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Recruiting Radar: top targets on defense in 2017

A look at some top targets for Miami in the 2017 cycle on the side of the ball that wins championships: defense.

Carol City 4-star LB De'Andre Wilder is one of the top targets in this class for Miami. Find out who else is on that list here.
Carol City 4-star LB De'Andre Wilder is one of the top targets in this class for Miami. Find out who else is on that list here.

Alright, guys. I know you've been waiting for these pieces, but they're here. It's time to give some lists with targets for Miami in this recruiting class.

And, in a change from previous years where I've started with the offensive targets, this year with a new staff and new needs, we'll start on the side of the ball that has been the problematic one for Miami.


This list isn't fully comprehensive due to the nature of recruiting (new players pop up on the radar all the time), but it's a very good place to start.

Canes Commits

Not counting these guys in the 15 targets, but here are the players currently committed to Miami on defense.

4-star LB Tyler Dunning (6'1", 225lbs), St. Thomas Aquinas, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Talented defender saw time at many positions for STA in 2015. According to multiple reports, Dunning has not had communication with the new staff and isn't in their plans moving forward. In short, he's not going to be in this class.

4-star DL Jonathan Ford (6'5" 250lbs), Dillard HS, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

One of the first commits for Mark Richt in this class, Ford is a talented player who could grow into a nice DE with size or a DT at the collegiate level. Will be a top national recruit at his position.

3-star LB Waynmon Steed (6'1", 218lbs), Miami Central HS, Miami, FL

Very good player missed most of 2015 with a shoulder injury. Should end up as a 4-star player when the spring evaluation period starts.

3-star ATH CJ Henderson (6'1" 175lbs), Christopher Columbus Catholic School, Miami, FL

A recent commit for the Hurricanes, Henderson is a speed merchant who the staff thinks could end up as a top 5 corner in this class. He has elite speed, and profiles well at the cornerback position, where he'll play at Miami. His stock will rise as the spring evaluation period progresses in a month.

3-star S Billy Gibson (6'2" 185lbs), Southridge Senior HS, Miami, FL

The most recent commitment for Miami (just yesterday), Gibson is a player who is a great get for the Canes in this class. He's got good size and a frame to add weight as he develops physically. Gibson only holds 3 offers at current, but make no mistake about it, he's a top level player whose value will only increase through the spring evaluation period and his senior year. For more about Gibson, check out his Welcome To The U piece from yesterday.

3-star CB Nick Roberts (5'11", 175lbs), Oakleaf HS, Orange Park, FL

Teammate of 2016 signee Shaq Quarterman, Roberts is a player that could grow into a nice collegiate contributor in time. Not a superstar, but a good depth piece to this class if there's room. Could be a drop candidate if higher end talent wants in.

3-star S Ahman Ross (5'11" 185lbs), The Bolles School, Jacksonville, FL

A nice player, but like Roberts he's not a superstar. He's a solid performer, but the big thing will be his spring and camp at Miami (a prerequisite for all players under the Richt regime). Like Roberts, could be a nice depth player, but could also be a drop candidate if higher end talent wants in.

Other Defensive Targets

There are SO MANY targets out there. And, with a new staff who can connect to top end talent, there's way, WAY more players than in the past, because every offer is new, and every connection is developing now. As always, there will be other names that pop up on the radar, but for now, here's a good place for us to start.

NOTE: To make this flow better, I'm linking the HUDL highlights on the player's name instead of embedding them all. So, to see the HLs for each player, click on their name.

Defensive Line

5-star DE Jarez Parks - This talented player is 2016 early enrollee Patrick Bethel's cousin, so there's a connection to Miami. At 6'5" 255lbs, Parks is a noteworthy athlete on his own merits. He's got a college ready body, and is a dominant force on the defensive line. Needless to say, Miami would love to add a player of his ability.

4-star DT Kivon Bennett - This talented player plys his trade at St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the top HS programs in America. He's the son of former Alabama and 14-year NFL vet Cornelius Bennett, so football runs in the family for sure. The elder Bennett was once the #2 overall pick in the NFL draft, and the Kivon looks to follow in those footsteps. Alabama is thought to be the leader for this talented legacy recruit.

Unranked DT Rashad Colson - I know what you're thinking: "Unranked?!?!? Ugh. This is an Al Golden special player. Do not want!!" And that couldn't be further from the truth. Colson, who recently transferred to Carol City, has good size at 6'5" 280lbs, and room to grow into his frame further. He's not as refined as other players at this position, but the move to Carol City should help him in his development. This could end up being a very highly pursued player as this cycle progresses.

5-star DE Joshua Kaindoh - Yet another top talent from IMG academy (as though they have any other kind, right?), the 6'6" 237lb Kaindoh is one of the best DEs in this class. As a top 15 player in the country, Kaindoh will be pursued by most of of the top programs in the country. Originally from Maryland, Kaindoh has been linked to the likes of Ohio State, Penn State, and Maryland. among others.

4-star DE Zachary Carter - Another long and athletic athlete, Carter is a player that most of the SEC and ACC is chasing. With offers from UF, Miami, Auburn, Clemson, South Carolina, and more, Carter will have his choice of school to play for in college.

4-star DT Fred Hansard - The first out of State player on this list, Hansard is a big and talented DT from New Jersey. The initial connection between Miami and Hansard came from the previous staff, but the new staff would be wise to continue to cultivate this relationship. Hansard has 26 offers to his credit already, and will be one of the top recruits at DT nationally for this cycle.


4-star LB De'Andre Wilder - The 6'4" 220lb Wilder is, in my mind, the #1 target for Miami at LB in this class. He's another Carol City player, and the closest thing to a "must get" in my mind. Wilder is a able to play the run, run up the seam with the TE, has the ability to rush the passer and blitz, and is a vicious hitter from sideline to sideline. In short, he can do it all.

4-star LB Santino Marchiol - Another out of State transplant to IMG academy, Marchiol (MAR-kee-yol), who is originally from Colorado, has been connected with Mark Richt throughout the last year of his recruitment. Marchiol is a highly productive player with good size at 6'2" 224lbs, ending the 2015 season with more than 120 tackles, and many TFLs, 2 INT, and several pass deflections.  Ohio State has 100% of crystal ball predictions for Marchiol at current.

Unranked LB James Houston - Another unranked player, Houston, who plays at American Heritage, the school at which new CB coach Mike Rumph used to work, won't be that way for long. He's a multi-talented and athletic player with good size at 6'2" 220lbs. Houston has high P5 offers including Miami, Wisconsin, and just today, LSU offered. With Miami looking to add depth and talent at LB, Houston could be a nice piece for this class.

5-star LB/RB Dylan Moses (youtube) - Moses, a one time LSU commit, is the #1 recruit in America. He's a big and powerful player who stars on both sides of the ball. For my money, his future is on defense. As you would expect from the #1 player, Moses is a beast. He's being heavily pursued by SEC teams, and Miami has offered. Not saying he's a likely get, but you miss 100% of the shots you don't take, right?

Defensive Back

4-star CB Stanford Samuels III - A supremely talented player from Flanagan HS, Samuels will have his pick of schools at which to continue his football career. Samuels has the size Miami covets at Corner, standing a lithely built 6'2" 175bs with room to fill out his frame. Samuels III is an FSU legacy (his father, Stanford Samuels II played there from 2000-03), and the Seminoles are a prime candidate at the top of his recruiting list.

4-star S Daniel Wright - Another player with a wealth of talent, Wright is a physical and aggressive safety who is already highly sought after. The younger brother of fomer UF and NFL Safety Major Wright, Daniel is already 6'2" 175, with room to grow. He's a top 100 player in this class, and holds 28 offers at current. FSU is the early favorite.

4-star CB Marco Wilson - A 5'10" 165lb player from American Heritage, Marco Wilson comes from an athletic family. His older brother Quincy plays CB at Florida, and his dad Chad played at Miami from 1992 to 1994. The connection to Miami is simple: his former HS coach  Mike Rumph now coaches CBs at Miami. Wilson is an athletic player who has showcased his athleticism in a viral video. He's also recovering from an ACL tear which cost him much of his junior year, so it remains to be seen how the younger Wilson bounces back in 2016.

5-star CB Deangelo Gibbs - A very talented player from Loganville (GA) Grayson, Gibbs is a ready-to-play athlete who would undoubtedly play from day 1 at Miami. He has fantastic size at 6'2" 204lbs, and the skills to be an impact player at either WR or CB. Gibbs currently lists 33 offers, so he's highly coveted by many schools. It remains to be seen if Mark Richt can keep the connection going with Gibbs, a player at the top of his list for 2017 when he coached at Georgia.

3-star DB Brian Edwards - A long and lean 6'3" athlete from Miramar HS, Edwards definitely has the size this staff wants at DB. While Edwards could be big a big CB for the Canes, I think his best fit is at FS, where he can play centerfield. Edwards isn't a big hitter, but with his length and range, he doesn't necessarily need to be. Miami is currently in the top group for Edwards, who hails from the same HS as former Canes Tracy Howard and Ryan Williams, and current Canes Malcolm Lewis and Jermaine Grace.

3-star CB Latavious Brini - A big corner 6'2" who is rising fast, Brini is a new name who is rising for many teams heading into the Spring Evaluation window. Again, with Miami looking for size at the cornerback position, Brini is a player they could pursue strongly. UF is thought to be the leader for Brini at the moment.

Unranked CB Shawn Davis - A major talent from Miami Southridge (the same school as recent commit Billy Gibson), Davis is a top P5 talent whose offers outpace his ranking at current. With offers from Miami, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, and Southern Cal, among others, Davis is a player who will be one of the most heavily recruited players in South Florida for this cycle. Miami is in good position here, having already gotten commitments from several players who play at Southridge for this cycle.

Unranked S Grant Delpit - A major national recruit, Delpit's offer list has exploded recently. The 6'3" 185lb Houston native has 15 offers, with Miami, Ole Miss, Baylor, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and LSU among that group. Delpit's offers, mostly major P5 programs, and his highlights tell the story. He's unranked currently, but will be a 4-star kid in short order. Working in Miami's favor is the fact that he'll be on campus for Junior Day this weekend. With his recruiting landscape changing so much so fast, it's a long way until Delpit's commitment becomes known, whether to Miami or elsewhere.

5-Star S Jeffrey Okudah - Another elite player from Texas, Okudah has could play anywhere, both school wise and position wise. At 6'2" 194lbs, he could be a great Safety in nearly any system, and he has the fluidity in his hips and coverage ability to be a very good cornerback at the collegiate level. Okudah is a top-10 player in this recruiting class, has already been named to the U.S. Army All-American game, and has 32 offers from most of the top schools in the country. Much like I said before with Moses, you gotta at least offer a kid of this caliber and see if there's a chance. He's too good not to.


That's it for the defensive targets. Back tomorrow with a look at the offensive side of the ball.

Have thoughts you'd like to share? Hop in the comments and join the conversation.

Go Canes