Welcome back to the Class Breakdown, our monthly look at the Canes’ 2017 recruiting class. We look at the commits at each position, the outlook for recruiting that position, and recap any movement in the class or targets that have previously been mentioned.
Just as a reminder as to what numbers I'm projecting in this class, here's the chart that I've been using:
|Quarterback||Running Back||Wide Receiver||Tight End||Offensive Line|
|Defensive End||Defensive Tackle||Linebacker||Cornerback||Safety||Best Available|
|3||1+||2||3||2||(any extra spots not filled)|
So, here we go.
Class Breakdown: 7/25
The 2nd installment of our running series evaluating the Canes' 2017 recruiting class.
If you've been reading my recruiting posts over the past few years, you know I have a closely held recruiting rule: you have to have a QB in every recruiting class. No excuses; no exceptions. Miami is in good position to follow that guideline in this class, having made it clear their desire to bring in multiple players at this position in 2017.
Looking ahead to the 2018 class at QB, Miami has offered several top prospects from around the country. None have committed yet, but that's understandable as there's a new staff in place, and the QB position is one where the decision to commit is arguably the most important.
Some 2018 names to know moving forward: Cameron Rising, Arthur Sitkowski, Trevor Lawrence, Emory Jones, and Casey Thompson, who participated at Paradise Camp and showed very well. As of now, it seems Sitkowski and Thompson are the players with the greatest connection to Miami, but it’s still very early for 2018 recruits.
4-star Robert Burns is the commit at Running Back currently. He's a South Florida kid, so that fits the new recruiting paradigm to focus locally before looking Nationally. Burns is being pursued by Notre Dame, and may visit there, but at this point he’s still solidly committed to Miami. Oh, and sidenote, 3 of his teammates from Gulliver Prep signed with Miami last cycle (Joseph Jackson, Dionte Mullins, and Cedrick Wright) and UM staffer Jorge Baez used to coach Burns at Gulliver previously. So, there’s a very strong connection on many levels between this talented player and Miami.
Leading the target list is 4-star Anthony McFarland. The talented player from powerhouse Dematha Catholic (Hyattsville, MD) has repeatedly said Miami, Maryland, and Alabama lead his recruitment. McFarland was close to committing to Georgia when Mark Richt and Thomas Brown were on staff there. While the pair has moved from Athens to Coral Gables, their connection with McFarland has remained steady, if not increased. McFarland has said he views OC/RB coach Brown "like a brother", and has a great connection with him. All 3 of McFarland's named top schools are in the running, and Miami is in a good place to make a push.
Unfortunately, McFarland’s senior season ended before it got started, as he broke his fibula in DeMatha’s preseason kickoff classic. McFarland has already had surgery on the leg, and will look to make a full recovery from that injury in the coming months.
3-star Darrian Felix is an in-state option from Fort Myers, FL. He's really fast, and really good. And, on top of that, he's stated that Miami is the leader in his recruitment. So, that's a good thing. Oh, and don't let the "3-star" part fool you. Felix is super legit, and could easily get a rating bump in the near future, especially after his strong showing at Nike's The Opening. Oregon is thought to lead Miami for Felix, and has the overwhelming lead on predictions on 247sports’ Crystal Ball (full disclosure: I CB’d Felix to Oregon as well).
5-star Stephen Carr is committed to USC, but visited Miami in the spring and has repeatedly had good things to say about the Canes. He's a California native, so that won't be an easy pull, but there's room to make a move. Carr has repeatedly said he's committed to USC, but evaluating all options equally. It remains unclear whether Carr will return to Coral Gables for an Official Visit during or after his senior season.
4-star Adarius Lemons
is committed to North Carolina, just flipped from UNC to Florida on Sunday evening, is back on the market after decommitting from Florida just a few days ago ( August 22nd, for those wondering ) is committed for Florida (again, I think), but as you can see from the strikethroughs, that has been quite the circuitous route, to say the least. Lemons may be taking a cursory look at Miami, but that could be a tough pull since he’s committed elsewhere. Regardless, any commitment he makes now will be very tenuous seeing as he’s committed to and decommitted from 2 schools already in this calendar year. But, let me be clear on this: Lemons can definitely play at this level. He’s good. REAL GOOD. Maybe a bit flaky, as evidenced by his recruiting moves of late, but he’s a player. Miami is well served to at least gauge his interest.
Miami is looking to bring in 2 RBs in this class, something Mark Richt teams have done repeatedly in previous years. Even with his injury, McFarland now moves to the top of the list of targets, with Lemons probably being 2nd now that he’s back on the market. A class of Burns and McFarland or Burns and Lemons would be a big win, and is the exact kind of pairing that Miami should be getting in a recruiting class.
Miami has commits at WR in this class from 3-star Kevaughn Dingle, and 3-star WR Evidence Njoku. Those 2 offer a good combination of size, skill, and speed collectively, and will be good additions to the WR corps in Coral Gables.
Recently, 3-star Rodney Scott decommitted from Miami. While it would have been nice to keep this smooth route runner in the class, Miami can look in other places to replace him in this class.
4-star ATH DeeJay Dallas is another player that could see time on offense in college. However, it’s looking more and more like he’ll play on defense and moonlight on offense. Because of that, I’m moving him to the DB part of this article.
The WR recruiting is in an interesting spot for me. Miami has talented players committed, but still lacks a top end, alpha dog, WR1 kind of player in that group. Miami is really looking at WR1 types to fill out this class now.
The top option for WR1 in this class is 5-star WR Devonta Smith from Amite, LA. He was a dominant force at both The Opening and Paradise Camp. Smith has a longstanding connection with Mark Richt; Smith was formerly committed to Richt at Georgia. After Richt was fired by UGA, Smith decommitted, and has seen his recruiting profile continue to rise. In a similar fashion to Jeudy, Smith's recruitment seems to be boiling down to a battle between Alabama and Miami, with Alabama holding a slight lead at current.
Smith was scheduled to commit to a school on August 15th. However, due to local flooding in Louisiana, and his apparent indecision for his college choice, Smith has now stated that he won’t commit until February. That could bode well for Miami, who could use a strong season and a couple visits from Smith to make a move to add one of the top players in America to this class.
Another player at the top of the wishlist for Miami at WR is 4-star Jeremiah Holloman. This Covington, GA native has good size at 6’2" 191lbs, and very good skills. He participated in Nike’s The Opening this summer, where he showcased his skills very well. He also performed well in his HS team’s kickoff classic, as evidenced by the below tweet:
2 TDS, 1 punt block, 1 Tackle, and a 60 yard punt— Jeremiah Holloman (@Obey_Classics) August 19, 2016
Holloman has nearly 50 offers, but Miami is in his previously released top 12. A relative late comer to Holloman’s recruitment — by virtue of the coaching staff change, I’m sure — Miami is a team looking to make a move. Holloman has stated in interviews that he has been a longtime Canes fan. On top of that, he’s close friends with ATH commit DeeJay Dallas (the pair played on the Cam Newton All-Stars 7v7 team together), and his youth league team was the Canes. Holloman will visit Coral Gables this fall, maybe even twice. With DeeJay Dallas in his ear (and possibly accompanying him on his visit(s) to Coral Gables), and a strong season by the Canes, Miami could put themselves in a very good spot with Holloman in the near future.
St. Thomas Aquinas 3-star WR Mike Harley is a speedster who has been literally uncoverable for quite some time. Harley dominated several Rivals Camp Series events, and every single college-based camp that he's attended, including Paradise Camp. Harley is committed to West Virginia, but has been open about wanting an offer from Miami. Not saying he would be a definite flip if it came, but a Miami offer would change the landscape of Harley's recruitment, for sure. He's smaller than optimal for a WR, but with legit 4.35 speed, crisp routes, and great hands, Harley is intriguing as a prospect. He's clearly behind Smith and Holloman on the target list, but this could be a nice option later on in this class.
On the heels of getting Jovani Haskins and Michael Irvin II in the 2016 class, I had Miami as set at TE in this class. The Canes, however, got a commitment from 3-star Brian Polendey. He is at HS in Texas now, but his family has moved all over the country. Polendey's family moved to the Tampa area months ago, but he will finish HS in TX before enrolling at Miami in January.
Miami is done at this position in this class.
Miami is off to a good start at OL after getting 3-star Zalontae Hillery, who committed at Paradise Camp, joining 4-star Navaughn Donaldson and 3-star Zach Dykstra in the commitment group. Hillery is an athletic but raw player who is teammates with 4-star ATH commit DeeJay Dallas in Brunswick, GA.
Miami is still looking to add a top end player to this group. 5-star Alex Leatherwood, an Alabama commit, is the top player Miami is after at Tackle. A native of Pensacola, FL in the panhandle, Leatherwood is actually closer to Bama that The U distance wise. That and the whole "committed to Alabama" part mean this is would take a yeoman's recruiting effort, but Miami is going to shoot their shot. And let's be clear: pulling Leatherwood would be the single biggest recruiting win of the year for Mark Richt and company. He would immediately become the best OT on the roster the moment he signed, and getting a player of this caliber away from Alabama and everybody else in America would be seismic for Miami. Leatherwood attended Paradise Camp, and could be in line to take an Official Visit to Coral Gables in the fall.
3-star Marcus Minor is one of the top targets for Miami still on the board. He recently released his top 7 list, which included Miami, and continues to be connected to the Canes. Minor visited Miami in the spring, and had a return trip on Sunday just after releasing his top 7. Minor would be a good get for Miami, but would probably need a redshirt before contributing. Still, I'd take him on this team no question.
3-star Kadeem Telfort, a Florida Commit, was once committed to Miami, and the Canes are working to flip him back. Not only has Telfort had multiple commitments, but multiple HS transfers as well. He has gone to several Miami area schools, ending up at Booker T. Washington for his senior year. He's got a good frame and has reshaped his body, losing about 50lbs of bad weight. He's a player Miami wants him badly.
4-star Adrian Ealy is another player Miami is targeting at Tackle. He's a Baton Rouge native who
attends University Lab School, which happens to be located on LSU's campus recently transferred to East Ascension HS in Gonzales, LA (about 30 minutes from LSU’s campus) for his senior year. Ealy has said he's interested in Miami, but the fact that LSU gets virtually any Louisiana-native player they want means this will be an incredibly tough pull for Miami.
4-star OL Caleb Chandler is a player that has only recently popped up on the radar for Miami. The Jefferson (GA) native has good size (6’5" 295lbs) and length to play tackle in college, and has the skills to develop into a nice player in the years to come. Chandler has already scheduled an official visit for the North Carolina game on October 15th, so the interest is real. Chandler also grew up a big Mark Richt fan, and has built a nice connection with OL coach Stacy Searels in recent months. An additional aid for Miai’s pursuit of Chandler: his former teammate at Jefferson is Miami QB Evan Shirreffs. He might be a new name, but Chandler is a player to know as the cycle progresses for Miami.
Miami needs depth and talent at OL in this class. The 3 players currently committed are a great start, but there's still work to be done up front in this class.
Recruiting Radar: Trajan Bandy honors Sean Taylor
A life-long Canes fan, newly committed CB Trajan Bandy will follow the footsteps, and the swag, of the late Sean Taylor.
After going months with just 1 player committed along the DL, Miami now holds commitments from 3-star Jon Ford, 4-star Deonte D.J. Johnson , and 3-star Jonathan Garvin. Ford is a talented but raw player at DT with a 6'5" 280lb frame and brute strength. Johnson is a top 100 player in this class. The 6’5" 240lb dynamo off the edge has the frame to grow to 275 without losing burst. Garvin is the latest player to commit, seemingly out of nowhere; I hadn’t even mentioned him in previous installments of the Class Breakdown. Garvin is a good player with a projectable ceiling and good pass rushing skills. And, to kick off his senior season, he had 7 sacks, and an INT-TD against FSU QB commit James Blackman in the kickoff classic on August 19th. So, that’s pretty decent.
Miami has said that they are comfortable with Ford being the only player they take at DT in this class. The only other realistic option to join him at current would be 3-star Kane Taylor. He has a good frame and plays with aggression. He can get up the field in both run defense and pass rush situations, and is exactly the kind of player that could be a great fit in Miami's projected 4-3 scheme. Should Taylor decide to go elsewhere, Miami is fine with a DT class of Ford by himself.
The story is a bit different at Defensive End. Miami is looking to bring in multiple players at this position. For now, I'm putting that number at 3, considering last year's class, and the potential to lose multiple players from this position group to the NFL after this season.
3-star Jordan Wright is an interesting prospect. A star basketball player, Wright is
starting to devote himself more to football, and it's paying off. Not this summer, though. He's playing AAU basketball instead of football. Wright has good length at DE and the athleticism you'd expect from a basketball player. He is teammates with DL commit Jon Ford, so Miami has that added recruiting benefit. Miami had been heavily pursuing Wright, but that seems to have cooled recently.
3-star Owen Carney is another good local prospect. Making the move to Miami Central from Miramar, Carney is a player who has a big upside. Miami, Florida State, and Duke are at the front of Carney's recruitment currently. In a perfect world, Miami would take one of those Carney or Wright to close this DL class.
After finally getting D.J. Johnson to announce his commitment — he was a silent commit prior to that — and adding Jonathan Garvin to the group, Miami’s DL class is starting to take shape. There’s still room to add pieces, but that 3 player foundation is a very good start for Miami at this position in this cycle.
3-star Waynmon Steed is committed to Miami in this class. He is one of the longest tenured commits to the Hurricanes, having given his pledge to the previous coaching staff back in February of 2015. Steed missed most of his junior year of HS due to a shoulder injury, but should be one of the anchors for a Miami Central defense that ranks among the best in America.
After being committed to Florida State for several months, 3-star Bradley Jennings Jr. did what many predicted he would and flipped his commitment to the Hurricanes shortly after Paradise Camp. Jennings Jr. is an FSU legacy, but his father is originally from Carol City, so there’s familiarity with South Florida. Jennings Jr. is solid with his commitment to Miami.
3-star LB De'Andre Wilder, once the odds on favorite for this spot, seems to have fallen out of favor in the staff's eyes. Wilder has said recently that Auburn and Miami are his recruiting co-leaders, but he may need to make a decision sooner than later. Already 19 years 6 months old, Wilder will age out of HS eligibility at the end of the regular season. He’s on pace to be an early enrollee at his collegiate destination, but he may need to make a choice on where that will be in the near future.
With Steed and Jennings Jr. committed, Miami is in a good spot at LB in this class, even moreso when you consider the 2016 class of Mike Pinckney, Shaq Quarterman, and Zach McCloud already has 2 players on the starting defense. Miami could look to add a 3rd player at this position in this class, but it would have to be a great fit for that to happen.
Miami has commitments from 4-star ATH Christopher Henderson, 3-star S Billy Gibson, 3-star DB Brian Edwards, and 4-star CB Trajan Bandy. The "ish" part comes from 4-star ATH DeeJay Dallas, a multitalented player who could line up at a number of positions. Dallas seems to be trending more towards playing defense in College, so I’m listing him with the DBs from here on out. Henderson and Gibson have been committed for months, while Edwards and Bandy committed at and shortly after Paradise Camp, respectively. Both Edwards and Bandy are lifelong Miami fans, and had been connected to the Canes in varying degrees. Getting both officially committed before the season is a big win for Miami, especially getting Bandy to flip from Oklahoma — a foregone conclusion once he finally received his Canes offer.
3-star Amari Carter is a tough and rugged hitter who Miami has been after heavily. Players from his Palm Beach Gardens team have been some of the top defenders locally over the past few years. Carter has 20 offers at current, and his recruitment is a 2 team battle between Miami and Notre Dame. Miami has made Carter a top priority at Safety, and is working hard to get him in this class.
4-star S Xavier McKinney is a player that is just now popping up on Miami's radar. A one-time Alabama commit, McKinney decommitted from the Tide, and has seen a wave of new recruiting interest. The Roswell, GA native says that several Miami coaches have contacted him on social media, and he has interest in the Hurricanes. It's still early in his newly opened recruitment to tell just how strong a connection Miami may have here, but this is a very talented player who Miami would undoubtedly love to add to this class. Keep an eye on this one going forward.
3-star Shawn Davis is a player who is also on the board for Miami. The Miami Southridge star has offers from teams all over Florida and the South. Right now, Florida is thought to be the leader for Davis, but Miami will continue to recruit him hard. Several of Davis' teammates are committed to Miami, like S Billy Gibson, and 2018 WR Daquris Wiggins.
3-star Derrick Smith is a dynamic player at the Safety position. He had previously said that Miami is his recruiting leader, but that may have changed. Smith is a good player, but Miami seems to have moved him into "plan b" territory. It stands to reason that Miami would take all the players listed above him in this section before Smith. Could he end up here? Sure. But, that won't happen before Miami has exhausted efforts with others at this position. Oh, and don't let the position listed in the link fool you: Smith's future is on defense.
After getting P Jack Spicer to transfer from Florida, and K Diego Marquez to transfer to from JUCO in 2016, Miami doesn't have a pressing need at Kicker.
That means that any commits at these positions would be gravy. To that end, Miami recently picked up a commitment from legacy P Zach Feagles. If the name sounds familiar, that's because Feagles' dad Jeff is a Miami alum and played in the NFL for 22 years. So, he knows a thing or two about punting, and passed that knowledge along to his son. Yeah, that'll work.
In addition to Feagles, Miami has offered national #1 kicker Adam Stack from Hawaii. Stack has visited Coral Gables unofficially already in the spring, so this isn't just a "throw a verbal offer and hope" situation.
Getting the #1 kicker in America would be awesome for Miami, but it would still be a luxury. But, I'm good for luxuries. I'd rather have a DT or OL instead, but if Stack wants to be a Cane, I'm here for it.
* * * * * * * * * *
That's it for this edition of the Class Breakdown for the Canes' 2017 recruiting class.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Other? Hop in the comments section below and keep the conversation going.