miami? Check it out below!

Standish Dobard, #4 Tight End, New Orleans Louisiana

Coming out of high school Dobard had the coaching staff and recruiting analysts drooling with his potential upside. He was a lumbering 6’4’’ 245 and ready to play right away. Due to his tangibles he was rated a strong four-star recruit and was recruited by the likes of Miami, Alabama, Auburn and the other big programs across the country.

At Miami though, Dobard’s role was less about pass catching and more about inline blocking. Dobard played during all four years he’s been on campus but has recorded very little in terms of stats for his career. The main reason, as noted earlier, is the fact that Miami has seemed to always have great pass catching tight ends (#TEU) but no one seems to have noticed the “Richard Gordons” and “Dedrick Epps’” of the world. The players that aren’t the flashy pass catchers but rather the extra blockers who pave the way for the running game and possibly assist offensive tackles with the defensive ends on passing plays. They aren’t flashy but they’re needed and that’s what Dobard’s role was the last four years.

It’s interesting to note as well that due to injuries along the defensive line this season, Dobard has actually gotten some playing time as a defensive end. He’s a big mauler that helps the offensive line; why not help bash players for the defense as well? In 2016 he accounted for two catches and a few tackles on defense.

Looking towards the NFL draft, Dobard may get signed by a team. He could probably be a practice squad signee during training camp and we’ll see where it goes from there. NFL franchises need the blue collar blocking tight ends to keep the quarterback upright, Dobard fits that outline to a “t.”

Jermaine Grace, #11 Outside Linebacker, Miramar Florida

Grace was a prototypical outside linebacker prospect coming out of high school. He had blazing speed, was light for the position in terms of weight (around 200 pounds coming out high school) but could really thump players anywhere on the field. It was easy to see that at the next level Grace would be a great fit in the 43 scheme for any college program. Due to his tangibles and highlight reel hits Grace was rated a four-star recruit and he was chased by all the big schools, similar to Dobard.

Instead of signing with a 43 attacking style defensive team Grace signed with Miami in a Coach Golden run 34 style that didn’t fit his skill set at all.

Now, even though Grace went against common knowledge that he probably should have enrolled somewhere else he powered through his physical limitations and made the defense work to his talents. During his freshman season Grace played primarily on special teams and little else, he recorded four tackles on the year. Due to his size coming into the program he really wasn’t ready to take a beating going against offensive linemen so his first season should have been a redshirt but as discussed last week, Golden wasted many players’ eligibility. Grace you could argue was one of those players. During his sophomore and junior season though, Grace blossomed as the starting outside linebacker. Last season particularly. He started 10 games, had 79 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble.

Unfortunately heading into the 2016 season Grace was ensnared in the same off field incident that Al-Quadin Muhammad was from the last recruiting breakdown. Just in case you forgot, the issue was that a few players were taking impermissible benefits in the form of discounted or free exotic/luxury rental cars. Grace was going to be looked upon as the starting outside linebacker this season but during spring practice was notified by the Miami administration that he would not be allowed on the football program.

Grace currently is training for the NFL draft on his own time outside the football program. The incident will hurt his draft stock in the sense he didn’t have a senior year to provide more tape to the NFL scouts but he should still be drafted. The tangibles and results from last year’s breakout performance are a telling indicator he has talent. To be honest as well, the incident isn’t that appalling either. We’ll have to see where Grace lands in the draft. My guess would be mid to late round pick.

Corn Elder, #17 Running back, Nashville Tennessee

Besides Griffin from part one, Elder was the other late addition to the ’13 recruiting class. Elder was holding out for a program that would allow him to play both basketball and football at the next level. After Golden saw Elder’s highlight tapes he decided to roll the dice and at least allow Elder to try both sports initially. Elder was a dynamic player on the grid iron. He was awarded the “Mr. Football” for the state of Tennessee for both his junior and senior year. He was notable as a change of direction running back.

Like Grace, Elder also had a forgettable freshman season that saw him way down on the defensive depth chart at cornerback and occasional punt returns on special teams. During Elder’s sophomore and junior seasons, he slowly worked his way up from dime to nickel cornerback (meaning from the fourth ranked corner to the third) and then in 2016 blossomed as the teams number one cornerback. Due to his increased role over the last three seasons Elder has fundamentally grown into the role of boundary corner. There have been a few more talented corners when compared to Elder that have gone through the Miami program the last few season (Artie Burns and Brendan Harris come to mind) but not necessarily as polished when compared to Elder now. With the coaching of Mike Rumph, Elder has grown into the role and had an exceptional senior year for the Canes.

Looking ahead to the next level, Elder is another player that will look to be drafted in the mid rounds. His one main negative is his size (5’10’’ and 180ish pounds) but besides that he’s got everything else a team would want. I’m a big believer in Elder at the next level and can’t wait to see how he does and more importantly what pro team he signs with come April.

Beau Sandland, #2 JUCO Tight End, Woodland Hills California

There’s a lot of “shtick” that Miami fans pin to recruits when they sign. Whether it be a legacy commit, a high value commit or what have you; sometimes Cane’s fans make comparisons that simply should not be made from past players to future ones. The one that irks me each time it’s made is when a JUCO tight end signs with Miami and the fans say “he’s the next Jeremy Shockey.” Unfortunately for Sandland, as soon as he was signed by Miami he was compared to the other highly rated JUCO tight end who’d gone through the Miami program and had finished as one of the greats.

Sandland played one season for Miami and decided to transfer right after the season ended. The main reason for the change of location was due to playing time. At the time of his request to leave the team he was buried on the depth chart behind both Standish Dobard who was carving out his niche as the blocking tight end and Clive Walford who was grabbing all the catches. Sandland transferred to Montana State where he played one season and racked up a nice senior season for the Bobcats. He finished his one season with 37 catches, 632 yards and 9 touchdowns.

After his one season at Montana State, Sandland graduated and went pro. He was drafted in the 6th round by the Panthers. On the final cut day, he was one of the last releases but was later brought back to the practice squad of the Panthers. Due to attrition on the Panthers this season Sandland was released November 9th but was quickly snagged by the Greenbay Packers practice squad on the 11th. He has yet to play in a regular season game.

Jamal Carter, #40 Athlete, Miami Florida

Carter came to Miami as a big hitter in the high school ranks and didn’t disappoint in that regard during his college career. Carter was listed as an athlete by ESPN but the other recruiting services saw him as a top 20 safety in the country. Coming to Miami as a big hitting safety can be a tall order due to the lineage of players fitting that mold the last 10-15 years but Carter has done just fine.

During his freshman season, just like Corn Elder and others throughout the years, Carter played sparingly on special teams and thus lost a redshirt season. During his sophomore and junior seasons Carter has been in the safety rotation and has shown flashes of talent with huge hits on the opponents which you can see in the video below. During this last season Carter became a permanent starter in Manny Diaz’s defense and blew away his career numbers in terms of statistics. He started all year as the “in the box” safety and accounted for 79 tackles and three pass break ups.

Looking to Carters future he has the tangibles and the “looks” of an NFL caliber player. If an NFL team can turn his “flashing” plays into “shining” production, then they have a potential diamond in the rough type of player in the future. We’ll have to see if Carter gets drafted come April. I’d expect at the very least a roster invite for training camp though.

Conclusion for Part 2

Of the five players above I kind of get the sense that this section of the ’13 recruiting class wasn’t all that bad. Now, two of the five players didn’t finish their careers as Canes but overall at least they contributed to the program at some point. This feeling I have though maybe due however just to the sheer fact that Golden missed on so many recruits and spectacularly I might add at that, that this section seems to be relative “tame” compared to those other reviews.

Last thing I will point out that I think the new regime under Richt will do more of: redshirt players. Golden was under sanctions, I get it, but the willy-nilly burning of redshirts for no real gain irked me (I don’t know if you could tell that in the article). There’d be players like Jamal Carter or even Corn Elder with one more year of eligibility left instead of having their swan songs now. If a recruit can contribute right away then it’s all good, I understand. When you’re talking about a 5th cornerback or even being the 5th safety in a rotation as a freshman… Is it really worth losing an extra year for five tackles that first season?

What do you all think? Am I being too harsh on the redshirting point or am I being too optimistic of the overall results from this group of five?

Leave your comments below!