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Recruiting Radar: 2018 Freshman 15

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A different look at Miami’s top targets for Storm18

Al Blades Jr. tops the first ever Freshman 15. (247 Sports)
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Welcome to a new column I like to call “The Freshman 15”. Our very own Cam Underwood does a fantastic job on the Recruiting Class Breakdowns of Miami’s entire class, including both commits and targets by position, but this will be more of a focus on the rankings and the order of the top 15 uncommitted recruits the coaching staff is pursuing. 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. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the inaugural Freshman 15.

1. Al Blades Jr. , CB, Fort Lauderdale, FL (St. Thomas Aquinas)

Ht 6-0 | Wt 170 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #82 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Blades Jr. is the prototypical top player on this board, thanks to his combination of talent, Miami’s need at corner, and the fact that he’s a UM legacy that is a virtual lock for the Canes. He's an athletic specimen, and a very natural corner who makes the most of his abilities.

In The Mix: Miami. Miami. Miami. But if you’d like, we can throw in FSU, Auburn, Alabama, and Georgia for fun.

Latest: Blades has camped at FSU and has taken some unofficial visits elsewhere but don’t read too much into it. He has been to Coral Gables countless times to see the campus, take in practices, and just hangout with the team. We fully expect Blades in this class and it’s just a matter of him taking his time going on visits and seeing some sights before announcing it. Son of the late Hurricane legend Al Blades, there have been recent rumors that Blades Jr. is waiting to announce his commitment on Father’s Day. Stay tuned.

2. Brevin Jordan, TE, Las Vegas, NV (Bishop Gorman)

Ht 6-3 | Wt 255 | 247 Composite: 4- Star, #79 overall

Behind The Ranking: Jordan is an extremely versatile tight end prospect. He is a huge threat downfield in the passing game, while being just as likely to knock your block off on a power run. Combine that with Chris Herndon’s graduation after the 2017 season and Miami’s already low numbers at the position and you have a recruit that TE coach Todd Hartley wants badly. Miami also looks to be #1 in Jordan’s mind after a recent campus visit.

In The Mix: In addition to Miami, Jordan fancies the west coast powers UCLA and USC, as well as Michigan, Georgia, and Ohio State.

Latest: Pulling any prospect across the country is tough, but Miami is in a very good spot with Jordan following his aforementioned unofficial visit. Jordan called his visit “indescribable” and noted his great relationship with Hartley as a big factor in his recruitment. Jordan has made it known that he would like to play with his high school quarterback, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, in college, but that it is not a must. Thompson-Robinson currently favors UCLA and Michigan, making the Bruins and Wolverines a threat to the Canes, but at this stage, Miami has to to like its chances with Jordan.

[EDITORIAL UPDATE]

Brevin Jordan committed to Miami about 4 hours after this piece was published.

3. Tyson Campbell, CB, Fort Lauderdale, FL (American Heritage)

Ht 6-2 | Wt 180 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #55 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 length and unteachable instincts, 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 has a top 3 of Miami, LSU, and Ohio State. Alabama, Florida, and Georgia are also hot on his trail.

Latest: On one of Campbell’s most recent visits to campus, he took in a Miami basketball game in February, storming the court with fans after a Hurricane win over Duke. He visited Coral Gables again last weekend, before making the trip up to Ohio State this weekend. LSU got their shot at him in March when Campbell visited Baton Rouge. Certainly having his former coach on staff at UM and coaching his position group is a boon for Miami and could be a major deciding factor if he pulls the trigger for the Hurricanes.

4. Elijah Moore, WR, Fort Lauderdale, FL (St. Thomas Aquinas)

Ht 5-10 | Wt 160 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #153 Overall

Behind The Ranking: A current teammate of Al Blades Jr., Moore may actually remind you of a former teammate at St. Thomas, current Hurricane and slot dynamo Mike Harley. Shifty in the slot with impressive acceleration after the catch, Moore will reel in anything thrown near him. He is good friends with many current players and commits and there is a high likelihood he joins them in Coral Gables.

In The Mix: Moore claims a top 3 of Miami, Florida, and Ohio State, with West Virginia hanging around.

Latest: Moore showed out at the Opening Miami Regionals and earned an invitation to the Opening finals, where he plans to announce his decision. Like Blades Jr., he’s been to UM countless times with other commits and targets, including twice in the past week. Moore has also seen Gainesville and plans a trip to Columbus to check out Ohio State, but we feel good about him putting on that Hurricane hat at the Opening.

5. Warren Thompson, WR, Seffner, FL (Armwood)

Ht 6-3 | Wt 185 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #119 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Thompson has the frame to high-point a ball and flat out go get it, making him an instant red zone threat for any lucky team that retains his services. He demonstrates fluid route running skills and is dangerous with the ball in his hands. Moreover, Thompson was a former Miami commit (for all of 5 seconds) and grew up wanting to play football for the Hurricanes. With the staff looking for more size at receiver, they have been working extra hard to bring him back into the fold.

In The Mix: Thompson boasts a top 4 of Miami, Florida, Florida State and North Carolina, with Alabama, Oregon, and Ole Miss on the outside looking in.

Latest: While Thompson grew up a Canes fan and at one point looked like a lock to sport a Miami uniform, things have cooled a bit between him and the staff recently. After decommiting because his mother wanted him to go through the recruiting process, Thompson has been doing just that, visiting UF multiple times and taking in FSU’s spring game last weekend, while talking up both schools heavily. He last visited Miami for Junior Day back in mid-February. Although Armwood is notoriously a feeder school for the Gators and Thompson’s Miami recruitment is trending downward, there is still plenty of time for the Canes to make another move to get back in this.

6. William Barnes, OT, Apopka, FL (Apopka)

Ht 6-4 | Wt 290 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #74 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Even though the Canes already have a solid pair on the O-Line committed in Delone Scaife and Cleveland Reed, they are desperate for more talent in the trenches. The O-Line simply must be fixed at all costs and the best way to do it is load up on studs like Barnes. Barnes is an advanced run-blocker and has the frame and athleticism to excel in pass protection with more development. He is also known for being proficient at the mental side of the game. In addition, Barnes won MVP at the Rivals Orlando Camp in March and earned an invite to Rivals’ Five-Star Challenge.

In The Mix: Schools like FSU, UF, Ohio State, UNC, and Auburn join Miami and others on Barnes’ list.

Latest: Barnes has visited Coral Gables twice, most recently for Junior Day, but claims no favorites at this point. He wants to see all the schools recruiting him and says Miami is among the group recruiting him hardest. Barnes expects his recruitment to go all the way to signing day. Rumor has it that Florida leads, but Miami just needs to stay in the game and position themselves for an official visit in the fall. If they can do that, all bets are off.

7. Jamarcus Chatman, DE/DT, Rome, GA (Rome)

Ht 6-3 | Wt 265 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #353 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Chatman is a talented prospect, don’t get us wrong. He has a great motor and his speed and athleticism will likely be amplified when he is inevitably moved inside to tackle. But his place on this list is almost solely due to him essentially being a, um, “silent” commit to Miami. With the bulk of Miami’s talent at DT being upperclassmen, there is a huge need for a guy like Chatman in this class.

In The Mix: It’s Miami and then everybody else. Michigan, Ole Miss, LSU, UF, and Virginia Tech are others that have offered.

Latest: Chatman is coming off of an unmatched visit at Miami this past weekend. He says there is a “100% chance” he commits to Miami (not much of a silent commit, huh) and is just waiting to officially announce at his spring game in front of family, friends, and teammates. Credit DL coach Craig Kuligowski for impressing Chatman and bringing him (almost) into the fold.

8. Gregory Rousseau, DE/LB, Hialeah, FL (Champagnat Catholic - Hialeah)

Ht 6-5 | Wt 205 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #497 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Rousseau is a freak athlete, standing at 6’5 and 205 lbs. with the speed and craftiness to knife in off the edge into the backfield, while still having the ability drop into coverage and stick on a running back or tight end. Some say he doesn’t have a true position, causing his stock to drop a bit, but we’d be surprised if his composite ranking wasn’t on the rise very soon. There have also been rumors that he discussed a commitment with coaches this past weekend, but it was mutually agreed upon that he should wait.

In The Mix: LSU and USC are others that have been tied to Rousseau.

Latest: Rousseau is another where, at this moment in time, it would be a shock if he ended up anywhere else besides Miami. Like Blades Jr. and Moore, he’s been a familiar sight on campus. He’s talked up LSU and USC at times, but has no current visit plans for either of those schools. It’s unknown why coaches may have asked him to hold off on committing, but it is known that there are other unidentified silent commits in the fold at Miami (take that for what its worth - thanks a lot, Anthony McFarland). Could coach Richt be wanting to appropriately space out announcements for publicity purposes to keep the momentum of this #1 class running all spring and summer long? Doubtful, and it’s more likely that Rousseau wants to see some other schools to compare to UM just to be sure, but some seem to buy into that narrative. Time will tell.

9. Rick Sandidge, DT, Concord, NC (Concord)

Ht 6-5 | Wt 275 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #67 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Sandidge has a great get-off that, when combined with his amazing power and length, can be overwhelming for any offensive lineman. He’s a truly elite defensive lineman that has shown interest in Miami. Sign us up.

In The Mix: LSU, Georgia, UNC, South Carolina, UF, FSU, and Virginia Tech are all chasing the wide open Sandidge.

Latest: Sandidge is a kid who plays things close to the vest and is hard to get a read on. He’s already visited UNC and South Carolina, and is scheduled to make a Florida tour to visit the Big 3 next week. Sandidge claims his visits will tell the story and allow him to really formulate a top group. Once more is known about how his Canes visit went, we’ll get a better idea just where Miami stands in his picture.

10. Ed Montilus, OG, Apopka, FL (Apopka)

Ht 6-3 | Wt 295 | 247 Composite: 3 Star, #404 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Montilus is a powerful guard prospect that is strong at the point of attack. He’s always been high on Miami and continues to consider them along with a few others. Montilus is also linemates with Barnes at Apopka and could be a factor in helping to secure Barnes’ commitment. OL coach Stacy Searels is a huge fan of Montilus and has been to Apopka to visit with both him and Barnes.

In The Mix: Auburn, Miami, UNC, and Florida currently lead.

Latest: Montilus has unofficially visited Miami on his own dime many times and was even on hand for a Hurricanes Russell Athletic Bowl practice. Montilus has camped at Auburn and recently visited UNC for Junior Day. He doesn’t seem to be close to a commitment, but Miami has positioned themselves well here. We think they hold a slight lead over the rest of the pack.

11. Jamien Sherwood, S, Jensen Beach, FL (Jensen Beach)

Ht 6-2 | Wt 190 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #355 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Sherwood was tough to place on this list. A gifted prospect in his own right, Sherwood uses his size and physicality to bully receivers across the middle and to make plays in the box. He’s also shown high interest in donning the green and orange for the next 4 years and Miami seemed to be his de-facto leader. In any other year, Sherwood would be a no-brainer take for the coaching staff. But Miami is filling up quickly at DB in this class and there are others the coaches seem to prefer over him.

In The Mix: Sherwood is looking hard at Miami, FSU, UF, Nebraska, and Auburn.

Latest: Would the coaches really pass on a talent like Sherwood? With Miami bound to take a smaller class this year, added to the depth at DB in South Florida, never say never. But it may not even take a “pass” to lose him; Miami simply taking their foot off the peddle a bit could cause him to look elsewhere. Sherwood has visited UF multiple times and recently toured Auburn, saying he was “beyond high” on the Tigers. The race seems to have tightened in this recruitment Miami once led.

12. Will Mallory, TE, Jacksonville, FL (Providence)

Ht 6-5 | Wt 210 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #183 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Mallory plays wide receiver in high school but will be making the transition to tight end in college. Even though he is still growing into his body, Mallory is an aggressive blocker and is elusive enough to make plays in space as a receiver. Miami would love to pair him up with a guy like Jordan in two TE sets and cause mismatches all over the field. He’s shown interest in Miami but, as a Michigan legacy, that must be tempered.

In The Mix: Michigan has to be seen as his leader until proven otherwise. Georgia, Clemson, and Notre Dame are also in the mix.

Latest: There’s no sugarcoating it: Mallory will be a tough pull from Ann Arbor, where his father was a star. He was up there for Michigan’s spring game this weekend. Even so, Mallory has forged a great relationship with the staff at Miami and that has kept them in the game.

13. John Campbell, OT, Orlando, FL (Dr. Phillips)

Ht 6-5 | Wt 290 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #418 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Campbell’s size, athleticism, punch, and overall ability make him coveted by the Miami staff. At a big position of need, the coaches will be sure to pull out all the stops to obtain his services.

In The Mix: Campbell has a fluid group of schools like Miami, FSU, UF, Alabama, Auburn, and Tennessee.

Latest: Campbell is taking things slow and, as a result, his recruitment is still developing. He claims no favorites and will weigh his options thoroughly before making a decision. A recent March visit to Coral Gables may have helped the Canes a bit.

14. Amari Gainer, LB, Tallahassee, FL (Lawton Chiles)

Ht 6-3 | Wt 200 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #298 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Gainer has elite speed and quickness at the linebacker position and is a natural playmaker. 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. Living behind enemy lines in Tallahassee depresses his ranking, for now.

In The Mix: His top six is Miami, Florida State, Auburn, Alabama, UCLA, and Texas.

Latest: Some believe FSU is the team to beat; however, Gainer maintains his top six are all even. Even so, at the end of the day, FSU usually gets the kids they want out of Tallahassee. Miami will have their chance to impress though; he’ll be on campus with good friend and UM commit Lorenzo Lingard later this month.

15. Patrick Surtain Jr., CB, Fort Lauderdale, FL (American Heritage)

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

Behind The Ranking: Surtain Jr. rounds out our list purely on his talent alone; we just haven’t seen enough interest in UM from him to justify moving him up higher. Miami will shoot it’s shot though on the blue-chip corner who is fleet of foot, with quick hips and instincts to match. Like his fellow secondary-mate Campbell, Surtain Jr. also played under Mike Rumph at American Heritage.

In The Mix: Every traditional powerhouse school in the nation.

Latest: Many say LSU leads here with FSU close behind, but Surtain Jr. has stayed tight lipped; he claims he is wide open and wants to go through the recruiting process. Barring any changes, he’ll take all his officials and announce on signing day. For Miami to win out, they’ll have to make sure they can snag an official visit, and push the connection of Rumph coaching his position group. It’ll take a yeoman effort from the staff and Rumph to reign him in to be sure, but anything can happen in recruiting. Any scheduling of unofficial or official visit plans to Coral Gables would move him up this list in a hurry.