It’s no secret that the Miami Hurricanes have struggled on the offensive line in the past few seasons. In fact, it could be argued that they were the main position group that was holding this team back from achieving its lofty goals. No holes in the running game and quarterbacks constantly running for their lives was a common theme for Miami’s O-Line coming into the season.
The line took a small step forward in Mark Richt’s second year, but getting game-to-game consistency and establishing the power run game are goals to aspire to in 2018. And there’s plenty of reason for optimism: juniors Tyler Gauthier and Tyree St. Louis took a leap ahead and will return next season, while highly-touted true freshman Navaughn Donaldson got his feet wet in his first ever college action.
OL coach Stacy Searels added another layer of depth last week with 3 signees during the early signing period, in the hopes of slowly molding his OL room into road-graders. So far, he likes what he sees.
“They’re really good players and really good people that are not high maintenance guys when it comes to recruiting,” Searels said. “It was fun to get to know them and their families.”
The prize of the class? That’d be Miami Southridge lineman Delone Scaife, teammate of fellow Miami receiver signees Daquris Wiggins and Mark Pope. The trio combined to lead an explosive Southridge offense to a state title and Scaife paved the way up front to open up room for Pope and Wiggins to operate. Over the summer, the big man dominated multiple camps against elite competition, even winning Offensive Line MVP at the Rivals 5-Star Challenge and holding his own at The Opening. Due to his versatile skill-set, Scaife’s position has yet to be determined.
“Scaife, when I first started recruiting him I thought he’d be a center/guard type player,” Searels said. “But he has really long arms - he can play all five positions which makes him very valuable.”
Scaife has eased concerns about his lack of height by showing a nasty mean streak at the point of attack and light feet for a prospect of his size. He’s still working to refine his body for the college game and take off bad weight, but, like Donaldson, Scaife’s elite traits will likely allow him to play early on a Miami line looking for MEN in the trenches.
“I can learn it quickly,” Scaife said of the playbook. “But it’ll be a whole different speed in college. I’ll be able to really get things down when I get there.”
And helping Scaife’s quest for early playing time is the fact he is an early enrollee: Scaife will get a head start on the 2018 season and compete with the Canes during spring ball. Also enrolling early on the line? Another state championship winner in John Campbell of Dr. Phillips in Orlando. Campbell is a pure tackle with the lanky build to match, and he’ll start on the outside at Miami.
“Just the feeling that goes around at Miami is different,” Campbell said of his new school. “I liked Miami the first time I went there, I just felt different - different in a good way. That’s the first time I felt different at a college. I see coach Searels can make me live up to my potential and make me great on and off the field.”
Campbell was always a bit raw as a prospect: although he had the tools of an elite edge-blocker, he was lacking in consistency and technique. The holes in his game were exposed a little more during his senior season, but he’s still solidly a 3-star prospect with a high-ceiling. Campbell won’t be ready to contribute right away for Miami, but he has the highest upside of any of Miami’s O-Line commits and, with some development, could be a mainstay on UM’s blocking unit.
“John is a really good player. I’ve worked with him at camp, watched him at his spring practice and watched him in games,” Searels said of Campbell. “He’s a very quiet kid but when he comes to practices, games, he was a finisher. He’s a tough kid, has a lot of upside. He’s a young player who I think is going to be a great player for us.”
The third and final new addition on the line is Cleveland Reed from Fort Meade, who signed a day later than everyone else but is locked into Miami nonetheless. Reed is a bit of a forgotten man after suffering a knee injury in the spring and having surgery in the off-season: he missed a lot of his senior year and his recruiting ranking suffered.
Reed hasn’t lost the size and power that made him a sought after prospect: he’s well over 300 pounds as a high school senior and a true mauler at guard. Reed just has to show he is healthy in game situations to regain some of his lost ground. Even though he isn’t an early enrollee, the injury isn’t expected to affect Reed’s availability at Miami and he should be fully healthy for 2018.
"Everyone there (at Miami) is down-to-earth people," said Reed. "They show me love. That's the best school for me."
With the talent in the trenches slowly trickling in, what are the goals for this class?
"To build the U back up again like the old U and win a national championship," Reed said.