The day has come! The spring semester at the University of Miami is around the corner and student move-in day is today. And that means one thing:
The 2017 Football Early Enrollee recruits are on campus and have started college with orientation. By virtue of the players enrolling at Miami, their collegiate careers have begun.
At Miami, classes don’t start until January 17th, and the deadline for registration for spring semester is January 25th. So, if any of the projected early enrollees aren’t on campus today, there’s still 2 weeks for them to make their way to Coral Gables.
This group of Early Enrollees — 11 this year — is the largest in Miami Hurricanes history. So over half the players committed in this class have moved in and are officially Hurricanes. From a QB to RB to OL to DE to LB to DB, there are new faces at nearly every position group.
Here are your 2017 Early Enrollees: (note: due to the large number of EEs, I’m linking their HUDL highlights to their names, not embedding them individually)
QB Cade Weldon. Son of former FSU and 1992 Heisman Trophy runner-up QB Casey Weldon, Cade is a talented player in his own right. The younger Weldon tore his ACL/MCL/PCL on the first drive of his junior year, but rebounded with a very strong senior season, throwing for more than 3,100 yards and 19 TDs, along with more than 400 yards rushing. He’ll try to make a push for the starting QB job.
RB Robert Burns. Burst on the scene with a stellar sophomore season and camp circuit, but hasn’t done much but battle injuries since then. But, when healthy, Burns has elite skills and athleticism, and Miami is banking on the fact that his injury concerns are behind him. The 5’10” 210lb Burns could see time at RB and/or FB at Miami, kind of in the Najeh Davenport mold of things.
TE Brian Polendey. A solid player who is known much more for his blocking than pass catching, Polendey has projectable skills at TE. His Denton (TX) Guyer HS team ran the ball 90-95% of the time, with Polendey being a solid blocker for the team. He’ll need time before being a top line player, but the potential is definitely there.
OL Navaughn Donaldson. The literal and figurative biggest get of the Early Enrollees, Donaldson is a mammoth of a man at 6’5.5” 340lbs. The Under Armour All-American from Miami (FL) Central figures to have a role in the 2 deep at worst, and starting at best in 2017. This is a name you need to know. He’s the highest ranked recruit in this class and a huge get for the Canes.
OL Zach Dykstra. A tough and rugged blocker, Miami got Dykstra away from hometown Iowa to come to Miami. He’s not as big as Donaldson, but Dykstra should have a role on Miami’s OL moving forward. He might need a RS year before cracking the 2 deep, but he’s a nice guard prospect for the years to come.
OL Zalontae Hillery . One of 2 EE’s from Brunswick (GA) Glynn Academy, Hillery is an athletic player who is still learning the game of football. He has a nice frame and good athleticism, but needs to add strength and develop his technique. Hillery is almost surely headed for a redshirt in 2017. I missed this change, but Hillery isn’t EEing anymore. He’s taking visits and will sign on NSD, then enroll at his chosen school in May/June. Apologies for missing this status change.
DE Jonathan Garvin. A dynamic force rushing the passer, Garvin may be the most underrated player in Miami’s 2017 recruiting class. He started his senior year with a 7 — yes SEVEN — sack performance and just kept rolling throughout the year. Garvin ended his senior year with 58 tackles for loss and 18 sacks in 9 games. With his combination of size (6’3.5” 225lbs), athleticism, and skill, it wouldn’t surprise me if Garvin pushed for playing time as a freshman.
LB Waynmon Steed. A linebacker with good instincts, Steed shines as a downhill player against the run. Teammates with Navaughn Donaldson at Miami (FL) Central, Steed missed his junior year with a torn labrum, and tore his ACL at the end of his senior year. Steed has already had surgery on his knee, which was a partially — not completely — torn ligament. He will rehab through the spring and summer. There’s a chance he plays in 2017, but the safer bet would be to give his knee a year to fully heal before playing in 2018.
LB Bradley Jennings Jr. Another FSU legacy just like Weldon, Jennings will be taking his talents to Coral Gables instead of his father’s alma mater. Jennings is a versatile linebacker who could see time at inside or outside positions. Jennings is better playing the run than he is in pass coverage to this point, but that is something he can improve on in the future.
ATH DeeJay Dallas. The ambassador for the Canes’ 2017 recruiting class, Dallas is a multi-talented athlete who could find a home on either side of the ball. There is talk that Miami will work Dallas on both offense and defense since he has the skills to contribute — and excel — at both spots.
S Amari Carter. Make no mistake about it: Carter is a physical player who delights in making big hits all over the field. His game isn’t flashy (which contributes to him only being a 3-star recruit), but Carter is exactly the kind of player Miami needs in the defensive backfield. Carter was a top target for S coach Ephraim Banda.
With a QB who will be in the battle to start, a talented but injury prone RB, an OL who will play from day 1 and 2 more projecable OL prospects, a solid TE, an ATH who could see the field on offense and/or defense, 2 LBs, a dynamic DE, and a hard hitting safety, Miami has the biggest group of early enrollees in program history. They will look to join the stellar 2016 recruiting class and help Miami return to past greatness.