The coaches that preceded Mark Richt knew what their first challenge was before even stepping foot in Coral Gables: Keep your local talent close, before everyone gets them.
Obviously, this task is much easier said than done.
The last three national championship winners (FSU, Ohio State, and Alabama), had a combined total of 35-plus Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area natives.
As of now, Coach Richt and his staff have done a superb job at keeping talent close to home (take a look at the loaded 2017 class). Miami has even offered local area players committed to other schools. Most recently, the Hurricanes offered 4-star corner, Trajan Bandy. Bandy is currently committed to Oklahoma.
Bandy has been a shutdown corner during his tenure at Columbus. Trajan has dominated against 8A level talent. Just half an inch shy of 5'10", and weighing in at 180 pounds, Bandy is a physical kid that would be a great local addition to the 'Canes.
How does UM sway their hometown heroes? Easy... win, and win consistently. Defining excellence is key, and Miami needs to capitalize on their potential going into this season. Despite last year's tumultuous, the Hurricanes managed to finish 8-5. This should provide a hopeful outlook for recruits interested in UM.
Richt has discussed implementing a process to improve the overall program at Miami. Perhaps, this process will focus heavily on local recruiting as its backbone. If he can make a quick turnaround, he can continue to add to the excellent 2017 recruiting class.
Look at the University of Michigan. During the Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke years, the Wolverines were sub-par, constantly dropping games to rivals. The installment of new ball coach, and former Michigan quarterback, Jim Harbaugh, was like a facelift for the program. Bringing in someone with strong ties, who has also has found success outside of the program, is always beneficial.
Before Harbaugh's arrival, the Wolverines finished the 2014 season with a 5-7 record. Under Harbaugh, the Wolverines went 10-3 in his first season. Michigan's newfound success has drawn in top recruits, with the Wolverines finishing with the fifth best recruiting class for 2016 (five of their 29 recruits hail from the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami). From their 2014 recruiting class ranking, the Wolverines jumped an astonishing 32 spots in 2015.
Such a turnaround is possible for Miami, as long as Richt can win over local recruits and win key rivalry games. If Richt can put together a year similar to the one that Harbaugh did in Michigan, winning at least 10 games, don't be surprised if the Hurricanes start receiving commitments left and right. Some of those players who want to bolt for programs like Michigan, Ohio State, or rival FSU, will reconsider leaving south Florida.
As fans patience is key, but patience is one thing many recruits lack. They want to be part of a program doing well in the present. A program with promise is appealing as well, and if you look at all the off-season successes thus far, Miami has all the promise in the world for a young and upcoming football player.
With facility upgrades, a new coach and fanbase who has stood by their team through thick and thin, local recruits know how passionate this program is. The future is looking bright and maybe, just maybe, some of these local kids are finally starting to realize that "there's no place like home".