The University of Miami brought in 18 new players yesterday.
Many had thought they would get as many as 22, but it did not happen, although there may still be a shot at some late signatures.
It wasn't an epic class by any stretch of the imagination, but there are certainly some headliners.
The major recruiting sites gave the 'Canes a mixed bag of rankings.
247 Ranked UM's Haul 21st, ESPN put them at 19th, Scout had them 37th (really?), and Rivals had them 22nd.
But I am going to put all of that aside and assign my own personal grades for each position and the entire group as a whole.
Before I start, do recognize I am grading on a curve considering Mark Richt and his staff only had 2 months to keep this class in tact/add to it.
Let's get started.....
Quarterback: UM signed just one player in early enrollee Jack Allison. But he is a really good one. Allison has a chance to take the mantle from Brad Kaaya when he departs, and be just as good as the sensational junior to be. I love his size (6'5 though he needs to add some weight), his arm strength, poise, and dedication to his craft. And his athleticism may be a little underrated. With what should be a very good and stable staff to work with, the sky is the limit for Allison.
"The very first guy I watched was Jack [Allison]. I really enjoyed watching his tape. He is a guy that has height, obviously 6-5 or 6-6 maybe…very athletic, in my opinion, for a guy that tall. He throws the ball extremely well, and he is very smart. I know he’s going to work hard and do his very best to help us win." - Mark Richt
Running Back: Again UM signed just one player at this position in Travis Homer. Homer is elusive, catches the ball well out of the back field, can make people miss, and is deceptively strong between the tackles. He is very similar to what Miami already has in both Mark Walton and Joe Yearby. And there is nothing wrong with that. Maybe adding a bigger/power back to the class would have been a nice touch. But I can live with just Homer here.
Wide Receivers: Wow... just wow. UM started the day with firm commitments from Sam Bruce (though there was some Ohio State paranoia) and Dionte Mullins. Then they went out and got Ahmmon Richards. Is there a better WR class n the country? Certainly the 'Canes have to be top 5 at the position. Bruce is a smaller but explosive player who can change games as well as make tough catches in traffic (think Santana Moss type). Mullins has elite hands and also isn't afraid to make tough catches (think Reggie Wayne type). And Richards is arguably the best of the bunch, with good size at 6'2 and elite ability to run after the catch (think Amari Cooper type). Brad Kaaya and eventually Jack Allison has to be licking their chops at the opportunity to throw to this bunch.
"Sam Bruce is a very explosive player, when it comes to changing direction, quickness, toughness. He is a very well-put together guy. He’s a very strong young man. He obviously has very good ball skills. I think a lot of people would say he’s more of a slot receiver, and I think he can obviously play there, but I think he has the ability to get on the edge a little bit as well, with his speed. We’re very pleased."
"Then you go down to Dionte Mullins – he’s got tremendous speed and agility. I think he, like all of them, will get a little more polished in his route-running skills and all of that. When you talk about raw ability at that position, he’s what you’re looking for."
"Ahmmon [Richards]… very, very smooth athlete. He kind of does things [that] look effortless because of his athleticism. [He is] a guy that also will grow, learning what to do, will grow physically, stronger. Just a great talent base for that position as well. Guys that hopefully will help us win, and that’s what it’s all about."
- Richt on his new WRs.
Tight Ends: The 'Canes added two players who didn't play the position in H.S., but project to be H-Back/TE types at the next level in Jovani Haskins and Michael Irvin Jr. Haskins was a QB as a prepster, and Irvin Jr. mostly lined up out wide. So both players can be considered projects, at least in the early going. Irvin Jr. is less of an athlete, and has a smaller upside as last year's phenom: David Njoku. But he has a similar skill set. Haskins reminds me of Clive Walford physically, but has a long, long way to go to get anywhere near that comparison. Long story short both players have potential, but will need a lot of coaching.
Offensive Line: The Hurricanes basically return every single player who played along the unit in 2015. So there wasn't of a need here. And they only added one in 6'7 295 pound Tre Johnson to the group. Johnson is another long term project, who probably is more a depth player than anything down the line. His size and strength are impressive, but he will need some coaching to be a contributor at this level.
Defensive Line: DE Joseph Jackson is 6'5 245 with room to grow, and potentially the sleeper of the class. He is a twitchy athlete who should benefit tremendously from working with D line Coach Craig Kuligowski. He also has the prototypical frame to be a 4-3 end, which is exciting. I really like Patrick Bethel as well. He is firm at the point of attack and is ahead of the game in terms of pass rushing skills for a young player. I am not as high on Tyreic Martin, who could end up at DT. Nothing really stands out about him on film. So this is a mixed bag. I would have loved to have seen Miami grab another high end player or two, especially on the inside. But Jackson is definitely a keeper.
Linebackers: This was a serious area of need, and Richt and Co. got it done with three impressive early enrollees. Shaq Quarterman is the best of the bunch in my opinion. He should end up at MLB ("Mike") down the line. I love his speed, aggression, and how hard he hits when he gets to the ball carrier. If he reaches his full potential, he could be another Denzel Perryman. Zach McCloud is another solid pick-up. He knows how to separate the ball carrier from the pigskin. These two are going to make getting to the second level against UM, frightening. Michael Pinckney is not quite as explosive as Quarterman or McCloud, but he is a sound tackler with a nice motor and good instincts. Most importantly, all three players fit the mold of 4-3 LBs, who can play sideline to sideline. Besides WR and Allison, this was the area where the staff did their best work.
"I was very impressed. Three mid-year enrollees at linebacker – Zach McCloud, Michael Pinckney and Shaq Quarterman - pretty good ballplayers. People around the country were wanting these guys in their program, and again, that’s part of what I said earlier about giving credit to the last group of coaches. When I got here, they were all committed and they were all coming midyear - there may have been one or two who were making a final decision, but it was all moving in that direction. I’m thankful to those coaches that did a great job, and I’m thankful to these young men and families for their faith and confidence to come.
"Runners, strikers…these are tough, hard-nosed football players, and that’s what you have to have at the linebacker position. They’re going to get a chance to compete. When you’re a midyear enrollee, you learn what to do, you get to compete in the spring and then by the time the fall practices roll around going through the summer with the rest of the team, they’re going to be in great shape with the team. These young men in particular are really going to be on an even keel - or a level playing field, so to speak - when it comes to competition, because they’re going to be learning right along with our current players. If this staff had been here for three years, they’re behind a little bit. They’re rolling in when everybody is learning everything new. A lot of times as a freshmen, that’s what keeps you from playing or starting – somebody doesn’t have as much talent or equal talent, but they have experience. These guys won’t have that to worry about."
-Richt on his new LBs.
Defensive Backs: The biggest loss of yesterday was when Tyler Byrd flipped from Miami and headed to Knoxville. Big loss for the group. They did pick up a nice 4 star S in Romeo Finely though. Down the line he has a chance to be a very good starter. Cedric Wright is a 3 star S prospect who looks like he could/should have been rated higher. 6'1 Jeff James (nephew of legendary 'Canes RB Edgerrin James) played just one season at Olympia H.S. in Orlando, but had 9 picks. Consider him a CB project with high upside. Malek Young is a smaller CB who could be more a slot/cover corner. Overall this is a so so group. I would love to have seen Byrd stay, or the staff flip another highly rated player. In today's college football you need as many of these guys as possible.
Specialists - None signed.
Overall Class Grade; As I said before, this one is one a curve because of the limited amount of time that the staff had to work. There are potential stars in Richards, Bruce, Allison, and Quarterman, among others. But another O lineman, a DT or two, and some more DB help would have made this class a lot stronger. Let's see what Richt and staff can do next year with the full allotment of time before we pass too much judgement. Pretty good job overall, all things considered. And the class, while not huge, is high on quality.
Full Class Below (Courtesy 247 Sports):