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Miami needs a big 2018 class to move forward

How to piece together the recruiting puzzle

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Bobby Bowden used to say something along the lines of one-third of your class, regardless of rank, will be bench warmers, one-third will be role players / spot starters, and one-third will be starters / stars. With that theory, the 2017 Miami Hurricanes’ roster is built upon guys from the 2014-2017 classes.

Most coaches/recruitniks would agree, every class needs: 1 QB, 2 RB’s, 3 WR’s, a TE/H-Back/FB, 4 OL, 2 DE, 2 DT, 2 OLB, 1 ILB, 3 CB, 2 S and the possible need of a PK/P.

The 2014 class is shutting down shop at this point and we finally saw the 4* potential from Chad Thomas (right scheme for the right guy) and I have some promise in OT Darling. Trent Harris is in a crowded house of D-End’s. Berrios, Linder and McDermott have been disappointments. Njoku and Kaaya lived up to their potential and are off to the NFL. Yearby had flashes but never looked like a feature back. Herndon, the TE/HB, is the wild card. I have a lot of faith in him to be a weapon in this offense. Rosier has to be the front runner to finally step in and start with Kaaya gone. If 12 of these guys should be role players or starters I think this class came close. It was ranked #12 in the country though and definitely hasn’t lived up to that billing.

Miami v Appalachian State Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The 2015 class has shaken itself out as well. Walton finally looked like a feature back towards the end of the season. I’m expecting more from St. Louis on the OL, and Cager at WR. DT’s Norton and McIntosh have been solid performers and this could be the year we see DE Patchan and CB Redwine break the starting rotation or 2-deep. QB Shirreffs has a chance to beat out Rosier for the starting QB job as he’s billed as the smartest of the 3. DB Jaquan Johnson has earned a handful of starts but hasn’t lived up to his 4-star billing yet.

In 2016, Miami’s recruiting class finished ranked 21st in the nation, 3rd in the ACC by 247 sports. I think in the long run it will look much better than that based on results. The ‘Canes lost the top recruit from ‘16 in WR Sam Bruce before he caught a single ball. Coach Richt’s staff had to “save” the class after Al Golden’s firing and the potential for backslide with the Clemson debacle. Coach Richt stepped in and signed stars in ILB Quarterman, WR Richards, DE Jackson, OLB McCloud, OLB Pinckney plus guys I’m high on like RB Homer and CB Young, and a possible QB to replace Kaaya in Allison with DL Bethel and TE Hoskins as potential playmakers in ‘17.

Miami v Georgia Tech Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

This year’s class has been well documented by Cam (God bless him) and we’re all excited about the additions of WR Thomas, OT Donaldson, DE Johnson, QB Perry who could steal the job in the summer, CB Bandy, OL Herbert, WR/CB Dallas, DE Garvin, JUCO transfer Dean, and WR Harley with high potential 3-stars like S Carter (could start!) LB Wilder (kicking game), C Gaynor (Linder was horrible) and WR Njoku. Miami also added a P Feagles who is legacy and should punt day one.

Not to mention transfers in OT Brown (LSU) and DT Willis (UF) over the past couple of years. Willis got PT when he wasn’t hurt or in the dog house in 2016 and Brown shirted but could start at LT for the ‘Canes.

That leaves Miami with good numbers and guys spread out well by class. Running Back is an issue with so little depth and has to be a hit in 2018. At Wide Receiver, talent is there and spread out now. Richards, Harley, Dallas, Thomas, and Njoku are here to stay. At Tight End you have distance on Herndon-Haskins-Irvin-Polendey.

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The Offensive Line will be the biggest question mark outside of QB on this team. The QB’s are spread out by class and with two freshman coming in the future looks stable. The OL has the five freshman, you just have to hope it’s a true competition for the best 5 on the field. However, there’s good class separation here too with seniors in Darling, Linder McDermott, JR’s in Gauthier and St. Louis, SO in Brown, and the young guys. You have to hope Brown can steal LT with Darling or St. Louis at RT. This could move one of them inside and kick McDermott out of a spot. Gaynor needs to come in and prove Linder can’t do his job right away.

On Defense, the future of Defensive Tackle has to be a huge concern. There’s a risk to return no one with experience with a kid like Willis having discipline issues, Jenkins and Moten graduating, and McIntosh and Norton being so good already. The Linebacker class was weak, but that should be expected with three returning sophomore starters. Wilder has the physical gifts to make a day-one dent in the kicking game. D-End is a bit more separated losing Harris and Thomas but Jackson, Patchan, and Bethel are back with two stud freshman coming in.

Defensive Back was a miss in 2017 and it shows on the depth chart. CB is bright with Young a SO, Redwine JR, Dean a JUCO transfer with 2 years left, and Bandy FR. At Safety expect Johnson JR, Finley SO, and Carter FR to fight over time. This has to be a huge target in 2018.

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What this means for 2018? The Hurricanes need to sign a QB because every year you should sign someone, even if they’re a project. They have to sign 3 RB’s (Patterson). WR will be 2-3 (Wiggins) to replace the seniors. Definitely need a TE/H-Back type in the class. On the OL I could see 4 (Scaife) with another true Center. On the DL they may only sign one DE, but 3-4 DT’s. Miami needs 2-3 high quality Linebackers to eliminate the spacing issues with the 3 freshman from 2016. A Placekicker is also a need in 2018 to replace Badgley and could be the time for a grad transfer from an FCS or D2 school or rely on a freshman. Oh, and there’s Defensive Back... Miami needs 4 CBs (Jobe, Frierson, Ivey, Burns) and 2-3 Safety’s in 2018.