I wrote the other day that the new Canes Coaching Staff is already paying dividends on the recruiting trail. Today, let's take a look at the other side of the coin: the players that staff has gotten to commit.
When building a recruiting class, ratings and "star rankings" matter. You want to be a Championship team? Have more than 50% Blue Chip (4-star and 5-star) recruits in your class/on your team. Having that level of talent in your recruiting class will also raise your ranking, as having good players in a recruiting class is kind of the goal of the whole exercise.
Focusing on Miami, as of the writing of this piece, the Canes have the 3rd rated class according to 247Sports' composite rankings. With a total of 15 recruits committed in the 2017 class, Miami has one of the largest recruiting classes in America currently.
There's a component of "strength in numbers" for the Canes' recruiting ranking. By virtue of having so many recruits committed (3rd most in America as of the writing of this piece, trailing only Western Michigan (17) and Central Michigan (16) in total commitments), Miami is able to have a high recruiting ranking. BUT...there's a catch.
The ranking is high, yes, but of the 15 current commits, only 5 of them, RB Robert Burns, ATH Christopher Henderson, QB N'Kosi Perry, ATH DeeJay Dallas, and OL Navaughn Donaldson, carry a rating of 4-star rating, and none carry a 5-star rating. That means that 67% of the current commit group, 10 of the 15 players in this class, are rated as 3-star players. That's simply not "top 10 class" material.
The good news for Miami is that, in my opinion, several of the 3-star commits should get a ratings boost after the Spring Evaluation period ends. Not only that, some of the 4-stars should be in line for a bump as well. Who? Glad you asked:
- DL Jon Ford. I thought he was a 4-star already, and it's kind of crazy to me that he's not. That will definitely change after Spring Evals are over. Ford is 6'5" 280 with good strength and nice burst. To my eyes, he's one of the best DL in South Florida this cycle, and soon his rating will reflect that.
- QB Cade Weldon. This is a bump that I fully expect to come, but maybe not as soon as the end of Spring Evals. Weldon tore his ACL and MCL in the 1st game of his junior season and missed the rest of the year. He's definitely more talented than his ranking would suggest, but it may take him playing in games and performing to a high level for him to get his ratings bump.
- WR Rodney Scott. He's better than a top 500 player in this class. Performed well at camps and during spring at his school alike.
- WR Kevaughn Dingle. Dynamic playmaker (29.8ypc in 2015) and Carol City's team is getting buzz. Should get a bump.
- TE Brian Polendey. Limited snaps/stats in 2015 don't tell the story for this 6'5" 230lb player. Should be bumped soon.
- OL Zach Dykstra. The #8 player in Iowa should see a bump up.
- DB Billy Gibson Jr. Ranking seems to me like a "we didn't have him rated at all, but now he's committed to Miami so we have to rank him" 3-star. Not indicative of his actual skill level.
- QB N'Kosi Perry. He's good. REAL GOOD. Even as a 4-star, I think his ranking will rise.
- ATH Christopher Henderson. Speed kills, and Henderson has that in great abundance. Boost coming.
If most or all of these players get ratings bumps, Miami's class ranking would increase. Guys like Dykstra probably won't make it up to being a 4-star, but will get a bump within the 3-star range, which still helps.
For the sake of argument, if/when Ford, Weldon, and Scott get bumped up to 4-stars, that would put Miami at a nearly 50% Blue Chip ratio. And, with several other high profile targets realistically on the board for the Canes, there's a good and real chance that other highly rated players could join this class down the road.
As far as the final class ranking for the Canes' 2017 recruiting class is concerned, I think that somewhere in the top 10 is a good and reasonable goal. Mark Richt has previously said he'd be surprised if this recruiting class is less than 20, and with those numbers of commits, and hopefully the quality that they bring, Miami should be in a good place.
For years, being recruited heavily by Miami was something that depressed a players' recruiting ranking. I can't list all of the times that a player decommitted from Miami and almost immediately saw a bump to their recruiting ranking.
For many years, being connected to certain schools, SEC schools, Michigan, Ohio State, Texas, etc, give players ratings boosts. During that same time, being connected to Miami held a negative impact on a prospect's status/ranking.
With CMR and staff at the helm, it seems as though that's changing. And not a moment too soon.