Hey again everyone! If you’re reading this for the first time, welcome! I’ve been reviewing the 2013 recruiting class from the “can’t miss” prospects at the top of the list all the way down to the potential “diamonds in the rough.” If you haven’t read part one see the link HERE and also here’s part two’s LINK as well. This is part three of the four-part series so we’re starting to get to more of the mid to lower level three star recruits. These players are usually seen as “project” type recruits who will take a few years to develop into starters or solid backups on the two deep. Some players are also rated in this range due to potentially having grade issues or other detractors that could cause them to being a “bust” at the next level (in a less rosy term: they have baggage).
Ufomba Kamalu, #12 DT JUCO, Fayetteville Georgia
As Golden whiffed on local defensive tackle targets and the premiere players across the country he had to turn his sights to the JUCO ranks to fill needs in the trenches. This was seen in previous classes with the likes of Olsen Pierre and now in 2013 when he had to sign Ufomba Kamalu.
Now, Kamalu was no slouch in his own right. Kamalu was a solid three-star recruit that totaled in his one year in the transfer circuit a commendable 54 tackles, 7.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss. Golden envisioned Kamalu as a potential 34 defensive end or penetrating interior defensive lineman. Kamalu also had scholarship offers from Houston, West Virginia and North Texas.
Kamalu had a steady impact over his three-year career for the Canes. In his first season he appeared in nine contests and registered 13 tackles. In his sophomore season Kamalu was a rotational player along the much maligned defensive line and had a modest impact of 34 tackles and 3.5 sacks. In his last year on campus Kamalu was a full time starter that again improved his tackling numbers to 47 for the 2015 season but only had one sack on his ledger.
Overall I would say Kamalu had a solid Hurricanes career. He was a blue collar defensive lineman in a conservative, almost passive defensive scheme. He wasn’t asked or coached to sack the quarterback but rather “contain” and “disrupt” plays. In last Aprils NFL draft Kamalu was not selected but was signed by the Houston Texans as an undrafted rookie. He currently is on the Chiefs and has actually gotten some playing time the last few weeks. Currently he has three tackles on the season.
Alex Figueroa, OLB (Late Qualifier), Stafford Virginia
Alrighty… Here’s another player with a long, checkered past that we’ll have to go over from beginning to where he is now. Stay with me.
Figueroa was another player that was signed shortly after signing day by the Canes (hence his “late qualifying” moniker above). Coming out of Stafford, Virginia, Figueroa was seen as a depth player initially heading to campus for spring his freshman season. This is probably due to his late qualifying status but per ESPN, Figueroa had no other offers except for Miami. He was a three-star linebacker though, so there’s that.
During his first season on campus Figueroa was a revelation during spring drills. He quickly ascended the linebacker depth chart going from 3rd string freshman scout team player to all of a sudden becoming the potential starting linebacker alongside Denzel Perryman and donning the black starting jersey Golden revered so highly. All the excitement however was tempered as a shoulder injury caused Figueroa to miss a bulk of his inaugural season. He only was able to tally 17 tackles on his injury shortened freshman campaign.
Fans, just like the coaching staff, were looking ahead to Figueroa’s sophomore season with anticipation but all the good vibes were derailed during spring drills due to a sexual assault involving Figueroa, a female and another teammate JaWand Blue. Once the University was made aware by the local police of the transgression and that both players admitted to the event, both Figueroa and Blue were dismissed from the University.
After Figueroa was barred from the University he recorded a video for social media to show his disdain for Miami. He burned a University of Miami flag in an expletive laden piece. After the video went viral through the Canes community, Figueroa tried to backtrack by deleting the post but the damage had been done.
From what I was able to research further, Figueroa has enrolled at Garden City Community College to rehab his image for other division one programs. It looks like in his first season he sustained some sort of injury and only played in the first contest or two of the season. Currently he’s a redshirt sophomore (granted medical redshirt maybe?) and has put together a solid first season of tape. For the 2016 season Figueroa had 57 tackles and six sacks. Per his recruiting profile, it looks like Kansas and Kansas State have “medium interest” in signing him to their 2017 recruiting class.
Gus Edwards, #57 RB, Staten Island New York
Now that we got Figueroa out of the way... Let’s get to a slightly more positive outlook, shall we?
Edwards, from my recollection, was a player that I hadn’t heard of until the day before signing day. Golden was looking for a bruising back to use in the backfield looking ahead and Edwards fit the mold. Edwards was a three-star recruit and had many offers, mostly from schools in the north east region of the country. I guess he wanted to be warm in the winter as he took two official visits: Miami and FSU.
Edwards saw playing time almost immediately as a freshman. He came in to spell Duke Johnson regularly and on some occasions was a “touchdown vulture” on the goal line. For his freshman and sophomore seasons, Edwards finished with almost identical numbers for the two years: 336 and 349 yards rushing and the five touchdowns and then six touchdowns respectively for each season. Last year Edwards was lost for the year due to a foot injury sustained in the preseason, he was medically redshirted.
As a redshirt junior this season, Edwards again came in to spell Mark Walton as the second string running back. For the season Edwards has only rushed for 271 yards and just one touchdown. He’s gotten most of this carries the last few weeks so we’ll have to see if he decides to transfer or press on with his senior year at Miami come 2017.
Alex Gall, #61 OT, Cincinnati Ohio
Edwards may have had the word “potential” used a lot during his time on campus. Gall’s term that would be used for him probably would be “steady.”
Gall was a solid three-star offensive lineman coming out of the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio. He had offers from many Midwest schools (Ohio, Akron, etc.) but also interestingly enough a few ACC schools as well, the likes of FSU and Duke besides Miami.
Throughout his four years on campus Gall has been a solid behind the scenes contributor to the offensive line. What may be surprising to Canes fans is that when he’s been healthy (he missed most of his sophomore season due to a prolonged injury) he actually has been in the starting offensive line rotation. If you had to give him a “ranking” he’s probably floated around the sixth or seventh best offensive linemen for a given year so he hasn’t garnered quite the attention as a seasoned starter but he has been valuable as a backup. Take this current season for instance. Brandon Linder went down about three-quarters of the way through the season and Gall stepped in as the starting center the last three games. Some may argue he’s actually played better than Linder during the 2016 season which is a credit to Gall and being prepared to step into the role off the bench.
Gall may get some undrafted rookie consideration from teams. It’ll all depend on his pro day work out and if he can catch the eye(s) of NFL scout(s).
Sunny Odogwu, OT Post Grad, Baltimore Maryland
The Nigerian born Odogwu was a known “recruiting project” in the 2013 class. Odogwu came to the US at 13 and due to being 6 feet tall already at such a young age took up the sport of basketball. During his senior season at St. Francis in Maryland, Odogwu took up the sport of football and decided to go the post grad route to hopefully hone his skills in the sport and catch on at the college ranks. Being 6’ 8” and 300 + pounds made him an intriguing prospect so Miami and Texas A&M both offered him a scholarship.
His career at Miami, to a fans perspective, has been both frustrating and scary at times. For the record, Odogwu from all accounts is a very likeable person and the local beat reporters rave about his personality as an outgoing young man. However, some of the plays he’s made over the course of the last three seasons (redshirted his first year) have been bone headed at times. I will say though, it’s difficult for some offensive linemen to truly “shine.” They only get exposure when something bad seems to happen like a QB sack, tackle for loss and of course, penalties. Over the last two seasons Odogwu has seen time specifically at right tackle and has performed pretty well. Is he a mauler in the run game or a mountain that’s hard to get by in the passing game? No, not really. But he’s started the last two seasons for the Canes and has done okay. It’s pertinent to point out that Odogwu has been injured and not playing for about half this season (lower extremity) so he’s looking to make a bounce back next year in his final go round.
Conclusion to Part 3
Golden took a few gambles in this five player section and came up with a mixed bag. In the group, I’d probably label only Odogwu a relatively good success as he’s started the most out of the bunch. Gall has been okay as a lifetime backup for the team and Edwards has shown flashes a handful of times in his career. Figueroa’s departure had a direct impact on the linebacker situation you’ve seen playout the last two seasons. Figueroa would have been a senior this year if he could have kept his head straight... However, as noted in the opening section, there are reasons these guys are rated where they are so you know you have your work cut out for you when signing these players.
What did you think of the group? Have any opinions? Share below!