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Miami Hurricanes Recruiting Radar: 2018 Freshman 15 - December Edition

There’s a new #1 and the board gets a make-over as college football’s new “early signing day” closes in.

Jarren Williams spinning it at a camp earlier this year.
247 Sports

Previous editions: April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November

Welcome to the ninth edition of the column I like to call “The Freshman 15”. If you’re a first time reader, this will be a focus on the rankings and the order of the top 15 uncommitted (to Miami) recruits the coaching staff is pursuing. At this time, players without offers will not be considered for the board. How do we rank the players, you ask?

Well, the order will be based mainly on:

  • How likely a recruit is to commit to Miami at the time
  • Skill level
  • Miami's need at their position

This column will be updated throughout the cycle each month and will show movement up or down for each recruit as the list is updated, ie. who is starting to become more/less important and prioritized by the staff.

The high school regular season is all wrapped up and, as we near the new early signing period set for December 20th, uncommitted recruits are forced to start getting serious and many have locked in official visits to Miami. There’s a new #1 on the board after Artur Sitkowski and Miami parted ways last month, leaving UM searching for their quarterback in this class. The Canes also struck at two huge positions of need from last month’s board, flipping #5 Patrick Joyner, a linebacker, from the mess currently going on in Tallahassee, and scooping up #15 Realus George, a fullback.

Let’s get into the board for the month of December.

1. Jarren Williams, QB, Lawrenceville, GA (Central Gwinnett) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-3 | Wt 205 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #185 Overall

Behind The Ranking: For a high school QB, Williams has a very complete game. He isn’t afraid to take risks downfield and has the requisite arm strength to back it up. Williams has the pinpoint accuracy to work the quick game as well. Basically, he has the arm talent to make any throw into even the tightest windows. Williams’ mechanics do not break down when he gets outside the pocket, where his athleticism allows him to make something out of nothing throwing on the run or picking up yards with his legs. Additionally, he shows the ability to read a defense and make pre-snap adjustments.

In The Mix: Williams is down to Miami and Ohio State.

Latest: Williams is Miami’s first and only target at QB since Sitkowski decommitted last month and he officially visited Miami with his family for the Notre Dame game. He got the full-court press from the staff, attending College GameDay on campus and even going inside the QB room the day before the game and observing a meeting. Williams got a much more intimate understanding of what Mark Richt expects from his QB’s, saw the atmosphere at Hard Rock Stadium on gameday, and bonded with many players, staff, and commits. He loved it so much he decommitted from Kentucky during the first quarter of Miami’s win over the Irish. Williams officially visited Ohio State the following weekend, then cancelled planned officials to Auburn and Kentucky. The choice is between the Canes and Buckeyes and UM is the heavy favorite (100% of Crystal Ball picks are Miami), especially with the Buckeyes already having a highly-touted QB commit in Emory Jones. Williams makes his decision in two days, Wednesday 12/6. Expect him in the orange and green.

2. Tyson Campbell, CB, Fort Lauderdale, FL (American Heritage) (Last Month: 1)

Ht 6-2 | Wt 180 | 247 Composite: 5-Star, #26 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Campbell is a corner that plays just down the road at American Heritage, where his former head coach was current Canes CB coach Mike Rumph. He sports outstanding speed and length, along with incredible ball skills. Miami has been loading up on DB’s in this class, but is still making Campbell a priority.

In The Mix: Campbell lists his top 5 as Miami, Ohio State, Alabama, LSU, and Georgia.

Latest: Campbell attended the blowout win over Notre Dame with family and teammate Patrick Surtain Jr. Miami then sent the entire defensive staff to his house this weekend for an in-home visit, letting Campbell know how highly he is valued on UM’s board. Campbell has yet to take an official, but plans on going for his Miami one in January. The Canes are holding steady in Campbell’s mind and will need to close strong here, as this recruitment will likely go to signing day.

3. Andrew Chatfield, DE, Fort Lauderdale, FL (American Heritage) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-2 | Wt 220 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #213 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Questions about his size and run-stopping ability are valid, but there’s no doubt Chatfield is an explosive and impactful pass-rusher off the edge. He’s a quick-twitch athlete with elite production over last two seasons at American Heritage. Chatfield shows a variety of subtle pass rushing moves for his age, the type of stutter steps and head fakes that can get offensive tackles off-balance just enough to cause problems. Chatfield also has a devastating spin move in his arsenal. He’s another of Mike Rumph’s former players at Heritage and is the new top target at DE for UM.

In The Mix: Chatfield is giving serious consideration to Miami, Oklahoma, and UF.

Latest: Chatfield has been a Canes fan growing up and always wanted to play for Miami. The problem was he never had an offer, but that changed last month and Miami has shot to the top of his recruitment as of now. The former Ohio State commit has eliminated the Buckeyes and unofficially visited UM for the Virginia Tech and Virginia games, taking in Hurricane victories in each. The Canes sent coaches Diaz, Rumph, and Banda for an in-home visit last weekend with teammate Patrick Surtain Jr., with Chatfield also in attendance. Chatfield has taken one official so far, to Oklahoma a few weeks back, and plans a Miami one soon. It remains to be seen how the new staff at UF will effect his recruitment, but he is Miami’s to lose at this point.

4. Dennis Briggs, DT, Kissimmee, FL (Gateway) (Last Month: 2)

Ht 6-4 | Wt 255 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #377 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Briggs is a talented prospect who has seen his recruiting stock soar as of late and it is still on the rise. He offers a great motor and his speed and athleticism will likely be amplified when he is inevitably moved inside to play tackle in college.

In The Mix: Briggs’ has a top 6 of Miami, FSU, UF, Tennessee, Oregon, and Georgia.

Latest: Briggs has shutdown his media availability the past 2 months or so, and it’s been difficult to get an idea where he’s leaning. However, it was known Briggs had been favoring the 3 in-state programs previously. Now, with major coaching staff changes and question marks at FSU and UF, Miami is seen as the clear-cut leader if they weren’t already. Briggs has still not set up any official visits, which would make me nervous if I was an out-of-state program looking to pull him from Florida.

5. Michael Thompson, DT, St. Louis, MO (Parkway North) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-4 | Wt 280 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #57 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Thompson has a great get-off that, when combined with his amazing power and length, can be overwhelming for any offensive lineman. Once Thompson establishes a gap, he can be almost impossible to move. He is proficient at collapsing a pocket from the inside and opening up pass rushing lanes for his teammates.

In The Mix: USC, Georgia, and Miami are currently leading Thompson’s recruitment.

Latest: This has been a strange recruitment to say the least. After making a top 5 announcement on Twitter back before the season, Thompson has now completely changed course; none of those five schools (Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio State) are currently being considered for official visits. Miami stayed on Thompson even when it looked like they were out of it, and it has apparently paid off. Thompson is coming off his first official visit to USC and went to Los Angeles with fellow St. Louis-area star and former Miami target Trevor Trout. They both loved it and Trout even committed to the Trojans on this visit, so USC has to be seen as the leader at this point. Still, coach Kool has been working his Missouri connections to keep Miami involved, and Thompson is planning on visiting Miami, as well as Georgia, sometime soon.

6. Tyler Friday, DT, Ramsey, NJ (Don Bosco Prep) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-3 | Wt 265 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #80 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Friday is well built, with a thick college-ready frame from head to toe. Friday has a natural bend about his style of play that lends itself to an ease of movement and agility for a man of his size. He has experience playing both inside and outside and is able to generate a powerful bull-rush with speed/power drives into tackles.

In The Mix: Friday has a top 5 of Miami, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and UCLA.

Latest: Early last month, Friday set his top 5, which included Miami, so the Hurricanes have crept back into the game here. Friday has visited both Ohio State and Michigan officially, while trips to Miami, Penn State, and UCLA are still in the works. The Bruins are behind the 8-ball a bit with a brand new coaching staff, but expect Chip Kelly to still push hard for Friday. Friday is probably going to stay up north, but if he follows through with his planned official to Coral Gables, anything can happen.

7. Davoan Hawkins, DT, Hollywood, FL (Chaminade-Madonna Prep) (Last Month: 6)

Ht 6-4 | Wt 270 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #787 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Hawkins can overwhelm blockers with pure strength and explosiveness when his feet are right. He is strong enough in his lower half to play through contact and cause stress in the pocket. Hawkins shows quick, strong hands in pass rush situations and is able to attack the edge with technique. Like Briggs, Hawkins is a jumbo defensive end prospect that Miami would likely move inside to tackle.

In The Mix: The Kentucky commit is only considering one other program: Miami.

Latest: Miami has been pushing for Hawkins since offering him at Paradise Camp back in July. Hawkins attended the Miami-Notre Dame game last month on an unofficial visit, getting a first-hand look at the improvements made in the Miami program and bonding with other UM targets and commits. Hawkins says UM is slightly behind Kentucky as of now and his official visits will decide where he ends up. Miami’s official is unscheduled at this point, but he will be at UK for an official during the weekend of December 15th.

8. Chris Collins, DE, Richmond, VA (Benedictine) (Last Month: 8)

Ht 6-5 | Wt 215 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #447 Overall

Behind The Ranking: At first glance, Collins looks extremely athletic; he may actually remind you of UM DE commit Gregory Rousseau, with the two sporting similar length and wiry frames. Collins has range as a tackler and can run sideline-to-sideline well, while also being fluid when asked to drop into space. He shows the appropriate foot quickness to shoot gaps and demonstrates exceptional flexibility in his hips to help him get around the edge.

In The Mix: Collins is committed to UNC and is only considering a flip to Miami.

Latest: Collins will be on campus at UM with his family for his first official visit this week. The mid-week Miami visit will take place on December 7th and 8th, Thursday and Friday, and then he will head to UNC for his second official visit on the 9th and 10th, Saturday and Sunday. Those are the only two officials Collins will take and after the visits, he will sit down with his family, hammer out a final decision, and sign with the school of his choice on December 20th, the first day of the new early-signing period. UNC still leads here, but getting a kid on campus can change everything.

9. Jared Goldwire, DT, Fort Scott, KS (Fort Scott C.C.) (Last Month: 9)

Ht 6-5 | Wt 295 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, NR Overall

Behind The Ranking: Goldwire is a Washington native that signed with UTEP out of high school and has developed his game in JUCO to the point where he is thought of as an instant impact player in the middle of a defense. He has a powerful, college-ready frame with a thick lower half and evenly displaced weight throughout. Goldwire pops opponents with a good initial punch that can push back linemen, and also shows surprising quickness at times for his size.

In The Mix: Goldwire is a Louisville commit but is still considering Miami and Oregon State.

Latest: Goldwire committed to Louisville back in June, but has still kept in contact with Canes coaches and there is mutual interest abound. Goldwire was one of two official visitors (along with Jarren Williams) for the Notre Dame game and loved his time on campus. He’s now officially visited Miami, Louisville, and Oregon State and says those will be the only visits he’ll take before signing early on December 20th. Obviously, as a JUCO player with limited eligibility, Goldwire wants to go somewhere he can play right away. That might hurt the Canes due to their D-Line depth, but if RJ McIntosh decides to leave early for the pros, this recruitment will get more interesting.

10. Jalen Goss, OT, Valdosta, GA (Lowndes) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-6 | Wt 270 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #843 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Goss is a towering tackle that needs to add weight in college, but his raw attributes are what attracts coaches from the next level. He gets in and out of his kick-slide in pass protection with ease, and has the agility to make downfield blocks in the running game. His length and athleticism project well in college with some development.

In The Mix: Goss’ top 5 is Miami, Auburn, Michigan, Tennessee, and UNC.

Latest: Goss is a former Florida commit that decommitted from the Gators before the season. Auburn is a true player here and Goss has visited there unofficially twice during the season to watch games, including for the Iron Bowl against Alabama two weekends ago. UM was a late offer for him, but OL coach Stacy Searels has been after him relentlessly the past 2 months. Goss plans an official visit to Miami in the future and will make his decision after all his officials have been taken.

11. Marquez Ezzard, WR, Stockbridge, GA (Stockbridge) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-1 | Wt 205 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #285 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Ezzard has great hands and is a powerfully built receiver that can bully defensive backs that try and get physical with him. He’s not the fastest wideout ever, but plays without concern going over the middle and uses his frame to box-out defenders on contested catches. Ezzard is an early-impact type of talent.

In The Mix: Miami, Oregon, USC, and Florida are a few schools that have Ezzard’s attention as of now.

Latest: Ezzard decommitted from Florida State in the wake of their disastrous season and coaching change rumors a few weeks back, and now finds himself trying to figure out what schools he wants to focus on moving forward. It seems like FSU is out of the picture, as he says he can’t see himself there anymore. Ezzard has already officially visited Oregon and predictably had a great time in Eugene. Miami has positioned themselves for an official as well and more schools could get involved later as this is a developing situation. Ezzard was originally planning on graduating early and enrolling in college for spring, but with all of the uncertainty surrounding his recruitment, he’ll now wait and sign in February.

12. John Huggins, S, Daytona Beach, FL (Mainland) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-1 | Wt 200 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #413 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Huggins has been a late bloomer on the recruiting trail and his instincts help him play faster than he is. Huggins is a great striker, making big hits across the middle regularly, and shows the ability to play either safety spot.

In The Mix: FSU, Nebraska, Louisville, and Miami lead for Huggins.

Latest: Another Florida State decommit, Huggins has been interested in Miami for a long time. He was one of the few offers the Canes gave out at Paradise Camp back in July when a big performance put him on the coaches’ radar. Even with all that, he’s outright stated that Nebraska is in the lead for him after they offered him this weekend. So Miami has some work to do here, but they’re in a great position to do just that: UM will go in-home with Huggins on Friday when coach Banda visits him, plus Huggins will be officially visiting Miami on their big recruiting weekend of December 15th. He’ll take his first official to Louisville this upcoming weekend and will sign in February after he’s taken all of his visits. But will Miami take him regardless of other pick-ups late in the cycle? That remains to be seen.

13. Daniel Carson, DE/DT, Independence, MO (William Chrisman) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-5 | Wt 270 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #497 Overall

Behind The Ranking: The typical big, strong, midwesterner, corn-fed type of lineman. Carson holds the edge extremely well, and can dominate games at times because he can get off the ball, shed blockers, and motor up-field to make plays. He can play end or tackle at Miami.

In The Mix: Miami, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas are involved with Carson.

Latest: Carson is a quiet kid that doesn’t do many interviews, so updates on his recruitment have been few and far between. The big Missouri D-Lineman still has plenty of Miami interest, though, thanks to midwest recruiting guru coach Kool. Distance from home will be a factor here and Miami will have to get him on campus and convince him Coral Gables is the best place for his progress as a player. Carson has already officially visited Texas and plans to visit his other favorites soon.

14. Patrick Surtain Jr., CB, Fort Lauderdale, FL (American Heritage) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-2 | Wt 185 | 247 Composite: 5-Star, #5 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Miami will shoot it’s shot on the blue-chip corner who is fleet of foot, with quick hips and instincts to match. Like his fellow secondary-mate Tyson Campbell and Andrew Chatfield, Surtain Jr. played under Mike Rumph at American Heritage and is also the son of former Miami Dolphins star Pat Surtain, who is now the head coach at Heritage.

In The Mix: LSU, Clemson, Alabama, FSU, Miami, and Ohio State are the top 6 programs for Surtain.

Latest: Miami is still in the game here, and that is enough to get this talented prospect back on the board. After seemingly eliminating the Canes before the season, Surtain has been talking up and flirting with UM lately thanks to their strong year on the field. Surtain has been very receptive to overtures by Miami and has taken multiple unofficial visits to UM, including one with Campbell for the Notre Dame win. The Canes sent coaches Diaz, Rumph, and Banda for an in-home visit last weekend with Surtain, with teammate Chatfield also in attendance. Playing on the next level with his current teammates Campbell, Chatfield, and Nesta Silvera is a distinct possibly for Surtain if he chooses Miami, and the fact that the four Heritage defenders are all very close is another feather in the cap of the Canes. Still, it will take more than that to overcome presumed leader LSU as Surtain sets up his officials to his top 6 schools. It’s likely Miami will not get one since he’s so close to campus and can visit unofficially at any time. Another nugget: Surtain is still considering FSU despite their recent coaching changes. He’s announcing on signing day in February.

15. Amari Gainer, LB, Tallahassee, FL (Lawton Chiles) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-3 | Wt 200 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #270 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Gainer has elite speed and quickness at the linebacker position and is a natural play-maker. He will have to add size to be ready for the next level, but he possesses a long and athletic frame to do just that.

In The Mix: The soft FSU commit has top 5 of Miami, Florida State, Florida, Notre Dame, and Texas.

Latest: Gainer is an FSU legacy and currently resides in Tallahassee, so excuse me if I don’t quite 100% buy the recent interest in the Canes. With the changes going on in the FSU program, Gainer is still a commitment and is waiting to see who is hired by the Seminoles before making any sudden flips. Miami will have their chance to impress, though; he’s set to be on campus for an official visit with good friends and UM commits Lorenzo Lingard and Al Blades when Miami is having their massive recruiting weekend on December 15th. Gainer has a Texas official visit set for this upcoming weekend and has already visited FSU officially, leaving 2 visits remaining for Florida and Notre Dame. Gainer was planning on graduating early, but will now wait and sign in February.

Falling Off

3. DT Trevor Trout: Visited USC last month and decided he had seen enough — Trout skipped the rest of his planned visits to Alabama and Miami and committed to the Trojans.

4. OG Marcus “Tank” Jenkins: The big O-Lineman was scheduled to take an official visit to Miami early last month for the VT game, but Miami cancelled his trip and stopped recruiting him for unknown reasons.

8. DE Jayson Oweh: Decided not to take his final scheduled official visit, which was to Miami, and will decide on January 4th between Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, and ND.

10. CB Nigel Bethel: Rumor has it he tried to give Miami coaches his commitment and they declined. Bethel then committed to the then-coachless Florida Gators.

11. DT Jordan Davis: Took a surprise visit to Athens to visit Georgia, and soon after committed to the Bulldogs.

12. WR Devonta Jason: Released a top 4 of Kansas, UF, LSU, and Mississippi State.

13. DE Kayode Oladele: Being treated like an “Option B” type if Miami whiffs on other top targets at DE at the end of the cycle.

14. FB Abraham Alce: He wanted to play as a true running back in college and after George’s commitment, the Canes no longer had a need to keep recruiting him.