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Recruiting Radar: Defensive Targets in 2018

Yesterday, we looked at offensive targets. Today, we shift the focus to the defensive side of the ball for the Miami Hurricanes 2018 recruiting class.

No conversation about 2018 defensive targets can exist without 4-star DB Al Blades Jr.

Yesterday, we took a look at the targets and offer on the Offensive side of the ball

Today, we change our focus to Defense.

As loaded as Wide Receiver is on the offensive side of the ball, Defensive Back is equally as loaded in the 2018 class, if not MORE loaded, but we’ll get to that in a bit. Let’s get started looking at the various positions on defense

Defensive Line

After taking 3 DL in 2017, Miami should be looking to take 3-4 up front in 2018. As of now, I have that number at 1 DE and 2 DT, but additional players could be taken at this position group, especially if multiple players leave for the NFL Draft after the 2017 season. Miami already has 1 DT in the boat, with recently-committed 3/4-star Nesta Silvera being the committed player. Just like I did with OL yesterday, I’m splitting this to talk about the different groups along the DL

Defensive End

4-star Nik Bonitto. A disruptive edge rusher from Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas, Bonitto has All-American potential. Already with 23 offers to his credit, this top 100 player has a wealth of talent in his 6’3” 210lb frame. The question with Bonitto, apart from which teams he’s favoring in recruiting, is whether he loves football or not. There’s been chatter that he may quit the spot to focus exclusively on basketball — Bonitto is a slashing guard type on the court — but that decision hasn’t been made yet. If he wants to focus on football (his best sport in my opinion), Miami would be wise to make a run at this top end talent.

4-star Stacy Kirby. A big and physical player at 6’4” 240lbs, Kirby is just the type of edge rusher Miami would like to add to the DE position. This Orlando (FL) Jones star leads the way on a very talented HSFB team (Jones has multiple FBS level players), and was a 1st team All-State player in Florida’s 4A classification. Kirby has 25 offers to his name already, and that number should only grow. He’s a top tier P5 recruit, all the way.

3-star Greg Rosseau. This multi-talented athlete is rated as a 3-star DE, but he’s a 4-star/5-star ATH in my mind. Rosseau, who plays multiple positions at Hialeah (FL) Champagnat Catholic, could realistically end up at WR, TE, DE, OLB, or even S at the collegiate level. Standing 6’6” 205lbs, Rosseau’s future is tied to his upcoming physical development. He could fill out in a number of ways, and has the talent to be a top tier player at any of the listed positions. His height and length seem like a natural fit at DE, but I would take him and then let nature take its course, and his physical development be the thing that finalizes a position for Rosseau.

4-star Malcolm Lamar. This Seffner (FL) Armwood player is big and strong and mean, which is a great combination for a DL to have. Standing 6’5” 250lbs, Lamar has the frame to add weight and continue to be an explosive player up front. Currently with 18 offers to his name, Lamar will be heavily pursued throughout this cycle, by Miami and others.

UPDATE: I forgot a couple guys who don’t have offers yet, but are very much players that should be considered at DE.

4-star Andrew Chatfield. Plantation (FL) American Heritage player is a BEAST. Should get offered soon. Plays with recent commit DT Nesta Silvera, and all the other American Heritage players that have (or will be) listed in these offer breakdown pieces.

3-star James Head. Starter on Miami (FL) Southridge’s State Championship defense. Tentacious with the frame to develop further physically.

3-star Randy Charlton. Starts opposite Head on Miami (FL) Southridge’s State Championship defense. Very talented.

Other players with offers: 4-star Justin Mascoll (Snellville, GA), 4-star Max Wright (Katy, TX), 3-star Kayode Oladele (Miami Edison, FL), 3-star Robert Hicks (Miami Central, FL), 3-star Jamarcus Chatman (Rome, GA)

Defensive Tackle

5-star Taron Vincent. Son of former NFL CB Troy Vincent, Taron stars at Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy, and is one of the top 20 players in this class, regardless of position. The 6’2” 285lb DT is a force to be reckoned with on the interior of the DL, and is being pursued by nearly every P5 program in the country. Miami is admittedly chasing other teams here, but the need for players at DT, and Coach Kuligowski’s track record of recruiting and developing top end talent is enough for me to list Vincent. NOT saying he’s coming here, but Miami will continue this chase until the end.

4-star Rick Sandidge. This Concord (NC) standout is a top end talent at DT, and would be a nice DT1 to pair with Nesta Silvera’s DT2 in this class. At 6’5’ 273lbs, Sandidge can add size and be a really dominant force with his strong play. Sandidge will reportedly visit Coral Gables in the upcoming months, and Miami is looking to beat many other teams for his services. Won’t be easy — as I’m sure you know by following the struggles to get DTs in previous years — but Miami will continue this recruitment, just like Vincent’s.

4-star Jordan Davis. Want a 6’6” 300lb DT on your team? Then Charlotte (NC) Mallard Creek star Jordan Davis is your guy. Davis only claims 4 offers at current, but with his combination of size and skill, that will change rapidly in the spring evaluation season. Miami just offered Davis on January 25th, and hold the only Crystal Ball prediction for his commitment as of today. But, with his recruitment sure to pick up after an outstanding junior season, there’s quite the way to go in the pursuit of this player.

4-star Matthew Jones. This 6’4” 305lb tackle is just the kind of player Miami could use up front. Hailing from Brooklyn (NY) Erasmus Hall, Jones has 18 offers to his name, with more sure to come. Miami usually doesn’t recruit the NY area, but Jones is the kind of talent to make a change in recruiting geography for.

Miami has offered 11 DTs so far in the 2018 cycle, but more offers figure to be on the way, as the Canes look to add multiple players at this position group in this class.

Other players with offers: 4-star PJ Mustipher (Owings Mill, MD), 4-star Michael Thompson (St. Louis, MO), 4-star Robert Cooper (Snellville, GA — FSU commit)


After getting the best trio of linebackers in 2016 (Shaquille Quarterman, Michael Pinckney, and Zach McCloud), and another 3 LBs in 2017 (De’Andre Wilder, Waynmon Steed, and Bradley Jennings Jr.), Miami is in a great place at LB. In 2018, the Canes will likely only take 1 or 2 players at most, and will have the ability to be incredibly selective at this position. This is a down year for LBs locally, so it’s very possible this, like DT, is a position where the Canes look to go out-of-state for their 2018 needs.

4-star Christopher Oats. A bigger OLB at 6’4” 220lbs, Oats is a player with good size and athleticism at LB. Hailing from Cincinnati (OH) Wynton Woods, Oats could be a nice option for Miami at LB. Distance is a factor here, with many teams, including infernal school where Urban Meyer works, are chasing after Oats.

3-star LB Rosendo Louis. A local LB option from Deerfield Beach (FL), Louis is a solid player on the board for Miami. He’s not as imposing a figure as Oats is, standing 6’1” 225lbs. Louis was one of the keys for Deerfield’s run to the Florida 8A State Semi-Finals in 2017, and will look to build on that success in the future.

3-star Donovan Georges. A well-known name locally, the 6’1” 228lb Georges has been talked about as a top local LB in this class for years. The Hialeah (FL) Champagnat Catholic LB teams with previously-mentioned Greg Rosseau on the field, and has many offers for his services. He’s a high floor/low ceiling option in my opinion, but he’s definitely a Miami-caliber player.

The offer board at LB is the thinnest of any position, and that’s due to the lack of top-tier local products and low need for players at this position. This is the #1 position where I fully expect new names to pop up on the board as this cycle progresses.

Others with offers: 5-star Palaie Gaoteote (Las Vegas, NV), 4-star Merlin Robertson (Gardena, CA), 4-star Teradja Mitchell (Virginia Beach, VA)

Defensive Back

I’m going to quote myself from yesterday when I spoke about WR’s because, well, ditto that for DBs:

This is a position where Miami closed ok, but not great in 2017, and looks to really land a bunch of top end talent. On the board already at DB is 4-star Josh Jobe, 4-star Gilbert Frierson, 3-star Jalen Patterson (listed as an All-Purpose Back by 247sports but was 1st team All-State at DB), 3-star Demetrius “D.J.” Ivey (underrated bc injury caused him to miss JR year), and 3-star Thomas Burns (younger brother of Artie Burns, but more of a track guy than a football player).

For various reasons (we can discuss them later), neither Patterson nor Burns figures to be a take for Miami in this class.

The 2 positions with the greatest amount of talent both locally and with interest in Miami are WR and DB. I don’t buy into the singular “must get recruit”, but Miami is looking to get 6+ really, REALLY good players at this position in 2018. And, they very well should, given the talent available — DB is L-O-A-D-E-D this year and you could stock the secondaries of BOTH All-American games with guys from South Florida alone — and the amount of players with stated interest in Miami already. Even more than WR, Miami really shouldn’t HAVE TO leave FL for a DB in this class at all. They might choose to go OOS for a kid, but if they do, he better be a 3-years-then-1st-round-draft-pick can’t miss superstar. The available players in Florida, and specifically South Florida, are just too good to pass up for an out of state kid this year.

High praise for the DB class down here in 2018, yes. But I stand by it and will fight anybody who says I’m being outrageous. I’ve seen these kids play. If anything, I’m underselling things. Yeah. Seriously.

Here are the offerees:

note: Miami commits Jobe, Frierson, and Ivey are all listed at CB, but Jobe and Frierson have the size and skills to play either DB spot.


5-star Patrick Surtain Jr. A top 10 player in this class, Plantation (FL) American Heritage CB Patrick Surtain Jr. is at the top of recruiting boards across the country. Miami CB coach Mike Ruph coached the 6’2” 190lb Surtain Jr for 2 years in HS before moving up to the college level, and has a close connection to the superstar DB. The son of former Miami Dolphins CB Patrick Surtain (who took over for Rumph as American Heritage’s coach last year), the younger Surtain has all the tools you expect of a 5-star, top 10 player in this class. LSU and FSU are at the forefront of Surtain Jr’s recruitment, but Miami will keep plugging away until he’s signed....somewhere.

4-star Tyson Campbell. If teams who play Plantation (FL) American Heritage figure they can have a good time throwing at the CB opposite Surtain Jr., they’re wrong. Campbell is that man, and he’s damn good in his own right: he’d be the #1 CB on nearly every HSFB team in America. Campbell, who could play CB or S but has a higher ceiling at CB in my opinion, looks the part at 6’2” 180lbs. He has very good speed, and top tier skills. Some might view getting Campbell as “settling”, but that’s like not getting a Ferrari and “settling” for a Maserati. Campbell has 17 offers at current, and I’m sure that number will grow over the course of the next year.

4-star Al Blades Jr. You know the name, and you know the history. The Blades family, young Al is son of former Canes DB Al (duh), and nephew of former Canes DB Bennie and WR Brian, is Miami royalty. The 6’1” 170lb Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas DB profiles better at Safety than Cornerback TO ME, but is listed as a CB, so we’ll put him here. Blades has stated in interviews that Miami, Alabama and Ohio State are recruiting him the hardest, but I can’t believe he’s going anywhere but Coral Gables until I see it.

4-star Asante Samuel Jr. Feeling old yet? This is the 3rd son of a known DB — former NFL CB (and Lauderdale Lakes (FL) Boyd Anderson alum) of the same name — on this list. Samuel Jr. is a blanket in coverage for Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas, but a bit undersized at 5’10” (generous) 166lbs. Regardless of size, however, Samuel Jr can cover you and lock you down. With 38 high-major offers already, Samuel Jr will have his pick of schools for college. FSU has been prominently linked here.

3-star Miguel Edwards. A recent transfer from Coconut Creek (FL) to Deerfield Beach (FL), Edwards has good size at 6’0” 170lbs and speed to burn. He’s been a known quantity for years — several former Coconut Creek teammates including Miami CB Malek Young were high major recruits and that helped Edwards get noticed as a sophomore — and continues to develop. Edwards has 18 offers so far, and I expect that number to approach 30 before the end of his senior year.

3-star Stanley Garner. Another recent transfer from Coconut Creek (FL) — this one to 2017 signee Jon Ford’s alma mater of Ft. Lauderdale (FL) Dillard — Garner will be a P5 recruit. At 6’3” 180lbs, Garner is both a top HS hoops player and major prospect in football. Garner currently lists 12 offers, but like others, I expect that number to grow through hit senior year.

There are other names that could pop up at CB, but they would all be “plan b” type options behind the listed players, in my opinion, just because the guys on this list are SOOOOOO GOOD.


4-star Gurvan Hall. The top target at Safety for Miami, the 6’1” 185lb Hall is a top end talent that has many top P5 teams chasing him. Nick Saban famously landed his recruiting helicopter at Palm Beach Lakes (FL) to meet with and recruit Hall personally. Even with that interest from Alabama, among many others, Miami is widely thought to be the leaders in this recruitment.

3-star Randy Russell. A key player on Miami (FL) Carol City’s 6A State Championship defense, Russell is a dynamic defender who is widely respected by his peers. The 5’11” 180lb Russell can cover ground sideline to sideline, and will hit you — HARD — if you give him the chance. Russell already lists 26 offers, so there’s plenty of FBS teams out there who would like to have him in their secondary.

Unranked Jamien Sherwood. A bigger prospect at 6’3” 185lbs, Sherwood has seen his stock rise through the end of his junior season, and that will continue throughout the next year. The Jensen Beach (FL) standout doesn’t have a rating yet but he’ll be a 4-star player in short order. Already listing 10 offers, Sherwood is an admitted FSU fan and the Noles are the team to beat in his recruitment.

3-star Cameron Jonas. This West Palm Beach (FL) Dwyer product might, MIGHT, the player that breaks the streak of Miami being unable to get players from this top program to come to Coral Gables. Jonas has good size at 6’1” 190lbs, and is a hard hitter, which Miami loves to have in Safety prospects. Jonas only hs 5 offers right now, but don’t let that fool you: he’s good.

3-star David Reese. Already 6’2” 210lbs, this Ft. Pierce (FL) Central “DB” will likely make the move into the box as an LB at the collegiate level. Reese has good size, average speed (not an issue if he moves down to LB) and strong instincts. In a year that Miami only needs 1-2 LBs, I’m 100% behind taking Reese and putting him in the box. Miami is one of 9 teams who have already offered Reese.

Other players with offers: 5-star Tyreke Johnson (Jacksonville, FL), 4-star Amari Burney (Clearwater, FL)


Miami K Michael Badgley will be a senior in 2017, so a replacement will be needed. Hopefully, the one offer turns into the 1 commit at this spot.

5-star Evan McPherson. No, Kickers aren’t 5-star players overall, but in the world of kicking, the Fort Payne (AL) native McPherson is a superstar. He’s the #1 rated kicker by Kohl’s Kicking, which specializes in training and rating kickers and punters. Here’s the eval for McPherson from Kohl’s Kicking’s website:

Mcpherson was dominant at the 2016 Southern Winter Showcase as well as the 2017 Underclassman Challenge. He has established himself currently as the best kicker in the 2018 class. His confidence in his ability to crush field goals is impressive. Ball striking is repeatable, it explodes off his foot and his ability to call on his "A" ball is D1 ready right now. He showed one of the premier kickoff legs in the 2018 class by winning the Kickoff competition at the 2017 Underclassman as well. He is currently ahead of the entire 2018 field in his ability to lock in and hit the same ball rep after rep . He is a high level punter as well, but his upside as the nations best kicker is tough to match at this point. McPherson has continued to prove throughout his career that he can make field goals. He will be a highly sought after recruit in the 2018 class. His field goals during the 2016 national Scholarship Camp were very impressive going 27 out of a possible 29 during the charting portions.

McPherson is the only player Miami has offered at this important position, which speaks to his impressive abilities. McPherson has 4 offers at current, but Miami’s competition at current is comprised of Army, Iowa State, and Rutgers. The only prediction on 247sports’ crystal ball (not mine) is for McPherson picking Miami, and I would love that to be the case, and you should too.

That’s it, kids. A list of defensive targets chock FULL of top end talent. Miami should be able to close on a bunch of them, with good relationships being built over the last 2 years and (hopefully) a double digit win season in 2017.

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